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I have had plenty of MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) in my lifetime, having served in the military for several years. They toss you your first ones in basic training and you get to sample the many types throughout the training, exercises, and deployments you experience. They are compact with lightweight packaging and include a chemical heater. These make them great for bug out bags and other survival kits. It is also a good idea to try the different types and decide which you like best. Even though it is not as bad as not having any food at all- a batch of MREs you can hardly stomach will not boost your morale in an emergency. In this article, we will look at some of my experiences with MREs and list out some of the best pouches you can get your hands on. Feel free to chime in with your favorite MRE number too.
MRE Variety Can Help
Some people complain that MREs are bland and not palatable, and that this gets worse as you continue eating the same ones. Sometimes, boxed batches would only include a single type of MRE, which made eating them a bland task. Even some of the most popular MRE options will be unexciting if you are sitting down to eat them for the 10th time in a row. William Cowper put it best in some poem he wrote; “Variety is the very spice of life.”
The Latest MRE Menu List
MREs are constantly havening their menus updated for taste preferences, nutrition, and calorie count. Here is the latest menu, in order:
Chili with Beans, Corn Bread, Cheddar Cheese Spread, Crackers, Cheese Filled Snack Food, Carbohydrate Fortified Beverage Powder
Southwest Beef and Black Beans, Spiced Apples, Pound Cake, Cheddar Cheese Spread, Chipotle Tortillas, Meat Snack, Mocha Cappuccino Drink Mix
I have had most, although probably older versions, of everything on this list. The few standouts that I know I have tried include most of the vegetarian options (I avoid them), and the 21- Lemon Pepper Tuna. Notably missing is the Scrambled Egg MRE, which usually got a strong reaction from people. They either loved it or hated it, and I was firmly in the ‘hate it’ crowd. My favorites include Menu 10: Chili Mac, and Menu 1: Chili with Beans. I prefer to stay away from anything chicken, since it is a little chewy. Personal preference is obviously a big factor here, since there are so many to choose from.
Cracking the Code of Generic Names
They like to list out things generically, but you can pop open an MRE with ‘candy’ listed and it will have a bag of M&Ms. Pop Tarts are usually the ‘toaster strudel.’ They do actually go the generic route when it comes to the drink mixes, but the ‘carbohydrate electrolyte beverage powder’ is basically Gatorade mix.
The Power of Condiments
The title entrée for each MRE menu item may drive your choice, but it is important to consider the items that come with it as well. Many times in the field, bland MREs became savored meals with peanut butter or cheese spread. Luckily, one of these is included in most of the MREs offered. Salt, pepper, and hot sauce can go a long way in making a Chicken Pesto Pasta taste good.
A Brief History of the MRE
MREs were introduced to the military in 1981 to replace the canned MCI (Meal, Combat, Individual rations) and the LRP (Long Range Patrol Food Packet). The bagged chemical heater added in 1990 was a huge improvement to provide warm food compared to other options- without the use of fire. Dr. Abdul Rahman is credited with inventing the modern MRE and even was awarded a civilian service medal for it.
The Flameless Ration Heater
These flameless heaters use a water-activated chemical to cause an exothermic reaction to get very hot. Set a pouch of whatever you are trying to heat against this heater, and you’ll have a hot meal in less than 15 minutes. They do not like to typically pack these heaters in MREs sold to civilians because they off gas and present a dangerous explosion hazard if they are not stored properly. They also can put off enough hydrogen gas to be a hazard in a confined space, so be sure to use them with plenty of ventilation.
Buy MREs Single or in Bulk
You can find MREs in surplus stores, both sold by the pouch or by the case. Make sure you check the expiration dates, because some of these MREs were pulled out of the back shelf in a military logistics warehouse and dumped on the surplus market. You can also find good deals online that let you pick which menu you get- which is great for trying out various menus to find the one you like best. Even still, a variety is best to keep meals interesting and buying in bulk is usually cheaper. You can find online deals here:
What is your favorite menu number MRE? Have you tried a few of the older ones that are not around anymore? Do you keep any in your bug out bag, or do you go for a different food solution? Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
Water weighs 8.35 pounds per gallon and 1 kilogram per liter. Anyone familiar with backpacking can tell you that this is not very forgiving when you need to carry water on the go. Bug out bag water is not just a weight concern, but also a packing problem. A gallon of water takes up 231 cubic inches- which is a huge displacement compared to your survival gear! Below, we will take a look at the best ways to include water in your bug out bag, and techniques to stay hydrated when you are on the move.
Storing Water in Your Bug Out Bag
Water is not the best way to utilize your limited bug out bag space (or weight). Still, water is a requirement for survival and you should have a limited amount stored for mobility. There are several options when it comes to keeping water on the go. One crossover from Every Day Carry (EDC) is the personal water bottle.
