The Survival Mom » More http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Fri, 30 Jan 2015 08:00:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 How to Keep Emergency Water in Your Vehicle Unfrozen During Winter http://thesurvivalmom.com/keep-emergency-water-vehicle-unfrozen-winter/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/keep-emergency-water-vehicle-unfrozen-winter/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 08:00:16 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=20849 One of the most important items in any winter survival kit for your vehicle is water. It will stave off thirst and help you stay hydrated if you become stranded during a winter storm or blizzard. Unfortunately, water is also one of the Read More

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Keep Your Emergency Water From Freezing in Your Car During Winter | via www.TheSurvivalMom.comOne of the most important items in any winter survival kit for your vehicle is water. It will stave off thirst and help you stay hydrated if you become stranded during a winter storm or blizzard. Unfortunately, water is also one of the things most quickly affected by sub-32 degrees temperatures – freezing cold.

So how do you protect your emergency water supply from turning into a block of ice encased in plastic with a screw top and keep it available for when you may need it most?

Keep Your Water Warm

There are three ways to help keep your emergency H2O  from freezing:

1.  Store your water in the passenger compartment of your vehicle with you, not in the trunk, because you will likely run your car’s heater during winter travels. This will help both you and your emergency water stay nice and warm, certainly much warmer than if you store your liquids in the trunk. I always store some extra water or drinks like Gatorade under the seats of my vehicle all year round, just in case.

2.  Keep your emergency water in a soft-sided insulated container, such as what Igloo, Coleman, and other manufactures make for keeping your food and drink cool in summer. This will provide initial and ongoing protection from the freezing cold regardless of where you store the H2O in your vehicle.

3.  Wrap your water containers in a Mylar survival blanket either in the trunk or main compartment of your vehicle if freezing temperatures are eminent. Don’t use your emergency wool blanket, sleeping bag or clothing, in case one of your water containers leaks!

If Hell Does Freeze Over…

In spite of your best efforts and precautions, if your emergency water is partially or fully frozen, do the following:

All of your water should be moved immediately from the trunk into the main part of the vehicle with you, if it not regularly stored there already.

1.  Use chemical hand and/or foot warmers placed around your bottles of water. If you have or are using an insulated container, place the activated warmers right in with the bottles. I keep a modest supply of these chemical warmers in my winterized emergency kit for this and other uses.

2.  In lieu of an insulated container, wrap a mylar emergency blanket around your water containers and activated chemical warmers -sort of like “pigs in a blanket”.

 3.  Lastly, place your water containers near the floor heating vent so that when you run your vehicle’s engine for 10 minutes every hour (read this article on How to Survive a Blizzard in Your Vehicle for more details), the heated air will help thaw your water.

When All Else Fails

As a last resort use a metal cup or can from your emergency kit (like a soup can or larger) along with a heat source like Sterno, to melt snow from outside your vehicle.

SURVIVAL TIP: You can use an emergency road flare as a heat source to melt snow into water. Just place snow in a metal cup or can. Ignite  the flare. Hold the cup of snow above or to the side of the flare until snow melts. Be careful if you use this method. Safety flares burn at about 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit and emit phosphorus gases when burning.

One BIG Caution!

Do not be tempted to place frozen water bottles next to you in an attempt to melt the fluids inside. You will only cool yourself down faster which will promote the onset of hypothermia more quickly.

QUICK TIP: Use no larger than pint to quart size containers to store your emergency H2O in. Although the liquid stored in larger containers will take longer to freeze than the smaller size bottles, the smaller bottles are easier to store in small places in your vehicle and are quicker to thaw if they become frozen.

If you have any favorite ways of keeping your emergency water supply from freezing in your vehicle during winter, please feel free to add it to the comments below.

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Try it Today! Build Your Own DIY Fire Kit http://thesurvivalmom.com/try-today-build-diy-fire-kit/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/try-today-build-diy-fire-kit/#comments Sun, 18 Jan 2015 08:00:44 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=20527 When you get right down to it, survival essentially means maintaining a safe core temperature for your body. Everything we do is geared toward that end goal. We eat food to provide calories to keep our bodies running. We hydrate Read More

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Build your own DIY Fire Kit with just a few supplies. | via www.TheSurvivalMom.comWhen you get right down to it, survival essentially means maintaining a safe core temperature for your body. Everything we do is geared toward that end goal. We eat food to provide calories to keep our bodies running. We hydrate so we don’t get overheated. We seek shelter from the elements so we don’t get too warm or too cold.

The ability to reliably start a fire is a critical survival skill. The job is made much easier if you have the foresight to assemble a small fire kit to keep in your pack. It doesn’t need to be huge and, in fact, the smaller the better. Remember, ounces lead to pounds and pounds lead to aching backs.

What I recommend you have in your fire kit is a minimum of three different forms of ignition and three different types of tinder. I often say that prepping is all about giving yourself options and that holds true with a fire kit as well as any other aspect of survival.

Ignition Tools

Let’s start with ignition tools. Your primary source of ignition will likely be a butane lighter. Why? Because they are incredibly cheap and very reliable. I would caution you, though, to spend the extra dollar or two and pick up brand name lighters, such as Bic. The ultra cheap ones you’ll find sold three for a buck at gas stations tend to leak and won’t last very long.

Next on my own preference list is a ferrocerium rod and striker. A ferro rod will light thousands of fires and is very simple to use. Hold the ferro rod in one hand and the scraper in the other. Draw the scraper down the rod firmly and direct the resultant sparks to your tinder. Alternatively, you can hold the scraper steady and pull the rod back towards you. A ferro rod will work in all weather conditions, which is a nice bonus.

