Notes for Friday – October 31, 2014

October 31st is Reformation Day.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 55 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hardcase to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel which can be assembled in less then 1 minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouseis providing 30 DMPS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448.95) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear,
  7. A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate.
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value),

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  9. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  10. RepackBoxis providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. Ambra Le Roy Medical Products in North Carolina is donating a bundle of their traditional wound care and first aid supplies, with a value of $208, and
  7. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit, and
  8. SurvivalBased.com is donating a $500 gift certificate to their store.
  9. Montie Gearis donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack. (a $379 value).

Round 55 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Survival To Go, by JMD – Part 2

In my checked bag, when flying, I put a small zippered case that contains:

  • A Gerber Folding Sheath Knife, which is a good trade-off between size/weight and capability. I’ve found that most people (LEOs in particular) tend to be a lot less suspicious of folding knives than fixed-blade ones.
  • A Boker Plus Credit Card Knife. I put this in my pocket if I’m going out for an evening and I can’t bring my EDC kit, because it’s completely unobtrusive in a front pocket. It’s not necessarily the most robust knife in the world, but it’s the same size as a credit card and has a decent blade. If you’re in a particularly nasty part of the world, where something like kidnapping is a real possibility, you can attach it to the inside of your belt in the back with a length of Gorilla tape; you can easily reach it with your hands tied behind your back, and no one will notice it even if the kidnappers pat you down.
  • A knife sharpener for the evenings in your hotel room, which are a good time to keep your knives up to snuff.
  • A Leatherman Wave Multi-tool. In an urban environment, sometimes pliers and screwdrivers are as important as a knife.

When my checked bag arrives at baggage claim, I immediately transfer the small case (containing the items above) from my checked bag into my backpack so it’s handy. (Just don’t forget to put it back in your checked luggage before you check in for the return flight!)

I also keep a small Esbit stove and some cut up fatwood in my checked bag for heating up water when everything’s out. (Note: smoke alarms in hotel rooms continue to function even during a power outage.) Also, note that you CANNOT legally pack Esbit tablets (or any other fire-starting chemicals) in either your checked bag or your carry-on, but pieces of wood are okay.

Tips and Lessons Learned

In addition to having the kernel of a survival kit, it helps if you know and do the right things. I’ve collected a number of tips and things I’ve learned over the years that might be useful for improving your comfort/safety/survival when traveling:

  • Develop a basic worst-case route plan for getting home or to a meeting place prior to your trip, and share it with your spouse/relatives/friends. If possible, as soon as you know a disaster is about to hit, communicate your current location, planned actions, and planned destination(s) back home.
  • Dress to blend in. Use a standard backpack (Swiss Gear, Outdoor Products, Columbia, et cetera). Do not carry an OD military tactical molle bag, and don’t dress in camo or tactical vests. That tends to gather a lot more of the wrong kind of attention from people, especially when going through security.
  • If I’m going out for an evening (dinner/bar/et cetera) where I can’t take my kit with me, I always have the Boker credit card knife in my pants pocket, the Schrade tactical pen, and the H2O filter in my shirt/jacket pocket and the dog tags/whistle around my neck. It’s better than nothing if I can’t get back to the hotel immediately when a disaster hits. In some countries, man purses (murses?) are acceptable wear in more formal business settings, and they can provide you with a lot more carrying capacity for a travel EDC.
  • Request a second floor (or whatever floor is the one above ground level) hotel room. (In some countries, this floor above the ground level is called the first floor.) There is less concern about break-ins or flooding than on the ground floor; compared to rooms on higher floors, there are fewer stairs in the event of a power outage/fire and it’s easy to break a window and climb down on a sheet-rope in case you’re trapped in your room during a fire or after an earthquake.
  • When traveling in a foreign country, always keep your passport in a hidden pocket on your person, preferably in a waterproof bag, along with some local cash. If you have to bug out of the country during an emergency, it’s your ticket into your country’s embassy; you may not have time to get back to your hotel room to grab it.
  • Before you travel, locate the camping/outdoor/Walmart/Cabelas/Bass Pro/REI/gun/et cetera stores nearest to your hotel, work place, and along the route between the two. In a SHTF situation, you won’t have to waste time Googling for the closest stores (assuming cell/Internet service is even available). Also consider spending some time online on the prepper boards a find out what stores the local folks favor. You may make some new friends in the process that can help out in an emergency. I met some great prepper folks online while preparing for a trip to Hong Kong, and I had a fun night out drinking with them!
  • Try to be discrete about the fact you’re prepared. Laying in your hammock, eating hot oatmeal under your warm fleece blanket, during a winter storm in an airport/bus terminal/train station that’s lost power and heating, in front of a crowd of cold, hungry people (especially with children) is sure to draw the wrong kind of attention.
  • Maintain physical contact with your bag at all times when you’re around other people, especially while sleeping. Keep an arm through one of the straps, use your bag for a pillow, or sleep on your side and hug it. If you’re a heavy sleeper, get a movement alarm for your bag and set it while you sleep.
  • If an emergency situation is developing, immediately fill your water bottle from the closest clean source. I’ve been in situations where water went out in an airport while stuck there for two days, due to severe weather and frozen pipes. Also, grab some spare toilet paper and paper towels.
  • If you’re in an airport and you can’t string your hammock, head to the baggage claim area and check where they keep unclaimed luggage. If it’s accessible, you can lay a bunch of bags/suitcases out on the floor side by side and make a bed for the evening. It’s slightly more comfortable than a cold, hard floor. If it’s a true SHTF situation, the abandoned bags can be a good source of supplies/materials.
  • Most business-class hotels do a good job of taking care of their guests during an emergency by providing shelter, food, water, medical, and so forth. You should only leave your hotel if the situation becomes untenable, such as all of the hotel staff bugging out, which is a good indication. If you’re staying at a Motel 6 in the middle of nowhere, you’ll probably need to do a lot more prep yourself.
  • If you have to leave your hotel room (even temporarily) during an emergency, take your kit with you. The batteries that run the key card locks in most hotels may or may not work for any length of time, and you might not be able to get back into your room. I’ve had this happen on several occasions, even though there wasn’t an emergency. Security had to get the maintenance people up to my room to change the batteries on the lock so I could get back in.
  • If cell/Internet coverage goes out during an emergency, turn off the cell and WiFi radios on your cell phone to save the battery; then, turn them on once an hour or so to see if it’s back. Better yet, power your cell phone down and just turn it on occasionally for checking your navigation or cell coverage. As soon as you have a signal, send a status message to your primary/secondary contacts, including any updated plans or destinations. Create a plan document on your device and update it regularly, so you can quickly send it if service is only available for a short time.
  • Be careful about bringing your knives into any customer work place when travelling. If it’s even a potential issue, leave it in your rental car (stuck up under the seat or dash or in the trunk but not in the glove box!); you might also ask Security to hold onto it while you’re visiting. Also, never show it off anywhere!
  • Know the local knife laws. In some facilities/cities/countries, certain (or in some cases, any!) knives are illegal. While a foreign prison might afford you food, shelter and (questionable) medical care, it’s generally not most people’s first choice.
  • Traveling with business associates can make for tough decisions in an emergency situation. If you’re stuck somewhere for a while, the security and companionship of a known group can be a good thing, but you might feel obligated to share your resources. If it’s most likely going to be just one night and you’ve got enough, you can impress your co-workers with your preparedness. If you’re concerned, make an excuse about wanting to explore or needing some personal space for religious reasons (or loud snoring) and tell them you’ll see them in the morning.
  • I never try to travel with a gun any more. Yes, you can put them in your checked luggage (as long as you declare it), but the hassle and attention you get, plus the overhead of protecting it along with the hassles of local laws, makes it a nightmare. If a SHTF situation occurs while you’re on the road, try to be one of the first to the closest local gun store/police station/National Guard armory and acquire or buy one. If it’s a true national/global TEOTWAWKI situation, most gun stores won’t be worrying about background checks, but you’ll probably need to use those gold bars, since cash most likely won’t be worth much.
  • Take your kit with you when heading out for work every day and, if possible, keep it in the front seat with you when in a rental car; you may need to grab it fast and get out. Make sure you have easy access to the Gerber hook knife (for your seatbelt) and the glass breaker in case of a serious accident.
  • If you’re forced to travel a long way to get home after a major disaster, consider locating an off-road bicycle. You can make good time, power without gas, remain relatively silent, and usually fix problems fairly easily; it’s important to practice riding a bicycle with a fully-loaded backpack to get comfortable doing so, as it can be harder than you think.
  • Think trains. If it’s a local or regional emergency and you can safely evacuate the affected area, trains are most likely to keep running in adverse conditions that will limit aircraft and road vehicles, and you don’t have to spend hours behind a wheel. I use an Android app called RailBandit that covers most of the passenger train systems in the U.S.
  • If it’s a SHTF/ TEOTWAWKI situation and you’re on foot/bike/motorcycle trying to get home, following train tracks can be a good choice. They’re generally isolated, easy to travel, and typically pass close to a lot of warehouses and such, which can contain supplies that haven’t been delivered to stores yet. Obviously, stay off the tracks if the trains are still running.
  • Apply the same prep habits to your rental car you do with your personal vehicle, including keeping the gas tank at least 3/4 full at all times, so you don’t have to stop for gas if you need to bug out or get stuck in a blizzard.
  • Most countries offer a 911-like emergency service (and most are staffed with English speakers), but they typically don’t use the “911” number. Learn the local emergency number.
  • Memorize the location of the closest friendly embassy/consulate when you’re in a foreign country, and program it into your phone’s mapping software. (You don’t want to try to ask directions to an address in Tokyo during an emergency.) Also program in their phone number(s).
  • When traveling overseas (at least if you’re American), find out where the closest U.S. military base is and memorize/program its location as well. Even a small U.S. military liaison office can offer assistance in national emergencies, and you might be able to hitch a ride back to the U.S. in an evacuation situation.
  • The best seats for fast egress during a flight emergency are aisle seats near the front or rear of the aircraft. That’s where the flight attendants/pilots are during an emergency landing, and they’re more likely to get the doors open quickly than the panicked masses in or near the over-wing exit rows. Even if you’re sitting in the window seat next to the exit door, you might get swamped by panicked people before you can get the exit open.
  • If on a plane and you’re told that you’re going to make an emergency landing, put on any outer wear you have with you, grab your carry-on backpack, make sure you have easy acceToday, we present another entry for Round 55 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:
  • ss to your goggles and a filter mask (in case you have to move through smoke), and stick the bag under the seat in front of you. When you get up to evacuate, sling your pack on the front of your body with your arms through the straps (assuming it’s not a water landing and you have to put on your life vest). If you have a belt strap, clasp it behind your back. Yes, they tell you to leave your bags behind, but if you’re in a true emergency situation, they’re not going to make a fuss as long as it’s not interfering with your or other passenger’s movements. (Hence, the reason to have it in the front of you, so you’re not banging it into other people.) Also, if the landing is in the wilderness, you’ll be glad you have it.
  • If you travel to a lot of out of the way places that are far from civilization, consider carrying a Personal Locator Beacon for local or regional emergencies. Get a 406 MHz one; they work anywhere in the world. Another alternative is the DeLorme inReach SE; it allows you to send 160-character text messages via satellite from anywhere in the world, so you can stay in contact with your family while you’re trying to get home. You’ll need two of them, since they only work with each other, and they require a monthly subscription service.
  • If you travel to one place frequently or will be staying there a long time (I had a project where I was commuting from Boston to Dallas every week for nine months), consider stocking an evacuation cache near your destination. If there are woods or open lands nearby, use those. If you’re in a city, consider renting a storage locker, preferably somewhere between your hotel and work location, or in a small town along your most likely route home. Also check with your hotel, if you’re going to be staying there a lot; they’ll frequently agree to hold onto a small cache suitcase for you when you’re not there. (Please don’t ask them to hold onto a large, camouflaged waterproof tube!) If you’re working at a customer site, ask them if you can leave a bag there.
  • One of the most useful skills you can possess, during an emergency in an urban environment, is lock picking. Trying to knock down the door to the gun store, like they do on TV, is a great way to injure yourself, and smashing them in can be noisy and attract unwanted attention. However, keep in mind that possession of lock picking tools is illegal in most places, unless you have a locksmith’s license. That being said, if you still want to carry a set, look for one of the credit card punch-out kits, and practice at home until you’re reasonably competent. DO NOT put it in your carry-on, as TSA (and potentially the local police) will want to have a very long and uncomfortable conversation with you when they find it.

