Survival Joe is a website dedicated to helping people develop urban survival skills and get prepared for difficult situations, including natural disasters, financial collapse, a food crisis, hyperinflation, and more.
Hiding your guns, extra ammunition, cleaning kits, and repair kits, is a great idea for many reasons. Not only is finding great hiding spots important when tucking away firearms, you also must prepare the weapon to life underground, or for exposure to the elements so it is still functional an ready to fire after you retrieve it.
When hiding weapons, you must take into consideration how deep you are burying the cache, what type of material the housing unit is comprised of, and not just possible exposure to water, but moisture, a well.
Reasons to Hide Your Guns
The decision to hide guns at all has sparked some very heated debate on survival boards. Some posters called it a ridiculous act at best, and an exercise in futility, at worst. Perhaps the reason some folks calling themselves preppers mocked the idea of hiding weapons is because they assumed the motivation behind such an act was only to protect them from confiscation. The posters said if the government was confiscating guns, they would find the hidden ones, you would get caught when you shoot it, and severe punishment, maybe even death, would be levied on those Americans caught hiding guns.
Imagine waking up to the news that there is an impending nuclear bomb threat right in your area, or turning on the radio to an extreme weather warning urging everyone to evacuate the city. How prepared are you? If you have a bug out bag for yourself or your whole family, you probably feel prepared, but there is still the question of finding shelter from the elements and wondering how long you’ll be gone. If you own an RV, many of these worries are immediately reduced.
Not only can an RV help you get out of town quickly, but there are many benefits that come with owning one when preparing for unknown survival situations. Additionally, it can help you cut down on costs as well as help you live a self-sufficient life that leads you to practice your survival skills before you need to rely on them.
Why are you prepping? I don’t mean what type of SHTF specific SHTF scenario are you prepping for, but what is the motivation behind your survival and homesteading efforts.
Self-preservation is of course, a primary factor in why we spend countless hours and dollars preparing for a doomsday disaster, but for most of us, it is our families we are thinking about when learning new skills, growing and stockpiling food, and putting together survival kits. Our children and our grandchildren are the motivation for our prepping.
Preppers should never become “helicopter” parents. Prepping moms and dads may always want to know where their children are so they can help them get home if the SHTF, but preppers should know better than to coddle and micro-manage their offspring like far too many conventional parents…especially liberal parents, are doing these days.
Getting started in prepping can be a daunting task and one can easily get overwhelmed. With the headlines of today, it is easy to feel a huge sense of urgency to get ready NOW – with many giving up because they just don’t have the money or the time to invest. These myths could mean the difference between having taken the necessary steps to prepare – or not.
One point that needs to be made is that everything does NOT have to be done at once. While I would not suggest any further hesitation baby steps will get you in a much better position than not starting at all.
12 PREPAREDNESS TIPS
1. Store What You Eat – It is not necessary to purchase a years supply of food all at once, nor is it required to buy expensive freeze dried products. When doing regular grocery shopping throw in a few more cans of beef stew, corn, and a couple bags of rice. Build the pantry with every trip and over time.
We have seen this in a thousand movies, twice as many TV shows and even the endless “live car chases” that the broadcast media loves to play out. But what is the reality? What should we be prepared to do?
So you’re in your bug out vehicle and you suspect you’re being followed. What should you do? How should you lose your tail?
Once you suspect someone is following you, do not drive directly towards your intended destination especially if this is your home or bug out location even if it is adequately equipped to provide you with good levels of defenses. The guys following you would take note of this location and come back with enough backup and firepower to overthrow your position and take all your supplies and possibly worse.
The first thing you want to do is to determine if you are indeed being followed. This can be easily achieved if you are in an area with several short roads. Your strategy will be to take 4 consecutive right turns (or left turns) such that you perform a complete circle (well actually a square). It is highly unlikely that anyone would perform such a maneuver since it brings you back to the same location. Thus if the car following you makes the same consecutive turns, then it’s very likely that you are being followed. On the other hand if you are on the highway or any long stretch of road, it will not be possible to perform the 4 consecutive turns. Instead you have to make significant changes in your cruising speed and analyze how the following car reacts. Say you’re going at 60 mph. Change lane and reduce your speed to 40 mph. If the following car mimics your change, drive for a few minutes at 40 mph then raise your speed to 70 mph. If the car matches your speed and move it’s very probable that you’re being followed.
What to Do if You’re Being Followed
This will all depend on what vehicle you’re driving, what vehicle the pursuers are driving and what measures you have prepared for this situation. If the situation is not bugging out then head for the nearest police station and drive on into the parking lot. If you are followed then this will bring things to a head quickly. Hit the horn and take a defensive position, and let the cops know about it. Let them draw weapons first and address the following vehicle. If it is a bug-out then forget the police station, they will be busy elsewhere.