Old fashioned flint and steel work very well, but the sparks aren’t usually nearly as large and hot as you’ll get from a ferro rod. Mankind has been using flint and steel for hundreds of years, though, for a reason – it works.

Strike anywhere matches, in my opinion, should only be considered as a back up to a butane lighter and a ferro rod. You can only carry a finite number of matches and, at best, you can light one fire with each match. Plus, while there are water-resistant types, even ones that will light in a monsoon, it can still be rather difficult to get a fire going with a single match when the weather isn’t cooperating with you. Once you get the match lit, you can’t reuse it.

In my own fire kits, I carry one or more butane lighters, a ferro rod with striker, and a waterproof container of strike anywhere matches.

Tinder

Now, on to tinder. It is important to include a supply of ready-to-use tinder in your fire kits as you never know what the conditions might be should the time come you need to get a fire going NOW. If it has been raining all day long, it could prove difficult to find dry plant fluff and such. So, carry a few different packages of tinder in your kit.

Cotton balls soaked with petroleum jelly is an old standby. They are popular because they work very well. Dryer lint is another common tinder, whether soaked with petroleum jelly or left dry. Some people have noted a bad or acrid smell when using dryer lint, due to the presence of human or animal hair and different types of clothing fibers. Personally, if my life is at stake, I’ll put up with a bad smell for a couple of minutes if it means I can get a fire going.

Charcloth is very easy to make, you can find an endless list of videos and articles detailing the process online. Just about everyone has a few old cotton T-shirts they could cut up to use as charcloth.

Jute twine is a dual purpose item. Any good cordage is always welcome in any survival kit. Plus, if you unravel a piece of jute twine and fluff it up, it makes for excellent tinder. It burns rather quickly, though.

Magnesium shavings burn very hot. A very common piece of kit is a block of magnesium with a small ferro rod attached to the side. The idea is you scrape off some magnesium, aiming for a pile about the size of a nickel or so, then light it with sparks from the ferro rod. What I’ve seen more and more people doing is scraping the magnesium ahead of time, filling small plastic pouches with the shavings. Not a bad idea, really.

My own preference is to use dryer lint and/or cotton balls, supplemented with jute twine and magnesium.

Creating a Fire Kit

What I also recommend is stashing a few small ziploc plastic bags in your kit. As you make your way through the bush, you’ll likely come across things like birch bark, dry moss, dry lichen, and other fluffy plant material. Gathering some of it and using it when you need a fire will help preserve your other tinder for times when such natural materials aren’t available.

The next time you are shopping at a thrift store, take a look at old camera cases. They make excellent pouches for storing your fire kit. At my local Goodwill store, these cases are typically priced at a dollar or less. The idea here is to put together a small kit containing what you’ll need to get a fire going when you need it the most, saving you time from searching through your pack for everything.

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Review: The Rule of Three by Eric Walter http://thesurvivalmom.com/review-rule-three-eric-walter/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/review-rule-three-eric-walter/#comments Sat, 17 Jan 2015 08:00:31 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=20522 Like many preppers, I’ve long been a fan of disaster (dystopian) novels. Any book detailing the end of the world gets my attention. Lately, there have been quite a number of great disaster novels coming out of the Young Adult Read More

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"Rule of Three" is a YA Novel by Eric Walters. Don't let the YA (Young Adult) designation fool you - it's not just for teenagers! - The Survival Mom

Like many preppers, I’ve long been a fan of disaster (dystopian) novels. Any book detailing the end of the world gets my attention. Lately, there have been quite a number of great disaster novels coming out of the Young Adult (YA) market, like The Hunger Games.

For those not familiar, YA books are typically geared for the teen crowd. As such, graphic violence is not usually present, nor explicit sex. That’s not to say, though, that today’s YA books are full of Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys wannabes. Often, in my experience at least, YA novels have just as much drama and realistic character portrayals as those novels marketed for older readers, they just have younger protagonists.

Another such book is The Rule of Three by Eric Walter. It is the first in a planned trilogy. The main character is 16 year old Adam Daley. As the story begins, he is at school, helping a friend with a project when all the lights go out. He, his fellow students, and the school staff quickly realize this is no ordinary power outage: All their cell phones and most of the vehicles in the parking lot are inoperable. Savvy readers will immediately recognize the nature of this crisis – electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

Adam’s car is old enough that it still works. He picks up his siblings from school and heads for home. Their mother is a captain in the local police department and their father is a commercial pilot who is out of town at the time of the crisis. Their next door neighbor, Herb, is a nice old gent who turns out to be quite a valuable asset.

It doesn’t take long before polite society begins to break down. There are riots at the grocery stores and such. Some of this behavior is quelled by Herb’s use of excellent conflict resolution skills. I found this approach to be quite refreshing as in many similar stories it would have been a case of violence meeting violence.

As time goes on, Adam’s neighborhood becomes his entire world, for all intents and purposes. Walls are built, patrols are set up, and the community comes together for their own protection. An interesting facet to this story is Adam’s ultralight: a small homemade plane Adam and his father built in their garage. Adam’s knowledge and skill with piloting the craft gives the community an edge over the competition.

Being a YA novel, there is naturally a bit of romance present. It comes in the form of Adam’s crush, Lori. While it doesn’t detract from the story at all, I did find this subplot a little too convenient compared to the rest of the story.

