Notes for Thursday – December 18, 2014

December 18th is the birthday of Charles Wesley (18 December 1707 – 29 March 1788). He wrote more that 1,700 hymns. Today is also the birthday of Jørgen Haagen Schmith (born December 18, 1910, died October 15, 1944). He was better known under the codename Citron and was a famous Danish resistance fighter in occupied Denmark. His biographical sketch at Wikipedia describes his death, after he was tracked down by the Nazis: “German soldiers arrived at the house to arrest or kill Schmith. He fought for hours against an overwhelming force of enemy troops killing 11 and wounded scores of others before the house was set on fire and he was shot attempting to escape the flames.” His exploits were dramatized in the movie Flame and Citron.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 56 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 hard case 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 one 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 Warehouse is providing 30 DPMS 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, and
  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. RepackBox is 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,
  7. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  8. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack (a $379 value).

Round 56 ends on January 31st, 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.

The Case For Being A Prepper, by Quilliam Franklin

My goal in writing this article is to explain my thoughts and reasoning behind my choice to become a Prepper. I believe that being more prepared is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family. However, sometimes Preppers can be seen as strange, eccentric, or even crazy. My hope is that as you read my thoughts in this essay you will get ideas that can help you have good heartfelt conversations with your loved ones. Ultimately, I hope you will realize what I did; preparing for the uncertainties in this world is anything but crazy.

As I was reading and pondering reasons why I should be more prepared, I started to categorize everything into two different groups– multipliers and uncertainties. Multipliers are variables that make any type of disaster worse off, while uncertainties are bad situations that could possibly happen but might not. Let me share with you some of these multiplies and uncertainties that are the most concerning to me.

Multipliers

Just-in-time Delivery

First, I want to talk about just-in-time delivery. Just-in-time deliver means, that when you go to the store and buy an item, it will register that the store is short of that item. The computer systems will automatically place an order, and when the next truck goes out to that store, it will now include that extra item on board. This is a practice that saves a lot of money for almost every type of business (e.g. grocery stores, pharmacies, manufacturers, and others), because now the in-store inventory is very low. However, because the in-store inventory is very low, if there is ever a reason that we can’t use our nation’s transportation system (mostly roads) the stores would run out of inventory even quicker.

A small localized example would be to look at what happened after hurricane Katrina when many of the roads were inoperable. Many grocery store shelves were completely stripped bare and people were hoarding gas to run their generators. From what I read and saw on the news, it was a tense situation, but this disaster was a localized event with a light at the end of the tunnel. Plus, our entire nation poured in supplies to help out. Now, imagine an equally devastating disaster on a larger scale without supplies being flown in. Just-in-time deliver would cause stores to run out of inventory even quicker than they would have before. Just-in-time inventory is not bad; it saves a lot of money and makes a lot of business sense, but it can easily make a fragile situation go from bad to worse.

Not Your Grandpa’s Generation Anymore

I don’t know how else to say it. We, as a people, are not the same as our grandparents’ generation. We don’t have the same skills and mindset as they used to. They worked in every aspect of their lives; they gardened, cooked from scratch, and mended what broke. They had relationships with their neighbors. They bartered, and they didn’t feel entitled to anything they didn’t work for.

I am not going to drag this topic out, but I think we can all agree that our country as a whole could not handle a disaster situation anywhere near as well as our grandparents could. How many people today would be willing to eat chicken feet soup and possum for dinner?

Made in China

It is not a secret that very few things are made completely in the USA anymore. If there is ever a disruption in the international/domestic shipping and transportation, for any reason, it would pretty much stop all production and disrupt most of what we could buy at the stores. This is just one more thing that could make a certain disaster scenario much worse.

Uncertainties

About a year in a half ago I was at an event where Paul Ryan (Wisconsin, Republican, House of Representatives) was speaking. He talked about some point in the future when America wouldn’t even be able to afford the interest payments on our debt, if we didn’t start curbing our spending. After this event, I started to think about what he said, which led me to do more research on the national budget and debt. From what I read, Paul Ryan had one of the most conservative budget plans that had a chance of passing at that time, but even his plan didn’t stop us from going into debt further. His plan only slowed the pace at which we went into debt. This was an eye-opening experience for me. It made me realize that there could be a financial disaster in the future that no one was talking about (you can’t borrow money indefinitely). And if no one was talking about this then, what else was I missing? After much research, I came up with a list of some of the biggest concerns or uncertainties I have about our future.

National Debt

My share of the national debt is $56,194.16 (as of 11/11/2014). That means an average family of four, like mine, has a share of debt well over $200,000.

The U.S. currently has close to 18 trillion dollars in debt. Our yearly budgets have recently run about 1/3 off of borrowed money, and we have added over $7 trillion to our national debt since 2008. As we continue to borrow money, the interest on our payments is going to get higher and higher, and at some point we won’t even be able to afford the interest on our payments without drastically altering the budget. In addition, we are not even trying to pay towards the principle of our debt. Very few politicians are even trying to make cuts to the budget, because doing so would take funding from areas that their constituents support. Like I mentioned above, one of the most conservative budgets that had a chance of passing (although a small chance) doesn’t even stop borrowing money, it just borrows a little bit slower than other budget plans.

In short, it is like our nation is driving straight towards a cliff, and all we are doing about it is arguing about how fast we should be driving towards the edge rather than trying to change directions. At some point when we can’t afford to pay interest on our debt payments, we won’t be able to borrow additional money, but we will still have the debt that we owe. At some point it is going to get ugly, because you can’t borrow money forever and not pay it back (well, at least not without consequences). I fear we will be left holding the debt, have our budget cut in third, plus continually have to pay more of our budget towards the principal.

There are people who predict that at this point there will be a collapse of our nation’s currency, and although that is a possibility, I hope it won’t get that bad. Whatever does happen, it will be a difficult and trying time for our country. To try to get out of this mess there will have to be high inflation, increased taxes, and deep budgets cuts. Think of what happened recently in Greece; their entire system was at the point of collapsing, but they were finally saved by a bailout from the EU. We have more debt than the next three countries combined, so if our system fails there will be no one to bail us out.

Let me finish this section quoting Margaret Thatcher, who said this about socialist countries (and if the U.S. isn’t one yet, we are pretty close): “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” You can’t say it better than that. In the end our debt in going to catch up to us, and it is not going to be pretty.

