Notes for Saturday – August 23, 2014

August 23rd is the anniversary of the declaration of the independent state of “Franklin” in Eastern Tennessee by the settlers there in 1784. Unfortunately, the Continental Congress rejected it, so the state of Franklin never became a reality.

Today, in 1833, Britain abolished slavery in the colonies and 700,000 slaves were freed. I can’t help but wonder had Abraham Lincoln allowed the political process to run its course, as it did in England, and slavery was abolished by the will of the people, as it would have been, rather than executive order, would we have the racial tensions we have today?

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Today, we present another entry for Round 54 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,100+ 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. A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com, (currently valued at around $180 postpaid),
  11. Both VPN tunnel and DigitalSafe annual subscriptions from Privacy Abroad (a combined value of $195),
  12. 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,
  13. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate.

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. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value),
  9. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  10. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  11. 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 54 ends on September 30st, 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.

How To Survive Without Your Glasses, by J.E.

“Ralph made a step forward and Jack smacked Piggy’s head. Piggy’s glasses flew off and tinkled on the rocks. Piggy cried out in terror: ‘My specs! One side’s broken.” – William Golding, Lord of the Flies, Chapter 4

In the classic dystopian novel “Lord of the Flies,” one of the main characters, Piggy, is virtually incapacitated when his spectacles are broken and stolen by the other boys stranded on the island. For those of us who wear glasses, Piggy’s plight is one that strikes close to home. If you are a glasses-wearer, you have no doubt included optometric equipment in your emergency inventory. Many of you may recall previous articles on SurvivalBlog that have addressed this issue at length, encouraging all wearers to look into Lasik and stockpile extra prescription glasses, contacts, and contact solution. These are excellent, practical strategies that we should all consider while optometric health care abounds around us.

However, the true worst-case-scenario would be a situation where, for whatever reason, you find yourself devoid of all the above preparations. If disaster were to strike this instant, how many of us have proactively invested in Lasik or some alternative, such as gentle cornea molding? And even if we have stockpiled plenty of optical supplies, there may come a fateful day when our supplies are used up, lost, stolen, or separated from us.

This article addresses the true worst case scenario for glasses-wearers: finding yourself in a blurry apocalypse with no optometrists for another hundred years. In the following pages, I will lay out a survival plan that goes beyond stockpiling and instead focuses on adaptation and coping strategies in case these preparations fail.

To provide my personal background, I am nearsighted/myopic/have-trouble-seeing-objects-at-a-distance person. Without disclosing my actual prescription, I cannot see the numbers on the standard-size wall clock a few feet away from my desk without my glasses. The information below mostly applies to people who share my particular vision difficulty of nearsightedness. However, those who are farsighted, or have other vision conditions, will be able to adapt the strategies below to their own personal situation. Even if you are not a glasses-wearer, there is likely someone in your group or family who can benefit from this information.

Preparing for a Glasses-Bereft World

In this first section of this article, I will outline the three things I do right now to prepare for an optical worst-case-scenario. In the second half, I will explore the four methods I would rely on to regain my vision in a glasses-bereft world.

To begin, here are three things you can start doing today to prepare:

1. Practice Without Your Glasses

First, practice daily activities without your glasses on. This has a two-fold purpose. At once, it will condition you to learn to rely on vague shapes and colors instead of clear outlines. Secondly, this is a confidence building exercise. After you’ve successfully completed a task without your glasses, you will begin to see that you can and will cope with your natural vision. For me, personally, there have been times when I don’t remember what life looks like without glasses. My glasses are the first things I put on in the morning, and I don’t take them off until after dark, so it is very possible for me to forget what the world looks like without glasses. It is precisely this forgetfulness that I attempt to combat. I want to be comfortable without my glasses now, so that I can be confident if lose them in the future.

Some other suggested activities include cooking meals, cleaning the house and garage (a great exercise in trying to find small or misplaced objects without glasses), doing light work, taking walks, running, and working out. I work at a large company, and one activity I practice regularly is walking around my office building without my glasses, trying to see how quickly I can recognize people just from their dress, walk, height, and overall vibe, even though I can’t make out their faces until the last minute.

Please note that I would strongly discouraged practicing any dangerous tasks without glasses. It is not advised that you attempt driving, shooting, or operating any heavy machinery without your glasses.

2. Learn About Blindness

Secondly, for those who are serious about overcoming any dependency on their glasses, I would advise taking things one step further– practice being blind, either by closing your eyes or blindfolding yourself for a period of time. This exercise will help you to appreciate the limited vision that you do have and also help you learn to rely on your other senses for support. Studies show that blindness increases your brain’s attention to the other senses, and you can begin to cultivate that awareness to sound, smell, and touch. For this exercise, it’s important to start small. Begin by trying to walk around your own house with your eyes shut or covered. Then try to do simple tasks. Work your way up.

I would also advise studying how other people have dealt with vision impairment. Read a biography of Stevie Wonder or Louis Braille. Talk to friends and relatives you may know who are blind or vision impaired. You will be amazed and inspired by how these people have survived, and what they have been able to achieve.

Right now, before the good times are over, develop and embrace the appropriate psychology about your vision enhancements. For those of us who wear glasses, it can feel like glasses are everything! However, take some time to remind yourself of these truths: You CAN survive without your glasses. Many animals have poor vision but are wary through their other senses. You may need to become that kind of animal, and you can. Recall stories of people who have overcome physical limitations, injuries, and setbacks, and know that you share the same indomitable human spirit. Resolve that you will not let the absence of glasses hold you back.

For those who enjoy or benefit from reading post-apocalyptic fiction, I would strongly recommend that you read Blindness by José Saramago. This novel explores a world ravaged by an inexplicable epidemic of vision loss, and it provides a raw account of the collapse of society through the eyes of the last person with eyesight. This book pulls no punches in wallowing in the filth of the human condition and the misery surrounding an epidemic, but it also accurately details the struggles blind survivors would face as they attempt to find food, build a semblance of structure, and even engage in vicious fighting.

As an interesting literary device, the book is written without quotation marks. Initially disorienting to the reader, this lack of syntactic clues quickly mirrors the confusion felt by those who cannot see who is speaking or acting.

3. Master Vision-Independent Defense

Third, practice some form of in-your-face close quarters combat. If the apocalypse finds you without your glasses, let’s face it, you may not be the world’s future long distance marksman. However, being visually impaired does not mean that you are defenseless. For you, any combat you engage in is going to have to be up close and personal. You will need to learn how to steal close to your opponent, how to choose a battleground where natural cover or darkness eliminates everyone’s ability to see a threat far off. You will need to learn how to stay very still to wait for your enemy or prey to come close, within your field of vision, for you to ambush them.

Regarding actual techniques, it doesn’t take good eyesight to be effective at grappling, wrestling, and ground fighting. Because these forms of combat are so tactile focused and indifferent to your one weak sense, you should work on mastering them. If you’re close enough to throw an elbow, the fact that you don’t have your glasses won’t matter. Remember, rattlesnakes have pathetic eyesight, but this is of no comfort to their victims.

