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SHTF Blog by Joel Forge - 3w ago

There is one thing that I believe everyone has in common and that is junk mail. No matter how many mailing lists we try to get off of there always seems to be some magazine, catalog, or coupons that ends up in our mail box. Normally we throw it away or perhaps use it to start the grill but ultimately the majority of it ends up in the trash. I personally don’t like to cause a lot of waste so I went out on the web and tried to see what could be done with all the junk mail. The answer was Fire Bricks.

By Grimm, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Fire Bricks are not new. There are ones you can buy from your local Home Depot or Walmart. There are even presses for you to make your own at home. Both are great but both cost money. The junk mail is free so the way in which you make it should be relatively inexpensive as well; in comes the two bucket technique. Two 5 gallon buckets, a paint mixer, and a power drill and you are good to go. Sure, the end product comes out as a puck instead of a brick but that can easily be cut down after it dries.

Also Read: Fire Bug Out Bags

You will be amazed at how much of the junk mail, once made into pulp, compresses into one puck. This now creates an easily stored fuel source for your fireplace, fire pit, or wood stove. Providing you with many hours of warmth. Now all that trash is reduced to a small pile of ash and ashes themselves have uses as well. I don’t know about you, but I love free fire fuel.

Related: Complete Fire Starter Review

Some things to consider though. If you have a lot of junk mail you don’t have to just have 2 buckets you could have 4 or 6 and this is not something that you have to sit around and wait. Once its time to compress the water out put some weight on it and go do something else while weight and gravity does the work for you. Also you need to know that you can’t cook over the open flame. The inks and glues are not good for food cooking. If you do wish to cook do it on a wood stove or in pots and pans. Even still I have been making and using my fire bricks/pucks for two year now. This past winter we barely went through any wood because of all the fire bricks. Start making your trash into treasure.

Here is the video!

Fire Bricks - YouTube

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For years there were three roads to go about procuring an AKM, AK-47, or AK-74 in the US.  The first being that you could buy an import.  For years that meant a Chinese Norinco or Polytech imported by a half dozen different firms.  Hungarian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Romanian, and Russian rifles started to pour in after these Chinese guns were banned.  Today this is limited to Romanian, Bulgarian and Serbian AK rifles.  Generally, with some exception, all these imports have proven to be reliable, long lasting, and overall well-built rifles.

By Zach Dunn, a Contributing Author to SHTFBlog and SurvivalCache

The Second road was purchasing a rifle that had been built from a de-milled parts kit.  These kit guns would be brought in as an AK rifle, whose receiver was chopped in two.  The parts were disassembled, degreased, and reassembled as a semi-auto rifle with a US barrel typically, and US receiver and some other US parts. These rifles can be hit and miss, with some being just as well built as a factory gun.  Others were “a waste of good parts”.

The third way was “build it yourself”.  A massive AK building community started to spring up in the USA around the year 2000.  Many builders create masterpieces, complete with genuine imported barrels, barely used parts, and much attention to detail.  Others are in a hurry or are inexperienced and build sub-par rifles, or screw-built guns that can start to come apart after a few magazines.

The American Made AK

Starting around 2010, Domestic AK manufacturing started to rise in the USA with companies like Inter Ordnance and Century Arms taking the lead.  However, their efforts have been proven to produce guns that are in almost every way inferior to imported AK rifles. Cast trunnions and carriers and inferior parts have produced firearms that shoot themselves apart.  Rifle’s whose head spacing quickly slips into dangerous ground within a few thousand rounds.

Related: A Buyer’s Guide To Imported AK’s

Palmetto State Armory as of the writing of this article, seems to be the only domestic manufacturer of AK pattern rifles to build anything even halfway decent. However, a new trend in domestic AK manufacturing has started to rise in popularity.

The Higher Road

WBP Rogów, a Polish AK manufacture started to export brand new parts kits to the USA after 2012.  These parts at first were made with the same cast parts that US domestic producers were using. After some suggestion that they switch to forged parts, they began doing so in 2016.  WBP produces brand new AKM parts kits now from Polish military specs, with billet/forged bolt carriers and trunnions. WBP has partnered with several US based dealers and manufactures to sell their kits.

Starting with Atlantic Firearms around 2016, WBP kits with forged trunnions and a Radom Arsenal built cold hammer forged and chrome lined barrel, were completed into full rifles by Atlantic.  Their reputation has been stellar.  Atlantic now offers 3 rifles built from WBP parts on a quality US made receiver and a Radom barrel.

WBP has been joined, as of January 2018 by the Polish Radom Circle 11 Arsenal as well providing brand new AK kits. These too have been built by Atlantic and a few others into complete rifles.

Related: Springfield Armory SOCOM 16 Review

Cugir Romania is joining the pack and exporting brand new PM md 63 kits and Cugir cold hammer forged and chrome lined barrels. These parts have been built on by M+M industries and Lee Armory. These parts include forged trunnions, and forged carriers all built on the same machinery that military AKs flow from. These are built on US receivers and sold as complete rifles.

This new trend of importing brand new parts kits and finishing them is starting to become a standard in AK manufacturing.  No longer do companies need to rely on worn out military parts kits or shoddy American made parts that are sub-standard at best.  Cheap parts kits built to military standards can be imported cheaply and built into complete rifles and sold for a price that comes in under a new Bulgarian Arsenal rifle.

The quality of WBP, Circle 11 Radom and Cugir is well established.  They don’t produce junk.  Nor do they cost an arm and a leg.  For slightly north of $800 you can have a solid Kalashnikov chambered in 7.62x39mm.  You will be buying what is basically a mil-spec factory com-bloc rifle from a reputable manufacturer.

