Dress To Survive

         We’ve all heard that old adage, “Dress for success!” Looking your best is, for most people, a subconscious event that occurs every minute of the day. We want to be perceived as successfully, or intelligent, or, for some, wealthy. There’s nothing wrong with dressing to look your best. For the modern day prepper, though, it’s wise to add a layer of practicality to your wardrobe.
         With the winter weather fast approaching, we are often too busy dealing with the holidays to concern ourselves with safety or even survival. As a child, how often can you remember your parents saying, “Just throw a coat on, we’re only going to be outside for a second while we unload the car?” You put on your Sunday best, which involves nice looking –but not weather ready– clothes, and pile into the van. Your parents, dare I say it, were right most of the time (there, I said it, mom). Usually, you wear a jacket just to keep you from getting covered in snow in the thirty seconds you have to leave the car and get to the front of a store or relative’s house. But what happens if that casual family outing turns into a drastic story for survival?
         If you take your prepping seriously, then you have to entertain the idea that anytime, anywhere disaster can strike. You have to be as prepared as you can possibly be for winter emergencies. Having warm clothes, a way to start fire, or even something as simple as a blanket can be the difference between life and death. Each year approximately 100,000 people freeze to death due to cold conditions. Of those, 70% ice and snow related deaths occur inside an automobile. Another 25% of those are people who’s car became stranded and they wondered out into a storm to seek help, but instead went to their deaths. The statistics don’t lie. Around 95% of winter deaths occur while people are away from their home and trying to get somewhere in their car. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, approximately 10% of all accidents in 2009 were caused, at least in some part, by the snowy or icy road conditions. Starting to get the picture? Winter weather is nothing to play around with.
         When you are dressing to leave the house in cold temperatures, remember this motto: Dress to Survive, not to Arrive. It just might save your life. Sure, maybe a t-shirt and jeans and light leather jacket might be enough to walk to your car, and then get out of it at the end of your journey. But what if you lose control of your car? You hit a patch of black ice and your car swerves off the road and goes down a bank. All of a sudden, that t-shirt and jeans with a light jacket seems like a bad idea. Dress warm with thick boots (always check your boots for holes to avoid water getting in your shoe) thick socks, a warm non-cotton sweater (try wool, it will keep you warm even if it gets you wet), an undershirt, and pants that will help keep your body heat in. You might not be the most fashionable person in the room, but you’ll never have to worry about freezing to death. Even if it doesn’t seem that cold out, always take your coat, hat, gloves, and any other garments –scarf, ski-mask, etc– with you. If you don’t need them, then just leave them in the car. But never venture out without at least the bare necessities for winter weather. Remember, it’s easy to take layers off if you get too warm, but if you’re too cold there’s no way to make clothes appear out of nowhere.
         As always, keep your car winter ready as well. Check the fluids regularly. Keep emergency supplies in your car including, but not limited to: flares, a blanket, a lighter, can of burning fuel gel, case of water, food for a couple of days, emergency space blanket, extra pair of clothes, and something to give your wheels traction should you get stuck. A nice piece of cardboard, an old floor mat or rug, or maybe some snow chains if you can afford them. Know your area. If your state is prone is bad winter weather, you should make yourself that much more prepared. If you’ve lived there long enough, you know the annual routine of winter. Saying “I didn’t know” when a tragedy happens won’t be enough to save yourself or your family. Be aware that accidents can happen anytime, and they normally occur when you least expect them. Stay safe, stay aware, and most of all, stay warm.

         For more tips on staying warm if you get stranded, check out THIS article by Off Grid Survival.


Winter Auto Checklist

         We are just about midway through September. The end of the year causes time to fly by at an alarming rate. And although most of us don’t want to think about it, it doesn’t change the fact that winter is soon upon us. So today I’m going to leave you with a checklist of things you want to make sure you do with your vehicle in order to prepare for the bitter cold and, possibly, a stranded situation. Here is a checklist to prepare your car for Old Man Winter:

  • First, be sure to check your alternator and battery. I believe AutoZone will still do this type of test absolutely free of charge. Have them run a diagnostics and determine if everything is good to go. It won’t take but five minutes of your time. If there is a problem, correct now before you get into your car and have to go through the gut wrenching feeling of despair when you hear the silence of your engine not turning over. Also look around your battery for corrosion or rust. Clean with a steel wool scrub pad if any is spotted. If the damage is too severe, replace the cables.
  • Be sure your tires are in good working order. Check the tread and air pressure. Cold air can cause air to leak and under-filled tires can be dangerous in even clear conditions. Don’t get stuck out in the open with bad tires on an icy winter road. Speaking of the wheels, might be a good time to get your brakes checked out and okayed. And don’t forget your spare. Make sure it’s filled with air and in good repair.
  • Check your wiper blades and ensure they have a good tread too. If it’s heavily snowing or sleeting, you want to be able to keep visibility as high as you can.
  • Keep fuel in your car. This seems like a no brainer, but a lot of struggling families may only put enough fuel in the car to get them through the week. This is dangerous. If the gasoline gets too low in your vehicle it could freeze the entire line and then you are in for a world of expensive repairs. Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times. And try using some Heet water removal with every fill-up to help cut down on the risk of freezing fuel.
  • Another good idea is to maybe have your radiator flushed and filled. Most oil change places will do this for $40-$60. Get some fresh antifreeze in your car to make sure the engine is protected from the bitter cold.
  • Test your heater BEFORE it gets cold. Nothing worse than firing that heater up for the first time and getting cold air. Make sure your heater works, and works well. It could be the difference between life and death. Ensure that your defrost works in both the front and rear windshields.
  • Another cheap, helpful preparation you can do for yourself is replace your current windshield washer fluid with winterized fluid that will help melt snow off your windshield.
  • Check all exterior vehicle lights to make sure they are functioning properly. Replace any burnt out bulbs. If visibility gets bad, being able to see your lights might keep another driver from plowing into you.
  • Lastly, once winter hits and the snow falls, salt trucks will be out in full swing. Keep in mind that salt eats at your cars exterior. Be sure to get a car wash every once in awhile during the winter to avoid any damage to your car’s body.

         Next I will discuss some items you might want to consider keeping in your car in case of an emergency situation that leaves you hunkered down and isolated out in the cold with only your stalled car to protect you. There are some items that are essential to avoiding hypothermia, frostbite, exposure, or starvation. Here’s is a brief list of need-to-have items that no winterized car should be without. Add to it for your specific needs. You may also consider doubling or even tripling quantities if you live in a specific bad winter weather area.

  1. Warmth – This is by far the most important consideration for winter. Cold exposure can kill you faster than you might believe. Make sure your car has emergency blankets, a thermal blanket, and if you have room try to keep an insulated sleeping bag in the trunk. Get a thick, warm change of clothes and change of shoes to keep in a bag in your trunk. If you happen to be out and get soaked with freezing snow, a quick change of clothes could save your life. Keep an extra shirt, sweater, pants, underwear, thermal socks, sweater, gloves, hat, ski mask, scarf, and boots rolled up in a bag (or in the above mentioned sleeping bag). Keep an emergency candle, waterproof matches, a lighter, and a can of cooking fuel in the trunk. Get some hand warmers (these are insanely cheap at Walmart for a mere $.50 and can stay warm for up to five hours) and keep them in your glove box. Might also be a good idea to have a flint firestarter around (this should already be in your car’s normal emergency kit). Starting a fire might be your best chance of survival should you need to abandon your vehicle. A couple flares is always a good idea as well.
  2. Food and Water – You can go a pretty long time without food. Maybe even longer than normal in cold conditions because your body tends to slow down in the winter. But everybody needs water or we perish pretty darn quick. Keep some granola bars and candy in your glove box. Get a couple of MRE’s and bags of jerky and keep them stored away. If it stays really cold all winter, you could even throw a cooler in your trunk and store cold meats and other refrigerator foods inside it. Keep a small cooking pan in your car too in case you need to melt snow to drink (never eat cold snow for water as it uses too much energy for your body to reheat and digest it). Keep a couple gallon jugs of water or maybe a case of bottled water in your trunk.
  3. Flashlights and an emergency weather radio are a must to ensure your survive an emergency. Get a hand crank radio and maintain the batteries in your flashlight.
  4. I’d recommend getting a battery starter and keeping it in your trunk. They sell giant types that can be recharged at home and connect directly to your battery, or they sell smaller compact models that work through your cigarette lighter adapter. Be sure to take this out every few nights and recharge it. Also be sure to keep a handy pair of jumper cables in your trunk. These are relatively cheap and can save the day.
  5. Get a vehicle charger and spare battery for your cellphone. Keep your cellphone’s battery charge above 50% (treat it like your gas tank!) and be sure you always have it with you. If you are trapped under a snowbank it can be used to make emergency calls or help the authorities locate you. A dead cellphone never did anybody any good.
  6. Put some spare cash in your glove compartment. Maybe $100-$200. That can be your “just-in-case” fund. If you break down in a strange town, it might keep you functioning (hotel, food, taxi cab) until someone can come pick you up. Also keep a roll of quarters in your car for vending machines and pay phones.
  7. Keeping some cardboard and a bag of salt in your trunk can help get your wheels out of a rut. Without traction you could just spin over ice and never get any where. Better safe than sorry.
  8. Keep some de-icing spray and an ice scraper in your car. Can’t stress the importance of this enough.

