If you have been prepping for any length of time you have probably come across something about Electromagnetic Pulses (EMPs) by now.
What is an EMP?
Put simply (and I am no scientific expert), an EMP occurs when magnetic fields interact and rapidly change causing a surge of voltage in electronics. One of the most common EMPs you are familiar with is a bolt of lightning. If you are listening to the radio during a lighting storm, the static you here every flash is an EMP.
Another once common EMP comes from internal combustion engines. Before newer ignitions were mandated, car radios were targets of interference from the engine itself. I can attest this to be true, since I built a Hot Rod in high school that had a terrible buzz in the radio every time you revved the engine.
A static spark from walking across the carpet also emits a mild EMP. If you have ever shocked your computer this way you might not think it is that mild.
The EMP preppers are concerned about is the one generated by a nuclear explosion. They can be extremely strong and cause massive damage to electronics.
In 1962 the U.S. detonated a nuclear device at high altitude over the Pacific Ocean. The EMP from that explosion knocked out street lights in Hawaii, over 1500 miles away. If a similar device was detonated over the upper Midwest the effects could be devastating to our country.
Why should I be concerned about them?
As I mentioned a relatively small device knocked out street lights at a range of 1500 miles in 1962. Imagine how robust electrical systems in 1962 were compared to the complicated (and delicate) electronics we have today.
These electronics permeate our society, and to a great extent control it. As an example in the early to mid eighties my uncle in California experienced an earthquake that knocked out power in a wide area. Since my cousin was an infant at the time, he ran to the store to buy some extra formula to tide them over. The store refused to sell him any because the power was out and the digital cash registers were not working, and they refused to take cash!
Another reason is that the magnetic field over the U.S. is much stronger than the Pacific where the test was made. According to scientists, this means the effect of the EMP would be amplified compared to the 1962 test.
What can I do about them?
You can protect sensitive electronics with a device called a faraday cage. Simply put the cage channels the pulse around whatever is inside and keeps it safe.
Here is a great video on how you can easily Build Your Own Faraday Cage
Faraday Cage: How to Make on the Cheap - YouTube
At minimum you should have backup communications gear stowed away and protected. A radio to try and get news, CB radios for contacting others and newer more powerful two-way radios. This will give you a better chance of staying abreast of current events and possibly a warning to follow-up attacks.
What are some other effects?
Fortunately an EMP in and of itself is considered harmless to animal life. Unfortunately an EMP is usually not a stand alone event.
If the EMP is from a nuclear explosion you will be dealing with possible blast damage, initial radiation, and fallout radiation.
Blast damage and initial radiation is best handled in a bunker or shelter built for that eventuality.
Fallout will have to be dealt with by far more people. Fallout is the dust that is irradiated and kicked up in the air by a nuclear blast. It is thrown into the atmosphere and distributed over a wide area.
You will need to have an area to decontaminate yourself after every adventure out of doors. This can consist of a shower in the garage or a vacuum cleaning station. All of the food you bring into the home will likewise have to be cleaned to remove any radioactive particles.
Even with good hygiene you will still be getting dosed with higher than normal radiation. After any nuclear blast you will want to start taking Potassium Iodate. This stuff floods your thyroid gland with harmless iodine and helps prevent the absorption of harmful radioactive iodine 131. This is a good front line defense against radioactive fall out.
Even without a bomb, Potassium Iodate is a good idea to stock up on since we have many nuclear reactors in this country. The chance of an accident at one (or even a different kind of nuclear accident) is fairly high. As an example Fukushima is polluting the west coast with detectible radiation.
An EMP would be a game changer in this country. The government tries to downplay the potential impact, but anyone who has looked at the possibilities can clearly see it is a viable threat to prepare for.
One way to keep bugs away from your campsite is to add sage to your fire. This is the spice, not the common sagebrush that grows in the west. Buy the cheap stuff from the spice rack, and save the expensive organic spice for your cooking. Just sprinkle some on the fire every once in a while to keep the camp smelling nice and the skeeters at bay.
Another fire additive (or fuel, if you like) is a cow pie (yes, cow manure). When it burns, it emits something that drives the skeeters away. Don’t worry; they don’t stink while they are burning. The pioneers heated and cooked away the long prairie winters with nothing but buffalo chips as a fuel source. Any ruminant (deer, elk, etc.) droppings should work.
Citronella Tiki torches do an okay job of keeping bugs at bay, but they kind of put a cramp in the camping mood unless you are camping in the South Pacific. The cool thing is you can burn the citronella oil in any kerosene lamp or lantern with the same effect as the torches. You can even use the oil to make your own citronella candles. Just add a few drops of oil to the liquid wax of your burning pillar candles.
