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Letter Re: More Backup Generator Advice

Hi Jim,.
Hurricane season is just around the corner here in Florida and I am getting ready to buy a backup generator for my home. To be better informed, I have gone back and re-read all the past survivalblog entries on generators, so I am pretty much up to speed on it. My last step is to decide what size generator to buy. One additional piece of information that would be helpful to me, and probably others, is to have an idea of how much wattage it takes to run each of the various typical appliances in a home ranging from light bulbs up to air conditioners. That way I can then decide on what size generator to get based on which appliances my family members think they can/cannot do without verses how much we can afford to pay for a generator. Thanks so much, and God bless. – Joe.

JWR Replies:  I consider a backup generator a “must ” for any family that is dependent upon grid power. I won’t be repetitious. (See my Wednesday, January 4, 2006 post in the SurvivalBlog Archives, as well as the follow-up posts during the next few days.)  Instead, I will post three useful links on gensets that I’ve bookmarked in the past few months:

Odds ‘n Sods:

The Army Aviator spotted this one for us: The Sun’s next 11-year cycle could be 50 percent stronger. See:

  o o o

This page is very nicely done:  An on-line survival quiz:

  o o o

Walter Jefferies at found an article in which the FDA admitted that the measures already in place are enough to protect against BSE. See:

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“Uh… Strangers… I hate this. Do they want to share what they got or take what you got? Do you say ‘hi’ or do you blow them away?” – Kevin Costner, The Postman

Letter Re: Source for the Full Text of the Web Novel “Lights Out”

Jim, In your Saturday Blog of March 4th. you responded to a reader asking where to obtain David Crawford’s two fine stories. Your answer for “The Bug-Out” was okay, but your response for “Lights Out” of Frugal Squirrel’s site was not really a good one. Frugal has only about a quarter of David’s story available. The place to go is: This will get a full 600 odd page page PDF. document with the full story plus a title page, table of contents, prolog and epilogue. Hope that everyone who reads this enjoys it as much as I did. Best Regards, – Wise Tioga

Buckshot on: What do the Canadian Bush Pilots Carry?

I think everyone would agree when it comes to wilderness survival, the Canadian Bush pilots have a history of incredible survival stories.We should apply some “lessons learned” are then apply them to required gear to carry.

I did some research into Canada’s required bush pilot survival gear. Because I was told the gill net requirements said the net had to be 1.5 inch mesh. Thinking, here we go again– how do they measure the net? There are two different ways they measure gill nets. The way we measure our gill nets is from the top knot to the bottom knot this is 2.5 inch mesh but if the Canadian rules says 1.5 inch they might be talking about the other way you measure gill nets: That is from the top knot to the side knot then our net is a 1.5 inch mesh. You would think that there would be one standard way to measure nets but that would be too easy.

Here is the basic list for Canadian Bush Pilots:
Food with at least 10,000 calories per person
Cooking utensils
Stove and fuel
Axe of at least 2 1/2 pounds
Snare wire
Fishing equipment (tackle and nets)
Mosquito nets and repellent
Tents, wing covers or orange signal panels
Sleeping bags
Signal mirror
Distress signals
First aid kit
Survival manual

Believe me, we have sold lots of gear to bush pilots in Canada, Alaska, and the Lower 48. If I was a bush pilot, this is what I would carry:

A Wiggy’s sleeping bag [JWR Adds: I highly recommend the Wiggy’s FTRSS and the Ultima Thule.]
Small Katadyn water filter–JRH sells these:
A small dome tent
10-to-12 [ounce] tarp
First Aid kit
Signal mirror
Distress signal–normal signal flares typically sold at Marine stores
Small backpack stove
Small bush saw
A Estwing steel handled axe
Mosquito nets and repellents
Small emergency gill net,
Emergency fishing kit,
3 Yo-Yo automatic fishing reels
Frog/fish spear
Emergency snare kit,
The book Six Ways in, Twelve Ways Out
German mess kit
Small Backpack
Sewing awl
PAL light

Regarding firearms, read this article: If I was in big bear (grizzly and brown bear) country I would switch up to a 45-70. 🙂