Food Stamps

It has been reported recently that 20% of households in America are now on food stamps. That number has continued to grow every year. That means that one fifth of America is directly dependent on the government for at least part, if not all, of their food budget. (This excludes people who actually get a salary from working for the government.) What would happen if there was ever an interruption, inflation, or a cutback in how much the government is able to hand out?

We need to ask what it means for our country to have a low jobless rate but still have 20% of households of food stamps. What underlying problems are there that make it so many Americans can’t even afford their own food? Perhaps, most importantly, what does it mean for our country when so many people feel it is the responsibility of the government to feed them?

The overall point I want to make about food stamps is that there are a lot of people using them for food on a daily basis and that number keeps on growing. If for any reason there was ever a problem of any kind that caused a reduction in food stamps, you would have massive riots, looting, stealing, and possibly worse. It is best to be prepared.

Social Security (What’s So Secure?)

So let me explain Social Security the way I understand it. Each year the money is collected from people paying into the system (generally through payroll taxes). In years past, when more money was put into the system than was needed to pay out, the government created and added that money to a special fund– the Social Security Trust Fund. Any extra money was put in there. The government would then essentially write an IOU (technically government bonds, but these bonds are not tied to any real assets) to the Social Security Trust Fund and then use that money in other places. Now we are to the point where we are not saving up extra money each year; in fact, we need more money that we are bringing in. So, we pull money from the Social Security Trust Fund. With the current laws, we are not projected to have a surplus of money any time soon. At the current rate of withdrawal and with very positive estimates from government, the Social Security Trust Fund will run dry in 2033. At that point, the entire program would have to reduce benefits to all the Social Security participants so that money coming in and money going out match. It is currently estimated that the government would have to reduce the benefits to everyone by about 25%, to break even.

I am sure my explanation is simple and misses some of the nuances of Social Security, but it does highlight a major problem– Social Security is going to run into some major pain points within the next 20 years.

Before ending this section on Social Security, I want to make two more points that add to the uncertainties around social security:

  1. There is only 2.9 people paying in to every one person paying out, and that ratio is getting smaller every year. At what point does it fall apart? How much of your paycheck is the government willing to take from you?
  2. The process of temporarily fixing and patching Social Security could potentially cause a lot of pain. If for any reason Social Security checks stopped coming, even for a short period of time, there would be massive backlash from the people. (There are over 54 million people receiving Social Security benefits right now.)

There are going to have to be some tough decisions made around Social Security, over and over again. If each temporary fix doesn’t go perfectly smooth, it will cause massive unrest across this country. Ultimately, I am afraid the system is going to fall apart. I am in my 30s, and I don’t expect to ever see one penny paid back to me from Social Security. Be prepared, because there are too many uncertainties to count on Social Security being there for you.

Ebola in Dallas

So I live in the DFW area, and when I first heard that there was a case of Ebola in Dallas I was a little bit annoyed but not overly concerned. I then found out that a nurse from my church congregation works at the same hospital as the person with Ebola. This made me stop and think if I should be nervous. Lastly, I learned that the nurse has kids that were in the same class at church that my kids were in, and I got even a little bit more nervous. Then, additionally two more nurses caught Ebola; my nerves continued to climb.

Luckily, it wasn’t a huge issue, and Dallas eventually became Ebola free, but that disease highlighted just how quickly people are going to panic in situations like that. In this case, the presence of one patient caused the emergency room at that hospital to shut down and some nurses stopped showing up to work. Imagine what would have happened if there were 200 or 2,000 cases around Dallas all at once. Would the hospitals be able to handle it?

I believe that there could be a disease that is worse than Ebola, one day. Especially when there are doctors and scientists publishing exactly how to create one. We should be prepared, at least the best we can, to handle a situation like that. This is just one more of those uncertainties that makes me want to be a Prepper.

My Responsibility

In the end, I feel that it is my responsibility to take care of my family. I hope and pray for continued peace and prosperity. My hope is that I never need the skills and supplies that go along with being a Prepper, but it would be naïve of me to ignore and do nothing to prepare for some of the uncertainties that I have listed in this article (and ones I did not list). Let me share some of my worst fears with you that really drove me all the way into being a Prepper. The first is that all or part of my family is killed (or worse) during a disaster scenario. The second thing that scares me is what I might be willing to do for my family.

Here is a hypothetical situation I thought of at the very beginning of my Prepper journey. Imagine I am the normal suburban guy who loves his family but is not very prepared for a disaster. Then, some sort of disaster strikes. Imagine my family and I start to go hungry. I am generally a good, Christian guy, and I tried to find food for my family in a fair way, but since food is scarce for everyone I do not have enough to get by for me and my family. Would I be willing to look my wife and kids in the eye and tell them that they have to starve because I did not prepare when I had the chance? Would I be willing to turn to robbery, or to murder, to stop my family from dying of starvation? What if this also meant ruining my own chance of salvation? Honestly, in this hypothetical situation, I am not sure what I would do. My gut tells me that I would do almost anything before I let my family die.

This scenario made me realize that if a good, Christian person would be willing to do extreme things to help his/her family, what would others with less moral convictions be willing to do? I decided that I should prepare now, while I have the chance, so that this hypothetical situation would never have the possibility of being acted out.

Conclusion

There are two reason I wrote this article. First, I wrote it to encourage the Preppers to continue on their journey. Prepping is not strange, eccentric, or crazy, and if there is ever a disaster scenario you will thank your lucky stars you prepared. Plus, knowing you are more prepared than most should allow you to rest a little easier at night. The second reason is so you can share this article with the non-prepper people in your life. Maybe this will shed a new light on why you do what you do and the non-prepper will realize that you prepare because you care about them.

In conclusion, no one thinks you’re strange if you get a life insurance policy, even though you have a small chance of actually dying. The same should be true about prepping. There is a small chance (I hope) that any of these scenarios will turn into a full blown disaster, but there is still a chance. It is normalcy bias that tells us that just because something like this hasn’t happened before means it won’t happen in the future. We should take advantage and take action now and prepare. We need to pay the dues to our disaster insurance so that we can be prepared to take care of ourselves and our family, if there is ever a disaster scenario.

Letter Re: Prepper Armor

Dear Hugh,

The recent article, “Prepper Armor,” by J.J. was good but needs clarification. It seems a lot of faith is put in the statement that Level III armor “stops 5.56mm,” but this needs to be explained further.

