April 26, 2015

Methods of Water Purification

Methods of water purification

It has been some time since I covered water purification, so I thought it was due. Water is probably the most important of the five basic human needs (water, food, shelter, energy and security) that will be taxed in a disaster scenario.

After the earthquake in Haiti, far too many people died from Cholera because of dirty water supplies. You might be thinking that their supply wasn’t the greatest to begin with. Think back to Katrina. The flooding was so bad that the water supply wasn’t safe. I believe it was Budweiser who shut down a plant and started bottling water to send to victims.

I’ll list all of the ways I know of, with their pluses and minuses, to purify water. If you can think of others, please add them to the comment section.
 
 
Purifiers

Out of all other methods, a water purifier is the only method that will not only kill bacteria and viruses, but will remove chemicals as well.

There are several styles of purifiers, and they are not all created equal. I cover many of them in Types of Water Purifiers and Their Applications. There are some filters that are marketed as purifiers. The difference is that filters filter out bacteria and cysts but not viruses. Purifiers filter out bacteria, cysts and viruses, as well as chemicals, prescription meds and on and on.

I recommend a ceramic water purifier and believe them to be the top of the line in terms of purification. Homespun Filters sells these types of filters at a far reduced cost ($33 for a US made filter kit) than you will find anywhere else. They’re able to do so because they sell kits so you can make your own water purifier.

I personally believe that a purifier should be the primary means of water purification. But as the motto states; “Two is one, and one is none”, knowing other methods, and having redundant purification is a good idea.
 
 
Bleach

Bleach is cheap, easy to store and will leave your insides whiter! If you use this method, make sure to use unscented bleach. Bleach will kill pathogens, but doesn’t filter out debris or chemicals.
1. Use bleach that does not have an added scent (like lemon).
2. Add 1/8 teaspoon (8 drops or about 0.75 milliliters) of household liquid bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) of water.
3. Mix well and wait 30 minutes or more before drinking.

If water is cloudy:
1. Use bleach that does not have an added scent (like lemon).
2. Add 1/4 teaspoon (16 drops or 1.5 milliliters) of household liquid bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) of water.
3. Mix well and wait 30 minutes or more before drinking.
My biggest problem with this method is that you’re drinking bleach. I know it is diluted, but it is still bleach. Don’t get me wrong, in an emergency if the only water source was a river and my only option was bleach, I would put a pillow case over a pot, and pour water through the pillow case into the pot, then treat the water with bleach. But God gave me the foresight to prepare ahead of time, so I can have another primary method. Bleach also degrades over time, so I would only consider it effective for six months to a year.

Where I can see this method being very useful is if large amounts of water needed to be purified for a large group of people.
 
 
Chlorine

Chlorine has been used by municipalities for a very long time for water treatment. Chlorine, like bleach, is a toxin, but diluted enough to be “safe” to drink. I feel the same about chlorine as I do about bleach, with the exception that I have been drinking tap water from a municipality all my life and haven’t keeled over yet. Seriously though, I do wonder what effect the chemicals used to make our water safe have on us long term.

I got an email recently about using pool shock for water purification and had to say I didn’t know anything about it. I did a little research and found this article on the topic.

The article goes over High Test Hypochlorite (HTH) (pool shock) as well as some other forms of chlorine. The positives of HTH are that, stored correctly, it will last longer than you and it is cheap. The down side is that if it gets wet it will off gas chlorine and can corrode metal.

Not all HTH is usable. Buy pool shock without algaecides and fungicides. More safety precautions have to be taken with this method than any other. See the linked article for more information and suggestions.

Because of the shelf life, I would consider this before bleach as a means to purify lots of water fast. I would probably want to let it sit for a day or two and let the chlorine off gas from the water some as well.
 
 

Purification tablets

The active ingredient in water purification tablets is often chlorine dioxide. These tablets are effective against bacteria, viruses and cysts, such as Cryptosporidium. Depending on brand, one or two tablets treat one quart of water. I don’t know if they leave an after taste. These should be a short-term solution and would be a good addition to a BOB.
 
 
UV
Using an ultraviolet purifier will kill viruses and bacteria but will not remove any chemicals or other contaminants. To use this method you will need a container to hold the water and place the UV source directly into the water. The water in that container will then be free of bacteria and viruses. A downside to these is that they require outside power, either from batteries or electricity.
In my opinion this is a great option for backup purification.
Steripen and TrojanUV are two companies that produce this type of purification technology.
 
 
Iodine

Iodine tablets are effective at killing many things except Cryptosporidium. Some people are allergic to iodine and cannot use it for water purification. Iodine tablets will also leave a chemical aftertaste and should be a short-term solution. With the drawbacks of iodine tablets, they’re not my first pick. If it’s a good fit for you then they might be a good addition to your BOB.
 