I participate in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Before I started wearing contacts, I had to take off my glasses to spar. I never felt disadvantaged as a result. There’s too much happening too fast in a sparring match for your brain to worry about specific details, and even if you have terrible vision, your brain will notice the movement that you need to respond to. All the MMA matches I’ve ever been in were a blur of motion, whether I was wearing contacts or not, and I have not noticed any personal improvement since I started doing MMA with contacts. The lack of overall detail you will observe during a sparring match will be all the more pronounced in an actual violent encounter. Take the time now to train in whatever martial art or combative sport you feel that you could comfortably do without your glasses.

Survival Strategies When Separated From Your Opticals

In the next part of this article, I’d like to share four survival strategies for practical things to do when you’ve lost or been separated from your optical cache, did not get Lasik while the world was still working, and/or just broke your last pair of glasses. As stated before, these are strategies for a true worst-case scenario, not a partial worst-case scenario, where you might still have access to your five-year stockpile of Acuvue and Opti-Free.

1. Salvage Existing Eyewear

The first thing you should do is salvage any remaining parts of any remaining glasses. Are the frames intact but the lenses cracked? Then, save the frames; you may be reunited with lenses at a later date. Is one lens unbroken? Wrap the edges in tape and attach a cord or wire to it, and convert it into a monocle. Remember, before Benjamin Franklin invented the spectacles, this was the norm. Even save the screws that hold the frames together, as these are highly unique. At a later date, you may be able to rebuild a pair of glasses from the pieces or find someone who can help you do so in exchange for some other good or service. If you come across discarded glasses, even reading glasses or sunglasses, take them with you.

2. Substitute Optics

Secondly, see if you can substitute any other optics, and designate them as your “eyewear.” Do you have anything else with lenses or magnification ability? If you have a rifle scope or binoculars, they can be adjusted to compensate for your poor distance vision. You may need to become “joined at the eye” with this piece of gear. Take your scope off your rifle, tie it around your neck, and develop a habit of frequently raising it to your eye as you walk around. I know, to many survivalists, what I just said is tantamount to saying “Tear out the pages of your bible and use them for kindling,” but while this is definitely not ideal, it may be the best you can do.

Cameras won’t work long after electricity has failed, but the viewfinder of most professional cameras can be focused manually to accommodate inferior eyesight. If the camera does not have a viewfinder that works without electricity, take the camera apart and see what you can do with the lenses inside. Have you taken apart your dead cellphone yet and harvested the lenses from your cellphone camera? Consider that, in the present environment, your role is that of an early scientist in the Renaissance age: one of your tasks of survival is to “invent” something that will help you see. Fortunately, in a post-consumer-electronics world, there will be many discarded devices that contain lenses and optics. Regardless of your vision restrictions, you may be able to find something that works for you.

3. Build a Telescope

Along the lines of the above point, building a telescope should be at the top of your to-do list. In its simplest form, a telescope captures an image on the “objective,” which is either a mirror or a lens (in a “refractor” or “reflector” telescope, respectively), and then uses another lens to enhance the captured image.

In our worst-case scenario, a telescope will be a valuable tool, enabling you to see objects in the distance clearly, and even scan middle distances routinely. If you are like me, you probably tried to build a telescope as a kid, with varying degrees of success. Below is a description of a simple reflecting telescope that I have been able to build many times. When properly focused, it has enabled me to see distant objects clearly without my glasses.

This crude telescope consists of only two things– a mirror that captures the image and a magnifying glass, which enlarges the image from the mirror. To build this telescope, direct the mirror towards the object you want to see, at an angle, so that it is partially facing the object and partially facing you. Mirrors will be plentiful in a post-apocalyptic world. Since every abandoned vehicle automatically carries three, you should have no trouble finding one that works for you. Once your mirror is in place, move your magnifying glass towards the mirror until the object comes into sharp focus as you look at the mirrored image through the magnifying glass. If you do not have a magnifying glass, try finding a curved piece of glass. If no glass is available, you can use a clear water container (a water bottle or clear bag of water) as a magnifying glass, although the performance will degrade or increase according to the quality of your materials.

You will need to do a lot of experimenting until you find the perfect distance and angle, but with a little work, you will soon be able to see an object in the distance clearly. The better your mirror and magnifying glass, the better this telescope will function. While not a mobile solution, this telescope set up could function at an observation post or for surveillance. It could be placed at a choke point leading to your retreat where you could stand sentry.

A more mobile solution would be a refracting telescope, consisting of parallel lenses in a tube. This is the stereotypical hand-held telescope that we are all familiar with. I have not successfully made one of these, so I will leave this up to the reader’s ingenuity. The essential point is that, if you can get your hands on a few lenses and mirrors, you will be able to make something to help you see better. Making a pair of glasses may be beyond your skill level, but making a telescope should be within everyone’s grasp.

4. Make Pinhole Glasses

Lastly, build yourself a pair of pinhole glasses. Wikipedia provides a concise explanation of pinhole glasses, reproduced below:

“Pinhole glasses, also known as stenopeic glasses, are eyeglasses with a series of pinhole-sized perforations filling an opaque sheet of plastic in place of each lens. Similar to the workings of a pinhole camera, each perforation allows only a very narrow beam of light to enter the eye which reduces the size of the circle of confusion on the retina and increases depth of field. In eyes with refractive error, the result is claimed to be a clearer image.” “Pinhole Glasses,” wikipedia.org, published on the World Wide Web

As a lay person, what I get from this description is that pinhole glasses reduce the amount of light entering your eye, and thus partially correct the fault in your eye’s mechanics. These makeshift glasses are incredibly easy to make. Simply fashion a piece of cardboard, plastic, or paper into the shape of a pair of glasses, and then poke one hole or several holes directly in front of where your eye would be. You will find that, while your vision is darkened and a lot of peripheral vision is lost, the image you see through the pinhole will be clear and in focus. I would advise experimenting with this a lot, until you’ve figured out what iteration of the pinhole glasses works best for you. You may find a single hole works best for you, a grouping of three, or an array of holes. The holes should actually be pin-pricks; if you make holes any larger, the effect will be lost. Please note that the perforated surface needs to be closer to your eyes than a glass lens would be, to prevent much light from reaching your eye at an angle.

While pinhole glasses are not as effective as traditional glasses, I cannot overstate their simplicity and usefulness in a pinch. I have made a pinhole monocle in two seconds with a sticky note and paper clip. I have even found that a perforated saltine cracker, when held up close to your eye, has the same vision improvement properties. This is definitely a tip you will want to share with anyone you know who wears glasses in your group.

Summary

These are the things you can do to prepare for life without glasses, and to survive if you find yourself in such a world. The plan outlined above is free and does not require you go purchase any additional gear or supplies. While those of us who wear glasses should either seek vision correction or stockpile against a shortage, if we are unable to do so, the end of the world as we know it does not need to be the end of the world, when it comes to our vision. Should you find yourself in a bad place, these strategies will help you, unlike Piggy, make it without your “specs” in a true worst-case scenario.