We have two basic 5.56 x 45mm rounds– the 62 grain SS109/M855 and the 55 grain M193. The former travels at 2,970fps when fired from a M4 16 inch barrel, while the latter is 3,200 fps at the muzzle.

Most body armor retailers distinguish the “stopping power” of their product between these two rounds by categorically stating the SS109/M855 WILL be stopped.

But, that’s not the whole story; many expressly deny their products will stop the M193, because of its greater projectile velocity.

So, a blanket statement like: “stops 5.56mm” may only be half-true and that ain’t good enough if your adversary or the “bad guys” against you have M193 in their magazines. “Half-alive” after being shot by a M193 while wearing body armor is not acceptable.

Not being an expert, I am to understand that once 5.56mm rounds exceed 3,000 fps at the muzzle, they WILL penetrate body armor rated less than Level IV. So M193 ammo seems to be an issue.

I have seen actual non-scientific tests (at 25-50 m) on YouTube where some Level III rated armor stops M193, while others do not; it’s very confusing.

Can someone knowledgeable in the M193 vs Level III armor take me up on this and give us lay people some clarity? Thanks! – K.W.

Odds ‘n Sods:

Footwear of the Middle Ages. – P.M.

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An interesting talk on the search for a “Survival home”: The perfect post-apocalyptic bolt-hole?. – A.C.

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Rule of law?? Courts rule Philadelphia man must pay $280,000 that he does not owe. – D.S.

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We Stand! 1500+ Armed Patriots Nullify i594 Gun Restrictions.. – D.S.

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Following up on Monday’s video regarding an MRAP to manage “constitutionalists”: Knezovich facing protest over MRAP flap. – B.B.

Notes for Wednesday – December 17, 2014

December 17th, 1905, was the birth day of Simo Häyhä, who was the world’s most successful sniper. Using an iron-sighted Mosin–Nagant in Finland’s Winter War, he had an astounding 505 confirmed sniper kills. He died April 1, 2002.

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Ready Made Resources is offering four extra cases of Mountain House with the purchase of their Premier Gold Package of Mountain House Foods, in addition to the standard package. That’s two cases of Rice and Chicken and two cases of Lasagna– a $636 value. That is in addition to the five cases of Yoders meats, one case of Red Feather butter, one case of bega cheese, and 18 yahoo canned cakes. Overall, that is a $5390 for only $3895.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 56 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 hard case 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 one 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 Warehouse is providing 30 DPMS 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, and
  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. RepackBox is 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,
  7. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  8. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack (a $379 value).

Round 56 ends on January 31st, 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.

Prepper Armor, by J.J.

As a former military and police tactical officer, I want to write a bit about armor, why consider using it, what are the types, and best choices for various budgets.

Why Armor?

Many Preppers do not believe that armor is a needed part of their preparations. However, after spending a combined 30 years in the military and in police work, I can assure you that when things break down people will act badly. People will take your stuff, rape your family, and kill you and your family. Weapons and armor will be vital. Armor is expensive. However, if you or a family member are shot, stabbed, or slashed in an attack in a TEOTWAWKI situation when you may not have access to an emergency room and a trauma surgeon, the injury could be life ending. Armor also gives you the ability, if shot while in the armor, to stay in the fight and provide additional firepower to aid your teammates or family. In addition, armor is an important force multiplier. If an enemy has to try and shoot you where there is no armor, it makes it that much harder for them to take you out of the fight.

Types of Armor

Armor is rated at different levels. As the protection of the armor goes up, the weight goes up along with cost. Ballistic body armor is rated by the Department of Justice to stop different bullets. Basic ballistic soft body armor will not stop penetration from ice pick-type stabs, but it will stop thick-bladed stabs and help protect from slashing. A vest saved a friend of mine from a razor slash to his chest. The razor slashed through several layers of the armor, but he was not injured. You can buy ballistic and stab proof vests, but they are more expensive. When it comes to bullets, pistol bullets are easier to stop than rifle bullets, because they are going slower. You need hard plates or dragon skin to stop most rifle bullets.

The basic levels start with Level IIA. (There was a level I, but it is not in production anymore.) Level IIA thru IIIA are traditionally soft body armor.

Level IIA will stop most handguns (not 44 magnums and larger). It is the thinnest and lightest armor. Detectives will wear 2A armor because it’s easy to hide. The thicker the soft armor, the less soft tissue damage is done by the blunt force trauma from the hit of the bullet. Level II armor will stop even more handgun rounds.

Level IIIA will stop all handgun rounds, even if fired out of sub machine guns. All of the above will stop shotguns with buckshot. Level IIIA will give you the best all around protection, but it is more bulky than the other two.

Level III is when you start the ability to stop rifle bullets and are traditionally hard body armor. Level III armor will stop military 5.56 (AR-15 bullets), 7.62 (AK-47), and 308 (AR-10). Basically Level III will stop most rifle rounds that are not armor piercing. Level III plates can weigh 12 pounds to 3.5 pounds. Weight is dependent on size and what they are made of. Off course, the lighter the plate the more it costs. Plates are made out of steel, ceramic, plastic, and a composition of all three substances. The normal size is 10×12; however, there are 11×14 and everything in between. There are also side armor plates that are normally 6×6 or 6×8. Some companies make upper arm plates.

Level IV armor will stop armor-piercing bullets. (NIJ) For a more detailed on ballistic ratings check out this web site.

What Kind of Armor to Buy?

The question is what armor should the prepper buy for himself and his family? To this question I would say that it depends on the threat they face, their physical capabilities, and their budget. You have to balance mobility versus protection. A slow target is easy to hit. You can get soft body armor that covers your neck, face, upper arms, lower arms, groin, torso, lower back, thighs, and lower legs. You can get hard armor that protects your chest, back, sides, and upper arms. Even if you buy top of the line armor, it will be very cumbersome if you cover all the areas described above. Even a very fit person would struggle wearing that much armor.

Threat

In a TEOTWAWKI situation, I would contend that you will see a full spectrum of firearms– handguns, shotguns, and rifles. You will see blunt force weapons and edged weapons. You may see armor-piercing ammo, but it will be unlikely.