If you find a tick attached to you, take a cotton ball and put some liquid soap on it, then place it over the tick. The tick will let go and reattach to the cotton ball.
The last advice on avoiding bugs I can give you is to camp where they aren’t. This means picking a spot that is windy. As long as it doesn’t drive you crazy, the constant wind will keep the bugs away from your camp site.
Keep your TP clean and dry by storing it in a coffee can. You can also use a bulk pack CD case.
If you somehow run out of TP on your trip, you will have to use “natural” materials. Mullein is agreed to be the nicest and softest available. If you can’t find leaves you know are safe to use on your sensitive skin, you will need to test it before using it where you might regret it. Take a leaf and crush it up and rub it briskly on your inner upper arm. If after 15 minutes or so you
aren’t having a reaction where you rubbed it, it will probably be safe to use for your TP.
Cooking over evergreen flames will coat your food with a black tar that tastes like turpentine. As many times as I have seen this advice given, it amazes me how many people I still see cooking over evergreen fires.
If you must use evergreen for your camp fire, you will want to cook using the radiant heat from beside it. Better still, wait until it is completely burned down to coals before doing any cooking.
Jewel weed grows in the same areas as poison ivy; it is a good idea to learn to recognize this plant. Just crush some of the leaves and rub them on exposed skin to lessen the poison ivy’s effect.
If you somehow have forgotten your tea or coffee, you can substitute from the wild. Dandelion or chicory root make a passable coffee. Those that have tried it and don’t like it most likely have not roasted it long enough. It should be cleaned, crushed (or chopped fine) and then roasted until black (even burnt), then brewed.
My favorite wild tea is Goldenrod leaf tea. It brews up bright green but has a nice astringent flavor like real tea.
My final tip here is for those who smoke and have run out of tobacco. Kinnikinnick makes a fine pipe tobacco if you happen to be in the west where it grows.
Simple hacks can make your camping so much more enjoyable. Hopefully something on this list will be useful to you this summer.
You have all the right supplies. Your emergency plan is technically flawless. And yet, when disaster strikes, you still might find yourself struggling to survive. Why might you struggle? It’s due to one factor that can often undo even the best laid plans: the human element.
Survival isn’t just about having the right gear — it’s also about having the right state of mind. Imagining that you can handle the rigors of survival is pretty easy. The real survivor knows he can survive, and he knows it because he has already prepared himself for the potential rigors.
Do You Know How to Use Your Gear?
You have all the supplies you need: food rations, the means to prepare them, and all the necessary protection gear. Then, the moment of truth comes, and you find yourself without a clue how to actually use a piece of equipment.
Any gear you don’t know how to use properly is as useful to you as gear you forgot to get. It seems obvious to say, but how many people really take the time to learn how to use their equipment past just reading the instructions? The difference between being a true survivor and a weekend warrior is how you answer that question.
The only way to know for sure that you are fully prepared to use your gear is to take the time to get to know it. By cooking meals semi-regularly with the equipment in your emergency kit, you’ll become comfortable using them in situations when they become necessary. Familiarize yourself with your survival gear, and you’ll not only be sure ahead of time that you know how to use it, but also that it will fit your needs. The only surefire way to know that you’re prepared to rely on your supplies is through experience using them.
Can You Handle the Stress?
Of all the gear and things you need to survive, the most important is to know you can count on yourself. It’s easy to imagine you’re prepared to face the challenges of survival, only to find yourself overwhelmed at the worst possible moment. The shock of switching from the daily routine to emergency survival mode can lead to a great deal of stress. Stress can undo even the best planning in the world. Of course, a good survivor has already taken that into account.
Just like with your gear, the only way to know that you are prepared is to go through the steps to prepare yourself. The less of a shock the transition from your normal routine, the better you’re able to adapt. Start by regularly taking a few days a month away from all the luxuries of modern life. These likely won’t be there post-crisis, so you’ll know exactly what it takes to get by without them.
Take the time to familiarize yourself with the lifestyle you’ll be leading in times of emergency even before it becomes a necessity. You think about doing it all the time anyway, right? Your brain is the most valuable tool you have. Make sure you can count on it when the time comes, and you’ll have already taken one of the most important steps down the road to survival preparedness.
Hip support is extremely important, so look for one which has a hip strap. The better your hip support, the more your ability to carry a load longer increases.
You’ll also want to purchase a rainproof shell to cover your bug out bag in case of bad storms.
