Letter Re: Poor Man’s Generator Power Transfer Switch

Anyone considering using a generator and transfer switch should give the following link a look: http://www.generlink.com.
It’s an alternative to the most commonly used transfer switches and costs much less.

When I called my power company about it they were not familiar with [this brand of switches] but studied the info on it and approved it for installation, they also offered to install it and said they would probably stock them for customers needing back-up power supplies. Regards, – Keith

Letter Re: Some Points About Pistol and Rifle Magazines and Their Springs

Recently had a few realizations about magazines (the weakest link in any semi-auto firearm):

Even though I regularly rotate my magazines, I have discovered that the Glock G30 [compact .45 ACP] magazines have taken a set. [Their springs became weakened, under compression.] They are 10 round magazines, which I was only loading to 9 rounds and rotating every 30 days. While I ALWAYS download magazines to preclude the maximum compression of the spring from overwhelming the loading energy of the slide/bolt going forward, the extreme compactness of the G30 magazines is apparently more than the springs can take. I have stretched all of them back out and now only load them to 8 rounds.

Now for the realization that really made me feel like a moron. G21 magazines work in the G30 frame. I was carrying two G30 magazines with the pistol. If I had to draw and use the G30, then I have no need/concern for the compact concealment parameters of the G30 magazine upon reload. Why not carry the 2nd magazine as a G21 magazine? This way I don’t have to purchase so many G30 magazines to be able to rotate them (and only be able to use them in one G30 pistol I have). This stretches the cycle time on the G30 magazines from once every months to once every 12 months. It also gives more purchase for grip on the G21 magazine being used in the G30 frame.

Of course, the 10 round G21 magazines are only loaded to 9 rounds; 13 round magazines to 12 rounds.; M14 20 round magazines loaded to 18 rounds. When I had a mouse gun, 28 rounds in a 30 round magazine. As I have been reading entries about sidearms, the capacities are always given for the magazines with no mention of downloading them for better reliability and newbies might not know the accepted rules on this topic. – D.B.

JWR Replies: If heard from various “authorities” on the subject (in firearms trade publications) that magazine springs cannot “take a set.”  But from personal experience, I know that this can and does happenYMMV, but my personal approach is to keep only 20% of my magazines fully loaded at any given time, but I rotate them once every four months.  I unload them in the course of target practice. Thus, this also serves two extra purposes: 1.) It confirms that each and every magazine is functionally tested with live ammo, and 2.) It serves as an inducement to log regular “trigger time” out at the Back 40 at the Rawles Ranch. Practice, practice, practice…

Letter Re: Protecting Your Family From an Influenza Pandemic

[In your article on Protecting Your Family From an Influenza Pandemic] you mention: “Stock up on Acetominophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Motrin) as well – for treating fevers.” Some of us know that a mild fever is a good thing. [It is part of the] immune system response to fighting the virus. Aspirin is a symptom treater and can cause a virus to live longer in it’s host. See: http://survivalmonkey.com/forum/a-fever-is-a-good-thing-to-a-point-vt1842.htm?highlight=fever

JWR Replies: Yes, a mild fever can be a good thing, but a high fever can cause complications. A high fever should definitely be knocked down quickly.  Hence my advice on storing Acetominophen and Ibuprofen. Also, keep in mind that a fever can exacerbate dehydration when diarrhea is an issue.  For details, see: https://survivalblog.com/asianflu/

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

"Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. This is not to say that firearms should not be very carefully used, and that definite safety rules of precaution should not be taught and enforced. But the right of citizens to bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible."
Senator Hubert H. Humphrey (D.) Minn. "Know Your Lawmakers" Guns magazine, February, 1960, p. 4.

Note from JWR:

If you know anyone that sells preparedness-related good or services, please ask them to advertise on SurvivalBlog.  Thanks!

