From David in Israel on Expedient Shelter/Greenhouses

I was looking over some of my old Mars proposals and wanted you to give a spin off to try in your colder area. This is an idea that popped into my head during my 105 minute bus ride as I thought about how most survivalists have no idea how to feed themselves or where they will live once they bug out.

The idea is a double wall UV-transparent greenhouse with spacers between to make for good airspace insulation. Hydroponic tubing of a larger diameter would be connected to a curtained off outhouse toilet (and a runoff gutter rain barrel) returning nutrients to the loop under the black plastic ground sheet feeding the plants. A black cover could be added
during snow (melt it away) or at night for more insulation. A small domicile could be located at one end and curtained off. The attractive feature to this (it could be a kit) is that a landless survivalist or a poor farmer could set up a real food producing system and home in 1-2 days in any place with water supply and even poor soil, sand is best.
The real problem is clogging the tubing with feces… and toilet paper could not be used in this system. Sludge from the compost pile would be dumped occasionally into the toilet.

X-meters of UV plastic
x-meters black UV plastic
x-feet of PVC tube (frame)
x-feet PVC hose perforated (large enough to stay clear)
1-composter toilet (plumbed into system, crank mixer/pump)
x-sandbags (ballistic protection)
1-runoff rain barrel (plug/valve near bottom to plumb into system)
1-hand pump kit
x-assorted vegetable starters
x-bamboo starters
1-Tyvek instruction manual on how to setup and heat shelter, germinate and grow seeds and cuttings.
A hand pump, pipe, and a sand spike would be a nice addition for the kit buyer. including sand bags in a kit would allow making of a “meklat” shelter partially dug in for those who want ballistic protection. This would likely last a maximum of 1-to-2 years but this would allow a permanent settlement to be built.

JWR Adds:  I have one point of disagreement: “Night soil” (composted human waste) should not be used as fertilizer for growing vegetables.  The risks far outweigh the benefits!  I suggest only using waste from cattle or other herbivorous livestock for such a scheme.

Letter Re: How to Bake Over Boiling Water

Here is how to bake bread over boiling water:  Get wide mouth pint mason jars, or empty cans all the same height, and grease them with shortening. ( Oil will make a more gummy texture but is fine to use also.) Many cans have little ridges in the center and make it much harder to get the final breads out.
Set the jars in a pan and fill with water to 2/3 of the jar height. Jam in enough empty jars if necessary so they don’t tip. Or stones, anything. They must fit snugly and not fall over. Bring water to a boil.
Make batter. Typical yeast dough bread recipe needs 10-12 pint jars 1/3 full of dough. (For bread, you need the jars out of the water, fill them 1/3 full and let rise. Or use the quick recipe which may use twice as much yeast. Then put them back in the dry pot and add hot water. )
For cake mix, cornbread, muffins, etc, with about 2 cups of dry ingredients, use 4-5 jars half full.
Cover loosely with clear plastic wrap or a Baggie, rubber band around the top. You need air to escape as it cooks but steam to stay out. For long term prepping, maybe aluminum foil would be better, or lids greased underneath placed loosely on the top.
Cover the pot. Bread and cake will take maybe 45 minutes, heavier corn bread will take an hour. Overcooking is not a problem for the most part. Try and keep the water level up, if you can boil water in another pot and add it, if necessary. This recipe is very “forgiving.”  You can make the batter and put it in cold jars in cold water and then put the whole thing over a fire, and start timing it when the water gets hot.
Slide out for pint size loaves of bread.
You can make smaller cakes or muffins, just fill jars 1/4 full of batter for one cup sized results.
Try some butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar in the bottom of the jar, and mix raisins in the bread dough. Fill 1/4 of the jar or a little less. This makes nice survival cinnamon rolls.
The bread will not have a crust, but you can slice it and toast it in a pan or over a fire.
Remind your children that many early settlers cooked this way. Boston Brown Bread was a popular dish made by early New Englanders to eat with Boston Baked beans.