Collapsible Bug Out Bag Water Bottles
There are many types of water bottles that you can include in your bug out bag. Collapsible and stainless are at the top of the list. Collapsible bottles are great because they can greatly reduce the space required to store the empty container. Two stand-outs include the Nomader personal water bottle and Coghlan’s Collapsible Water Container. The last one is less of a bottle and more of a container, but the functionality in your bug out bag is the same. It is a better choice if you are not planning on being too mobile, since it can hold up to 5 gallons.
Stainless Bug Out Bag Water Bottles
Stainless bottles may have more weight and take up more space when empty, but they give you the option to purify your water by boiling it. If you don’t have another method of purification or need a back up method, stainless bottles are the way to go.
Purifying and Filtering on the Go
Besides boiling water in a stainless bottle, you can also prepare by having water filters or purification tabs in your bug out bag. These options give you a way to have clean water without worrying about heat or fire. Filters are extremely lightweight these days, and there are a few designed specifically for bug out bags or backpacks. The best options for filtering are:
Both filters will do the trick. The Lifestraw is more widely available, but the Sawyer can be a little cheaper and is more versatile. Check your local store or online to compare pricing when you are looking for one. The purification tablets are usually have some compound of iodine as an active ingredient. There are several different brands and types, so the one that packs the tightest is the one we suggest: Potable Aqua Tabs.
Water is sold everywhere. Bottled water come is various sizes and is a huge commodity when it comes to disasters. Companies like Budweiser even stop beer production to create canned water for communities impacted by disasters. A few bottles of water may not go far, but it is better than nothing. One of the most efficient ways to carry water is in pouches- but they do not offer a reusable container for refilling. I keep water pouches in my bug out bag as a no-maintenance way to sustain my family during the initial stages of an emergency. They are easy to get a hold of online: DATREX Emergency Water Pouches.
The Final Word
In your bug out bag, water or ways to purify it should be a necessity. Water is a basic human need, and so it has to be planned for when you are creating and maintaining your bug out bag. If you are packing water and not just containers and filters- you need to be aware of the impact the space and weight will both have. Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
Biathlon is the most watched Winter Olympic sport outside of the United States. It’s no surprise why people love it- it’s unique and very difficult! Biathlon is a combination of cross country skiing and target shooting. Anyone that frequents the range can tell you that these two activities are not exactly easily compatible. We’ll talk a little bit about the history of biathlon, the techniques the athletes use to perform at an Olympic level, and how survivalists can learn from the sport.
A Brief History of the Biathlon
Cross country skiing with guns mixed in seems like an odd Olympic combination, but it is one sport that makes perfect sense given its history. The sport itself has been around for over two centuries, and has been included in the Olympics since 1924. When it was first introduced, it was aptly named the “Military Ski Patrol” event. The competitors ski various distances based on the event and stop periodically to take shots at targets at least 50 meters away. The shooting can be especially difficult because competitors heart rates rise up to 200 beats per minute. Shooting with a racing heart rate can drastically affect your accuracy. A missed shot requires a ‘penalty loop’ of more skiing or time added on. This can increase their heart rate even more, making later shots even more difficult.
Speed while cross-country skiing comes secondary for a biathlete. The important technique to this sport is breath control and the ability to reduce your heart rate on command. The athletes that excel in this sport carefully manage their breathing to reduce their heart rate prior to shooting at targets. Some even manage to get it down from 200 to around 130 beats per minute- still a racing heart rate! Missing the targets can push a fast skiing leader to the back of the pack in an instant. Anyone who has practiced breath control while shooting a gun can tell you that it is something that has to be practiced- and that is at a range. Combining this with extremely exhausting cross-country skiing makes the task nearly impossible and pretty much guarantees a miss for anyone but the most disciplined.
The Survival Takeaway
I would encourage you to check out any of the biathlon events to see why the rest of the world finds it so compelling. We may practice breath control at the range, but most of us are standing still and have not just elevated our heart rates to over 200 beats per minute! The last time I moved while shooting was at the ranges in the military several years ago, and these were short sprints and just positional changes. The biathlon is a lot closer to real-world situations than our standard range practice or even my military training. The heart rate gets up there from physical activity and stress- and we should expect to have to deal with it. We may not be able to get from 200 beats per minute down to 130 in a matter of seconds, but it can only help to try. If your able to- consider checking out an outdoor range with a course to see how you fare. Movement and shooting don’t help each other out, but it could be a necessity.
