August 21, 2017

Ten Common Mistakes Prepper’s Make

Ten Common Mistakes Prepper’s Make

I was going to call this article “Ten Mistakes New Prepper’s Make” but then it dawned on me that veteran Prepper’s make these mistakes too! One of those veteran Prepper’s might even be named “Chris”. Making mistakes is human nature. Learning from them and modifying our actions and behavior is how we grow and improve. That being said, following are ten mistakes Prepper’s make.
 

Getting Overwhelmed

This happens to many new Prepper’s. I think this is because when one decides to prepare, it is often due to the fact that they have awakened to the many real dangers to our modern way of life and realize how ill-prepared they are. I wrote an article called Not Prepared Enough Syndrome that covers this in further detail.

Getting overwhelmed isn’t just something that happens to new Prepper’s. There are plenty of us whose blood pressure rises when new threats pop up. We can still feel that we’re not prepared enough to face what could happen.

When this starts to happen to me, I just reaffirm that I am as prepared as I can be and will face things with the Marine slogan of “Improvise, adapt and overcome”. I also rest in the fact that things are in God’s hands and find peace in that.

 
Blindly Following Others

Part of the process is learning from others but when it comes to preparedness, we need to pick and choose what will work in our lives. I hope no one goes along with everything I say and tries to mold it to their lives. I do what I do because it works for me. You should take the things you like from this site and others, and apply what works for you, while getting rid of what doesn’t.

 
Not Storing What You Eat and Eating What You Store

This is one of the The Ten Commandments of Preparedness I came up with. This is a mistake many of us make. I know I’ve purchased some food based on its storage life and not because we eat it.
 

Lopsided Preparedness

I think it is common for people to have a favorite area of preparedness and it makes sense that the favored area gets more attention. Keep in mind The Five Basic Human Needs and having a well-rounded approach to preparedness is the best method. Having a safe full of guns and ammo does you little good if your family is starving. Then again, a year’s worth of food does you little good to protect you from Joe Dirtbag and his merry band of takers.

The truth is that none of us know how or when things will fall apart. Being able to cook and feed, provide and heat shelter, purify drinking water and defend yourself and your family are all musts!
 

Only Preparing for the Big Ones

One mistake I have seen is people preparing for the large scale events that have a small chance of happening, while ignoring the smaller scale things that actually happen in their area. I explained this in greater detail in Disaster Probability. While I think a general approach to preparedness is best, I think it also makes sense to make sure we’re prepared to face the events that are most likely to happen in our area. For my area, that includes cold, snow and ice. I know it will snow and there is a potential for power lines to come down. It makes more sense for me to prepare for that over an EMP.
 

Placing Gear Over Knowledge and Skill

Being prepared can mean acquiring gear but can lead to a false sense of security. There is also a chance some might think that because they have a piece of gear, they are prepared. If I’m bleeding, I would rather have someone who has a firm understanding of first aid and basic equipment over someone who had a top-of-the-line emergency medical kit but has no idea how to use it.
 

Loose Lips Sink Ships

For a few different reasons, I think it is a good idea to keep your prepping a secret. If people know you prepare, try to keep the extent of your preparedness a secret. Maybe you have heard of Being Gray, which is the process of blending in, keeping a low profile and maintaining OpSec (Operational Security).

If you feel led to share preparedness with others, it is best to be as vague about your own preparedness as possible. The more people who know you prepare and who also know the level to which you prepare, the more people you will either be forced to turn away or share your preparations with.

If stuff does hit the fan and you decide to share with others, for many reasons, it is best to do so in secret.
 

Bug Out Mistakes

There are actually a few mistakes people make when it comes to bugging out or bugging in. Some people only plan for bugging out, while others only prepare for sticking it out at home. I personally think that for the vast majority of people in the vast majority of situations, it is better to plan on staying home and riding out whatever is going on. That being said, I think everyone should have a BOB and a bug out plan. Follow this link to four Bug Out Myths. I also give a means for everyone to select multiple bug out locations, even if you don’t have a stocked bug out location.