Here is one recipe for Boston Brown Bread:
2 c. whole wheat flour( or 1 c whole wheat and 1 c rye)
1 c. yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. raisins (optional.)
2 c. buttermilk, room temp.( or just use milk from that powered milk in the preps pile)
3/4 c. molasses ( or honey)
Generously grease 2 (1 pound) coffee cans or 3 (1 lb.) vegetable or fruit cans; set aside. In a large bowl, combine whole wheat flour, rye flour, cornmeal, baking soda and salt. Add raisins, if desired. Toss to separate and coat with flour mixture.
In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk and molasses. Stir into flour mixture only until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn into prepared cans, filling evenly. Cover cans tightly with 2 layers of foil; tie with string. Place a rack in a large kettle. Place cans on rack. Place kettle over low heat. Add boiling water until halfway up cans. Cover; bring water to a gentle boil. Steam bread 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Add more boiling water during steaming, if necessary. Carefully remove bread from cans. Cool on racks at least 30 minutes before slicing. Makes 2 or 3 small loaves. 

Letter Re: On Physical Conditioning by “Bings”

Just a quick note on Bings post, taking up a martial art may be the perfect activity for many people on this site. Not only can you get in shape, but you will learn some self-defense techniques (more or less, depending on how ‘martial’ the art is) and do it with a group of people who are WAAAAAY nicer and more approachable than people in your average gym. Classes are usually made up of all sorts of people, including athletes, housewives, businessmen, kids etc. Everyone welcome and everyone is very helpful, since they all started the same way, on the lowest rung of the ladder. One of the things I love about it is that you get out of it what you put in to it, work harder, gain more, learn more. You can make every hour a good workout if you want to, you can practice in your living room if you need to, you can develop a warrior mindset, you gain grace, power, flexibility, endurance, discipline – what’s not to like?  Keep up the good work! – M.W.

Two Letters Re: David in Israel on Mobile Multi-Mode Survival Communications

I would just like to point to a very nice (if somewhat costly) piece of radio equipment, The Buddipole from:  It is an extremely flexible antennae system, which gives you coverage from the 40 meter band through the 2 meters – it is possible to tinker with a lot of different setups and it has a proven track record and is currently in use with your Special Forces teams as well as numerous hams. Budd Drummond who runs the company also has a very good customer service and is a great person to discuss antenna needs with. (Just for a teaser: the smallest variation of the system weighs 2 pounds and is approximately 13 inches long – how is that for portability?)

As for further investigations into “stealth operations”, I would like to recommend this site: , its a ham in England with interesting solutions to running low to none visibility stations with various equipment. – “Beau-Cephus”

Regarding the HF stations in today’s blog: The “MFG” cited should read “MFJ”.  [JWR adds: I just went and fixed that. Thanks!]
I would also recommend a BETTER quality than the little travel tuner. Why go so small when your already toting around a pack full of other gear. The SGC ADSP2 is way overkill at $130 its a bit much for a survival station. I would also suggest adding a good set of headphones to the list. The “spool of wire” should be a bit more descriptive. What kind of wire, For power? for antenna?, co-ax? If for power, then you should not have a very long run. If for antenna the list should also include “antenna building” supplies such as insulators and center conductors. Might want to include some coax to connect the antenna to the radio as well as some patch cables to connect he radio to the tuner. The Ham stick is a single band antenna, you would need a pack of hamsticks to cover many bands as well as a ground mounting system. No mention of how your going to connect or hold the UHF/VHF antenna up in the air. Need some mast and co-ax Why go to a sub laptop, use a normal sized one. Again you already need a Sherpa to carry all this stuff. How big of a solar panel does he plan on carrying? The 706 draws 2 amps at idle with no audio, Its a power pig and not very solar friendly. Same issue with the battery Not sure if he talking about 16 D cell batteries. If so they things will be drained in just an hour with JUST the 706. I can drain a car battery in a weekend if I leave my 706 on all the time. Not that this is not a good radio, I have 4 of them, but his List is just incomplete and not functional as a portable station without a good power source handy. Also just a note, the 706 will go on the AM broadcast band with mods, Its just above the 160m ham band. If you want a true ham portable station the SGC 2020 or the Yaesu 817 is your only option. If you want a GOOD package station then the Yaesu 897 is a good option. – Gary in Ohio

