Realistic Survival Kits
Much like a survival knife, a wilderness personal survival kit is a compromise between capability and convenience. The goal is to always have it with us, even when "just nipping out for a few hours". A backpack sized kit may well be left behind on brief outings.
Most survival tin kits don't provide adequate shelter or water purification capability. Below, I have assembled a high quality compact neck knife kit and a no expense spared, butt pack kit. They should meet your needs of a realistic survival kit.
However, mindset is the most important tool in a survival kit. People with the right stuff can do almost everything wrong and still survive through sheer mental resolve. A mindset has two elements, reference experiences and a mentality. Under pressure, people fall back to their level of experience, rather than rise to the occasion. Experiencing risk, stress, exhaustion, hunger, cold and pain provides a base reference.
A person's coping level is proportional to the hardship of their base reference experience. This is evidenced by the increased pain tolerance of women that gave birth naturally. Simulating survival scenarios provides those reference experiences. It's a great way to test equipment too. Progress incrementally from the back yard to the real thing.
A mentality is a thought process acquired from role models and peer groups. It affects how we perceive our circumstances and how we rationalize our decisions. Victim mentality and entrepreneurial mentality are the two polar extremes. Traits of a victim mentality are negativity, egocentricity, helplessness, defensiveness and risk aversion.
Traits of an entrepreneurial mentality are motivation, resilience, self control and risk acceptance.
Despite its title, Executive Toughness isn't about business but rather developing an entrepreneurial mentality.
Its exercises enable the reader to develop a new way of successful thinking.
Neck Knife Kit
A lightweight, compact, discrete, micro PSK is desirable as an every day carry (EDC) contingency for emergencies. Alternatively, many of the items below may be stored on a wire key chain. Another effective approach is to build it around the BK14 neck knife. A section of bicycle tube slid over the sheath, attaches and waterproofs the kit's miniaturized components. Duct tape may be wrapped around the sheath in advance.
Survival cord is wrapped around the skeletonized knife handle. Add a flattened aluminum foil baking tray, to serve as a boiling vessel. Construct a green wood grill to support it over a fire. Water will boil before the green wood burns. Pictured above, JRE's shoulder harness is a safe, comfortable and economical way to carry a neck knife kit.
The bicycle tube stores a micro sharpening stone, Vaseline cotton balls, micro igniter, water bag, Micropur tablets, a folded tin foil baking pan, micro signal mirror, long range deep pitch whistle, micro flashlight, brass button compass and EZ expandable towels. Optionally, store an emergency poncho and water filter in a jacket or pant pocket. Socks may function as water bag pre-filters.
An ankle trauma kit, addresses serious puncture wounds. It's discrete and immediately accessible. There is extra
capacity for Halo chest seals and CELOX clotting agent. The Red Cross Emergency Medical Response course incorporates
trauma care into typical first aid instruction.
Below, the butt pack kit contains a selection of proven components, prioritizing reliability and ease of use. The three critical areas of shelter, fire and water, have triple redundancy. Try to visualize your worst case scenario when evaluating this gear, freezing cold, soaking wet with limited manual dexterity.
Replicate these circumstances when testing and familiarizing your kit's components in the backyard. Regularly using the equipment in the field constitutes effective continuation training. Sub-kitting fire, water, first aid and signaling gear into waterproof bags keeps things organized.
If forced to hunker down because of poor weather, we employ the kit to convert our circumstances into a camping scenario. The three most common causes of death in the outdoors are drowning, falling and heart attacks. If we don't succumb entirely to such an event, then priorities shift to shelter, fire and water. A practical kit isn't particularly heavy but requires the storage capacity of a butt pack, satchel or fishing vest.
Pictured above, lightweight butt packs with detachable suspenders are becoming popular with stalk hunters for their comfort and freedom of movement. They make a good survival kit container for other outdoor enthusiasts too.
