Monthly Archives: August 2014

16 Uses for Plastic Sheeting

Keeping up with the recent theme of exploring common objects and finding preparedness uses for them, this month’s article looks at some prepper uses for plastic sheeting, sometimes called Visqueen. While the uses for plastic sheeting is seemingly endless, we’re going to focus on those that serve us in our preparedness plans.

Plastic sheeting
is a polyethylene film,
available in clear and black, and in various thicknesses. It’s available just about anywhere selling hardware, in both black and clear, and in several thicknesses.

Some fabric stores sell plastic sheeting as well, but generally only in the thicker mills. They may have colors and even patterns available, if you want to get fancy, but sell different sizes than discussed here. (The width is narrower since it is on a roll in the upholstery section; the length is whatever you request, as with any fabric.)

Thickness is usually rated in mils, which equals one-thousandth of an inch, or 0.001 inch. Three to six mils is fairly common, though this may vary at your local stores. In general, you can consider 4 mil and below as “thin” and 6 mil and above as “thick,” though that is relatively speaking.


However, because this sheeting is available in many combinations of colors, widths, lengths and thicknesses, knowing what you may want to do with it can help determine what size to get. Less cutting means less potential for waste, and easier for reuse.

If you don’t know what you want to do with the plastic sheeting yet, but would like some of it on hand for those times when you suddenly need it, consider getting the following:

  • 1 Roll thick, Clear (6 mil), 10 ft. x 25 ft.
  • 1 Roll thin, Clear (3.5 mil), 10 ft. x 25 ft.
  • 1 Roll thick, Black (6 mil), 10 ft. x 25 ft.
  • 1 Roll thin, Black (3.5 mil), 10 ft. x 25 ft.

These four rolls will give you a good assortment of plastic sheeting and they should be available at a store near you.

Looking at the rolls of plastic sheeting in the store, the packages may look nearly identical, so pay close attention to the description on the actual packaging. One important aspect to consider is width. Common sizes are 10 ft. x 25 ft. and 20 ft. x 25 ft., though it is available in many other sizes. It is easy to cut, so err on the side of bigger if you’re not sure what size you will need.

It’s important to keep the width in mind when you go to use the plastic sheeting, as you won’t unfold it until you have cut it to the desired length. When rolled, it’s only about 16 inches high, but unfolds to the width listed on the package. This makes for an easy to carry roll, but forces you to know how much you need before you make any cuts.

It’s not listed as food grade, but during a survival scenario it’s about staying alive and improving conditions. Worrying about whether the plastic sheeting is rated as food grade when your family is dying of thirst is foolhardy. Remember, we’re talking about expedient uses, not long-term applications.

While the uses are near infinite, here are some for expedient purposes with regards to preparedness.

Shelter, Tarp and Ground Sheet

Plastic sheeting is not a great substitute for a tarp or ground sheet, but can serve in that role. A couple of rolls of sheeting can make a quick expedient shelter for a large number of people or equipment. Not as good as an actual tent or tarps, but much better than having nothing for protection against the elements of wind and precipitation.

One issue is securing them in place, as they have no grommets or stake loops. If you pack tarp clips with your plastic sheeting, most of these will work well for providing tie-down locations. Rocks usually work well for keeping ground sheets in place.


  • You can easily pound a stake through the sheeting, but this may lead to tearing, which is why setting rocks on them is better.
  • Make sure to test your tarp clips with the thickness of sheeting you have to confirm it provides a secure hold.

Covering Large Containers, Wood

Likewise, you can use this sheeting to cover your expedient water (or other) supplies to help keep them free from debris. As when using as a tarp, you need to find a way to secure the sheeting so that it doesn’t blow away with the first wind. Similarly, you can use in place of a tarp to keep wood that is being seasoned dry.

Waterproofing Large Containers

If you have a kiddie pool or other large container that has a leak, you can line it with plastic sheeting and make it waterproof again. This container can then be used for water storage, fish pool, or any number of uses. For this use, thicker sheeting will be more resistant to punctures. If you have two containers that are leaking and nest together, you can sandwich the sheeting in between them. This stops the leak while better managing the flimsiness of the plastic sheet.

Rain Collection

Though it may seem like we already covered this above, collecting rain is something different. The best way to collect rain is with a large surface area. This allows you to collect as much as possible. While rainwater collected from rooftops is good for the garden, with all the bird feces and other contaminates present in roof runoff, it’s not too good for drinking. At least, not without a lot of processing to make it safe to drink.

Suspending plastic sheeting horizontally, with one corner lower than the others, will allow you to collect rainwater efficiently. The hard part (hopefully) will be having enough container space to store all the water you’re collecting.