 
Boiling

This is another one that I have seen a lot of misinformation on. Some people say that water needs to boil for x amount of time. However, according to the Wilderness Medical Society, water temperatures above 160° F (70° C) kill all pathogens within 30 minutes and above 185° F (85° C) within a few minutes. So in the time it takes for the water to reach the boiling point (212° F or 100° C) from 160° F (70° C), all pathogens will be killed, even at high altitude. In other words once water starts to boil, the baddies are dead.

Boiling is the cheapest way to purify water. You need a pot and a flame. It will suffice to do in small amounts, but doing this on an ongoing basis for all consumed water for a family would get old fast.

 
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Review of the Paracord Grenade

paracord Grenade

I was recently sent a bag of goodies from Survival Frog.com that I want to tell you about. They have also really stepped up and are giving away ten Paracord Grenades,! See below for details on how to enter.

Paracord Grenade

I thought this was a clever idea! It’s a mini-kit, containing a knife blade, fire striker, tin foil, cotton tinder, a carabiner, swivels, sinkers, fishing line, hooks and floats. If you look at the images on their site, the blade that came with mine is the one shown in images, not the saw posted on their site.

Paracord grenade contents size Content list

All of the above mentioned items are wrapped in Paracord goodness, nine feet of it! Paracord is a nylon rope that first saw use in parachutes in World War II. It is made from seven two-ply threads shielded in an outer nylon jacket. Paracord has a tensile strength of 550 lbs., hence the name 550-cord. If needed, you can put two sections together, doubling the weight limit. Its diameter is only 1/8”. Paracord is also mildew and rot resistant, aiding to its versatility.

Nine feet of Paracord might not seem like a lot, but if you find yourself in a survival situation where you need to use these supplies to live, it could be separated into strands and used for fishing line, fishing nets, snares and many other uses.

paracord grenade size paracord grenade stowed

I would have to say that if I had the option, I would pick a couple different items. The blade is like a scalpel without the handle, which is a little difficult to manipulate. This can be mitigated by placing the handle portion in tinfoil to give you something extra to hold on to. The floats are not big enough to be useful with the sinkers (weights) attached. I did a little test and it pulled them right under. Again, if you’re in a survival situation, you could use a little piece of wood for a float (bobber), or use both hooks in a small trot line to increase your odds of catching something.

Paracord grenade contents size

Be forewarned; I tried to reassemble the grenade and could not. I think I loosened the paracord too much, and then forgot how I untied it. However, this allowed me to do a little testing. I undid a section of the paracord, revealing the strands, and unwound one of them. I then took one of those sections and was able to use it as fishing line. It’s a little thicker than fishing line, but it would work. If you added some more sinkers and a few hooks, and carefully added them to the inside of the grenade, you could make a very nice trot line. If you’re not sure what a trot line is, see my article on Survival Fishing.

The weight of the Paracord Grenade is so minimal, I would not think twice about attaching it to the outside of a BOB.

The Paracord Grenade Retails for $17.97.
 
 
Paracord Cobra Survival Belt

paracord beltI was sent a Paracord Cobra Survival Belt as well, so I thought I would give you my thoughts on it while I’m at it. My first impression is that it has a chemical smell to it. Some might not notice, but I am pretty sensitive to smells. That shouldn’t be a problem though, since paracord is rot and resistant. Washing it won’t be a problem.
 
 
The belt is nicely built and attractive looking. It’s not something I would wear every day, but if I was heading for some dirt time, I wouldn’t hesitate.

I mentioned above that paracord can hold up to 550 pounds. When you double or weave the lengths together, you increase the weight capacity. Because of how the belt is made, it will easily have the capacity to withstand far more than 550 pounds. In fact, the buckle would give before the paracord will.

The belt contains over 120’ of paracord. This would allow for far more uses than I can brainstorm!

Paracord Cobra Survival Belt retails for $59.99.
 
 
“Would You Survive If…” Survival Playing Cards

Playing cardsI was also sent a deck of the “Would You Survive If…” Survival Playing Cards. This is like a deck of cards and a 52 page “Worst Case Scenario)” book. Some of the items they briefly outline how to survive are: escape a car submerged in water, survive being struck by lightning, survive hypothermia, survive a cruise line disaster, survive catching on fire and survive an active shooter.
 
 
The price seems a bit high to me. I can get a deck of cards for under a buck, and The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook 500 page, 11 volume series from Amazon for $20.

Where I could see this being a useful preparedness tool, is giving them as gifts to preppers that are into this stuff and to people who aren’t into preparedness, but with whom you want to plant that seed.

“Would You Survive If…” Survival Playing Cards retails for $19.97.
 
 
Survival Frog.com

I want to thank the folks at Survival Frog.com; both for the items they sent me and for the opportunity to give away 10 Paracord Grenades.

To enter, simply send an email to contest (AT) preparedchristian [dot} net. Only one entry per person please. A note to Yahoo users, Yahoo blocks all email traffic from Prepared Christian. If you win, I will send you an email from another account they don’t block.

