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Thursday, July 14, 2011


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Humans and animals must have water to survive. Securing a safe source of water takes time. Consider how to best invest your resources well ahead of a crisis point. When standard clean water sources are unavailable, here are some ways you can help secure safe drinking water.

Choose the cleanest water you can find. Look for a water supply that does not have any obvious debris floating in it. Check to be sure dead animals, sewage, or other bits of organic matter are not easily seen in your water source. Locate a source that hasn't been contaminated by chemical spills.

Some people believe that exposure to various water sources will give you immunity to disease-carrying microbes, making it possible for you to safely drink unfiltered water while traveling. The reality is that some microbes could wreak havoc with your health and cause severe physical damage. There is some truth that limited exposure can build immunity. It is also true that no one wants to become ill unnecessarily. Avoid chemically contaminated water sources as these hazards cannot always be filtered from the water. Don't take risks if you don't have to do so.

Filter the water you collect. There are many ways that water can be contaminated. Not all contaminants are visible. Select a method of filtration to further insure the safety of your drinking water.

With water filtration, there are a range of options from bad to better and best. No single option is practical in every application. Everything from the temperature, sunlight, terrain, individual skill levels and materials on hand will play a role in the safety of the water you consume. Preparation and information is the key to keeping your water supply a source of health rather than a hazard.

Disinfect the filtered water to kill any remaining disease carrying organisms. Once you’ve selected and filtered your water, you will want to heat it to the point of pasteurization. This is about 150 degrees Fahrenheit, several degrees below the boiling point.

Using pasteurization helps to avoid loss of water vapor by boiling. Pasteurization can be done using sunlight by leaving a sealed transparent container of water in direct sunshine from two to four hours. The time depends on the heat of the sun and the surface on which the container is resting.

Without a thermometer, it may be easier to heat the water to boiling to insure it’s disinfected. Use a lid or covered container to avoid loss due to steam. Distilling water by boiling and drinking the condensed steam is the safest way to consume clean water from questionable sources. Proper water distillation insures that the contaminants are left in the original vessel while only pure water moves to the catch vessel.

Use safe storage methods. Good drinking water can easily become contaminated by exposing it to a tainted container. If plastic containers have been used for toxic chemicals, it is possible that the plastic could release some of those chemicals back into your carefully cleaned water. Wash glass containers carefully before re-use. Take the time to cover containers to protect the contents from contamination.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


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A shopping spree to purchase thousands of dollars in pre-packaged survival solutions may not be the best option for families that are already dealing with a tight budget. A better choice is to invest in tools and information. Granted, you could easily overspend here as well. However, getting a good back to basics education and accumulating tools can be done frugally if you are wise in your selections.

Tools are one thing that you can invest in and begin to use now. You wouldn't want to purchase a needed tool and simply store it. For a tool to be useful, it must be used skillfully. Select tools that can be used in everyday situations and become familiar with them. Borrowing and renting tools can give you some hands-on experience and help you narrow the field to those you find best suit your needs. Look for a tool that can be utilized for more than one purpose. A single-purpose tool can take up too much space or resources required for maintenance relative to its usefulness.

Whether you are deciding on a tool for heat, shelter, food or clothing, ask yourself if the tool can be used for at least 3 tasks. If not, this may not be a good investment. Take the time to look at your expenditures as investments. What will be the the return down the road? An example of this may be that learning to tend plants and animals today will feed you tomorrow and make you familiar with the ways you can enrich your environment. Taking the time to learn how to sharpen and maintain a tool today will make you familiar with skills that will make it easier to maintain and repair other tools in the future.

Regarding food preparation, look for tools that are simple and help reduce the expenditure of time and energy. An example of this may be a grain mill. This can be a hefty investment, however it pays for itself by allowing you to make an assortment of breads and pastas for a minimal expense. Knowing how to process a grain into food gives you more options when traveling or trying to make ends meet in lean times. Having whole grain on hand allows you the option of sprouting, grinding, or cultivating the seed. A bag of milled flour cannot offer you this.

Convenience foods do save time. Take that time to learn some basic chemistry and become familiar with how ingredients can be blended to create certain flavors. Using various spices, and herbal blends allows you to add nutrients and taste to otherwise bland foods. Becoming familiar with the actual foods that go into a finished dish gives you valuable experience and confidence when preparing whole foods. During food shortages, those who understand these things are better able to create filling and nourishing meals with what little is on hand.