The Final Word
The most popular sport by far in the United States as far as viewership goes is figure skating. I’d suggest you record some biathlon to watch instead and see which is more interesting. Biathlon is the sport that closest aligns to survivalists, at least until they put some sort of Alone inspired survival sport in the summer games. Either way, I hope you enjoy the Olympics and the spirit of competition as much as we do here at TruePrepper. It’s refreshing when our countries differences are reduced down to friendly competition every few years. Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
Have you heard the rumors and stories? The very jets that ferry people across the world are either purposefully or incidentally spilling mind-altering chemicals into the atmosphere. Or at least that is what the ‘chemtrail crowd’ would have you think. The other side of the coin, from the ‘contrail crowd’ is that contrails are normal and non-hazardous. It turns out that neither of these are 100% true. In this post we will take a look at what contrails actually are, whether they are a threat, and whether they could be weaponized. We’ll also look at why people either assume they are dangerous or brush them off as harmless.
What is a Contrail?
A contrail is usually formed from moisture condensating and freezing on small jet fuel exhaust particles. You have probably seen thousands in your lifetime; they appear as white streaks trailing the planes in the sky. Contrails can also be formed by turbulence resulting from a pressure differential. Well that was relatively simple- but what is a chemtrail? Chemtrails are intentional or inadvertent chemical sprays that can harm and potentially kill unsuspecting victims. There is a small group of preppers that believes that these are one-in-the-same. These preppers believe that the government is intentionally poisoning or altering mind states on a wide-spread level using commercial jets. While a chemtrail from a jet is certainly possible- it is not what you are seeing when you spot a commercial jet. Besides the physics reasons of why contrails occur, there are two other problems with this theory: motive and impact.
Chemtrail Motives and Impact
If the government was able to spray harmful chemicals into the atmosphere, why would they? Whether or not you are a conspiracy theorist, the government falls into one of four categories:
An incompetent and wasteful burden on society
A slightly-competent societal necessity
A competent group that improves society
A manipulative, powerful entity that overbears on society
Notice that spraying harmful chemicals purposefully into the atmosphere only can be considered for the last category- and a menacingly oppressive government at that. The problem is that there would be much easier, less visible, and less expensive ways to introduce chemicals to the population. Surely, a powerful government bent on punishing and controlling its citizens would understand this. The motive does not match the impact. If chemtrails scare you, you should be more concerned about your tap water or your well’s water table. Also, effective chemical sprays from aircraft have to be sprayed at lower altitudes. The dissipation in the atmosphere as the chemicals fall drastically reduces any chemical weapon’s effectiveness.
Chemtrails are typically not the word you are looking for when talking about dangerous chemical weapons being deliberately sprayed on victims below. The combat scenario for this is known as ‘aircraft vector chemical spraying’. Chemical dumping, bombing, and spraying have been around in some form for ages, but were pretty standard in World War I and thereafter. Contrails that you see in the sky are not the same types of chemicals that are weaponized and used to kill thousands indiscriminately in large swaths. Like we mentioned early, chemicals from that altitude would dissipate well past their effective size while falling. Some chemical weapons are even lighter than air, and would never fall to ground level without an additive and dilution agent.
The Harmless Exhaust
Let’s face it; jet exhaust itself is some pretty nasty stuff. You would not do well inhaling jet exhaust fumes and particulates- much like any car, truck, or boat but on a much larger scale. Even though these jet engines are massive and spew out some unnatural chemicals, we have to consider the altitude again. No matter what any jet is putting out, they are just too dang high to affect a localized area. Even if the argument is that it slowly builds up- there simply wouldn’t be enough of any chemical to make a difference as we inhale on ground level. Even though jets are not very efficient, cars and trucks pump out 10 times the exhaust annually. Going back to motive and impact: Would it not be easier to put additives into gasoline and diesel and see a tenfold impact at ground level?
Conspiracy Theorists, Preppers, and the Overlap
Everyone loves a good conspiracy. Moon landings, the twin towers, chemtrails- they all have the allure of being more ‘awake’ than the rest of the population. Conspiracy and prepping has often overlapped. I think this overlap has damaged public perception of preparedness as a whole- but that doesn’t matter much now. One of our goals at TruePrepper is to mainstream prepping as the common-sense way to approach tough situations in life. There are plenty of practical, grounded preppers that share our viewpoint and understand that the more people are prepared, the better it would be for all of us. That doesn’t mean I shoot down every ‘conspiracy’ on sight, since it is important to approach things with an open mind. Hell- I’m not even 100% convinced on the moon landing. My point is that we need to focus on the important threats that aren’t cooked up tin-hat theories.
The Final Word
Chemtrails and contrails- we broke them down and shared our thoughts. We don’t plan on changing too many minds with this post, but it doesn’t hurt to address theories that damage how preppers appear to non-preppers. Be sure to catch up on actual threats to you and your family using the TrueRisk index. Don’t let the conspiracies distract you from being prepared and enjoying life. Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
The flu is running rampant in the US right now, with H3N2 not being the predicted strain by vaccine developers. It has spread rapidly and earlier than usual, and the death toll is rising. Flu deaths are nothing new, unfortunately. The CDC reports that about 12,000 people die in the US every year from flu complications. In a ‘moderately severe’ year like we are currently experiencing, deaths have reached up to 56,000. The rapid spread and the death toll numbers can be scary, especially if you or a loved one are dealing with symptoms. Well go ahead and calm down, because in this post we’re going to look at the bigger picture and examine what it takes for the flu to become a historical pandemic.