I will warn you that The Rule of Three ends with more than a couple of plot threads left unraveled. But I can assure you the next book picks up right where this one leaves off.

The Rule of Three is, hands down, one of my favorite fiction reads in the last year or two. Very well written, it is quite a page-turner.

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36 Lessons Learned From Testing a 72-Hour Kit http://thesurvivalmom.com/36-lessons-learned-from-testing-a-72-hour-kit/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/36-lessons-learned-from-testing-a-72-hour-kit/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 18:00:29 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=5631 Over the last two months, on two separate occasions, I had the opportunity to test my 72-hour kit.  Yes, these tests were intentional… Testing a 72 Hour Kit…Why? My background is one of preparedness.  In the military, we made casualty Read More

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36 lessons learnedOver the last two months, on two separate occasions, I had the opportunity to test my 72-hour kit.  Yes, these tests were intentional…

Testing a 72 Hour Kit…Why?

My background is one of preparedness.  In the military, we made casualty response plans, then tested those plans.  We called them “drills.”  Now, in my post-military life, I’m CERT-trained, and FEMA IS-22 certified – both deal extensively with emergency response and preparation.

I’ve noticed many web sites that promote preparedness do not discuss testing preparedness plans.  What if you create a wonderful evacuation plan, but forget some critical component, like toilet paper? Or you include something, but not enough?  Testing your kits and noting what you missed will help you make a better kit.  The output from this evaluation process are your lessons learned.  It is impossible to conduct a test and have no lessons learned – at the minimum you will learn that you are well-prepared.

The lessons presented below come directly from these two exercises.  Some may be obvious, some may not.

30+ lessons learned from my test

1.  MRE’s are good.  Meals Ready to Eat have improved dramatically over the last few years.  Today’s MRE’s are actually good.  The Chili with Beans MRE is some of the best chili I’ve ever had.  I have to fight my kids for the Pulled Chicken in Buffalo Sauce.  Ignore the serving suggestions of “main course plus side dish plus desert”.  I found one main course filled me up completely.

2.  A rock works as a hammer – good thing! We have lots of rocks in the Sonoran Desert.  By using a natural hammer, I saved a pound in my backpack.  Make sure you find a smooth rock as the rough rocks have a tendency to scratch up aluminum tent pegs.  (Using aluminum tent pegs in the hard desert soil might be a lesson also.)

3.  Emergency fire starters are not fast fire starters.  I tried out the magnesium block with flint that is available from many stores.  You know the ones – use your knife to shave off some metal shavings, then use your knife on the flint to create sparks to ignite the shavings/dust.  This takes some time to get going. You may have better luck with firestarters with built-in ignition or this fire making system.

4.  A cell phone is a very poor clock.  If you are out of digital service range, your phone will switch to analog mode and drain the battery faster.  Since Murphy is with you (“What can go wrong, will”), when you are out of digital service range, the battery will deplete at 4:30am and your phone will start beeping to tell you that it’s low on battery.  4:30 is too early to get up.  Best bet is to turn it off and use it when necessary.  Use your Casio G-Shock watch for your alarm.

5.  Bring required medicines.  On my first trip, I forgot my allergy medicines.  Since I’m allergic to dust, this made the weekend of desert living rather miserable.  I brought the medicine on the second trip and life was good.

6.  A dead cactus makes a bad cooking fire.  It burns too fast, so the fire must be constantly fed.  I used up about 1/2 of the cactus to prepare 4 meals.

7.  Gloves are important.  Even the $2 gloves from Harbor Freight are useful, but they don’t last very long.  I use the gloves to sheath my scissors (see next lesson) and to protect my hands from wood splinters.

8.  Redundant cutting tools are important.  I lost my Leatherman, but had my skinning knife and scissors.  I later found the Leatherman, and on a subsequent desert hiking trip, lost the skinning knife.  Since I had the Leatherman, life was still good, but planning for these types of mishaps would be a good thing. They’re sure to occur.

9.  Solid fuel stoves will not heat a pint of water to a rolling boil in 8 minutes, despite the claims by the manufacturer.  It will get pretty hot, though, almost to the boiling point. Your altitude will definitely affect this.

10.  Powdered Gatorade is wonderful for quenching thirst and restoring energy.  So are the MRE powdered drinks.  1 oz Gatorade packets are pretty expensive – a large container can be subdivided for a lot less then a buck an ounce.

11.  Rolled up clothes do not make a comfortable pillow. They are very hard. Nice idea but it doesn’t work well in reality. At least not in my reality!

12.  A shemagh is a great pillow case (for my new inflatable pillow).

13.  Shemaghs help keep you warm at night and cool in the day.

14.  A folded shemagh can be used to protect your dromedary pack from any sharp items (scissors) in your pack.

15.  Two person tents aren’t – unless both people are small.  My two person tent is barely big enough for me and my backpack. However, it is light and works well in the desert to keep the crawling, stinging critters out. Speaking of crawling, stinging things, you do keep your pack inside the tent, right?  Last thing you want is to find a grumpy scorpion when you put on your pack.

16.  Water consumption will approach 2 gallons per day in the desert in the sun, but can be as low as 3 liters per day in the winter, even with the same activity level.

17.  A 16 oz wide-mouth plastic bottle is very useful for mixing Gatorade.  It also accommodates the SteriPEN FitsALL Filter.

18.  Transpiration bags need to be large and secured with paracord.  Tape will release in the sun and you will lose your collected water.