Winterizing Windows And Doors, Closing Off Rooms

This common, everyday use can also be important during a survival scenario such as a winter storm power outage or even a furnace breaking down. If you’re relying on an alternative heating source, perhaps a kerosene heater or small fireplace, you’ll want to make that room as small as possible and block drafts from doors and windows.

With the open floor plans of today’s newer homes, closing off a room may not be as easy as closing a door. You can, however, make the room smaller by hanging plastic sheeting. While not thermally efficient (meaning insulative), it does limit the air flow, which keeps the warmer air in the room and not escaping to the rest of the house.

Expedient Repairs on Home

In addition to creating expedient shelter, it can also be used to make temporary repairs on your home. Roofs and windows broken from storm damage let the rainwater in, adding to the overall damage. Quickly tacking up some plastic sheeting can limit the total damage to your home.

Floor Liner for Indoor Pet Relief Station

Even if you have a kiddie pool for this purpose, you should store some plastic sheeting, just in case. Not all animals will take to using the pool. For those, lining the floor with plastic and spreading on top newspapers or other material can go a long way to avoid the unpleasantness of indoor “doggie dootie.”

Expedient Shower Curtain

Privacy is important to us, particularly when we’re naked in the shower. Your whiz-bang expedient shower will make more of an impression if it also includes an expedient shower curtain. Clear thick plastic sheeting is usually cloudy enough to occlude seeing through it, but there’s always black for those that demand complete opaqueness.

Black Out Curtains

Speaking of complete opaqueness, black plastic sheeting is a great, cheap solution for blacking out your windows. When the power is out in the entire area, the last thing you want to is advertise you have light, whether from candles, lanterns, or solar-battery-powered lighting. The less people know about your preparedness activities, the better, and this includes during an event.

Solar Still

The article 15 Preparedness Uses for Kiddie Pools suggested using two nested pools for a large solar distiller (or a pool with an inner catch container). This is the plastic you use to create that. Either the clear or black plastic would work well for this.

Safe Room / Isolation Room

During a pandemic, you may need to create a safe room in order to protect you and your family. Additionally, if you have people show up at your house after the pandemic has taken hold in your area, you will need to isolate them until the incubation period is over.

The only way to do this effectively is with plastic sheeting. Please note, safe room operations require more than just a roll of plastic, but it’s an important component.

Making an safe or isolated room with plastic sheeting typically requires you to overlap the layers to create an entrance portal. However, there is a product that makes creating a door in plastic sheeting, or even tarps, much easier. It’s called a Tarp Zipper Door. The Homax brand is available at most hardware stores.

To use, simply apply with the adhesive backing, unzip, and cut a slit where the zipper is open. Instant door!

Greenhouse Panels

Plastic sheeting can be used to create an expedient greenhouse to increase your growing season. However, as noted on this page, you need to ensure the plants are getting enough UV light. The brand of plastic sheeting you’re using may block it

Even so, extending the growing season – by keeping the plants warmer overnight and exposing them to sunlight during the day – has definite advantages. You could even use the tarp zipper door trick from above and create roll-up sides for your expedient greenhouse.


With the many uses for plastic sheeting, for everyday and preparedness use, stock up on them now while they’re easily available


Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.
Via: thesurvivalmom

Oats, the Queen of Breakfasts

Usually, breakfast is the easiest meal for stocking up, but I’d like to suggest, for food storage, you consider meals that are hearty, filling, and nutritious.  Cheerios and dry saimin won’t cut it.

My favorite breakfast for storage is either oatmeal or granola.  Both can be “adjusted to taste” by adding nuts, dried fruit, honey, and many other possible additions. Even if your kids aren’t big fans of oatmeal and granola, surely there’s a customized version that will make them happy.

Figuring out how much to store is easy.  Calculate how much each family member eats in a typical breakfast, keep track of the various add-ins and come up with a total per breakfast.  When you multiply those amounts by thirty, you’ll know just how much to stock up on for a full months-worth of breakfasts.  Here’s the tally for the four of us in our family — enough to last a month.

Oatmeal:  60 cups (1/2 c. per person, per day)

Brown sugar:  8 cups (1 T. per person, per day)

Raisins:  8 cups (1 T. per person, per day)

Walnuts:  2 cups (1 T. for 30 days – I’m the only one who likes walnuts.)

Sometimes I pour a bit of milk over our oatmeal, and for variety, replace raisins with the same amount of chopped, dried apricots or apples.  Here are a few more tips for utilizing oats in your breakfast meals and storage.