What is a Pandemic?
A pandemic, simply put, is a disease outbreak on a global scale. This is different than an epidemic and a simple disease outbreak. An epidemic is when the infectious disease spreads through many people quickly. A disease outbreak is the smallest scale, and can be just one person contracting the disease if it is an unknown disease or one thought to be controlled or eradicated. Flu pandemics are no stranger to our history. Some of the most well-known include:
The 1890 Asiatic flu killed up to 1 million (H3N8 subtype)
The 1918 Spanish flu killed up to 100 million (H1N1 subtype) which was about 5% of the world population
The 1957 Asian flu killed 2 million (H2N2 subtype)
The 1968 Hong Kong flu killed 1 million (H3N2 subtype)
As you can see, the Hong Kong flu was the same subtype as the flu that is prevalent in America today. Humans have built up better group immunity since it was introduced in 1968, which is why there are less fatalities. New subtypes of the flu virus can show up, however, and those are the ones that pose the most pandemic risk.
The Flu Pandemic Scale
Sometimes diseases can start with animals and animal vectors and spread to humans. This is why the bird flu and swine flu were both considered dangerous and monitored heavily. The influenza pandemic scale developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows this:
Phase 1: New influenza viruses are spreading through animals but there has been no transmission to humans.
Phase 2: The virus spreading through animals has infected humans.
Phase 3: Small clusters or sporadic cases of the flu occur for humans but human to human transmission is not present.
Phase 4: Verified human to human transmission of the flu has occurred. This is considered the tipping point for a flu pandemic.
Phase 5: The virus has spread to multiple countries in a single region.
Phase 6: The virus has spread to multiple regions and a global pandemic is occurring.
After these phases, the WHO also emphasizes the importance of the post-peak and post-pandemic periods where people can possibly let their guard down and still contract the virus.
Preventing the Flu
The flu is almost like death and taxes in that you can expect it to come around every year. The subtype may vary, and if we’re lucky- it’s something that we’ve seen before and have some natural immunity to. Even still, growing populations around the globe are just a growing number of hosts, victims, and vectors to the influenza virus. Stay healthy and don’t spread the virus to others with these flu prevention tips:
Vaccinations – Although scientists aren’t right all the time (as shown with the low effectiveness of the vaccine this year) the best defense against the flu is getting the annual vaccine, according to experts. Pandemic flu will likely not be affected by vaccines, however, and they will be synthesized as quickly as possible. One movie that does a pretty good job at showing just how long this can take is the movie Contagion. As a former emergency manager, I found that movie to be pretty accurate of how government agencies would respond and how agonizingly slow vaccines and distribution could be.
Wash Your Hands – Proper hand washing is surprisingly rare. It’s easy to learn a good technique. Here is a solid technique laid out in a quick video:
WHO: How to handwash? With soap and water - YouTube
Quit Touching Your Face – This is one where I struggle. I’m constantly fiddling with my beard, rubbing my eyes, or just keeping my hands around my face. I work on breaking the habit often and hope to get there one day. It has probably caused me to get sick before, and will cost me again if I don’t push harder to quit.
Cover Your Cough – You don’t see it too often, but some people don’t cover their mouth with their cough. I don’t care if you hide your face in your elbow or just use your hand. Particles from your mouth have been measured by scientists to travel 26 feet from coughs. Don’t spread your sickness by being lazy.
Wear a N95 Mask – Some cultures are way ahead of us here. In Japan, it is commonplace to wear a face mask during flu season or if you are sick. You may get some odd looks here if you walk around with an N95 mask, but if there is a pandemic flu breakout of a new subtype, I can guarantee you my family and I will all have one on. You can get several for cheap and throw a few into all of your kits.
Antiviral Drugs – Tamiflu, Relenza, and Rapivab are used in both the treatment and prevention of flu viruses. They are prescription drugs, so you will need to get a doctor to prescribe you one of these usually to treat severe symptoms.