19.  MRE‘s heat quickly (10-15 minutes) in full sunlight but not on cloudy days.  They heat well in the coals of a small fire, but not very fast on the rocks surrounding the fire.  Warning: MRE’s are packaged in propylene bags and care must be exercised not to let them melt or burn.  Spring-loaded document clips (those black paper clips made from spring steel that have handles can be used to clip an MRE on your backpack so it can absorb sunlight and heat up.

20.  Wrapping a full day of MRE’s in two sheets of newspaper gives you fire starter and segregates your food into thoughtful daily selections.  (Hint: You need to prepare all your MRE’s this way ahead of time.)  Wrap the newspaper with a rubber band.  I used duct tape the first time, but this creates waste that cannot be burned.

21.  Ensure your scissors and knives are sharp before you leave.  Dull knives are irritating and dangerous.

22.  Setting up camp takes longer than you think unless you’ve done it several times.  Add an hour or two if this is your first time.  Allow ample time to find a suitable place to pitch your tent.  Pitching your tent in a wash is double stupid – they are cooler and attract animals, and are subject to flash floods.

23.  Instant coffee and hot chocolate can be pre-mixed and vacuum sealed using a FoodSaver.  Heat a bowl of water and add in your coffee/chocolate mix for your morning mocha. A Food Saver can be used to seal and waterproof multiple items for your pack, including ibuprofen tablets and other small items.

24.  Pack a change of underwear and an extra long-sleeve shirt.  The first is obvious.  The shirt can be used for extra warmth on cold days.

25.  Casio makes a watch that has a built in digital compass.  It’s not one of those cheap little compasses on the watchband either – it provides a reading accurate to one-degree on the face of the watch.  Not bad for a $42 watch.

26.  Bring small tubes of sunblock and Lansinoh.  Sunblock prevents burns and the Lansinoh is used to treat rashes and blisters.  The Lansinoh company promotes HPA Lanolin as a breast-feeding aid, but it works well on chafed skin.  A floppy hat protects the scalp and ears.

image by mrbill

27.  MOLLE packs may be slightly less comfortable than a $200-300 backpack, but it is infinitely more configurable and can be put together from parts on Ebay for 1/4 to 1/3 the price.  MOLLE M-16 ammo pouches can hold small items, such as sunblock, Lansinoh, MRE snacks, portable lights, toilet paper, etc.  Grenade pouches can hold your backup compass and paracord.  9mm clip pouches can hold flashlights.  When shopping on Ebay, don’t get in a rush – the prices for this stuff vary from ludicrous to unbelievably cheap.

28.  Pack an army surplus poncho.  360 days of sunshine, and I was out in the rain on one of the 5 days it rains in Arizona.  Glad I had my poncho.  The poncho will keep you mostly dry but is like a windbreaker for warmth.

29.  After much reading and deliberating, I purchased a 10 liter (2.5 gal) Dromedary It weighs 21 pounds when filled.  I also tied it up as high as it would go in the pack.  Two lessons here – put the heavy stuff as high in the pack as it can go, and you can never have too much water.

30.  There is a trick to storing paracord and rope.  Most people roll it up, and when it is deployed, it usually tangles.  Electricians tie their electric cords using a series of slip-knots – this uses up lots of material and keeps the cords from tangling.  The trick with paracord is to fold it in half, then tie the folded end into a loop.  Pull the cord through the loop into a slip-knot, repeat until all cord is consumed in a series of slip-knots.  A hiking supply store should be able to help you with this.

31.  Speaking of rope, don’t carry 50 feet of rope like many sites suggest.  Use nylon strap – it’s much smaller and has the same load capacity.  I have 25′ of strap knotted up (see above) and stored in my mess kit bowl.

32.  Minimize your cooking utensils.  I have a pair of chopsticks, a spoon, and my Leatherman/skinning knife.  I also have my bowl and the handle for it when it’s hot.  REI sells lots of neat mess kits. Most of them are superfluous and just add weight to your pack.  Ditch the extras and keep it simple.

33.  Test your medical kit.  I recently had to remove my son’s toenail after it broke and ripped half off.  I found I was missing hydrogen peroxide.  The Leatherman (yeah – I found it again) worked pretty good for pulling off the nail.  This also illustrates the need to carry alcohol swabs, Neosporin, gauze, tape and pain relievers.  My medical kit is my 4th heaviest item in my pack after the tent, sleeping bag and air mattress.  The contents of my medical kit are covered in another article.

34.  You need to build your stamina and cardiac condition on a daily basis to survive an evacuation.  Walk/hike with a fully loaded pack. This form of preparation ensures you can carry your pack and survive.  In case of a disaster, FEMA will not even make a decision to assist for several days and once they decide to move, it will take a few more days before you will see their personnel. CERT/FEMA advertise that delay is likely to be 7 days. Count on being on your own for at least 3 days, hence the name “72-hour kit.”

The medical benefits of daily exercise are measurable. I lowered my blood pressure and heart rate dramatically after just three months of hiking and strength training.

Most people think I’m whacked hiking the desert with a 50+ pound pack, but the results are irrefutable.  I’m whacked and in great physical shape.

35.  Periodically check your BOB (Bug Out Bag) and your GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) kits.  This is a good way to rotate your food and water.  MRE’s have a shelf-life that drops quickly as their storage temperature rises. Clearly a disadvantage for those of us in the desert.  Some MRE’s have a 5 year shelf-life under best-case storage conditions.