Being prepared for a disaster while traveling requires a lot of up-front planning and thought, along with the right tools and supplies. As with home-based prepping, waiting until a disaster actually happens is a good way to end up dead, but being prepared across a lot of different locations can be difficult. One additional recommendation is to carefully document and save all of your planning work for each trip, since you never know when you might be going back. If you return to the same location in the future, you can simply update your existing plans, instead of starting from scratch every time.

As with any prep work, my kit and plans are constantly evolving. If you have any ideas, comments, or suggestions, I’d appreciate hearing them.

Letter: A Few Comments

Hello Hugh,

I just wanted to pass on that the article you posted on Monday, the 27th, ER Doctor: What Scares Me Even More Than Ebola, made the rounds amongst the nurses, doctors, and some of the EMTs in the mid-sized hospital emergency room where I work, and every single person that read it was in total agreement that it was the most sound and well thought-out plan for dealing with wide spread pandemic infectious disease, whether Ebola or what ever the next wave might be. I have my doubts about it being taken to heart and applied nationally, but perhaps in some proactive communities it could make the difference.

Also, I found the article you posted entitled 21 Days on Tuesday, the 28th, to be the best, detailed, scientific look at emerging infectious disease, without all the too-common political posturing, that I’ve seen yet (from the perspective of this old, ER nurse).

Lastly, there was some discussion of .40 vs 9mm conversion kits a few days back. I gotta put in a plug for the after-market barrels for Glock made by Storm Lake and Lone Wolf. I have one in my model 23 .40 cal, and it allows me to shoot 9mm all day long (with the appropriate magazines) at a drastic cost savings for practice time at the range. Best regards, – NWER

Economics and Investing:

US Homeownership Rate Drops To 1983 Levels: Here’s Why. – G.G.

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Alan Greenspan: Gold Is A Good Place To Put Money These Days

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Items from Mr. Econocobas:

Obamacare Sends Health Premiums Skyrocketing By As Much As 78% – This is about spot on to what I have personally experienced in the private market as well.

Does This Look Like A Housing Recovery To You?

From This Day Forward, We Will Watch How The Stock Market Performs Without The Fed’s Monetary Heroin

U.S. Economy Up 3.5% in 3rd Quarter, Capping Best 6 Months in Over a Decade

Odds ‘n Sods:

By way of The Daily Sheeple comes an excellent video on How To Treat a Traumatic Gunshot Wound. – J.W.

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Man had four beatings by PA State police in 11 hours, including one in the hospital while the already injured victim was still handcuffed to a gurney. Man charged with breaking a trooper’s fist with his face. – T.P.

I’m going to have to put Pennsylvania in the same class as other places that I never want to go.

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WND has an excellent video about the indoctrination of our children in public schools. Get them out while you can!

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Why Ebola Quarantines Will Grow Larger — And More Troubling. – JBG

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From Mike Williamson, SurvivalBlog’s Editor At-Large, comes this story of a “Bet he won’t do that again” prank.

“I’m not sure what is supposed to be funny about a ‘prank’ like this. It strikes me he got off easy. He could have wound up with a bullet in the brain in parts of the U.S.” – Mike

Notes for Thursday – October 30, 2014

October 30th, 1735 was the birthday of President John Adams. (Other sources cite his birthdate as October 19, 1735.) He died on July 4, 1826–just a few hours after the death of Thomas Jefferson.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 55 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hardcase to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel which can be assembled in less then 1 minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouseis providing 30 DMPS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448.95) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear,
  7. A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate.
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value),

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  9. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  10. RepackBoxis providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. Ambra Le Roy Medical Products in North Carolina is donating a bundle of their traditional wound care and first aid supplies, with a value of $208, and
  7. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit, and
  8. SurvivalBased.com is donating a $500 gift certificate to their store.
  9. Montie Gearis donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack. (a $379 value).