Pictured top, combining an enhanced military web belt, belt sleeve, 'H' harness and butt pack, delivers a modular
rig that will interface with MOLLE and ALICE equipment pouches. Short polymer MALICE clips are semi-permanent and
compatible with MOLLE and ALICE gear.
Shelter may not always be the priority but exposure can kill in as little as three hours. Polythene bivvy bags are the best solution for emergency shelter, capturing warm air and blocking wind and rain. The Bivvy is superior to both tarps and tube tents.
It protects from ground moisture, has only one opening and does not require ridge lines. Step into the bag and shimmy it up the body. Keep your head out of the bag to minimize condensation from exhaled vapor.
A wool hat will keep the head warm. Three Mil Polythene is more resistant to rips than Mylar. These bags are durable enough for repeated use. They have proven effective in mountainous environments where natural shelter material may not be available.
Add an emergency poncho, duct tape for repairs and some survival cord.
The plastic bivvy gives immediate shelter, it should not be used in conjunction with a fire. Plastics melt when burnt,
generating honorific flesh burns. The poncho is for mobility.
The fire kit contains three of the most reliable methods of ignition, five Vaseline cotton balls, stored in a plastic match case, one Strikeforce Ferro rod, two #750 signal flares and one magnesium block. Waterproof matches aren't particularly effective and are not included. Their tips degrade over time and are dependent on a striker strip that is vulnerable to water.
Non safety matches can self ignite through friction. Mini-Bic lighters aren't reliable in freezing or wet conditions but are worth carrying for convenience. Vaseline impregnated cotton balls make excellent waterproof tinder. They will ignite from a spark by mag block, ferro rod or Bic lighter flint. The magnesium block shavings should be used when the cotton balls are expended and no other tinder is readily available.
Ferro rods project more sparks than flint and steel but are quite brittle. The Strikeforce is protected by an integral ABS plastic case with a compartment for the included wet fire tinder. Its large rod projects an increased volume of sparks. Fluff cotton balls for maximum surface area.
A full cotton ball will burn for five minutes. Smaller amounts will ignite a fire but burn for less duration. Store the balls in a waterproof match case. The #750 flare is a self contained ignition system, burning at 5000 degrees F for five minutes. Pick them up at the boating section of big box stores and keep them in reserve for when everything else fails.
The Doan magnesium block has been used by the military for decades. It represents a true waterproof ignition system. Like the Strikeforce, it contains its own tinder but in much greater quantity, enough for thousands of fires. It's comprised of a block, flint and striker. To start a fire, scrape a nickel sized pile of magnesium shavings onto the sticky side of some duct tape. This prevents the magnesium shavings from blowing away. Stake the it down with twigs if necessary.
Construct a tipi of fuzz stick wood shavings above the pile of magnesium. Ignite the magnesium pile by keeping the ferro rod in contact with the shavings and repeat rapid downward scrapes of the striker. This provides a more focused concentration of sparks, than pulling the rod backwards. Magnesium shavings burn at 4000 degrees F, hot enough to ignite damp or green fuzz sticks.
There are numerous inferior copies of the Doan block available. Don't buy mag blocks unless they display the Doan
Machinery brand. One exception is Gobspark's Magslab, which is an improved variant. The magnesium is softer,
the striker sharper, the ball chain is replaced with longer mil spec paracord and the ferro rod is enlarged for longevity and
a larger shower of sparks. Most fuel blocks won't ignite from a spark. Cotton balls, magnesium shavings
or a naked flame will be required.
Water makes up 70% of the human body. The recommended daily intake is 3 liters/quarts per day. However humans can survive on less. Heavy metals such lead or mercury may pollute rivers where mining has been conducted in the past. Water downstream of industrial or agricultural activity may contain trace chemicals.
Urban flooding will introduce petrochemicals into natural waterways. The largest pathogens are the eggs of animal parasites like the guinea worm. Parasitic Protozoa, bacteria and viruses are consecutively smaller. Pathogen size pertains to the effectiveness of filtration.