In lean times, knowing how to use available resources and having the skills required to prepare food from basic ingredients will serve you and your family well.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


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Survival scenarios rarely arrive with prior notice. Most people will be improvising and dealing with materials on hand. However, there are some circumstances that arrive with advanced notice allowing you the opportunity to select carefully what items you pack. Selecting the right garments can give you a great advantage in your ability to regulate your body temperature, protect yourself from the elements, or avoid standing out in a crowd. When selecting what to take, consider carefully your fabric choices.

It’s impossible to state with certainty which fabrics will work best in every climate and every situation. However, research reveals some qualities that are consistently desirable.

The clothing you pack needs to be versatile enough to wear well in a variety of locations. Neutral colors coordinate well with each other, allowing you to pack fewer items which can be mixed and matched. Brown, black and khaki colors work especially well for pants, shorts and skirts. If you are traveling to a warm location avoid dark colors for your outerwear as these colors can make you uncomfortably hot.

It would seem that other considerations would have greater importance. Comfort is key however when selecting garments which give you greatest mobility. Look for clothing that feels good against your skin allowing for ease of movement. What may be a pinch or an itch now could turn into a blister later. Listen to your body and ignore the mirror when testing garments for comfort.

Again and again the importance of having quick drying material is recommended by experts. Fabrics that can be washed and dried completely are given high ratings for desirability. This quality prevents trace amounts of moisture from being trapped in seams where bacteria can grow. This is of great importance when trying to avoid fungal infections on your skin and avoiding mold growth in your pack.

Another point on which experts agree is that garments should be very light weight. For comfort in cooler temperatures, layering ls recommended so that the body temperature could be regulated by removing or adding layers. Making sure that layers are not heavy means you will use less energy carrying those items. Remember that bulky items can often weigh less than more compact ones.

Clothing should be made of materials that breathe well and wick moisture away from your skin. This serves a dual purpose. Moving moisture away from the skin means that you will more easily regulate your core body temperature. Additionally it means that your skin isn’t as susceptible to opportunistic inflammation and blisters that occur when friction is applied to wet skin.

This isn’t necessarily an essential quality. However, if you are traveling light, it often means that you will be packing garments into a small space. Knowing that you can arrive at your destination and not have tell-tale creases running through your clothing is an added bonus, especially if you are trying to be inconspicuous and not draw attention to yourself. This particular feature, however, is a subjective quality and not one that should be given highest priority. Many times, hanging a freshly washed garment to dry will eliminate most wrinkles. Another hint is to select garments that are made of fabrics with a pattern which will mask wrinkles.

When preparing an emergency pack or a bug out bag, take these qualities into consideration. You’ll be glad to have clothing on hand that will travel well and hold up under a variety of conditions.

The following 5 minute video -- Selecting Clothes to Pack -- discusses many of these considerations when packing.


Thursday, May 5, 2011


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When your back muscles are spasming in pain, it's difficult to think. The pain can become so severe, that it leaves you nauseous. In some cases, the event can go on for days, leaving a sufferer feeling as though he is recovering from a bad case of the flu.

These are my best recommendations for stopping back pain in its tracks.

Don't ignore your pain! As soon as you start hurting, acknowledge that something is wrong and take steps to remedy the situation. Ignoring a painful back, or trying to 'work through the pain,' can lead to further injury and greater pain. This leads to more down time which will keep you away from the things you most enjoy doing or tasks that require your attention.

Use alternating cold and hot water. This gives immediate relief. Use your shower and work on it for at least 15 minutes, starting with cold and ending with cold. The longer you can keep this up, the better. This settles things down right away.

This article offers a more detailed description of this method: Remedy for Inflammatory Pain
This article explains why cold and hot applications help relieve pain: Treatment for Swollen Feet and Hands

Keep hydrated! Drink lots of WATER! Water helps flush your system of toxins that have accumulated in your painful muscles and joints. It's easy to forget to drink when you are hurting. You may even avoihttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifd fluids thinking that it's so painful to move, you don't want a full bladder with which to contend. However, water is your friend in the journey to stop an aching back. Dehydration can even make the pain worse by leading to constipation, which can actually cause additional back pain. To determine how much water you should be drinking, read this post: Healthy Hydration -- How Much Water Should You Drink?