What Should I Include in My Bug Out Bag?
The first thing you will need once you have left the warmth of safety of your own home is shelter!
You can pack things such as tarps or plastic sheeting which can be used with rope to construct a makeshift shelter.
Another important part of this shelter will be warmth, so be sure to pack all weather blankets and/or sleeping bags.
You can usually find sleeping bags that come with compression sacks so they can be made smaller in size to easily store inside your bag. Bring a flashlight for some light at night.
Another important aspect of the BOB that you will also need is a full change of clothes. This is because if by chance the clothes you are in get soaked, it could be deadly to spend the night in them.
Bring pants with lots of pockets, and preferably ones that can be converted into shorts. Don’t forget the extra shirt, socks and underwear! Gloves and a scarf could also come in handy, depending on the weather you are dealing with in your part of the world. Lastly, pack up a pair of slip on shoes in case your main pair gets wet.
One extremely important tool you can’t forget here is the first aid kit. That will contain tons of vital medical equipment you will need in case of injury. If your first aid kit doesn’t contain pain relievers already, you may want to add a small travel sized bottle of your preferred type just in case. Of course, if you take medication, pack an extra bottle of them as well.
Also of great priority will of course be food and water! Pack bottles of water as well as a small canteen of water. Bring water purification tablets with you, preferably a 24 pack, just to be safe.
Bring food that will sustain you, such as protein bars, trail mixes, small jar of peanut butter, granola bars, and other non perishables that have a high calorie count.
Here is a quick list of some other things you might want to consider packing in your bug out bag if you still have room:
Months of your time and energy have gone into growing your plants, but you could be left with nothing after a swarm of ravenous insects attack your garden.
Sure, you could use pesticides…but that’s toxic and you’ll eventually run out of them after SHTF.
That’s why I recommend making your own “DIY” insect sprays that are both natural and effective at killing harmful insects.
Don’t worry…these DIY insect sprays are easy to make. The recipes are simple and use common ingredients you can find around the house or at the grocery store.
Olive Oil and “Pure” Soap
For this recipe to work, you’ll need a cooking oil such as olive oil and a “pure” soap. Pure soap doesn’t have any synthetic chemicals like detergents, de-greasers, moisturizers, or bleach.
Add 5 tablespoons of pure soap and 2 tablespoons of your choice of cooking oil to one gallon of water.
This recipe works well because the oil helps it stick to the leaves of the plants for long-lasting protection.
Water and Pure Soap
This recipe is almost the same as the one above, but it’s a little less “intense” and will be good for more sensitive plants, such as lettuce and other leafy plants.
Add 2.5 tablespoons of pure soap to one gallon of water. Don’t add oil this time so it will be more toned down.
This is a 1% solution that effectively kills pests and goes easy on sensitive plants.
Tobacco and Water
This recipe is a bit strange because it uses tobacco as an ingredient. But it works because the nicotine is absorbed by the plants and then the nicotine kills the bugs when they consume part of the plants.
Of course, this means that if you’re spraying edible plants you should only use this spray early in the plant’s growth so the nicotine has time to leave the plant before you eat it.
Put one cup of tobacco in one gallon of water and boil it for 30 minutes. Then strain the solution and let it cool.
You can add pure soap if you want it to be extra-strength, though it isn’t necessary.
If you have an ant problem, this orange peel recipe will do the trick.
All you have to do is peel two or three oranges and save the peels. Then put them in the blender with some water and blend it into a fine liquid.
Now take the liquid you just made and pour it down any ant hills you see.
Chili, Garlic, and Onion Spray
This might be the most effective insect spray here, but the one drawback is that it’s a bit smelly, so it’s best for outdoor plants.
First, grind one garlic bulb and one onion. Then add one tablespoon of powdered chili peppers. Next, stir it all into a 1/2 gallon of hot water. Now, strain out all the chunks and add one tablespoon of pure soap.
Don’t have a garden yet? Get started quickly with our bucket of Survival Seeds. It includes 16 varieties of edible plants for you to grow and enjoy.
Know any other all-natural solutions for pest control in your garden? Share them in the comments below!
Many preppers plan on having a garden and growing crops when SHTF…but what about a source of meat? For those who are interested in raising animals, you might be wondering which animal you should raise.
While there’s no one “right” answer to this question, ducks are generally considered one of the easiest animals to raise, which is perfect for first-timers.
Here’s why preppers should consider raising ducks as part of their survival plan.
Ducks Are Tough
Ducks are surprisingly tough, which makes them a great choice for preppers who are raising animals for the first time.