Since the majority of us don’t have the luxury of owning an armored vehicle or a vehicle that has been outfitted (armor plates, bullet-resistant glass, etc.) for use when the SHTF, I’ll base these strategies on the assumption that you’ll be driving your average car; i.e. a sedan or SUV that you use for driving to work and dropping your kids at school. You might also be riding a motorcycle in which case your best strategy would be to use speed and narrow roads to your advantage. However drive within your skills because if you fail you’ll have made it way too easy for your pursuers to take from you whatever they want. Another assumption I’ll make is that there will be one person driving your vehicle while one or more persons are busy handling the defenses. All of the strategies I list below can be adapted to a situation where there is only the driver in the vehicle. This however makes the strategies more difficult to accomplish and less effective.
One of the most convenient ways to stop a car from pursuing you is to make sure that you have some form of firearm with you in your vehicle. In this case, the bigger the caliber and the faster the rate of fire, the better. A pistol (9 mm or bigger) or a shotgun would be a good start, but an assault rifle chambered in .223 or larger would be ideal. If your pursuers are not shooting at your vehicle, then you have a choice. Brandishing a weapon may make them go away or start shooting, and it is a crime in most states. Shooting first suddenly makes you the aggressor. The choice may determine who lives. If they are shooting at you first and foremost do not expose yourself. Have you ever tried to fire a weapon effectively from a moving vehicle? It is way more complicated that it looks in the movies, and as you are moving you are continuously changing the lines of fire, the potential to harm others not involved, and to make a bad situation very much worse.
On the other hand, stopping to make a stand makes you a much easier target. While this only works in the movies, the reality is, at some point, this may become the only option as you can only assume they are persistent and hope they will run out of gas before you do, or, more likely, you have a crash and now you at your most vulnerable.
No matter the position of fire, should it come to that, there is the position that you could fire at their tires. Slow them down or stop their vehicle because shooting at the engine will not stop the car, unless you’re equipped with 50 cal BMG rounds or bigger. You might damage the radiator but it will take a considerable time for the engine to overheat enough to seize the engine. Of course this mentality is akin to those who feel that the police or a citizen being attacked should simply shoot the gun out of the hands of the assailant, you know, like they do in the movies. Reality is you are going to engage it all, the tires, the engine, the windshield and especially anyone hanging out aiming a gun and getting out armed with anything.
Make Them Skid
A favorite of the movies, you can throw some lubricant to make their car skid. Again unlike movies, you need quite a large amount of lubricant and it is better used while negotiating a curve since a car is unlikely to skid while going in a straight line. For this technique to be effective you need to keep a decent supply of lubricant (hydraulic oil or engine oil mixed with diesel) in a container that has a large opening which will allow you to deploy all of the contents at once. A two gallon bucket sealed with a lid would do the trick. Now who pours it and out of what window? Additionally you have to keep in mind that this bucket will be taking up valuable space in your vehicle so I’d rather forgo this piece of Hollywood magic for a more space saving option.
Caltrops are antipersonnel weapons composed of four spikes arranged in such a way that one of the spikes always points up. Caltrops for use against vehicles are made of hollow tubes such that once the tire has been pierced air will escape through the tube. They are ideal for getting rid of a tail as they are inexpensive, take up very little space (a few hundreds can fit in a shoe box) and are very effective. When deploying the caltrops make sure that none of them fall beneath your own vehicle and pierce your back wheels, and everyone behind the vehicle that was tailing you is now going to want to tail you and kill you. And if their vehicle is equipped with run-flat tires, you have simply limited their pursuit to only another 50 miles or so….
If you haven’t prepared adequately or if you have already used up your supplies you can improvise by keeping a small container full of rocks (tennis ball sized or slightly bigger) which you’ll throw towards the pursuing vehicle. These will cause limited damage but a shattered windshield may slow them down.
One Final Thought
Apart from trying to stop your pursuers you should also be careful that they don’t stop your vehicle. They might shoot at you and unfortunately there isn’t much you can do to stop that apart from shooting back using the blind fire technique explained above. Your pursuers might try to use the PIT maneuver in which the pursuing vehicle aligns its front portion with the rear portion of the leading vehicle and rams the latter sideways causing the leading vehicle to spin out of control. It’s the typical move police use for stopping fleeing suspects. Whilst being followed you have to keep an eye on your pursuers and make sure that they are not trying to perform this maneuver. If you notice their vehicle coming into this position you should immediately accelerate. If you are already going at full speed you can hit the brakes hard such that the pursuing vehicle ends up in front of you, ideally in such a way that you become the one able to perform the PIT maneuver.
As with everything else related to preppers the key to surviving a car chase is to have made the necessary preparations by adequately equipping your vehicle with the items listed above and possibly installing some form of static defenses such as bull bars to increase the robustness of your vehicle. You could also take a defensive driving course in which they teach you how to perform specific maneuvers to outrun chasing vehicles and how to make them lose control.