The CDC state that a 1.0 micron filter is required to effectively filter Protozoa. A 0.2 micron filter is required to effectively filter bacteria. Viruses are too small to reliably filter but are vulnerable to boiling or chemical treatment. Several pocket filters claim to remove 99.9% of Protozoa such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium Protozoa but specify a 3.0 micron filter.
Currently, Lifestraw's 0.2 micron pocket filter is the only one piece design capable of removing Protozoa and bacteria, such as Botulism, Campylobacteriosis, Cholera, E. coli, Dysentery, Legionellosis, Leptospirosis, Salmonellosis, Typhoid and Vibrio. It doesn't remove viruses, chemicals, heavy metals or sea salt. Alternative 0.2 micron pocket filters may be more compact but are dependent on tubing or squeeze bags, which can fail.
It is reasonably safe to use the Lifestraw as a stand-alone treatment under emergency conditions. Waterborne viruses such as Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E and Polio are rare in the developed world. However, for maximum protection it's recommended to pre-treat water with Chlorine Dioxide tablets for 4 hours and post filter with the LifeStraw.
Generally, this style of water filter is fail safe. The unit it clogs before any filter breakdown. However, there is one exception. Frozen water expands to ice. This extends activated filters' pores to unsafe dimensions. Keep activated filters close to the body to prevent freezing. Virgin filters are impervious to freezing temps.
Chlorine Dioxide effectively disinfects bacteria and viruses in 30 minutes. It requires 4 hours to brake down the hard oocyst of Cryptosporidium. Hence it is considered low to moderately effective as stand-alone Cryptosporidium disinfection. Iodine and Chlorine are considered ineffective against Cryptosporidium.
Boiling is the only robust and effective alternative to the combined approach of Chlorine Dioxide treatment and post-filtration. Boiling disinfects against animal parasites, protozoa, bacteria and viruses. Boiling is a foolproof process with a visual indicator (big bubbles no troubles). However, boiling isn't always convenient or possible.
Both boiling and chemical treatment require pre-filtering to remove large "chewable" debris to preclude any shielding of pathogens. Collecting rainwater and treating with either method, is the simplest solution to flood water or river water contaminated by metal particles or trace petro-chemicals.
A bandanna and rubber band are often used as a water pre-filter; a quality shemagh is even better. A titanium cup supports collecting and disinfecting water by boiling. A couple of folded aluminum foil loaf pans serve as back up boiling vessels. Use green twigs to support the pan over a small fire.
Two Nalgene 48 oz (1.5 L) collapsible, wide mouth, water bottles and Micropur MP1 tablets support chemical water treatment. Number the bottles to track which is undergoing treatment and complete. The wide mouth is compatible with the LifeStraw. Keep the transparent bottles out of the light during chemical disinfection as sunlight compromises the process.
The Lifestraw will mate with the mouth of Nalgene Oasis canteens but won't slide down. However, holding the two items together and gravity
feeding the Lifestraw is possible. Alternatively, pour the canteen's water into the USGI canteen cup and insert the Lifestraw into the cup.
I personally favor the modernized USGI canteen system but it is a heavier option.
4: Signaling & Navigation
The S.I. Howard signal mirror is military issue. Its glass construction delivers greater reflectivity than commercial plastic variants. To signal land, sea or air rescue, sight through the central retro-reflector and adjust the mirror to align the bright spot over the target. The mirror has an effective daylight range of 15 miles and moonlight range of 3 miles, dependent on the elevation of either party and relative cloud cover.
Daylight, level, ground to ground range is limited to 6 miles by the planet's curvature. Given the mirror's effective range, it's good practice to periodically scan the terrain with a signal, rather than wait to visually detect a potential rescuer. Two way communication is possible if both parties have mirrors and know Morse code. The optional storage pouch prevents surface scratches.