36.  Pack your kit for the most probable mission/scenario.  Evaluate the most likely scenarios that would require the BOB and GOOD kits.  For example, I live 27 miles from work and spend about 25% of my time away from home.  Most likely events (based on historical occurrence) happen in the daytime, so if there was an event, chances are close to 75% that I will be away from home and my 72-hour kit.  This means I need to have a kit in my car, much like The Survival Mom who travels with her vehicle emergency kit.  So my car kit has everything I need to get me from work to home with the worst-case assumption I may have to walk.

I learned quite a bit during the first test of my 72 Hour Kit, so my second test went pretty smoothly.  The key here is to actually test your kits.  You can read government preparedness literature, other preparedness websites (like this one), and watch preparedness You Tube videos.  However, without actually getting out there and testing your kits, you won’t know what you’re forgetting and you won’t know how to use your equipment.  Testing builds self-confidence, which will inspire confidence in those around you, and that is pretty important.

Guest post by Varian Wrynn

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Coming in 2015: Tools to help you tackle 3 important survival elements http://thesurvivalmom.com/important-survival-tools/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/important-survival-tools/#comments Thu, 01 Jan 2015 08:01:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=20698 The moment fear grips your heart and you realize just how unprepared you are, the first impulse of most people is to go out and BUY. Buy wheat. Buy beans. Buy freeze-dried food. Buy ammo. Buy a Berkey. And so Read More

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The moment fear grips your heart and you realize just how unprepared you are, the first impulse of most people is to go out and BUY. Buy wheat. Buy beans. Buy freeze-dried food. Buy ammo. Buy a Berkey. And so on.

To compound this impulse, one that will almost surely damage your financial status, are countless “survival” websites that exist for the sole purpose of selling fear, because fear is big business. They rake in massive amounts of money each day from people just like you.

Buy all the stuff meme

But food, water purifiers, firearms, and ammo aren’t all that when it comes to being prepared.

In fact, there are 3 elements of preparedness that are overlooked by these websites. Likely because there’s no much money to be made in promoting them.

Those are saving moneygetting your home organized, and learning new skills.

Why these 3 elements are so important

Without having a stable financial foundation and a space that is cleared out of clutter with essentials organized, buying more stuff on top of the stuff you already have will only complicate your preparedness plans.

Pouring money into a problem never really solves the basic problem, and that is true for preparedness. Yes, rich people can stock up on food, gear, and supplies a whole lot faster than someone with a lot less money in the bank. But unless they know how to best utilize the food, have the skills to use the gear and supplies, they are really no better off.

However, there’s no way I can ignore the fact that preparedness does cost money. You can find amazing bargains, and high quality items, at thrift stores and yard sales. By shopping seasonal sales, using coupons, searching for discounts everywhere possible, you can pocket that money in savings and use some of it to buy what is absolutely necessary. But at a discount, naturally!

One close friend has plenty of money and the messiest, most unorganized home I’ve ever seen. Her expansive living room, larger than many people’s homes is so cluttered with toys, animal cages, furniture, and more STUFF than I can even remember. If she ever had to evacuate her home, there’s no way she could quickly find the most essential supplies her family would need. Her time, space, and belongings are completely chaotic, leaving her unprepared for life’s emergencies.

When your time, space, and belongings are all organized and you’ve reduced what you own down to what is most necessary and loved, not only could you be ready for an emergency in a crisis, you are also afforded the time to do other things, like learn new skills and network with people who have the same interests. Organizing and reducing what you own will help create margins, giving you extra time for your top priorities.

Finally, stable finances and tidy surroundings will free you up to learn new skills. You likely won’t need much money to learn many new skills, although there are exceptions, and if your new skill sets require supplies and maybe even a separate work area, your efforts at organizing and reducing will pay off.

We are tackling all 3 of these in 2015 and want you to join with us!

Join our 52 Weeks Savings  Challenge. Print out this chart and begin saving dollars each week. You can learn more about it and even join a Facebook group dedicated to encouraging each other and providing tips for saving even more. Here on The Survival Mom blog, you’ll find a post each  money with information about sales and other discounts available for that particular month. If you love forums, sign on to my forum at American Preppers Network and  join in the discussion there.

To help you make some gains this year in learning new skills, we are super excited about the launch of something brand new here on the blog. It will be a members-only area that will allow us to go into more depth each month in a specific skill with additional, specialized information, tutorials, and webinars, podcasts, ebooks, and a lot more. That portion of the site is in the works and will be launched soon.

However, we are dedicated to helping everyone with the task of getting organized and getting rid of stuff that you’ve held on to for too many years, so our first Skill of the Month, “Get Organized and Reduce What You Own” is open to everyone. We have an upcoming webinar with an organizing pro and articles throughout the month. Use our resources to get your own time and space organized and then sign on to the membership site for a new Skill of the Month every month!

Hello, 2015!

Incredibly, The Survival Mom blog is nearly 7 years old, and so much has changed since it was first launched. What hasn’t changed, though, is my commitment to help moms worry less and enjoy their families more by providing information, inspiration, tools and strategies.

My team and I wish you the happiest and most blessed of New Years.

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Book Review: 5 Stars for Stay Alive! Survival Skills You Need, By John D. McCann http://thesurvivalmom.com/stay-alive-survival-skills-book-review/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/stay-alive-survival-skills-book-review/#comments Wed, 31 Dec 2014 08:23:06 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=20009 Have you been looking for a book that covers survival kits and gear as well as basic survival skills? Stay Alive!: Survival Skills You Need, by John D McCann, is a book you should consider. After reading and reviewing the second edition of Read More

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Stay Alive! Survival Skills You Need, by John D. McCannHave you been looking for a book that covers survival kits and gear as well as basic survival skills? Stay Alive!: Survival Skills You Need, by John D McCann, is a book you should consider. After reading and reviewing the second edition of McCann’s first title, Build the Perfect Survival kit, for the blog, I could not wait to dig into this one.

