Tag Archives: shelter

Urban Survival

In the United States, 80.7 percent of the population lives in an urban area, according to the 2010 census which is the latest census data available. Many of us would love to live on our own plot of a thousand acres, off grid and self sufficient or our own private island, but for most of us it’s just not a reality. When life gives you lemons, you can just be sour, or you can look at the bright side, take stock of your resources and make lemonade. If you are like me and although you would truly prefer to live on a mountaintop somewhere, but due to the circumstances you find yourself in, created by the choices you’ve made over your life thus far; your preference has to take a backseat to the realities and responsibilities of the life that you have created. Just because you work and live in an urban area, doesn’t mean you’re any more or less vulnerable than the person that lives on the mountain. highway

In the city you don’t normally have to worry about wolves or bears, but there is the potential of human predators that can cross your path. When living in the city there are two different times of concern: everyday life and life after TEOTWAWKI. Generally speaking in everyday life, minimizing your chance of becoming a victim can be done through situational awareness, attitude, and body language. One thing about living in or near the city; if you want to protect your family and prepare for any emergency, embracing technology is a necessity.

One night last May the wife and I were sitting in an upstairs room of our house that overlooks our driveway, watching a movie. The following morning, my wife got in her car to find out it had been burglarized! They didn’t take a whole lot, just a few CD’s, a box of .380 ammo and her garage door remote.home-security-cameras-480pix I zeroed out all the garage door codes and paired new remotes and installed a day/night vision HD security camera system. Lesson learned, no matter how nice the neighborhood, there is always the potential for theft. Another thing that I am in the process of doing is converting my home to a smart home system, utilizing the z-wave and zigby technologies as well as wifi. I have a hardwired security system but want the added flexibility of a wireless system.

Other basic steps for hardening your home against intruders:

Doors, make sure all your exterior doors are solid core and deadbolts go without saying. Take the screws out of the existing plates in your door jams and replace them with 3 inch screws, do the same with the hinges. The longer screws will go through the door jam and into the double studs inside the wall on each side of the door. If the hinges face outside replace them with hinges that the hinge pins are not removable. Consider installing a separate steel security door in addition to other external doors.

Windows, during normal life there isn’t much you can do except lock them and have window sensors and breaking glass detectors, unless you wantwindowBars to live with bars on your windows. However, you can precut plywood for each of your windows. In the event of a storm or an SHTF event you will have the plywood sheets cut and labeled; use 3-3 ½” hex head lag bolts with washers to bolt them to the studs and plates inside the wall around the window opening.

Security lights and motion sensors are a big deterrent for criminal activity. Turn on the lights floodlightsand the cockroaches run for cover. Inexpensive exterior lights can be purchased with motion sensors attached from most hardware stores.

Monitored security systems and their signs are also a huge deterrent. Actually it’s the signs that scare off the bad guys. Actually the average response time of police to a 911 call in the U.S. is 10 minutes, if they come at all to a house alarm. In cities like Los Angeles or Salt Lake police won’t respond to home alarms unless they have an eye witness like a private security company.

In an SHTF event, more often than not the best course of action is to shelter in place, unless like in the case of a storm or other emergency where burglarcompetent governmental agencies have called for an evacuation. If after such an event, a real and legitimate government has not been reestablished in the area, you may need to defend borders until such time as it has been reestablished. In that case, what you have or more accurately what people think you have can make you a target. In an urban area your greatest threat is the rest of the starving, sick and scared population.

Another thing about an urban area is the plethora of resources in a post TEOTWAWKI event. While there is game to hunt in the country, in the city and surrounding area there are rail yards, steel plants, lumber yards, warehouses, cold storage, dry storage and many other places, even national guard armories in a post apocalyptic world.

 

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3 Minutes to Midnight

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It’s not an Iron Maiden song, what is it? Have you ever heard of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists? Yeah, it’s not a magazine I subscribe to either, but in a nutshell; it’s a group of atomic scientists and climate change scientists (not sure how they got in there, I guess they’re everywhere) that predict the total destruction of the world. They use this clock, the doomsday clock that counts down to midnight, where midnight is the destruction of civilization and the earth. Well in truth, it isn’t much of a clock. Since its inception in 1947 the farthest it has been from midnight is 23:43, sorry that’s 11:43 pm for those of you that don’t understand 24 hour time. The closest it has been was 2 minutes to midnight, in the height of the cold war between 1953 and 1960. Then it backed off quite a bit and it’s farthest point was 1991-95, but since 1998 it has dropped pretty hard and steady with a small uptick between 2010 and 2012 but dropped to 3 minutes to midnight in 2015 and at the end of January the group announced the clock would remain there for 2016.doomsday

So yeah, many global scientists have been beating the climate change drum for years… I truly don’t want to debate climate change! All I will say, is that if climate change is truly a threat, it will be 50 to 100 years before the climate is changed so significantly as to affect life as we know it. On the flip side of that coin, there is the atomic threat. There are many atomic/nuclear threats in the world, real or perceived that really do need to be addressed.

