May 30, 2015

A Practical Look at the Economy and What You Can Do To Prepare

I was recently sent an email from fellow Prepared Christian Jeff, asking if I would give my thoughts on the economy, debt and how scripture may tie into it. First, thanks Jeff for the email! Second, I’ll say that I am, by no means, an economics expert. I could only give a novices explanation to the workings of the stock market, or how the economy of a country works. I am, however an expert at threat analysis and troubleshooting in general. While I do think I could do wonders to fix the economy, nothing I say will have any impact on a national level. But I also have some ideas that could help you and your family get out of debt, put more money into your pockets, and build an emergency fund.
 
 
At a National Level

The truth is that nothing I say in this segment matters to the extent that we can do anything about it. It is important to understand how and why things will trickle down to the point where you will feel it.

I don’t want to get to political, but we can’t discuss our national economy and our debt without wading into politics. I used to be someone who thought the person we voted for would have some impact on the economy; no longer. I have used this analogy before; our economy lies in a coffin, one party is pounding in nails slowly but steadily with a hammer. The other is frantically putting them in with a pneumatic nail gun. While one might be doing the job slower, they’re still putting nails in the coffin.

President Bush increased the national debt a huge amount with the start to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the creation of DHS. This was made to look like child’s play by the staggering amount of debt the Obama administration has created. From the continuation and eventual withdrawal of the war in Iraq, to the ongoing war in Afghanistan, the various militaristic involvements, to the untold number of social programs and on and on and on. Not to mention QE 1, 2 and 3, and Obama care. We have more American’s on welfare and disability than ever before; there are 20 million people that cannot feed themselves without some form of government aid. Some could argue that this was done on purpose, research the Cloward Piven strategy.

I could go on and on, but the point is that in the last fifteen years the value of the dollar has decreased significantly. The country has taken on debt that, if we stopped spending today, would probably still take my great grandchildren to pay off. But that won’t happen. I believe each President for the last fifty years has spent more than his predecessor. Instead, we’ll keep digging the hole deeper and ask China and other nations to help remove some of the dirt from time to time.
 
 
At a Local Level

How can this affect you? I’m not one who believes in the impending economic collapse that will see societal collapse and WROL (Without Rule Of Law) overnight. Instead, I think it will be a slow boil. I believe it is only a matter of time until we see another recession. I think that this one will be harsher than that of 2008. Federal dollars will have to stretch further due to the above mentioned incurred debt, so cuts will need to be made.

These cuts will be to federally funded programs, some in terms of money given to states, and others in forms of cuts to social programs. If less federal dollars are coming into the states, the states need to make cuts, thusly will the cities.

When we see a recession, we obviously see unemployment rise. We’re not in a recession now, and I am seeing more local businesses fold then I am seeing open. When we do see a recession, this number will rise. If you would like a few ways to judge the health of your local economy, I wrote an article called Signs of a Slowing Local Economy.

In the last five years I have seen some reports that cities are no longer having street lights on after certain hours. Police have said they won’t respond to certain crimes and won’t ticket or arrest for others.

We’re also seeing more and more young adults living with their parents. I think the main reason for this is that the jobs they are able to find aren’t paying enough for them to afford living on their own. I have read that the unemployment rate for people in this age group is nearly three times what it is for older workers.

These items might seem unrelated, but let me tie them together. We’re not currently in a recession, and there are several municipalities making cuts to basic safety features. Many small businesses are closing their doors and we have many college-age people living with their parents because they are either unemployed or underemployed. All of this is occurring during a “stable” economy.
 
 
The College Bubble

Here is an article that will explain the College Bubble better and in more detail than I. Here is my quick and dirty explanation; federally backed student loans are handed out to just about anyone. Colleges are continually raising the tuition costs; I wish someone could explain to me why it costs more not to teach someone about a topic like computer programming than it did ten years ago. Student loan debt is over 1 trillion dollars and, according to the linked article, has surpassed credit card debt.

I see enough similarities to the housing bubble to believe it will pop. When it does, enrollment will drastically decrease, causing schools to lower tuition or close. In both cases, cuts to staff and salaries will be made. I also agree with the article that it will be much harder to get a student loan.
 
 
Debt

I hate debt. In fact, I think it steals from ones future; and you should too. This isn’t to say I don’t use it, I just avoid it at all costs. I saw statistics that say the average household has from $7,000-$12,000 in credit card debt alone. If you could pay $100 toward your credit card debt each month, it would take almost six years to pay off $7,000. Unfortunately many of us who use credit cards can only afford to pay the minimum payments. I bought into this trap in my early twenties. I bought a computer for $2,500 and made the minimum payments. It took me seven years to pay that off.