As of the time of this writing, most of these rifles are available in 7.62x39mm.  5.45x39mm and 5.56x45mm factory new kits are not being imported to my knowledge.  That does not mean that this will not happen.  Atlantic Firearms is currently working to bring new products to market with WBP, so the future is unclear right now.

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Water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink, well not unless you want some pathogens swimming through your intestinal track. Without a doubt water is needed for survival. Three days without water and you die, and this “rule of thumb” doesn’t take into consideration physical exertion, wounds, illness, and environment. So now that we have established that water is crucial to survival we have to face the fact that long gone are the days that you could dip your cup into a pristine stream and chug water till your hearts content. Luckily many companies have come up with filters, pills, and processes to make water potable. Now you might think that with your new gadget you can once again drink away; well not exactly. The fact of the matter is no matter what filter, process, pill you have you need to Think Before You Drink.

By Grimm, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

No Silver Bullet

The last time I checked there is no portable filter that “does it all”. Each one has its strengths and limitations and its your responsibility to know what they are. Not only do you need to know the limitations of your device or process but you need to find out where the water you are about to drink is coming from. That water may look clean where you are but how does it look upstream? Is there a factory or city upstream? A farm? Are their other streams feeding into it? Is it moving? Is it stagnant? This information needs to be gathered so you know if your device/process can properly shield you from the possible threats or if you need to find a better water source.

Related: Sawyer Mini Water Filter Review

I always encourage people to have multiple ways of processing water from boiling to iodine pills. This not only provides you with a back up solution in case something breaks or runs out but it also gives you layers of protection from all the different contaminates that can be in our water. If you do your “recon” and ascertain that a filter that takes care of bacteria, cysts, and protozoa is sufficient then you can save time and resources by not using a virus filter or having to make a fire to boil water. Or you discover a settlement upstream and think it would be wise to go straight to boiling. In a Bug Out or survival situation sanitation is going to be at a minimum and even though you may live in a 1st world country it will not take long before some water is riddled with cholera, typhoid, polio or hepatitis A, so be prepared for more than your garden variety giardia.

Think Before You Drink

Now you’re probably thinking you will never drink from a stream or lake again. I wouldn’t go that far. I can say that I have been using my Sawyer mini for 4 years on its own and sometimes with a charcoal filter and have not had any problems. Is this impart to the filter? Yes, but its also because I will Think Before I Drink. I looked for water coming straight from the rocks. I avoided the stagnant cesspools or streams with an abundance of trash. If you do this you will not only stay healthy and hydrated but you will also prolong the life of your filters, pills, etc. because you will not overtax them or use a resource more than you need too. If you haven’t gone out to your Bug Out or Survival location and checked out your nearby water source you might want to do that and give it a “Think”.

Watch Bug Out Tip Video (B.O.T. Video)

Think Before You Drink - YouTube

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An inquiry came in recently about a past review posting on the Remington Tac-14 shotgun.  In the photos that accompanied the article, the Tac-14 was shown with a sling installed and readers wanted to know the part combinations used to complete this accessory fine tuning.  It’s really pretty simple. This is the really easy part.  Since I am a fan of OEM parts, I searched for a while at local outlets to find a factory Remington magazine cap that has the built in sling attachment point.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Front Sling Attachment

This is simply a replacement cap for the 870 shotgun that includes a stud in the cap with a hole for a standard screw lock loop sling holder to attach.

Related: Survival Shotgun

Simply replace the no sling post cap with the new one.  Unscrew the attachment bar lock on the standard one inch sling loop and insert the loop bar through the hole.  Screw down the sling loop lock and wahla, you’re done on the front end of the shotgun.

Rear Sling Attachment

For the rear sling attachment, go to www.gggaz.com and search the accessory parts for the Remington 870 shotgun.  You will find a subcategory for the Tac-14 model.  There you will find a push button quick detachable point pin that replaces the rear trigger group pin.  The trigger group pin is simply tapped out with a hammer and appropriate punch.

Also Read: Remington Tac 14 Review

Once out, replace with the QD part and lock down the opposite side with the provided screw and Allen wrench.  Don’t overtighten it.  Done.  Know that this QD point does stick out from the side of the 870 action frame.  It is not flush.  This QD sling attachment point comes with one standard or angled sling attachment loop.  Tie in the other end of the sling and you are ready to go.

Add a Vero Vellini neoprene sling for extreme carry comfort.  In practice I found that reversing the usual way to attach and carry a sling permits the Tac-14’s barrel to point down rather than up toward the head and face.  This may seem odd, but do it and you’ll see.  The wide part of the sling goes to the rear of the shotgun, the thinner part up front.

Other Tac-14 Options

Seeing the popularity of the Remington Tac-14, GG&G has already begun adding new accessories.  One is a side plate shell holder that has the option of the above sling attachment point or just the shell holder alone.  I eventually intend to add the shell holder with the QD point.  This gives the user 5 additional shot shells at the ready to reload.

Another good idea is to add the grip panels for the Tac-14 as sold by Talon Grips.  These rubberized stick on grip pieces peel off the paper to be applied to the Magpul pump slide up front, and the pistol grip as well.  Stick them on, heat them with a hair dryer and the grip control is enhanced considerably.

The Remington Tac-14 is handy shotgun for home protection, personal defense and bug out vehicle carry.  It is also now available in 20 gauge in addition to 12 gauge.  I just wish it had choke tubes.

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Starting off with my first review I decided to go with a flashlight. Not just any flashlight but the flashlight that I carry with me on all of my bug out trips. Many hours were spent looking over lumen outputs, battery life, type of battery, and features. Finally a decision was made and I decided on the Streamlight Sidewinder 14032, the military version. In survival, versatility is a must and the Sidewinder has plenty to spare. With 4 different color LEDs each with 4 different intensities already the Sidewinder is looking rather impressive.