Beginning in the late 1990’s there began a general worldwide scare that Russian suitcase nukes or mini-nukes went missing after the fall of the Soviet Union. There was an Australian television documentary that claimed, out of 132 mini-nukes only 48 were accounted for. The question became, where were the rest? Hollywood released a series of movies based on the subject including Peacemaker and Bad Company, the television series, “24” ran for 9 seasons 2001-2010.suitcase_threat Many of the movies have claimed these nukes could take out an entire city, however in reality with a warhead measuring about 23 inches long and weighing about 70 pounds, would have a yield less than 1 kiloton, less than 1/10 the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. I don’t mean to minimize the threat of these nukes. They’re small, portable, and the perfect terror weapon! They may not level an entire city but would still kill millions!

In addition to the suitcase nukes, there are rogue nations pursuing their own nuclear weapon programs. North Korea has conducted 4 nuclear weapons tests in the past 10 years including one last month (January 2016). Don’t get me started on Secretary Kerry’s Iranian nuclear deal. In short, yes there is a very real nuclear threat out there.nudet However both Iran and North Korea are still in the infant or toddler stages of a nuclear weapons program. For them to develop a strike capable nuke, they’re still several years away unless maybe you are their neighbor. In the case of North Korea, they have to know that any nuclear aggressive action on their part toward any advanced nuclear country would result in the entire country of North Korea experiencing a heat wave, like a 100 million degree Celsius heat wave. Iran on the other hand, due to the fundamentalist nature of their leadership, may actually use a nuclear weapon, consequences to their own country be damned.

My question is, “does it warrant 3 minutes to midnight?” One minute farther away than the height of the cold war. Its 4 minutes closer than the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 when many in the west thought nuclear war was imminent! We’re sitting at one minute closer than when NATO ran their “Able Archer” war game in Germany in 1983. So why is the threat of world destruction so close in 2015-16? I don’t think it’s the nuclear threat from rogue states since the real threat there is still perhaps 10 years away. The missing suitcase nukes, if indeed they do exist have been floating around out there for 30 years. True, we didn’t have the ISIS threat for the last 30 years, but we did have other brands of radical Islam. After all they did detonate a truck bomb under tower one of the world trade center in 1993 in an attempt to topple both towers. I don’t even think it is about climate change, with all due respect to the current President of the United States, climate change is not the number one threat to America! Since the earth’s climate is cyclic and has been warming and cooling for many millions of years, the fact that humans could cause, let alone prevent global climate fluctuation is arrogant at a minimum.nuclear-winter

There is definitely the ability for the nations of the world to engage in a thermonuclear war, the fallout from which could block out the sun and throw the globe into a nuclear winter, because the weapons do exist. However please forgive my skeptical cynicism, but I think the “Doomsday Clock” is a way, for a group of scientists that have not had a meaningful scientific contribution to the world in years, to bring some global attention to their group and attempt to promote funding for their research. I find it highly doubtful we are closer to a nuclear or any other type global disaster than we were during most of the cold war.

 

 

 

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Bugging Out… Where?

kit

One of the most controversial subjects in this community is the contents of your BOB (Bug Out Bag)! I don’t want to get into a big heated debate in the comments section, because yes, I read all of them and respond to as many as I can, so as a disclaimer, this is MY list and it is centered around my needs and my abilities! Yours could vary considerably depending on your knowledge base, climate and bug out destination, which brings me to my next disclaimer! Bugging out is a last resort scenario! You are almost always better off staying put, hunkering down and sheltering in place. Your house/apartment is the largest version of your stuff and has way more resources than you can carry with you! So to reiterate, bugging out is a last resort and should only be done if remaining in place will put your life or the lives of your family in danger.