Round 55 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Survival To Go, by JMD – Part 1

Many of us have invested in learning the skills, stockpiling the tools and supplies, and hiding the caches necessary to survive in the event of a major disaster that impacts our local area, but the reality is that these types of events happen around the world on a daily basis. While skills are useful anywhere and anytime, the best stores and caches are useless if you’re hundreds or even thousands of miles away when a disaster strikes in your current location! While developing my survival strategy, I realized that I had a major gap– I travel a lot on business, both nationally in the U.S. and internationally (80,000+ average flying miles per year, plus driving and trains), and if disaster struck while I was on the road I’d be forced to scramble to get any kind of survival kit together. To give myself a leg up, I decided to use a lot of the advice from various sources to build out a basic kit that can travel with me.

The Kit

Anyone who has ever traveled knows that modern travel, especially by air, can be tiring and burdensome, so they tend to focus primarily on improving their comfort. I wanted to cover safety and survival as well as comfort, and the good news is that a lot of the material in your kit can help with all three objectives. For any flying trip that is more than a single day trip (there in the AM and back in the PM), I have two bags– my backpack carry-on and a checked bag. The checked bag size depends on the length of the trip. I know a lot of business travelers hate the idea of checking a bag, but in order to get some of your critical survival tools to your destination you’re better off doing it. Note that I’ve flown nearly a million miles in the last 15 years, and my checked bag has only gotten rerouted twice; both times they had it back to me within eight hours. When traveling (even on business) I always dress for comfort/safety/survival first, so I pack my business clothes in the checked bag.

Here’s what’s in my carry-on:

  • Work stuff, including a lightweight computer, external hard disk, cables, papers, et cetera.
  • Vapur Eclipse (1 litre) water bottle that folds up small and stands when full.
  • H2O Survival Water Filter Travel Straw. It is only good for about 18 gallons, but it is the smallest and lightest you can buy (same size as a largish pen). I have a Sawyer Mini in my checked bag for longer-term use.
  • Small first aid kit that includes gauze wrap, surgical pads, band-aids, antibiotic ointment, a small bottle of hydrogen peroxide, some Quick-Clot, nitrile gloves, et cetera.
  • Kaito KA800 emergency radio that gets AM/FW/weather channels; it’s small, light, and rechargeable from USB.
  • Adventure Medical Kits Sol Survival Blanket, which is better than the cheap mylar ones and just as light and compact.
  • Fifty feet of 550 paracord; need you ask why?
  • Cocoon ultralight travel pillow, which packs smaller than my fist and makes a huge difference if you’re forced to sleep in an airport/gas station/train station/elsewhere overnight. It can also double as a butt cushion if you need to sit on the cold ground or a hard seat overnight.
  • Bic lighters in standard type.
  • Levin Solstar Solar Panel Charger 5000mAh battery that will recharge my smartphone phone and tablet and can be recharged in the sun (slowly, though). Remember those pictures of people huddled around a generator in NYC after Hurricane Sandy, trying to charge their cell phones?
  • Brite Strike ELPI (2 x AAA) & Fenix MC11 (1 x AA) flashlights. The Brite Strike was a gift; it’s very powerful but goes through batteries fast. The Fenix has great light and battery life and can be held/hung/propped-up in a lot of different ways. I also pack extra Lithium batteries.
  • Cyalume sticks; a couple are packed because they are great for lighting up a pitch-black hotel room during a power outage, and they provide broader light than a flashlight. Note that these contain liquid, so if you don’t get to go through TSA’s Pre-check lane, you’ll have to put them in your liquids baggie when going through security.
  • Offline maps installed on both my cell phone and tablet. Even if cell or Internet service is disrupted, you can still use your smart phone/tablet and GPS for navigation (assuming you have the maps already installed locally). Remember, most terrestrial events won’t impact the GPS system (for a while anyway). I use Maps With Me Pro for Android and have downloaded the maps for all of the lower 48 states, plus whatever other country I happen to be traveling in at the time. Remember that even if you’re flying from NYC to LA, there’s no guarantee you won’t end up somewhere else during an emergency. (Remember what happened with flights on 9/11?)
  • Food. I carry some Clif bars, jerky, trail mix, oatmeal, hot chocolate, and powdered drink mix. (I don’t drink coffee, but you could obviously bring some instant.)
  • TOAKS Titanium 450ml Cup and a Spork.- Fill cup with hot tap water (or boiling water from the airport coffee shop/hotel room coffee maker) and make oatmeal/hot chocolate/soup.
  • Zip ties in small, medium, and large size. They are one of the best travel quick fixes there is, usually faster and stronger than tying, and they can be used for whipping up many emergency items and repairing broken luggage.
  • Gorilla tape (1″ wide roll). It’s stronger and has better adhesion than regular duct tape and works well even on uneven and wet surfaces.
  • Small toiletry kit– toothpaste, travel toothbrush, soap sheets, deodorant.
  • Small travel towel that is great for drying off after a sink bath when you’re stuck in an airport/gas station/truck stop for a few days. They frequently run out of paper towels in stranding situations.
  • Cash. I keep a couple of hundred dollars in a small opaque waterproof plastic envelop at all times. Keep $50 or so in your wallet, in case you get mugged.
  • Outdoor Research Radar Pocket Cap, which folds flat and is lightweight and waterproof.
  • Waterproof backpack cover.
  • Spare underwear and socks.
  • Dog tags with my name, blood type, DOB, allergies, and home phone. I keep this on the chain around my neck whenever I travel, along with an emergency whistle. If you’re found unconscious it can make all the difference, and in a plane/train crash at least they can identify your body.
  • Acme 636 Safety Whistle can help rescuers locate you or attract attention when you’re in trouble. Also, you can blow it in close proximity to an attacker’s ear and disorient them.
  • Gerber GDC Hook Knife that can be used to cut paracord/zip-ties/seat belts/material/more, and TSA has no problem with it. I keep it clipped on the outside of my pack so it’s visible and accessible.
  • Byer The Traveller Lite Hammock. Cut off the factory ropes and hardware and just store it folded flat. You can use your own paracord to string it up, and it beats anything out of sleeping on the floor in an airport. Also, it works as a ground cloth/tarp/cover. I sprayed it with extra waterproofing to enhance the protection.
  • Schrade Survival Tactical Pen that can be used as a fire starter/whistle/glass breaker/baton. Plus, it writes, too! I carry it in my pocket when I’m out and about town without my kit. I’ve taken it through airport security numerous times with no problem.
  • Secret stash Bic lighter stuffed with a bunch of Tinder-Quiks. You can buy a modified lighter on eBay, or you can make it yourself. (Just Google it.) A spark and good-burning tinder can be had in one unobtrusive package.
  • Leather work gloves for digging out of rubble, grabbing hot stuff during a fire, breaking windows, knife fights, rappelling down a sheet rope from a burning hotel room window, et cetera. If it’s cold weather, I bring a pair of insulated gloves. (These are are available from Home Depot, treated with leather waterproofing.)
  • Vented safety goggles for when you have to move through smoke, dust, et cetera. They can also double as rain/snow goggles, and in a viral outbreak event they can keep airborne bodily fluids out of your eyes. Get the ones with the indirect vents, not the ones with a bunch of holes drilled into them, and treat the inside with anti-fogging liquid you can find at any ski shop. (Home Depot is a good supplier.)
  • Antiviral face mask for when you’re sitting next to someone who is sneezing/coughing the whole flight or the next Ebola/SARs/Bird Flu/whatever epidemic. (Walgreens carries these.)
  • N95 Dust Mask for when you have to crawl your way through a smoking hallway, walk through a dust storm, et cetera. Note that these won’t stop airborne pathogens, so that’s why you have the antiviral mask.
  • A small notepad that, besides writing on, can be torn into small strips and used for kindling, if necessary. While they’re nice, I avoid the Rite-in-the-Rain ones, because the coating prevents the pages from burning easily.
  • Frogg Toggs poncho, which is several steps above a cheap plastic one but almost as compact. (Walmart carries these.)
  • Waterproof and zip lock bags for my phone, radio, notepad, and so forth in case of a water event.
  • Shemagh, which is very useful in any weather, but many people might be leery if you wear it over your face in a non-emergency situation (especially in airports). Stick with using it as a scarf, unless it’s an emergency.
  • Small compass.
  • Sharpie pen; I use the stainless steel one, just because…
  • Small coffee filters, which I use as a first-stage water filter for removing larger particles when drinking from the H2O or filling the Sawyer squeeze bottle from a questionable source.
  • For colder weather I also include a pair of lightweight thermal underwear (top & bottom, silk or polypro), a lightweight thermal balaclava, a pair of glove liners, and a small fleece travel blanket in a roll.
  • A bunch of 1-gram gold bars, because in a national/global emergency they’ll buy you a lot more than cash will.

All of this fits nicely into my 30L Outdoor Products backpack, with some extra room in case I need to stock up with extras on the run. I use packing cubes and a Gridt-It organizer to hold and organize all of the bits and pieces, so they’re easier to find in an emergency and don’t all fall down to the bottom of the bag. Note that with the computer it’s a bit heavy, but for me (6’, 185 lbs., and in decent shape) it’s perfectly manageable.

Tomorrow, in Part 2, I’ll share what I pack in my checked bag, and I’ll also give you some tips and lessons I’ve learned that might be useful for improving your comfort, safety, and survival when traveling.

Letter Re: Kids Can Earn Their Keep

Dear Hugh,

I thought T.B. had some good ideas for kids involvement in almost any situation, but I wanted to bring up a point about feeding the animals.

We are about two years into our new retreat now, and in the process we acquired farm animals. The first year we bought chickens; the second year we bought cattle. My experience with both has led me to believe it is not necessarily a good idea for children to be working with farm animals, as I had my own learning curve with them that has resulted in some injuries. I’ve owned two roosters that both were into attacking people. First, I got rid of one. The last one died of lead poisoning after he spurred me so hard I had to make a trip to the emergency room, get the wound cleaned out, and got on anitbiotics. He got me in the forearm through a shirt and down to the muscle. I think he was going for my face. All I did was bring in the food to their enclosure. I had previously and wrongly thought I had the attacking problem solved, but he injured me just the same. I was really fond of that rooster, too.