Should a major collapse occur, whether prompted by economic failure, natural disaster, or something else, we hope that we’ve taken all the precautions we can to provide for ourselves and our families. After all, many of us have spent years working on our preps, from food storage to bug out plans and more.
The thing is, we’re all (presumably) human and therefore we’re not perfect. We’re going to make mistakes. We might run out of something or the supply we have gets ruined.
The longer the crisis goes on, the more likely we are to be presented with opportunities for scavenging. Businesses will fold and end up abandoned. People will perish or flee, leaving behind homes and their belongings.
In addition, there will likely be all sorts of backpacks and gear scattered in forests from coast to coast, left there by ill-prepared “survivalists” who bugged out after graduating from YouTube University with degrees in “I watched a guy do it and it didn’t look hard at all.” After a few days, the prepared and patient survivor might very well have their pick of all sorts of high-end packs, knives, and other gear.
The question becomes is it scavenging or looting? This might be an important distinction. Many of us have seen the homemade signs that crop up in the wake of disasters that indicate the fate of looters in the area.
Here’s how I look at it. If items of value have no clear ownership, such as stuff found in the back of an abandoned and burnt out convenience store, and those items will serve to keep you and yours alive, it is scavenging. If the items are clearly owned by someone else and/or they serve little purpose aside from being inherently valuable, it is looting.
In the event of a complete societal breakdown, activities that today are viewed as unacceptable may become necessary. I mean, let’s say you got home today and were told, “Hey, we’ve decided to cut back on water usage. From now on, we’re all crapping in buckets and then hauling it outside to be dumped.” For many of us, that’s not acceptable and if water conservation is a concern, we’ll find other ways to accomplish it. But, after a disaster, poop buckets will probably become commonplace.
Scavenging for survival might very well become just as common, at least in some areas. Let’s take a look at some locations where you could find supplies that others might overlook. Please do not take this as any sort of encouragement to go out and pillage the countryside like drunken Vikings on shore leave. Instead, this is merely some advice as to where you might find items critical to survival after a complete and total breakdown of society and order.
Also, bear in mind — just because you have your own definition of scavenging doesn’t mean everyone else might agree with it. Be alert at all times.
These will be a prime target for looters and scavengers but they might miss something. Check through all cabinets, cupboards, and shelves. Be aware that some restaurants have a separate room or area for storing dry goods.
Think beyond food items, too. Many restaurants will have cans of gelled fuel, commonly referred to by the brand name Sterno. While these cans don’t generate enough heat to actually cook many things, they work well for heating up cans of soup or stew, thus saving your stove fuel or firewood for later.
If they did much catering, they will probably have paper plates and cups, plastic utensils, and related items. These are good to have as they will decrease the water needed to wash dishes. Any of the paper goods can just be burned. Plastic items can be trashed or washed for reuse.
Naturally, these will be a target due to the alcoholic beverages inside. Many taverns also serve food. If people are too focused on ransacking for the booze, they may overlook other supplies. Look for canned or jarred fruits and other drink garnishes. A few candied cherries might be a nice treat after living off of Chef Boyardee for the last few weeks. Look for vending machines that might not have been pried open yet.
Cafeteria kitchens might have some canned goods that were left behind. Check in the teachers’ desks, too, for snacks and such. Take a peek in the home economics classroom, if there is one, as they might have some food stored there. If they had shop classes, you can probably find tools and possibly some sorts of building materials. Be careful, though. Schools can be rambling structures with lots of nooks and crannies where survivors can hide. If they feel they’ve laid claim to the school, they might not be happy with intruders taking what they feel is rightfully theirs.
Honestly, these are probably better avoided if you have the choice. Odds are they will not be fun places to visit after a collapse. They will have been looted several times over as people search for drugs. That said, if you end up working your way through a hospital in search of supplies, look in every single cupboard, drawer, and cabinet you see. Each one will have been stocked with one thing or another. The cafeteria might have been spared at least some of the chaos and thus you might find some food and water there.
These are precious resources and should be protected if at all possible. They don’t house food, water, or supplies but the knowledge residing therein may prove critical to the community at large.
Look in desk drawers for snacks and bottled water. There are likely vending machines in break rooms, too. Who knows, you might find someone’s workplace emergency kit that they left behind. There should also be numerous fire extinguishers on the premises. Never know when one of them might come in handy.
Obviously, whatever the factory made will probably be in abundance, along with whatever materials and supplies are used in the process. These may include sheet metal, lumber, various chemicals, tools, and such. There should be at least some amount of first aid supplies on hand, too, along with fire extinguishers. Look for safety equipment like eye protection and gloves as these could come in handy when you’re working on projects. Most break rooms will have vending machines, too.
These will be another prime target, especially the ones that act as distribution centers for grocery stores and other big box retailers. But, they tend to be so massive odds are good even one that has been picked over a few times will still have some goodies inside. Like factories, they will also have fire extinguishers, safety gear, first aid kits, and break rooms.