Where are you bugging out to? How are you getting there? Here’s the deal folks; we plan everything! If you leave your home and all of your stuff on foot with a backpack full of stuff that someone on the internet said you were going to need, bound for God knows where; odds are the vast majority would be dead in a week! If you have to leave your home, have a specific destination and a plan to get you there! That being said, your Bug Out Bag is the gear that you will need to get you from your original location to your planned destination, that’s it! There’s none of this, “well, I might need to kill and cook a deer on the way” B.S. If you’re bugging out and God forbid having to do so on foot, a whole lot has gone bad and this should be treated like a SERE scenario!evade

  1. Avoid human contact. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you! If you want to be a Christian charity when you’re at home or again in your bug out location, fine but on the road avoid people. You have no idea how desperate people are, what their circumstances are or what they’re capable of. Anything you can do that will attract attention, don’t! To name a few items: this includes fires, cooking, hunting and discharging a firearm (unless YOUR life depends on it). It’s definitely not an all inclusive list, but you get my meaning.
  2. Plan for shelter first. Next to not having air, not having shelter will kill you first. You should have 2-3 changes of underclothes and wool socks and some good, comfortable, insulated, over the ankle hiking boots. The type of clothing is dependent on climate, season and altitude, however layer your clothing so you can shed layers when hot and add layers when cold. You should have 2-3 different ways to stay dry. A rain suit and a military type poncho is what I recommend. The poncho has grommets and can be used as a shelter as well. If traveling with my family I might include a small tent but you have to weigh the threat of being seen.shelter I depend mainly on my surroundings to provide the items for my shelter because with the tools in my pack I can build several different kinds. But you can really hedge your bets with a 6’X8’ tarp, it will always come in handy. A bedroll, preferably a good lightweight sleeping bag.
  3. Next worry about water. In a pinch you can go a couple days without but it will have an effect so plan for about 1 liter per day per person. You will be walking and exerting your body and you will sweat even if it’s cold, so to avoid dehydration and cramping drink your water. water-bottle-120120Many packs have a hydration system built into them, I just use 2 canteens. Life Straw filters like 1000 liters of water and is a great back up. Water purification tablets are light weight but generally purify more water than you will drink and can be harmful when trying to use small doses. If you use them purify the recommended amount of water, fill your containers and leave the rest for someone else.
  4. The next thing to plan for is accidents. I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about a first aid kit because I couldn’t do it justice here; it deserves and will have its own edition. There are a couple things I will say, first I recommend you build your own, so you have firsthand knowledge of everything in your kit and you don’t have a lot of what you are unlikely to need but not enough of what you are more likely to need. Also, if you live anywhere that you could run into poisonous snakes have a snake bite kit.
  5. Food is down the list a bit for me. Since this kit is for 48-72 hours, food should be minimal. I won’t spend a lot of time on it since it should consist of energy bars and trail food, maybe MRE’s that don’t need to be cooked. All you want is calories to give you energy to get you where you’re going, although avoid candy bars since they will give you a sugar rush that will be over as quickly as it began.
  6. Tools are an important part of the kit. A good multi tool, I prefer Leatherman, will do so many things for you. A shovel type tool can do far more than just dig, the M48 can be used as an ax, as a machete, it has a serrated edge and would be a wicked weapon in a hand to hand situation.m48Shovel A wire saw can be used to cut poles for shelters as well as firewood. One of the other hotly debated topics in this field is: what is the best survival knife? Since I’m going to do a whole article on it, let’s just say have a good survival knife that is comfortable for you.
  7. Miscellaneous items, that I couldn’t categorize elsewhere. A solar/hand crank AM/FM radio to keep appraised of emergency news. A good flashlight and a head light preferably with red lenses with extra batteries for each. Although I recommend only using them inside a structure where there is no light, to avoid detection. 2- 50 gallon black plastic trash bags, can be used to collect water and as ponchos. Cell phone with power bank for recharging, this isn’t to play candy crush on the trail but for emergency communication if there is reception. There are also plenty of useful apps that can be used even if they aren’t (like my spotting and bullet trajectory app). A pencil and small note pad for making notes, writing coordinates, bearings and anything else you may need to remember. A couple bandanas can be used for 100 things. 100 ft of 550 cord (paracord), 50 ft of climbing type rope something in the 10mm range also some military surplus trip/snare wire 50 ft or so. Don’t forget maps of the area and a compass. Duct tape, binoculars, 3 different ways to start a fire (for emergencies and distraction), bug spray and sunscreen round out the list.
  8. Personal protection items, is again a much debated topic. Many cannot legally carry a firearm due to their local laws, however since this is my blog and I live in Texas and was fairly clear at the beginning that this is about MY equipment, I am always carrying both a handgun with spare magazine and a assisted opening locking blade type knife.ar15_m4_xhc_by_hellion You can be sure if I’m bugging out I will also have a tactical carbine rifle also with several spare magazines.
  9. Personal hygiene items. A toothbrush and toothpaste will make you feel a whole lot better than if your teeth are wearing sweaters while you walk. Also since you are only going to be out 48-72 hours, handiwipes to clean the sensitive areas will help prevent chaffing and a roll of toilet paper in a plastic ziplock bag.