Contest ends at 11:59pm CST Friday, February 13th. (oooh spooky).

 
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Practical EDC

We’ve all got items we carry every day, hence “EDC” or “Every Day Carry”. When I started prepping, I saw a lot of advice on what people should carry. Some of the items were neck or other types of knives, para-cord, cash, fishing gear (a few hooks, sinkers and line) and on and on. The trouble is, most of it just wasn’t practical to me. I’m not knocking anyone who carries a neck knife, but I hate wearing anything on my neck.

I think having a fishing kit is a good idea, in case one has an accident and goes off road in an isolated area and help isn’t coming quickly. However, while not practical for my EDC, I have one in the glove box of each car instead.

When it comes to EDC, carry what works and is practical for you! The following is what works for me.

My approach to EDC is to be modular, meaning I have smallish containers that I can trade in and out depending on my plans. For example, last weekend I needed to make a road trip to give a talk at a men’s retreat. I didn’t want to bring my whole kit so I grabbed the pieces I needed and combined them.

I keep my BOB in the car because the car isn’t ever very far from me. If I need to use it as a BOB, or GHB (get home bag) it is always ready. Because of this, I don’t need to carry gear like the fishing kit, and can just carry the things I will need to get through my day.

I hate pockets full of stuff, so I carry most of my gear in my laptop bag, which isn’t ever far from me either. My core gear, the gear I always keep on my person is: a folder knife, a flashlight, a money clip, emergency cash, and my phone.

In the laptop bag, I keep a small first aid kit with some OTC meds, a Swiss army knife, and lip balm, a thumb drive with important data, a pen and paper, and my kindle.

The purpose of EDC is to get you through your day and through possible and likely scenarios. If you’re carrying a small fishing kit on your person and, like me, don’t run the risk of going off road in an area where I would not be spotted, you might be okay leaving it as a piece of your car kit.

Again, I think you need to tailor your EDC to your life, carry what you use and works for you. If you carry around a bag of gear or pockets full of gear you never use, it might become cumbersome, frustrating and you might decide to quit carrying it all completely.

If you want to carry all kinds of gear, go with it, just don’t feel like you have to.
 
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Building Food Storage

Building Food Storage

In terms of cost and scope, food storage is probably the biggest branch of preparedness. The larger your family and the more food you want to store, the costlier and more complex planning how to build your food storage can get. Having been at this a while, I thought I would give some advice that some of you might find useful. I’m also hoping some of you who have been at this a while as well, will chime in with your $.02.

Food storage might not be the most exciting topic but it is an important one. The stuff hit the fan for us when I lost my job a couple years back. Because of our food storage, we were able to get by on $50 some weeks at the grocery store.
 
 
How Much Food Should I Store?

Because of family size, budget, space and other concerns, this is completely subjective. Please forgive this lame answer but; as much as you can! I used to set goals; 90 days, 6 months, a year and so on, but have changed my thinking since then. I still think those goals are great and, if possible, we should strive for them, but why stop when you reach one goal?

If you’re following the “golden rule of food storage”; eat what you store, store what you eat, the majority of food you store will be consumed on rotation, so it is not money wasted.

You will also have the added comfort of knowing you can provide for one of your family’s five basic human needs for an extended period of time. If you choose to share, it will give you that much more to assist those you choose to bless.
 
 
Expiration Dates

Most expiration dates you see on packaging is a marketing ploy. Pay heed if it is perishable food, but my research has shown that the dates listed for canned goods, most dry goods and bulk staples are, as I said, marketing ploy. I wrote two articles touching more on this. Feel free to read Expiration Dates; Fact or Fiction? and Shelf Life of Comfort Foods for more information.
 
 
Getting Started

Getting started with food storage can seem overwhelming, but if you keep the “golden rule of food storage” in mind, it becomes much more manageable a task. What I recommend is that you start a food log. Any time any shelf stable food is used in the kitchen, you enter it in the log. A shelf stable food is one that can last for months without refrigeration. After a couple weeks, you will have a good idea of the storable foods that your family eats on a regular basis.

I recommend setting a low, very achievable goal to start with. Go for two weeks of shelf stable food on top of what you’re consuming regularly. For example, if you eat green beans for meals twice a week, you would want four cans total; the two for normal use, and two for storage. You’ll lump them all together and rotate through them.

Once you have two weeks of food stored, aim for a month, then two and so on. A great tip for building food storage is called “copy canning”. When you take one can of green beans for a meal, buy two instead of one when you go to the store next. Remember to put it at the back of the row in the pantry!
 