I wasn’t disappointed.

“Stay Alive!” is a Must Read…

Stay Alive! essentially picks up where the author’s first book ends, focusing on teaching you how to use the gear that he suggests be carried in various types of survival kits detailed in the first tome, as well as the related survival skills. In addition, McCann discusses the survival mentality, wilderness hazards and safety which all come into play when you are in the outdoors.

With a little over 250 pages to this volume, using great color photos and graphics, McCann shows and succinctly talks about many of the basic survival skills that someone needs to know  in a survival situation. Like his first book, this title is well laid out, easy to navigate and reference. There is something in this book for everyone, whether you are a seasoned outdoors person or novice, just starting to plan your first adventures.

What’s Between the Covers

In a nutshell, this book delves into and details:

  • Survivor Mentality
  • Survival kits
  • Knives and Tools
  • Fire and Light
  • Shelter and Protection
  • Water Collection and Purification
  • Signaling
  • Navigation
  • Food
  • Wilderness Hazards and Safety
  • Other Resources Available to Learn From

Noteworthy Section

For me, one section in particular stands out in what is a great book, overall: navigation. I love the detailed yet easy to understand way McCann takes the reader through how to navigate in the outdoors. His choice of words as well as the accompanying color photos and diagrams give you a very concise and usable way to successfully learn to navigate in the outdoors. In this one section, he describes the process better than some entire books published on the subject!

Stay Alive!, available in paper and e-versions, definitely stands on its on merits as a book covering  the subject of survival kits, equipment and skills. It is also an excellent companion book to McCann’s title, Building the Perfect Survival Kit. I highly recommend you add both to your outdoor survival library.

Additional Information

John D. McCann’s…

Amazon Page

Facebook

Website

YouTube Channel

Other Books by the Author

Build the Perfect Survival Kit

Practical Self-Reliance:Reducing Your Dependency on Others

Bug-Out: Reality Vs. Hype

Wake-Up Call

The Layers of Life:Thoughts on Nature,Living, and Self-Reliance

All images courtesy of Amazon.com

 

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My Opinion: Why I Feel Survival Moms Should Carry http://thesurvivalmom.com/opinion-feel-survival-moms-carry/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/opinion-feel-survival-moms-carry/#comments Sun, 28 Dec 2014 17:17:03 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=19559 I feel very strongly that women should not only carry a firearm, but be very knowledgeable on the gun they carry, know gun safety and know how to very accurately use their gun. Women and children are vulnerable and I Read More

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Why Every Woman Should Carry

I feel very strongly that women should not only carry a firearm, but be very knowledgeable on the gun they carry, know gun safety and know how to very accurately use their gun.

Women and children are vulnerable and I feel today, more than ever that women should be knowledgeable on the varying ways they can protect themselves and their families from two and even four legged predators.   Not to mention, it is our RIGHT!

Ladies, if you are unfamiliar with a firearm, you can get assistance with AGirlAndAGun website.  I highly recommend them and know that you will be well taken care of.  I had the privilege to interview Julianna Crowder who established A Girl and A Gun.  They are spread out all over the United States and I am sure there will be a chapter near you.

As a woman that regularly carries a firearm, I’d like to also recommend the FlashBang holsters because they are designed for women by women and therefore they are light in weight and are available in varying styles to accommodate your attire and carrying preferences.  I also had the privilege to interview Lisa Looper owner of FlashBang Holsters.   I had a hard time finding a comfortable holster and one that did not leave my hips sore after a long trek until I found the FlashBang holsters.

Another for-women-only holster that has been reviewed on this blog is the Can Can Concealment Holster.

Once I became a mother, my whole world changed.  It was no longer just about me, it was about how I could protect my children no matter what the circumstance.   The only thing more important than my family is God and their livelihood is always my first concern.  Being sure that I am capable of protecting them became of utmost importance to me.

Ladies, I’d like to leave you with one last thought regarding firearms.  We were out adventuring one day and we left in a rush.  I forgot my pistol and my husband said to me “GREAT, so who is going to have my back?“.  That is all I needed to hear and I have never gone anywhere else without it.  It is just as much a part of my attire as are my shoes.

Original image care of:  MontanaHomesteader.com

 

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The Top Prepper Pins of 2014 http://thesurvivalmom.com/top-prepper-pins-2014/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/top-prepper-pins-2014/#comments Sun, 28 Dec 2014 08:03:09 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=20079 I’ve been wading into deeper and deeper waters in the world of Pinterest and now use it as one of my primary search engines. I tracked down some of the most popular prepper/survival/homesteading pins of the past year, including my Read More

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A collection of some of the best pins of 2014 from prepper, survival, and homestead bloggers. | via www.TheSurvivalMom.comI’ve been wading into deeper and deeper waters in the world of Pinterest and now use it as one of my primary search engines. I tracked down some of the most popular prepper/survival/homesteading pins of the past year, including my own top pins.

Enjoy browsing through these, and consider following the boards of these bloggers.