Letter Re: The Great Debate–Puru Saxena Explains the Fed’s Interest Rate Hikes

I enjoy most of what Survival Blog puts out, but the Puru Saxena article is a bit misleading. Mr. Saxena seems to be a bit confused into thinking that 1) all inflation is the same and that 2) control is the same as eliminate. The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy is, has been since its inception, and will most likely continue to be creating inflation. This is not at issue, as the Fed is happy to point out. What Mr. Saxena seems to say is that control over inflation should equal eliminating inflation. The Fed strives to keep inflation within a small range of values (from about 2.0 to 4.0% a year) and manipulates some choice interest rates as well as the monetary supply via the bond market. In this sense, the Fed is most certainly controlling inflation to be a known acceptable value, as opposed to “hyperinflation” as seen in Germany post-WWI. The “grim reality” that Mr. Saxena posits is not only true, it should not be a surprise. Mild inflationary economies are not only more pleasant to live in, they are more stable as they contribute to the ability of banks to loan money, businesses to take loans and individuals to profit. Any economy can self-destruct if enough of the right people do the wrong thing, but it isn’t because of the existence of inflation.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am merely an Economics student and will certainly yield the floor to anyone with greater experience in the field, but I felt the need to offer an alternate point of view. – P.H.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“Thomas Sowell, who is one of our favorite commentators, points out three things that make the collectivists uneasy.  These are cars, guns and home schooling, all of which grant to the individual a degree of independence of action which terrifies the champions of the super state. Cars, guns and home schooling reduce the need for the statism so prized by the socialists.  They do not wish you freedom to move around.  They do not wish you to be able to protect yourself.  And they do not wish you to decide what your children should be taught. Such things reduce the power of the state over the citizen.  If you know any Democrats you might make that point to them.” – Jeff Cooper, Cooper’s Commentaries, 9-98

“Doc Savage” on: Back Injuries, and How to Avoid Them

Back pain is the second most common complaint, following headaches, of patients visiting doctor’s offices today. Activities such as heavy lifting, twisting while holding a weight, or lifting at odd angles frequently trigger the onset of back pain. Unfortunately, these are the exact activities that could occur while trying to hurriedly load a vehicle to evacuate or while pulling a 72-hour kit out of the trunk of your car. A back injury during an emergency would suddenly limit your ability to respond effectively. This report will list the most common types and causes of back injuries followed by preventative measures to minimize the chances of suffering a back injury.
The straw that broke the camel’s back is an adage that applies to most back problems. Many people have heard someone say that they “just bent over to pick up a (insert your own light object here) and my back went out.” It usually isn’t the activity that causes the problem, but the years of lifting improperly with a weak back, sitting with poor posture, repetitive lifting, and normal degeneration of the spine. Lifting injuries can be classified in three ways:
Muscle Injuries: These occur when too much weight is lifted from the wrong position causing more stress than the muscle can bear. This force causes tiny tears in the musculature known as muscle strain. Muscle strain can be very painful and make moving extremely difficult. Generally, muscle strain repairs itself in a few weeks to months.
Disc Injuries: The discs are located between the bones of the spine called vertebra and act as a shock absorber or a ball bearing. Discs are composed of fibrous rings that can bulge or even rupture when injured. Pain is usually sudden and may radiate down into the leg. Numbness may also occur in the leg. Disc injuries may resolve themselves after a few weeks or may require surgical intervention in severe cases.
Joint Injuries: The spine consists of numerous bone-on-bone joints. If one of these joints is overstressed, the joint can slip and often times become locked. These joint deformities frequently pop back into place on their own. They may require physical manipulation via physical therapy or chiropractic care.
The best treatment for a back injury is to avoid having one. Here are a few suggestions to help avoid a back injury. First, plan what you are going to do and then do it in the safest way, which is not necessarily the quickest or easiest way. Get help with objects that are too large to lift alone. This seems extremely simple, which is why so many people often fail to even consider it. Always lift with a straight back, lifting with your legs. Remember to keep your chest pointed forward, as just bending the legs can cause a bend in the spine as you lift an object that is low to the ground. Feet should be shoulder width apart with one foot slightly in front of the other.
After the lift, keep the object close to your body. A simple experiment to show the importance of this is to hold a gallon of water to your chest and walk around your living room. Next, do the same thing but hold the water at arm length in front of you. It makes quite a difference. While turning with the weight lifted lead with the hips and not the shoulders so that your body will stay in line. While carrying the weight remember to keep good posture and do not stoop.
Good physical conditioning is also important to maintain back health. Activities that improve core muscular strength such as walking, sit-ups, leg raises, and alternate arm/leg lifts while lying on your stomach are excellent strengthening activities. Another lazy man’s way of strengthening core musculature is to sit on an exercise ball–the large ones used in Pilates classes. I sat on one while watching an hour long television program one night and found muscles that I had forgotten the next morning.
If you are currently experiencing any back problems, seek treatment now. Doctors, physical therapists, and chiropractors can all give advice and treatment for back injuries.
I hope that this article has given you some thoughts on back care and will motivate you to study the subject further as I have only scratched the surface. During times of stress and hectic activity is not the time to learn about such things the hard way. Take the time now to start strengthening your core muscles and practice safe lifting techniques each day. – "Doc Savage"

