Preps and Practice- Part 1, by ArmedSafety

Prepping for the Inevitable “Zombie Apocalypse”

I have, for years, been a student of prepping for the inevitable. The inevitability could have been one of many options– CME, economic collapse, civil unrest, or one of many more called collectively “The Zombie Apocalypse” by me and my family. We all have our reasons for making our preps. For some it may be relatively simple preps for an ice storm that causes power loss for a few days, to those who go above and beyond to survive a nuclear holocaust.

The preps that I have fall somewhere in the middle, which is the category where I feel most preppers fall. I have the standard “bullets, band aids, and beans” that I feel would carry us through most apocalyptic scenarios while we were living in the wilds of Missouri and Arkansas.

My Job Moved Us To South Texas

Due to my job, we move around fairly often following construction work. Most recently, my job has taken me to south Texas. I began working in Gregory, TX in February 2017, originally staying in an RV. It’s not the most optimal for a SHTF situation. Eventually my family and I settled into a brick house with a little extra room for some provisions (and guests, too, I suppose).

Warning Of Hurricane Season

Every day on the way to work, I passed a billboard that read, “Hurricane Season June-November…Prepare Now”. Even my wife asked before we moved here “What are we going to do if a hurricane hits there?” I assured her that hurricanes, while possible, are not likely to hit where we are moving to, and life moved on. For those who love fishing (me) and especially saltwater fishing (me, me, me), this is a paradise. Conveniently, I can be on the water in the bay in about 10 minutes.

Tropical Storm Forecast

Fast forward about three months of blissful living in south Texas to August 22, 2017; a tropical storm is forecast to hit south Texas. It’s no big deal, right? My wife, daughter, and I began readying our preps just in case the power flickered a little bit. In addition to our normal food and water preps, we began buying a few non-perishable items from the store, filled our big water jugs that we will use for cooking and cleaning, pulled out the generator, and fired it up just to be sure. (It started on the first crank.) Thursday the 24th I went to fill up every gas can I could get my hands on, and this is when the magnitude of the situation hit me.

The first two gas stations I went to (across the street from each other) had lines of cars and trucks around the block, and people were getting impatient. I decided I would just ride around and come back another time for gas. Two blocks down the road, there was a gas station with only one car sitting at it. “These folks have lost their minds.” People were so caught up in getting gas, they forgot (with their sheep mentality) that there is more than one place to get it.

Category 1 Hurricane Moved Up and Evacuation Ensued

The small tropical storm was forecast to gather strength into a category 1 hurricane by the time it made landfall. These are pretty substantial winds at a minimum of 74 mph. Still, I thought, “I have a brick house, relatively new construction, plywood for the windows; we’ll be fine.” Those thoughts continued until a little trip to Walgreens. I went in to drop off a package and overheard a couple of ladies throwing around words like “category 3-4” and “mandatory evacuation”.

It was time to see what the news was saying. Sure enough, Aransas Pass, TX was under mandatory evacuation due to Harvey. Back to the house we go to put plywood over the windows and doors and place sandbags anywhere water could potentially get in. Bugout bags in hand, we hit the road back to Arkansas to stay with family for, well, I really didn’t know how long. I didn’t really know how long it would take us to get there. Would traffic be an issue? Would there be civil unrest on the highways? Fortunately, the bugout bags had everything we would need if the worst were to happen, or did they? At this point, I have no idea. I’ve carried one around in my truck for years with provisions.

Roads Not That Bad

Expecting the worst, the roads were really not that bad. A little pre-planning and we bypassed Houston. (It’s always a good idea to go around that mess.) Arriving at my parents’ house, my wife and I commandeered the TV and had non-stop coverage of that bastard Harvey. Making landfall around midnight on Friday night, Saturday morning the eye hit Rockport, TX, about 10 miles or less from my house. As the storm came in and after it moved off, we began hearing unconfirmed reports of roofs being ripped off buildings and walls collapsing mere blocks from my house.

Most of these reports ended up being untrue, but there was still devastation. And the news was no help at this point, because now they could get better ratings by moving to Houston to cover the flooding. We finally got live pictures of our house and could see that there was no major structural damage. We are much more fortunate than most we thought, but we’re not out of the woods yet.