 
Adding Bulk Staples

Once you’ve got two to three months of the foods you normally eat stored, you can really increase your food storage by adding bulk staples. Things like the various kinds of rice, beans, wheat and so on. Rice and beans are a prepper staple, but if the stuff hits the fan and your food storage is primarily rice and beans, well let’s just say I hope you stocked up on the Pepto and the BeanO! However, if you have three months of foods that you normally eat, and add in beans and rice or other meals made from bulk foods once or twice a week, you’ve now greatly extended that food.

One other thing you can do is see if there are long term substitutes for meals you regularly eat. For example, a favorite here is Trudee’s chicken stir fry. She used to buy fresh chicken breast, but once decided to try it with canned chicken and we actually liked it better. That is a meal we enjoy, and is primarily from our LTS (long term storage) foods.

I think continuing to add to your stockpile of foods you normally eat is a good idea, but adding in bulk staples can help you reach up to six months or more of food stored easily.
 
 
Long Term Food Storage

By this I mean freeze dried or commercially dehydrated food. These types of foods replace the oxygen in the food with nitrogen, thus giving the food a very long shelf life. Many manufacturers claim 20+ years.

Because this food isn’t consumed on a regular basis, it can seem quite expensive. However, it isn’t that much more than if you were to prepare the dish fresh.

I don’t recommend buying a #10 can of something you haven’t tried. Many manufacturers offer pouches that are 1-3 servings and are far cheaper.

Depending on the entrée, many #10 cans have 10 or so servings in them. Once opened, the can must be consumed relatively quickly. This isn’t something you would eat every day, but would add once or twice a week, again extending the “eat what you store” foods.

I know various manufacturers have sales throughout the year. Mountain House, for example, allows vendors to have a 25% off sale once a year. If you plan to buy cases, I would recommend saving up and taking advantage of a sale of this kind.
 
 
Storage Examples

Finding room to store everything can be a challenge. A very common way to store bulk foods is in Mylar, and then in food grade buckets. However, Mylar is food grade, so you can store it in other containers. I have some in buckets, but I wrote a post about storing food in 31 Gallon Garbage Cans. I can fit roughly the same amount of food in them, but they are a heck of a lot easier to find and are far more rodent resistant.

If you have any other tips or ideas please post a comment.

 
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Why Do you Prepare? Revisited

In the article I posted recently called Why Do You Really Prepare?, there were some great comments and questions. As a rule, if two people ask a similar question, I assume more might have it and don’t ask. I have covered many of these topics in the past, so I will give a quick opinion, and then provide links to past articles.
 
 

Faith First

As it is with anything, our faith needs to come first. We build other areas of our lives on that foundation, knowing who we are in Him, and who He is in us. If you want a deeper relationship with God, you have to put effort into it; reading the Bible often, prayer, praise and worship are great ways to do this.

Read this to see more of my thoughts on spiritual preparedness and being anchored in Christ.
 
 

Faith in Preparations, or in God?

A question was raised that essentially said, “By preparing, am I putting my faith in my own preparations instead of the Lord?”

The answer to this is that it is possible, but doesn’t have to be the case. There are tens of thousands of other Prepared Christians that God has called to prepare, who visit this site each month. I’m sure that there are some who are acting out of their flesh, so how do you know for sure?

In the beginning days of my prepping, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going against His will, so I kept bringing the decision to Him, and was fully willing to walk away if I felt convicted to do so. When that didn’t happen after a time, I quit asking.

“If God gives you a watch, are you honoring Him more by asking Him what time it is or by simply consulting the watch?” ~ A.W. Tozer

He gave you the common sense to see the need to prepare. If you feel led to prepare, have brought it to Him in prayer and are willing to give it up if He asks you to, then I think you’re being obedient and your faith is in Him.

 
 
How Much Time, Energy and Money Should I Spend?

This, like everything else, is relative. To me, researching preparedness has always been a passion and a hobby. I think spending more time researching it is far more productive than, say, watching tv or playing PC games.

I think that as long as you’re not putting prepping before your familial activities and duties, have at it. The same can be said for money. Let’s face it, it can be expensive to “get ready”, but I don’t think anyone should go into debt to do it. One of the things we did was use the tax return to buy one big item every year, and spend as we could afford it for other smaller tag items.
 
 
How Prepared Do I Need to Be

In You Don’t have to Outrun the Bear, I explain that the big events that many blogs hype, are probably not going to happen. If they do, it is not likely to affect the entire country, so help will eventually show up. I have no problem with folks who want to put up enough food to feed their families for a year or more. However, that simply isn’t possible for everyone. I do think everyone should try and get enough cash on hand, enough food and other supplies to batten down at home for 90 days. If things do get even moderately bad, this will ensure you’re not out and about with people frantic because they’re not prepared. The longer the event, the more frantic and dangerous people become.

If 90 days isn’t possible, then get as prepared as you can be and know you’ve done what you can, and trust in the Lord.
 
 
Helping Neighbors

I have covered this from a few angles; first, in Why Should Christians, Specifically, Be Preparing?, I explain that I believe many of us were called to prepare so that we can act as His hands and feet in dark times. In Christian Hospitality and Preparedness, I point out that while we should be hospitable, we, by no means, have to rescue everyone.