Physical Capabilities

I would say that if you are in fairly good shape, a level IIIA vest with level III plates, level IIIA upper arm protection, and level IIIA groin protects would be adequate protection. I would also suggest a surplus Kevlar helmet with the new pad system inside, not the suspension harness system. This level of armor will protect your vital organs while still allowing you to be mobile. However, this level of armor would not be ideal if you are moving a distance cross country. Nevertheless, you can easily remove the upper arm armor and groin armor for greater mobility on foot patrols et cetera. Most helmets are rated at a level of II at least, and surplus helmets can be found easily at flea markets or surplus stores. With the new pad systems they will protect you from blunt force trauma as well as from most handgun or glancing rifle bullets.

A big trend today is people just wearing plate armor front and back. This works okay and will stop rifle and pistol rounds. If you do this, you need to make sure you have stand-alone plates and not plates that are rated as level III In-Conjunction with a level IIIA vest. This means you have to have soft level IIIA armor behind the plates to stop level III threats.

I personally like soft armor with hard armor. If you have ever been shot at, once lead starts flying I guarantee you will wish you had more body armor on. When I was shot at before body armor was issued in the military, I wanted to crawl inside my helmet, but the only option I had was to get as flat as possible. In addition, when bullets fly they hit things other than just people and throw up fragments of everything they hit. Soft body armor and protective clothing helps to protect from these fragments.

Just two level III rifle plates can be heavy. With most plates weighing around nine pounds each, you are talking about 20 pounds extra on your body. Adding level IIIA soft body armor adds about five or six pounds. If an individual is not physically capable of moving easily with 25 pounds strapped to their upper body, then you may want to go with just a front plate or just soft body armor.

Budget

Unless you are independently wealthy, money is always an issue. The good thing is you can start small and build up. Any armor is better than no armor. If you can buy only one vest, fight the urge to put it on your spouse or child, and put it on you or whoever is the primary defender. If the primary defender goes down, the whole family unit or team is in jeopardy. You can hide the unarmored family members behind hard cover that will stop bullets.

There is nothing wrong with used body armor! Most police departments replace armor after five years. I had mine replaced every three. There is no real evidence that armor taken care of degrades. Yes, if it was left outside in the sun and elements, then it would degrade. This is not the case; my armor rode around in an air-conditioned and heated car and only had brief periods where it was exposed to the elements. If you can afford new, then that is great; however, if you can get armor used from a reputable source, like Bullet Proof Me.com, then go for it.

There are two basic kinds of vests– tactical body armor and concealable. Tactical is what SWAT and military people wear. Concealable is what police officers wear under their shirts. Tactical vests cover more area, but they are more bulky and heavy. Concealable vests don’t cover as much and are lighter. Tactical vests cost more. If you are really on a tight budget, I would recommend used level II concealable vests from Bullet Proof Me.com and steel plates from either Infidel Body Armor or AR 500 Armor. Here are the links to these two those two companies. (http://infidelbodyarmor.com/) (http://www.ar500armor.com/). You will need a good plate carrier. Carriers sold by either Infidel, AR 500, or Bullet Proof me are good quality carriers. Condor carriers are good and Beez Combat Systems carriers are even better. When buying a plate carrier, be sure to get good, thick shoulder pads and a cummerbund with side plate pockets, so you can upgrade to side plates without adding an exterior pouch. The cummerbund keeps the plates centered on your chest. A concealable vest and plate carrier with plates are a versatile combination, because you can wear the vest concealed and then, when necessary, throw the plate carrier on over the concealable vest to increase your protection to include stopping rifle rounds. Most plate carriers and tactical vests have MOLLE on them and allow you to attach magazine pouches and other items. This is a great advantage, but be careful of adding even more weight to the vest.

If you have more money, I would recommend buying a BALCS cut level IIIA vest. BALCS is a tactical cut originally used by US Special Forces. BALCS vests are a good combination of protection and mobility in a tactical cut vest. BALCS vests come in medium, large, and extra large sizes. They are available from many sources, but the best I have found are Bullet Proof Me.com, Infidel Body Armor, and Operationally Proven Tactical Gear (http://www.optactical.com/). At these sites and Beez you can buy a BALCS vest carrier. There are many types; I would suggest one that has front and back plate pockets to fit the plates you are going to use along with side plate pockets. Plate carriers and vests come in many colors. I like Multicam, but it can be expensive. Coyote is a good basic color and can be used in almost any terrain. ATACS FG is good for heavily wooded areas. When it comes to which plates to buy, steel plates are the most affordable and most durable. However, if you can afford it, Armor Express Delta In-Conjunction level III plates are outstanding. They weigh 4.4 pounds in 10 x 12 inches and are a durable composite plate. I wore them on patrol in a plate carrier when I needed extra protection.

I was once on a perimeter with several other officers, and they were wearing heavy 8-pound plates. I was very comfortable, and you could see their discomfort when they kept leaning on stuff or adjusting their vests. I also called the manufacture; they tested the plates, and they did stop the army green tip armor-piercing round. (http://www.armorexpress.com/) You can buy the Delta Plates at Galls Public Safely Store. (http://www.galls.com/) I would only buy level IV plates, if you know you have an armor-piercing rifle bullet threat in your area; they are very heavy and expensive.

Body Armor is an important part of any Preppers arsenal. It will protect you and your family from serious injury and give the force multiplier to be able to stay in the fight despite being hit center mass. How much is your or your families’ lives worth?

Bibliography NIJ. (n.d.). NIJ Ballistic Testing Standard. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from Interarmer: http://www.interamer.com/Ballisticthreatlevels.aspx

Letter: Emergency Preparedness

Gentlemen:

My County Sheriff called me out of retirement to consult with him and the County EMA director on these topics. I drafted this letter after several hours of discussion with them and a few other community members in the meeting.

I sent this to every County EMA director and County Sheriff in Ohio and also every EMA County and State level DHS Emergency official in Michigan. (It was sent to Michigan on the day of the recent Detroit outage, for enhanced effect.)

It would be great to be spread wider, if you could see fit to link it on your site. I would hope readers might find the way to send it to every County EMA, Sheriff, and any other public official or private industry contact they might have. I follow the wisdom of Hosea 4:6, Proverbs 1:5, and Ecclesiastes to cast my bread upon the waters.

Thank you for your service. – K.H.

EMA Director:

We are retired professionals and volunteers with a background in both public and private sector emergency response. We are concerned about the critical infrastructure of our country and are volunteering our time and resources to help educate others who are still in active public and private capacities to help to improve our responses to threats and damage against our infrastructures, communities, and families. We are not selling anything or soliciting anything from you. We are merely providing you with some free information that can help you self assess your situations and help you to strengthen your critical systems that provide the basics of life to your communities, your families, and yourself.