When embarking on a scavenging trip, be sure to bring with you empty packs or other sorts of bags you can use to bring back your treasures. On top of that, never leave home without a survival kit, defense weapon, and a basic plan that you’ve communicated to those involved that includes where you’re headed and when you plan to be back.
Will you ever really need any of this information? Probably not. But, like anything else in the survival arsenal, it is better to have it and never need it than to need it and not have it.
Watching the horrors of the fires in California is making more people than usual think about air quality and what to do about it in an emergency situation. Some of these people don’t realize that there is already unfolding crisis when air quality problems appear in the United States.
As asthma and other breathing related problems skyrocket, the question of how to purify air may become crucial. Learn how to purify the air in the event of some other crisis such as a major fire, gas, nuclear, or disease based crisis. Consider both DIY and pre-manufactured options to survive poor air quality.
Here are the ten things you should always keep in mind on this topic.
Finding Out What Needs to be Filtered Now
Before you start buying air purifying systems, find out what you need to filter out, following:
How much dust and “large” sized particulate is in the air? If you can see a haze of dust, then you will more than likely need at least a MERV 5 or 6 prefilter in front of any other filter that you decide to buy for your system. (MERV is an acronym that stands for Minimum Efficiency Rating Value.
The higher the number after the MERV designation, the smaller the particles and greater percent of them the filter is capable of removing from the air. 3M and some other brands use the MERV rating while other manufacturers use different designations. In all of them, the higher the number, the better the filter.)
How much pollen, mold, and mildew spores are in the air? You will either need to build an Arduino unit for detecting particles this size and slightly smaller, or purchase a pre-manufactured meter for this purpose. While it takes some effort to learn how to assemble and program Arduino boards, they are also very versatile.
This means you can add different kinds of sensors to the board at a fraction of the cost of buying them separately. When it comes to detecting gasses and toxins, you will find that Arduino controllers are truly your best and most affordable option.
If you are looking specifically for mold and mildew, you can also purchase testing strips or kits that can be used to capture spores from the air. After you collect these samples, you can send the kit off to the lab to find out what kind of microbes are present.
While these kits are highly specific insofar as what is actually in the air, they are not reusable. In addition, no matter what kind of mold or mildew you have growing in your home, the methods for getting them out of the air will be the same.
Since the Arduino system or a pre-manufactured sensor will alert you to the presence particles in the appropriate size range, this may be all you really need to know at this stage.
How much automobile exhaust, methane from waste dumps, and other chemicals are in the air. In order to detect these gasses, you will need to build your own sensors using an Arduino board. Sadly, even a single device for a single gas can cost several hundred dollars pre-assembled.
By contrast, you will not spend more than 100.00 between the Arduino main board and an array of sensors that will cover most of the gasses that may be in the air right now.
Know What Air Quality Issues that May Occur During a Crisis
No matter how bad the air quality may seem right now, it can get much worse during a major crisis. Consider that there are several cities in or near the major fires burning in California. Even though the residents of these areas are accustomed to high levels of smog and other forms of air pollution, the addition of the smoke from the fires is causing many to evacuate.
In a similar fashion, even if you live in a rural area, or some place else with better air quality, there is a chance that a major fire would either force you to evacuate or attempt to clean the air. Without a question, if you are determined to bug in, or build a survival shelter, then concerns about smoke from fires would be one main reason for focusing a good bit of attention on air purification.
Here are some other crisis related scenarios that would require a good air purification system:
Nuclear attacks where you must be able to filter out dust and other debris. Since some of the dust may be smaller than pollen or other very small particles, you should be prepared to install at least a MERV 7 prefilter in front of others in the array, and then follow that with a MERV 14.
Remember, during normal operations you may only have one pre-filter in your system, but during a major crisis, a set of washable and reusable pre-filters will be very important when it comes to prolonging the life expectancy of the higher rated filters sitting behind it.
Gas or other chemical attacks. Unlike pollen, dust, or other forms of debris, it is not possible to filter out gasses by using progressively smaller holes in a filter. Instead, you will need to use activated carbon or some other material that is capable of locking these gasses into the pores of the material. For gas attacks, as well as most kinds of chemical pollution, you will need filters impregnated with activated carbon.
Biological warfare or germ attacks. Getting these pathogens out of the air can be very difficult. You will need at least a MERV 12 filter for the innermost layer of filters, or go as high as a MERV 14 or 15. Since most hospitals use MERV 14 and above for air based pathogen control, this would be a good choice.
Just remember, however, once you go past MERV-13, even in a home built air purification system, the reduction in air flow may be enough to reduce the overall effectiveness of the system. If you are going to use higher than a MERV-13, set aside just one or two units, and leave the ones with lower level filters for increasing air circulation.