Proverbs 27:12 says

“A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”

Those who don’t prepare, if they are aware of the potential dangers, then fall into the second group. If God sees fit to let them face their consequences, should we really intervene? I’m not heartless. I will help those I can, who are in need, especially those who were unable to prepare. But as I found, the Bible recommends that we give in secret.

When we give in secret, it allows us to give on our terms, without risk of people finding out when we would rather they not know. One option is to give to a local church and let them decide who gets it. Another is to leave a care package in the middle of the night.

 
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Speaking at the Men’s Retreat at the Woodlake Bible Camp

I wanted to let you all know I have been invited to speak at the men’s retreat at the Wood Lake Bible Camp on Saturday, January 24, 2015. I will be speaking on why, as men, it is our duty to prepare for our families; based on 1 Timothy 5:8 and my e-book Why Should I Prepare and is it Biblical?

The camp is located in 22460 Assembly Road Grantsburg, WI 54840. If you’re in the area, and would like to attend the retreat and hear me speak, you can register here.

 
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Challenging Commonly Held Firearms Beliefs

Challenging Commonly Held Firearms Beliefs

I was looking over some of my older posts and noticed I haven’t written an article on using a firearm to CCW or for self-defense in quite some time. So I want to take the opportunity to give you information that I believe is important, and doesn’t necessarily fit into its own article.

I’ll start off by saying that when it comes to the use of firearms for self-defense, there are some people who are so married to their belief, that they’re almost offended when presented with opposing information. If you have a belief that I say something against, please let me know why you think I am wrong. Some of what I will say today is my opinion, but much of it is backed up by science.
 
 
The History of Firearms Training

Until recently, most of the information trainers passed on about the use of handguns for self-defense was gleaned second hand, or information they read from a book, which at the time was cutting edge. In the last fifteen years though there has been a wealth of data coming in from the video cameras that are everywhere. From police dash cams, CCTV, cell phone cameras and even from the wars overseas. There have also been several studies done by neuroscientists that have made it so we have a better understanding of how the brain works in training and in critical incidents.

Many people have learned from a friend who was a cop or in the military back in the day. I’ll go back to saying that their training was probably top notch when they got it, but it very well could be outdated.
 
 
You’ll Default to Your Highest Level of Training

Uh no you won’t. Let’s say you take an expensive 2-day handgun course and learn all kinds of great information. If you never practice those things, you will not do them when in a critical incident. You may have heard the term “muscle memory”, which is a little misleading. Your muscles don’t have a memory, your brain just learns to do things by repetition.

For example, do you need to look at your hands or the shoestrings when you tie your shoes? If you’re just learning how you might, but if you have done it for years it is now second nature. Now let’s say you buy a new pair of shoes and the salesperson shows you a new knot that performs better than the standard knot, and you only practiced it at the store. Now if we added some form of critical stress, such as a burning house, a home invasion or zombie attack and you had to put on your shoes and tie them, your brain is trained to tie them the standard way, so that is how it will respond under critical incident, your body defaults to what the brain has done most often. You can retrain it over time, but that requires repetition to build that “muscle memory”.
 
 
Training For the Worst of the Worst

Needing to defend yourself with a firearm is a worse case self-defense scenario. Criminals don’t let you know they’re going to attack or how they’ll attack. Because of this, you can’t know how things will unfold, so practicing for the worst of a worst case scenario is a good idea. If you only ever train to shoot one round at one attacker, what will you do when faced with multiple attackers and your first shot misses? With this in mind, here are my thoughts on a few related topics.
 
 
Revolvers for Self-Defense

I can’t even tell you how many times I have heard people recommend revolvers for self-defense, usually recommended because they don’t fail as semi-autos do. While this is true, it doesn’t take into consideration the entire picture. Police switched from revolvers to semi-autos many years ago for several reasons. Magazine capacity and ease of reloading are just two.

Since we’re talking about the worst of the worst, you don’t know how many attackers or how many rounds you’ll need to fire. A revolver holds six rounds, and it is very easy to fire six rounds in under 2 seconds. You might think that is overkill, but we’re talking about worst case, and there have been several police shootings where the officer emptied their magazine before the attacker went down. I’ll wager that this is often due to missed shots caused by physiological changes in the body.

If you only have those six rounds and are in need of more, while you can reload with a speed loader, unless you have practiced using it heavily, you might not to be able to do it quickly or at all under stress, due to the physiological changes in the body. Under critical stress, blood is taken from the extremities and pooled into the body’s core. This means fine motor function is highly reduced in the hands, limiting dexterity.