 
Closed-Mindedness

This is probably the biggest mistake people make; getting tunnel vision and thinking the “collapse” is going to happen a certain way. This leave people vulnerable to countless other potential dangers. We should be aware that there are levels of hitting the fan and know it’s possible for the stuff to hit the fan at any time, for anyone.
 

Living in Fear

This might not be the most common mistake but it can be the most dangerous. We don’t know when or how things will go sideways. Even if we did, worrying about it isn’t going to do anything to keep it from happening. I wrote an article about finding joy in the darkness. In it, I give some tips on how to keep your spirits up, even when life is hard. In the end, all we can do is our best to be prepared and rest in the fact that things are in God’s hands. Find peace in that!

 
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Communicating During an Emergency

Today’s article was guest written by Lee Flynn.

 

Communicating During an Emergency

Whether it is a big natural disaster, or a terrorist attack, or even something that is not of national significance, the chances are that we will all face some kind of serious emergency at some point in our lifetimes. And in recent years, it seems as though such occurrences are becoming more and more likely. One of the biggest problems that people face, when hit with such emergencies, is that it becomes difficult to contact the people who they love. Whenever there is a disaster, such as the tornado in Oklahoma, or the bombings at the Boston marathon, cell phone service is often jammed, due to the sheer amount of people who are trying to contact their loved ones. And that is if you are lucky enough to even have a phone still intact, with which you can call people. For this reason, there are special preparations that need to be made in the case of an emergency. Here is a guide to communicating during an emergency.

 

General Tips

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has put together some guidelines to follow when trying to communicate during an emergency. Some of the most important tips are as follows:

  • Limit your phone calls, especially non-emergency ones, to free up space on the network and conserve battery power.
  • When you do call, keep it brief.
  • Try texting rather than calling, you may find that it goes through more easily.
  • Try other messaging services, such as email.
  • Keep your phone well charged, and keep back-up batteries if necessary.
  • Try to stay in the same place while you are placing a phone call.
  • Listen for emergency alerts on a radio if the power is out.
  • Designate a person who is out of the area to be your family’s emergency contact, so that everyone in your family knows who to contact should you get separated.

 

Making Emergency Calls

You may be injured, trapped, or witness other kinds of emergencies that require assistance from emergency services. The FCC also has instructions for making such phone calls. Some suggestions include having a backup form of communication in case the power is out, and listening for emergency alerts on the radio and on television. It also offers instructions for calling 911 in emergency situations. Authorities often learn about big emergencies through 911 calls, so don’t hesitate to call, even if you think that many other people might be doing the same.

 

Make a Plan

The Federal Emergency Management Association also offers emergency preparation advice, through its website ready.gov. On here, they stress the importance of making a plan that all of your family can learn and follow. This includes an emergency communication plan, and a meeting point for if you get separated. This should allow for emergencies that may occur when you are all at home, as well as emergencies that might happen when you are in different places, such as school, work, daycare, sporting events, commuting, or faith organizations. Ready.gov has a downloadable plan on its website, and recommends that you send it to all of your family and friends, keep a copy in your car and with your food storage, and practice a few times until you all know it well.

 
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National Geographic’s American Blackout

I had the opportunity to watch National Geographic’s American Blackout
National Geographic’s American Blackout and thought I would give you my thoughts on the show. If you haven’t watched it, be warned, there are some spoilers in this article.

The premise of the movie is that there was a major cyber-attack that brings the electric grid down from coast to coast. The show is presented as if the content from citizens who took the video on their phones and video cameras was collected after power was restored,

The show mainly follows five groups, though video clips are shown from others. One group is comprised of a family of preppers and the boyfriend of the daughter. The second group is made up of four students trapped in an elevator. The third group is a wealthy couple somewhere in New York who live on the 46th floor. The fourth group is a family with a young daughter and a pregnant wife is who is due any day. The last group is a mother and teen-aged son. The mother is a nurse who leaves the son alone for most of the blackout.