Easy, natural and homemade lotion for eczema. Customize this recipe to your own preferences. | via www.TheSurvivalMom.com

 

Dollar Store Preps While lots of preps cost quite a bit of cash, there are many dollar store preps that you could add to your bug-out bag to help you through a SHTF situation. #dollarstore #preps #SHTF #bugoutbag

 

15 Reasons Why I Store Epsom Salts by Food Storage Moms

 

A simple, flexible, and fun savings plan! via | www.TheSurvivalMom.com

30 Pandemic Essentials | via www.foodstoragemoms.com

 

11 essential survival items to have in your trunk for winter driving! Getting my trunk stocked before my next trip!

 

Great list of 25 easy DIY prepper projects for preparedness and survival that you can do this weekend!

 

 

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40 Ways to Save Money on Groceries (via Survival at Home)

 

10 First Aid Skills Every Parent Should Know | Mom with a PREP

 

survivehive - Wall-hanging canned food storage

 How-To Guide: DIY Wall-Hanging Canned Food Storage

Here are 13 survival must-haves that you may not have thought of. | via www.TheSurvivalMom.com

 

Know your soil - do a Mason Jar Soil Test.  I did this years ago when I first started gardening. I ended up adding sand to my garden spot. I have had poor soil conditions for the last 10 years or so and have added organic material and composted material  to improve my soil condition. The mason jar test is a great place to start.

 

Grocery Sales Cycles: What to stock up on when each month of the year.

 Grocery Sales Cycles

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6 Reasons to stockpile blankets. They're inexpensive and have so many survival uses! | www.TheSurvivalMom.com

vintage milk cans on old wooden table

 

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Ten Tips to Know When Preparing Venison

 

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9 must-haves for your glove box. Handy, most are inexpensive. | via www.TheSurvivalMom.com

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Preparing for winter on the homestead

 

Pin this entire list of pins!

A collection of some of the best pins of 2014 from prepper, survival, and homestead bloggers. | via www.TheSurvivalMom.com

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Putting Technology to Work to Create a Sane Christmas! (video bonus) http://thesurvivalmom.com/putting-technology-work-create-sane-christmas-video-bonus/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/putting-technology-work-create-sane-christmas-video-bonus/#comments Tue, 23 Dec 2014 19:31:24 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=20426 Every Christmas, my bedroom looks the same with wrapping paper, rolls of ribbon, receipts, and shopping bags all fighting for space on the floor and bed. I realized that yesterday and have made peace with it. I even took a Read More

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Technology and ChristmasEvery Christmas, my bedroom looks the same with wrapping paper, rolls of ribbon, receipts, and shopping bags all fighting for space on the floor and bed. I realized that yesterday and have made peace with it. I even took a few pics. See Exhibit A.

Christmas wrapping paper mess.

Christmas wrapping paper mess.

This season I had a secret weapon that has helped me organize our schedule, shopping trips, recipes, and even plot out traffic routes. That weapon is Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant.

I got to know Cortana thanks to a Nokia Lumia that was provided to me by Microsoft. The phone itself is a smaller version of a tablet or a larger version of an iPhone6. Either way you look at it, it’s a larger phone than my old Android. It took some getting used to, but in the meantime, I thoroughly enjoyed the 6″ display screen and tile layout. The camera takes extra-sharp photos and videos

I started putting Cortana to use by setting up my December calendar. Listing every event made me realize what a crazy month I had ahead of me:

  • 2 optometrist appointments
  • 4 dentist appointments
  • 2 hair appointments
  • Hanukkah (My family celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas)
  • A Christmas concert
  • 5 podcast interviews
  • A birthday party
  • A trip to the Christmas tree farm
  • Our annual Christmas gift-ing dinner out (More about that later.)
  • Christmas shopping
  • A college graduation

Like I said, it’s been crazy.

Since Cortana has a reminder service, I set up reminders throughout the month. Things like:

  • Send in medical receipts to insurance company.
  • Find Hanukkah candles!
  • Get ready for interview with Joyce Riley.
  • Ask Amy about birthday gifts for Kate.

And so on.  Since much more is going on this month in addition to holidays, these reminders have kept me on track for the more mundane events that I tend to forget.

I’m not an avid technophile and quickly reject any form of technology that makes my life more complicated. I can’t say that Cortana was intuitive for me. It still took some time to figure out all the options and decide what types of access I wanted to allow, but its features and design are well-planned and truly helpful.

A handful of apps kept the chaos at bay

With 2 sets of friends coming over on 2 separate nights, with 2 completely different menu plans!, I used the Big Oven app to search for new recipes (somehow the “Holiday Sweets” category kept popping up!).

Using the AT&T Navigator gave me a reliable GPS system for tracking down a particularly elusive Christmas tree farm, and the MSN Weather app made sure we planned that trip on a sunny day.

Evernote does the rest

One app that I was delighted to see on the Lumia was one of my all-time favorite apps, Evernote. Evernote is on the forefront of a paperless movement, and although I’m far from paperless, it still keeps a large part of my blogger life organized.

With the Lumia I was able to use Evernote as I normally do, but also scan my Post-it Note reminders, scan receipts and other documents.

What about privacy?

In this world of ever-shrinking privacy, I was hesitant to allow Cortana, or any of the other apps, access to my personal information. It wasn’t until I discovered that I could delete information, settings, or data from my emails and text messages that I became a little more comfortable about using more of Cortana’s features. In fact, the Settings section of the Lumia is far more extensive and allows me more control than my Android.

Preppers versus electronics

I know that many survivalists and preppers turn up their noses at the thought of using electronics, in general. They claim that an EMP will wipe out those capabilities, and they’re probably right. And, yes, spying on American citizens seems to be the new hobby of multiple agencies.