         Prepare now, while the weather is warm and you can get everything stowed away without your fingers going numb. Being prepared may be the difference between staying warm and getting frozen. Just one simple thing tucked away can save your life, your limbs, and your car. Prepare yourself for the harsh reality that yes, it can happen to you. Plan ahead and come out with your livelihood intact.

5.8 DC Earthquake

         The news has been a buzz this week with stories about the recent 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the eastern coast of the United States. It was the first earthquake of it’s kind in that area since the 1800’s. Following up this earthquake a massive hurricane named Irene is coming violently to that same coast line. This is a prime example to show you that disaster can strike any time, any where. And it doesn’t necessary just stop with one event. In less than a week, a region was hit with an earthquake and then a hurricane. Mother Nature doesn’t wait for you to be prepared. The unexpected can hit at any time and can be layer after layer of tragedy. It’s better to have a kit and a plan but not need them than to get overwhelmed with disaster and have no measure of personal assistance in place. I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat as often as possible: THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT BAIL YOU OUT. If you expect for FEMA to ride in on silvery manned white horses baring gifts of food and water and clean clothes, you seriously need to reevaluate who you vote into office. The government can not save us all. And as Hurricane Katrina showed us, sometimes no one is coming. This earthquake hit the DC area. What if it had crippled the government? Taken down the White House, killing hundreds of our leaders? Then if Hurricane Irene hits Florida and causes devastation, who’s coming to the rescue? Nobody. You need to prepare yourself and your family. Today I’m going to be discussing some earthquake survival tips. You might think the area you live in is immune to such things, but the entire crust of the earth is under constant pressure. At any given moment tectonic plates can shift causing tremors, earthquakes, or even sinkholes. Although you might not live right on a fault line, a powerful earthquake usually includes tremors and aftershocks which can ripple out for hundreds of miles.
         The most important thing to remember during an extremely violent earthquake is that your home gas and/or electric power as well as your water need to be shut off. Know how to do this and do it immediately. If there are downed power lines, your home line may be prone to surges that can electrocute you and fry your electronics. Powerful electric bursts might also make things such as computers and tv monitors explode. Play it safe and turn your fuse box off. If an underground gas main is ruptured during the quake, this can cause enormous amounts of problems. Leaking gas is toxic and can asphyxiate you, your family, or your pets. If a spark connects with leaking gas it can cause an explosion that could easily kill you or potentially start a fire. Water mains can flood or become contaminated. It’s vital to your survival to keep your cool and to shut these things off before doing anything else. Especially shut off the grids if you have to evacuate. No one wants to come home to a burned down house or to a house full of useless electronics.

US Earthquake region

The U.S. Earthquake Zones

         The picture above is FEMA’s graph of hotspots for earthquake activity. But just because you live in a zone outside of the deadlier zones doesn’t mean you can’t be affected by tremors and aftershocks. If you happen to live in a highly active earthquake zone, there are several things you can do to prepare prior to an earthquake strike.