The movie flows from day to day, giving viewers an idea of how quickly thing get bad. I had originally thought about reviewing it day by day but I think a better approach might be to go by categories. Just after the show starts and the power goes out, the groups mentioned above are often filming themselves. There is an occasional newscast report from a television station that is on generator power.
 
 
Water

Water is the most important of the five basic needs (occasionally security trumps it) and the only family that was prepared for this was the family of preppers. In one scene the man from the couple in New York goes into a store and tries to cut in front of everyone else, attempting to buy a gallon of water with his credit card. People were willing to pay $40 for one gallon of water!

I realize that many of us cannot store enough water, but knowing how to filter it and make it safe to drink is something every prepper should know. I cover several methods in the article The Storage, Filtration And Purification Of Water.

Nat Geo also made a comment about the average home in America using 400 gallons of water a day. That seems high to me but I have not researched it. In a survival situation the number that is often given is 2 gallons of water per person per day for drinking and miscellaneous uses.
 
 
Food

In the beginning of the blackout, people were throwing blackout parties, cooking a lot of the food before it went bad. The New York couple was eating caviar and drinking warm champagne. The man got sick later in the movie. Here are some tips on Keeping Food Cold Without Electricity.

The prepper family had quite the setup. They bugged out early to their remote location. It was stocked with some food in a closet inside the home. They called that their “decoy food”. If anyone broke in, they would steal that and quit looking. The preppers had 2+ years of food stored in their bunker. There was a neighbor who came to the fence asking for food. The father told the neighbor they could not help him, but the daughter’s boyfriend piped up and said they had plenty to spare. This raised the tension and the father ended up pulling his firearm and telling the neighbor to leave. The daughter’s boyfriend later snuck out and gave the neighbor some canned goods.

Nat Geo, made a text comment about the quantity of foods that are shipped and transported every day in the USA. Since the power was down, the cranes that offload ships in ports that require electricity weren’t functional and the gas pumps were unable to pump diesel into trucks. Therefore, none of those goods would be transported. I covered the impact this would have in When the Trucks Stops

There were many food related riots and eventually the federal government stepped in, instituting “rationing and fair allocation” of resources such as food, water and gasoline. Priority was given to EMS, police and military.
 
 
Power

Nat Geo stated that a cyber-attack could cause power surges, causing damage to the electric grid. I have read several articles over the years about municipalities and state and federal government finding proof that hackers from other countries have hacked into the grid.

The prepper family had a solar energy system and a bicycle generator. The father stated they had enough energy stored in their battery array to last two months.

One of the people in the elevator has a wind up cell phone charger that he used to keep his phone charged.

Nat Geo said that only 10% of the traffic lights across the countries have any type of backup power. This was leading to a lot of accidents.

I have covered multiple ways we can Prepare for the Grid to go Down. Just follow that link.

They said that cell towers often have backup power but that service would be drastically reduced due to load. This is often the case in any type of emergency. Often times a text message will still go through when a phone call will not.
 
 
Shelter

The couple on the 46th floor, having to go up and down the stairs was hating life by the third day.

The four people trapped in the elevator were all college students who were heading home for spring or summer break. No one knew where they were, let alone that they were trapped in the elevator. They tried to pry the doors open without any luck. Long story short, one student fell to his death from the top of the elevator. The other three made a harness to climb up the elevator shaft and were able to use a knife that one of the students had to cut through a grate of sorts and climb out. They were still trapped on the top of the building. A second student later died on the building roof.

Since there was no light at night, people were using candles, which was leading to fires. In fact, the family with the young daughter and pregnant wife were chased from their home due to fire. They had candles scattered throughout the house. I’m guessing that was the cause of the fire.

Many fires were out of control, as there was no water pressure to put them out. Nat Geo gave the number of 3,500 gallons of water being needed to extinguish the average house fire.

 
 
Security

Security for all of the groups was laughable. Multiple times people went to areas where there were known riots and gang activity. While I do think Nat Geo had the characters venture into these areas so we could see what things were like, I also know that this behavior isn’t limited to a few people in this youtube-driven, “selfie” taking, YOLO world we live in.