Flashlights have maximum a low light signaling range of 12 miles, if the observer is elevated or airborne. A flashing or moving light is easier to detect. Don't skimp on the batteries. If your life depends on a hand held flashlight, it worth spending the extra few bucks to get a Surefire. Their core market is Law Enforcement Officials, front line military troops, firefighters and EMTs. Accordingly, they heavily focus on durability and reliability.
The 6PX Pro series features an aluminum body. A survival light requires dual output modes to conserve battery life. This mandates the "clicky" tail cap switch featured in the PRO models. Low mode delivers 15 lumen and 45 hrs battery life. High mode delivers 320 lumen and 2.5 hrs battery life.
Surefire's Tactical models are dedicated shooting lights. They have no low output mode. Their "twisty" tail caps default to momentary operation. Constant activation requires a deliberate tail cap twist. Offering minor product variations in a successful design is a fundamental marketing strategy. Expect Surfire's range to perpetually expand. However, they all exhibit the legendary reliability.
The human voice gives out very quickly. Most 'pea-less' survival whistles have a range of 0.3 miles in open ground. ACME's 'pea-less' police whistle has a range of 1.0 miles, possibly due to its vibrato, which is absent in the other whistles. It has a distinctive sound, automatically associated with emergency.
A button compass only becomes useful when combined with a pre-selected emergency backstop. This is a linear feature that leads
back to safety, which can be found by following a compass cardinal point. Rivers, canals, railway lines, power lines and roads
can be used as backstops. The Trunord button compass is a dry waterproof instrument that will not develop a bubble. It can be
stored in a survival kit for years.
5: Cutting Tools
Typically, a heavy duty survival knife is carried on the belt with a back up knife contained in the kit. The BK-14 was designed to perform and be light enough for Personal Survival Kits or everyday carry. It is a full tang, drop point, flat grind, carbon steel knife. It has proven durable and versatile. It can process 2" branches by conventional batoning; point first batoning will handle larger pieces of wood.
Carbide pull through sharpeners are easy to use in difficult conditions but remove far too much metal, ultimately
ruining the blade. Lansky's pocket sharpener functions like a miniature Spyderco Sharpmaker rather than a pull through.
Just keep the blade vertical and stroke each edge against one of the ceramic rods. Sharpmaker demonstrations are on youtube.
Use it before the edge goes completely dull. Store it in a case to prevent rod breakage.
6: First Aid
A battle dressing, HALO chest seal, CELOX clotting agent and tourniquet will treat deep hemorrhaging wounds. The dressing applies pressure to the torso. The tourniquet applies pressure to the extremities. The RATS tourniquet is the easiest to self apply. Other first aid components may seem trivial but have a significant impact on the will to survive.
Escaped prisoners that flee to the woods are normally recovered in a pathetic, demoralized state. Cold, wet, dehydrated, bug bitten, sun burnt, cut, ill and injured; they are quite happy to return to captivity. A basic First Aid Kit treats muscle ache, cuts, blisters and stings with pain killers, tweezers, prep pads, itch ointment, antibiotic ointment, dressing and tape. Alcohol pads and triple antibiotic ointment sachets will also function as tinder.
Expand the basic kit with an insect repellent stick and a sunblock stick. Imodium brings diarrhea under control quickly. Pepto-Bismol tablets bring vomiting and nausea under control, keeping the Imodium down to take effect. Both are available in compact chewable tablets that require no water. Ibuprofen is used for mild to moderate pain, swelling, cramps and fever.
Electrolyte tablets replenish the sodium lost through heavy sweating. Toothpaste tablets keep the mouth
feeling clean. Carry at least eight Ibuprofen and four of every other. Store them in freezer bags printed with
tablet type and expiry date. EZ towels are useful for basic hygiene.
7: Survival Food
Protracted survival scenarios typically involve vehicles, greatly extending the possible search area. It's prudent to carry 12 days worth of survival food if operating from a vehicle. Technically, the human body will remain alive for 21 days without food.