Their outer layer of feathers are waterproof, so they stay nice and dry even when it’s wet out. Plus, they have a thick undercoat of feathers that helps protect them too.
They also have an extra layer of fat on their bodies that helps insulate them from temperature changes.
Because of all this, ducks can adapt well to both hot and cold weather.
They Stay in Good Health
Animals get sick too, and this can be a big problem with some animals…but ducks are one of the most healthy animals and hardly ever get diseases.
This makes ducks a great choice for preppers who want to raise an animal that doesn’t require a lot of work.
They Lay Eggs
If you raise other animals, all you’ll have to show for all your hard work is the meat they provide at the end…but with ducks, they’ll provide you with eggs throughout their lives.
Ducks lay eggs every day of the year, so you’ll have plenty of them for you and your family. Compare that to chickens which only lay eggs half of the time.
Duck eggs are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world, and it’s no wonder when you consider that duck eggs are larger, tastier, and healthier than chicken eggs.
Their shells are also thicker, which makes them more durable and have a longer shelf life.
Good for the Lawn
Lawn and garden pest can get out of control if there isn’t something to keep them in check. You don’t need to use harmful chemicals when your ducks will be happy to get rid of those pests for you.
Ducks will eat pretty much anything that dares enter your lawn. Usually they’ll eat a lot of bugs like worms and snails, but don’t be surprised when you see your ducks hunting and killing larger animals like frogs and snakes!
Ducks Are Friendly
Ducks are much more friendly than chickens. In fact, ducks are so friendly that some people consider them as being pets, rather than livestock.
Unlike chickens which can be standoffish and will fight among each other, ducks will quickly welcome new members to their group and are even friendly with their human owners.
Just try not to get too attached to them if you plan on slaughtering them for meat later on.
They Aren’t Noisy
Ducks usually stay pretty quiet. The only times they start quacking are when they become agitated, such as from the threat of a nearby predator.
Compare that to chickens which make noise almost constantly. Your home will be much more quiet and peaceful with ducks.
If you don’t want to raise any animals, then you’ll need some other source of protein for when SHTF. Survival Fresh Canned Meats have a shelf life of 25+ years and are packed with protein and only contain two ingredients: meat and salt!
No matter how well prepared you are, if a crisis goes on long enough, you’ll eventually run out of something…whether that’s food, water, medicine, or something else.
When this happens, you’ll need to find some way to get more supplies. But after SHTF, you won’t be able to get them through normal means, such as going to the grocery store.
This is where a special skill called bartering comes in handy. Bartering is where you and another person agree to trade goods directly without using money.
To get you up to speed on how to barter effectively, I’ve made a short guide showing you the basics.
Step 1 – Have Something of Value
To barter, you need to have an item that someone else wants. Since this is after a SHTF event, this would be some sort of resource, like food, water, clothing or medicine.
One thing to keep in mind is that the “value” of an item depends on individual people and can be subjective. This is a big mistake that causes people to not get as much out of a deal as they could have.
For example, you might have a worn-out pair of shoes that you consider to be junk…but to someone who doesn’t have shoes, they’re valuable enough to trade something like food or water for.
Step 2 – Find Someone to Barter With
With money, we can do business with anyone because everyone takes money…but with bartering, it’s a little less convenient. You have to find someone who has what you want and is willing to trade for what you have.
This will be easier if you want to trade necessary items that everyone needs, like food and water, but more obscure items, like a specific type of medication, will be harder to come by.
Step 3 – Negotiate
With bartering, there’s no set “price” on items like there is in the commercial world. Your deals can be negotiated up or down depending on how you negotiate.
The good news is you can come out ahead if you play your cards right, but the bad news is you can get screwed if you aren’t careful.
Here are a couple tips to help you out…
First, talk up the value of what you have to offer. For example, you can mention how useful it is or how difficult it is to obtain.
Next, talk down the value of the item you want to get. Just do the opposite here and mention how it’s not that useful or it’s easy to obtain.
Doing this will help you get a better deal than you might otherwise, however, don’t exaggerate or you won’t close a deal at all.
If you plan on bartering with this person again in the future, you’ll want to keep the transaction roughly equal. That way, they’ll be willing to barter with you again and be easier to deal with.
Step 4 – End the Deal Peacefully
Whether or not you and the other person come to an agreement and make a deal, you need to part ways…hopefully peacefully.
The best way to stay safe during a deal is to bring multiple people with you for backup if things go wrong. Of course, you and your group should also be armed so you have some way to defend yourself.