Our cows are by nature very sweet, but they are very large. Even when we bring out food they like, some of them bounce around excited like a happy dog, a TWELVE HUNDRED POUND dog. We have one who will come up and try to head butt you to demand more of what is being served. Also, if a cow is accidentaly startled, she can kick hard enough to kill you. We were securing one in a pen who had just given birth for the first time and had to assist the nursing process at the beginning. As I was closing the gate, she kicked the gate back into my forehead pretty hard. Luckily, I have a hard head. (Just ask my husband.)

That is why I would be extremely reluctant to let kids feed farm animals in TEOTWAWKI. If they are nearly into adulthood and we give them some good supervision first as to what to watch for, then yes, they should be able to feed the animals. I know I may sound like I am in contradiction to the intent of Future Farmers of America, and I like that program, but if you no longer have medical care available for animal accidents, now what? I’m pretty careful, but I still got hurt from my animals. Animals aren’t always predictable.

All that aside, we as protective parents are supposed to earn a keep for our children. Ideally, we introduce them into responsibility according to their maturity level, even in TEOTWAWKI. Even then, and especially then, kids need play time, too. Sincerely, – Mrs. RLB

Hugh Replies: One of the reasons that our cities are so full of incorrigible teenagers today is that we allow them to act as little children well into adulthood. (We won’t discuss the underlying family issues here, mainly the lack of a family.) By the time a child is 15 or 16, they are capable of performing a man’s or woman’s work, physically. If they are not ready mentally by that time, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Having been raised on a farm, I have memories of caring for animals that “had it in for me”, but that didn’t stop me from handling my responsibilities. In fact, I learned much about life by becoming resourceful in dealing with these animals. I have watched a neighbor girl who is seven years old hold off a rooster with nothing more than a badminton racket while she collected eggs. I used to have to feed a cow that would pin me up against the fence when it got the chance and try to gore me (though it had no horns) when I was 10.

When you deal with these things as children, you learn to respect them and you learn how to read them. There are very few animals that are unpredictable. In fact, most animals tell you well in advance what their intentions are. By working with our children when they are young, they will be able to handle all but the most ornery animals by the time they are teens. By the time they are 15 or 16, they should be able to handle any of them as well as you. There are always exceptions. There are animals that are not right in the head as well as people, and those should always be taken into account, but coddling our children will only set them up for failure when they need the most success.

We are dealing with a prime example of this right now. While we were on vacation for two weeks, we had some city folk take care of our chickens. It’s not hard to deal with them as there is no rooster in the bunch right now. You just have to feed and water them regularly. Upon our arrival home, they were not laying. I like to think that they missed me, but the reality is that the teenagers caring for them obviously were not regular in their care of them. The chickens are still letting me know how unhappy they were in our absence. I’m hoping for eggs again sometime soon! On the flip side, we boarded our dog with a kennel that didn’t use cages or TV’s and the person actually spent quite a bit of time loving on the dogs in her care. We returned to a fat and happy dog that was almost reluctant to come home. Remember, the earlier and better we learn those lessons, the more prepared we are to handle whatever happens if TEOTWAWKI actually happens.

“Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left.” – 2 Chronicles 34:1-2

“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

Odds ‘n Sods:

Not strictly survival related, but it’s a testament to the condition of our society: TRENDING: More college students support post-birth abortion – P.M.

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With all the recent dust-ups on militarized police, here is an interesting read: Are Cops Constitutional? – K.W.

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A Library For Survival Knowledge. Browse at will, but there is also a torrent snapshot of it (14-Oct-2014). – R.F.

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CDC Says Ebola Droplets Can Only Travel 3 Feet … But MIT Research Shows Sneezes Can Travel Up to 20 Feet – P.M.

Don’t forget to watch the Myth Busters slow motion sneeze. It’s a bit vulgar, but it puts that 3-foot myth to rest in a hurry.

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In classical government tradition, modern science strikes again: Toss the data if it doesn’t fit your pre-determined outcome. Government Study: Flu Vaccine not Effective for Elderly – Death Rates Increased. – D.S.

Hugh’s Quote of the Day:

“Choosing what you want to do, and when to do it, is an act of creation. In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is due to our efforts. If you’re not actively involved in getting what you want, you don’t really want it.” – Peter McWilliams

Notes for Wednesday – October 29, 2014

October 29th is the birthday of Vermont Garrison, fighter pilot, an American who fought in three wars– WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He was born in 1915 and died February 14, 1994, in Mountain Home, Idaho. This is also the birthday of World War II cartoonist Bill Mauldin (born 1921, died January 22, 2003).

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Today, we present another entry for Round 55 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hardcase to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel which can be assembled in less then 1 minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouseis providing 30 DMPS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448.95) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear,
  7. A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate.
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value),

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  9. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  10. RepackBoxis providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. Ambra Le Roy Medical Products in North Carolina is donating a bundle of their traditional wound care and first aid supplies, with a value of $208, and
  7. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit, and
  8. SurvivalBased.com is donating a $500 gift certificate to their store.
  9. Montie Gearis donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack. (a $379 value).

Round 55 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Kids Can Earn Their Keep, by T.B.

There are so many things to consider when making your plans for when we arrive at TEOTWAWKI that it seems overwhelming at times. One of my own concerns is being able to take care of my grandchildren. My wife and I have five grandchildren (soon to be six) that live close enough that we would be expecting them to join us in the event of an economic or societal collapse. Thinking about that possibility has motivated me to stock up on books, games, crafts, toys, and so forth in order to keep them entertained and maybe a little distracted while we deal with the most serious issues at hand. However, just keeping the little ones entertained is not a viable and well thought-out plan. For kids to have a healthy view of themselves, just like adults, they need to experience setbacks as well as accomplishments, set and achieve goals, see themselves as needed and valued, and feel like they’re contributing. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of 25 things any kid can do to “earn their keep”. There are no doubt many more, but this might be a good start. With a little forethought and planning, you can provide an environment that will be healthy for kids in spite of the bad things happening all around them.