  1. When oatmeal becomes tiresome, and it will, fortunately you can use many of the same ingredients to make homemade granola.
  2. Another break from oatmeal is a different hot cereal with similar toppings.
  3. Use an online conversion tool to figure ingredient totals.
  4. Be sure to have a breakfast option that doesn’t require cooking for those power-outage mornings.
  5. Use oats and a few baking ingredients to make a loaf of nutritious breakfast bread or muffins for another change.
  6. Experiment with different versions of oatmeal – steel-cut, oat groats, or a multi-grain mix.
  7. Quick oats have their place in food storage, although rolled oats are preferred for their additional fiber and nutrition.  Quick oats are handy for days when heating up some water is the only way a hot breakfast is going to happen.
  8. To store oats long-term, use cleaned out 2-liter soda bottles, mylar bags, or buckets, and one or two oxygen absorbers in each.  Keep the oats in a cool, dry, and dark location.


Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

Via: thesurvivalmom

Heavily Armed SWAT Team Swarms Cal State… Because of an Umbrella

These days you never know what could be used as a deadly weapon of mass destruction requiring a militarized SWAT response.

In San Marcos, California, where students and staff members are always looking out for potential domestic terrorists, a call to 9-1-1 prompted a full university lock-down and brought elite members of the police department out in force.

The incident began when someone called police to report a gunman on campus carrying an assault rifle.

It turns out, it was only an umbrella. Late Wednesday, 10News spoke with Bill Craig, who has been a staff member at the university for 17 years. He was walking with his umbrella on campus that morning because of the rain.

Little did he know that by the time he got back to his office, his umbrella would have been mistaken for a rifle and lead to a campus-wide lockdown. Craig was held at gunpoint by sheriff’s deputies during the lockdown.

“I guess you always think that when someone’s pointing a gun at you, you’re really going to freak out but I think I was just more focused on doing exactly what the officer said,” he told 10News.

Craig was the person – reported as being suspicious – they had been looking for. The person was described as a white male, wearing a black shirt and jeans and walking across campus carrying a rifle.

He says he knew it was him the second the alert went out.

“I was certain,” said Craig. “It could have certainly been someone else. I mean, I’m not the only tall, bald guy here, but it fit me to a tee.”

You never know what could pass as an assault rifle given the hyper-sensitivity surrounding the ownership and possession of firearms.

Earlier this a month a man was shot and killed by police at a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio after a sharp-eyed shopper called in to report he was carrying around a loaded assault rifle. It turned out to be a BB gun that 22-year old John Crawford had picked up in the sporting goods section of the store.

In another BB gun incident in Houston, a Department of Homeland Security professional mistook an Airsoft rifle for an AR-15, prompting a fully mobilized deployment of the local SWAT team.

But to police, water pistols may be even more dangerous than BB guns or umbrellas. New York resident John Mayer was raided by police after his young son threatened to use a water gun and other children’s armaments against bullies who were terrorizing his friends. Police quickly responded by not only revoking Mayer’s pistol license, but confiscating his firearms, even though the guns were locked and totally inaccessible to his child.

This is only the beginning. As police departments around the country continue to acquire military grade equipment like mine-resistant vehicles, long rifles, night vision, and scores of other supplies, we can expect a further militarization of all federal, state and local employees.

(See what you’re local police department has been stockpiling)

Soon, they might even start arming IRS agents or Post Office employees.

Oh, wait. Too late… They’re already doing that.

USPS Stocks Up On Guns and Ammo

USDA to Purchase Submachine Guns

Agriculture Department puts in request to buy body armor

But, God forbid an American citizen tries to purchase some body armor for protection. Soon, that will be a crime as well, and perhaps the next SWAT raid will occur as a result of someone wearing a bulky jacket or vest that resembles body armor.

This is America, 2014.


Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.


Via: shtfplan

A Famine Menu — A Bare-Bones Food Storage Plan


I found this “famine menu” on a political forum, of all things, several years ago. There was no link to an original post nor was any author listed. I liked the plan and wanted to share it because too many Americans see the need to prepare but can’t. The paycheck, if there is one, doesn’t come anywhere near to meeting the necessities.

On this famine menu food storage plan you’ll find very basic foods that are available anywhere. If you’re using an EBT card currently, buying a few of these items each month will barely make a dent. Once you have these items in place, you can always begin to add additional foods that you and your family enjoy. I’d recommend adding additional meat and chicken, either freeze dried or home canned. (Read this article on home canning meats. When you can buy meat or chicken cheaply enough, this is a great way to stash some away for emergencies.)

Keep in mine that every food storage plan must be customized to your own circumstances. If someone in your family is allergic to one of the items on the list, buy less or substitute something else. Stock up on the spices you use most. Those vary from family to family.

If you’d like a printable of this list, click here.