The prepper family had firearms but no real security procedures or plans in place. The son was standing the late watch when the neighbors who got food from the daughter’s boyfriend earlier came back to get more. They captured him and forced him inside the home. The son directed them to the decoy food. He then woke everyone. The father brought them all into the bunker at that point.

Later that day, the neighbors, now turned bandits, came back to see what else they could find. The family had a surveillance system and could see them coming. The dad went out alone to confront them, and got his rifle taken away.

The New York couple ended up near a riot and stole a can of peaches that they then brought back to their building. They were followed by a man who demanded the can of peaches. When he was told “no”, he attacked. The husband used the “assault can” to pummel the man. They heard sounds in the hallway of their apartment building and went to explore each time. This never ended well, and in the end, might have cost them everything.

The young man whose mother was a nurse had been on his own for over a week. He found a pistol in his mother’s room but had no idea how to use it safely.

As of the third day, there was a dusk till dawn curfew, which was largely ignored. The National Guard was asked to help patrol the streets in several cities. Martial law was talked about a few times.

 
 
Miscellaneous Items

People had little to no cash and, since ATM’s weren’t working, they had no way to pay for goods. One of the shops shown was willing to take trades. Many people don’t think cash will be valuable in such a disaster. I think it will be extremely valuable for a short time. In the show, the media frequently said the government was close to solving the problem. As long as people think the system will go back to what it was, cash will have value. If weeks and months go by, it will then lose its value.

Hospitals were overrun with people. Hence the nurse being kept from her son for many days. Because there was no power, people were doing things that they had never done before, like opening a can of peaches with a butcher knife. This led to a major laceration, which seemed to get infected and make the man quite ill.

I think it was around the seventh day when the President requested international aid, to deliver goods to the American people.

It was mentioned that there are roughly 700,000 HAM radio operators in the US. In this type of scenario this might be the most reliable form of communication.

It was also said that there is an estimated 3 million preppers in the US. I would love to know how they got to that number.

The lack of ability to have a working water and sewage system was mentioned a few times, but I think they grossly undersold the damage this would cause. I covered Survival Sanitation sometime ago. I linked to three great articles from Tactical Intelligence and I highly recommend all three. If you live in an area that is on city sewer and water, just think for a minute about what might happen if all of the toilets in your neighborhood stopped working for a week or longer. Knowing how to manage that, and all of the garbage is something we should all consider.

If memory serves, the power came back on to all of America after nine days. Things just don’t work like that. If power fluctuation can cause damage to parts of the grid all across the nation, it is going to take a lot longer than a little over a week to get them all repaired or replaced. I listened to a podcast with an electrical engineer named John Kappenman who has testified before Congress on the dangers to the power grid from EMP. He stated that we have some components in our grid that have a 30 year shelf life and are 50 years old. If that wasn’t bad enough, he said we no longer make some of these power plants and would need to have them shipped from other countries. Power might come up for a portion of the country, but there is no way a switch can be flipped and the entire countries’ power restored.

The father of the prepper family came off as a jerk to me. I agreed with most of what he said but he could have used far better arguments to make his points.
 
 
Final Thoughts

American Blackout is worth watching, if for no other reason than to decide what you would do differently. If we see a nationwide blackout, things are very, very bad. It would take a major event to bring down our entire electric grid and I would expect it to take much longer than nine days to repair.

I think this would be a good show to have a non-prepper watch. It could plant the preparedness seed.

If you had a chance to watch it, please let me know what you thought!

 
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China Flexing, Bats are biting and the Preparedness Review is on its way

Here are four quick things I think you should be aware of.
 
 
China Flexing

You may have seen the article from the Washington Times titled Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S. It says that:

“Chinese state-run media revealed for the first time this week that Beijing’s nuclear submarines can attack American cities as a means to counterbalance U.S. nuclear deterrence in the Pacific.”

It surprises me that China would make an open statement like this. I don’t think they are threatening to destroy us, but I think they want us to know they could. I doubt anything will come of this, save more saber rattling.
 