By Grimm, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Then you add in a 185 degree tilting head and not only do you have lighting options but positioning options as well. Though its shape is a bit out of the ordinary you can rest assure your light wont roll away when you set it down.

Related: SureFire Firepak Review

Though the Sidewinder is very versatile it does lack in a few areas. The light operation is on the head and for most this might not be an issue but if you prefer more of a tail switch operation you will be out of luck. The flashlight only takes AA batteries and although that is arguably one of the more popular batteries it would be nice to be able to use other batteries like CR123s or AAAs. Also the mount accessories do not hold the light as stable as I would like.

That all being said at roughly 65 dollars on amazon its not going to break the bank. Its rugged, versatile, packed with features, and its what I take out with me into the wilderness.

Video Review:

Streamlight Sidewinder Review - YouTube

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Preppers and survivalists alike need one go-to rifle they can trust through thick and thin.  This would be a rifle for everyday use and/or carry either hidden as an EDC gun in the back of a vehicle, in the rack of an ATV/UTV at the Bug Out hide away, and one that will be reliable though not always treated kindly or cleaned regularly.  We all need a dirty rifle. A “dirty rifle” then defined here for rather universal service would be (could be) an AR-15 in a very base model.  This is a rifle designated to be available to “bang around” though not overly or by any means the focus of intended abused.  After all, you want a rifle that will function every time it is loaded, charged, and triggered.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

At the same time this would not be a rifle that was babied because it was the top-of-the-line model or decked out with all the bells and whistled as showcase illustrated on the cover of Recoil or Ballistic magazines, the Playboy of weaponry publications if you will.  This is a rifle that might make the issue of Mechanics Illustrated or Guns, Guts, and Cigars (I wish).

One Weapon of Choice

For this project then we picked a sweet, ripe rifle.  It is the more or less common man’s Smith and Wesson Sport II Optics Ready AR.  It is a flat-top model sans any supplied open sights, attachment points, or gadgets. It comes with a Picatinny rail atop the upper ready to accept your fav choice of scope, red dot, or holographic.  This is as basic an AR as one can get, but still have some options to customize. The forearm is a standard AR round model, and the buttstock is a 6-position CAR variety.  One 30-round PMAG is supplied.  It is chambered for the 5.56 Nato/.223.  It sells at Academy for $599.99.  A “Best Buy” in my book.

Basic AR Rifle Specifications

The essential specifications on this rifle include an overall length of 35 inches, though remember its CAR stock adjusts to a shorter length.  The rifle’s finish is a black matte Armornite coating for resistance to elements and rusting.  This rifle has a gas operated system which is a standard AR build.

The barrel is made of tough 4140 steel and is 16 inches long with a standard M-16 type birdcage muzzle flash suppressor.  The trigger guard is integrally forged.  The firing pin is chromed to resist corrosion and to provide smooth, reliable operation.  The upper unit does come with a forward assist should the bolt/carrier group not want to close on the chamber.  The chamber/bolt area is covered by a hinged dust cover.

The top of the receiver upper unit is affixed with a Picatinny rail suitable for mounting any selection of optics including a conventional riflescope.  More popular these days are some type of red dot, electronic or holographic sight.  Even green dot scopes are growing popularity since shooters have discovered the green illuminated reticle is easier to see in dim or dark light. There is also a short section of Picatinny rail forward over the gas block to mount a front open sight should the shooter also choose to add an open sight at the rear as well.  This rifle offers two sling mount attachment points, one loop at the bottom of the buttstock shoulder rest, and a push button QD swivel attachment point under the front gas block.

Options a Base Rifle is Missing

You might look at the specs above and wince a bit at what this AR rifle does not have from the factory.  Let’s review those items to see what is really critical in a “dirty” rifle, or what could be added as an accessory or just run it as is. At first glance you are surely going to notice the lack of open sights on the Picatinny rail.  That could be a correct-O, no open sights. However, with ease you could add a set of Magpul or GG&G pop up open sights to serve as a backup (BUIS).  There is some argument for this, but again, we’re trying to build a bare knuckles rifle here.

While a few factory ARs do add an optical sight, honestly the majority of them are low grade, less than stellar product, so not much is really missed.  Anyway, you are going to want to add a top notch optics on this rifle as it primary sighting instrument. The CAR buttstock on this Smith and Wesson is bare bones.  It is even missing a plug to attach a push button sling connector.  The conventional sling loop works, but there may be other options to consider adding to the attachment point up front under the gas block.

There is no massive (heavy) quad rail on this AR specimen.  Remember we’re not going to add all that “stuff” anyway regardless of how cool it is, or functional.  If your knees go weak, you can add a multi-sided rail system later.  Make sure you need it.

Mini-Modifications

For this rifle, only two changes were made.  First, I swapped the Std-slick AR pistol grip for a grabbable Hogue handle.  Next I replaced the round polymer forend with a Magpul Carbine length version with M-Lok ports so I could add something else if I desired later. For optics, I am narrowing the choices between a Trijicon MRO or an Aimpoint PRO (Patrol Rifle Optic).  What we want is a point-n-shoot set up for a fast aimed response.  One is small, lightweight, the other more “combat” hardy.  What would you choose?

Again, a dirty AR is a trench gun.  It is intended for readiness and quick deployment, a rifle that every prepper and survivalist should consider as an EDC long gun.  Build one for yourself.

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You’ve probably read books about EMP like One Second After and have likely heard of the Carrington Event, but what is an EMP and what does it have to with a CME? An Electromagnetic Pulse can be caused by different things like a lightning strike, or a meteor breaking up in the atmosphere, or your car engine starting up.  (The latter was corrected back in the 80’s by a law saying they had to shield starters.)  The types we’re going to discuss  are Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse (NEMP), High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP), and Coronal Mass Ejection (CME).