The Famine Menu Food Storage Plan

Per day for one person

3 slices of whole wheat bread (lunch and dinner)

1 pot of oatmeal (breakfast, vary with spices and fruit from the orchard or dehydrated or nuts)

1 pot of rice (dinner)

1 pot of beans (dinner, vary with spices and vegetables from the garden)

1 glass of milk

In addition per week

1 pint of jam

1 jar of peanut butter

1 spaghetti dinner with hamburger

4 pots of soup (From leftovers and Soup for A Year)

7 jar sprouting seeds rotation

In addition per month

1/2 -#10 can popcorn

1 can potato flakes

1 can refried Beans

1 can white flour

Shopping list: Amounts to store for one Person, two persons, three persons, four persons


Wheat:  90 lbs, 168 lbs, 252 lbs, 366 lbs

Rolled oats:  24 lbs, 48 lbs, 72 lbs, 96 lbs

Rice:  60 lbs, 120 lbs, 180 lbs, 240 lbs


Dry beans:  60 lbs, 120 lbs, 180 lbs, 240 lbs

Refried beans:  24 lbs, 48 lbs, 72 lbs, 96 lbs

Peanut butter: 17 lbs,34 lbs, 52-16 oz, 52-16 oz jars

Canned hamburger and other meats:  52 pints


White flour:  48 lbs, 96 lbs, 144 lbs, 192 lbs

Granulated sugar:  40 lbs, 80 lbs, 120 lbs, 160 lbs

Oil:  9 Quarts (See Bread for a Year), 18 Qts, 18 Qts, 18 Qts

Yeast:  (See Bread for a Year) 2 lbs, 4 lbs, 8 lbs, 8 lbs

Salt:  8 lbs (See Bread for a Year)

Honey:  18 lbs (see Bread for a Year), 36 lbs, 57 lbs, 57 lbs

Powdered milk: 16 lbs (kids 32 lbs), 32 lbs, 48 lbs, 64 lbs


Potato flakes: 18 lbs, 36 lbs, 54 lbs, 72 lbs

Spaghetti sauce:  52 Quarts

Spaghetti noodles;  60 lbs, 120 lbs, 180 lbs, 240 lbs


Multi-vitamins:  365, 730, 1095, 1460

Popcorn:  #10 cans, 6

Fruit jam:  52 Pints (one per week)

Sprouting seeds (Wheat, beans, seeds), 40 lbs, 80 lbs, 120 lbs, 160 lbs

Check out:

How to Make Sprouted Wheat/Spelt/Anything Flour–Picture Tutorial!

Simply Sprouting

In a dire emergency, you may not have electricity, or it could be subject to black-outs. In that case, start your famine menu using lesser amounts of food than you’ll need, since you won’t be able to refrigerate the leftovers. With each meal, add a little more food until you’re consuming everything within one day and tummies are all fairly satisfied.



Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.


Via: thesurvivalmom



Long Term Spice Storage: Turning a Mistake into a Benefit

Guest post by RightWingMom.

My Food Saver has been one of the best investments for prepping that my husband and I have made.  For years now I have used the jar sealer and stored my spices in Mason jars.  This is great, sitting on the shelf, but I’ve always been concerned about needing to bug out and the fragility of these jars.

Enter a recent mistaken purchase at Walmart.  I normally purchase Food Saver bags on a roll, the narrow (8″) and wide (11″) varieties.  On my last trip I grabbed the wrong 11″ box.  They are the Portion/Pouch perforated style.  After grunting and groaning at myself for several seconds, I had an epiphany… I could use them for storing my spices!

Here’s what I did:

  1. Pulling out about 1 foot of bag, perforation still intact, I sealed one end.  Next I labeled: the name of the spice, best buy date, and packed date with a Sharpie.  Finally, I poured the spice into the bags and sealed them.
    2.  I found that folding up the front 2 inches allowed me to press out the spice until flat, making storage much more compact and efficient.
    3.  Now the hunt was on for all those spices I had not sealed into Mason jars.  Here are a few.  Note – The first jar to the left is a local seasoning that my husband is addicted to.  There’s nothing like comfort spices when you’re facing a societal collapse!

    4.  The finished result, a box full of assorted spices safely tucked away.  I stored them in an Amazon box that was perfect for these bags.  Yet another benefit to being a prepper….save those shipping boxes


A final tip – When it comes time to open these bags, I plan on placing the contents in a spice jar or bottle that I’m currently using.  The spices could also be transferred to a Ziploc bag or other storage container.

Hopefully this will inspire my fellow Survival Moms.  Even a mistake, made by rushing through Walmart, can result in a clever and useful prepper idea.


Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.


Via: thesurvivalmom

10 Reasons Why You Should Be Canning Your Own Meat


You’ll be hooked, I tell you.  Once you learn how to bottle your own meats, you’ll never go back to the old way of doing it.

Think about your meat habits.  Do you put up a 1/2 beef in your freezer every year? Do you buy fresh from the butcher and take it home to prepare? Do you buy in bulk and freeze what you aren’t using right away?  Do you buy canned meats?  All of these practices have their own pros and cons.  Today I’m going to share with you my top reasons for learning to bottle your own meats, and if you give it a try, your life will never be the same.