 
Bats are Biting…and Spreading Disease

Here is a report from FOX News Insider called Alarming New Study: Bats Can Spread SARS-Like Virus Directly to Humans. It says:

“A new report states that a SARS-like virus could spread directly from bats to humans. Some believe bats were responsible for the 2003 SARS outbreak, which killed more than 750 people worldwide, but it was never conclusively proven.”

And goes on to say:

“The new bat-to-human discovery suggests that the control tactic may have limited effectiveness because a SARS-like virus remains loose in the wild and could potentially spark another outbreak.

“It changes the equation” for public health, said Peter Daszak, a senior author of the study and president of EcoHealth Alliance, a group involved in conservation and global health. “We can close all the markets in China and still have a pandemic.”

The article states that in 2003, the virus spread quickly from human to human and had a mortality (death) rate of 9%. I have stated before that a pandemic is the scenario of the “least likely to happen scenarios” that concerns me the most. If one infected person boards an international flight, the virus could spread worldwide in a matter of days.

I have covered the topic before in How a True Pandemic May Look and in Flu and Pandemic Preps to Buy Now.
 
 
The Preparedness Review

The next item I want to cover today is that the bi-annual Preparedness Review has just released the third addition. I am humbled to be in this addition with some fantastic presenters! There is a lot of great information, so make sure you download a copy!
 
 
Daylight Savings

Here are some things that should be checked biannually and daylight savings is a convenient reminder.

• Smoke detectors. The batteries are most likely still good, so use them in a remote or some other non-life saving item. Put new ones in the smoke detectors.

•All Kits; change out any seasonal clothing, rotate food if needed.

•Flash lights, if you keep the batteries in the flashlights then makes sure they haven’t started to corrode and make sure the flashlight still works. Another way to keep the batteries near the flashlight but not inside it is to put them in a plastic bag and secure the bag to the flashlight with a rubber-band.

• If you have a generator then this would be a good time to exercise it and do any routine maintenance.

 
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31 Gallon Garbage Cans for Food Storage

31 Gallon Garbage Cans for Food Storage

Years ago, while building our food storage, we bought a bunch of 3-gallon, food-grade buckets from a bakery. We used 1 gallon Mylar bags for all of our LTS (Long Term Storage) and found that we could fit 3-4 1-gallon bags in each bucket. When we decided we wanted to add to our food storage, we discovered that the bakery we had previously purchased buckets from had gone out of business. I had previously tried stopping at other bakeries to get buckets and had only gotten a few over the course of a week.

I decided to try and find another solution. I came up with 31 gallon garbage cans. Below I have some factors that I considered and my thoughts on each.
 
 
Food Security

When I started prepping and researching food storage, a lot of the information I found made it seem like you had to put the food in Mylar bags and the Mylar bags in food grade buckets. The truth is that you only need food grade buckets if you’re storing your food directly in the bucket, without the Mylar bag. Unless you’re using the food stored directly in the bucket frequently, I recommend putting it in 1 gallon Mylar bags. This way you will only have a small amount of food to use at one time and the food in the other bags isn’t exposed to oxygen and the moisture in the air.

If you’re using Mylar, it is food grade, so you can put the Mylar filled bags in any container that is dry and won’t puncture the bag.

I have read many stories of mice and other rodents chewing through plastic buckets to get to the contents. This just isn’t going to be a problem with a metal can.
 
 
Cost

Home Depot has a 31 gallon steel trash can listed for $24.97. I bought mine at a local Menard’s for a similar price.

I have looked at a few different places who sell food grade buckets online and they are not all of the same quality. I have purchased from Bay Tec in the past, so I am going to use their prices, as I trust the quality and the price is somewhere in the middle. They have a six pack of 5 gallon buckets for $27.54 and a 3 pack of buckets for $14.07. lids for them are $1.99 each for a total of $50.55. You might be able to find cheaper buckets, especially if you can find a local source. I had a great one for a while; the bakery I mentioned above. They kept all used buckets and sold them. Other places I found are willing to give them away but getting to them before they throw them out was a trick!
 