By Jarhead Survivor, a contributing author SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse – Starfish Prime

Back in 1962 scientists launched a W49 thermonuclear warhead into space and exploded it 250 miles above the Earth in a test called Starfish Prime.  This caused an EMP much bigger than predicted and it drove much of the instrumentation used to measure it off scale.  It also knocked out about 300 street lights, set off burglar alarms, and knocked out a microwave link in Hawaii, which was about 900 miles away.  The yield from this weapon was about 1.5 megatons.  It also knocked out some satellites in Low Earth Orbit due to an artificial radiation belt caused by the explosion.

httpssss://youtu.be/KFXlrn6-ypg

Soviet Test 184

Right around the same time as Starfish Prime the Soviets conducted a test over Jezkazgan detonating a 300 kiloton nuclear weapon at an altitude of 180 miles.   This is considered to be much lower than the yield from one of today’s nuclear weapons.  Since this test was conducted over land the Soviets monitored roughly 570 kilometers of telephone line.  When the bomb detonated it caused major damage to overhear power lines, underground power lines buried to a depth of 1 meter, telephone lines, power generation sub-stations, military diesel generators and electronic failures, all despite the fact that they were using EMP-resistant Vacuum Tube technology at the time.

Source: giphy.com

Coronal Mass Ejection

Coronal Mass Ejection, or CME for short, is when the sun blows off plasma and magnetic energy.  When these hit the Earth they can cause damage similar to an EMP.  In 1859 a CME hit the Earth and caused telegraph lines to give telegraph operators electric shocks.

Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, in some cases giving telegraph operators electric shocks.[15] Telegraph pylons threw sparks.[16] Some telegraph operators could continue to send and receive messages despite having disconnected their power supplies.

A solar storm of this magnitude occurring today would cause widespread disruptions and damage to a modern and technology-dependent society.[2][3] The solar storm of 2012 was of similar magnitude, but it passed Earth’s orbit without striking the planet.

Source

There have been a few other large events like The Carrington Event since 1859; however, most have missed the planet sparing us the worst they could do. In light of current political unrest in a nuclear capable world and Coronal Mass Ejections randomly throwing electromagnetic darts out into the solar system it seems prudent to at least do some serious thinking about what could possibly happen in a long term grid down event.  If a grid collapse were to occur it would open the door to Pandora’s Box, in this case meaning that people dependent on electricity to keep them alive would likely be dead within days, if not hours of the event.

Collapse

What happens when one of the richest countries with the worlds most pampered population is suddenly thrown into darkness? A grid collapse would lead to an economic collapse, food would no longer be distributed to cities likely causing food riots and major civil unrest would follow.  About ten or so years ago a city in Massachusetts had a water main break and people were under an order to boil water before drinking.  The city was shipping in free water to hand out to citizens, yet there were fist fights among people waiting in line.  The amazing thing is they still had electricity and running water – they just had to boil it first.  I don’t think it would be unreasonable to extrapolate large scale food riots if the grid went down and there were no more food deliveries here in the U.S.

Stores will likely start charging exorbitant rates for their goods in the days immediately following a collapse.  At least until the store owners figured out the paper they’re accepting for their goods is worthless.  Twenty bucks for a package of Oodles of Noodles?  Bargain.  Buy it quick.

In the book “One Second After” by William Forstchen the story centers around a small town in North Carolina that suddenly has to deal with a complete collapse of the grid after an EMP.  One of the things he discusses is the fact that we live in a country where everything is clean and sterile and our natural resistance to diseases has been diminished.  A good round of the flu in this situation could kill millions.  There are many diseases out there easily communicable that could cause a massive die-off of people.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see towns walling themselves off or setting up checkpoints like the small town in the book.  First, to protect themselves from people fleeing the cities and second, to stop the spread of disease.

Preparations

Preparing for a long term grid down situation would be akin to learning how to live comfortably in the 1800’s.  There may be the odd pocket here and there of hardened generators or places with water turbines that could be repaired or what have you, but for the most part the country would be dark.

It’s good to have canned and dehydrated food standing by to stave off hunger for a few months or a year, but eventually you’ll have to learn how to grow crops, raise animals, and hunt and fish for your food.  And you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way – by hand or using oxen or horses to plow your fields.  If you’re lucky you might have a working tractor, but it’ll be up to you to keep it running.

Learn new skills and acquire knowledge.  Put a wood stove in your house if possible.  Have a large buck saw with a bunch of blades and an axe and splitting maul in your shed. Set up a community of people to help each other.  No man is an island and someone who’s thought about this scenario needs to step up and become a leader, guiding those who don’t have the first idea of what to do down a path of doing something constructive instead of rioting, stealing, or even killing for a scrap of food.

Learn how to shoot a gun and know when to use it.  You will probably have to protect yourself, your family, or your possessions at some point. Learn how to make candles, natural lamps and oil for light at night.  After the batteries are gone it could be years before you see electric lights again.

Raise chickens.  A dozen chickens can eat bugs right off the lawn and will lay eggs that will be priceless.

Grid Dependence

Stop for a minute and take a good look at how you live.  Do you wake up in the morning to your phone or tablet waking you up and immediately dive into Facebook or the news before you even get out of bed?  Are you totally dependent on electricity to cook your food, heat your water, make your coffee, and everything else you do?

Cutting wood the old fashioned way.

Or if the power goes out can you get out a camp stove and a percolator and make some coffee with water you have stored away?  Have you done even the slightest bit of preparation for a power outage?

Are you comfortable camping out in a tent in all seasons?  Do you know how to start a fire in the rain or the snow?  Can you read a compass and go from point A to point B reliably?  Remember that the expensive GPS unit you bought will probably be worthless.

I live in Maine and we typically lose the power here three or four times a year where I live out in the boonies.  When the power goes out I have everything I need to make breakfast, wash up, have coffee, and get myself out the door with only a minimum of fuss.  I’m comfortable staying in a tipi with just a small woodstove.  My wife and kids are comfortable in the woods hanging out around an open fire and eating food cooked over it.