Add ginger to your water. Drinking ginger tea can help ease the pain. If you can't find this, a well made ginger ale can help. Ginger root helps reduce spasms and pain. Read more about ginger's properties here.
Benefits of Ginger Root

After you've reduced the pain, use a cabbage leaf wrap overnight. Seriously, put a cabbage leaf on the area and go to bed. I know it sounds strange, but you'll be amazed by how well it works. One man could barely walk with knee pain before he was willing to give this a try. His tired stiff knee felt like new after being wrapped in cabbage. Here's an article on how to use cabbage leaves: Cabbage Leaves Relieve Pain and Swelling

An additional thing you can do that can really help relieve the pain is to take a good quality cod liver oil. We like to purchase Nature's Answer, Liquid Norwegian Cod Liver Oil, Natural Lemon-Lime Flavor from iHerb as my husband doesn't care for those that taste of fish. Fish oil is a natural anti-inflammatory. Read your labels and use care in your selection. When hurting, we simply take a couple of tablespoons and repeat every 2 hours or so until the pain subsides. This works well for other inflammatory conditions as well, including things like mild allergic reactions.

DISCLAIMER: As always, use your own judgment and common sense when applying these remedies. These are methods that have worked in my own home and for others. This article presents ideas and information designed to enrich the reader. This is not offered in lieu of sound medical advice. The opinions and ideas expressed are fallible and that of the author. Readers are encouraged to be well-informed and draw their own conclusions.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


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Articles and books on survival regularly offer lists of items should be packed for emergency travel. The overwhelming majority recommend that you pack light. There are good reasons for having few items to carry when you are on the move.

You will have to keep your pack secure. This is more difficult to do if you are encumbered with a large bag. It’s good to be strong enough to heft a good bit of weight, but if your strength is used to carry your pack, you won’t have much left to protect yourself or keep track of your possessions. Additionally, a large, heavy pack is a signal to others that you are on the move. It makes you less anonymous. This can create some difficulties.

A large pack will make it difficult for you to maneuver into and out of tight spaces. If you need to catch a ride or take public transportation, you’ll need extra space for your bag. Not every Good Samaritan has a large vehicle. You’ll not be able to take advantage of two-wheeled conveyances. A smaller pack enables you to avoid storing it in a trunk or a locker. Buses will require you to place a large pack on the roof or in the cargo compartment where you can’t keep an eye on it. You can keep a small bag on your lap and avoid extra fees for a seat to hold an oversized backpack.

If you need something out of a large pack, you may find yourself having to unpack and repack it to get the desired item. The larger your pack, the more cumbersome this process becomes. This can be dangerous if you are trying to get to your medical kit. It’s just a lot easier to have to rearrange fewer and lighter items.

A smaller pack gives you the freedom and flexibility to decide which route is best for you rather than which route you can manage with your large bag. Moderate terrain can become impassable if you must manage it with a heavy pack. Any terrain is easier to traverse with a lighter pack. Rather than use up strength and stamina carrying unnecessary weight, use it to choose the journey rather than let your pack determine your route.

Take the time to notice people outdoors who are moving with freedom. The ones that participate in the most activities have the lightest and smallest packs. Learn how to make use of multiple use items as a way to lighten your load. Information weighs nothing, and it can make a vast difference in the tools you will be able to utilize.

Sean with Silver Fox Bushcraft takes the time in this clip to show what he carries in his pack for hiking and woodland exploration.

David Wendell with Bushcraft on Fire shows how you can create your own kit without a retailed pack.


Thursday, April 7, 2011


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Privacy is something that you don't realize you need until you've lost it. Here are some ways to maintain your privacy and relative safety on the internet.

You may be sharing more than just a few cute photos when you post an image on the internet. GPS enabled phones can capture images that can accurately reveal your location. All it takes is a few right clicks of a mouse for someone to copy the coordinates, paste them into Google maps and then map the shortest route to view that loved one or prized possession in person. With social network status lines, you could be revealing your CURRENT location and inviting untold numbers of strangers to join you. It’s important to be aware of this even when well-meaning family members are taking pictures of your children.

This video shows you how to disable the GPS tag on your phone photos.

This video covers some of the other dangers to revealing your location to strangers.

It is best if you don’t make public your full legal name, street address, date of birth, telephone number, or Social Security number.

If asked for your name, use initials. Scramble the letters of your name, use nicknames etc. This precaution will also give you a head's-up if you receive spam. If someone addresses you by anything other than your actual name, you will know that this is not someone you know personally.

Never make your street address public. If it is required, offer only what is necessary. Some sites only require a state or region. Adjust your security settings to keep this information private. Only make online purchases from trusted vendors as you will have to give them your address for shipping purposes.