 
Storage Space

All of the buckets that I have are 3-gallon. If you have 5-gallon buckets, you’ll be able to fit more food in the same footprint. As you can see in the image, eight 3-gallon, plastic buckets take up a bit more room than the garbage can. If you have 5-gallon buckets, they’ll obviously stack higher than the garbage can.

I can usually fit 4 full 1-gallon Mylar bags in a 3-gallon bucket. In the picture, I have 32 full Mylar bags in the buckets. I have 22 full Mylar bags in this garbage can. I think I could probably fit 25 in if I tried.

One idea I have is to cut a thick piece of plywood, wide enough to cover the entire opening of the garbage can. This would allow stacking items on top of the can, allowing more storage space. You could place cans side by side and do this with as many cans as you like or have room for.

For those of you with pets, we are able to fit two 38-pound bags of dog food in one can!
 
 
Final Thoughts

We use a mix of both buckets and cans. The cans work nicely and are cheaper than buckets in many cases. The only real downside to buckets is the weight. If we decided to bug out and wanted to bring the contents, we would have to partially empty the can and then carry it out to the truck and trailer.

 
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GridEx II, Camping Hacks and a Discount at Guardian Survival Gear

Today I want to bring a few things to your attention that aren’t big enough for their own article.

GridEx II

I have gotten email from folks who are concerned about GridEX II, which is taking place on November 13 & 14. They’re concerned about mass power outages. It seems there are some in the preparedness niche that are making GridEx to be something it really isn’t. According to the North American Electronic Reliability Corporation:

“The objectives of the NERC Grid Security Exercise (GridEx) series are to exercise the current readiness of participating Electricity Sub-sector entities to respond to a cyber incident and provide input for security program improvements to the bulk power system. GridEx is a biennial international grid security exercise that uses best practices and other contributions from the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

NERC conducted the first sector-wide grid security exercise, GridEx 2011, on November 16-17, 2011. The exercise was designed to validate the readiness of the Electricity Sub-sector to respond to a cyber incident, strengthen utilities’ crisis response functions, and provide input for internal security program improvements. The GridEx 2011 after-action report is below.”

As mentioned, they have done this before, in 2011. They are preforming a table top exercise, which is like “pretending” the grid has been hacked. They will gameplay how they will respond. There is no risk of the grid going down because of this. I think this is actually a great thing! It shows that they know there are vulnerabilities and that they are trying to figure out how they can and will fix those vulnerabilities.

If you want more details on GridEx II, you can read an overview here.
 
 

41 Camping Hacks That Are Borderline Genius

When used in this context, a “hack” is a very clever way to do something. Thanks to GK for sending me this link. There are some really good ideas here that some of us might want to incorporate into our plans.
 
 

Guardian
 
 
 
A licensed distributor of Guardian Survival Gear has agreed to be a Preparedness Club Supporter and is offering a 10% discount to members of the Preparedness Club. Wrex believes that we need to be equipped to be our own first responders and wants to offer this discount so that we can be better prepared to do so! Thanks Wrex!!
 
 
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Important Documents

There are some preparedness tasks that are no fun.  This is one of them, but I think it is an important one that everyone should do.  We all have important documents, but for many of us they are scattered in different places and not protected. 

What kind of documents should be protected?

Anything that you think might need in an emergency, survival type situation.  Below are some examples.

  • Birth Certificates
  • Photo copy of driver’s license
  • Social Security Cards
  • Medication list
  • Important medical papers
  • Mortgage paperwork – Trudee printed off a “property account summary” that she found doing a county property record search.  This is important because I have heard cases after a hurricane or tornado where authorities will not let you in without proof of address.
  • Insurance policies and agent contact info
  • Hard copy of all name, model and serial number of expensive items, taking pictures is a good idea as well.
  • Hard copy of important phone numbers

Another idea is to take a picture of each document and save it as a .jpg or .gif.  Scanning them works as well, then putting those files on a thumb drive.  You could also store digital copies of these files on “the cloud”, Google docs or the like.  I personally don’t trust google and have moved everything from them, but to each their own. 