Small stove I use in my tipi.

If you live in a city or urban area and have no idea how to make an open fire, or how to take care of yourself or your family if the lights go out for a few days what are you going to do when it goes out for a year?  Or two?  Could you survive?

I’ve talked with many people about this kind of scenario and a surprising amount of them have told me: “It wouldn’t matter because I’d be dead.  I wouldn’t want to live through something like that.”  Every time I hear that it blows my mind, but some estimates say we’d lose seven to nine people out of every ten if we had to live through a real long-term grid down situation, so their wish would likely come true.

Are you physically fit?  Life after the grid will likely be very strenuous.  Can you carry your bug-out bag twenty miles a day?  Ten?  Five?  Have you ever pulled it out of your closet and taken it for a walk?  Physical fitness is something we Americans lost touch with a generation ago.  Believe it or not most American’s could probably stave off 90% of the illnesses in this country if they’d just diet and exercise properly.  But it’s much easier to take a bunch of pills and medications to control high blood pressure or heart disease than to avoid it all together by eating smart.  Diet or die.  It’s your call.

Discomfort

Get used to a little discomfort.  Go for a hike in the woods when it’s snowing or raining.  Allow yourself to get cold and wet to see what it really feels like then multiply it by a hundred when it happens for real, because then you might not be able to get to shelter except for what you can build out of natural materials.  Go a day or two without eating and see how it feels.  Go down in your basement and turn off the electricity for a weekend and see what kind of obstacles you’ll face. Pain lets you know you’re still alive.  At least that’s what the Drill Instructors used to tell us at Parris Island.

So how about it?  Could you survive?  Would you want to?  What kind of challenges do you see if the grid goes down? Sound off in the comments below.

-Jarhead Survivor

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The post Understanding EMP and Why You Should Prepare For It appeared first on Welcome to SHTFBlog - Emergency Preparedness.

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SHTF Blog by Jarhead Survivor - 5M ago

Not many people enjoy camping out in the cold.  The first time I took my wife cold-weather camping it got down to -4 Fahrenheit that evening and it was all I could do to get her out of her sleeping bag the next morning.  The secret to enjoying cold weather is dressing warm and having the right gear.

By Jarhead Survivor, a contributing author SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Tipi in the Snow

Just because the temperature drops below zero, or it gets dark at 4:30 doesn’t mean you should hibernate like a bear for the winter.  Instead grab your warm clothes, your head lamp, and a warm sleeping bag and head into the woods for a night.  I’ve camped many nights in cold weather and those camping trips have ranged from super fun to miserable depending on what I had for equipment.  One night when it was well below zero I was going to camp on a mountain near where I live.  When I got to the trailhead I put my pack on and started looking for my gloves, which – as it turns out – I’d left at home.  At that point I was unwilling to turn around to go back and get them, so I went camping without them.  Overall it wasn’t horrible, but setting my tent up when the temps were below zero was pretty rough.  Other than that I kept my hands in my coat pocket and managed not to lose any digits.  Manageable, yes.  Fun.  No.  Lesson learned.  Don’t forget your gloves.

What You’ll Need

No matter what your winter sport of choice is you’ll need a base layer of clothing to help keep you warm and dry.  One of the big mistakes newbies make is to just throw on a heavy coat and head outside.  A pro tip is to dress in layers with synthetic or wool long underwear.  Avoid cotton because once it gets wet it loses it’s insulating properties and you’ll get cold.  Thick wool socks, good boots, a good pair of pants and if you’re going to do some snowmobiling or go rolling around in the snow you’ll need some snow pants too.  You’ll also need a warm jacket with a hood, hat, and a good pair of gloves or mittens.  Even when you’re snowmobiling with heated handgrips you still need a good pair of gloves.  I was out on my sled earlier this season during the cold snap we were having and those expensive gloves were worth their weight in gold!

Snowmobiling fun!

In between your long underwear top and jacket you’ll need a medium layer or two, depending on what the temperature is.  I have several different tops I wear depending on whether I’m snowmobiling, hiking, or snowshoeing.  I have a military cold weather wool shirt that works very well when I’m hiking or ‘shoeing.

Regulate Your Core Temperature

When you’re moving through the snow with a pack or pulling a sled with gear on it you’re going to heat up fast.  One thing I like to do to regulate temperature is to start unzipping layers as I go.

Take your hat off, pull your hood back, unzip your coat, take the coat off if you’re getting really hot, take your gloves off.  Basically you don’t want to sweat if at all possible even though you will if you’re working really hard.  What I do when I’m hiking is have another inner-layer shirt in my pack and when I get to wherever I’m going I pull it out and change into it immediately while I’m still hot.  By the time you get done changing you’ll have cooled enough to start adding your layers back on plus you’ll be dry up top.

Stay Hydrated

In the winter you don’t feel thirst like you do in the summer, so it’s easy to become dehydrated.  When you stop to urinate check to see what color it is.  If it’s yellow you’re getting dehydrated and need to drink water.  Have a water bottle handy and every time you stop make it a point to drink some water.

Small stove I use in my tipi.

Sleeping Bag

If you’re camping a good sleeping bag is your most important piece of gear.  I’ve slept in cold weather in at least ten different types of sleeping bags with mixed results.  I’ve got one bag rated for -20 and I’ve slept in -10 with it and stayed reasonably comfortable.