Must Have Sufficient Air Flow
Did you know that the biggest problem in most homes is the lack of good air flow. While you may be constantly trying to block off air leaks for the sake of improving heat efficiency, the actual air quality in the house is always going to be lower than what is outdoors.
By the time you factor in pollution buildup from various fumes, odors from normal household activities, and imbalances in humidity, controlling internal air quality may seem impossible. On the other side of the equation, the hidden secret to most of these problems is as simple as improving air flow throughout the building.
Today, many people mistakenly believe that dedicated air purifiers, electrostatic systems on the central air system, and even de/humidifiers can all do the job without blowing lots of air around the rooms. This, in turn leads to a situation where most people give up on these expensive systems because they see little or no benefit.
Interestingly enough, the average pre-fabricated air purifying system only puts out between 100 and 500 CFM. As you can see from the tables in these links, that may be enough to filter air in small rooms, but it may not be enough for survival needs let alone modern heavily polluted homes.
By contrast, the average box fan puts out a whopping 2500 CFM, which means that pairing it with the right filters will give you a much better solution.
Filtering out Toxic Gasses
As noted earlier, MERV ratings, and to some extent, even a robust air flow won’t do much when it comes to getting rid of toxic gasses. While increased air flow can make the gasses easier to dissipate, you will still need something else to capture the gases.
Typically, activated carbon will offer you the ability to filter out the widest number of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other toxic gasses. These filters are also readily available in disposable form and will last for about three months.
For an added layer of purification, you may also want to experiment with the polymers and other materials that are used in gas masks. In this case, you will need to get ahold of the filter media and then figure out how to make it into a suitable filter.
Remember, when it comes to filter efficiency, the size of the filter is every bit as important as the speed of air moving through it. A 10” x 10” filter may work just as well as a 20” x 20”, however the smaller filter will fill up faster and either excessively impede air flow or become unable to retain gasses.
Dust, Pollen, and Mold
When you go to the store and look at different kinds of filters, you may be led to believe that the biggest filter will always remove the most particles. There is, however, a second part to MERV and other efficiency ratings.
Essentially, just because a filter will trap some smaller particles, that doesn’t mean it will remove every particle in that size range that encounters the filter. As a result, you will find that a MERV 8 or above will be rated for filtering out pollen, however it may only remove 50% of those particles.
By contrast, a MERV 12 may remove well over 80%.
This is just one of many reasons why working with pre-filters is so important when it comes to creating a viable air purifying system. Since you can easily find lower MERV rating filters in the washable and reusable forms, it is best to use those as pre-filters so that you can extend the lifespan of the higher capacity disposable ones behind it.
Meters and Gauging Success
Once you build a series of meters for detecting indoor air quality issues, you should continue to use them to see if your system is actually working. While some people will go by changes in how they feel, measurements are still very important for managing a crisis.
A nuclear bomb, a fire, or some other crisis generating event can cause air quality to decay faster than expected. In these situations, you will need the meters to tell you when it is safe to remove gas masks, as well as to gauge how well the system is doing with managing the crisis.
If you keep a good recording of readings on a daily basis, you will also have a chance of estimating the systems effectiveness in other situations. As an added bonus, if you continue to measure the air quality after the system is built, it gives you a chance to improve efficiency as well as to test out different products to see which ones work best for your situation.
Recycling and Rehabbing Used Filters
Pleated filters offer the best in terms of filtering out particles from the air, but it can be both expensive and difficult to obtain pleated media in a time after a major social collapse. This is just one of many reasons why you need to learn as much as possible about rehabbing and extending the life of both disposable and permanent air filters.
The main problem with extending the life of pleated filters is they can become a source of microbe contamination. They can also build up quite a bit of mold and mildew as the spores are captured in the filter. If you can find a chemical that won’t ruin the pleated material, but will kill off the micro organisms, it may help you extend the life of each filter.
As with water filters made with activated carbon, it may also be possible to rehab the carbon in air filter media. Failing that, you should know how to make your own charcoal, and then add it to a cleaned up pad based filter.
Remember that these filters can also be a breeding ground for mold and mildew. You will need to make sure you can thoroughly clean them in order to avoid this problem.
Providing Power for Air Filters
A standard box fan is likely to take less electricity than a conventional air purifier. Sadly, when you have no electricity at all, the fans will be useless. Unless you can generate enough electricity to power the fans, you may have to look for smaller fans that can be used with batteries.
In many other situations, you might want to consider using gravity powered fans or others that do not require electricity. While these devices may work well enough for generating small amounts of electricity or pushing some air around a room, they are not likely to have enough power to cycle enough air in a short period of time.
That being said, you can always experiment with different fan blade designs to see if you can come up with something that spins faster while using less energy.
What About Ozone Based Air Purifiers?