 #1 – Save freezer space

For most people, freezer space is at a premium.  If we can get those meats out of that precious space and into a bottle on a shelf then the space can be much better utilized for things like ice cream and otter pops.  You know, the important stuff.

#2 – Buy in bulk

When we see a great ‘do-not-pass-up’ deal on meats, we’re able to take advantage of it, get our bottles filled and processed and not have to eat the same meat for every meal that week/month before it goes bad or gets freezer burned.

#3 – Use fuel you have now

In our everyday, non-emergency lives, we have fuel.  We cook, heat and cool with it all the time and don’t think much about it.  Many have the plan that when the power goes out, they’ll just pull out the camp chef and propane and bottle the meats in the freezer at that point.  I’m here to tell you that when things go crazy, there will be much more to worry about than canning your thawing meats.  Why not take care of it now when you have the time, readily available fuel and energy to get it done?

#4 – You know what goes in the bottle

No hidden ingredients.  What goes in is what comes out.  No artificial anything.  Unless you are into that sort of thing. Then by all means, add those artificial ingredients!

#5 – Painless power outages

Cooking during a power outage is so simple with bottled meats.  They are completely cooked through so we just add them to whatever recipe we are throwing together and heat it up.  No extended cooking times (which use up precious alternative fuels).

# 6 – Save money (really this reason alone should convince you)

Canned meats are expensive.  Where I live a small tuna sized can of chicken,  10 ounces, is about $3.  With my large family, a meal gets pretty pricey buying canned meats.  But I can bottle a whole quart (2 lbs) of chicken for about $3.00.  I buy my chicken in bulk, usually 80 lbs at a time for less than $2 per pound, sometimes way less.  Then I’m always eating sale price chicken.  That 80# will keep me until the next big sale when I just rinse and repeat.

#7 – Save time

With the meats thoroughly cooked, we’ve eliminated a lot of the time involved with meal prep.  It does take time to bottle the meats but that’s a concentrated and efficient amount of time that is planned for another day.

#8 – Save brain cells

I’m not much of a thinker-a head when it comes to daily meal times (I’m working on that).  With meat out of the freezer I have to think at least 8-10 hours ahead (who does that?) and sometimes most of the time it just doesn’t happen… but I can open a can of canned meats and have a meal on the table in about 20 minutes because all I have to do is assemble and heat it through.

#9 – Save the planet

Okay, we’re not really saving the planet, but canning jars are reusable so at least we’re not contributing to the landfill by using cans.  There is a little bit of an investment to get started if you buy them new but they can also be found at yard-sales or thrift stores, or just ask around your neighborhood. You might find an elderly neighbor who is happy to pass along their bottles to someone who will put them to good use.  That’s you.

#10 – Less waste

Canning jars come in all sizes.  Use the size that your family will eat in one meal.  At my house we use both quarts and pints for chicken and beef because sometimes the meal will be for all of us and sometimes the kids are off doing kid stuff and it’s just mom dad and the littles at home.

BONUS   #11 – Satisfaction

In a world where we can hire almost everything out, there is something to be said for the satisfaction of doing it ourselves.  Self-reliance in skills and knowledge brings a peace that cannot come any other way.  Providing for our families is our number one job and doing it well is a wonderful thing.

Are you convinced yet?  If you’re ready to jump in take a look at THIS ARTICLE  on the subject.  Don’t be afraid of the number of steps.  I just broke it down into tiny baby steps so anyone can do it.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes or if you have questions.  You’ll wonder why you didn’t do  it sooner.

Note: I buy meat and chicken in bulk through Zaycon foods. The chicken breasts are fresh and about twice the size of those at the grocery store. I highly recommend Zaycon bacon, ground beef, and chicken. Click here for more info. 



Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.


Via: thesurvivalmom


21 Things to Look For Every Time You Go To a Yard Sale or Thrift Store

Next time you head out to a yard sale, thrift store, estate sale, or anywhere else that has bargains, keep this list in mind. If you want to print it out, here’s the link.