Every aspect of our daily lives have become extensively intertwined in the basic ordering, shipment, and delivery of all our goods and services via grid-based systems. No modern industry or production chain can run without this interconnected web of support. Almost all goods and services are ordered, routed, and paid for electronically, by systems on grid-based power. Almost all communication in modern society is grid reliant, in one form or another. Our grid is overloaded, over-aged, and in need of a major overhaul.

Recent Congressional hearings have brought to light the growing threat of Cyber attack by several foreign countries and also by criminal, malicious hackers. These types of attack have the ability to take over sections and even shut down the power grids, telecoms, pipelines, and banking services that provide the basics of modern life to our communities, families, and to each and every one of us.

Recent Congressional hearings have also shown a growing threat of Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) on the grids from several countries that currently have, and a few who are striving to achieve, the ability to build and launch nuclear weapons. These types of EMP attacks are made by the detonation of one or more nuclear bombs between 30 and 300 miles above Earth’s surface. The resulting pulse can wipe out most electronics it reaches through the atmosphere by line of sight. The pulse can also burn out the major transformers, power grid lines, most telecoms, and critical support infrastructures.

There is also a statistical probability, based on historical events, that a naturally-occurring Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun and the associated Geo Magnetic Storm induced current flowing into the earth can induce a burn out of the power grids and long line networks. These pulses to grid, whether natural from a Geo Magnetic Storm or man made as an EMP, can have the same effect in destroying the power grid and most all modern systems tied to it. Research ”Electromagnetic pulse” and “Geo Magnetic Storms” online.

A grid take down will also have a disastrous effect on the several dozen nuclear power plants in the USA that only have limited back up power to keep the reactors and cooling pools stable. Most nuclear plants are not designed to generate self-sustaining flow rates of power and must be interconnected in balance with the dynamic grid load and other power plants in the grid. If critical pump systems are damaged, or adequate fuels are not delivered to resupply the back up power generators, you will have several dozen Fukushima-style melt downs across the country.

Nuclear plants are usually only “tested” for a 24-hour outage, where all backup systems are functional. Most nuclear plants are required to only have a four to eight hour battery backup for cooling systems and a between 7 and 30 days of diesel supply for emergency generators onsite. Most research on a grid take down predicts many months or years to recovery. There is also no practical experience for a country-wide “black start” of the grid under normal conditions, let alone with many critical systems being damaged.

The large, high-voltage transformers, which are critical to the electric grid, are custom built and require a one- to two-year lead time for each one. They cost about $10 million dollars each and are primarily made overseas. Experts have estimated that all the large, high-voltage transformers and most critical parts of the power grid could be protected from a Geo Magnetic Storm or an Electro Magnetic Pulse for a total price of about $2 billion dollars– the price of a B2 bomber.

The big power companies, their lobbyists, and Congress have danced around the issue for decades, debating who is responsible for grid oversight and bickering over who pays for such improvements. Waiting on the Federal Government to solve this issue is slow and politically biased, so please contact your Congressmen and Senators and demand immediate action to strengthen our power grid and critical infrastructures.

Seventy-three years ago our parent’s generation were called into action because of a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that altered the course of world history.

Just 13 years ago the “9-11″ attacks happened, our generation was called into action to fight a global, guerrilla terror-based war, and it also altered the course of world history.

In both cases there were warning signs that were ignored because of the “Normalcy Bias” and the mindset that it was “Somebody Else’s Problem”, which lulls most Americans into a sense of complacency until a tragedy occurs.

Both those attacks led America into a deadly game of catch up in trying to meet the challenges brought by each attack. We are again facing threats that have the potential to kill hundreds of millions of Americans and cause total devastation to our infrastructure and country. When we are hit by an attack on our power grid and critical infrastructures, whether naturally from a Geo Magnetic Storm or by a man-made Electro Magnetic Pulse, it may be the end of the world as we know it.

We as local leaders and local members of communities will be the first (and maybe only) to respond to any local emergencies. We must take measures locally, to do as much as possible, to self assess, plan ahead, and strengthen our local assets to best serve our communities, families, and ourselves. It will be much better to plan ahead and make provisions than to be forced to try and play catch up after the event occurs.

If YOU do not work to coordinate this type of self assessment and then work with other local emergency agencies, infrastructure utilities, and vital service providers to make your systems better for your communities, then who will?

There is no fate, except that which we make for our communities, our families, and ourselves.

We are sending this letter to you to help educate you on these issues. We hope you will self assess your resources and find areas for improvement in both redundancy and resilience by planning for improvements to your various CRITICAL SYSTEMS. This will help to supply the basic necessities to your communities and families during a widespread grid down event or even a localized storm-related outage. The first critical system on the list (WATER) has been expanded below, as an example of how to try and evaluate each of the other categories.

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all critical systems and is merely provided to initiate you at a local level to best evaluate your specific situations. If you find other areas of concern that you feel are missing from our sample list, please inform us of them. We realize that many of your agencies are pressed for manpower and resources. Please consider using assistance from your different contacts in law enforcement, fire, medical services, and local government to help you complete these evaluations and then plan proper responses. There are many sections of the federal, state, and local codes and statutes to help you. “Many hands make for light work.”

Here are a few links to videos and articles about some of these threats:

If you need more information on these threats, you can find much more data by online searches.

Thank you for your service.

For specific questions, please contact us by email.

emergencymanagementplanning@outlook.com

CRITICAL SYSTEMS YOU SHOULD EXAMINE IN DETAIL

  • Water source supplies, treatment supplies, distribution, and control
  • Electric power: Grid power providers and emergency backup sources– Generator, Solar, Wind, Battery, other. Critical data back up on non-volatile media, such as CD or tape and OFFLINE, COMPLETELY UN-WIRED laptops, servers, computers, monitors, and printers (all stored in a Faraday cage) and that can be hooked up on emergency power after an event to read and print data. (You might have older machines that are still functional and can serve as a back up in this fashion.)
  • Communications: Internet, land line, cell, radio– VHF, UHF, amateur radio, FRS, GMRS, CB radios. Commercial broadcast FM, AM, SW, cable stations for Emergency Broadcast System messaging.
  • Gasoline, diesel, lubricants, and parts supply sources
  • Heating: Natural gas and propane supplies and alternative (i.e. wood) heat sources
  • Sewage treatment facilities and supplies
  • Fire safety equipment and medical supplies
  • Transportation: County, township, municipal, board of education, private industry, heavy equipment vehicles
  • County, township, municipal, community, schools and/or church buildings for use as shelters
  • Food: Stores, Supply, Storage, Preparation, and Distribution
  • General sanitation and refuse disposal
  • Medical facilities, medicines, and emergency supplies
  • Private transportation of critical infrastructure personnel
  • Hard copies of personnel addresses and emergency procedures for reporting to work
  • Community roster of skills that members have that can be utilized in emergencies
  • Agreements in place with local assets for emergency priority usage of materials and facilities with critical personnel
  • Methods of remuneration through cash, barter, ledger tally, chits, or other mediums of exchange
  • Physical and personnel security measures