Army Upgrades Interceptor Ballistic Armor With New Side Panels

(Quoting the American Forces Press Service, Jan 10, 2005, by Jim Garamone) The Army will continue to improve body armor issued to soldiers, and will begin manufacturing side-panel inserts to the Interceptor ballistic armor (IBA), officials said here today.  The side panels, which weigh three pounds, will be made of the same material as the small-arms protective inserts.

Army Col. Thomas Spoehr is in charge of fielding body armor. He said the Interceptor body armor now issued to servicemembers protects against most of the threats they face in Iraq and Afghanistan today. “It’s the best body armor in the world,” Spoehr said.

And the proof is in the number of people who are alive today because of the armor. One documented account from June 2003 showed an Iraqi shooting a soldier at point-blank range in the chest with a shotgun. The young soldier picked himself off the ground and arrested the Iraqi.

The Army is making changes to the protection system, Spoehr said, but has to be careful to balance changes with mission. “You could outfit a soldier from head to toe in armor, and he would be completely useless,” he said. “We have to be sensitive to the weight burden we put on soldiers in that arduous environment over there. Every ounce that we put on the back of a soldier could mean the difference between their ability to accomplish the mission or not.”

Weight is a huge factor, officials said. The average infantryman carries 85 pounds of gear into battle, according to officials at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga. This includes weapons, ammunition, water, protective gear and so on. The Interceptor armor – the vest and Small Arms Protective Insert (SAPI) plates, along with neck and groin protection – weigh in at about 16 pounds.

But the improvements planned for the Interceptor armor will increase the weight. Enhanced SAPI plates will add three pounds to the weight, and side-panel plates another 3 pounds. Other shoulder and side protection adds five pounds. Wearing all pieces of the Interceptor armor could add about 27 pounds to soldiers’ burden.

By comparison, the “flak vest” of Vietnam came in at about 25 pounds, and the original flak vest worn by airmen during World War II weighed around 40 pounds, Air Force Museum officials said.

But in addition to weight, commanders have to look at constriction and how much ability soldiers have to move their arms and legs and get in and out of vehicles quickly, Spoehr said. “It’s not as simple as going to a catalog and ordering it,” he said.

He said the commander has to control this factor. The body armor is modular, and commanders can assess the threat and how much armor soldiers should wear.

“We’re going to be producing a new side-armor plate,” Spoehr said. “If the mission doesn’t accommodate wearing that new side armor plate, then the commander can direct, ‘Don’t wear that today.'”

For example, while the side armor adds 3 pounds, it does provide more protection. “We want to give that type of an option to commanders,” Spoehr

Army officials said they continue to monitor all aspects of fielding the armor. A check of the books revealed that 8,000 of the vests did not go through inspection, Spoehr said. The Army recalled those vests on Nov. 12, 2005, and would not issue them. No piece of armor will be issued to soldiers without undergoing a painstaking inspection process, he emphasized.

Letter Re: What is The Big Deal About Pre-1899s and 80% Complete Receivers?

Jim –
I guess I am thickheaded and missing something here. What difference does a pre-1899 or a 80% finished firearm make? Are you trying to tell me that the jackbooted thugs of the ATF will stop, examine the rifle, determine that it is legally not a firearm, and not steal/confiscate it from you? Got it, no 4473/record of it, but neither is there one between private individuals either, so why pay $120 for a pre ’98 barreled receiver, when I can get a complete working Mauser for that? I’m not trying to be ugly here – just really don’t get it – got any crayons to draw me pictures? – B.

JWR Replies: I wasn’t talking about immunity from seizure. Jackbooted thugs exercising arbitrary enforcement power under color of law could (and do) seize BB guns and kitchen knives if they feel like it. Seizures still happen even when licenses and accurate legal cites are waved right in the faces of  ATF agents. Rather, I’m talking about avoiding PRISON. Let me explain: The biggest advantage of pre-1899s comes someday in the future, when possessing any unregistered “firearm” becomes a felony. Owning a pre-1899 “antique” (such as those sold by The Pre-1899 Specialist) could mean the difference between going to prison for five years, or not. You will have NO adequate defense in court if the”unregistered firearm” that is seized is modern–and hence inside Federal jurisdiction. In contrast, you will have a nearly perfect defense if the gun is a Federally exempt antique–and hence can be easily proven to be outside of Federal jurisdiction. Unless our system of law totally fails, the court will apologize and send you home, and you will get you gun back. Case dismissed. That is a huge difference.