  1. Sterling silver flatware — Even if you can only afford to buy a spoon or a fork at a time, sterling silver is known to have antimicrobial properties. Some people believe that simply using silver flatware as everyday eating utensils can ward off harmful microbes.  Typically, a single piece of silver, such as a spoon, will run about $50.  Buy from reputable sellers, such as established estate sale agents and thrift stores.
  2. Survival related reference books — Peruse Amazon lists such as this one and become familiar with titles, authors, and subject areas.  Books about homesteading, gardening skills, primitive camping, wilderness survival, and so much more are very often found for just a couple of dollars, or less.  Other books to look for: Boy Scout manuals, Foxfire books, and issues of Backwoods Home magazines and anthologies.
  3. Grain mill — A good mill can run upwards of $300 and more, but it’s not uncommon to find them in yard sales and thrift stores.  Familiarize yourself with good brand names, ask to test the mill with actual wheat (if possible), but otherwise, I’ve found mills in very good condition for less than $50.
  4. Camping equipment — Good quality tents, sleeping bags, camp stoves, lanterns, cots, etc. are often sold at very low prices by people who thought camping was a great idea, tried it once or twice, and decided to stick with hotels!  Their loss is your gain!
  5. Good quality knives — Look for brand names such as K-Bar,  Cold Steel, and Gerber and know how to spot quality.  A Swiss Army Knife is also a good find.
  6. Homeschooling supplies — In a crisis, you may end up being your children’s teacher.  Workbooks, classic literature, flash cards, math manipulatives, textbooks, and even school supplies are very often for sale by homeschoolers who are moving up a grade or have decided to liquidate their stockpile of school supplies.
  7. Winter wear — I once picked up a super heavy duty men’s winter coat for ten dollars.  I was thrilled because it looks like it’s never been worn and came in a dry cleaner’s bag.  Look for snow boots, winter gloves, and other pieces of winter wear, and if you have kids, buy this clothing in a size or two larger for future winters.
  8. Boots — Work boots, riding boots, gardening boots, mucking boots, military boots, motorcycle boots, cowboy boots, hiking boots, desert boots — who knew there were so many different kinds of boots?  Check for quality construction and material as well as wear and tear.  When it comes to taking care of your feet, always go for quality.
  9. Tools — There’s just something about old tools from the 40′s and 50′s that beats the heck out of today’s “Made in China” label.  Some sellers are savvy to the higher quality of their tools and may ask a bit more, but in the long run, it will be worth it.
  10. Battery-operated appliances — I get a lot of questions about survival following an EMP or long-term power outage.  If you find battery powered fans, important appliances, and other tools, buy them, just to be ready for a power-down scenario.  Be sure to stock up on the appropriate batteries as well.
  11. Food dehydrator — No need to be a snob about this.  I still use the inexpensive American Harvest dehydrator I bought a few years ago on Craigslist.  I spent $30 and got extra trays, fruit leather trays, and even a couple of screen trays.
  12. Fishing equipment — I’ve seen top-quality fishing poles, nets, enormous collections of flies, rods, reels, you name it.  If part of your survival plan is to go fishing for food, estate and yard sales are prime sources for supplies.
  13. Emergency supplies — I’ve picked up emergency radios, lanterns, backpacks, water purification tablets, and paracord.  Most of what I have in my Vehicle Emergency Kit was found at these sales.  By the way, here’s a tip: often the best survival related supplies will be found out in the garage, if you’re attending an estate sale.
  14. Tough kids clothing — Believe it or not, when my son was quite young, I discovered that Gymboree made the toughest jeans on the market.  I don’t believe he ever wore a hole through the knees of his Gymboree jeans.  Kids are notoriously tough on clothes, so when you’re looking at second hand clothing, go for brands and fabrics that will stand up to serious wear and tear.  Buy them in larger sizes, so you’ll be ready for growth spurts.
  15. Canning jars and supplies — Look for Ball brand jars in all sizes.  You can always buy the lids and rims at a grocery store or on Amazon.  Also look for things like a magnetic lid lifter, funnel, jar tongs, and large pots.  It would be a good idea to know prices of new canning supplies.  Once I was at an estate sale, found a nice large water bath canning pot, but when I checked the price on Amazon, the yard sale price was higher!
  16. Manual kitchen and household tools — Do you have a manual egg beater?  A flour sifter?  Enough manual can openers?  A manual meat grinder?  I’ve seen all of these and more at estate and yard sales.  During a long-term power outage, you’ll be glad to have them!
  17. Cast iron cookware — Guess where I picked up my two best cast iron skillets?  Yep, at garage sales!
  18. Cookbooks — Specifically look for cookbooks that provide recipes for outdoor cooking, canning, Dutch oven cooking, and cooking with basic ingredients.
  19. Good quality gardening tools and supplies — Often, in urban and suburban settings, gardening is a fad that comes and goes.  You will likely find everything you need for your garden just by shopping yard sales and Goodwill.
  20. First aid and medical supplies — Boxes of surgical gloves, bandages, butterfly strips, surgical scissors, sterile gauze and entire well-equipped first aid kits are sold at bargain prices.  Once I even saw an old Army first aid kit with a snake-bite kit and ammonia inhalants, circa 1955!  I prefer estate sales, and very often, the owner of the home was taken care of by a visiting nurse service.  I’ve found massive amounts of medical supplies in just these types of sales.  Don’t worry, I didn’t buy everything!  I left some for you!
  21. Hunting supplies and firearms — In some yard/garage sales, you just might get lucky and spot hunting rifles and even handguns for sale.  If you see lots of hunting related items, quietly ask the homeowner if he/she also has firearms for sale.  There are plenty of other hunting supplies out there, though, including gun cleaning kits and decoys.  If you hit the right yard sale, you might feel like you’re in Cabela’s!