Flu Resources and Information
There are several resources available online. Here are a few of the best to keep up with the latest information and tracking possible outbreaks:
The H3N2 subtype this year is not likely to become a sweeping pandemic or even an epidemic in the US. New strains, rare subtypes, and crossovers from animals are the high-risk influenza viruses that pose the biggest threats. You should still protect yourself from seasonal influenza with the tips above, but know that seasonal influenza is not the same threat as a pandemic flu that would spread quickly past a “moderately severe” seasonal flu. Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
Ticks are nasty parasitic creatures. Not only do they ambush you and latch on with their mandibles, but they can quickly pass terrible diseases on to you as well. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), which monitors and prepares for outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics, has a standing plea to prepare for and prevent tick bites. Lyme disease is on their radar, and they want us to avoid contracting it and possibly even spreading it to our children. In this post we will break down the different diseases ticks carry, how to remove a tick, and the multiple ways you can prevent a tick bite in the first place.
Lyme Disease and Other Diseases Ticks Can Infect You With
There are many threatening diseases out there and plenty of animals and insects can carry them as a host. When an organism carries a disease it is called a ‘disease vector’. Ticks are very dangerous disease vectors because of how hard they are to detect and prevent. A few diseases that ticks can transmit include:
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Southern Tick Rash
Human Ganulocytic Anaplasmosis (HGA)
The full list goes on and on, and learning to identify symptoms of the worst ones can help you prepare for an encounter with one. Lyme disease tops this list as it is a hard one to diagnose, but can debilitate you for the rest of your life and even be passed on to your children before they are born. Many people diagnosed with Lyme disease also have HGA and babesiosis transmitted by the tick, which can even further complicate diagnosis and treatment.
Ticks relish areas that are heavily wooded, have tall grass, or plenty of ground brush. When you go outside camping, hiking, gardening, or hunting- you are probably in their backyard. If you venture into these areas, you need to know how to protect yourself, treat your clothing, and remove ticks if you spot them. Wearing white or other light colors can help you spot ticks more quickly, so you can brush them off before they bite.
Keep Deer Away
Deer and ticks happen to run in the same circles. They enjoy the same habitat, and a tick is more than happy to make a deer its own habitat. One easy way to reduce your chance of encountering ticks is by avoiding deer. Deer are the preferred host of the formidable deer tick or black-legged tick. They also latch on to mice, lizards, and birds. Deer ticks are the main vector for Lyme disease in the US. Since deer are the main prey of a deer tick, staying clear of deer can reduce your chances of being bitten by a deer tick and subsequent Lyme disease infection.
Treat Clothing with Permethrin
We used it in the military, and it is pretty powerful stuff to treat your clothes, shoes, and equipment. It’s easy to use and apply, and it just takes a little forethought so you can have enough time for it to dry. Once you apply it to your clothing, it works as a great insect repellent and can be the first part of your defense against ticks. Sawyer makes some pretty strong and resilient treatment: Sawyer Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent.
Picaradin vs. DEET: The Best Tick Prevention Spray
DEET is the well known mosquito and tick repellent main ingredient. It’s been proven to work well and is the most common active ingredient in off-the-shelf insect repellents. DEET stands for N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide so we are pretty luck it condenses down to an easy to remember acronym. DEET has been proven by studies to be generally safe to use, although many are wary of it due to its potency towards insects. People are so wary in fact that one of the most searched terms on Google for DEET is “Can you get cancer from DEET?” The answer is complicated, in that studies have not provided enough evidence to say whether it does or does not cause cancer.
Picaradin (also known as icaridin) has been shown in studies to be just as effective as DEET in repelling most insects. Picaradin has the benefit of being odorless and not greasy like DEET repellents can be. Only a limited number of repellents use picardin, and they typically cost a little bit more. Unfortunately, studies do show that DEET is slightly more effective at preventing tick bites. Any slight effectiveness could make the difference on getting a tick bite, so DEET wins out the comparison for ticks despite it’s drawbacks. 30% DEET content is recommended for repelling ticks, and Ben’s Repellent starts off with that DEET content: Ben’s Mosquito and Tick Repellent.
Removing Ticks the Right Way
It seems like I’ve heard of a million ways to remove a tick. Don’t listen to every method and wives’ tale, since some can leave the head attached, give you a higher risk of infection, or even hurt you more than the tick would. They make tools that you can use for tick removal. Here are a few standouts:
Pro Tick Remedy Tick Ease
Besides these tools, tweezers or some other method of getting a skinny, sturdy material between the head and your skin is the best method. Just pinching and pulling the body of the tick can often pop off the tick’s head and leave it attached to your skin. After you remove a tick, you’ll want to watch for any red flags that may indicate that you picked up a disease from the tick. Those red flags could include fever, rash, and odd behavior.