Mindful of Looters Pilfering Our Stuff

We made our way back on Sunday after church with the only thought going through my mind being that the looters had found our house and had pilfered anything worth having, nearly 20 years worth of “stuff” we had collected. My guns! As I stated earlier, we moved into this house about three months prior. I had yet to procure a safe for my guns and ammo. (I just couldn’t find what I was looking for.) So they were just staged in the back of my closet. At this point, rumors and official reports both were stating that looting was going on. Great! We arrived back at home and with gun drawn, I cleared the house. It was just as we left it with no signs of entry and no broken windows or doors. Our stuff was safe, but now came the hard part.

Faith in God and Physical Preps

The first prep is the easiest, and that is faith in God. From the very beginning, we put our situation in God’s hands to do with as He will. Sincere prayers and faith in our all-powerful God can bring one through even the hardest of times. Next were the physical preps. We had food, water, shelter, and protection. That’s all anyone needs to survive, right?

Cleanup and Keeping Fridge/Freezer Cool

We began the clean-up process with trash and debris moved to the curb for pickup. We had a generator to power the fridge, but when the national guard, HEB (Texas grocery store…awesome people), and FEMA showed up, they had truckloads of ice to handout. Since everything in our fridge/freezer was ruined, all we had left was a small amount of perishable food and drinks to keep cool. We chose to go the route of ice and coolers. We did this knowing that if the ice ever ran out, we can always go to generator power, which inevitably we did, and run the fridge for a few hours a day to maintain the coldness.

Thermal Mass

While we are on the topic of using a fridge to keep things cool, I feel as though I should say something about thermal mass. Think of this as you would a normal ice chest. You can add a small amount of ice to a cooler frequently to maintain a relatively constant cold temperature. If you let all of the ice melt and the internal temperature rises, it takes twice as much ice to cool it back down. In the case of the refrigerator, pack that sucker full of whatever you want cold! The initial cool down period may take a while, but once it is cold (usually around 35 degrees or so) it takes much less power to maintain the internal temperature, assuming you aren’t standing around with the door open. (See, Mom was right.)

The cold stuff that is in the fridge will, for a lack of a better term, radiate coolness and help maintain a more constant temperature. The more cold stuff you have in the fridge, the more it will maintain the temperature and for longer periods. This will allow you to run a fridge for as little as two hours a day and still have a cold water when you need one. Another point to make here is, if you take a bottle of water out, put one back. This will maintain the greatest thermal mass.

Strategic Use of Generator

My generator is not large enough to run the whole house, so we had to be strategic about what we ran and when. There was also a limited supply of gas to replenish what we use, so we really had to be cautious. The majority of the power was used to run a small 110V A/C unit in one of the bedrooms, along with a couple of fans, and of course the cellphone charger. This worked great for our situation. We had a cool place to sleep and in case someone overheated in the sweltering Texas humidity we had a small room that would cool down very quickly.

Portable Charger

In addition to charging our phones at night while we slept, I had, some months back, purchased a portable battery bank to charge phones. I found one at Target one day while waiting on the ladies to try on clothes. Reading the package, it said it was 2500mAh. (I had no idea what that means, but it sounded like a lot.) It said that you could recharge two phones with one fully charged battery bank. I am here to tell you that this is simply not true. I did no research before this purchase, which was “my bad”. I can tell you that it fully charged my Samsung Note 5 fully once and had a little juice left over. It doesn’t charge fast, but it will keep you from getting in a bind.

On the model that I bought, you have to have a USB charging cord that goes from the battery bank to your phone. Assuming you have those two things, you should have enough juice to make an emergency call. Like I said, we charged phones at night so why would I need this battery pack? To be completely honest, I didn’t need it. I have a 15-year-old daughter and “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this child from the swift completion of her appointed YouTube”.

See Also:

  • Preps and Practice- Part 2, by ArmedSafety (Active on 11/2/17)

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been part one of a two part entry for Round 73 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical 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,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. 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,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by,
  7. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value), and
  8. 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, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (a $240 value).

Round 73 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. Only thing I can see for this gentleman to do is buy a larger generator that burns propane or gas. Costco sells one that is 9500 watts for around $800.00. I own one and it’s a life saver.

  2. We all have a “generator” parked outside our homes. That vehicle and it’s battery are useful for more things than going to the grocery store. Buy a vehicle inverter – or several. They come in a range of sizes from 100 watts that will run laptops and charge phones and other small things to 800 watts or more that will run power equipment. It’s not very efficient to charge a phone with a 300hp car engine but so what? If you need power, you need power.
    You can also invest in some golf cart batteries and a larger inverter to run you other important things like a well pump or frig/freezer. Why run your generator for hours a day when an hour or two of battery charging will allow you to run your frig 24 hours?
    I live off grid on solar which for the past week and for at least another week is not giving me any power as it’s completely overcast. 1 hr. a day of genset run time is all I need to live normally.