The Bible lists the word debt in less than ten verses. My favorite is this one from Romans 13:8:

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”

Biblical times didn’t look at debt like we do. Back then, if you had a debt and you couldn’t pay when the debtor wanted to collect, you could be sold into slavery until the debt was paid. Now this isn’t the kind of slavery we had in America. It was more like indentured servitude. An indentured slave would work until their debt was paid off. I don’t know this for sure, but I would imagine that the cost for room and board would be added to their debt, increasing the amount of time they might need to work. Keep in mind, it was Jewish custom to forgive the debts of fellow Jews (I believe) every seven years.

If you’re currently living a lifestyle where you use your credit cards frequently and are sporting hefty debt, you might not see it as slavery. But I bet as soon as you decide you want to be debt free you will be.
 
 
What Do I Suggest?

It’s not my place to tell you what to do. Instead, I’ll offer my suggestions. First, you have to want to get out of debt and decide to only spend what you have, as does your spouse if you have one. Along with this, Tithe. If you don’t have a church you want to give to, find a Christian organization to give to. Give God what is His, and let Him bless you in return.

Next, I would work on an emergency fund before paying off the credit cards. You need to be able to pay for the things that go wrong without going into more debt. I think enough money to pay one month’s bills makes sense. This way if there is a major car repair, or you’re hurt and can’t work for a few weeks, the bills are paid.

Now, I would pay the minimum on all cards, then pick the card with the smallest outstanding balance and throw as much “extra” money at it as you can. Once it is paid off, use all of that money to pay the next smallest one, and so on until all cards are paid off. I haven’t looked into him much, but I believe Dave Ramsey has a similar approach and I know some of you have had great success with it.

So, you’re debt free. Now what? Now I think would be a good time to do two things; pick a more expensive prep, save up for it and purchase it with cash.

Don’t hesitate to hold cash. I know some people believe cash will be worthless overnight. The only scenario I can see that in is a total grid down event, and even then it would hold its value for a time. Now that I think about it, in this scenario and many others, cash will still be king, at least for a while. People know its value, they believe it is worth what it is stamped with and transactions can be done without power.

It is a good idea to keep some cash at home, or in a safe deposit box. I also keep a small amount of emergency cash on me. In fact, they are the same bills I originally started carrying. I consider this money only to be spent in dire situations.

I think saving for retirement is a good idea. We have no idea when or if the economic “meltdown” is coming, or what shape it will take. I know some of you believe the fed will seize all assets in 401K accounts. I just don’t see it. I think there would be blood in the streets and they know it. I can’t even imagine what creative ways they would use to come after more of our money, but I do think that they would do it going forward, not taking money that has already been saved.

Once you are debt free and have your preps squared away, you could work on both barter items and learning skills that you could barter.

This would also be a good time to invest in precious metals, if that is of interest. I think it is a good idea. I wrote a two part primer on precious metals, part one and part two. I see gold and silver as currency that has held its value over time, that can be used to barter. I don’t hold it as an investment. I see it the same as paper money but with a stronger run in terms of holding value.

One other big ticket item you may consider is a BOL (bug out location). This is a goal of mine; a piece of land I can do some permaculture on, use as a vacation spot, and BOL if ever needed. Does this mean more debt? It might. We will have to pay cash for raw land or take a mortgage for land with a structure. If this is my only other debt besides my current mortgage, I think there is more than enough upside to take on the additional debt.

The last thing I will suggest to do once you are debt free is to save up and treat yourself in some way. Life is more than prepping, working and saving; as long as we don’t go into debt for it, splurge a little.
 
 
Final Thoughts

The point I am trying to make is that there is plenty to be concerned about when it comes to the economy. Watch for national signs, and especially local signs because these things never happen overnight. The best thing we can do now or if things really go sideways and we do see a complete economic collapse overnight, is to have our financial house in order.

 
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Would a Preparedness Retreat Interest You?

Today I don’t have a regular preparedness article. Instead, I’m hoping you won’t mind helping me out on something! God gave me a dream some years ago and I assumed it was just that, a dream. The details are still being worked out, but there is a chance to see something like I dreamed come to fruition. I would love it if you would please give me as much feedback on some of the questions I will ask below, either in the comments section or via email at Chris (at) preparedchristian (dot) net

Would you and/or your family be interested in a three to five day preparedness retreat? Let me explain what I have in mind.

I’ve dreamed about a Bible camp that offered its facilities for the purpose of hosting 50-100 people for a variety of preparedness, survival, primitive skills, self-defense, hunting, cooking, permaculture and gardening classes, as well as many more. In fact, if you were interested in a topic it could even be possible to design a class for you before you arrive! The classes would be very hands-on and interactive with very knowledgeable (myself included perhaps) instructors, who would be available to answer questions during class and in fellowship gatherings in the evenings. There would be age appropriate classes for most ages, so that young ones would have cool things to learn while mom and dad took classes they really wanted to take. Food and lodging would be included.