Letter Re: John Galt

John Galt lives! Those of us that have read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, have an idea of what I’m talking about, but that’s not when it started and that’s not where it will end. I remember from grade school that the pilgrims came to this continent to escape persecution from both church and state. Since then, many of the great minds from around the world have come here to avoid persecution from their country’s leaders. Look at the great minds that have arrived just in the twentieth century. The list is so long there is no way I can mention them, but Einstein, Sikorsky, and Goddard come to mind.

At one time this was John Galt’s place of refuge, but all of that has changed. Where do we go from here? I can’t think of anywhere on earth left to escape to. The moon is uninhabitable at the present time, and besides why should we leave? I have a better idea. What do you say to us in believing in ourselves so much that we don’t need John Galt. What we need is the ability to reinstate the core beliefs that this country was founded on and stop the politicians from deciding what’s good for us and what’s not. We will not always be right, but that’s okay. That’s why we succeed– because we’re not afraid to fail. Remember, failure is only one step away from success.

Where is John Galt? Well, that’s the $64.00 question. Looking for John Galt is a waste of time. It’s like looking for the second coming of Jesus. We won’t find him; he’ll find you. We just have to be aware when it happens. Remember he is not interested in slackers, so like Christ, he will be knocking on only doors that are open to him. However, now is the time to do the work in building ourselves up and not worry about where John Galt is, as he is waiting for us to shine our light so bright that he can come to us. Our movement is in development. We are not hell bent on destroying but building. Our concern is pessimism. We do not have the time or the patience to wait. Time will run out for each of us, eventually. Our progress is important not only to us, as individuals, but as a collective nation. We do not want nor need a one-world order. We need to produce as a nation, so we can share with the rest of the world. Let it be known, what they do with the things we share– knowledge, product, or otherwise– is solely on them. If they choose not to accept it, it is no longer our responsibility or problem. We look at China today and say, “That poor country, they do not take care of their people or their rights.” But what other country, other than ours, spends the kind of money in goods and services from them for which we could be producing if we were able to remove the barriers that bind us in regulation and taxes? I remember reading about a man that once said, “If you give a man a fish, he eats for one day, but if you teach a man to fish, he eats forever.” The same can be said for teaching man to innovate and be able to work that innovation.

Now we prepare. We do the political and social fight by listening to those around us and aligning with those that will strengthen us on both fronts. Listening is one of the key areas. My father told me, “We have two ears and one mouth, so we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Pay attention to what is said and where you stand on all issues. We all fear that our vote and input will be a waste of time, but it is our right! So what do we do? We prepare for the worst, both mentally and physically.

Put up for a long storm. It will never go to waste, if rotated properly. Also, do not brag about your plans, they’re yours. Remember, “Loose lips sink ships”. When the time comes you will share with those in need. It’s just the nature of being a good person. Do not rely on anyone else, even your spouse. You need to be the person responsible. The people around you have had the same amount of time and seen the same forthcoming as you.

Economics and Investing:

Sears has lost nearly $1 billion so far this year and it’s just getting started. – J.W.

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Items from Mr. Econocobas:

Obamacare Is A Disaster For Businesses, Philly Fed Finds

NAFTA Is 20 Years Old – Here Are 20 Facts That Show How It Is Destroying The Economy

Why So Much Anger In Ferguson? 10 Facts About The Massive Economic Gap Between White America And Black America

Wall Street’s Take On Jackson Hole: “Yellen Was Not Dovish Enough”

Odds ‘n Sods:

At least 105 people laid off at Remington Arms. – T.P.

Officially, this is the result of the end and reversal of temporary expansion after the last few heavy years, but some wonder how much the ARs and AKs play into the situation. Neither of those firearms are made in Ilion, NY. It’s way past time for Remington to pack up and move south or west.

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Ex-CIA Officer: ‘There Are ISIS Sleeper Cells In This Country’. – J.W.

o o o

One of the best articles I have read on the Ferguson fiasco. Warning: Strong language. #Ferguson – when ***holes collide. – W.K.

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Two Americas – B.B.

o o o

The fat lady is practicing her scales. – S.J.

Hugh’s Quote of the Day:

“If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: but thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.” – Deuteronomy 15:7-8 (KJV)

Notes for Friday – August 22, 2014

August 22nd, 1949 is the day the USSR detonated its first atomic bomb and officially kicked off the atomic age-Cold War, making prepping an acceptable pastime for millions around the world.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 54 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,400+ 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. A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com, (currently valued at around $180 postpaid),
  11. Both VPN tunnel and DigitalSafe annual subscriptions from Privacy Abroad (a combined value of $195),
  12. 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,
  13. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate.

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. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value),
  9. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  10. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  11. 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 54 ends on September 30st, 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.

Introduction to Tactical Combat Casualty Care, by W.H.

This is an introduction to Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), which is the medical training that U.S. troops are currently taught to save lives on the battlefield. TCCC is the result of collaboration between U.S. Special Operations Command, trauma doctors, and emergency medical personnel to address the shortcoming in combat medicine at the start, and actually well into the current Wars On Terror. It is the combination of good medicine with good tactics. It incorporates some procedures that are proven to save lives but in the past 75 years were shunned in the medical community. TCCC has proven to reduce the number of preventable deaths on the battlefield. The 75th Ranger Regiment had all of its troops and doctors train in TCCC. Their percentage of preventable deaths on the battlefield dropped to 3%, compared to the average of U.S. combat troops, which is 24%. Also note, the mindset for these procedures are not to necessarily save someone’s life but to prevent them from dying long enough to receive hospital level care. This is a very basic introduction. I am not certified in any medical care beyond TCCC, but I have seen and done these procedures on live patients, and they do work, when properly applied. The references listed on the bottom of the article have much more detail and information, as well as great videos and pictures, that help illustrate the topics covered in this post.

I will briefly describe the five main wound areas that need to be addressed and then the equipment needed to treat each wound. Nearly all of the equipment described can be bought easily online. The acronym MARCH can be used to remember the order of treatment, descending in order of importance.

Massive Hemorrhage

Airway

Respiration

Circulation

Head/Hypothermia

Massive hemorrhage (or bleeding)

This is the number one preventable killer on the battlefield. It is caused by a penetration to a major blood vessel or a complete or partial amputation. Any bleeding that is bright red, squirting, or heavy is considered massive hemorrhage and needs to be treated immediately. A major bleeder can kill the casualty within minutes; therefore, prompt treatment is essential. There are two treatments for a massive hemorrhage– tourniquets and wound packing.

The tourniquet is an essential tool for battlefield medicine, which has made a huge comeback in the recent wars. A tourniquet is used to treat a massive hemorrhage on a limb. They are fast, cheap, and extremely effective at stopping bleeding, if applied properly. There are many different types of tourniquets easily available for purchase on the Internet, but they all work roughly the same way. The tourniquet is placed high up on the affected limb, and the windlass is tightened until the bleeding stops. “High and Tight” is the easy way to remember. If placed too low on the limb, the pressure generated on the blood vessel won’t be high enough to stop bleeding; likewise, if it is too loosely applied, it won’t be effective. A number of deaths from the War on Terror were attributed to tourniquets being applied too loosely, where if applied properly, the bleeding could have been controlled and the casualty saved. It is worthy to note that having a tourniquet properly applied is VERY uncomfortable. Patients will plead and beg, or even try to loosen the tourniquet themselves, but under no circumstance should a tourniquet be removed by anyone other than a trained medical professional.