Letter Re: Cleaning/Polishing Silver Coins?

I hear that silver spiked again today. I’m very glad I took your advice and bought a half-bag of junk silver last month! It was as easy as you say. I just called the local coin dealer with the biggest ad in the yellow pages. Their price was about $200 cheaper than Swiss America’s.

Would it be worth the bother to clean the coins? Virtually all of the coins are quite dirty. My main purpose in storing these coins will be for future barter, if necessary. I’m guessing they would be more attractive for barter if cleaned up.

If I were to clean them, I would just use one of the commercial liquid cleaners commonly available at the local kitchen store for cleaning sterling silver. Any advice on which ones would be safe for junk silver? Maybe some of your readers have already figured out the cheapest and safest method.

Also, one observation. Even though I live in a large metropolitan area (Los Angeles) with millions of people, the dealer was confused at first at what I wanted, so I had to be very specific. This tells me virtually no one in my area is looking for junk silver. It kind of implies junk silver is still not on the public’s radar, or worse, no one is really preparing for anything.

And finally, yes, I’m leaving Los Angeles as soon as I can!

Always Learning More, – Rookie

JWR Replies:  Coin collectors almost universally frown on polishing, chemical dipping, or buffing coins. (The latter is called “whizzing” by numismatists.) I recognize that “junk” silver coins currently have little, if any, collector’s value. But consider the following. First:  You never know what coins have been overlooked before any given bag is run the coin counting machine.  There might be a scarce coin (mint date, mint mark, or unusual strike.)  Second: In a few generations, the consensus view of what constitutes “junk” may change considerably.  So for the sake of your grandkids, it is best not to polish or dip your coins.  Third:  You stand to gain virtually nothing by polishing coins if your intended use is barter based on their silver bullion content.  They are supposed to look old. In the eyes of most potential traders, “old and grungy” means genuine. (New/shiny looking coins might be more suspect as counterfeit.)