However, as long as I can utilize electronic devices to benefit my family and me, and limit the amount of information that device can access, it gives me an edge when it comes to managing a busy home, family, and business.

Worst case scenarios will always loom, but so will the need to maintain order and sanity in a world full of vast amounts of information, a family’s scattered schedule, and not forgetting beloved traditions.

And now for my video bonus!

As long as we’ve been married, my husband and I have made it a habit to collect ornaments from our vacations, hobbies, and we even have a fun tradition of gifting a new ornament to each of our kids that reflects one of their interests that particular year.

These ornaments are fun and bring back a lot of memories, but six years ago I decided I wanted a “fancy” tree. My husband calls it, “Mom’s Tree”. I knew I wanted something beautiful but until I decided on a specific color scheme, this tree just didn’t come together. It was too hard deciding between beautiful blue, silver, and white ornaments and the traditional green, gold, and red.

Finally, I settled on gold and red, and that made the tree not only happen in a beautiful way but also made shopping for ornaments super easy. Now when I go to after-Christmas sales, no matter where, I can immediately head toward anything that is gold and/or red and keep my color scheme going.

We bought our second tree at Walmart after Christmas, so other than buying additional ornaments, this isn’t a huge expense. It’s also fun to have our special family tree full of memories separate from one that stands there, loud and proud, proclaiming, “Look at me! Aren’t I gorgeous!”

Here are 2 video clips of both trees and examples of the types of ornaments we put on both. Hope this inspires you to a new, fun tradition!

 

 

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“Build the Perfect Survival Kit”, by John D. McCann: Book Review http://thesurvivalmom.com/build-perfect-survival-kit-john-d-mccann-book-review/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/build-perfect-survival-kit-john-d-mccann-book-review/#comments Tue, 23 Dec 2014 08:00:59 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=14179 Do you need to put together a survival kit for your Everyday Carry, Bug Out Bag (BOB), an upcoming backpacking trip or your vehicle, to name just a few possibilities? I have an excellent resource to help you: The book Build the Read More

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Build the Perfect Survival Kit, by John D. McCannDo you need to put together a survival kit for your Everyday Carry, Bug Out Bag (BOB), an upcoming backpacking trip or your vehicle, to name just a few possibilities? I have an excellent resource to help you: The book Build the Perfect Survival Kit, 2nd Edition by John D. McCann.

A recognized expert in the fields of self-reliance, survival, and emergency preparedness; the author considers himself a student, life-long learner, and practitioner. McCann has written a great book for anyone who needs to build a survival kit for virtually any purpose, from the seasoned expert to the beginner / novice.

This down-to-earth, practical writer divides his book into four easy to navigate sections:

  1. The Basics
  2. Components
  3. The Kits
  4. Appendix (Including Survival Kit Checklists)

The Basics

In the basics section, McCann, whose tone of writing is easy to read and digest, provides the reader with an understanding of what a survival kit is all about and why they are important for everyone, not just the outdoor enthusiast. He also lays the foundation for any kit based on the Rule of Threes, the intended adventure or purpose, seasonal and environmental factors, as well as the minimal functions that each component should provide.

Components of a Survival Kit

The author covers the basic elements of a survival kit in great detail:

  • Fire and Light
  • Signaling
  • Navigation
  • Shelter and Protection
  • Water Purification and Containers
  • Food Rations and Collection
  • Cookware and Stoves
  • Knives and Tools
  • Medical Components
  • Multipurpose Components
  • Modifying Your Gear

In each chapter, McCann goes deep, detailing a wide variety of gear pertinent to each topic both in words and comprehensive accompanying photos. He provides a clear and concise explanation of the item, its basic use, and his recommendations.

Types of Survival Kits

The author gets creative taking the vast array of components and combines them into a wide variety of possible kits, from small everyday carry (EDC) to highly tailored specialty kits:

  1. Everyday Carry and Get Home Kits
  2. Containers for Survival Kits
  3. Mini and Small Sized Kits
  4. Medium and Large Sized Kits
  5. Kits for Vehicles
  6. Specialty Kits for Evacuation and Bug-Out Bags

John’s Survival Kit Checklists

Lastly, in the appendix, McCann provides his suggested components for each type of survival kit in a simple itemized format. Basically a checklist, making it oh-so-easy for the beginner to follow or veteran to quickly review.

The Focus

One word of warning, this book focuses on building custom survival kits and details the possible components to be used. The author does not focus on explaining, to the nth degree, exactly how each of the various components should or could be used, including multiple functions for each and every item. Rather, McCann provides a great show-and-tell treatise on the creation of each type of kit.

This 254 page book is a must-read resource for those truly interested in creating practical, usable survival kits. Profusely illustrated with detailed black and white photos (I wish they were color!), this is an easy to read and reference publication, available in both paperback and kindle editions.

With over 35 years as a multi-disciplined outdoor guide, participating on many rescues where the victim(s) would have benefited from having even the rudiments of a survival kit, and having read my fair share of survival books,  I consider this volume to be the bench mark by which all other books covering the building of survival kits should be measured. I wish it had been available to me when I was getting started as a fledgling guide, putting my first kits together. I highly recommend this book!

Additional Information

John D. McCann’s…

Amazon Page

Facebook

Website

YouTube Channel

Other Books by the Author

Stay Alive!: Survival Skills You Need

Practical Self-Reliance:Reducing Your Dependency on Others

Bug-Out: Reality Vs. Hype

Wake-Up Call 

The Layers of Life: Thoughts on Nature,Living, and Self-Reliance

All images courtesy of Amazon.com

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