Tourniquets are now required to be carried by every soldier in his kit and be easily accessible, as it is a piece of life-saving equipment. During WWII and the Vietnam War, tourniquets were believed to be very dangerous to apply, and it was believed that it condemned the patient to loose that limb. Nowadays, they are saving countless of lives, as the dangers once associated with them have been tested as false. Sadly, movies and TV shows shape much of the public’s perception of trauma medicine. After the Boston bombings, many good Samaritans jumped in and used makeshift tourniquets to try and stop the bleeding from amputations caused by the explosions; however, none of these makeshift tourniquets were successful in stopping hemorrhage. Please don’t think that when the time comes, you can ripe your shirt off, put a stick through it, twist it a couple of times, and save someone’s life. It is my humble opinion that every household should have at least one tourniquet (preferably more) and know how to use them. I was issued 4 SOF-T tourniquets, so I have one in my at-home trauma bag, one in the bag I take to work, one on my kit, and one in reserve.

The second way to treat a major hemorrhage is wound packing. This is done on any major bleeder, not on a limb. While more time intensive than applying a tourniquet, wound packing can be just as effective at stopping bleeding. The idea behind wound packing is to first apply direct pressure proximally (closer to the heart) to the blood vessel against a bone. This will ensure that the immediate blood flow stops. If the wound is deep or on the trunk of the casualty, place gauze or a dressing as deep into the wound as possible. This will maximize the clotting effect. Also, once a dressing is soaked through with blood, it is imperative to leave it in place in the wound. If removed, it will remove the clot you are trying to form. Pack the entire wound with gauze, ideally placing it towards the head as you pack. Once the entire cavity has been packed, it is wrapped with another bandage to secure it in place. If done right, the pressure from the packing will slow down the bleeding enough for the platelets to start to clot, which will in essence seal off the blood vessel from further blood lose.

A note on Quikclot. It has undergone a couple of different variations, but the current product on the market is called Combat Gauze, which is a bandage impregnated with a compound that speeds up the clotting process. It is not a miracle cure-all product, but it does lead to a much more robust clot, which is more durable if the patient has to be moved. Additionally, Quikclot makes a Silver addition, which has a silver compound in the bandage that helps prevent infection. This could be very helpful in a survival situation in which doctor level care may be much longer away. The Israeli bandage is also another useful bandage to secure the dressings, once they have been placed in the wound. Like tourniquets, Quikclot and other bandages can be easily and cheaply purchased online, but be aware that the Quikclot has a shelf life, where gauze and other bulky dressings do not.

Airway

The second killer on the battlefield, which like bleeding can be controlled, is a blocked or restricted airway. There are some procedural differences between civilian and combat medicine. (Remember the ABCs, in which airway is treated first in civilian emergency medicine?) This is because by the time emergency responders arrive on scene, a massive hemorrhage has more than likely already killed the patient (in as little as 1-3 minutes). In tactical medicine, the number one killer is massive hemorrhage, followed by a blocked airway, and that is why it is treated in that order. Simply put, if the patient cannot breathe, he will expire in roughly four minutes. If a patient can talk, cry, laugh, or scream, they have a clear airway. If a patient is unconscious, it is easy for a patient to choke on his or her own tongue. When consciousness is lost, the tongue relaxes and, being a large muscle, can fall back and block the esophagus. The way to treat a blocked airway is an easy procedure called a nasopharyngeal (NPA), or in layman’s terms it’s often called “a nose hose”. It is simply a flexible rubber hose that is inserted into a patient’s nose to open the airway from the nostril to the back of the throat. When inserting a nose hose, push the hose straight back towards the spine, not up towards the bridge of the nose, as the nasal cavity goes straight back. It is standard TCCC procedure for any unconscious patient to automatically receive a nose hose. A nose hose can be purchased online for roughly $7. [HJL Adds: Rather than a $7 single NPA, you should have a kit of different sizes] After inserting a nose hose, make sure to look inside the patient’s mouth for any obvious obstructions. When checking the airway for obstruction, take care not to place your fingers inside the patient’s mouth, as the patient can seize and bite down without warning. Lastly, if the situation applies, consider rolling the patient onto his or her side, as this will help keep the airway clear of any fluids, such as vomit or blood, as well as the patient’s own tongue.

Respiration

After massive hemorrhage and airway have been addressed, the patient’s respiration needs to be checked. This is done by removing any body armor, kit, and outer clothes, and then looking for an equal rise and fall of the chest, listening for breathing, and feeling the chest rise. The risk to respiration is a pneumothorax. Simply put, this is caused by a penetration to the chest cavity that lets air into the pleural space– the area surrounded by the rib cage that protects the lungs and heart. This air bubble puts pressure on the lungs and heart– a condition that can be fatal, if left untreated. It will start out with shortness of breath, labored breathing, and can lead to the patient feeling an impeding sense of doom, unconsciousness, and death. The fancy medical term for this is “progressive respiratory distress”. The treatment for pneumothorax is needle decompression. This involves sticking a large gauge needle (14 gauge and 3.25 inches long) into the patient’s chest to relieve the pressure. While this sounds dangerous, if done right, it can and will save lives. The injection site for the needle is two to three finger widths below the center of the clavicle bone on the affected side of the patient. As the needle to do this is not easily available, I will not go into great detail. If there is any wound to the torso (above the belly button up to the neck and 360 degrees around the body), immediately seal the torso wound by placing your hand over it, and then sealing the hole, preferably with a medical chest seal, but in a pinch, duct tape and any airtight wrapper will do. If a gunshot wound is suspected, check very carefully for an exit wound, and again seal the wound to prevent air from entering the chest cavity.

Circulation

The TCCC procedure to address circulation in the MARCH sequence is to check the patient for shock. While there are many different types of shock, an easy definition for non-medical professionals is the inability of the body to transfer blood to its tissue (also known as profusion). In the case of traumatic injury, this is usually due to blood lose and the change in hormones following a traumatic event. As the body comes down from its amped up state, immediately following an injury, it realizes that it cannot keep up its current state and begins to shut off blood flow to the outer, less essential areas. However, a patient can suffer shock without sustaining a traumatic injury, usually after a person witnesses a horrific event. One of the easiest and most timely ways to check for shock is to check the patient’s radial (wrist) pulse. If there is a radial pulse, the body is still pushing blood to the hands. If no radial pulse is present, it is an indicator the body is no longer pushing blood to the hands in order to keep it for vital bodily functions and is going into shock. To prevent shock, timely treatment of massive hemorrhage is critical, as it reduces the amount of blood lose. Another way to help a patient suffering from shock it to elevate their feet, unless there is any indication that the patient has received any wound that could cause a spinal injury, in which case you DO NOT want to elevate their feet as this could paralyze them. My wife who is a trained EMT says that if there is any blood on the patient, EMTs would not risk paralyzing them by raising their feet. Likewise, it is not incorporated into TCCC, yet it remains a viable option in some instances. Lastly, getting fluids back into the patient as quickly as possible is a way to prevent shock.