Even if there is just the outside chance that nationwide (Federal) gun registration will be enacted in our lifetimes, isn’t it worth $100 to $200 dollars difference in purchase price for the opportunity to own one or two guns that you won’t have to register or bury in PVC pipe, along with all of the rest?  I consider that cheap insurance, when the alternative is a felony conviction, prison time, (and the stigma attached–including job hiring diminution), and forfeiture of your right to vote. Read through my Pre-1899 FAQ and ponder the possibilities.

Similarly, doing “home builds” with 80% complete receivers (such as those made by KT Ordnance) also has its advantages. Consider those readers in states (such as California and New Jersey) where mandatory registration of nearly all firearms is required, and private party transactions have been outlawed. They don’t have a handy time machine to jump in and go buy a battery of modern firearms, back before their state laws changed. But they still have the chance, under current law, to legally obtain some modern firearms without any paperwork. Again, the advantage is staying within the law, and therefore creating immunity from prosecution. If your alternative is filling out a Form 4473, then build it yourself. Avoid the paperwork. Stay legal. And BTW, you will learn a lot about gunsmithing in the process. That is a valuable skill.

As I often say, there are three kinds of people in the world: The people that make things happen, the people that watch things happen, and the people that wonder “what the heck happened?”  It is no wonder that the price of shootable pre-1899 cartridge guns is starting to ratchet upward. People that are “in the know” are gobbling them up, whenever they hit the market. (For example: Dennis Kroh, who operates Empire Arms has found that guns immediately sell out, every time that he catalogs anything pre-1899 that is chambered in a caliber that is still factory made.) By doing your homework, and not hesitating to stock up now, on things that are legal, and while they are sill affordable, you will be proactive rather than reactive. It is analogous to someone consulting a tax specialist and taking advantage of perfectly legal tax loopholes. There is a big difference between that and simply just “not filing” The later approach lands folks in prison.

Disclaimers: I’m not an attorney. Laws change frequently. They also vary widely from state to state. So do your research before purchasing a pre-1899 antique or before completing an 80% receiver. Also, keep in mind that none of the preceding applies to short barreled rifles (less than 16″), short barreled shotguns (less than 18″), machineguns, or so-called “destructive devices.” These all fall under Federal taxing jurisdiction under current law, regardless of their origin or date of manufacture. (Yes, I know, there are a few exceptions such as short-barreled C&R Winchester “Trapper” short barreled rifles, but that requires scrupulous research and keeping documentation.)

Letter Re: Truck, Auto, ATV, Motorcycle, and Bicycle Tire Repair

When I was in high school (in the early 1980s) I had no money and would find tires for my car by the side of the road. If it said E78-14 on the side and had more tread than the worst tire on the car, it came home. I could change a tire by breaking the bead using the bumper jack on my Sister’s Dodge Dart. Flip it over, break the other side. Remove from the rim with a pair of tire spoons that my Father had, then repeat in reverse to get the new tire on the rim. To seal the bead, put some soapy water on the bead, then use a rope and a broom handle to put a tourniquet around the tread, the tighten the rope. Once it’s about sealed, I could pump it up with a hand bicycle pump to seat the bead, then check pressure. Took about a half hour, cost nothing. Best Regards, – M.A. in Florida