Yes, semi-autos fail, but one can quickly learn how to clear the three types of failures in seconds, and get back in the fight. These are much easier to manipulate with loss of fine motor skills and can be learned quickly. The vast majority of the three types of failures can be cleared with “tap and rack”; hitting the bottom of the magazine and racking a new round into the chamber, which can be done in 1-2 seconds.

If you use a revolver for strength issue, by all means use it. But get proficient at changing speed loaders just in case.
 
 
Double Tap

Double Tapping has been a standard in self-defense for decades. Often, practice is to draw from the holster, fire two rounds into center mass and holster. Since we’re talking about the worst of the worst case scenarios and we know that people fall back to their most frequent level of practice, what do you think will happen when rounds miss or don’t bring the attacker down? There have been reported cases where an officer fired his two shots and holstered his firearm, only to have the attacker continue the attack.

Studies have also been done on the accuracy under critical incidents, which show that as many as 70% of rounds fired are misses. Now, I graduated before common core math, but I am still pretty sure 70% of 2 means either one or both rounds missed.

Instead, I recommend that you practice firing varied rounds each time when training, sometimes firing twice and other times three, five or six rounds. If you are ever involved in a critical incident and must shoot, continue to fire until forward movement of the attacker has stopped.
 
 
Does Size Matter?

This is one of the oldest arguments in the realm of firearms for self-defense; does the caliber of the round matter (I can feel the heated comments already lol)? I think that before modern self-defense ammunition, designed to expand upon contact, the size of the round may have been important. However, with the advances of modern ammo, I am of the belief that 9mm is a better choice than .45 for a few reasons.

One shot stop (or two shot) is often recited, but the stopping power of one round does not take into account the physiological changes involved in a critical incident and is irrelevant if it is missed or does not hit a vital organ.

Modern day self defense ammo expands upon contact dumping its kinetic energy into the flesh. As it expands it leave a much bigger hole then the ammo of the past.

The recoil with 9mm is significantly less than .45, making recoil management much easier so you can get back on target faster to fire again and again. It is also less expensive, and if your training budget is an area of concern, you will be able to practice more.

I don’t recommend anything smaller than a .32 or .380 for self-defense, but the bottom line is: carry what you have and are proficient with. If you like a .45, practice and carry one. I personally carry and practice with a 9mm.
 
 
Distance of Attack

Tom Givens is a self-defense trainer out of Memphis Tennessee. He collected information from over 60 self-defense shootings and found that 86.2% of these shootings occurred at the ranges of 9 to 15 feet. If you are practicing for self-defense, it is great if you can hit a bulls-eye at 50 feet, but being able to hit it multiple times in rapid succession at 9 to 15 feet is better.
 
 
I Won’t Hesitate to Pull the Trigger

It is a common belief for people to think that if they are in a life and death critical incident, they will not hesitate to stop the threat with lethal force. However, statistics show that throughout history, people who have been trained to kill often hesitate.

The book “On Killing” by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman helped firm up my understanding of humans and their capacity and willingness to use violence. In short, the vast majority of human beings are not wired to use violence on one another.

Lt. Col. Grossman goes into great detail to explain how, through the earliest of American wars; the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and the World Wars, the majority of the men fighting would purposely miss what they were shooting at. He explained how the aversion to killing another human was so strong that a trained soldier often times would not shoot another, even if it meant losing his own life.

I have also heard that there is a large percentage of police killed that either never fire their weapon, or made no attempt to. I did a little digging and found this according to the FBI in the 2013 Law Officers Killed and Assaulted Report.

Leading up to the Vietnam War, great effort went into figuring out how to train men, not only to kill but to do so without hesitation. Today’s military are some of the most efficient warriors in the world’s history. In 2013 there were 27 officers killed in the line of duty which, on a side note, was a far lower number than previous years. Of those 27, 18 either did not use or attempt to use their sidearm. You may think that they must have been jumped, but the report shows that only 5 were ambushed.

I am not criticizing these officers or the veterans that chose not to fire either. I am simply asking if these people, who’s job it was to step into danger every day, knowing there was a chance they may need to use deadly force in the course of their career, failed to respond with deadly force, how can you be so sure you will?

Setting my machismo aside, I hope I respond without hesitation. I have done everything I can reasonably do to make sure I act, but I haven’t been tested, so I don’t know. I hope I never have to find out, I do not relish the idea of taking another’s life, not because I don’t want to hurt someone, no, I believe if someone threatens deadly force, they have written you an invitation to use it against them. There is still a lot of legal, personal, spiritual, mental and emotional baggage that goes with it.

If you’re interested, I list a few ways to raise the odds you’ll be able to pull the trigger in Are You Prepared To Use Violence to Stop Violence?

 
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Why Do You Really Prepare?

Why Do You Really Prepare.

I’m sure you could rattle off several reasons why you prepare. I only want one; but I want the core reason that you prepare. For the moment, I want you to set aside things like economic downturn/meltdown, pandemic, EMP solar flare and so on. To my way of thinking, those are threats to ones level of preparedness, be it good or bad. For me, they are not the reasons I prepare.