Why the PAL light? Every survivalist should own at least one PAL for every person. The PAL light takes a 9 volt battery. Now why is that important? Talking to my good friend Craig H. from Hawaii, he told me the reason I should have already known. You see, Craig has lived through 3 hurricanes. After the mad rush to the store with everyone buying every battery in sight what is the only battery still on the shelf? The 9 volt. Think about it: Most people have flashlights that use size AAA, AA, C, or D batteries. But I am pretty sure PAL is one of the few flashlights that uses 9 volt batteries. Also, nearly every house in America has smoke detectors using 9 volt batteries. But the feature I love is the always on a real dim light that last 2 years on 1 battery great for children’s night lights, great for finding in the junk drawer when the power goes out, and great for camping to quickly find it in the dark when the bear peeks in your tent. 🙂 They are LED lights and you can tape them on your gun and shoot. LED means no filament to break from the shock of shooting.

We are currently running a special for SurvivalBlog readers only. It is our way of saying thanks for your support and another way for us to support Survival Blog. See: Regards,- Buckshot

Getting a Spouse “On Board” with Preparedness

James Wesley Rawles;
I wanted to respond to the letter about how to get your spouse involved in preparedness. For several years I have been working as a preparedness consultant for individuals, families and groups who have an interest in preparing for disasters. I guide each group through a series of exercises to help them decide how prepared they want, choose and can afford to be.
I like to start with a discussion to see if everyone is on the same page. Sometimes there are reluctant participants.
I note that one usually learns to craw before they walk and walk before they run, so there is a learning curve one follows in life and in preparedness there is also a learning curve. The reluctant participants are in their crawling or earlier stage and time needs to be given for them to learn to crawl, Possibly to walk, and possibly to run. They may never get past the crawling stage, but the opportunity to learn is being given and it is their choice on how far they want to take it.
So lets start with crawling.
Those of you that have people you care for and are not all that interested in preparing for disasters need to encourage them to learn about possible disasters that can affect them. The basics of preparing is fairly common for all types of disasters with specialization for specific disaster events to be done after you learn to walk. You need to be patient with them. It has been said that one of the hardest things to do in life is to watch someone else learn what you already know/do. You can turn them off if you are too enthusiastic, talk over their head, overwhelm them with information. You have to let them learn at their pace and make their own decisions. You can provide them with information and encouragement to get them started.
So, what information would you provide them?
How about what types of disaster can occur that would affect them?
Set this up as a discussion, have a pad of paper handy to jot down all the possibilities. Brain storm (anything that comes to mind no questions asked you will sort through it later) all the possibilities all of you can think of. Here are some examples, earthquake, tornados, hurricanes, brush fires, floods, train derailment, power outage, loss of job, loss of insurance, pandemic, chemical spill at local factory, propane facility next door catches fire, Nuclear power plant you are down wind from, Truck drivers strike, Terrorist attack, Nuclear, Biological,Chemical and Explosive (NBCE), economic meltdown, going through the tribulation, martial law, dictatorship, gun confiscation/ownership ban.
OK, now you got a list of possible disasters, be they man made or natural. Now determine how much of a risk you are in for each of the mentioned disasters. This may take several days to several weeks to determine. You may have to assign people to research each disaster
and have several meetings to determine the risk you are in for each.
So lets take earthquake for the example. You live in Ohio and there have been several small earth quakes in your life time. That does not sound like much of a risk and then you do some research and find that two of the strongest earth quakes in US history took place due to the new Madrid fault and you are in the affected area. Stories of the time talk of the ground rolling like waves on the sea, whole forest laid over, rivers that ran backward for days . You also learn of the damage projected for the next new New Madrid Fault quake through your local Emergency Management Agency (or Office of Emergency Preparedness) also known as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and see you are at significant risk for damage ( your home is brick and they project high probability of brick homes suffering major damage including collapse in your area) and a prediction that the next big one could occur by 2040.
When you get all your information together you meet as a group and discuss all the findings. You then come to a consensus of how much of a risk you are in for each disaster.
The group decides there is significant risk for several of the disasters.
They then discuss the possible affects each disaster will have on them.