The CDC’s Plea for Help with Ticks and Lyme Disease
The CDC doesn’t mince words when it comes to ticks and mosquitoes. They would eliminate parasite vectors if they could, but currently they have to rely on just asking us to protect ourselves. That doesn’t mean they aren’t trying though; there is current research into genetically engineered mosquitoes that kill their own kind. This could help combat dengue fever and malaria, but poses its own risks in the unknown long-term effects of genetic modification. Perhaps it’s best if we just heed the CDCs advice and combat ticks and mosquitoes on our own to avoid infection. Here is the link to the CDC’s website where they explain how to stop ticks and the diseases they spread:
If a tick passes Lyme disease to you or someone in your family, it can become a nightmare. Identifying the conditions and symptoms and treating the disease can be extremely difficult. The best way to avoid all of this is to be smart and heed the CDC’s warning about protecting yourself. Prevention is paramount when it comes to tick bites, so make sure you prepare before you head into the woods. Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
It’s all in the news. North Korea has their finger on the button. Even though they have been saying that since the Korean conflict in the 50’s, it seems much more plausible now. If they or any other country does decide to deploy a nuclear weapon against the U.S., there is good chance it will be an EMP. That stands for Electro-Magnetic Pulse. When a nuclear bomb detonates, there is a blast radius that levels everything in its path for a limited number of miles. Then comes an electro-magenetic pulse. That wave extends much farther and fries all electronic circuitry that is not protected. It is possible an EMP would render anything with a circuit board completely useless. That includes modern cars, computers, radios, TVs, cell phones, and, well, you get the idea. It would affect almost everything we use in our daily lives. Lives would come to a stand-still in the area affected by the EMP wave. It would not harm human tissue, just all circuit boards. Some argue that the circuit board has to be powered on at the time of the blast for it be destroyed. If so, it would still take down all moving cars, all running computers, and all cell phones. Same end result. Everything stops. Many stress that the biggest threat is to our national electric power grid. If that goes down, all electric utility power is gone.
Another form of EMP is caused by a solar storm. If the sun has a large Coronal Mass Ejection (CME, a severe solar flare), it could cause an EMP wave to hit whatever side of the Earth it is facing. The results may be similar to a nuke EMP, but could affect a much larger area.
An EMP deployed in the atmosphere would have a much larger affect than one on the ground. In this case, the nuclear detonation occurs well off the ground. The initial blast is harmless, the EMP propagates much farther, and the radiation cloud disperses somewhat and gets carried farther. The EMP reach is so much larger, it may even be possible to take out the entire Eastern seaboard of the U.S. with one atmospheric EMP. There are various theories on how the radiation will disperse. I’m expecting the prevailing wind and weather to have an impact.
So far, I’ve read 3 full novels about the disaster following the detonation of an EMP. Note that they are all fiction and represent the author’s beliefs on what could happen. Call BS as you see fit, but they are thought-provoking!
Book 1: One Second After by William R. Forstchen: This book started serious prepping for me and other family members. It was so pivotal for me, I actually blogged about that book HERE. Looks like there are 2 sequels now.
Book 2: A Distant Eden by Lloyd Tackitt. This is very easy read and ended up as a 7 book series. I read the first 5. In this book, a solar storm caused the EMP.
Book 3: Trackers by Nicholas Sansbury Smith. An interesting take on rural impacts. The plot here is less directly about the EMP, but still interesting. Has 3 sequels.
#2: Situation and Position Awareness
First off, know the signs of an EMP happening. If your phone suddenly stops working, check with someone else to see if theirs stopped too. If everyone’s car just turns off, it would obviously be an EMP. Second, know exactly what to do next. Most people will be standing around wondering what to do. You will be calm and collected while you swing into action. Be aware of your surroundings and how they would help or harm in the event of an EMP. Are you in a crowded city? How far away from home are you? How dependent are you on infrastructure, specifically the power grid? Envision how you would handle the event while answering those questions. Then just prepare ahead of time so that the answers to those questions are acceptable.
#3: Start by Preparing Just Like For Other Events
Before an EMP has occurred, much of the preparation should be similar to other prepper events. Basically, get to your bug-out/bug-in location, secure your food and water, watch for the 2nd or 3rd day run on grocery and hardware stores, watch for the 1-2 week widespread panic, etc. The unique aspects of an EMP are as follows:
Acknowledge that this will be a long-term (maybe permanent) situation
Expect no help from the government. Expect no public electric power.
Protect electronics (#4 below)
Prepare to monitor and respond to the radiation dispersal (#5 below)
#4: Harden Important Devices
There are ways to protect sensitive electronics. It is called “Hardening” and makes it so the pulse is not passed on to sensitive electronics. The most prevalent is called a Faraday Cage. You actually probably already have one in your house. If you look at a microwave oven door, you will see a metal mesh in-between the glass. Also notice that the seal around the door is metal. This is a Faraday Cage meant to keep harmful microwaves inside the oven. You can use the same concept to keep an EMP out! One way to do this is simply to store electronics in an old microwave. I use a filing cabinet with foam lining so nothing is touching or near the metal. I keep charged radios in there so I can listen and find out what is happening after an EMP. Some recommend galvanized trash cans. If you wrap something in plastic, then aluminum foil, then plastic, and a second layer of foil, that should EMP-proof it too. I do that with spare fuses for my car (in the event that the car fuses take the hit and the rest of the circuits survive). Theoretically, if you ground your Faraday Cage (connect a wire that runs to a good ground), that should shunt the pulse to ground better. See your local Ham radio operator for more details.