If the person you want to barter with asks you to disarm before trading, end the deal immediately and get out of there…you’re going to get jumped and your goods stolen.
Did I miss any important tips on bartering here? Tell us your success stories with bartering in the comments section below!
Preparing for when SHTF is a never-ending process. Even the most prepared people in the world can still improve their survival plans a little bit.
Picking up a few new survival skills is always a good idea, and if you do it consistently, you’ll be much more prepared for when a crisis eventually happens.
This post isn’t a complete list by any means, but it will give you a good start and give you some good ideas on areas where your survival plan might need some work.
This might surprise some people, but hauling and handling your survival gear will be difficult if you’re seriously out of shape.
You don’t need to be a full-blown athlete, but if you can walk for a few miles and do repetitive heavy lifting now as part of your daily routine, then you’ll be much more likely to survive when SHTF.
There’s no need for rigorous workouts. Simply going for a daily walk and doing a few bodyweight exercises is enough to keep you reasonably fit.
Cooking on an Open Flame
You might be wondering why something like this is even on this list…but let me explain.
Cooking on an open flame is different than cooking with an oven. It’s also harder than using a barbeque because a barbeque is designed for you to cook on it, while a campfire has no extra luxuries that make cooking easy.
You might not “need” to know how to cook on an open flame now, but if you want to eat tasty and wholesome meals in the worst case SHTF situation, you need to know this skill.
Try it for yourself and notice how different it is. Keep practicing and you’ll come up with ways to make it easier and your food taste better.
Prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs will be scarce when SHTF. You can stockpile them, but at some point they’re going to run out.
That’s why it’s a good idea to learn about natural medicine. Many of the things we take drugs for today have natural alternatives.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Cast Away, with Tom Hanks, then you probably remember the scene where he has a rotten tooth and is forced to knock it out with a figure skate.
If that scene made you uncomfortable, you’re not alone. The thought of having to do something so extreme and imagining the pain is enough to make anyone cringe…
But the worst part is that situations just like that scene in Cast Away will be very common when SHTF because people won’t be able to take care of their teeth like they usually do.
Everyday items we take for granted like toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash will become scarce after a crisis, which is why I’d like to show you some alternative ways of keeping your teeth clean when SHTF.
As preppers, there are certain skills we need to know that will help us survive during a crisis…but we need to occasionally practice them to keep them sharp.
The problem for some people is that they don’t live near a good outdoor area, like a forest, to practice these skills, or they don’t have time to travel to one.
But that’s OK, because there are plenty of survival skills you can learn without ever leaving the comfort of home. In fact, you can even learn these while sitting on your couch watching TV. But they’re just as important as any other hard-core survival skills you’d need to master in the wild.
If you were a boy scout when you were younger, then you learned to tie the most common and useful knots.
For those of you who don’t know how to tie knots or if you need a refresher, practicing at home is a great place to do it.
Get some rope or paracord to practice with and find a good guide to learn from. You can order a book on tying knots or look up a guide online if you don’t want to wait.
Whittling wood is an awesome skill to have because it serves two purposes…
First, it’s an excellent way to relax and pass the time. And, more importantly, you can use your whittling skill to create your own custom-made gear.
Here’s just a few of the things you could make by whittling wood:
You can add to the gear you already have and save money by carving essential tools out of wood yourself.
Knowing how to identify local plants is a skill that could put food on your table and help you make natural medicine.
There are much more edible plants growing in the wild than people realize, and learning which ones are good to eat (and which ones are poisonous) will give you a backup food source if times ever get tough.
Plus, even if some plants aren’t edible or palatable, they might still be useful as ingredients in a natural remedy. For example, plantains can be used to disinfect wounds.
Get a good book and start memorizing as many of them as possible. Even if you only learn one new plant a week, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an expert.
Just make sure the book you’re using is specific to your region. It doesn’t make sense to learn about plants that don’t grow where you live.
Put your knot-tying skills to work by taking it a step further and creating your own nets.
Catching fish is the obvious reason to make your own nets. If you live by a river, a net can bring in a lot of fish with relatively little work on your part.
You can also use your net to carry extra gear, or even make a hammock so you can kick back and relax after all your hard work.
Trapping is another survival skill that will put food on your table during hard times. Once you get good at making traps, you’ll be able to consistently bring in small game to add to your meals.
Some traps depend on stable objects like trees to work, but there are other types that you can practice making inside your house. Just gather the materials you need from outside one time and then you can practice inside as much as you want.
Know any other survival skills you can practice at home? Tell us what you’re learning in the comments section below!