Letter From Rourke Re: Insulated Concrete Forms for Home/Retreat Construction

This is in response to a letter from B.V. (posted 1/12/06) on Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) and http://www.polysteel.com. As I said in my 1/7/05 letter, the major shortfall of this type of construction is the roof. Otherwise, this a good idea, in particular to insulate the concrete wall from the elements so it acts as helpful thermal mass for heating and cooling efficiency. Also, reinforced poured concrete is far superior to block, just try drilling through each sometime. There are several companies that make these systems. I happen like the hanger system (for joists and trusses, etc.), and the system of attachment for drywall and exterior siding of Nudra: http://www.nudura.com Still, building a home or retreat this way still begs the question: Why invest in walls that can sustain a hurricane or tornado and then put on a conventional roof that can’t? My personal favorite solution to this problem is using a span-crete (pre-cast steel reinforced concrete) to do the roof span, and then insulate over it with hard foam, then put down a 60 mil rubber roof membrane, and then two feet of topsoil, netted to hold it, and slightly pitched to drain. For added protection and strength, pour a slab over the roof membrane of at least four inches, and put the soil over that. [JWR Adds: Be sure to consult with an architectural engineer to make sure that all of this is done safely. Loads must be properly supported. “Dead” loads can be deadly! Just ask Ken Kern–the alternative housing author who died in the collapse of a rammed earth dome that was under construction.]

Here in the North, where we need to go down four feet to get the foundation well below the frost line and thus have basements (might as well go a little further). The temptation is thus to them make an earth shelter or underground home this way, basement and main floor both buried. The problem is the inward pressure on the flat vertical concrete walls it too great. While such pressure is not large a factor on an 8 or 9 foot poured concrete basement wall, is certainly is for a 16 or 18 foot wall. My solution, and compromise, is to bury and berm just 10 to 12 feet of the wall (10 inches think) thus berming the first floor of the house (above the basement) half way up to the lower ledge of the windows. The space between the top of the berm and the roof line is then conventionally insulted and sided (consider fire resistant materials such as brick, stone, fiberboard, stucco, Masonite, steel, stainless steel… http://architecture.about.com/od/buildyourhous1/tp/siding.htm ). Your options for the roof are to wall it off and use it as a patio, or for max insulation put some topsoil there as I said before. You can put on gutters or some sort of little awning over the windows and doors at least to handle channeling the run off. Snow load isn’t even a factor with how strong this roof is, nor is the concern of volcanic or other fall-out that, particularly if it gets wet, will collapse most conventional roofs. Small and simple rectangular ranch home designs work well, but to really maximize the space I like having a split level with partial exposure to the basement/lower level for two bedrooms below and one bed above on a 28’ by 36’ footprint, or similar size. The exterior door is then above the berm height, as well. This design will give your home or retreat an amazingly strong design and a reasonably conventional look to it. Note you can attach a hardened garage on to this, and even put a “stealth retreat” under the garage. Sound familiar? [See the SurvivalBlog Archives.] – Rourke http://groups.yahoo.com/group/survivalretreat

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

"A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. This gives exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball are too violent for the body and stamp no moral character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walk."
-Thomas Jefferson

Note from JWR:

Today we present another entry for Round 2 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. This one is excellent. Don’t just read this article, folks. Implement it!

The writer of the best contest entry will win a four day course certificate at Front Sight. (An up to $2,000 value!)  The deadline for entries is the last day of January, 2006.

Getting Your Group to Buy In: The $20 Medical Kit, By EMT J.N.

After the Katrina fiasco, a lot of my friends started to get interested in preparedness. Having some experience as an EMT and SAR volunteer, I decided to take the initiative and organize a group buy on medical supplies. This article is intended to help others who would like to put together low-cost, practical medical kits, particularly for a group.
For the short version, skip down to The Kit: Part I. Otherwise, read on.