The warmest bag I ever slept in was one of the older military extreme cold weather bags.  It came with a silk liner that was a sleeping bag in its own right, but put the two together and you have a bag that will keep you comfortable at -40.  No, that’s not an exaggeration.  In the early 80’s we camped out at Camp Ripley, Minnesota for ten days in temps that never got up to zero degrees at their warmest and down to -40 at night.  We stayed in the big ten man arctic tents in those sleeping bags and stayed warm.  Getting up to go the bathroom was a miserable experience, but the bag itself was unbeatable.  Its one downside is the weight.  It weighed about 15 or so pounds and was huge, but if you’re sleeping in arctic conditions I’d highly recommend this type of mummy bag.

The newer military sleep systems aren’t too bad, but I slept out a few nights at -10 and could feel the cold creeping in.  I’m not sure how it would feel at -40.  If anyone has camped in colder temps than I have in one of these sleeping bags post about it in the comments and let me know how it worked out.

Civilian bags are pretty good depending on what you buy, but very pricey the better and warmer they get.  The older military bags are reasonably priced, but heavy… more suited for car camping or being pulled on a sled rather than alpine camping.  The newer military bags are ok, but when you’re sleeping in temps colder than zero expect to sleep cold.

Fire in the snow

Tents and Shelters

Alpine style four-season tents are designed to be more sturdy than warm.  They are designed to hold up under high winds on the side of a mountain, which means they have to be light enough for you to carry them up there.  They are well engineered and sturdy, but also expensive.

I’ve used three-season tents in the winter and as long as it’s not blowing a a gale they’re fine.

Other shelters I’ve used are the arctic military tents, which are really heavy.  I used them in the military, but also bought one for home use and it lasted about five years before it collapsed after a blizzard here in Maine.

I also have a tipi which holds up really well.  My uncle in Canada has a tipi as well and I snowshoed out a few years ago in the middle of winter to find that a couple of poles had collapsed under the heavy snow load.  It was still standing, but two of the poles needed to be replaced.  The most important maintenance task to perform is to make sure your structure is shoveled off as soon as you can get to it.

Camping

Pack and Snowshoes Out at My Tipi

Now that you’ve got your gear it’s time to take it on a shake-down cruise.  The first step is to put everything in your big backpack.

Here’s a list of some of the things you’ll want in your pack:

  • Backpack
  • Stove and fuel
  • Extra clothes
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Tent
  • Knife
  • Flashlight or headlamp (or both)
  • Food
  • Water
  • Lighter/matches/firesteel – some way to start a fire
  • Cook pot and eating utensils

This is in addition to what you’ll be wearing and it’s not everything you’ll need, but it’s a good start.

A winter pack is usually pretty heavy.  One good way to move it through the snow is by pulling it on a sled or toboggan.  Make sure everything is lashed down tightly or you’ll wind up picking it up a hundred times.

Find a good patch of woods and if there’s plenty of snow you’ll want to pack down a patch of it with your snowshoes.  When you figure out where you want your tent to go start packing the snow down with your ‘shoes.  Walk back and forth on it for about ten minutes or so and then let the snow harden up.  After it’s left to sit for awhile you should be able to walk on it, or least put your tent up without worrying about sinking into the snow.

Now it’s time to lay your gear out.  Put your tent up and then the sleeping mat and sleeping bag should go in.  Once you’ve got that done put your pack in next to you or in your vestibule if you have one.  At this point you can work on your camp.  Get firewood if you’re going to have a fire and get it ready to light.  How do you get a fire going in the snow?

httpssss://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XepOR2AP5c&list=PLEIT2Bh1Ps95MvRKP3-dtBic51dzlTDyQ

Once the work is done light the fire and kick back.  Now it’s time to relax and watch the stars.  Have some cocoa or coffee and something to eat and enjoy the evening.

When you get in your sleeping bag it’s a good idea to sleep with just a t-shirt and maybe your long johns and socks and a hat or balaclava.  That way if you sweat you won’t get them wet.  If you get cold by all means put them back on.  I’ve slept in an inadequate bag with my coat on before, so do what you have to do to stay warm.

The reason you’re out here this first time is to experiment.  Take notes on what worked and what didn’t.  I’ll usually write something like this in my journal:

“The new gloves sucked.  They were too tight and caused my hands to get cold.  Probably good for ice climbing, but not for general camping purposes.  Good news:  the new sleeping bag rocks.  It’s got plenty of room and kept me good and warm with last night temps around 15 degrees.”

Take good notes, modify your gear as necessary, and pretty soon you’ll be a winter camping pro.

-Jarhead Survivor

The post How-To: Winter Hiking and Camping appeared first on Welcome to SHTFBlog - Emergency Preparedness.

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SHTF Blog by Joel Forge - 5M ago

The consensus is that nothing feels better or soothes the savage brow than a good campfire.  Just having the flickering flames available for a comfort factor, providing some needed warmth, or available for cooking a hot meal, a fire can be an essential ingredient of having a working Bug Out survival camp set up. Sometimes though, just starting a fire can be a chore.  If the conditions are wet with little available fire starting materials at hand, then building a comfort fire can turn out to be just another stressful task.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Rubbing two sticks together may work if the conditions are ideal, but most preppers are not that skillful.  Even if you have a butane lighter, you still need fire materials at hand to build a quick fire.

Related: 10 Bug Out Bag Essentials

All this is made much easier if you prepare fire building fire bags ahead of time.  This is a simple process and you’ll be ready at any time to have some base materials available to light up for a quick fire, ready to add kindling and larger materials.  This should be done in advance to be stored at home or cached at a designated Bug Out location.

Bags for Fire Bags

Folks this is not rocket science and there is no reason not to prep some fire bags well ahead of time for when they are needed.  These bags can come from an infinite number of sources, and most often are something you might already toss into the trash, recycle bin, or burn outside in an outdoor fireplace or fire ring.

Fire bags can be as small or large as you care to fabricate.  Use your best judgement as to how much fire material you want gathered and ready to go.  These bags can be easily stored in the garage, an outside tool shed or storage building, or kept at a Bug Out location.