Letter Re: Earthquake Preparedness and Charity

I just thought I’d share some notes on my efforts. In the suburban setting I currently live in, I feel that my biggest day-to-day threat would be from a major earthquake hitting nearby. I would view this as a short-term emergency (2 weeks, perhaps) with somewhat localized impact. While there could be mass looting and rioting, I don’t feel it’s that likely in my particular neighborhood, although I do maintain a stock of arms, a bullhorn, spotlight, extra batteries, etc.
My current target is to have a 1-month supply of food items, with a mix of ready-to-eat canned foods and bulk rice and beans. I have purchased three 20 pound propane tanks for the barbeque, and an adapter hose so that I can run my small coleman stove off them, in addition to stocking extra 1 pound cylinders for camping. I also purchased a 6 gallon turkey fryer set. I’m already into camping and Ham radio, so I’m mostly covered on shelter and communications.
My plan for an earthquake or other natural disaster is to help myself, then my elderly immediate neighbors, collaborate with a couple of other neighbors and possibly set up to distribute meals to the surrounding survivors.
The turkey cooker, with rice, beans and assorted canned goods to throw in could allow me to supply several daily “gumbo” type hot meals to 20+ people. I think by design it would use gas more efficiently than trying to cook on the barbeque.
I consume mostly fresh foods, so my plan is to every one to two years simply give my canned stuff to the food bank or Boy Scout canned food drive and buy more.
All of this, (with the exception of guns, ham radio gear and other valuables) together with approximately 70 gallons of water, is housed outside in a shed, which should offer some protection from my house falling on it and spoiling or making it inaccessible.
  [Note from JWR: Make sure that your shed stays cool.  Heat kills the nutritive value of canned food quickly!]
Some quick notes on “store bought” preparations:
– A case of Top Ramen just fits inside a 5 gallon bucket
– A 25 pound sack of rice from the asian store fits with a little room left over.
– The medium-size Rubbermaid bins can hold a flat of bottled water, plus about 2/3 lighter stuff on top (gotta be able to lift it).
– Get some #10 cans, even if you don’t think you’ll use them. A Hobo stove constructed from one will allow you to cook over salvaged bits of wood and wreckage. Make sure to have a hacksaw, pliers and can opener on hand [to make a hobo stove.]
– If you stock bleach for disinfecting water, take a Sharpie marker and write the formula (drops per gallon, teaspoons per 5 gallons, etc.) on
the bottle. This way, there will be no question when you need it.

I’m sure there are things that I’m missing, but at least it’s a start. – John in California

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

Tennessee Stud (Lyrics by Jimmy Driftwood)

Along about eighteen and twenty-five
I left Tennessee very much alive
I never would have got through the Arkansas mud
If I hadn’t been a-ridin on the Tennessee stud
I had some trouble with my sweetheart’s pa
One of her brothers was a bad outlaw
I sent her a letter by my Uncle FUD
And I rode away on the Tennessee stud

The Tennessee stud was long and lean
The color of the sun and his eyes were green
He had the nerve and he had the blood
And there never was a hoss like the Tennessee stud

One day I was ridin’ in the beautiful land
And ran smack into an Indian band
They jerked their knives with a whoop and a yell
But I rode away like a bat out of hell
Well I circled their camp for a time or two
And showed what a Tennessee hoss could do
And them redskin boys never got my blood
‘Cause I was a-ridin’ on the Tennessee stud


We drifted on down into no man’s land
We crossed the river called the Rio Grande
I raced my hoss with the Spaniards bold
Till I got me a skin full of silver and gold
Me and a gambler we couldn’t agree
We got in a fight over Tennessee
We jerked our guns, he fell with a thud
And I got away on the Tennessee stud


Well, I got as lonesome as a man can be
Dreamin’ of my girl in Tennessee
The Tennessee stud’s green eyes turned blue
‘Cause he was a-dreamin’ of a sweetheart too
We loped on back across Arkansas
I whipped her brother and I whipped her pa
I found that girl with the golden hair
And she was ridin’ on a Tennessee mare


Stirrup to stirrup and side by side
We crossed the mountains and the valleys wide
We came to Big Muddy and we forded the flood
On the Tennessee mare and the Tennessee stud
Pretty little baby on the cabin floor
Little hoss colt playin’ ’round the door
I love the girl with golden hair
And the Tennessee stud loves the Tennessee mare


Note from JWR:

Today, we announce the winner of Round 1 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.The first entry for Round 2 is also posted today.

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest Winner Announcement

The judged winner of Round 1 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest is B.H. in Spokane, for his article titled “On Preparing Your Children”, which was posted on October 24, 2005. Congratulations, B.H.! I will confirm his address and mail him a four day Front Sight course certificate. Because we received so many great articles, we have decided to repeat this contest.

Round 2 of the contest begins today and will end on the last day of January, 2006. For this round of the contest, special judging consideration will be given to the article with the most useful and detailed information on a practical skill that is applicable to a TEOTWAWKI situation. The entries in Round 1 were predominantly motivational pieces. Those were great articles, but with our audience they were like “preaching to the choir.” So for this round, please keep it practical. The prize is worth up to $2,000 and is fully transferable.