For any kind of preparedness project, it’s best to have a set of goals in mind at the outset. The goals I came up with were to build a kit that:
1. Is simple to use by lay people, with a maximum chance of helping in a crisis and a minimum chance of causing harm.
2. Contains supplies for 2-3 people to take care of themselves for 1 week in the event of a crisis (earthquake, weather emergency, flu, etc) or for one major incident (car accident, work injury).
3. Useful for the same 2-3 people during an average year of minor cuts, scrapes, and illnesses. Useful as a stand-alone kit or a module in a larger cache.
4. Easy to obtain and replenish (no exotic meds or perishable items)
5. Compact and easy to store (1 gallon Ziploc).
6. The last, and most difficult: the kit must cost around $20.
Based on experience, I felt that it would be unrealistic to expect friends and neighbors to spend $1,000 on a full-blown medic bag suitable for an expedition to Mt. Kenya, or to spend 100+ hours in EMT training. Someone who is dedicated can get to this level of preparedness, but those supplies do no good if they are locked up in your basement and not out where the hurt or sick people are.
If you happen to be the sick person or away from your cache of gear, the same rule applies.
So let’s start with the assumption that our friends are be willing to put $20 towards their own safety and maintain something that fits inside of a 1 gallon Ziploc. If copies of that kit are distributed to all of your friends, neighbors, family, deer hunting buddies, etc then there is a better chance that:
1. They will be able to take care of their immediate needs during the first critical hours of a disaster.
2. They will be there to help you.
3. As a group, you will collectively have enough supplies to stabilize someone who is really seriously hurt.

The Kit Part I – what do we really need?
A lot of papers have been written on the subject of first aid kits and what they should contain. What we’re most interested in is being able to carry out a few basic interventions that can treat the small problems and buy us time to get to a real doctor for the big ones.
So what can we reasonably do? A complete discussion of first aid measures could easily fill a book, but let’s keep it simple.
The basic things needed for a person to live are the ABCs:
Any major interruption to the above, and you’re basically done for without immediate intervention. Going down the line, we have other common problems that can threaten our survival:
  Major Injury
We also have a number of minor problems that can become major ones if we ignore them. A sprained ankle may keep you from being able to evacuate. A minor cut can lead to sepsis when you’re in a dirty environment. Diarrhea is annoying, but can kill you if it goes on for longer than a couple of days.
For the kit to be worthwhile, every item should be able to help us solve these problems, and preferably have multiple uses.
After substantial research, the kit listed below was settled on as being a good compromise in terms of usefulness and cost. The supplies are grouped by categories.

Personal protection
(1) 2oz Bottle, hand sanitizer
(4) Exam gloves, Nitrile
(1) CPR shield

(1) Splinter forceps, pair
(1) EMT shears, pair
(2) Disposable fever thermometers
(1) Razor blade

(20) 1″ Band-aids, cloth
(2) Roll, 4.5″ Kling gauze
(1) Small roll, medical tape
(4) 4×4″ gauze bandages
(1) Triangular bandage
(1) Ace elastic bandage, 3″
(10) Steri-strips, 1/4×1.5″
(2) Tincture of benzoin swabs
(2) Instant Cold Packs

(6) Packets, triple antibiotic ointment
(20) Benadryl tablets
(20) Ibuprofen tablets
(18) Imodium tablets
(15) Aspirin

(4) Plastic vials, 2 dram capacity
(1) Bag, 1 gallon Ziploc freezer-type

The Kit Part II – What can we do with these supplies?
Here is a brief explanation of each group of items and what it might one day do for you.

Personal protection – These items are there to help keep you, the rescuer from getting a disease or worse from someone you are trying to help.
Gloves are a good precaution whenever bodily fluids (blood, vomit, etc) must be handled. The more expensive Nitrile gloves are better, as some people are allergic to latex. They are also more sturdy.
A CPR shield is a must-have if you ever expect to perform CPR or rescue breathing – it could mean the difference between helping someone without hesitation and not being willing to risk it. Don’t spend a lot of money here, as it’s also one of the least-used items and the reusable models can be harder to use without practice.
Hand sanitizer is always useful. Ask any nurse about the importance of washing up. The alcohol-based gel is not as good, but the best you can get when the hot, soapy stuff is unavailable.