Keep your birth date private. Sites that require your birth date often do so in order to insure you are an adult. If their security is breached, this is a key piece of personal information that someone could use to guess your social security number. Check your security settings and be sure this information is private. Consider using an online birth date that includes your birth year and an alternative month and date. Or you could use your actual month and date with the year previous or following your actual birth year. This will give the host an accurate gauge of your age without opening you up to unnecessary snooping.

Don’t reveal your home telephone number. Refrain from offering this and keep security settings private if it is included in an online profile. If someone discovers your telephone number and knows your full name and birth date, it is possible for them to use these items to add unauthorized charges to your bill.

Your social security number shouldn’t be given out unless it is absolutely necessary and to a verified financial or medical institution that you called. Always ask if you can offer an alternative number. Decline to give your number to someone that calls you.

Protect portable electronic devices with passwords. Use upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Don’t tell your device to remember your user name and password. Don’t store financial information on portable devices. Always log off when you’re finished. If your laptop or phone is lost, it’s harder for someone to access your personal information or clean out your accounts.

Internet safety is basically taking the time to cultivate good habits. Posting something on the internet is just like putting something on a very public bulletin board. The time you take now to develop these habits will protect you and your family later.

Bonus tool for readers with children:
Here’s one of my favorite tools for school aged children that want to do internet research. Make Quintura for Kids the home page on your internet browser. This search engine filters out undesirable "adult" content and reviews approved sites regularly. We’ve used it successfully at our house and recommend it to other households with children. It provides a safe way for kids to do searches without awful content and images surprising them. Try Quintura for Kids out for yourself at quinturakids.com.

Note: Quintura won’t prevent users from going to inappropriate internet addresses that they know how to get to. You’ll need another type of filtering service for that application. Check out this article for some additional suggestions for user accountability helps.

Friday, April 1, 2011


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Strong emotions in charged circumstances bring about visceral responses that are not planned or calculated. These strong emotions are dominant and can cancel out intellectual responses. This is true whether you are dealing with a child delighted with a long-desired gift, a young lady surprised with a marriage proposal, an athlete celebrating a victory, or a person who finds himself in need of rescue.

An experienced teacher will tell you that all learning stops the moment a student becomes overly emotional. A distraught person can’t be expected to make considered logical choices. Whether someone is dancing in delight, or wailing in dismay, unchecked emotions make it impossible for that person to respond in a calculated, intellectual way.

I’ve recently viewed footage of people who have had their cars towed to an impound lot. These individuals must navigate a confusing maze of legal and financial requirements before taking possession of their vehicle. The circumstances are varied, but one thing is common: these people are under stress.

For those who are able to calm themselves, setting aside feelings of victimization and anger, the results are fairly straightforward. They determine what is required for the release of the vehicle, go about getting their affairs and documents in order, and then return to claim their car.

For those unable to calm themselves, the process becomes more tedious and lengthy. They direct their frustration at the workers in the office. Aggressive body language, raised voices and accusations fly back and forth as workers try to tell the car owner what he or she will need. Often, the person only hears one or two instructions before emotionally shutting down. They leave and return several times as they collect one or two of the documents they need each time. The stress level of the worker starts to rise as he or she responds to the upset customer. This leads to mistakes and omitted information on the worker’s part.

Fear impairs mental function in the form of confusion, forgetfulness, and the inability to concentrate. In this state, a person can be numbed by shock, begin to panic, or lash out in anger. When seconds count, a fearful person may cause others in his party to lose their life. It may be necessary to leave him behind for the sake of the group’s safety.

I find that the most recommendations for survival safety focus on two concepts: faith and preparation. The more important of the two is faith. Why? In survival circumstances, the truth you know about God and about man will have a powerful impact on your behavior. A person of faith won’t waste as much time second-guessing and railing against the circumstances.

Faith is the opposite of fear. Faith moves us towards life. Faith reminds us of the One in whom our trust is placed. Faith tells us that we are not alone.

Once your fear response calms, your preparation will kick in. If you’ve practiced thinking on your feet, making decisions on the fly, and dealing with various terrains, you will find yourself well-served by your time invested in these pursuits. However, if you are not able reign in your emotions, all of that preparation may likely do you no good.

I found an account of an interview of survivors of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami. The reporter stated that it occurred to her that everyone sitting in that room lived because they ran to the mountains. Those that did not move immediately died. It reminded me of the scripture that reads, “And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment” (Mark 13:15,16).

Fear used properly can be a lifesaver. As a master, fear can kill. Learn truth. Build your faith and be prepared. When circumstances seem dire, these steps will equip you to respond.