Print out a simplified version of this list here.


Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.


Via: thesurvivalmom

Choosing a Folding Knife

Folding knives are often the blades of choice when it comes to every day carry (EDC). Let’s face it, they are far easier to toss into a purse or slip into a pocket than their fixed blade counterparts. But, there are a few things to consider when choosing a folding knife. Remember, as with any other piece of gear, you may end up staking your life on this item, so it pays to be a bit finicky and not just buy something based on price (or appearance) alone.

Blade Considerations

First and foremost, the blade should be made of high quality steel, preferably something with a high carbon content. This allows for a harder blade that holds an edge longer, without being nearly impossible to sharpen.

As for length, this is sort of a judgment call. Personally, I like a folding blade of around four inches or so. This is large enough for most common tasks, including self-defense, without being cumbersome.

Folding blades generally come either plain or partially serrated. I prefer a plain edge as these are far easier to sharpen in the field. Serrated blades require more specialized tools to keep sharp. Keep in mind, you are far more likely to cut yourself with a dull blade than a sharp one. With a dull knife, you end up having to exert more pressure to make a cut, leading to slips.

Handle Considerations

Next, you need to consider the handle. It should have some texture to it, providing a solid grip if it gets wet. It should be comfortable in your hand, without any sharp edges that will dig into your palm or fingers as you use the knife.

I highly recommend a “lockback” folding knife. This is a knife where the blade locks into place when opened. This locking feature makes for a safer knife, one that isn’t going to close up accidentally while you’re using it.

There are two basic types of locking mechanism. The older style has the lock release along the back of the handle. The other, illustrated here, is called a “liner lock.” You push the metal strip to the side to release the blade for closing. Both locks work well, with the liner lock being much more prevalent today.

Another nice feature is a thumb stud, which gives you the ability to swing the blade open with one hand. While it is possible to open a folding knife lacking this feature with one hand, you end up doing something of a juggling act to accomplish it.

The stud, shown here, is simply pushed upward with your thumb, opening the knife. This is a great option as you may be in a situation where one hand is either injured or occupied and you’ll want to be able to open the knife with just the other hand.

Many folding knives today are sold with clips attached to the handle. This allows for a very secure carry in your pocket. Clips can be large or small. The one shown here is very small, yet holds the knife extremely well.

It pays to shop around and compare prices but a knife is not something you should just buy on the cheap. It is a tool and like any tool, you get what you pay for. Among the brand names I recommend for folding knives are Swiss Army, Southern Grind, and Buck. (Southern Grind and Buck are both made in the USA.) I’ve used their products for years without complaint or failure.


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Via: thesurvivalmom

15 Reasons to stock up on peanut butter

image by Greatist

  1. Peanut butter is packed with nutrients.
  2. It has an incredibly long shelf life, even when opened.
  3. Peanut butter is a great addition to any bug out bag or emergency kit.
  4. Peanut butter is a necessary ingredient in many recipes, both sweet and savory.
  5. It is a high calorie food, providing plenty of energy.
  6. It’s one of those stick-to-your-ribs foods.
  7. Peanut butter is an ideal spread for sandwiches and can be combined with jelly, jam, bananas, apples, and anything else that sounds good!
  8. It can be mixed in with oatmeal, with a bit of honey, for an extra nutritious breakfast.
  9. Peanut butter is high in plant protein.
  10. It comes in crunchy, super crunchy and other varieties, so everyone in the family gets their favorite version.
  11. All you really need to enjoy peanut butter is a spoon.
  12. It comes in package sizes ranging from individual packets to family-sized buckets.  Each has its place in your food storage pantry.
  13. Peanut butter is rich in folate, which is a necessary nutrient for pregnant women.
  14. “All Natural” peanut butter is available and doesn’t contain trans fat.
  15. Spread a bit on a pine cone, and you can feed hungry birds during the winter.
  16. Powdered peanut butter is a good option if you want to avoid the oils in peanut butter but want the flavor for recipes.

Resources for recipes and more info:

The Peanut Institute

Peanut Butter Lovers

Skippy Peanut Butter



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Via: thesurvivalmom

Keeping Your Cool – When There’s No Air Conditioning

Guest post by Helen Ruth

It was a record breaking 114 degrees in West Texas, and as luck would have it, our air conditioner broke! Pregnant, and living paycheck to paycheck, I had to find ways to cool down and QUICK!