I think it is important to know the core reason why you prepare for a few reasons. Here are just two; If I tell myself and others that I am preparing for economic collapse and it doesn’t happen, or if the economy gets better for years, I look or feel like I wasted my time and money. Secondly, preparedness is expensive, takes up a lot of room in your house and can cause friction at home if not everyone is onboard. If you know your core reason, it is easier to stay the course and it can provide motivation to keep going.

To give you an idea of what I mean, here is the core reason that I prepare.

Years ago someone asked me what my biggest fear was. After I thought about it I said “someone I love being in danger and not being able to do anything about it.” To this day I think I would say it still is. When it boils down to it, that is the core reason why I prepare.

I have always been a big believer in personal responsibility and when I think about it and preparedness, 1 Timothy 5:8 comes to mind:


“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

When I read that verse I don’t see any qualifiers or stipulations that say “only when things are going well” or “disregard if the stuff hits your fan.” This verse is a 24/7/365 day a year duty. It is easy to provide for my family when I am working, the stores are stocked and we’re relatively healthy. It isn’t so easy when I am unemployed, the shelves are bare for whatever reason or when we or the general populace it too ill to be out and about. It isn’t so easy, that is, without prior preparation. Granted, depending on what kind of thing happens, it will still be tough to provide for our five basic needs, but at least I will have made every effort and will not be deemed worse than an infidel.

I’ll ask again, what is the core reason that you prepare?

Do You Need to Know Outdoors Skills to Be Prepared?

When I began preparing, I researched all kinds of topics that people on forums said were important to know; implying that to truly be prepared one had to know these outdoor/primitive skills. I joined some outdoors forums, learned several new and interesting things, and then it dawned on me; I don’t spend much time in the great outdoors! While I enjoy learning these skillsets, I decided I was better served learning more practical things for me personally. I do, however, think there are a few skills everyone (even city slickers) should know. There is more on that below. Before I go any further, I want to say that this is not me saying that strictly learning basic preparedness skills is the only way to be prepared. It is me saying that who are so entrenched in their camp and believe the only way to be prepared for come what may is by knowing outdoor/primitive/bushcraft skills.

I think some of us have romanticized bugging out to the woods and surviving off the land. I think shows like Survivor Man and the many shows like it might hold some of the blame. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy these kinds of shows, but I have seen very few scenarios that I will ever be even remotely close to being in. If you’re someone who thinks you’ll bug out to the woods if the stuff hits the fan to live off the woods, I hate to break it to you, but that’s not realistic. This article titled: Living Off The Land: Delusions and Misconceptions About Hunting and Gathering explores the caloric intake of foraged plants and hunted and trapped game. This article doesn’t take into consideration all of the other people you’ll be competing against for the limited amount of game!

Long time readers will know that I believe, while these worst case events, like EMPS, are possible, they’re not very likely. Let’s say, for the sake of this article, an EMP does go off. In the vast majority of circumstances, I believe that one would be far better prepared having their 5 basic human needs met by staying home (bugging in, hunkering down, etc.), rather than bugging out to the woods. Sure, if the grid is completely down, after all my food has been eaten, I might need to head to the woods to find game, but that is a lot of “what ifs” and “maybe’s.” If I had to flee my home, I would hole up in an abandoned building before I would consider building a shelter in the woods and trying to keep Trudee the dogs and I warm.

To answer the question asked in the title of the article; “Do you need to know outdoor skills to be prepared?” My answer is: I don’t think so. If your goal is to be prepared for 95% of the things that happen every year, I think you would be better served first building Redundancy of the Five Basic Human Needs than learning how to use a bow drill or learning to make a figure four trap.

If you don’t have a grasp on the following, they might be better skills to learn first. Basics of food storage. Multiple ways to purify water. How to meet the basic needs during a grid down event, IE keeping food and medicine cool, how to keep cool without AC or provide emergency heat. The basics of survival sanitation and fire safety Also security topics like Situational Awareness and Awareness and Security in Crowds and home security as well as protecting Your neighborhood.

Please don’t think I am knocking outdoor skills. If you spend time in the outdoors hunting, hiking or doing something else, you should know them and be proficient in them. If they are just a passion, by all means, learn all you can. I also think that learning outdoor/primitive skills are a good skills to learn after you have the basics down, this will really round out your skills set. If we ever do see a prolonged grid down event, everyone will need to know outdoor skills. They can also be a great way for people, especially children to build self-confidence.
 
 
Outdoor Skills Everyone Should Know

If you live in the city, you might wonder why I think you should know some basic survival skills. Every year I see several news stories about people who were driving and either got lost, their car broke down or they got stranded somehow. Many of these people panic and make bad decisions. I think they panic because they don’t know what to do to stay alive until help comes. You might not foresee a situation that will take you into or near a remote area, but you never know what God has planned for your future!