Instruments – Being able to dig a splinter out, cut away clothes, or take vital signs, is one heck of a lot easier with some basic tools. EMT shears are inexpensive, heavy-duty scissors that can even cut through a penny. These, along with the other items will find many uses to an imaginative person. The forceps (tweezers) can also be used to get the cotton out of the pill bottles.

– Bandages are used to stop bleeding and protect wounds. An assortment of cloth band-aids can help you deal with minor injuries, while the larger gauze pads and rolls can help with bigger lacerations (cuts) and abrasions. An Ace bandage can be used to treat a sprain, hold a makeshift splint onto a leg, or wrap up a severely bleeding wound that requires pressure. An additional item that might be added is one or more sanitary napkins. Aside from their feminine use, they are excellent for soaking up blood on large injuries.
For major cuts, steri-strips are a way of closing up the skin without needing special equipment and training. Think of these as “band-aids on steroids.” They are thin tape strips, 1/4″ or so wide and 3-4″ long, coated with a super-aggressive adhesive and reinforced with cloth fibers. After thoroughly cleaning a wound (a hole poked in the Ziploc can allow you to squirt clean water deep inside), the steri-strips are applied much like sutures (stitches), across the wound to close the edges up.
Tincture of Benzoin (a sticky disinfectant swabbed on wounds) will make the steri-strips stick better. Properly applied, they will stay on for up to 2 weeks, even with showers. Don’t waste your money on butterfly bandages – these are far superior.

Medications – These are inexpensive drugs that can be bought (at least in the U.S.) without a prescription.
Antibiotic ointment (i.e. Neosporin) should be applied to cuts to reduce the chance of infection, particularly in dirty environments.
Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine (anti-allergy) medication that can help treat cold and flu symptoms (runny nose, congestion), make allergies less severe, and aid sleep. (Many OTC sleeping pills contain Diphenhydramine.)
In addition, taking Benadryl early could help save your life if you suffer anaphylactic shock (i.e. a severe allergic reaction, such as from a bee sting
Ibuprofen is a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory and fever reducer. In a survival situation, being able to carry out important tasks without the pain from a headache or sports injury could be critical, as could reducing a life-threatening fever.
Aspirin is also a pain reliever, and has fever reducing effects, although Aspirin should never be administered to children with fevers, due to the possibility of a life-threatening complication known as Reye’s syndrome. Aspirin is also often given at the first signs of a heart attack in many EMS protocols.
Imodium (Loperamide) is the last OTC drug included, and it is used to control diarrhea. Diarrhea can interfere with your ability to perform tasks, but it can also be life threatening if it causes dehydration. A 2-3 day course could be life saving in an emergency.
With any medication, it is important that the full instructions be included in your kit. Make photocopies of the drug labels and warnings, and include with your other documentation. Be sure to write down the drug expiration dates as well.
All of these meds should be good for at least 1 year after purchase, but check first.
Plastic dram vials are good for packaging drugs purchased in bulk. Add a small amount of cotton if you need to protect the pills from being crushed by vibration and shaking. And don’t forget to print labels for each bottle.
In addition to the four above, you might want to pack an extra vial for your personal medications.

The Kit Part III – Being a savvy shopper!
Assembling all of this and keeping the price under $20 is difficult unless you buy in bulk.
From our research, we found that Costco had hands-down the best prices on medications. You will need to buy the large, bulk bottles and repackage them.
For bandages and related first-aid supplies, buy quantities mail-order from an EMS or medical company such as Emergency Medical Products.
Many supplies are available locally. Wal-Mart often has 2oz bottles of hand sanitizer for U.S.$0.99. The plastic vials can be purchased in packs of 25 or 100 from several eBay vendors. The razor blades can be had in 100-packs at any hardware store.
Some of the “Big Lots” type discount stores also have first aid supplies. I recently found 2-packs of Ace bandages for U.S.$0.99. But be wary of buying medications at these places, as you may find that they are close to their expiration dates.