Head/Hypothermia

Head injuries are a common occurrence on the battlefield, especially with the proliferation of Improvised Explosive Devices. While there is not much that you can do for yourself or your buddy on the battlefield, it is an important to pass on any information regarding signs of head injury, or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) to advanced medical care personnel. The signs and symptoms for a TBI include altered mental state, “raccoon eye” shaped bruises around the eyes, clearish yellow fluid leaking from the ears, mismatched pupil size, and any bumps or deformation in the skull. To check for TBI, check the patient for any of these signs.

Hypothermia can be a problem for wounded patients, as any blood loss or injury can diminish the body’s ability to retain heat. Even in a very warm climate, a patient can succumb to hypothermia. Anyone who has ever field dressed an animal knows how hot the internal organs are. To prevent this, after the patient is screened using the MARCH protocol, ensure that any body armor or clothes are put back on, and the patient is covered with a warming garment, whether it be a space blanket, wool blanket, sleeping bag, or in extreme cases, a buddy can use his body heat to re-warm the injured.

Everything Else

After the MARCH sequence has been completed, move on to everything else. The main preventable death injuries are covered in MARCH, but there are still other injuries, while not life threatening in minutes, that are still very important.

Superficial or non major hemorrhages: Any wound that does not strike a major blood vessel or organ is not immediately life threatening but can still look pretty scary. Injuries like this include cuts or wounds on the outside of the body, such as the forearms, outer legs, buttocks, and shoulders. Since the major blood vessels are located on the inside of the body and protected by bone and muscle, wounds to the outer parts of the body can be dealt with last, usually with a simply pressure dressing.

Eviscerations: While definitely very frightening and disgusting to witness, evisceration (abdominal wounds with the intestine hanging out) are not immediately life threatening. The old protocol was to keep any exposed intestines outside the body in a wet bag. However, the updated TCCC protocol is to gently place the intestines back into the wound and seal the wound up any way possible. While putting exposed internal organs back into the body does raise the risk of infection, it has been show that it is safer for the patient’s long-term health than leaving them outside the body.

Eye Injuries: While in any high-threat situation, eye protection should always be worn; still, the chance of eye injury exists. The best thing to do is to protect the eye but do not put the bandage directly on the eye; rather, allow the eye room to still move. While there are fancy eye patches out there, anything that will protect any further injury to the eye while still letting it move will do. To note, U.S. troops are issued battlefield antibiotics when deployed, in a survival situation these may not be immediately available, but with any injury, infection needs to be addressed, especially with eye trauma.

Some General Principles of TCCC:

  • Use a combination of good tactics and good medicine
  • Suppress effective enemy fire or immediate threats before attending to wounded personnel
  • Any completely or partially amputated limb receives a tourniquet
  • Treat major bleeders first (Care under Fire), then move injured person to cover, and begin Tactical Field Care (the rest of MARCH)
  • Before completing the next step in MARCH, check previous steps. For example, after placing a tourniquet on a major bleeder and moving the patient to cover, check the tourniquet before restoring airway, and then before checking the chest for wounds (Respiration) check that the tourniquet is still stopping the massive hemorrhage and the airway is still clear.

Building a Trauma Bag

I strongly recommend everyone have some sort of emergency medical bag. While first aid kits are great, they often times are severely lacking in medical supplies needed to stop life threatening injuries.

I attach my trauma bag, which is relatively small (3”x5”x8”) onto my larger medical bag. In a hostile environment survival situation, I can quickly remove my trauma bag from my med bag and attach it to my battle rattle.

My trauma bag consists of the following:

With a few differences (lack of decompression needle, the addition of the Quikclot Silver and Benadryl) this is what current U.S. soldiers carry in their Individual First Aid Kit, also know as a blow out kit. All of the items in my trauma kit can be purchased online for under $150. I strongly recommend, at the very least, a tourniquet, some bandages, and a chest seal.

Final Thoughts

In closing, while TCCC is primarily for a tactical battlefield environment, the principles of it can be applied to most traumatic injuries and can be very useful in a variety of survival situations. Whether it is surviving a mass shooting or bombing attack and giving the wounded precious minutes until professional medical responders can arrive, to rioting where medical services may be degraded, to a near total societal collapse, preventing death will always be useful. Like any survival skill, the knowledge, while important, is useless without practice. Every piece of medical gear listed in this article (with the exception of a decompression needle) is easily available for purchase online, and a very well-stocked trauma bag can be put together for around $150, but it is essential to practice the actual MARCH sequence and how to treat each wound. Thanks for reading. While I hope that no one ever has to use the skills mentioned in this article, I hope that when the need arises, the training, mindset, and equipment will be there to meet the challenge!

References:

National EMT TCCC homepage

A great resource for more info, videos of procedures, et cetera.

Two Letters Re: Montana Felons

Dear HJL,

I read your response about felons and their ability, or lack thereof, to have firearms. I am surprised by your response. Personally, I think there are some crimes that are beyond the pale of civil society. For me this would be sexual predators, murderers, and traitors. They have not only attacked and destroyed, but they have also shown a total disregard for people and citizenship. So we want them to have a gun legally to protect themselves? You mean to protect themselves from other felons like themselves? Let’s be honest here. They are going to have a gun whether it is legal or not because they don’t care about the rule of law. My question to you is when does someone’s behavior make null and void our country’s Social Contract between society’s responsibility towards the citizen and the citizen’s duty towards the body politic and its social contract? Sincerely – A.S.

Hugh Replies: The existence of the “Department of Corrections” is to provide a method of “paying” for their crime and to rehabilitate. I will not deny that some criminals are incorrigible, but that is precisely the point. Why are we letting criminals who cannot be “corrected” back out on the streets? For those that have paid the price and are “corrected”, why are they not re-integrated back into society? We have created a new class of quasi-citizen that really isn’t a citizen and has virtually no rights simply because we fear them. If we fear them, why are they out? We are cruel and inhumane for dumping them on the streets and guaranteeing that they will commit crimes if they simply defend their lives or property, yet we do not provide that service for them. It’s a “no-win” situation all the way around.

Let me put it this way: A minor child does not have any inalienable rights on their own. They only have those rights through their guardians or parents. At some point, they become adults in their own right, and at that point they get all the rights and responsibilities that go along with adulthood, including those inalienable rights outlined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It is important to understand that neither document grants those rights. They only outline pre-existing rights and limit the government’s power over those rights. A person who commits a crime and is convicted of it is reprimanded to the department of corrections. In essence, the adult now becomes a minor and only has those rights through the guardian of the “state”. When the designated penalty is paid, the convict is now released from the state and becomes a fully functioning adult with all of the rights and responsibilities of an adult. If the state wishes to keep those “inalienable” rights from the person, then they must not relinquish the guardianship of that person. It could conceivably be compared to turning your child out on the street and expecting them to survive. In most states, the guardian is liable for crimes committed by the child and should they not provide protection, they are often accused of child endangerment. How is it any different when you have removed the rights of the adult but expect them to have the responsibility of an adult? When you understand the concept, it is an immoral position to hold. I believe the current system is corrupted beyond repair, but at some point the system will “reset” and these are things that must be considered.