As I stated, the camp is a Bible camp. You wouldn’t have to be a Christian to attend, but prayers would be said and any scripture that related to the topic would be given. Faith building would be a cornerstone of these programs.

When I was starting out, I did a silly amount of research online. The problem, however, is that isn’t how I learn. I learn best from interaction, hand on and asking questions. I could have learned so much more, so much faster if I had someone knowledgeable willing to spend a few hours explaining various things to me and answering my questions.

The classes could range from the very basics like principles of food storage, to more advanced things like aquaponics. These would not be just lecture classes. There would be demonstrations and as hands on as much as possible. For example, when learning how to store food in Mylar, you could actually fill a bag with maybe an iron and an impact sealer, so you could see how they work and which one suits your needs best.

There would also be classes on practical things like changing a tire and the oil on vehicles, situational awareness and firearm safety among others.

If you lived within 100 miles, would you be willing to drive and spend 3-5 days learning about topics of interest to you?

Would you be willing to fly to another state?

What do you think a fair price per person would be?

If it sounds interesting, but you wouldn’t be willing to come, what would hold you back? What would entice you?

*****Additional Details*****

There is an existing Bible camp in Wisconsin a little over an hour away from me that is interested in offering preparedness/life skill classes. The camp is fully staffed, and will bring in instructors willing to teach.

The camp has several cabins, as well as room for RV and tent camping. The cabins haven’t been updated in years, but are still in excellent shape.

We’re still trying to figure out how long retreats would be. Right now the thinking is three days; this would make it so people only had to take one day of vacation. However people wanting to fly in, might want to spend more time with instructors to get their money’s worth.

I looked at other types of retreats, and they were several hundred dollars more than this would be, and some did not include food, as this camp/retreat would.

Disabling an Attacker’s Sight, Wind or Mobility

In the Navy, I had to take a firefighting class. One of the things we were told is that a fire needs three things; oxygen, heat and combustible material. Take one away and you put out the fire.

Similarly, an attacker needs three things to attack you. They are; sight, wind and mobility. Sight to see you and by wind I mean breath. Cut off someone’s ability to take a breath and the fight flees from them quickly. If they are immobilized, you can easily escape.

This is something I have been thinking about for a while. If you see any holes, please let me know. Before I continue, let me explain my take on self-defense. Violence should be used as a last resort. When it is used, you should use as little force as is necessary (meaning you don’t shoot someone making verbal threats). You do, however, use as much force as is needed to stop the forward movement of the threat. Once you have stopped the threat, you stop the use of force and escape as quickly as possible. Not stopping and continuing the attack is no longer acting in self-defense, and I would say is acting in vengeance. Both God and the state take issue with this, albeit for different reasons.

One thing to keep in mind about self-defense is that some people are not as affected by pain as others. This could be from adrenaline surge, or from being chemically altered, among other reasons. Someone’s ability to be unaffected by pain won’t matter for the majority of the items I will list. If you can’t see, breath or move, you can’t see, breath or move, your ability to bypass pain doesn’t matter. Many of these items can also easily be used from a smaller statured person on a larger attacker.
 
 

Sight

There are several ways to disable an attacker’s sight, ranging from inflicting tears, to severely damaging the eyeball with a gouge for instance. Here are just some of the ways I can think of, along with my thoughts on each.
 
 
Eye Gouge

I wrote an article called If You’re in a Fair Fight, Your Tactics Suck where I explain several methods of “fighting dirty”. In it, I say this about the eye gouge:

“I have seen this tactic mentioned several times over the years and it is often explained as pushing your thumbs deep into the eye sockets of the attacker. There is a problem with this explanation however; doing so is repellent to human behavior. In his book “On Killing,” Lt. Col. Dave Grossman explains the following:

“The single most effective mechanically easiest way to inflict significant damage on a human being with one’s hand, is to punch the thumb through his eye and on into the brain.”

He goes on to explain that even though this attack would be extremely effective, it goes against human nature. He also says that during the filming of a movie that was rated X because of it’s violent content, an actress who was to portray stabbing a man in the eye with a rat tail comb, passed out twice during filming.

“This is a professional actress, she can portray killing, lying and sex on the screen with relative ease, but even the pretense of stabbing someone in the eye seems to have touched a resistance so powerful and deep seeded that her body and emotions, the tools of the professional actress literally refuse to cooperate. In fact I cannot find any references of anyone in the history of human combat ever having used this simple technique.”
 
 
Eye Poke, Flick and Rake

If you gouge out someone’s eyes, I think it is probably going to be very easy to escape. But since people shy away from the eye gouge, I think an eye poke or flick would be a more popular choice. Neither cause as much damage and, in some cases, might only cause tearing or a temporary distraction. Because of this, I would follow it up with another attack listed here.