Conclusion – Putting it all together
Once you have orders from all of your group members (20-25 kits seems to work out well on quantities for the first order) and you’ve received your supplies, you’ll need to pack them. I’ve found that the best way to do this is to have each group member come and pack their own kit. This way, everyone will be familiar with the contents and will know where everything is.
The first time you do this, you will probably lose money, owing to the odd quantities that some products must be purchased in, and occasional hidden tax or shipping charges. Think of it as a charity (or charge a bit more than you think you need to up front!)

And remember, the best survival kit is the on you keep inside your head, in the form of training. Go sign up for Red Cross First Aid/CPR training, take a First Responder, Wilderness First Responder (WFR), or EMT class. Read books, or take on-line lessons. There are several excellent, free resources on-line.

Appendix I:
Spreadsheet with kit contents. Includes a worksheet help figure out quantities to order, total cost, etc.
Sample Avery labels (Avery #8257) for pill bottles.


Appendix II:

Optional Items:

Rehydration Mix
If you should come down with severe diarrhea, you can die from dehydration and loss of electrolytes. Stocking some Pedialyte, Gatorade (dilute to 50% with water) or the homemade equivalent could be a life saver. The basic recipe is 1 teaspoon (5ml) salt, 8 teaspoons sugar and 1 liter of water.

SAM Splint (or imitation)
These are very versatile split devices, which consist of thin aluminum on a foam backing. You can bend and use as-is, for splint arms, wrists, legs, etc or cut up with your EMT shears to make finger splints.

N95 HEPA Masks
If you’re worried about airborne pathogens, this is a good thing to have. Most hardware stores sell masks with an N95 or higher rating, and small, collapsible masks are available from medical outlets.

Upgraded CPR Mask
The $1, disposable shield will serve, but a better shield, with a one-way valve will make things easier. The CPR Microshield from MDI is good compromise, as it is superior to the thin plastic shield, has a one-way valve, and comes on a keychain.

Keeping the airway clear is critically important when someone has experienced trauma or is severely ill. Commercial suction devices are available, but a cheap, improvised solution is a standard turkey baster. For less than $2, this could be a useful addition to a kit.

Thin Sharpie Marker and paper
Useful for recording vital signs. (You do have a watch, right?) With a Sharpie marker, you can also write the numbers on the patient’s hand, so that there is no chance of the paper being lost during transport/evacuation.

Better Packaging
The 1-gallon Ziploc bag was chosen as the least costly option for getting the kit out there. You will probably want to find a better container to package it in if you expect it to last in a vehicle or other harsh environment. The basic kit can fit into a 30 caliber ammo can, a small Pelican box (1300 series or larger) or a soft bag. Harbor Freight offers a low-cost canvas or nylon bag that will neatly hold the kit. Check out items #40727-3VG, item #38167-0VGA, and item #32282-7VGA
If you really want a top-of-the-line, well organized packaging system, look at the compartment cases from L.A. Rescue, Outdoor Research, or Atwater-Carey. A search through most EMS catalogs, or a Google inquiry should turn these up.


Useful Web Sites:

Wilderness Emergency Medicine Services Institute (WEMSI)
Lots of good materials, including the full text of their training manuals

Where there is No Doctor (Now available on-line)

Free First Aid Guide (From SciVolutions, a medical manufacturer)

Emergency Medical Products
Sells a full line of EMS supplies

Allegro Medical
Generic Medical catalog, offer smaller quantities of similar items

Wilderness Medicine (Great reference, previously recommended here on SurvivalBlog.com)
Paul W. Auerbach
(1,910 pages, hardcover)
ISBN: 0323009506

98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive
Cody Lundin
(240 pages, soft cover)

Letter Re: Survival Gun Selection

As to your post on “Survival Gun Selection” in reference to having spare parts. If you have one or two of the same “tool” and have spare parts, it would be best to check that the spare parts fit. Make sure they both fit and function. It would be best to do your fitting beforehand whenever possible. Richard, KT Ordnance

JWR Replies: If any of you readers have not yet visited the KT Ordnance web site, then you should.  Richard sells gunsmithing goodies with an interesting angle: He makes 80% finished rifle and pistol receivers, as well as jigs, tools, and instructional DVDs that detail how to complete the receivers. Under the Federal law, these are NOT considered “firearms”, and can be completed as semi-autos by private individuals for their personal use WITHOUT completing a Form 4473!  (Consult your state and local laws before ordering.)  OBTW, Richard is currently running a special 10% off of all orders (all 80% complete frames, not just Model 1911s-but excluding jigs), just for SurvivalBlog readers. Check it out!