Aside from trapping particles and gasses, some people claim that ozone generators can also solve air quality problems. Sadly, there is little if any scientific evidence to back up these claims. Here are some of the main problems you may encounter when using an ozone based air purifier:
ozone can interact with other gasses in the air and form even more harmful compounds than the ones you are already dealing with. Because of all the pollution in the air these days, there is no telling what you may wind up breathing in. One thing is for certain, simply changing the composition of a gas molecule doesn’t get rid of it, let alone make it safer.
Ozone cannot actually destroy mold, pollen, dust, or other particles. If you purchased an ion generator, that may cause larger particles to clump together and fall out of the air. This is still not as efficient as conventional filter media and a fan.
Aside from creating dangerous chemicals, ozone itself can cause breathing problems. In fact, if you have an air purifier with an ozone generator, it may be more than worth your while to see if you can find something that doesn’t generate ozone.
Even in situations where ozone is credited with cleaning up some air problems, it takes months to years to see results. If you must get rid of radioactive dust or other hazardous materials in the air, even a few hours is a long time to sit around in a gas mask. At least conventional filter media will get the job done in a more reasonable time frame.
Natural Air Purification Methods
Did you know that some plants are capable of removing formaldehyde, methane, and other toxic fumes from the air? As an added bonus, plants are the only air filtration method available that can use the carbon dioxide removed from the air in order to produce much needed oxygen.
As a result, if you are concerned about air purification for survival shelters, plants may be a very important part of your system.
While some plants are more effective and efficient than others when it comes to filtering gasses, sufficient numbers of them can improve air quality without the need for buying and replacing more effective filters. Unfortunately, plants won’t get rid of pollen, mildew, mold, and other particles that are also a part of air quality problems.
You can use plants to increase oxygen levels and decrease toxins, however a comprehensive air purifications system will still require filters and the capacity to circulate large volumes of air.
If you do enough research on air purification, you will soon find that it is similar to purifying water. There is no such thing as one filter, chemical, or device that will satisfy all of your air purifying needs. The best you can do is start off with a basic filter system and a batch of air cleaning house plants and work upward from there.
It is also very important to start off the process with a suitable set of meters and testing equipment so that you can see how much progress you are making, and how much of an impact various changes make to the air quality.
Fevers are the most common reason for emergency room visits by children. The majority of parents know that fevers in children can cause seizures, and those are all kinds of scary. Learning what to do if you can’t get to that pediatrician can therefore be important to preppers who’ll have kids around. (Fevers in adults are not handled much differently by the way; it’s only that they trigger less fear and fewer emergency visits.) .
I am not a physician, so this isn’t medical advice; it’s a summary of some things I learned from reading medical research and other sources (the most important of which are cited at the bottom of the piece). As always, make your own decisions.
What is a fever? What isn’t a fever?
On the practical level, a body temperature over 100 F (37.8 C) is classified as a fever. In a child, the preferred method to get that temperature is using an infrared ear canal thermometer. Since those require batteries and preppers can’t count on batteries, the backup plan is to use a manual thermometer, shake it down until it reads 96 F or lower, tuck it in the child’s armpit with the arm holding it in place, and leave it be for 2 min before reading it. Add about 1 F to an armpit temp to get real core body temp. Oral and rectal methods are less well thought of, but of the two rectal is preferred. (1)
There’s an unspoken “except” in this definition of fever, though. It’s only a fever if the temperature is high because the person’s brain has reset its internal thermostat to higher than the usual 98.6 F (37 C) and is intentionally keeping the body warmer. The most common reason the brain resets its thermostat is because the immune system told it to. If the person is trying to maintain normal body temperature but just can’t (usually because the environment is too hot), that’s hyperthermia but not fever. The reason for the high body temperature ends up being important.
Another thing fever is not: Fever is not a disease. It’s a sign that something is abnormal, absolutely; but it is only an outcome of whatever’s really going on; not the thing itself. That too is an important distinction.
Fever, of itself, is surprisingly unimportant
The reason the fever exists may well need treating. The other symptoms that often accompany fever often should be treated (mostly to improve the comfort of the patient). Here’s what surprised me, though: Getting the body temperature back down to normal is not of particular value in many cases, and most of the sources I read argued it shouldn’t even be attempted. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) Why on earth not?
The fever doesn’t need to be eliminated, and often doesn’t even need treating of itself, because it’s not doing harm and might be doing good. The ‘doing good’ part is not certain, but evidence points that way: Immune cells work better at the higher temperatures, many disease-causing bacteria don’t reproduce as well at the same temperature. People treated to bring down fever took slightly longer to recover from their colds. (2) Not one of my sources, however, really thought the fever was harmful in average cases.
Hyperthermia without fever is a form of heat injury (there’s a post about it here). It’s a life risk and absolutely one should work to get that body temperature down, because it can get so high it causes brain damage and death. A real fever though is the brain’s idea, and the brain won’t set its thermostat high enough to cook itself. Fever is self limiting.