  • Make sure you have plenty of food and water stocked up. In case the roads are badly damaged, aid might not be able to reach you. Have enough food to take care of your family. And don’t forget your pets! They need to eat too. FEMA recommends that the average adult needs at least 3 gallons of water per day for survival and hygiene. This amount can fluctuate depending on age. Plan accordingly.
  • Be sure to have a solar powered or hand crank emergency radio to keep you in the loop with what’s going on. This is especially important if a bulletin is released that your area needs to evacuate.
  • Prepare your home by making it sturdier and more durable in the event an earthquake happens. Suggestions usually range from securing bookshelves to wall studs and getting strong latches for cupboards to strapping water heaters down securely and moving heavier items to lower storage areas. Avoid hanging pictures or other decorations over your bed.
  • Make a plan in advance. Find a secure space in every room in your home where you can drop down low without the risk of something falling on you. Train yourself and your children for survival.
  • It is also recommended that you keep flashlights and dusk masks stored ready for use. An earthquake can leak all kinds of dust and dirt into the air. A mask can help you avoid trouble breathing, allergens, or even asthma attacks for those who suffer from them.

         If you suddenly find yourself in an earthquake scenario, take steps as quickly as possible to keep yourself safe. If indoors, get under a strong table or desk to avoid anything falling on you. If you can’t find anything to hide under, try to get in an interior doorway and brace yourself against the frame. Only do this if you are sure the frame is secure and won’t collapse on you. Be sure to avoid bookshelves and other furniture that can fall on you. Try to get away from windows and be prepared for fire alarms or even sprinkler systems to go off. Most importantly, do not panic. Most earthquakes do not last very long. Hold out, keep your head protected, and try to ride it out. If you are outdoors and on foot, get to a clear space, away from buildings, trees and especially power lines, and get down on the ground. Wait out the tremors. If you are driving, pull the car over in a safe spot away from anything that could potentially fall on you. Stay in the car and wait out the quake. Again, try to keep a rational head, keep yourself protected and wait it out. Whether indoors or out, find a secure spot where nothing can fall on you and wait until the earthquake is over. Statistically most fatalities during earthquakes don’t happen from ground movement. Most people are killed because of falling debris or collapsing buildings.
         In the event you find yourself trapped under debris there are some important guidelines to follow to ensure your survival. First, assess yourself. Can you wiggle your toes and fingers? Is your breathing impaired? Does anything hurt? Are you bleeding? If you find yourself in good working order but simply trapped, try to find a light cloth to cover your mouth and nose with to avoid breathing in dust and debris. The universal “Help Me!” signal is a set of three. For someone trapped, you should find something large that makes noise, and hopefully vibrates, and tap it three times. It doesn’t have to be continuous, but every 30 seconds to a minute, tap three times to let rescue workers know you are trapped. Do not light any matches as there may be a gas leak. Try not to move too frequently and cause dust to kick up. Stay calm and conserve your oxygen. Most importantly, do not try to dig yourself out. You have no way of knowing what’s above you and a shift in debris could cause the entire structure to collapse completely on top of you.
         If an earthquake strikes and you are fortunate enough to be prepared and not get trapped under debris, immediately get your family outdoors. If the integrity of the building you are in has been compromised, it could collapse. Once outdoors, check over yourself, your family, and your pets. Check for injuries, especially bleeding. Look for bruises and scrapes. In animals, check for awkward breathing or heavy, unnecessary panting. Lastly, earthquakes do not normally just happen and then end. Most times after the earthquake, tremors or aftershocks can be experienced for several hours or even a few days. Expect this and inform your family so no panic occurs. If you live near a coastal region, it’s especially important to have an emergency radio available to listen for updates regarding tsunamis, as these are common if an earthquake strikes near or in the ocean. People have a tendency to grow fearful during natural events that are beyond their control. Earthquakes happen and will always happen. The plates beneath our surface are constantly shifting and ever changing. Be prepared, make a plan, and do your best not to lose your nerve if an earthquake should happen. The earthquake might take you by surprise, but survival should not.

The earthquake earlier this week was around 5.8, which isn't too severe but can still cause many problems.