And BTW, for any of you missed it, you can read “On Preparing Your Children” in The SurvivalBlog Archives.

From David in Israel: Mobile Multi-Mode Survival Communications

The following is an example of a pack-portable Ham station that is usable in most modes:

Icom 706 MK2G HF/6M/2M/440 bands in SSB, FM, CW, and AM
MFJ travel antenna tuner
MFJ Mighty Mite 110-240 to 13 Volt 25 Amp power supply
SGC ADSP2 digital noise reduction (DSP) and filter speaker
Morse Code Key [JWR adds: Preferably with a detachable thigh-mount clip or thigh strap for use in the field.]
Spool of antenna wire
Hamstick antenna
HF Dipole Antenna
VHF/UHF antenna
Toshiba MobilePro sub-laptop (an inexpensive serial terminal for TNC)
KAM Kantronics TNC
Solar panel
16xD cell NiMH battery
Lightning/EMP dissipators for all antennas
Pigtails, ground wires, and stakes
Line surge protector

Such a setup could be made packable and run totally off grid. A packable station is especially useful if you are forced to move on in a hurry, or circumstances dictate that you travel light.

One limitation is that this system is unable to transmit on regular AM or FM commercial broadcast bands. Depending on your role in a disaster recovery, having a regular broadcast transmitter may be a useful option to get emergency information out to the community. Research the current Federal rules on running low power FM and AM stations. Broadcast band piracy will for sure land you in hot water, so always work with local government and FCC if you wish to provide this emergency service. As always, proper licensing is required to use this gear, the time and effort you spend studying will pay off when you are using the equipment. (Don’t just study the test pool questions.)

JWR Adds: “Micro FM” transmitters are available from Rocky Mountain Reliable ( and several other reputable vendors. Special low power FM licenses are available through the FCC. Also keep in mind that Federal regulations allow transmission in any band under true emergency/distress circumstances. A low power FM license and the proper gear may put you in the role of the “go to guy” for pulling a community through in the event of a natural disaster or a man-made TEOTWAWKI. One distinct approach is to “fly under the radar.” The alternative “high profile” approach is to make yourself so invaluable (as a source of information/coordination) that everyone in the community will wannt to be your de facto security committee. Decide which approach is most appropriate for your circumstances–and your envisioned scenario(s)–and plan accordingly.

Note from JWR:

The following post is the first entry for the judging of Round 2 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

The Top 7 Items Left Off of Survival Lists, by David in California

There are many useful survival/preparedness lists out there. All have the usual items and practices in common (survival knives, fire starting materials, food storage methods, etc.), but over the years I’ve also noticed several gaps in common. These tend to be of the nasty “I wish I’d realized I would need this item before” variety. This is especially alarming as these gaps could be remedied in most cases very inexpensively or even just with a little forethought.

1. Bleach. No, it’s not a substitute for a proper water filtration system, but in a pinch it does just fine and it’s incredibly cheap. Bearing in mind that where survival gear is concerned, “two is one, and one is none,” what do you have as a backup in case that fancy $250 water filter breaks or is lost? A little bottle of plain, non-scented 5-6% hypochlorite bleach will go a long way to ensuring you have potable water. I’m still saving up for a top-of-the-line filter system, but you can bet I have plenty of bleach stored in the meantime! And if you are looking for the most valuable thing to store for charitable purposes in a crisis, pound for pound it’s bleach. Just ounces given in charity will purify many gallons of water for needy groups of people who might otherwise die without it.