Place all the important files and the thumb drive in a fireproof safe.  Now your documents are all together and much more protected.  If you need to bug out quickly, there is just one item to grab, that fireproof safe!

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Preparedness Tip; Safety at the Pump

gas pump

I have seen a couple news stories recently about theft at the gas pump, crimes other than the price of the gas (hehe).
 
 
Skimming

The first type of theft is called “skimming”. I found out about it from a local news story. You can read the story and watch the video from the Twin Cities here. A couple from California drove through many states and inserted an electronic device into the inside of gas pumps that “skimmed” peoples credit card numbers. They came back later to collect those numbers. They racked up thousands of dollars in debt on the collected card numbers.

You might be wondering how the thieves got inside the pumps. The article points out that there are only two companies that make gas pumps and both use a universal key to open them. Gas stations can have the pumps rekeyed at a cost of around $450 for 8 pumps.

If the Mr. and Mrs. Dirtbag who were arrested can figure this crime out, you can be guaranteed others have as well. The only way to know for sure if a pump has a skimmer in it is to open the pump and check. The only thing we can do as consumers is check for the inspected sticker on the pump you’re going to use. If it’s broken or there isn’t one, move to another pump. Since these dirtbags need to open the pump, chances are they will only install the skimmers on pumps that are furthest from the watchful clerks. Using a pump that is closer to the building and faces the clerks also might limit vulnerability.
 
 
Sliders

This second type of theft is targeting women at the pump. You can read the article and see the video reported from Virginia here. These thieves look for a woman who is pumping gas or has gone inside to pay and has left the window down or door unlocked. They “slide” below level of the window or sight-line and grab her purse.

To prevent this, the most important thing is to practice good Situational Awareness and utilize Levels of Alert; The Cooper Color Code. Put your window all the way up at the station and make sure your doors are locked, even when you’re standing right there.
 
 
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Drills to Test Your Preparedness

Bomb Drill

Throughout life we are tested in a variety of ways; to see how much we learned, how skillful we have become, how resilient we are and in many more ways. Preparedness is no different! We may have some idea of how well prepared we are but there are only two ways to know for sure; by actually having an event that puts all of our planning into action, or by testing it before an event takes place.

I have come up with six types of drills that you could use to put your plans and preps to the test. First let me give some tips that might make these smoother with less resistance from the family.

Some of these drills will take a lot less time than others. Taking five minutes to do a fire or tornado drill isn’t that big of a deal. However, deciding to do a black out drill over a weekend isn’t something you want to do on a moment’s notice. Give everyone plenty of notice about the drills that will take more time. This gives everyone time to find things to occupy themselves without electricity.

The goal of doing these drills is to learn your shortcomings. Document anything and everything that you find you’re lacking in. If you plan ahead for some of these drills, you might discover some things you need to correct before the actual drill. Add these items to the list as well. For example, if you plan to do a blackout drill in two weeks and you decide to cook all hot meals on the grill, you might check to make sure you have enough propane. If you notice that you need to fill up, there is a good chance that you might be low on propane in the future. Getting another full propane tank might be prudent.
 

Fire Drill

Children are no strangers to fire drills. Schools do them a few times a year. Businesses have started doing them as well. Doing them at home makes good sense but they can be a little trickier, especially if you don’t live on the ground floor. If you have pets make sure to include them. If you live in an area where wild fires are common, this could become more of a bug out drill.
 

Tornado Drill

There are a lot of us who live in areas where tornados are a part of life. How long does it take your family to get to your shelter? Trudee can get herself and all of the dogs to the basement in less than thirty seconds. She grabs treats and they all follow her. If you live in an area that is prone to other extreme weather, run a drill for it!

 
Bug Out Drill

There are two types of bug out drills, one to see just how long it would take your family to get the vehicle packed and everyone inside and the other to see how long it takes to get packed and living with only what you packed. The time it takes to get packed and be ready to pull out should be measured in minutes; preferably less than fifteen. If you’re going to actually bug out to your BOL and live off of what you packed, you’re definitely going to want to give the family plenty of warning.
 