Five Letters Re: Poor Man’s Generator Power Transfer Switch

Note from JWR: Posting all five of the following letters is probably over kill, but I’m doing so to illustrate the power of the collected wisdom represented on this blog!  You folks really know your stuff.

Dear James and all concerned,
I believe that a safer and more efficient way [than the backfeed rig suggested by Monty is] to power a home via generator is to build a cord much the same way as was previously posted, but instead of having a male plug on both ends, ( which is extremely dangerous and also requires more wire to reach the outlet) Simply connect an appropriate breaker. For example I currently run a Thermadyne 10000 watt Welder/Generator which I can set beside my meter panel, open the lid and turn the main breaker ( usually a 200 amp in most new residential homes) off, and then remove the inner cover enabling you to insert your new breaker. Then simply attach your ground wire to your grounding bar, and power up both legs of your panel. Again use common sense and caution. When the generator is running the copper bars in your panel will have plenty of energy to do serious damage to you or anything else that touches them. I like this system (although both will work) because all of your “switches” are right there reducing confusion. Thanks for a great site. – J. , Somewhere in Montana

WARNING: If the local utility company’s meter reader sees that you have made provisions to hook your generator directly into the panel WITHOUT AN APPROVED TRANSFER SWITCH, you will quickly find yourself without power from the local electric company and probably cut off from the grid forever and probably the local building department will declare your home unsuitable for occupancy. If you have back fed into the system and some one has been hurt or killed due to your irresponsible actions, you will face civil suit and will probably spent several years in jail for you action. The bottom-line is: spend the $$$ and have a transfer switch installed. – D.O.

[The backfeed rig suggested by Monty is] a bit unsafe and a problem if others in the family do not know the procedure!!! I wired my son’s house like this.
1. Mount another panel on your panel board.
2. Select circuits for emergency power. (in his case -12)
3. Mount 4 – gang junction boxes on panel board.
4. Run a wire from each “selected” circuit to the common arm of a 3-way switch mounted
in the junction boxes.
5. One remaining side of each switch goes back to the Main Panel breaker and the other
goes to the Emergency Panel breaker.
6. Start the genny and then go to the 3 – way switches and flip each one.

I priced this method against a 100 amp transfer switch and this was much cheaper.
Hope this will be of interest to someone. – South Jersey boy


Be advised that this scheme [the backfeed rig suggested by Monty is] is illegal many places, the electrical code does not allow it, and, at least in my area, valid reason for the power company to discontinue your service – permanently. The reasons being, it is too easy to forget something. It’s dangerous for you and people in your house, as you’ll have live bare lugs sticking out of the male plug, which are easy to touch. It’s dangerous for the generator, when the power is restored. And it’s dangerous for the linemen and your neighbors, who may be counting on those downed power lines being DEAD. Electrocute a lineman, and you will be visited by several of his large, muscular, and very irate workmates. You will not come out the winner in this encounter,
I assure you. – Irv

I have installed several relatively inexpensive transfer switches made by Reliance Controls http://www.reliancecontrols.com/ The most recent was a 100 amp unit in outdoor enclosure that cost me only $149. They have several configurations; one I used was two interlocked 100 amp breakers and a COPPER buss rather than the less expensive but poorer choice aluminum. They are also available with different sized breakers, such as 150 amp normal and 30 amp generator, reducing cost. I strongly suggest that something like this be considered to reduce the risks associated with the backfeed scheme! – M.G.

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