This list is not all inclusive, and mine changes by season and is modified periodically based on my needs and desires but it will give you somewhere to start.

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The Rule of 3’s

ruleof3

Knowing the rule of 3s, focuses you on your survival priorities. It’s funny in many Hollywood dramas about survival situations, how the characters spend a considerable amount of time and energy pursuing the wrong priorities, and could very well in real life result in their doom.

3 Minutes Without Air; going without air is known as Hypoxia. Hypoxia can be generalized, affecting the whole body or it can be localized to a portion of the body. It can be caused generally in healthy people by being at a high altitude or breathing gasses low in oxygen content. High altitude typically over 8200 ft or 2500 m can cause High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), a life threatening condition resulting in the lungs accumulating fluid. This condition requires immediate medical attention and getting the subject to low altitude.

3 Hours Without Shelter; being without shelter in harsh weather will kill you! The inability to protect the body from cold can result in hypothermia, a condition that occurs when the body’s core temperature drops below 95 degrees. Alternately, hyperthermia is the opposite. When the body takes on more heat than it can dissipate, commonly caused by heat stroke due to prolonged exposure to high heat and/or humidity.

shelter
Therefore, in a survival situation establishing shelter should be your first priority! The type of shelter depends on the circumstances. If you’re lost and want to be found, seeking shelter in a manmade structure or high visibility location, using signal fires for warmth/cooking and signaling is the route you want to take. However in an SHTF situation where you are either on the run evading capture or avoiding human contact trying to get to your bugout location and need temporary shelter. Use the SERE acronym BLISS:

Blend in
Low Silhouette
Irregular Shape
Size
Secluded Location

here Blend in: use low visibility material and camouflage your shelter with cuttings from the local vegetation. Construct it in a shadowy/low lying area (not a dry wash if rain is likely) away from roads and trails. Humans are basically lazy and won’t go into hard to access places without good reason.
go to site Low Silhouette: keep your shelter low to the ground, waist high or below, preferably knee high. Avoid high ground, stay in or near the bottom of hills/draws/hollows. If you are halfway up a hill but low to the ground, you are still head height to someone standing below you.
follow site Irregular Shape: regular geometric shapes are very noticeable to the human eye and indicate a manmade structure. Be mindful not only of how your shelter looks close up but also from a distance and from above. Looking down on a square tarp from a hilltop or from the air would be a dead giveaway!
Size: make a shelter just big enough to do the job, keep it small! If you’re with your family, consider making multiple small shelters instead of a single large one. This is to protect you from the elements while you rest or lay low during high enemy activity not a place to sit around and play cards, so big enough for one or two people to lay down and rest.
Secluded Location: stay away from buildings, roads and trails. Avoid clearings and high ground, in times of bright sun light, avoid casting shadows when possible.
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3 Days Without Water; while it is true there are cases of people living without water for a week, this is NOT an area you want to experiment around with. Our bodies are 65% water and dehydration has serious physical consequences, some of its symptoms are: weakness, sluggishness, confusion, and fainting. When on the move trying to avoid detection, I definitely don’t want to feel sluggish, weak and confused… STAY HYDRATED! Water collection methods and sources will depend on your environment and will have a future article devoted to it. However for now, suffice it to say keep a personal water filter and chemical water purifying pills in your bugout bag. Boiling water is also an option, however should be avoided when on the move as fires will attract attention.

3 Weeks Without Food; although food is the least critical of our necessities, it is no less important. When we go without food our bodies go into starvation mode and begin to store fat and metabolize our muscle tissue. It can also result in physical weakness and dehydration. When at our shelter in place or our bugout locations, considerable time and resources can be devoted to the hunting and gathering of food, however if our transit time is less than a few days, hunting and cooking is not practical and the cooking fire could have a more detrimental effect than a few days without eating.

In short, if an SHTF situation should catch you traveling on foot in hostile or potentially hostile territory. If you’re having difficulty breathing due to altitude, all effort should be focused on getting to a lower altitude. If you can breath, shelter when the local population is active and travel when they are less active. Establish your shelter with consideration for the acronym BLISS, near a reliable water source. If you can get to your destination in a few days and a food source isn’t readily available, forgo it, however if the travel will be extended, attempt to find a food source that doesn’t require cooking.

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