Example of a detailed examination for a Critical System:

Potable Water:

  • Centralized systems source: Reservoir, public well fields,
  • How is it pumped and stored?
  • Pump sizes?
  • Pipe and couplings sizes at access points?
  • Number of pumps?
  • Pump locations?
  • Spares on hand?
  • Spare critical SCADA, PLC, and other sensitive electronics stored properly in FARADAY CAGES?
  • Local sources of spare parts, equipment, repairs?
  • Voltage ranges?
  • Motor phases?
  • Amperage required?
  • Can pumps be currently wired to be more ready to hook to some portable generators?
  • If wired for backup generators, where are they stored? Spares with oils, and parts?
  • Gasoline, diesel, natural gas, propane?
  • Fuel source and storage on site? (What you have on hand may be all you have for a long time.)
  • Alternate fuels in case natural gas lines shut down? Local gas wells in area?
  • Amount of fuel per hour required?
  • Water produced per hour of pump use?
  • Number of personnel to operate, under emergency situations?
  • If systems are set for auto run during grid down off of a backup generator power, can they be easily and manually turned off and on so as to only be efficiently run during critical operations, such as water sourcing, processing, and water tower filling?
  • Can you measure water production, pumping, and tank tower levels manually, without electronics?
  • Charts and flow rates printed on hand?
  • What is required for regular potable treatment?
  • Emergency standards treatment?
  • Processing machinery, hardware and software to install on spare off line machines?
  • Treatment chemical, testing materials, and supplies?
  • Spare critical machinery on hand and physically disconnected off line?
  • Building access?
  • Manual calculations and measurement equipment for batch processing, paper logs, and operation manuals?
  • Is distribution piping operations manually or auto switched?
  • Do you have the ability through valves and locks on hand to lock down distribution of the system and shut off service for emergency rationing at a few locations, if required? (People need potable water to safely drink and cook with. People can use individually sourced rainwater or other water to wash or flush with.) Think centralized source for showers, toilets, washing locations, et cetera. It will be easier to walk to a central facility than it is practical to provide everyone free and unrestricted access to water in times of limited supplies of materials and fuels. (How is your water board going to assess and receive payment in a grid down situation?)
  • Paper maps of system? Hand written live tracking of what is open and closed on the system.
  • Do you have emergency orders and procedures in your village ordinances for emergency operation and rationing?
  • Are there buildings in your distribution system that are located at key points where a water line can serve them as emergency distribution point, while general distribution lines are shut down?
  • At water points, do you have existing plumbing to serve as emergency distribution points with multiple hoses?
  • Alternative heat/ventilation maintaining treatment facilities temperature/humidity controls.
  • Physical measures and personnel for security for all components and buildings in the system?

Private Wells, Surface Collections:

  • Small generators can be used frugally to run existing pumps to efficiently draw water from wells. You can use bulk water storage tanks/cisterns/barrels to store it and then use gravity or hand pumps to draw off the bulk storage. A 12 VDC “Shurflo” style water pump, like in campers/RV’s, with some deep cycle batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, or small generators can be used to draw off stored water to pressurize existing lines and bladder tanks through a garden hose/washer connection to provide running water. Extra bladder tanks added into an existing water system can extend pressurized water supply between pumping operations. Small farm pumps, yard sprayers, or boat bilge pumps can be cleaned and converted for emergency use. Think repack kits and parts.
  • Hand pumps- Search “emergency water hand pump” online, and you will find a long list of hand pump designs in both build-it-yourself designs and prepackaged drop in kits. Do you have a windmill pump?
  • Rain water– Various collection methods can gather water from downspouts to holding tanks/cisterns/barrels. This water can be used to flush toilets by filling the tank on the back of your toilet and sending the waste to your leach beds. Search “rain barrel guide” online.
  • River and stream water can be used as a source. This water has the highest amounts of pollutants, chemical farm runoff, silts, and bio hazards from animal populations. This source will require a lot of settling to remove suspended solids. Do you have water barrel carts or sturdy buckets and shoulder yokes for carrying water?

Treatment:

  • Search “emergency water treatment” on the Internet for options for emergency treatment drinking options by boiling, filtering, or chemically treating. Water can be filtered with systems, like a Berkey, Doulton, or Katadyn style, that use gravity or hand pumps. Stock up on chemical treatments and research online for “pool shock that is approved for emergency water purification”.
  • Bathing by hand washing and showers are very efficient. Clothes washing and utility use of water will present a whole new set of problems. Study how your ancestors did this and how Amish or other remote world populations still do this today. Do you have wash tubs, clothes lines, and clothes pins? Search “primitive clothes washing” online. Do you have spare plumbing pipes, fittings, solvents, glues, pastes, clamps, tools, hoses, et cetera on hand?

These are not complete lists. You should encourage personnel to critically think through the various life-sustaining operations from start to finish and come up with emergency procedures and back up plans to help ensure basic services during a grid down event. Write everything down in hard copy manuals and practice how to implement procedures by drills.

IF EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US WOULD TURN OFF OUR DAILY ENTERTAINMENT FIX AND CONTACT OUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS AND HOLD THEIR “FEET TO THE FIRE”, THEY MIGHT IMMEDIATELY WORK TO FIX THE WEAKNESS IN THE CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE INSTEAD OF WASTING MONEY ON THINGS LIKE THESE

http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/30-stupid-things-the-governemnt-is-spending-money-on.

#18 on the list SHOWS WE SPEND $25 billion on maintaining EMPTY AND UNUSED FEDERAL BUILDINGS EACH YEAR.

We could fix the grid 12 times over on just that spending alone. (If the grid fails, they are toast along with everything else.)