  3. I did this test on one of those cheap portable battery rechargers that you can find anywhere. I know mine was cheap because I got as a “gift” from my school. It couldn’t have been more than $10. I ran my Galaxy s5 to 0% and let it turn off. I plugged it in and checked it every ten minutes to see the progress.

    Time Passed (minutes) Charge % % Increase
    10 12 12
    20 21 9
    30 29 8
    40 37 8
    50 42 5
    60 (1 hour) 47 5
    70 50 3
    80 54 4
    90 57 3
    100 63 6
    110 Unit died ?

    Somewhere between the 100 and 110 minute mark, the charger was out of juice. When I turned on the phone, it was at 61%.

    I learned some interesting things while doing a bit of research. I learned that at 2200mAh capacity, you really only get 1380mAh because of energy transfer loss. So you get about 62% of the actual battery capacity going to your device and the rest lost as energy in the transfer. Also, to always store your power bank with at least a 50% charge to prolong the battery life. Storing while completely drained will reduce the capacity of the battery.

    The iPhone capacity is about 1450mAh, Galaxy phones range from 1650mAh to 2600mAh.

    So you should get about 95% of an iPhone charge, but only 53% to 84% of a Galaxy phone. I have another type of similar device that’s a bit bigger, has a full sized charger, can charge my phone 1.5 times, but cost $100.

    I thought it was interesting that it charges much faster until about 40%. I wonder if it’s better to charge to 40% and then use the phone until 0% and then charge again. Maybe the energy loss from transfer increases as the phone battery fills up. Similar to how it gets harder to pack a suitcase as it gets fuller. Just a theory.

    I think for the cost, having a couple of them laying around is a good idea.

    1. The link below is best overview of battery types, pros and cons, and solar requirements/components I have run across so far. I’ ve gone through it a half a dozen times and still learn something new.

      It gets technical but the explanations are clear and use real world examples.

  4. I don’t mean to sound critical,but it never ceases to amaze me that in many of these survivalist articles and comments,the two most important things seem to be, Phones and AC. How did we live without them in the past! Trekker Out

  5. To mountain trekker

    I get your observation, and exasperation. We also lived without motor vehicles and electricity, and antibiotics. These modern conveniences make our lives ( seemingly ) easier, but if forced obviously one can do without them and survive. Just a big adjustment period for the snowflake generation, and possibly Less so for the 50-60 something’s. I confess that I would dearly miss ice and pizza the most. But I can hack it without it.

  6. I don’t get the generator fetish. I don’t have a generator, well, except for the one on my motor. And the ones on the previous motorhomes. But I never used them. What a pain in the neck they are. Believe it or not you don’t need 4000 watts or 9500 watts. I just bought my latest new motorhome and I tried to get it without the generator and air conditioner (never used them either). But that’s virtually impossible. So I have a nice, expensive, well made (better than you can buy from Costco) generator that I truck around everywhere I go but I never use it.

  7. To OneGuy
    Good for you that you don’t need a backup generator to keep your frig. cold so your insulin supply does not spoil. Also great that you can motor around and find water as needed with your motorhome. I learned my wife doesn’t have to die from lack insulin supply, as we keep it right about 35 degrees, and buy all we can. So far, used it over 6 months old with no issues, by keeping cold. And after learning so much from this blog and the Patriot series, I think outside the box. Changed the generator over to propane.

    1. So your position is all of those who have generators are keeping their insulin cold??? Somehow I doubt it.

      A motorhome or trailer is an excellent opportunity to test survival plans. You discover what you can live without and ways to insure you have the things you need. That includes potable water. I can purify or merely filter water without electricity. I also know exactly how much water it takes to cook and consume as well as how much is required to shower and go potty.

      I use Walmart garden walk lights (the small ones that look like spotlights) for reading at night or playing cards. I simple place them outside during the day and I have a place in the motorhome where they mount and shine over my shoulder. I use a small PV battery charger that charges battereis for my flashlight and has a USB for my cell phone. Cheap and easy solutions.

      It is my humble opinion that in general the generator is a mistake. It is an expensive wish fullfiller that is used to live like everything is normal in unnormal times. Besides that they are loud, smelly, and attract attention even in motor home parks where they are more or less the norm.

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