If you are forced to Bug Out then one or two of these fire bags can also be quickly grabbed and tossed into the travel vehicle.  At home, these bags can be left in the corner of the garage or tool room to continue to stuff with fire starting materials.

Also Read: Bug Out Travel Security

Easy to prep bags can include such options as outdoor grilling charcoal bags.  This is my go-to bag for building fire bags.  The paper material used to make bags of charcoal are usually made from a couple layers of brown craft paper that is a good, heavy material.  Even the bag itself can be torn apart and burned as separate pieces.  Otherwise the entire stuffed bag can be used as the fire starter base.

All kinds of larger plastic or paper bags can be used, too.  Right now I have several fire bags ready to be taken to Bug Out Camp in yard bedding mulch sacks/bags, bird seed bags, and dog food bags.  These are heavy duty bags that can hold a lot of fire fodder materials plus they can also just be burned themselves filled with fire starter stuff.

Fire Bag Stuffing

This is really the easy part.  Every day you probably throw a ton of burn materials in your trash cans at the house or work that could be separated out and stuffed into a fire bag.  The list is virtually endless.  Just get creative thinking any possible piece of paper that can be easily and quickly set afire for a fast burn to start a hot fire.

Related: Bug Out Bag Mistakes That Are Not Mistakes

In the list of paper materials we stuff into fire bags includes every kind of junk mail that comes every day and more.  Sales flyers, notices, mailed bill envelopes, extra letter insert papers, catalogs, magazine inserts, advertisements, envelopes from business correspondence, coupons, newsletters, pure ole junk mail you never even open, toilet and paper towel rolls, food packaging and any other piece of clean, dry paper you would otherwise just throw away.

Every day just carry these materials out to the garage or wherever you keep your fire bags and toss them inside.  As the bags fill up, mash them down inside and keep adding more.  When the sacks eventually totally fill up, then roll the tops down to keep them closed and secure.  You could even staple the tops closed so nothing spills out.

These will be relatively lightweight bags that can easily be tossed into the bug out vehicle or in the bed of a pickup truck or SUV.  Build up as many of these fire bags that you care to deal with, but probably at least a half dozen or so to get you started at Bug Out Camp or a home outside fire pit or even an indoor fireplace for a controlled fire.

Starting a Fire Bag Fire

I use these fire bags in one of two ways.  If I want to eventually have a big bonfire at Bug Out Camp, then I just lay the entire fire bag down into the rock lined fire ring.  I mash it down as flat as possible.  Then I pile on small kindling limbs I pick up in the camp area yard.  Mother Nature is always happy to supply plenty of those via wind storms.  Next, I will stack on top two or three pieces of split firewood we keep stocked nearby.  Viola.  Light the bag and watch it go.  Sometimes I use charcoal lighter to quicken the blaze up.

You Might Also Like: Have You Tested Your Bug Out Bag Lately?

If I want a smaller fire in camp, then I just open the fire bag and take out enough paper to get a fire going.  Add sticks and kindling, then bigger pieces of wood as desired.  A fire bag full of junk mail and other paper will last for starting several fires. So, don’t toss your big product bags or all that junk mail and waste paper.  Stuff your bags full and just turn them into handy fire bags.  There is no easier way to get a Bug Out Camp fire going.

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The post Build Up Fire Bug Out Bags appeared first on Welcome to SHTFBlog - Emergency Preparedness.

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You’ve probably read books about EMP like One Second After and have likely heard of the Carrington Event, but what is an EMP and what does it have to with a CME?

An Electromagnetic Pulse can be caused by different things like a lightning strike, or a meteor breaking up in the atmosphere, or your car engine starting up.  (The latter was corrected back in the 80’s by a law saying they had to shield starters.)  The types we’re going to discuss  are Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse (NEMP), High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP), and Coronal Mass Ejection (CME).

By Jarhead Survivor, a contributing author SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse – Starfish Prime

Back in 1962 scientists launched a W49 thermonuclear warhead into space and exploded it 250 miles above the Earth in a test called Starfish Prime.  This caused an EMP much bigger than predicted and it drove much of the instrumentation used to measure it off scale.  It also knocked out about 300 street lights, set off burglar alarms, and knocked out a microwave link in Hawaii, which was about 900 miles away.  The yield from this weapon was about 1.5 megatons.  It also knocked out some satellites in Low Earth Orbit due to an artificial radiation belt caused by the explosion.

Operation Dominic I and II - Starfish Prime Part 2 1962 - YouTube

Soviet Test 184

Right around the same time as Starfish Prime the Soviets conducted a test over Jezkazgan detonating a 300 kiloton nuclear weapon at an altitude of 180 miles.   This is considered to be much lower than the yield from one of today’s nuclear weapons.  Since this test was conducted over land the Soviets monitored roughly 570 kilometers of telephone line.  When the bomb detonated it caused major damage to overhear power lines, underground power lines buried to a depth of 1 meter, telephone lines, power generation sub-stations, military diesel generators and electronic failures, all despite the fact that they were using EMP-resistant Vacuum Tube technology at the time.

Source: giphy.com

Coronal Mass Ejection

Coronal Mass Ejection, or CME for short, is when the sun blows off plasma and magnetic energy.  When these hit the Earth they can cause damage similar to an EMP.  In 1859 a CME hit the Earth and caused telegraph lines to give telegraph operators electric shocks.

Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, in some cases giving telegraph operators electric shocks.[15] Telegraph pylons threw sparks.[16] Some telegraph operators could continue to send and receive messages despite having disconnected their power supplies.

A solar storm of this magnitude occurring today would cause widespread disruptions and damage to a modern and technology-dependent society.[2][3] The solar storm of 2012 was of similar magnitude, but it passed Earth’s orbit without striking the planet.