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To Whom It May Concern,

I take a different view than most on this issue. Let me first state that I am a career LEO, and I have been an Army MP, a Deputy Sheriff, and a State officer.

Many people do not consider the fact many seemingly minor items can be or become felonies. White collar crime is an example.

It is my belief that after a time, rights should be restored. I do not believe it is constitutional to keep a person from bearing arms.

Why can’t we take away their right to peacefully assemble or practice religion or even basic free speech? Why can’t we strip convicted felons of their 4th amendment rights and give police the power to pat any convicted felon down, warrant or not? If you have a logical answer as to why their 2nd amendment and inalienable rights can be disenfranchised away, I hope you have a logical answer as to why their other rights CANNOT be stripped away.

How is this not discrimination of a free man who has served his time for a crime and then been forced to live with a life sentence of having some inalienable rights infringed upon him? How is this not double jeopardy? Where in the Constitution does it say that government can disenfranchise a citizen of their inalienable rights after they have paid for their crime? Where in the Constitution does it grant authority to government to wield the power of granting clemency over a free citizen [who must submit an application asking for their rights] in order to restore his/her inalienable rights after having served their time and been released a free individual? – S.B.

Odds ‘n Sods:

What’s in Your Gun Safe? No, Besides the Guns? – J.W.

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The likelihood of this particular piece of legislation making it through the system is slim to none, but you should call your congressman nonetheless. Congress Proposes Law Banning Body Armor In The Land Of The Free – B.B.

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US Defenseless Against North Korean EMP Threat – CDV

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From Minnesota: Rep. Ron Erhardt allegedly said, “I’ll blow your head off” when contacted by gun rights group – B.B.

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Will You Die Getting To Your Bug Out Location? – J.W.

This article is an excellent companion with SurvivalBlog’s Contest Entry on August 12, 2014.

Hugh’s Quote of the Day:

“Now those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth, and let me remind you they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyranny.” – Barry Goldwater

Notes for Thursday – August 21, 2014

Seed for Security is running a sale right now. Their Three Sisters Collection is now 20% off. This collection includes 300 seeds of their own Flint Indian Corn, 50 seeds of Waltham Butternut Squash, and 50 Seeds of Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans. Detailed planting instructions and a diagram are also included.This offer is for a limited time, so don’t miss out on it.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 54 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,400+ 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. A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com, (currently valued at around $180 postpaid),
  11. Both VPN tunnel and DigitalSafe annual subscriptions from Privacy Abroad (a combined value of $195),
  12. 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,
  13. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate.

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. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value),
  9. Dri-Harvestfoods.com in Bozeman, Montana is providing a prize bundle with Beans, Buttermilk Powder, Montana Hard Red Wheat, Drink Mixes, and White Rice, valued at $333,
  10. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  11. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  12. 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 54 ends on September 30st, 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.

Being Prepared, by JRR

(Forward by HJL: This article presents some controversial subjects such as milk and eggs without refrigeration. Make sure you perform due diligence on any concept presented as the issue may be more complicated than presented.)

Getting started being prepared isn’t hard, but it does take tenacity. It’s not always easy and can be downright mentally and physically draining, at times. There are busy seasons, and there are slower seasons (usually winter). Always looking ahead (what to plant/grow/harvest) and keeping one eye on the weather. What we can’t change, we just have to roll with what nature brings us, but we can try to make things a bit better and easier for ourselves.

Reading, learning, and then doing gives you a set of skills. No one learns everything right away; there’s plenty to learn, and it’s never-ending. No one person knows everything (even if they think they do!) Ask three people how to make sourkraut, and you’ll probably get three different, yet similar, answers. Experience in DOING is how you gain your own set of skills, and they are invaluable.

Be Producers. One-time use items aren’t so good. (Think paper towels, toilet paper, or femine hygiene products.) You need things that have more than one purpose or that can be re-used. It helps with keeping things simple, and the big thing is having things that are sustainable. Having X amount of toiletries, duct tape, or packaged food stored is great, but being able to produce more is what you need to know. We are consumers because we have basic needs, and we need to eat. We must learn to be growers to feed and take car of ourselves!

Grow Ingredients and Make Your Own Bread. Things like boxed cereals, instant rice/potatoes, or pre-made noodles (macaroni and spaghetti) will run out and are hard to reproduce without special equipment. Knowing how to make noodles, and knowing what grains/rices/beans you can plant and use to make better breads is a must. Keeping simple recipes for breads, biscuits, and tortillas will go a long way in making things easier. (Keep in mind yeast breads might not always be practical. So, keep alternative recipes on hand.)

Dehydrate/preserve. If your most used recipes consist of items like: dry packages of ranch dressing or dry seasoning vegetable flavoring mix, velveeta cheese, mayonnaise, canned soups, and pre-packaged gravies/flavorings, they aren’t going to get you far. Knowing how to substitute or make your own (with what you can grow) will help keep foods from being boring and will also keep you from “flavor shock”. Learn how to make foods from scratch and how to make broths and gravies. Then, learn how to dehydrate/preserve them. Mayonnaise is made with oil, eggs, and vinegar and sometimes will be hard to make, because the raw ingredients might not be available.

Preserve NOW! Even after you are tired from tending to or gathering your food(s), you still have to process it to keep it from going bad. Each set of foods (fruits, veggies, meats, milk, herbs) takes a different approach to preserving it; so knowing at least the basics before hand helps! Dehydrating is simple, but doing a mess of different foods at once can lead to mixed/off flavors. If you don’t know how to can/preserve foods, learn NOW. There will be many challenges. The more you can learn and do in the present, the easier things will be for you in the future.

Process Live Foods. Knowing how to process live foods is a must. Even doing it just once gives you an idea of HOW to do it and what it all entails (and help one get over the gross/pet factor). It’s not glamorous, and folks need to learn to stop paying someone else to do that particular dirty work. Start out with cleaning fish and work your way up to bigger things.

Grow Your Pest Control. Flies, mosquitoes, mice, spiders, and other creepy crawlies are things many forget about. They add to our aggravation and are called “pests” for a reason. Know what herbs help repel biting insects and then plant some of these herbs to have on hand. Keep food covered in containers away from bugs and mice. It’s disheartening to work so hard on your food to discover others (ants, mice, weevils, or flies) have already been eating on it.

Repurpose. Old pillowcases (turned inside out) and hankies work well for making some cheeses (used as an alternative to cheesecloth) and straining milk, or whatever else needs strained. Keep in mind things that can be re-purposed and re-used. There might be a time that you just can’t “throw it away and buy a new one”, either due to finances or location. Things like bacon can be put in a colander (set on a plate) to drain. I try not to get my cloth items greasy from meats because it’s extremely hard to get all that grease out.

Build a Clothesline. Clotheslines are a must. Sunshine naturally bleaches things, which is good if you need things whitened or bad if you don’t want things faded. Granted it takes a few days to accomplish this, but it can be done. Washing clothes by hand is hard on the hands, back, and arms, but keeping a “wash water” container and a “rinse” container will make it easier. Drip dry is fine! Research homemade soap recipes, and keep the ingredients/supplies handy.