2. Sunscreen. I’ve never seen this on a “bug out bag” list, and in my opinion, omitting it is a big mistake. When TSHTF, in most cases you’re going to be spending a lot more time being active out-of-doors than is usual. (Even if you plan to hole up in a shelter, you’ll probably have to travel to get to it.) This means sun exposure. It’s dangerous because you’ll probably be focusing on other things (such as survival!) and won’t think about your level of sun exposure until it’s too late. If you’re one of those lucky folks with enough naturally-occurring melanin in your skin to shrug off solar radiation, great! However, if you live in North America or Europe, odds are that you’re light-skinned, and therefore exceedingly vulnerable. As little as a few unprotected hours in direct sunlight will sap your strength and can cause debilitating burns. Northern latitudes won’t save you, either; six hours of sun in northern Idaho this April knocked me out of commission for a full day, and I’m from California! My brother, a licensed dermatologist, recommends sun block (not “suntan lotion”) rated SPF 30 or higher.

3. Antibacterial Soap/Disinfectant Hand Rub. Washing our hands routinely is something we all take for granted. In a crisis situation, luxuriously bathing your hands in hot soapy solution won’t be an option. Just a couple of drops of a travelers’ disinfectant hand rub solution lets you clean your hands without water. And for more extensive cleaning, for just a few dollars you can purchase a 64-ounce jug of antibacterial soap. It would have been worth its weight in gold to hurricane victims….

4. Toothbrush/Dental Floss. That these items are missing from most “bug out bag” lists I’ve seen makes me worry about the dental health of some survivalists. All the stored food in the world won’t do you any good if you can’t eat it due to tooth pain from a cavity. While you’re thinking about it, get your teeth fixed now. Where There Is No Dentist is a great book, but the smart survivalist will have obtained a clean bill of health from her dentist before TSHTF.

5. Eyewear. Everybody needs at least one pair of sunglasses, preferably two. (You’re going to be outdoors sometimes, remember? See point 2, above.) If you wear prescription glasses or contacts, store spares. Get Lasik or other vision-correction surgery, if you’re so inclined and can afford it. And if your vision’s already 20/20, then shouldn’t you protect those vulnerable eyeballs? ANSI-rated safety glasses (clear shooters’ glasses are fine) are great in this regard and can be had for as little as $10.

6. Measure Your Distances. You could use measuring tape, an odometer, or another measuring device, such as string. It depends on the application. The point is not so much to have a measuring device as to have used it beforehand – because, if all of a sudden you need to know a distance, you probably won’t be able to measure it at that particular moment. Concrete examples: what good is it for me to know the pattern of my defensive shotgun load at 20 yards if I don’t know how many yards it is to my back fence? I’ve zeroed my rifle at 300 yards, but if my bug out vehicle dies and I’m stuck in my home against an advancing mob of looters, it would be good to know that the other end of the street is 200 yards away so I can adjust the sights. Similarly, traveling my preplanned bug out route, it may become critical to know the width of a city street in yards, the length of a city block, or the distance between two way points. Take note of these beforehand!

7. Test Everything. How many of us assemble our survival gear, and then store it in a closet against the day it’s needed, instead of using it as often as possible? Camping is a great way to test most or all of your survival supplies at the same time, but most people don’t go camping more than once or twice a year. You can get more dividends by using some of your gear on a daily basis wherever you can. Be creative! You can discern some important truths that would be costly to learn later. For example, it’s better to learn now that you need to add dietary fiber supplements to your food stocks than to suffer a bout of diarrhea in the midst of a crisis. Want to find out for sure? Declare a “stored food week” and eat nothing but stored food all week. How about nonfood items, such as sun block? Ever measured how much sun block you actually use on a typical day out-of-doors? That information could keep you from storing too little. And consider that “bug out bag” sitting in the trunk of your car. Ever actually lugged it more than a few yards? Better to take a weekend hike and find out now that it’s 30 pounds overweight before you try to hike to shelter in an emergency and have to ditch it because it’s too heavy. Or, you might decide to lose 30 pounds from around your middle instead. I’m reminded of an account of a recent tactical shotgun shoot. Participants agreed that shotgun shell bandoliers were awkward and unwieldy, except for one fellow. He had successfully secured his bandolier between his beer belly and his man-breasts! Well, he may have a lot of firepower, but in a crisis he’ll probably have a heart attack before his ammo is used up. There are, sadly, more than a few survivalists who are penny-wise and (literally) pound-foolish in this regard. Get in shape, folks! But that’s the subject of another article.