What about the seizures? 4% of children under the age of five experience a febrile seizure (they’re rare in older children and adults). They normally occur between body temperatures of 104 F (40 C) and 107.6 F (42 C).(4) Two more important things about these seizures:
1) They normally do no harm, despite being very scary to observe. I read about a dozen research journal articles on this point today; of those, just one mentioned a possibility of brain injury from the seizures, while at least four denied such injury.
2) The determining factor of who will have a seizure is the child’s genetic makeup. The occurrence of seizures didn’t go up as temperature did; susceptible kids would have them during any high fevers while the vast majority of kids would not no matter how high the fever ran (they are self limiting after all). (2)
When should fevers be treated?
There are times when the researchers said the fever should be treated: (1,2)
When there is excessive lethargy or delerium
When there are other reasons why the person’s metabolic rate is really high or energy conversion is limited. Fevers use a lot of energy, and if the person can’t spare that energy it may be important to get the temperature down. Examples of such situations include people with serious impairments in their breathing or heart function, or already undernourished persons.
When the person’s getting dehydrated. One loses a lot of water with a fever, through respiration and sweating. If they aren’t drinking a lot too, they’ll get dehydrated, which is a health risk.
Some sources suggest fevers should be treated in the very young infants, since the data on which ‘the fever does no harm’ didn’t come from children that young, so we don’t really know.
Often, one isn’t really treating the fever, but is treating the other symptoms that are caused by the same immune reactions that caused the fever. Common over-the-counter drugs that are marketed as antipyretics (fever reducers) probably make people feel better mostly because they’re reducing the headaches and body aches that the sick person has too. The way you treat is the same, but the goal is different: Any drop in body temperature is coincidental, you’re really aiming to make them feel better. It’s important not to overdose the person trying to get the temperature down to normal.
How to treat
There are two main approaches to treating fever that are recommended (each recommended by a different sort of people, to be sure). There are some herbal remedies that have proven effective, particularly willow bark. I’m currently researching a post on those that I expect to have up soon, so for now I’ll just float that option and go on.
The other is the use of standard, over-the-counter medications. These are still good prepper options as they are easily available and store well (particularly in cool, dry, dark places like the back of a refrigerator). The two main classes of drugs used are acetaminophen and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen). Of those two classes, acetaminophen was the every source’s first choice.
Acetaminophen can be great, but more is not better. Overdoses of acetaminophen cause about 450 deaths a year in the U.S. (about 100 of those being intentional suicides). (2) . Recommended dosing is 15 mg drug/kg of body weight of the child (6.8 g drug/lb), with no dose to exceed 1 g. This can be given every 4 hrs, but don’t exceed 90 mg/kg per day (41 mg/lb/day), or 4 g per day, whichever is lower. (1)
Ibupropfen isn’t a bad choice, it’s just got a little higher (but still small) risk of bad side effects; particularly letting skin infections pop up with chicken pox. If you use it, the recommended dose (1) is 10 mg/kg (4.5 mg/lb) doses every 6 hr to a max of 40 mg/kg/day (18 mg/lb/day).
How not to treat fevers
There are some things that are commonly tried that the researchers wanted to discourage. On the drug front, they advised against giving aspirin or aspirin-like compounds to children (over 2 yrs old) if better choices were available. Aspirin in children raises the risk of Reye’s syndrome, which causes swelling in the liver and brain. Reye’s is always rare, but it’s less rare after children are given aspirin, particularly for chicken pox or flu-like symptoms.
They also discouraged the common practice, among pediatricians as well as parents, of alternating doses of acetaminophen with doses of ibuprofen. The reasoning makes sense — using different drug pathways would seem to make metabolizing the drugs easier — but the studies the authors (1,2) looked at could find no evidence that it did any good, and they liked acetaminophen better as described above.
Overdosing, particularly just to lower body temperature, was very strongly discouraged because of toxicity.
On the non-drug front, sponging to cool the sick person is a very old practice. It’s not recommended, though (1,2,4,5). Remember that in fever, the brain is working to keep the body temperature at the higher level. Sponging does tend to cool the body, but then the body’s own systems kick in, keeping the temp almost as high as before but making the patient feel miserably cold. Sponging, unlike the drugs, does nothing to address the immune signals that are really causing the person to feel bad. If the problem is hyperthermia without fever, as in heat stroke, sponging can be a Great idea.
Well, that was a lot of research, so here’s the bullet points:
The temperature itself is not the problem, so don’t bother struggling to lower it.
Seizure isn’t an emergency, even though it looks like one.
Treat there’s a need to manage related symptoms, such as body ache and malaise (that’s medico-speak for “I just feel cruddy”) or if the person doesn’t have the energy to run the fever.
Push fluids; dehydration is likely otherwise.
Acetaminophen is the best treatment choice. Other valued contenders include some herbal remedies and NSAID drugs like ibuprofen.