So here we go. Let’s start outdoors:

  1. Planting seeds and bulbs.

    Our grandkids absolutely love planting seeds, bulbs, and seedlings. They are more careful in their technique than many adults! Also, just the act of planting something gently and carefully gives them a feeling of accomplishment, especially when the first green shoots break through the soil.

  2. Pulling weeds!

    If you can develop the frame of mind in which the kids are “protecting” their seedlings, like a mother protects her baby, the kids will weed with a vengeance. One word of caution, however, is that the youngest children will have to be taught what’s good and what’s bad! The look on the face of a child when they find out that they pulled a “good” seedling is heart-wrenching! We use raised beds, and I swear we only have to give our garden two good weedings a year to keep our garden “clean”. So the dreaded job of weeding isn’t too bad, even for kids.

  3. Watering the garden.

    Again, valuable lessons can be learned about doing things appropriately and not to excess. Different plants have different needs, and children can learn these facts even while doing something as simple as watering the garden.

  4. Foraging for wild edibles.

    This job will require some training. If you do “hands-on” training, the kids will learn about taste and texture at the same time. If the area in which you live is relatively safe, the kids can forage on their own, although personally, I even escort our grandkids to the restroom when we’re dining out in a restaurant. So exercise good judgment.

  5. Feeding the poultry and/or livestock.

    What kid doesn’t like to feed the animals? It’s yet another opportunity to teach the lessons of kindness and protection, as well as appropriateness. We feed not too much, not too little, and in the right combinations. It’s a good chance to learn that there is a right way and wrong way to do just about everything. I’m not sure how to handle the issue of butchering your livestock. Do you let the kids name them? Have they become pets? These are issues you should consider before assigning the job of feeding to the children.

  6. Cleaning up the animal pens/chicken coop.

    This will probably never be considered “fun”, which means it can lead to a very valuable lesson for kids of all ages. There’s a reason they call it “work”! However, if you can show the kids the value of a clean pen or coop– healthier and happier animals, clean eggs, and safe meat– maybe they’ll be able to grasp one of the harsher realities of life. Good results require effort.

  7. Harvesting fruits and vegetables from the garden.

    This is probably the most rewarding activity that our grandkids enjoy at our house. In fact, whenever they visit, the first thing they want to do is race out back to the garden and start picking (and eating) whatever looks ripe. If we don’t call them in, they’ll just happily graze out there on their own. We’ve taught them about size and color and where to look for hidden treasure. Our grandson once hoisted in a huge zucchini that we had both missed. He was so proud of his trophy! Even for adults, this is the best part of gardening. It’s no wonder our ancestors celebrated harvest time with feasts!

  8. Processing the harvest.

    With some supervision, kids can learn to can the fruits and vegetables that have been harvested. Let them create their own combinations– soups, beans, sauces, veggie mixes. All sorts of possibilities present themselves. Also, don’t forget about drying your produce, such as herbs, fruit slices, tomatoes. Again, there are all sort of possibilities. Let the children use their imaginations. It won’t be the end of the world if they experience a few failures along the way. It’s all part of the learning (and growing) process.

  9. Saving seeds.

    This is one of those long-count learning experiences for kids. Not only do you have to collect and store the seeds, but then it’s another winter before you can plant and harvest the rewards for your efforts and patience. It’s similar to planting a fruit tree sapling. You can expect a long wait before you enjoy the fruit! However, this is another opportunity to teach patience and delayed gratification, which is something most children don’t seem to have anymore.

  10. Going fishing!

    I know, this is an easy one, right? However, there is a difference between “goin’ fishin’” and fishing to provide protein for the family/group, especially if society has collapsed and the environment is dangerous. You may have to enlist the kids to help with “stealth” fishing activities. This might mean quiet fishing at night. It might mean setting gill nets one night and then coming back the next to collect your catch. The point is that fishing might be a critical part of your family’s/group’s survival plan, and as such it would be an important contribution for any kid to make. For this one, I’d recommend practice. Practice now, while things are relatively peaceful and calm. You might have to exercise your skills someday under different circumstances.

  11. Hunting for small game.

    I own a .22 rifle, and I have also purchased a pellet rifle (stealthier), with the thought of someday allowing my grandkids to hunt for small game (if the area was sufficiently safe). In the tradition of the early settlers and even the Native Americans, I think any boy or girl would feel proud to come home to the homestead or encampment with meat for the pot. In our area, there are a lot of squirrels and rabbits and thousands of geese. We’ve been out to the gun range; once they got the hang of it, my grandsons shot the middle out of the target! I have no doubt that in TEOTWAWKI, they’ll be ready to contribute.

  12. Gathering firewood.

    We have stored away a few hundred pounds of charcoal, several tanks of propane, some kerosene, and firewood. When I talk about the kids collecting firewood, I’m not talking about logs; I’m talking about sticks! Have you built yourself a rocket stove yet? That, or something similar, will burn simple sticks and enable you to boil water or cook in a pan. So, yes, kids can contribute by collecting firewood. Their sticks can be used for cooking or even for building bigger fires by supplying the kindling. Every storm that blows through the neighborhood should be a signal that it is time to get ready by collecting sticks, everybody!