Vinegar. Vinegar is a must to have on hand AND know how to make. A few basic ingredients can go a long way in preserving foods. Learning what is important and to stock up on could save you a big headache in the long run. Vinegar is not only a cleaner, add it to your rinse water as a “fabric softener”. It will also help you make pickles, kraut, and even cheese (Queso Blanco). If you don’t have cucumbers, make Dilly Beans (pickled green beans)! Think outside the box! There may be times you have weeks of green bean or pea eating– only because it’s what is ready. Mixing some with grease/fat (something you should have saved up) and a bit of vinegar in a skillet puts a new twist on a ho-hum item. (This also works with lettuce for “wilted lettuce”, but one can use spinach or other greens, like lambsquarters).

Onions/Garlic. Know what your family likes to eat and plant/harvest/deal with those foods. Even if you don’t eat onions or garlic, they are usually used in some type of food preservation. It’s always good to keep “ingredient items” in the back of your mind.

Eggs. As you read up on preserving foods, you’ll learn quirky little things like that eggs do not have to be refrigerated. We keep ours under the sink where it stays cool; others keep theirs in the pantry. As long as they are not washed and are kept in a cool environment they will be fine and keep for weeks. Not washing them keeps the naturally-protective “bloom” on them and keeps bacteria out. If you get a dirty one, wash it and cook it up. Often, I boil those and smoosh them up with leftovers to feed back to the chickens. (They love it most in the winter, when there’s no fresh food or bugs.) You can dip the eggs in melted wax to preserve them for even longer.

Milk. Another quirky not-so-known food thing involves milk (raw/real milk, not store bought/pasteurized milk) that is left out. It turns to “clabber” and is similar to yogurt. It’s still food, just in a different form. Clabber can be used to make sour cream; strain it in a hankie and you have a type of creamed cheese. Butter is made from cream. The skimmed milk makes awesome cottage cheese, with some proper heating and simple ingredients.

Build a Root Cellar. Keeping foods cool/cold can be a challenge in some seasons. Those store-bought cans and home-canned foods can go bad fast if frozen or kept in high heat for extended periods of time. A root cellar is almost a must to keep foods cool or kept from freezing. Plans abound on how to make one, each adaptable with your terrain and what materials and tools you have to work with. I think a combination storm/root cellar would be most optimal for some. (Tornado Alley comes to mind.)

Fats and Oils. Save your bacon grease/drippings in jars, and keep them in a cool spot. (Chipped jars that are no good for canning have more uses, like for storing grease.) You can get beef, lamb, or pig fat and render it down. This is another easy skill to learn. Just don’t burn/scortch it! Use that far to make tallow (beef/mutton) or lard (pig). “Leaf fat” from around the kidneys should be rendered by itself; it is whiter and tastiest and makes the best (pie) crust. Once rendered (which means melted down and filtered), it can be kept in jars. It will turn solid in cool weather. If you have a milk supply, butter can be made but isn’t always available, so your fats will be important.

Embrace Fats. Toss all those mainstream cholesterol and/or fat “no-no” ideas out the window. REAL fats are good for you, and you’ll need those extra calories when doing more work. You also need fat to help keep warm in the winter. (Oh, they didn’t tell you that?) Plus, it helps you digest the food you eat. Eskimos purposely eat seal oil with their foods (like a dipping sauce) in the winter for these two reasons. (I personally would rather cook with it!) Keep in mind each fat has its own flavor, no matter if it’s butter, tallow, or lard. Lean meat (like rabbit) needs fat added to the meal or eventually digestion issues will abound.

Spices. What exactly IS in those “spices” in the jars on the shelves, like “Pickling Spices”? Understanding what is in those little containers that you can grow and harvest yourself not only saves you money but provides a fresh alternative! Mustard seed is a big ingredient that gives pickled food flavor. Try to replicate what you like to use and grow it. Black pepper is simply ground up peppercorns. The cilantro plant makes coriander seeds. If you know what plants produce what, you can use that knowledge to your advantage. Dill is easily tossed somewhere to make a patch; dill seeds and the leaves (ferns, which are often called “dill weed”) are used in pickling. For some items that aren’t available in your region, stock up on them and store them properly. These may include cloves, cocoa, vanilla beans, bay leaves, and cinnamon.

Foods that re-plant themselves (perennials) make things much easier for us. Most anything left to go to seed will come back the next year. Dill, cilantro, mustard, and mints are just a few examples. Every year I have volunteer tomato plants from seeds that overwintered, even when the garden has been tilled. Some species can be invasive, but those can be bartered/traded, if needed.

Critters. Having “critters” that are dual-purpose is always a plus. Chickens are for eggs and meat. I use my old non-laying hens and excess roosters for food, and when a hen hatches out babies, ineviatebly you’ll get plenty of roosters. They are food as well or can be bartered. Rabbits and chickens are good foragers, but keeping wild (or domestic) animals from killing and eating them can be a challenge.

I keep a milk cow for milk, and I try to raise an extra calf for food. I like goats but prefer cows’ milk better, and she is easier to keep in the fence. There are pros and cons to any food product. There is no “right” or “wrong”. It’s what you can handle and like. (Goats reproduce faster than a cow, but cattle provide more meat. That can be a problem if your time or skills are limited come butcher time).

Know that any food you grow takes time– months, not days or weeks. So trying to keep food planted/growing in succession (animals born at various times of the year or replanting certain things again weeks after the first planting) will help keep you “in food”. February was often referred to as “the hungry month” by Native Americans for a reason. They had gone through most of what they had preserved for the winter (and getting tired of eating the same things over and over), as nothing was growing yet with the cold weather, and wild critters hadn’t migrated back or had been “hunted out” already.

Bartering. The more you have, the more you can barter. The one who can barter with items instead of money, will be king. If I have 20 quart jars of tallow or extra jars of honey, I can barter a few to someone who needs them. (Don’t forget that the jars themselves have value as well.) Others might have had an abundant year of chickens, firewood, peas, tools, apples, lambs, or potatoes. They’ll make a trade for whatever both parties find is a fair trade.

The unspoken barter rule is: It is NOT the “dollar value” that is placed on barter items, it’s the “what I need and have/what do you have and need” value. There will be times where things like labor, building supplies, tools, fresh milk, eggs, canning jars/lids, or even salt will be worth much. Trying to swindle others because you know they need it is the absolute wrong mindset. One day it might be you in desperation, so keep it fair and honest. All you’ll have is your reputation, and if it’s no good, no one will trade with you when you need it!

Know and Do What’s Most Important First. In an emergency situation, fire, water, and shelter are the three “big ones” to do first…not food. Know where water sources are and how to purify it with basic minimum of supplies. Your fire not only keeps you warm, it cooks your food and boils your water. Your shelter can be simple; just be ever mindful of changing weather. A dutch oven is a great cooking tool and can cook/boil foods with high flames or coals. It’s versatile, yet can be heavy. Learn how to use a variety of cooking methods– on a wood or rocket stove, or an open fire. Watching it on television or reading “how to” in a book doesn’t prepare you for the smoke, a fallen tripod, or improvising green sticks for pot holders!