Kitchen Sink Drill

I named this drill the kitchen sink drill because you have time to pack everything, including “the kitchen sink”. The name of this drill is facetious. I don’t really think you should pack everything. This would be an event that is much longer-lasting than an event for a typical bug out, like a wildfire. You have plenty of warning and there is a high chance that your home may catch fire. For this event you need to move quickly but have enough time to take items that may be needed for a longer stay away from home. Having a list written ahead of time that names the items to grab and their locations will save a lot of time.
 

Blackout Drill

This is one of the drills you’ll want to give the family plenty of warning about, so they can make plans. There are many different ways to do this. I have read of people shutting off the main breaker. Others unplug everything except the fridge and the freezer. If you do this they should both be off limits. Put the food you plan on eating for the weekend in coolers. The goal is to only use items that require no electricity. If you have a generator, you run the generator to power the items you want to use. If you are on city water and sewer, keep in mind that if there is a blackout in your area, you won’t have running water. Make sure you have plenty of things to keep everyone busy. I also recommend doing this when the temperatures are bearable. While true that there is a chance you could lose power when the temps are not pleasant, the first time or two you do this drill it is to find holes. After that, if you want to test things when the temps are more extreme, use caution, but go for it!
 

Civil Unrest/Batten Down Drills

This drill could be added to some of the others or done on its own. I don’t expect much civil unrest where I live, but if there were, among other things, I would be standing watch after dark. Having a plan in place for spouses to share four hour watches during the night is a completely different thing than actually doing it. Here are a couple articles I have written on this type of situation. They are called Keeping Watch Once It’s Hit the Fan and Light, Sound and Smell Discipline.
 

Final Thoughts

I hope these drills are helpful. If you follow through on any of them, I would love to hear about them!
 

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Developing a Tire Blowout Kit

change a flat

Do you know how to take care of a flat tire? Do you have what you need to do so in your vehicle?

Knowing how to change a tire is a skill every driver should have. While true, you might be able to call someone for help, that might not always be the case. I have had more than my share of flats, so I thought I would share my experience with you.

There are some items that I think each car should have. I call this a “tire blow out kit”. These items are: 4 Way Lug Wrench, a can of Fix-A-Flat, a usable spare, a pair of leather work gloves and a jack.

Some lug nuts have a special tool and you can only remove them with that specific tool. I have seen some lug wrenches that are all but worthless against any lug nut that has been on a vehicle for any length of time. This is why I like the 4 Way Lug Wrench. It fits many types of lug nuts and you can apply pressure from multiple points.

Some people don’t like to use Fix-A-Flat. It’s true that it will not fix all flats. However, it has fixed a couple of flats for me and people I know. I recommend having a can in each vehicle and knowing when it is appropriate to use. If you’re going to replace the tire and have a working spare, it might be better to use the spare and skip the Fix-a-Flat, as it can make it a bit more difficult to remove the tire.

Check your spare tire now and again, to make sure it’s full. If your vehicle can hold a full size spare, I recommend it. The “doughnut”, AKA the “55 MPH” spare, should only be used to get home or to a garage to have the tire fixed or a new tire put on.

I had one bad blow out on a freeway once going 65 mph. By the time I could pull over, the wire belts were sticking out. This was when I was young and my idea of vehicle preparedness was making sure the oil was changed and there was gas in the tank; so taking the tire off was a pain, literally. Living in Minnesota, I often keep a pair of winter gloves and a pair of leather gloves, having “the right tool for the job” and all that.

There are many types of jacks, and where you place them varies by vehicle. Many vehicles will say where to place the jack in the owner’s manual. As a general rule, you place the jack on the frame of the car.

Here is a video that shows the process of jacking the car up, changing a flat, lowering the car and tightening the lug nuts.

One thing I want to add is that I have had a couple lug nuts that were all but welded on and I could not get them to loosen. In this situation, I use something I call a “breaker bar”. It’s simply a pipe of some kind that I use as a lever, which is placed over the lug nut wrench to give the leverage to break the nut loose.

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