    We’re about half-way there! Now, let’s move inside:

  13. Building things.

    Do you need a step stool? Have the kids build one! Need a place to sit while weeding? Have the kids build you a small seat. Want a live trap to catch the chipmunks who are getting into your grain? Give the kids some screening and some boards, and see what happens. Yeah, when they get out the saw and hammer, you might want to do a little coaching, but I can still remember building boats as a kid and floating them in the ditch across the street in the springtime. Need a shelf built? Need a box to store things in? Need poles tied together for your beans? Ask a kid!

  14. Washing dishes.

    This one, and the next few, are generally considered “ugh” jobs. However, if you think about the importance of hygiene and cleanliness when we reach TEOTWAWKI, the following jobs are critical. Washing dishes is probably near the top of the hygiene list for a family or a group of people. If you have the opportunity, take your kids to a restaurant and let them tour the back kitchen. Let them see the steps that businesses have to take to protect their customers from bacteria and viruses. It’s sure to make an impression. This is a serious contribution to the health and well-being of the family/group!

  15. Drying dishes.

    The “dryer” is the quality control person. They are the last line of defense for the family/group in keeping germs away from the people using the dishes. The dryer may irritate the washer sometimes, so it might pay off to rotate the jobs on a regular basis!

  16. Washing clothes.

    This one might only work with older children, simply because it’s a pretty physical task. Washing clothes by hand isn’t easy! Wringing them out by hand is even harder. We have bought a commercial mop wringer just for this purpose. You need to get as much water out of the clothes as you can before hanging them out to dry.

  17. Hanging clothes out to dry.

    We’ve stocked up on clothes pins and clothesline for TEOTWAWKI, based on the assumption that we won’t have power to run our electric clothes dryer. Kids might have to work together to get this done, but that will just promote teamwork.

  18. Folding clothes and putting them away.

    I know it doesn’t sound like much, but I guarantee you the kids will feel a sense of accomplishment when the neat piles of clothes are done!

  19. Sweeping and mopping.

    This is another one that falls into the hygiene category. Especially if the family is working in the garden, canning, or even cooking, the house is going to collect dirt, grease, dust, et cetera. With our HVAC down because we have no power, our windows will be open, allowing all sorts of things to reach our floors. A white-glove test will probably encourage (and enlighten) anyone! So, stock up on bleach.

  20. Re-charging the batteries.

    This is a simple task, but it’s one that everyone hopes gets done! We have a small solar charger and a big box of re-chargeable batteries. Someone needs to be “in charge of charging”!

  21. Babysitting.

    You can use your own judgment as far as how old the babysitter needs to be. That might depend on individual maturity, experience, length of time the sitter needs to be on duty, proximity of the responsible adults, et cetera, but this is something a lot of older kids do already, so it definitely makes the list.

  22. Tending to the sick.

    This may involve reading books to them, feeding them (like soup or broth), helping the patient get more comfortable (extra pillow?), or just getting them a drink of water. The doctoring/nursing needs to be done by a trained expert, but there are lots of little things that can be provided by a brother or sister; they fill an important role just being good company.

  23. Cooking!

    Kids can start small by heating up a can of soup, for example, but as they are trained in safety and techniques kids can actually do a lot in the kitchen. Let them have a crack at the cookbooks. You might be surprised!

  24. Writing.

    I’m talking about keeping a log– a family diary. Have a kid or kids write down the history as it happens. ”Today the power went out, and we lit the oil lamps. The lighting is softer than electric.” “Last night, we caught 23 fish in our net. We had a fish-fry tonight with our cousins. They are all living with us now.” Get the idea? Not only will it be an opportunity for the kids to express how they are feeling in this upside-down world, but it will provide the family the opportunity down the road to look back and see where they’ve been and what they’ve lived through. It is your family’s history, written as it happened.

  25. Finally, learning.

    Done right, all of these things will be learning experiences, but there’s more. Don’t forget math, science, and reading, and all of the other school-type lessons. We have flash cards, a microscope, a telescope, and a whole library of books on all sorts of subjects. We have technical manuals, a drafting table and tools, and a manual typewriter. Don’t overlook education for after TEOTWAWKI. It may be our only hope for the survival of our species!

Well, there you have it. My list of 25 things kids can do to earn their keep. I’m sure there are more, and I hope to hear some of them from other contributors!

Letter Re: Question on Audiobook Formats for Liberators

Hello Jim, I purchased your latest novel Liberators last week and have just now received it. Forgive my lack of modern tech-no-media; however, the CD I ordered was the new MP3 format, which none of my older devices can play. Do you offer a traditional CD set? Dealing directly with Amazon is a pain sometimes, so I was hoping you might be able to advise me. Best Regards, – Steve G.

JWR Replies: Sorry, but I don’t sell any CDs directly. You can listen to your existing MP3 CD with just about any laptop computer, or on newer car stereos. Or, if your car stereo has an iPod cord jack, you can copy the book MP3 files onto your iPod, and then plug it in to your car stereo’s external audio source jack.

You MIGHT be able to have a large bookstore (such as Borders) exchange your MP3 CD for a multi-CD (standard CD) boxed set. There is about a $10 price difference. If the package seal isn’t broken, you can also ask Amazon.com for a UPS “call tag”, to exchange it.