HERE IS AN OFFICIAL LIST OF WASTE FROM A SENATOR’S OFFICE.

http://www.coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?a=Files.Serve&File_id=b7b23f66-2d60-4d5a-8bc5-8522c7e1a40e

LET’S WORK TOGETHER SO THE COUNTRY DOES NOT BURN, WHILE OUR POLITICIANS PLAY FIDDLE AND STUFF THEIR POCKETS.

FREEDOM IS NOT FREE. THE COST IS ETERNAL VIGILANCE AND DECISIVE ACTION IN THE FACE OF DANGER.

Tempus Fugit, Carpe Diem

Economics and Investing:

Banks loosen lending standards to levels seen before financial crisis – G.G.

o o o

Russian bank manager: “This is the end of the banking system” – CDV

o o o

Items from Mr. Econocobas:

U.A.E. Sees OPEC Output Unchanged Even If Oil Drops to $40

Russia Defends Ruble With Biggest Rate Rise Since 1998

Russian Rate Jump Fails to Stop Ruble Crash – This is looking like it is about to spiral out of control..

Notes for Tuesday – December 16, 2014

December 16th, 1928, was the birthday of Philip K. Dick, who died March 2, 1982. He penned a remarkable number of sci-fi novels and novellas that have been adapted into movies, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, Screamers, Impostor, Minority Report, Paycheck, A Scanner Darkly, Next, and The Adjustment Bureau. Though he had a troubled personal life (with drug use and several failed marriages), his captivating books certainly had a knack for envisioning potential futures.

o o o

Today, we present another entry for Round 56 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 hard case 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 one 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 Warehouse is providing 30 DPMS 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, and
  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. RepackBox is 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,
  7. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  8. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack (a $379 value).

Round 56 ends on January 31st, 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.

Your Bags Are Packed, But Are You Ready To Go? by M.T.

The world isn’t safe and never has been. Read the headlines– financial collapse, terrorism, unemployment, rising crime, drugs, water shortages, distrust of government, all of which should give us pause to reflect on our future if we are realists. If these are not enough, the new clips from Ferguson, Missouri may give us pause to reflect. These are just some of the main reasons the prepper community exists and flourishes. Fear of the future, which is unknown, is a common human emotion. We all desire to be safe and secure, but can we ever really be? Will civilization, as we know it, end in our lifetimes, and if so what can we do about it? We have prepared, stockpiled, learned to garden, honed our firearm skills, learned hunting and trapping, but have we prepared mentally and spiritually for the future that we may face? It’s true the world isn’t a safe place and will probably never be, but that has always been a part of life. Ask the farmers in Oklahoma during the dust bowl day or the original Pilgrims who came over with an axe and shotgun and built this nation. There are always uncertainties and the fears that follow. So should we prepare? You bet. Should we be ready to leave when disaster strikes? We certainly should have a plan. How then should I mentally prepare myself, my family, or my community to be better prepared to meet an uncertain future? To do that we need to understand what drives us and how to interpret those drives.

Uncertainty and fear– the ugly twins we never really wanted. We have the gift of imagination, even from an early age. I’m realizing this more from my grandchildren. Imagination helps us dream big, drives our creativity, and makes our world more exciting but also much more scary. We learn from an early age that the world is not a safe place. The ability to fear is natural to us. It is something that we inherit and don’t actually have to learn, although it is re-enforced in today’s society, which in intent on developing fear in our lives. Fear attacks us because it attacks what we value. For instance, if we value family, then every headline will have us double locking our doors or packing our bags. If we value money, then every drop in the market will warn us to sell our stocks, buy gold and silver, and head for the hills. If we value safety, then every headline will bring worry about our safety and how to protect my children. We have made our plans, prepared our bug-out bags, but are we mentally and spiritually prepared? Our family has been thinking a lot about this by watching an old TV series, that had a short life span, named Jericho. Every series finds the people innovative, energetic, solving huge problems, but they’re unprepared mentally and spiritually as the events unfold. I won’t spoil the series for those of you who haven’t watched. However, while the innovation and problem solving are great, the poor mental and spiritual preparation has them questioning themselves constantly. Having a proper understanding of fear will help us to understand ourselves and what we cherish most in this world and what we will do to maintain control. Sun Tzu, a wise Chinese General, in his treatise on The Art of War made his famous statement “know your enemy and know yourself and you shall not fear a thousand battles.” We have spent a great deal of time and effort knowing what we believe to be our enemies but spent so little time in understanding our make-up as human beings and how we react to fear and the unknown. Without a proper understanding, we can never truly be prepared and will continue to run from one problem to another.

We like to be scared, and we learn this from an early age. From the stories we tell around the campfire to the nightmarish tales we tell as teens, to the thrills we seek at the amusement park most of our lives we choose to be afraid. We actually train ourselves to be fearful, which can impact our adult perceptions on the reasons to flee. A sense of fear makes us feel alive; remember your first time on a roller coaster or the high-speed thrill ride in your first car? As we mature to adulthood and read the newspaper or watch the evening news, we realize the threats to our freedoms and that our way of life seems at risk. This produces in us anxiety, as well as the need for preparation, because what we value seems to be at risk. Since we live in a somewhat free country and have the ability to make our own choices, that should resolve our fears, but it doesn’t, because now we have the increased pressure of personal failure, especially on that decision on when to leave.

We shouldn’t be alarmed from fear’s presence, because fear is resident in every man, woman, and child in the world, although it manifests itself in different ways with different people. The story comes from the Bible, Genesis 3:7 and following when after sinning in the Garden their vulnerability or as the Bible put it their “nakedness” left them vulnerable, estranged from the Creator who just earlier before enjoyed their fellowship and community. The very next verse tells of the results of that transgression: separation, fear, hiding, and blame shifting, which is as common today in every man and women as it was back in biblical times. Why is this important for our consideration? First, if we have no peace with God, we will always be on the run, vulnerable, and fearful. This condition will cause us to make poor decisions. Think for a moment about what the first couple did– hiding from the Creator behind bushes and fig leafs? This is a camouflage technique that should be avoided at all costs!