Weaponry. You need to be familiar with yours– whether to dispose of a rabid critter, use it for self-defense, dispatch of a critter that is hurt beyond saving (or ready to butcher), or for use in hunting. A gun or bow and arrow are generally the top couple of ideas that come to mind. There are knives, Atlatl, cross-bows, and a myriad of what is classified as a “weapon”. Guns range from traditional black powder guns (that generally shoot once and must be reloaded with patch, powder, and ball) to pistols (also called handguns) or rifles and shotguns. If you don’t know the difference of any of these, it’s time to learn.

Weapons Courses. Sign up for classes in your area (sooner than later) to learn about different weapons and how to use them. Larger cities have classes for beginners. It’s cheaper to learn what you like/don’t like with their bows and guns (not cheap!) and ammo. Where I live, there are plenty of folks willing to go out “ker-plinking” in the back ’80 acres to teach you. ONLY trust those whom you know. (Don’t put yourself in a dumb or dangerous situation.) There are tazers, mace/pepper sprays, and stun guns, but those are for you to use and then quickly get away.

Weapons Practice and Supplies. Some weapons are silent; some aren’t. Some allow you to be further away to use, while others require you to be up close and personal (in a “danger zone”). Do some research and find what you like, then practice, practice, and practice more to become proficient with it. Learn how you can make ammo and what is required. Guns need bullets/powder to reload; bows need arrows, which you can make as well.

Supplies and Tools. Keep first aid kits and plenty of medicines on hand. Even over the counter medicines are better than nothing. Extra clothing, blankets/pillows and (practical) shoes all become assets as well. Keep a supply of sewing items and simple tools. Anything we use to repair an item or fix an issue, keep on hand. Non-electric hand tools (shovels, axes, hatchets, saws, hoes, and so forth) will be essential to make your work easier.

Adaptation. You must be able to experiment and adapt. Those who are always “on the go” with activities and always expect things to go as planned will be hit with a loss of social withdrawal and have the hardest time with the simplicity. Those who assume others will just automatically help pitch in or think people will just do things for you or fix “it” are in for a rude dose of reality. Everyone will be in the same boat, so to speak. Folks who are used to “making do” and who are not afraid of hard work and using their imagination will thrive, because there is less of the “learning curve” for them. Those who have skills and have prepped will suddenly become the wealthy. Money will simply be pieces of paper with numbers on them, and you can’t eat it!

Always remember: Perfection is not the goal, and there are no “failures”! We learn what not to do (or should do) the next time. This is where doing things NOW adds to your skill set and doesn’t waste precious items or time. Take baby steps and get started. Something is better than nothing. There is no Today Tomorrow (because Tomorrow will be Today).

Build A Library. I strongly suggest you keep books and manuals on hand, because sometimes we need a “refresher” on what we are doing (or about to do). I have written notes in a notebook when I’ve needed to. Seek out books on butchering, canning, preserving, smoking (meats), wild edibles (weeds), herbs/herbal remedies, and “how-to” get things done in an efficient manner. One doesn’t need to go buy a whole library, but getting one here and there over time is the cheapest and easiest way to accomplish this on a budget. Sometimes, thrift stores can be a treasure drove to get needed items and even useful books. A few book suggestions:

  • Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emory. This book has tons of “how to” info in it that should be on everyone’s shelf. She tells you how to make things you use everyday, like soaps; it also has recipes and how to preserve foods, using a root cellar, build fences or coops to raising animals, butchering, and everything in between. You can learn to live off the land easier with this book. (Any edition is fine; the 40th Anniversary edition was the last, as she passed away in 2005.) Hands down this is the number one book I recommend for folks wanting to learn more.
  • Basic Butchering of Livestock and Game by John J. Mettler, Jr., D.V.M. This book covers beef, veal, pork, lamb, poultry, rabbit, and venision butchering. He also covers what tools/set ups are needed and how to smoke, salt, or preserve it. It’s easy to follow with step-by-step instructions and has illustrations.
  • Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine: the Definitive Home Reference Guide to 550 Key Herbs with all their Uses as Remedies by Andrew Chevallier. I like this book simply because it has wonderful descriptions, along with great color photos and plenty of “how to make” recipes (with photos). Unsure of what to use for a healing salve or how to make it? This book will show you how with “weeds”. (Many weeds ARE herbs).
  • Herbally Yours by Penny C. Royal is a good, solid, herbal reference book to have on hand. It has what herbal combinations help with healing. It contains no photos, but it’s good for a fast look-up on a variety of herbs and their healing properties.
  • Ball Blue Book is a must for canning foods properly and has plenty of recipes. There are a myriad of editions out there; any newer one will do and is usually not expensive.
  • Fanny Farmer Cookbook (also known as The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book) by Fannie M. Farmer: there are 13 editions available. Getting a depression-era or before is good. This is because around the late 1930′s is when “modern agriculture/mass food production” started coming about and pre-packaged items (soups, cereals, boxed items) became main staples and more affordable. (The 5th edition was published in 1930.)
  • Real Food by Joann Grohman. This has been out of print for years, but a recently updated edition is now only available on Amazon. In her mid eighties now, Joann shares insight of what is real food and how to accomplish getting it on your table, and she practices what she preaches. She doesn’t pull punches and makes total sense of why our forefathers ate the way they did, why the animals were raised “normally back when” and why we should simplify our food and follow suit. She also shows us why “cheap food” isn’t always the best for our health.

Letter Re: Montana Felons

Hugh,

The article you posted seemed to allude to the fact that Montana had adopted some strange new precedent in not allowing felons to own guns. In fact, Federal law has stated that for quite some time:

18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). anyone “who has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year” is barred from possessing a gun. The only felonies that are not covered by the federal gun ban are 1) those “pertaining to antitrust violations, unfair trade practices, restraints of trade, or other similar offenses relating to the regulation of business practices,” per 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(20)(A); and 2) felony convictions from foreign countries, per Small v. United States, — U.S. —, 2005 WL 946620 (April 26, 2005).

As for their Constitutional rights, frankly, I could care less. To be perfectly honest, the man in the Montana example was a convicted rapist with more than one rape if I read the article correctly. I won’t lose any sleep on how he is to protect himself. That is his fault, his life decision, and guess what– what he did to those women will stay with them until their death, even though his prison sentence is done and paid for. The only one who can forgive him and absolve him is Almighty Jesus. Until then, no guns for felons – and rightfully so!

Do you lose some of your Constitutional rights as a felon? ABSOLUTELY.

o o o

Hugh,

Felon rights is a states rights thing. Losing various rights has long been considered to be one of the deterrents to criminal conduct.

Voting has been the primary question. Historically, the felon lost voting rights for life, but that has been changing.

http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/felon-voting-rights.aspx

Hugh Responds: I recognize these issues, but I still question the constitutionality of the rulings. Do you loose your ability to defend your own life and property forever? If so, who will defend it for you? In many cases our fear causes us to deprive some of their inalienable rights. In others, if the person cannot be trusted, then perhaps our correctional institutions are ineffective and should be overhauled or the person should not be out of the system yet.