Source

There have been a few other large events like The Carrington Event since 1859; however, most have missed the planet sparing us the worst they could do.

In light of current political unrest in a nuclear capable world and Coronal Mass Ejections randomly throwing electromagnetic darts out into the solar system it seems prudent to at least do some serious thinking about what could possibly happen in a long term grid down event.  If a grid collapse were to occur it would open the door to Pandora’s Box, in this case meaning that people dependent on electricity to keep them alive would likely be dead within days, if not hours of the event.

Collapse

What happens when one of the richest countries with the worlds most pampered population is suddenly thrown into darkness?

A grid collapse would lead to an economic collapse, food would no longer be distributed to cities likely causing food riots and major civil unrest would follow.  About ten or so years ago a city in Massachusetts had a water main break and people were under an order to boil water before drinking.  The city was shipping in free water to hand out to citizens, yet there were fist fights among people waiting in line.  The amazing thing is they still had electricity and running water – they just had to boil it first.  I don’t think it would be unreasonable to extrapolate large scale food riots if the grid went down and there were no more food deliveries here in the U.S.

Stores will likely start charging exorbitant rates for their goods in the days immediately following a collapse.  At least until the store owners figured out the paper they’re accepting for their goods is worthless.  Twenty bucks for a package of Oodles of Noodles?  Bargain.  Buy it quick.

In the book “One Second After” by William Forstchen the story centers around a small town in North Carolina that suddenly has to deal with a complete collapse of the grid after an EMP.  One of the things he discusses is the fact that we live in a country where everything is clean and sterile and our natural resistance to diseases has been diminished.  A good round of the flu in this situation could kill millions.  There are many diseases out there easily communicable that could cause a massive die-off of people.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see towns walling themselves off or setting up checkpoints like the small town in the book.  First, to protect themselves from people fleeing the cities and second, to stop the spread of disease.

Preparations

Preparing for a long term grid down situation would be akin to learning how to live comfortably in the 1800’s.  There may be the odd pocket here and there of hardened generators or places with water turbines that could be repaired or what have you, but for the most part the country would be dark.

It’s good to have canned and dehydrated food standing by to stave off hunger for a few months or a year, but eventually you’ll have to learn how to grow crops, raise animals, and hunt and fish for your food.  And you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way – by hand or using oxen or horses to plow your fields.  If you’re lucky you might have a working tractor, but it’ll be up to you to keep it running.

Learn new skills and acquire knowledge.  Put a wood stove in your house if possible.  Have a large buck saw with a bunch of blades and an axe and splitting maul in your shed.

Set up a community of people to help each other.  No man is an island and someone who’s thought about this scenario needs to step up and become a leader, guiding those who don’t have the first idea of what to do down a path of doing something constructive instead of rioting, stealing, or even killing for a scrap of food.

Learn how to shoot a gun and know when to use it.  You will probably have to protect yourself, your family, or your possessions at some point.

Learn how to make candles, natural lamps and oil for light at night.  After the batteries are gone it could be years before you see electric lights again.

Raise chickens.  A dozen chickens can eat bugs right off the lawn and will lay eggs that will be priceless.

Grid Dependence

Stop for a minute and take a good look at how you live.  Do you wake up in the morning to your phone or tablet waking you up and immediately dive into Facebook or the news before you even get out of bed?  Are you totally dependent on electricity to cook your food, heat your water, make your coffee, and everything else you do?

Cutting wood the old fashioned way.

Or if the power goes out can you get out a camp stove and a percolator and make some coffee with water you have stored away?  Have you done even the slightest bit of preparation for a power outage?

Are you comfortable camping out in a tent in all seasons?  Do you know how to start a fire in the rain or the snow?  Can you read a compass and go from point A to point B reliably?  Remember that the expensive GPS unit you bought will probably be worthless.

I live in Maine and we typically lose the power here three or four times a year where I live out in the boonies.  When the power goes out I have everything I need to make breakfast, wash up, have coffee, and get myself out the door with only a minimum of fuss.  I’m comfortable staying in a tipi with just a small woodstove.  My wife and kids are comfortable in the woods hanging out around an open fire and eating food cooked over it.

Small stove I use in my tipi.

If you live in a city or urban area and have no idea how to make an open fire, or how to take care of yourself or your family if the lights go out for a few days what are you going to do when it goes out for a year?  Or two?  Could you survive?

I’ve talked with many people about this kind of scenario and a surprising amount of them have told me: “It wouldn’t matter because I’d be dead.  I wouldn’t want to live through something like that.”  Every time I hear that it blows my mind, but some estimates say we’d lose seven to nine people out of every ten if we had to live through a real long-term grid down situation, so their wish would likely come true.

Are you physically fit?  Life after the grid will likely be very strenuous.  Can you carry your bug-out bag twenty miles a day?  Ten?  Five?  Have you ever pulled it out of your closet and taken it for a walk?  Physical fitness is something we Americans lost touch with a generation ago.  Believe it or not most American’s could probably stave off 90% of the illnesses in this country if they’d just diet and exercise properly.  But it’s much easier to take a bunch of pills and medications to control high blood pressure or heart disease than to avoid it all together by eating smart.  Diet or die.  It’s your call.

Discomfort

Get used to a little discomfort.  Go for a hike in the woods when it’s snowing or raining.  Allow yourself to get cold and wet to see what it really feels like then multiply it by a hundred when it happens for real, because then you might not be able to get to shelter except for what you can build out of natural materials.  Go a day or two without eating and see how it feels.  Go down in your basement and turn off the electricity for a weekend and see what kind of obstacles you’ll face.

Pain lets you know you’re still alive.  At least that’s what the Drill Instructors used to tell us at Parris Island.

So how about it?  Could you survive?  Would you want to?  What kind of challenges do you see if the grid goes down?

-Jarhead Survivor

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