We fear losing what we cherish. Having our bags packed is only the first step, though an important one, in preparation. Proper interpretation of the circumstances in which we find ourselves is what is needed before we pull the trigger and leave. Of vital importance is proper interpretation. Remember Y2K? Many left homes, family, and good jobs, fearing the worst. When it didn’t happen, they had to return to normal civilization and resume life as it was with a lot less money and many regrets. There are more than a few that had given up preparation because of the mistakes of the past. Proper interpretation is key to understanding if and when we should leave. One key to this interpretation is being able to understand the fears of life and what they reveal about us. It is essential in mental and spiritual preparation that those things we fear reveal more about us than about what we fear.

Danger and fear are curious twins, which we need to be able to understand and interpret. Danger links us to being vulnerable, needy, and the ability to get our lives in control. Isn’t that one of the driving links to the prepper community? We need to interpret the fears we have of our way of life collapsing and interpret how that makes us vulnerable. We may ask ourselves some questions like what is it I love or desire so much that I’m willing to leave all I cherish behind? If you are a person to whom relationships are of utmost importance and you can’t stand silence, you might want to understand that before you flee to a place where you are very alone. Our fears are instructive and point to the things we really care about.

Who’s driving, and why can’t I be in control? One thing of which we can be certain is that the circumstances of life draw us to be fearful. Ever read the headlines? If so you may feel that you want to leave right now, as I sometimes do, just to escape the madness and be left alone! Being part of the prepper community feels like we are always being driven, since there is simply so much to do and never enough resources or time to get it all done. We need to manage our world, prepare, work, plan, pray, learn new skills, build community, and extend relationships. The last one– relationship building– is vital; since we can never do everything ourselves, we better have others around in our communities who can help. Is our busyness self imposed or imposed by others? Are we driven by the ever-changing circumstances, or do we have purpose in our plans? More than anything else, we need to understand what is driving us. Is it a desire for a better lifestyle? Less stress? A simpler way of life? Or, is it fear?

Control is something we all desire but which seems just slightly out of reach. You understand, don’t you? You spend time and money in preparation and when finished with some project, you realize something on the list is still lacking or worse! When something happens, we realize more gaps in our preparations and we begin to plan again; it’s a never-ending cycle. Every level of preparation lifts us to a new state of readiness, but it also brings along the baggage of obtaining new knowledge to manage what we now understand and need to control. Control is something we desire but never fully realize in this life, because basically we are not ultimately in control. We understand we lack control when fear, anxiety, and concern over what may happen or what the future holds brings fears to our heart. If you doubt that, then why are you even in the prepper community? Our community is based off some fear and a lot of common sense, because we know things are not right, at least according to our moral compass. Decisions based off worry or anxiety cloud our thinking and make us vulnerable to pulling the trigger to leave before necessity dictates, only causing us to return to begin again.

There are several relationships between those who worry and the prepper community, which we need to understand, as we make preparation and also to help mature our decision process. First, preppers live in the present for the future, but our preparations are usually based off past events that we have either suffered through or read about. Ultimately, we do not control the future, so details of the future are still cloudy. If you doubt that, think about housing prices the last ten years. Preppers also react to crises in the present and how those will impact them in the future. As adults, we have the ability to use our imagination to envision the future, which doesn’t currently exist normally with all of the vivid details of a modern animated movie. Because of this, we are all prone to veer out of control, imagining the worst, and not using reason in our decision-making process. This is the normal human condition; we have worry, anxiety, distrust, and fear built into our lives. We are desperately seeking control in an out–of-control world. The only solution is to prepare and trust the future to a Sovereign God, who is ultimately in control.

To summarize:

  1. You will need to understand the link between your personal vulnerability and needs, as they have a tendency to drive decision-making. You need to understand what you need (freedom, less stress, safety, et cetera), since they point to what you value in life, and when those thing are restricted or taken away they drive us to do what we can to protect them. Understanding your needs will point to your personal vulnerabilities and the things we fear and bring some clarity to your decision-making. You will need to ask yourself questions, such as “will my future destination fulfill those needs?” If not then you can be assured that more prepping and fleeing lay in your future.
  2. You need to understand if you have a need to manage your world? Does the daily newscast add more to your to-do list for preparation? Chances are you are a driven person, and driven people make poor decisions because everything is situation dependent on the current circumstances, the latest news, and/or current trends. It’s better to realize and trust that the future doesn’t belong to us, not that we cannot or shouldn’t prepare, but that we be of like mind to see the signs of the time and what they point to and let them, and not media, drive our decisions.
  3. You need to develop firm exit criteria about those things that will cause you to leave with your loved ones and/or before you decide. Making a decision to leave is fleeing, pure and simple, and it is important to understand why the decision is being made and under what criteria the decision has been made. Understand what you are fleeing from, your exit criteria, and the kind of life and environment of what you are fleeing to. Ensure your destination will meet the expectations of your exit criteria, write it all down, discuss, and pray about it with your family/community before you go.
  4. Is your conscience clear? Much can be said about the conscience– that inner guide that tells us when we are wrong and confirms when we are acting right. The Bible is instructive here, “The wicked flee when no one is pursuing but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Lions may be king of the jungle, but if you study the nature of lions they know their vulnerabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. They are strong because they know their environment, know their strengths, and understand the dangers in the areas they prowl. When a strong wind blows behind them, they don’t simply run-away, because like Sun Tzu stated, they know themselves. Those that don’t know themselves will always be frightful and timid and ready to flee at the slightest provocation. Animals, it is believed, don’t have a conscience but do have instincts; we, as humans, have both. So clear your conscience, mend relationship, get peace with God, and live within the law of the land; trust God, and He will clear your conscience so that being righteous you also can be bold like a lion and have clarity in your decision making.

A proposed menu of family discussion items to help in mental and spiritual preparedness:

  1. Have a family discussion about some of the current headlines and how they impact each member of the family. Identify their fears; then talk about previous fears and how they have played out in their lives. This can help people see if their fears are based in reality.
  2. Have a family or group discussion about what each person values. How would they react if those values were taken away? How do they react when those values are threatened?
  3. Discuss the relationship between their personal fears and the values they believe are threatened. Are they based in reality? Will these fears subside when you are at your alternative location? If not, what can be done to alleviate those fears now, before you carry them to another location.
  4. For those interested in religion, discuss Genesis 3 with your family. Do you see yourself in this story? Are you trying to camouflage yourself from something or someone? Do you run away from relationship, responsibility, or even from God?
  5. Discuss with your family how each individual feels vulnerable and how the family or group has helped them overcome that feeling. If they haven’t overcome those vulnerabilities, work these out before any major decision to leave.