Again lets take the earthquake. The New Madrid lets go and it disrupts (destroys) all infrastructure within a 10 state area. Whole cities are believed destroyed cities like Memphis, Tennessee and St. Louis, Missouri. are mentioned.
Your home is brick and suffers major damage (i.e. Cracked walls, house leaning, no sewer, water, and electricity.)
What are you going to do?
Again brainstorm out what you are going to do.
Doing this for every listed disaster will again take time.
I have tinkered with the idea of developing a board or role playing as a learning tool. Play out what your group would do in each of these disasters. It would be educational and practical. Maybe Rawles can develop it as part of his blog.
After you discuss all this ask the question.
Do you think you should be prepared for disasters?
I have yet to get NO for the answer.
You are now in agreement you need to prepare, but now the question is how prepared should you be?
The two extremes of preparedness is 1) Do nothing to prepare and 2) The End of World As We Know It.
It is up to the group to decide how prepared they would like to be. I like to use Red Cross Preparedness hand outs for the basic (low end) preparedness i.e. Three day kit , short term preparedness (two weeks or less) and the novel Patriots for the TEOTWAWKI end of preparedness.
I believe in Patriots as a educational/resource tool so much I bought several cases of them from the publisher before they went out of business. I still have several cases left and can offer them to Blog readers if Jim Rawles doesn’t mind.
This may take the group several days or weeks again to read through the material and do their own research.
The group gets together and we discuss what they have researched.
They then decide how prepared they want to be.
Their decision then determines their plan of action.
This can be easier said than done when strong minded people are involved or there is major differenced in opinion. I do not have a good solution to this as it is up to the group, not me, to make the decisions.
At this stage of preparedness everyone should be “walking”.
I hope you note this takes time.
I have seen groups go through this process in one evening or weekend, but they already knew they were going to prepare.
Pending on the groups decision I would guide them in developing a plan of action. The groups found out once they had gotten through the planning stage and were pointed to suppliers of preparedness items they could go on their own. It was just to this point they needed help.
As to when one would be running. If they keep to the plan after two or more years. I have seen groups lose interest or just fall apart in the two to three year range, so if they stay together for more then three years are on target with their plans (which are amendable) and continue to prepare and learn they are up and running.
I mentioned earlier that the basics of disaster preparedness are fairly common, food clothing, shelter, Medical issues, Three Day Kit (Get Out Of Dodge), Disaster plan. This works good for the reluctant/unbelieving people as they can see the need to prepare and if they are not into the TEOTWAWKI scenarios their preparedness is still leaned in that direction and hopefully in time they will get the picture, if this is the picture you are striving for. Something I like about taking this approach is you should not get caught up in the Y2K type scenarios where you prepare for one scenario (specific date) and if it does not occur you think preparedness is for the birds and dump all you preparedness stuff. You will be preparing for disasters no matter what the cause and when they occur. Preparedness should be a life time commitment.
The specializing for specific disaster events may include protection from radiation, biological,chemical events. I am sure there are other events you will have to specialize for, but this gives you the awareness you need to seek them out and prepare as you see fit.
I have had groups learn their ability to prepare as they want to be limited by their means , so you will need to be aware of this in your planning. Some folks could only get enough together for Get Out of Dodge Kits and firearms for the family, but it is better than nothing.
I like to use Red Cross hand outs on preparing for disasters. They are available for download on the Internet and they cover your basic disaster plan. They are also a neutral organization. The preparedness information is a simple way to get others to think about preparedness. Hopefully they will prepare even if it is just the two week supply of materials and a three day kit, this might save you from having to defend yourself from them and create some allies in defending the neighborhood and bartering with. I have recommended people get their hand outs and put them in their three day kits, so they can either pull them out as a reference or if stopped by authorities just mention you are following your disaster plan you put together with the handouts to hopefully blend in with the other refugees.
Something I have done for family members is give them preparedness items as gifts, birthdays, Christmas, etc. These include first aid and three day kits for all the cars, Baygen radios and flash lights, power inverters, books on disaster preparedness, self defense items. Hopefully this shows you care about them, gives them something to think about and you can get into discussion on more involved preparedness issues. Remember, It is better to go slowly and let them determine what they are comfortable with than turn them off by overwhelming them with information and your beliefs in preparedness. – R.A.