Eye poke is just like it sounds; give them the Ol’ Three Stooges poke in each eye. The difference between this and the gouge is the amount of pressure before you stop.

The Eye flick is, to me, much easier to deliver as you don’t really need to aim as much as you do with a gouge or poke because you flick your wrist, aiming all of your fingers at their eyes. I was taught to do this followed up with a right cross or elbow strike to the chin.

Raking the eyes means scratching. This could cause damage to the eyes or it could just cause pain. If you do this, I would follow it up with another attack.
 
 
Punch in the Nose

Getting hit in the nose will cause the eyes to tear; this should be quickly followed by another attack as it alone isn’t guaranteed to stop the threat.
 
 
Pepper Spray

There is a lot of misinformation about pepper spray out there. I have seen people say it’s all worthless because they watched someone spray it into their mouth like breath spray, or put it on a sandwich and eat it. You can read my full thoughts on it in the article Self-Defense: Pepper Spray. For now I will just say that these people fail to understand that there are three types of pepper spray and they are not all equal.

CS (Orthochlorobenzalmalonitrile),
CN (alphachloroacetaphenone)
OC (Oleoresin Capsicum).

CS and CN are considered irritants and will cause stinging and tearing. They can take from five to thirty seconds to be effective and may have little to no effect on someone who is chemically altered or in a psychotic state.

OC on the other hand is an inflammatory agent. When sprayed with it, your eyes immediately slam shut. People most often become temporarily blind due to the capillaries in the eyes dilating. From breathing in the agent, there is also coughing and possibly some choking.
 
 
Other Irritants

Spraying or throwing other things into the eyes could cause temporary blindness. I know this first hand. As a kid in seventh grade, a guy from school blew a handful of powdered dry soap into my eyes. I don’t think I actually went blind for any length of time (thank you Jesus), but because of the pain and watering I could not open my eyes. Hot liquids would work as well.
 
 

Wind

Wind, breath, air; without it one is not going to be fighting for long.
 
 
Pepper spray

I have seen people gasp, cough, choke and vomit from having been sprayed with pepper spray. Again OC spray causes a biological reaction. It cannot be trained against as some of the other types of pepper spray or mace can be.
 
 
Throat Strike

Collapsing the airway is another way to stop an attacker. One way is to keep the fingers together, forming a Y with the thumb and aim for the throat. On a man I would aim just below the Adams apple.
 
 
Midsection Strike

I hesitate to put this in because it can be defended against by flexing the abdominal muscles. But, as I found from sparring, even people who are expecting to get hit, get caught off guard. I only hit them with maybe 40% force, and while it didn’t knock the wind out of them completely, it did cause them spew what air they had and then gasp for more. If you use this attack on your attacker, your goal should be to hit their stomach hard enough that you could hit their spine. If you don’t knock the wind out of them, then this alone might not take them out of the fight. If not, quickly follow up with something to stop their mobility or hinder their vision.
 
 

Mobility

By either causing so much pain as to immobilize someone, or causing enough damage to a part of the leg; well if you cannot be chased you can simply escape. There are nerves and arteries that can be struck, but that takes some practice, so I am not going to list them here. The attacks I list are things most people should be able to do.
 
 
Striking the Knee

Striking the knee from either the front, or side with enough force can cause all kinds of damage. This can be done with a kick, or tackling, though I don’t recommend tackling unless there is no other option. The type of kick I am talking about would strike their knee with the bottom of your foot.
 
 
Foot Stomp

Stomping or otherwise striking the top of someone’s foot, I suppose, could cause them to be unable to bear weight on it. If nothing else, it can distract them and give you the opportunity to go for a KO.
 
 
Knock Out

This is by no means a guarantee, but an unconscious person makes for a really bad attacker. Forget the standing toe to toe trading haymakers with your fists. Elbows are far better suited than your fist for this task. Most likely, you will have more power behind it and elbows are less likely to break after a strike than a hand.

Your goal is to get as much of your elbow on as much of their lower jaw/chin as possible.
 
 
Breaking the Ankle

Standing firm on someone’s foot and pushing them could cause them to break an ankle. However, don’t remove your foot until they are on the ground.
 
 
Groin strikes

I think all men have been hit hard enough in the groin to make them immobile. It’s not a guarantee though. Some hits will cause nausea and can also still cause pain, but usually not enough to immobilize.

The optimal way to strike would be going upward from knees to groin, not just a direct hit. You should also strike with enough force that to kick them in the chin if it were possible.

Hopefully you will never need to use any of these attacks. But if you are ever the victim of violence and get the opportunity to, fight to take away their sight, wind or mobility so you can escape!

 
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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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