Helpful Links

         I’ll admit, I am feeling very lazy today. I have a lot of work to do at my real life job, and I really don’t feel like posting a long thought out blog on here today. But disaster waits for no one. So instead of bailing completely, I’m going to just give you a nice list of helpful sites that can assist you in getting prepared. I’ll try to put an even mix of financial and survival links. Maybe you’ve seen them before, if so I apologize. However, maybe there will be a few new ones and you can access them to get some new ideas. I will definitely be back at it tomorrow with a more thoughtful post. For now, check out these links:

(DisclaimerI would never post a link to a scam website. All of the links listed below, to the best of my knowledge, are reliable, secure web pages that only offer help and have no negative or malicious intents. Always use caution when web browsing to protect your system and your identity.)

Government emergency preparedness for business owners: Ready Business

Government recommended emergency supply list: Ready Supplies

FEMA’s emergency citizen preparedness guidebook: Are You Ready?

Extensive Survival Training Site: DelMarva

The top 50 survival blogs: Survival Top 50

Wise Bread’s top 100 finance blog list: Top Personal Finance Blogs

Art of Manliness how-to of survival shotguns: Ultimate Survival Shotgun

Very specific emergency kits: 1-800-Prepare

Red Cross small checklist: Red Cross Be Ready

Red Cross CPR Training Classes: Take a Class

Large collection of first aid kits: First Aid Kits

Life Secure’s website, lots of helpful information: Emergency Solutions

The five basic survival skills: 5 Basic Skills

Amazing weapons survival gear: The Tactical Gear Store

One important word – medicine. This site is priceless: Antibiotics

Advanced training course: Learn To Return Survival

Scout, Tracker, and Survival School: onPoint

The Underground Survival Network: Vivos

Money advice, financial guidance: Smart Money

Your one stop shop for all things a preppers wants/needs: Off Grid Survival

The low down on business and consumer information: The Consumerist

A very simple, yet effective survival blog: Totally Ready

Helpful financial articles daily: Get Rich Slowly

Financial talk, in lamens terms: The Simple Dollar

A book by Joseph Knowles: Alone In The Wilderness

A book by J.J. Luna: How To Be Invisible

         In retrospect it actually took a lot of work and time to imbed all the links in this article. So I really didn’t save myself any trouble or time. 🙂 Oh well, at least I got some links out there for your benefit. I will frequently post more links in the future. Thanks for stopping by today. We’ll be back to true form tomorrow.

Survival Scholars



“It is not the truth that a man possesses, or believes that he possesses, but the earnest effort which he puts forward to reach the truth, which constitutes that worth of a man. For it is not by the possession, but the search after the truth that he enlarges his power, wherein alone consists his ever-increasing perfection.” –Gotthold Lessing

         It’s understandably stated over and over again that actions speak louder than words. This is a strong expression, one that all should strive to adhere to. However, I am going to up the wager and go one step further. Applications speak louder than verbs. Anyone can take an idea or behavior and go through the motions but to really understand and apply that behavior to your life is something entirely different. For example, you could read survival blogs or financial advice columns and stash money away or stockpile food and supplies in a closet. Those are crucial beginning steps and indeed are strong actions that are miles away from just talking about being prepared. However if you don’t understand the “why’s” and “how’s” then the “what’s” don’t really matter. You must realize why you are saving money away, becoming aware of the effect it’s having you. Further, you need to be able to have the wisdom when to use the emergency funds you have tucked away. You must also understand why you are stashing survival supplies and, more importantly, how to use them. It doesn’t take much to stash away some paracord or containers of flint and steel. But do you know how to tie a proper knot? Do you know how to start a fire in a wet environment or during a snowstorm when your fingers are too numb to properly function? It’s for these questions that we must not only become survivors but also learn how to survive. It should always be a requirement to learn a skill and then apply that skill to our life. Not just going through motions but ingraining the knowledge of survival and the confidence with knowing what to do, when to do it, and why it needs to be done.

         I would recommend that once every three or four months you assess your skill sets. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What areas do you need improvement? Go through your supplies and ask yourself if you know how to use everything. Look at your tools and assess your skill level with each item. What can each tool be used for? What would you do if the tool broke and you needed a makeshift replacement? Look at your finances and decide where you are going and where you came from. Determine your monthly budget. Figure out what you are wasting money on and how you can plug the leaks in your financial stronghold. Research investment types and what the pros and cons of each are. Calculate your retirement and keep yourself on track. By questioning yourself every once in awhile you sharpen your skills and hone in on areas that need correction. We must never let complacency dull our senses because when we least expect it the unthinkable could happen. Prepare yourself for that day and you can build your confidence to new heights. Be aware of what you can and can not do, and then expand your skill expertise to make yourself worthy of survival.