Friday, February 25, 2011


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A children's book about how to stay safe from predators isn't the first choice on most parent's shopping list. We want our children to remain innocent and not live in fear. Isn't part of protecting them shielding them from information about predators?

At first, it sounds reasonable to avoid unpleasant topics with our children. Then I recall how we learned fun rhymes and songs to reinforce safety lessons when I was a child. I can remember being taught how to cross a street LONG before I was ever allowed to cross by myself. Someone decided that knowing how to stop, drop and roll if my clothing caught fire was vital to my well-being . . . . just in case. We weren't allowed to play with matches, but a big talking bear reminded us that only WE could prevent forest fires. We didn't even live near a forest!

That's why I'm so glad to see a children's book that does this same thing. SARA SUE LEARNS TO YELL AND TELL promotes a positive message to children that there are things they can do to stay safe. Without being graphic or going into lurid details, this book encourages children that are approached to immediately alert someone. Debi Pearl's latest children's book gives little ones confidence that God is on their side and there IS something they can do. It's comforting to tell children that there IS a way to respond and they CAN tell someone who will listen.

SARA SUE LEARNS TO YELL AND TELL is a book that reinforces safety for children growing up in today's world. Decades ago, the dangers were different. Today, human trafficking and child predators are common. These hunters hide in plain sight, and they know how to target vulnerable children.

Debi's book helps me remind my children of the ways they can avoid looking like an easy target. Reading SARA SUE with them opens up a dialogue so that they know it's safe to come to me and talk about these issues. The rhyming verse and colorful images are both appealing and entertaining for children. The helps in the back of the book are an encouragement to parents that we needn't be afraid, just prepared.

I'm very grateful that this grandmother took the time to not just teach these lessons to her own family, but that she has reached out to help keep other children safe as well.

Click the button to order:

SARA SUE LEARNS TO YELL AND TELL can be a lifeline to children that don't know how to respond to threats. Senator Scott Brown describes what happened to him as a child.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011


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A debris hut is a structure constructed of found materials that can include leaf matter, branches, grasses and even snow. The insulated walls shield a person from cold and weather, serving as a combination sleeping bag and shelter. Using natural resources, a debris hut can be assembled in nearly any location. These can be used as an emergency shelter or a temporary shelter while you work to secure a more permanent structure.

While advanced skills are not required, experience and a good work ethic can be invaluable. A good training exercise is to construct a model from small sticks to get a good idea of what will be required for a full scale shelter. Another good idea is to build a full sized model using a time limit. In a survival situation, you may be limited by how much daylight is left in your day. Having a time limit will help you prioritize and work efficiently. Spending the night in your creation will quickly tell you which elements were lacking such as location, size, insulation, waterproofing, door construction, or bedding.

When deciding where to locate your debris hut, it is best to select an area that is a safe distance away from water sources. These could flood or dampen your shelter. Check the wind direction and position the entrance away from the prevailing wind. An open area that receives optimum sunlight surrounded by a stand of trees acting as a wind break is ideal. Keep the entrance small to help retain heat. A small fire at the entrance of your shelter will help keep you dry and warm.

When constructing a debris hut, smaller is better. This saves on construction time, materials needed and the smaller space is easier for you to warm with only body heat. Make it large enough for you to wiggle into feet first. To size the structure, lie on the ground and mark the outline of your body.

It is good to gather more material than you think you will need as the walls should be as thick as your arm’s length. Straight tree branches with leaves removed can be pounded into the ground to form your basic frame. A common method is to construct an A-frame for the entrance. This can be lashed together to form a support for the ridge pole and additional branches can be propped against the ridge pole to form the ribbing of the frame. On top of this, the debris is piled and woven to insulate and waterproof the shelter. If you have some thick plastic sheeting, use it to help waterproof your hut.

Every survival circumstance has unpredictable variables. Within these variables the human body needs to be protected from a loss of warmth that can lead to death. Knowing how to make a debris hut can truly be a lifesaver. Make a game of it and see what sort of structure you are able to construct from the things you find in your own backyard. Take the time to visit a wilderness area near your home and practice working as a group to build a structure. Once you’ve slept in your creation, you will know if there are things that need to be reworked. These fun activities can give you invaluable experience in the event of an emergency.

Dave Canterbury demonstrates how to construct a type of debris hut called a spider shelter in this short video.

The Wendell family demonstrates how a woman was able to construct her own debris shelter and overnight comfortably with her children in the structure.


Kay is . . .

a perpetual student of things I find interesting and (I hope) helpful to others. Feel free to use and apply all information with a healthy dose of common sense. :-)

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