A Filing Cabinet as a Faraday Cage
A Microwave Oven is already a Faraday Cage
Seriously? People buy Geiger counters? Yes, or you won’t know you’re being exposed to deadly radiation. The device is I use is technically called a radiation detector. It is called NukAlert and you can get it HERE on Amazon. It is not cheap but last for 10+ years and could literally save your life. I attach it to my everywhere carry bag using a Grimlock. It will start chirping if you get exposed to radiation. It is the only way to know when and where the radiation cloud occurs. If it goes off, determine the wind pattern and go the other way. It would also be helpful if you live anywhere near a nuclear power plant that goes hot.
The Final Word
I hope these steps will help you prepare for the possibility of an EMP. Remember the #1 rule before, during, and after any event: Don’t Panic. By planning ahead, you will be more prepared than most and ready to handle whatever happens. If you are an EMP fanatic, let me know if I left anything out.
Happy New Year! We are starting it off right with a huge giveaway opportunity: our Motherlode Survival Kit Giveaway. Basically, we are asking survival gear vendors to contribute to the giveaway along with us over the course of the year to give the winner a kick-ass complete survival kit. This giveaway works a little differently than the others we have ran. You can enter once, but you can return daily to vote for us on Top Prepper Websites for additional entries and to increase your chance of winning.
The Gerber private label Bear Grylls survival gear offers wilderness survival staples at pretty good prices. The one thing that I would caution you on, though, is that the branding comes with a cost: royalties. In order to brand their gear, they surely have to pay Bear a cut of the proceeds- which layers some cost into the price. Bear is the star of plenty of books and TV shows, like Man vs. Wild- but that doesn’t mean his gear is the best. He is well known for eating and drinking pretty much anything to demonstrate survival techniques.
I don’t necessarily have issues with the gear, since it is highly rated and a pretty good quality for the price. That doesn’t mean it is the best value on the market, however; so we’ll compare a few of the more popular Bear Grylls survival tools with other options. Prices may change after we do our comparison, so adjust your own decisions accordingly. Also keep in mind that Bear Grylls survival gear is priced to make survival and bushcraft accessible, so we are comparing for value and not necessarily the best piece of equipment. Let’s get started:
Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter vs. UST Spark Force Fire Starter
At the time I’m writing this, the Bear Grylls fire starter is a steal at $7. This makes it pretty hard to beat- even from lesser known brands. The Ultimate Survival Technologies Spark Force Fire Starter sits at a little over $7. The UST is a little lighter, weighing just 1 ounce; which is great for long distance bug out bags.
Gerber Bear Grylls Parang Machete vs. CRKT Halfachance Parang Machete
Parang machetes are great, giving better mechanical advantage to a chopping motion. Both of these are full tang and sport great reviews. While the Bear Grylls Machete is a little longer at 19”, the CRKT still gets the edge with better pricing, better reviews, and less weight.
The Rothco comes in at a third the price and with better reviews and a carrying case. Don’t spend an extra $20 to get the orange accents and “BG” stamp on the canteen. Rothco is the clear winner in this comparison.
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Knife vs. Ontario Knife Co RAT-5
The ultimate pro knife is a pretty big upgrade from the regular Baer Grylls knife in that it is full tang and high quality steel. The blade measures 4.8” and comes with a fire starter and whistle. Unlike cheap ‘survival’ knives, you don’t store this stuff in the handle, but in the sheath and on the lanyard. One of the closest alternatives is the Ontario RAT, but it does carry a higher price tag. The RAT is legendary in the full-tang survival knife world and made in the USA. However, Bear’s Ultimate Pro Knife is a wicked value for the price. Due to the ‘get what you pay for’ aspect of this comparison, we would suggest either knife solution for a bug out bag.
Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet vs. Fiskars X7 Hatchet
We aren’t exactly comparing apples to apples with this one. The Gerber hatchet is a full tang 13” hatchet with a rubberized grip. The Fiskars comes from our friends in Finland with a composite handle, 14” length, and lighter weight. It is balanced to chop better due to the weight of the axe head vs. the handle. Like all Fiskars gear, they try to alleviate concerns with the composite material by offering a lifetime no-hassle warranty. The Fiskars comes in cheaper, so this comparison could come down to personal preference. Still, I would suggest the Fiskars hatchet due to its lighter weight and price tag.
Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Bracelet vs. Survivalcord
I’m not a huge fan of survival jewelry but this is one of the best sellers in Bear’s collection. It is cheap, attaches 12 feet of paracord and a whistle to your body, and is fashionable (I guess?). I would simply counter this braided paracord with some legit Survivalcord. Braid it into a bracelet if you want, but Survivalcord offers more functionality and is customizable to your own look. Don’t be a walking Bear Grylls billboard- find your own path!
Gerber Bear Grylls Compact Compass vs. Bruton TruArc3 Compass
This branded button compass is just silly. I get that it being a zipper pull can keep it close to you at all times, but button compasses are notoriously crappy and you do not want to have to depend on one if you can help it. Enter the Bruton TruArc3. This thing just annihilates the Bear Grylls compass with its functionality and dependability.
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Multi-Tool vs. Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier
Multitools are one thing that Gerber is good at, and the Bear Grylls signature version is no exception. The problem is, is that they made pretty much the exact same multi-tool but without Bear’s name on it. The Suspension multi-plier has all the same tools and functionality but at a lower price. On this one, save some money and get the one without the name on it: the Gerber Suspension.
Slapping a famous survivalist’s name on a product doesn’t make it instantly a great product or good deal. You can stretch your dollars just with a little comparison shopping. Some of the Baer Grylls Survival Kit gear is legit, and merits consideration. Just make sure you’re not getting fleeced with a $30 canteen! Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
This post isn’t meant to be begging for help or anything- we’re in pretty good shape. But we have had a few readers ask how they could contribute or help out. If you’re reading this post, I hope you’re a fan of what we’re doing here at TruePrepper. We are all about reaching as many people as possible and informing people that there are inherent risks in your life that you shouldn’t just blatantly ignore. When you support us, you help us get the word out by sharing, helping us pay server fees, and expand our reach. Here are 5 easy and fast ways you can help us out:
1/5 Get a Sticker
This is a new thing we decided to start doing. If you are a subscriber, just shoot us a note through our contact form or Facebook with a good shipping address, and we’ll get a few vinyl TruePrepper stickers in the mail for you! How does this support us? Well it gets our name out there a little bit. Plus we already have the stickers and just need to get them out in good hands. Slap it on your survival kit, water bottle, or whatever else you feel deserves an upgrade in the looks department. If you aren’t a subscriber yet, don’t worry- it’s free too. Just sign up here: Subscribe and then approve the subscription in your email. We hate spam just as much as you do so we won’t send you ads and crap like that, but you can bail anytime you want either way. Here is what our vinyl sticker looks like:
Slap em wherever you want!
You can also get stickers by winning our giveaways, but we have plenty of entries so you need to be pretty lucky to get one that way.
2/5 Sharing is Caring
If you see a post that we cook up and you like it or think it is pretty relevant, feel free to share it! Whether you use social media, email, or just word of mouth- we appreciate great discussions on the topics we venture into. If you follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ it will make it easier for you to share our posts.
3/5 Pay Our Server Fees
We’re not asking you to cut a check or contribute to a PayPal or anything that actually costs you money. At TruePrepper, we run a few ads (but no pop ups or email spam) and we have some affiliate links. Before I started up a website I had no idea what an ‘affiliate’ was or an ‘affiliate link.’ It’s pretty simple though; it’s a referral commission that doesn’t cost the customer anything. So when you buy stuff after you click on some links on our page, we get a pretty small cut. We can’t ask you to bookmark and use these to shop, but if you decided to do it on your own it would help us pay our bills and reach more people. Here is the “Amazon Affiliate” link:
One cool thing Amazon does is support charities. All you have to do is go to a different site: Amazon Smile. Just like the affiliate links, it doesn’t cost you anything and the charity gets a small donation. The cool thing about the links below is that the charity gets a donation AND so does TruePrepper. All without costing you anything! Here is the Amazon Smile link:
You pick out the charity after going to the link above. A few of our favorite charities include:
Wounded Warrior Project
Triangle Down Syndrome Network
Boys & Girls Clubs of America
American Cancer Society
Operation Homefront, Inc
Pick a charity that matters to you, and you can support them every time you make a purchase through Amazon Smile.
4/5 Vote for Us
There are a few voting websites out there, and we are a pretty competitive group. By helping us climb the leaderboards on these sites, you are increasing our exposure. Voting is free, and just takes a second. Here are some quick ways to vote and get our name out there:
We absolutely love it when we get content requests. It makes us do some research, rack our brains, talk within our group on how we would handle it or have handled a situation, and get a great post up. Let us know what you want to see or how you think we could be doing things better. A friend with feedback is always great to have.
The Final Word
We are already feeling the love, so this post was not meant as a guilt trip or anything like that. We just wanted to lay out the easiest ways that you guys can help us keep going and growing. Thanks for reading this week and continuing to stop by when you get the chance. Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.