Letter from Michael Z. Williamson Re: Body Armor, Ancient MREs, and Federally Exempt Handguns

Mr Rawles:
Thanks for your review of The Weapon. I get a lot of feedback on it, regarding the risks of attack and terrorism. I’m glad to see people thinking about the subject more.
Currently, I’m gearing up to do a nonfiction work about medics in combat in the current conflict. If any of the SurvivalBlog readers are or know anyone who is, do please have them contact me. I’ve got approval from the various branches public affairs, and I’m Guard myself. I’ll be treating the subject and troops as they deserve to be, and not looking to misquote for headlines. This is an anecdotal history.
It’s true that soft body armor will stop 12 gauge slug and .44 magnum rounds. However, there’s an asterisk here. The armor can deform up to THREE INCHES from a 12 gauge slug. The blunt trauma itself can be lethal under those circumstances.
One of the common complaints of the Interceptor Body Armor is shoulder chafing and pinching of the abdomen when lying prone. My wife just returned from a year on active duty, and didn’t have this problem. She ordered her armor a size large and it had enough extra space to disperse the load. This also offers a gap against the above mentioned blunt trauma. Of course, it also increases carried weight. There is no free lunch. covers a lot of comparison shoots of different weapons in different media. One important note is the myth that a .308 “turns cover into concealment.” If the material is timber, sandbags or brick, this is pretty much not true. There are ballistic reasons for this, but they’re lengthy. The test shots are shown. On sandbags, both 7.62 NATO and 5.56 penetrate 5 inches or so and STOP. 5.56mm will penetrate 12″ of pine and still have energy to spare. Upshot: bullets kill, and you want hard cover and lots of it for yourself, and a target that isn’t in hard cover.
I cleaned out an old BOB last month that had been in three vehicles over 20 years. I ate some MREs packaged in 1980-1983. The applesauce had turned brown and wasn’t interesting, so I tossed it, but I believe it was still safe. All other components were edible and tasty. I can’t speak as to the remaining nutritional value, but I suffered no ill effects. These MREs had cycled seasonally from well over 100 degrees down to sub zero. It seems as long as the packages aren’t swelling, the contents are safe.
Another option for firearms with no paperwork are black powder reproductions with aftermarket cylinders. The 1858 and 1860 models, among others by Uberti, Pietta and Ruger, can be equipped with a .45 Long Colt cylinder (or .38 Special). is one source of these. It has to be removed, opened and manually extracted/loaded, but you get 6 completely legal shots with no paperwork. Price for a revolver and extra cylinder runs around $400. I also think it wouldn’t be too hard to load black powder into a small plastic pouch made from sandwich bag polyethylene, sealed with epoxy. A single dessicant pellet might be a good idea. Such a load would last several weeks at least in the weapon, possibly years. The percussion cap should have enough power to puncture the plastic and ignite the propellant. Again, completely legal and paperwork free, if labor intensive. I will attempt to conduct a range test shortly. I expect cleaning the cylinder will be a bit of a chore, but it’s a good idea to have spares anyway. Best wishes, and keep your powder dry. – Mike

Note From JWR:

Note from JWR: We were hoping to provide searchable archives and RSS feeds. However, because of difficulties in getting our revised blog template (created in Blogger) to display properly in some versions of Internet Explorer, we have temporarily switched back to the old blog format (using Dreamweaver.)   Firefox and Netscape worked fine, but the glitches in I.E. thusfar elude us.  Once we get the bugs worked out, we will switch back to Blogger or perhaps another piece of blogging software.

Today we feature another entry in Round 3 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best contest entry will win a four day course certificate at Front Sight. The deadline for entries for Round 3 is March 31, 2006.