Don’t overdose on the drugs or bother with sponge baths.
By now you’re poignantly aware of the false-alarm that was raised in Hawaii on Saturday 1/13/18. For 38 minutes there was wholesale panic and alarm after the following message alert was sent out to cell phones and over the TV and radio throughout the state:
“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” (Hawaii Emergency Management Agency)
This message was later rescinded as a false-alarm. Great, huh? In the meantime, people panicked. News reports told of people gathered in hotel lobbies in a state of semi-paralysis, wondering what to do. One woman (a schoolteacher) attempted to enter a shelter only to find that it was locked. A professional golfer and his family hid beneath a mattress in the bathroom of a hotel, hoping the attack was not happening. Other people placed their children inside of storm drains, and still others called authorities with no answer.
10 Ways You Need to Prepare for WWIII
Skeptics will tell you it won’t happen, but they’ll be pounding down your door to take supplies from you and yours…maybe more…when it comes and catches them unprepared. How about getting a plan together beforehand? Emergency actions. You’ll have problems if you’re in the city…any city that may be a target. You must try, though…there will be a lot of people who will not…until the last minute, and then they’ll just be reacting in a frenzy. Let’s make a basic, starter plan.
Research existing fallout shelters: Under the Clinton presidency, the civil defense system was shut down in 1996. Go to your local municipal government building and you may be able to find lists or plans of older buildings that have a fallout shelter rating…and then locate the one nearest your home. Here is information from FEMA on emergency shelters and safe rooms.
Food: you’ll need a substantial supply, and be able to transport that supply if you’re in an urban area, or in an area that is likely to receive either a direct strike or some fallout. MRE’s, freeze-dried food, canned goods, dried food…these for starters.
Water: this is tougher, as it is no light matter to transport several hundred gallons of water anywhere. You want a method for purifying it, concentrating on drawing no supply from a radioactive source, and then taking care of any toxins, by germs or the products or waste of man. Filters and chemical purifiers are warranted here.
Medical supplies/tools/ weapons/ communications gear: the latter may be no good to you after a strike (because of the EMP, or Electromagnetic Pulse effects of either an EMP weapon or a nuke discharged in the atmosphere for such a purpose)
Each Family member needs an individual plan: when it happens, everyone needs to know where to go and what to do…a linkup point to meet one another and rally.
A hide location out of the blast area safe from fallout: yes, a prepared bug out location that is ready for all of you to make your way there either together or separately. Note: this last one is the “biggie” for the naysayers…yet this is the way it is. There are all kinds of “moaning” comments, such as “Well, who can afford a place in the mountains?” or “You’ll never be able to travel when it hits,” yada, yada, ad infinitum. In the end, it’s on you, and it’s tough if you don’t, but it is not anyone’s responsibility but your own. Nobody is obligated to ensure that you survive, or take the necessary measures to help you do so. If you can afford the property, you better buy it in advance or structure your lifestyle to enable you to live in an area that meets the requirements for survival. If not, you do what you can. The skeptics can stay where they are, physically and mentally. Be under no illusion, though, that if they need to depart their area, they’ll come to yours and take what you have: their needs “justifying” their actions.
You need to have a primary and alternate route to reach haven, and the means to make it there: As I mentioned, this is all on you: ultimately you are responsible for the steps you need to take
Definitive Action: When the alarm goes off? Better to be “wrong” one thousand times and in your shelter, executing your plan safe and sound, than for the real thing to occur and you disregard it, and stay in the backyard on the lawn chair guarding the barbeque grill.
Remain in that shelter for a sufficient amount of time: this is where a Faraday cage-protected radio or scanner may come in handy. Remember that the Compton Effect from an EMP lasts for a while, so don’t pull those devices out immediately…or have several cages with duplicate radios in it so you can afford to lose one if necessary. Monitor to see if any “all clear” is given, or if it’s safe to emerge. If it’s real? Oh, you’ll know, all right.
Use your instincts, as well as your knowledge: We’re “hard-wired” for this. If it feels “wrong,” it probably is wrong. If the guy running up to you with a smile is offering his help? He probably wants to do something the opposite of friendly. If it feels as if you’re walking into a trap if you’re sheltering somewhere, then it probably is. Murphy’s Law: what can go wrong, will go wrong. Use your instincts and trust in them.
These are suggestions, and you’re not obligated to follow them. They may be able to provide you with a framework if you don’t already have a plan in place. You’re not obligated to enable the rest of the world to survive it: just those who are dependent on you. A strength of mind, body, and heart, and the ability to make a quick decision based on common sense are what will give you an advantage when others are panicking. Those who are wise will see trouble and take cover beforehand…and the foolish will go on and be destroyed. One final thing: OPSEC (Operational Security) is paramount. Don’t let anyone know what you have and where you have it…keep your plans to yourself.
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