         Independent studies are vital to increasing the knowledge of ourselves and the world around us. Go to your local library and check out instructional books. See if you can find free books there that teach about wilderness survival and financial development. But don’t just read the books and take notes. Pick activities and go practice them. This will help you assess your current abilities and enable you to make goals for improvements. Learn new skills and then master them through practice. Get your brain active. Teach your muscle memories the hand-eye coordination needed for each movement. Don’t just learn a skill, apply it by using it as often as you can. If you can’t find any good survival or financial books through your library, the internet is an endlessly free encyclopedia for the hungry scholar. You can do a quick search and find information on any project you can think of. But don’t just read it and think it’s correction information. Try the activities for yourself and see if they are valid or if they can be applied to your particular skill set and local environment. The skills you learn should be able to be readily applied to you and where you live. A skill someone in Florida has might not be useful for someone living in Indiana.

         Don’t be afraid to try out do-it-yourself instructional videos on YouTube. There is a huge collection of very reliable information on the internet. Just be sure it’s valuable to you and what you would need to do during an emergency situation. If you’ve exhausted all the free resources you can, you can still find additional help for fairly cheap. Used book stores are great bargain shopping for the frugal book hunter. I am constantly finding discount financial books for $1 or less at stores like Half Priced Books. Look for giveaways or cheap prices on sites like Craigslist and eBay (but be cautious and always protect your personal information). Check your local paper for workshops and classes being offered locally. If you can afford it, get yourself into a relatively cheap vocational school where you can learn all sorts of useful skills. Make survival your hobby and make learning new things something that is enjoyable. It shouldn’t be viewed as a chore. Get excited for expanding your knowledge of finances and survival instincts.

         It’s important for your financial security and emergency survival that you acquire knowledge on what needs to be done. If you want to retire young, your financial know-how needs to be strong enough to learn how to save, why to save, and what you can expect once you reach the age of retirement. If you want to survive an earthquake disaster situation, your skills need to be molded around the steps it would take to recover, adapt, and survive long-term. Learn the skills, acquire the knowledge, and put it all into action. Apply what you know from all areas and develop a learn-and-do mindset. Nothing could be worse than having a disaster strike and standing there in the rubble surround by tools you have no idea how to use and having those you love look to you for guidance when you are unsure what to do. Become aware, be prepared, and never stop learning. Become a survival scholar and sharpen the edge of your mind as often as possible. Never stop learning, applying your knowledge, and having the wisdom of when or why to use it.

Spend Money To Make Money

       First things first, and this may be the most important thing I tell you ever, so listen closely. Yes, this blog is combining survivalism with financial independence. And yes, having an emergency fund of money stashed away is important. BUT, in the event that the government collapses, what good will that money do you? Absolute Zilch is the correct answer. Money is only as good as the government backing it. Gold and silver will still probably be a commodity, but maybe not. Coins may also still be worth something, but there’s no way to accurately predict that. So before you do anything else, spend your money. Yes, that seems counter intuitive to what I am trying to do with this site. But spend your money. Spend it on supplies, on stockpiling food, on getting training for necessary survival skills. Spend it preparing yourself for a day when money won’t exist and where trading for goods or services will be the new economy. Once you have a stable survival kit and pantry together, then you save your money away. Don’t think just because you have thousands of dollars saved in the bank that you are safe. What happens if the economy collapses and the government folds, you think the FDIC is going to keep your money insured? What happens if they entire power grid goes down and the computer servers that held your account information are wiped cleaned? Always invest your money. First, in yourself: skills, classes, training, supplies, books, etc. Second, in your bank: get a savings account and stick money into it! Third, if you feel brave enough, try your hand at investing in some mutual funds, stocks, CD’s, or an IRA. Money might make the world go around now, but if the world as we know it ceases to exist, cash will no longer be king. So prepare yourself for that scenario as best you can, and then save away for a rainy day. Don’t get caught out in the cold with a fat wallet and a hungry stomach.