For that reason, I think people should know a minimum of three skills; how to start a fire and keep it burning, how to build a very basic shelter, and how to Signal for help.

You’ll notice I only linked to an article I wrote on signaling for help. I was not blessed with a good sense of direction, and have spent more than my fair share of time lost. Knowing this about myself, I spent a good deal of time researching what to do when lost and wrote about it. I do know how to make a fire, and my belief on the subject is to learn how to make one with a lighter first. You should then keep a lighter in your vehicle or EDC if you are heading out. Making a bow drill and starting a fire with it, while very cool, is not realistic for the person who doesn’t spend time outdoors practicing. I also have read, in depth, on how to make various shelters, but haven’t built one, so I don’t feel comfortable telling you what to do.

Instead, I will provide some links to just a couple of the resources I have followed over the years.

The Survival Sherpa is one of my favorite outdoors mentors. You’ll learn all kinds of outdoors and survival related skills from Todd.

The Late Ron Hood is another person I learned a lot from. His wife Karen has picked up the mantle. You can purchase a wide selection of almost 30 outdoors related DVD’s from Survival.com

I also recommend the affiliated forum for Survival.com, Hoods Woods. I haven’t been an active Hoodlum for some time, but this is a fantastic place to research and ask questions.

The last resource I’ll share is Dirttime.com, where you can learn much from the three Survival Instructors who write for the site.

 
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Not In My Backyard

Not In My Backyard

If you’ve been a reader of mine for a while you’re probably familiar with the fact that I don’t recommend people prepare with the TEOTWAWKI events in mind. Instead, I believe the best option it a general approach to preparedness, taking into consideration the events that are most likely to happen in your area.

However, with the exception of weather events, we should not rule out scenarios taking place in our area, simply because of where we live. For example, one would think that if Mexican drug cartel violence was to take place in America, it would happen in a border town. However, this happened in St. Paul Minnesota; from the StarTribune.com

“Three enforcers hired by Mexico’s biggest drug cartel flew from Los Angeles to Minnesota last month, kidnapped two local teenagers, and then tortured them for hours at a house in St. Paul in an effort to recover stolen drugs, according to court documents reviewed by the Star Tribune.”

Acting under orders from the Sinaloa cartel, the three kidnappers were trying to determine who had stolen 30 pounds of methamphetamine and $200,000 from a stash house on Palace Avenue in St. Paul. Before the episode was over, they had issued death threats against the Minnesota pair and their families, demanding that they find the missing drugs or come up with $300,000 to compensate the cartel.”

I’m not sure if I would call this complacency, willful ignorance or just someone having a blind spot. The type of scenarios I am thinking about are mostly security related in nature. I think this happens the most often to people who live in a rural, suburban or urban environment, thinking the problems of the other environments aren’t a concern for them.

The couple who homesteads on their acreage might be under the assumption that in “SHTF” they won’t have to worry about people coming in from the suburbs or the nearest large urban area. If we see an EMP event and it disables vehicular travel, you could be partially right. It would be hard to cover long distances on foot, but not impossible. If we see any other type of event, I actually think you might be more prone to see crime brought in from other population centers.

I was told by my cities police captain that 90% of our crime is drug related and comes from Minneapolis, which is a thirty or so minute drive and is the nearest large population center. Addicts come into town, burglarize homes and cars and sell/trade what they get for drugs in other cities. I also remember reading about the economic collapse in Argentina; that there were very rural homesteads that were specifically targeted because they were so remote and because there was food there. The point? Crime migrates!

I believe there is a chance we could see one of the large scale events like an EMP or a pandemic, but I don’t think it is as likely as an economic shift causing unemployment to go up to 15% or higher and aid programs to be scaled back.

People using welfare, unemployment, food stamps and other aid programs live in rural, suburban and urban locations. But if these programs are cut back and families have to get by on 20% less, for a certain segment of that population, crime is a viable option to make ends meet.

Since the population is higher in urban environments, logic dictates that there are going to be more people in a high population center affected vying for the limited resources in that area. Whether those resources are jobs, other private aid programs such as food shelves, or people to prey upon. Spreading out to other locals is a very distinct possibility.
 
 
What Can We Do?

Um, the number one thing we can do is not steal 30lbs of drugs from a Mexican drug cartel! Duh!

If you live in a suburban or rural area, don’t think that you don’t have to worry about crime from higher population areas in your backyard. If you live in an urban area, you probably don’t have to worry about the smell or peace and quiet from a rural area invading you (LOL). But the poor decisions of your neighbors could import crime from another urban area.

When it comes to security related topics of any kind, if we believe certain types of events are no risk to us, at best we become complacent and worst we put ourselves in danger. I think a good goal for our security in any situation is to not live in fear, but to be aware that there are real dangers. We are not immune because of our size, gender, what we carry for self-defense or where we live.

 
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