Making a Living in a Rural Environment, by JD

  If there were one factor that prevents people from living at their retreat more than any other, I would guess it to be employment. This isn’t surprising, as the very qualities that make a particular locale ideal for a retreat — rural, small population, away from major cities — also make it far less likely to find employment there. What little employment is available is often snapped up by locals who have been around far longer than any Johnny-come-lately carpetbaggers (and rightly so!)
When my family moved to our tiny town from our fairly large city, I knew from Day 1 not to expect to find a job locally. Not only would it be difficult for the reasons listed above, but frankly, I would be more of an asset to the community if I brought in employment of my own. Working for yourself can be very scary, but there are ways to mitigate the risks involved. First, of course, is figuring out what you can do. Not infrequently, you can continue to do exactly what you’re doing right now.
Much office work for example — from data entry to technical support to accounting — can be done from nearly any location. Your employer may be
willing to let you telecommute; this is particularly true if your current employer considers you a valuable asset (in other words, if you *haven’t*
been just doing the bare minimum for them over the last 10 years!)
An additional temptation to throw to your current employer: offer to become a contractor. This will save your employer a great deal in benefits and paperwork, and may make it worth the risk for him/her to try you as a telecommuter. There can also be tax benefits for you (talk to your CPA.)
It needn’t be an ultimatum or otherwise confrontational. Simply say, “I have the opportunity to move somewhere I’ve always wanted to live. But I value my relationship with (your company) and want to know if perhaps there’s something we can work out.” Again, if you’ve been a valuable employee in the past, your employer may prefer to work things out with you rather than take the risk (and expense) of hiring a new employee. On the other hand, what if you don’t have an office job, or your employer won’t compromise? Well, rural environments are always in need of basic services. If you’ve got experience as a backhoe operator, construction
worker, plumber, vet, lawyer, electrician or similar, you won’t have any difficulties developing a client base. Low-investment service companies are
best, simply because you won’t have to tie too much of your assets up in equipment or inventory.
If you’re still stuck, you might need to change careers to something that can translate to your retreat locale. Consider taking a night class or two (real estate, perhaps?) each semester at your local community college. It might take you years to earn a degree, but so what? After all, if you don’t do it, in five years you’ll simply be exactly where you are now, saying, “Gosh, I wish I had a skill that would let me earn money while living at my retreat.” (For those who want to earn a living farming: it can be done, but not easily. Farmers make very little income for the amount of work they do. If you do want to live off your homestead, I’d recommend finding a niche
market, like selling organic herbs, produce, eggs or honey. Health-conscious consumers generally have very little problem paying a premium for quality
A word of warning, however: regardless of your business, it can take up to a year to develop a local following. The first year my computer repair business was open, I had perhaps a total of three local clients. But after that year, it was as though I had passed some secret probation, and locals began regularly using my services. So either have enough money to get through a year without any business, or make sure you bring some clients with you (as in contracting with your former employer).
Incidentally, rural life tends to move more slowly than urban life. In many ways this is a good thing, but it has its drawbacks. For example, we often
find it difficult to get quotes for jobs we need done. Companies can take days or weeks to call us back when we leave messages. Take advantage of
this. If you act professionally, courteously, and are prompt and fair with your prices, you’ll soon have more business than you can handle.
Network, network, network. Local advertising of your business or service is fine, but people prefer word-of-mouth referral. This is best achieved by
finding the most upstanding local citizens you can, and offering them your services at a discount, or as a free trial. If you can get a few community
leaders to refer others to you, you’re golden. Speaking of networking, you may want to look into partnering with larger companies. Computer service technicians, for example, can get certified with certain computer companies, resulting in warranty-work referrals. If you do small engine repair, get certified with chainsaw or lawnmower companies, and so on. Once you’re an authorized repair technician (and there’s a good chance you’ll be the only one within a hundred miles), these companies will
refer their warranty work to you. Result: good income and a good opportunity to build your name within the community.
Finally, before you start (and I can’t stress this enough), set up an appointment with a CPA or tax lawyer and discuss the prospective business. It probably won’t be cheap, but it is definitely worth it. You’ll be able to discuss the pros and cons of incorporating (inc. or LLC) versus a sole proprietorship, look at the tax advantages and disadvantages, and so on. Ask your CPA/Lawyer to help you set up your accounting books (I recommend Quickbooks or Peachtree) to make tax time as painless as possible. (Don’t forget, contractors need to submit estimated taxes on a quarterly basis – failure to do so can result in penalties). I hope this helps you realize that achieving your dream of living at your retreat year-round isn’t as impossible as you might have thought. Good luck! – JD