What I remember the most about that time is how my family managed to stay comfortable at night. With the fan blowing on high, we’d cover ourselves in our beds with wet bath towels. Unbelievably, we’d wake up cold.

Fast forward 10 years later, and my family is handling another heatwave, this time in central Texas. With more than three months in a row of nonstop 100 degree weather, we were sapped of energy. I call that period in time, “the year I didn’t garden.”

It was the year I also took a good look around me and realized that I did NOT want to be caught unprepared during a heatwave with no power.

We naturally have an air conditioner, and plenty of fans, but I wanted to make sure my family would be able to keep our cool, even if we didn’t have electricity.

Lessons from the Past

While volunteering at Pioneer Farms on sweltering days my family would get asked lots of questions.

“Aren’t you hot in that long dress?” People would ask as they stood around in their tee shirts and shorts.

“How do you stay cool when there’s no air conditioner?” Another asked.

“Where do you get ice?” A child piped.

Those were the types of questions I enjoyed answering the most, as I wasn’t just repeating what our ancestors did, I was actually living through the experience!

I explained that believe it or not, the long cotton dress I wore, actually kept me more comfortable and cool, than if I were wearing shorts. Not to mention, the full skirt and sleeves protected me from sunburn, and bug bites.

Light and loose flowing clothes, in natural fibers like cotton, or linen, will actually draw moisture from the skin, evaporate, and cool a person down.

During extreme hot weather, we’d water the garden, and save the hard work for early in the mornings or late evenings when things cooled down.  We also made sure to check on the animals to see if they had plenty of shade and water.

Cold Beverages versus Room Temp

As for ice, there was no refrigeration. A respite from hot weather would be to walk inside the underground root cellar where temperatures could be 40 degrees or cooler than what is outside. This is where food was stored and preserved. Kept in darkness, the root cellar felt like a cave year round.

At first, I couldn’t imagine drinking room temperature water when my family first started volunteering. I had thought that in order to “cool down” my beverage needed to be cold. I have since learned that staying hydrated with lukewarm water is actually preferable. Not that I don’t enjoy a nice glass of ice cold tea on a hot sizzling day, but it is nice to know that we can survive without ice!

I also find it interesting that some studies have shown that athletes that drink cold water show a decrease in performance in comparison to those who consume room temperature.

Years ago, homes were built with no artificial air conditioning. Back then, people gravitated to their front porch to stay cool, or to enjoy the breezeway. Called a dogtrot, there would be two cabins built side by side, and the connecting hallway between would pull in the air currents, causing a cooler breeze.

Today, as I look at homes, I wonder about the lack of front porches and how families would stay cool during a heatwave with no air conditioning.

Keeping Cool, Without Electricity

Here are a few ideas for keeping your cool when there’s no air conditioning. Coolest of all, no electricity needed.

My first priority for preparing for hot weather without power, was to purchase plenty of battery operated fans. Just like in my experience in West Texas, I wanted to make sure I had moving air to circulate around wet clothes or towels.

I also make it a priority to have plenty of spare batteries, including batteries that can be recharged by solar power. There are solar powered battery chargers that you can purchase online, as well as pocket sized mini solar panels that you can hook up to battery chargers or cellphones.

Another benefit to moving air is mosquitoes and flies! That’s right, mosquitoes and flies find it hard to zero in for the landing when air is blowing. I learned this first hand while backpacking in Israel.

Cooling towels are a wonderful invention! My experience is with the  Frogg Toggs, which come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Initially they feel like cardboard, but once wet, they stay cool and rubbery until they dry again. These towels are perfect for those times when you don’t have moving air.

I keep these in my car for road trips where I could potentially break down during hot weather. Just pour bottled water over the towel, and presto! Instant coolness. One day, I took my Frogg Togg out for a trial run when my air conditioner went out on my Jeep. With suffocating temperatures inside the vehicle, I drove across town with a wet Togg around my neck. Life was bearable!

I’ve touched base on battery operated fans, but there’s also battery operated spray bottles on the market where you can have a fan blowing with water. I especially like using spray bottles, battery operated or not, with essential oils.

Essential oils like mint cool the skin on contact. Another reason I love spray bottles and essential oils is for those high humidity days. Imagine your house baking in extreme heat, with people and pets moving about. My favorite spray is lavender and water. I add about 20 drops to a small spray bottle and spritz the house. This not only makes your home smell wonderful, but the calming blend soothes the nerves and it’s healthy to breathe and natural!

How do You Keep Cool?

Again, these are ideas for keeping your cool when there is no power and air conditioning.

Please keep in mind that the elderly and young are more susceptible to heat injuries and need to be looked after.

Stay hydrated everyone, drink lots of water, wear natural fiber clothes, don’t overwork when it’s hot outside, wear a hat.



Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

Via: thesurvivalmom