However, even after 1 day of starvation, physical and mental degradation induces poor judgment and concentration and motivation, leading to injury or death. The recommended minimum food intake for a survival situation is 800 calories per day.
JIF regular peanut butter is one of the most calorie dense foods available, almost twice as dense as energy bars. Unopened, it has a shelf life of 2 years. Eight table spoons of peanut butter equates to 5 oz or 800 calories. A 16 oz shatterproof plastic jar will sustain 1 person for 72 hours.
Approved energy bars such as Daytrex or SOS provide 400 calories per bar and have a shelf life of 5 years from manufacture. Many folks are not willing to lug 1 lb of survival food in their butt pack. Caffeine tablets induce concentration and energy without food intake. Studies have proved the they don't have a diuretic effect in normal dosage of 2 x 200 mg tablets per day.
John McPherson, a man famous for living off grid, recommends avoiding eating wild plants. There is the possibility to confuse edible with poisonous, most have few calories. Some will concentrate pollutants. Berries are a North American exception, however, avoid white berries and bitter tasting berries.
Animals have all the nutrients to sustain the body as long as the bone marrow is consumed in addition to the meat. Snaring is often prohibited in normal circumstances, check your local bylaws in advance of practical training. Snares and traps need to be located on active animal trails to be effective. Peanut butter makes good bait.
Under ideal circumstances, a minimum of 10 snares are required to catch 1 animal. Thus a small piece of snare wire is essentially useless for food procurement. The kernmantle design of 550 paracord is useful for static load but is less resistant to friction and chewing.
Under actual survival conditions, use braided kevlar survival cord for small game snares. Cordage is not as rigid as snare wire; the snare noose needs to be kept open with two sticks. Cutting tools will construct throwing sticks, clubs, fish traps, fishing spears and figure four traps. Kevlar cord will also serve as fishing line and a friction saw to escape flexi-cuffs.
Kit guns are a traditional survival and trail firearm. These mid-sized, stainless steel, double action, .22 LR revolvers are typically carried in a belt holster. Much like the survival kit, these guns are carried, even though their use is not expected. The S&W model 63 is not in constant production but available used. Ruger's .22 LR SP101 is available new. The main attraction of these revolvers is their ruggedness, reliability and ease of use. Most jurisdictions require a permit for handgun carry.
The .22 LR cartridge is economical, accurate and versatile. Most importantly, it's lightweight; 1 lb of .22 LR ammo provides
130 shots. Contrast that with 20 to 40 shots of handgun and rifle calibers and 10 shots of 12 gauge shotgun ammo. Solid copper
plated .22 LR bullets are good for head shots and won't foul the barrel, making them a good general purpose round. Speed strips
help organize spare ammo.
8: Practical Survival Guides
Frankly, there is a significant amount of survival material that could be classified as fluff. Peter Kummerfeldt's survival guide being a welcome exception. Surviving a Wilderness Emergency is geared towards the regular backpacker and hunter who may get into difficulty.
Kummerfeldt's book offers solid advice on equipment and techniques based upon twenty years of real world experience as a USAF survival instructor. The USAF survival handbook covers additional improvisation and mindset.
TV shows not withstanding, primitive survival skills mostly come into play after escaping rural captivity but remain useful to the average Joe, as a last resort. The time and energy expended preclude it as a practical substitute for a survival kit.
John McPherson is the premier authority on the subject and teaches U.S. SERE instructors. There are many hobbyist guides to flintknapping but all require tools. McPherson's DVD differs by teaching specific strikes with another rock, to form primitive edged tools. His DVD on primitive fire making is also very detailed.
Primitive navigation relies upon referencing the sun, moon, stars, prevailing wind and its effect on flora and
man made structures. Unfortunately, deep jungles' thick canopy often blocks their visibility. Successful Vietnam
jungle escapes were usually contingent on POWs finding a river and following it back to friendly forces. WWII
bomber pilots downed behind enemy lines, would often swallow a button compass to be retrieved when nature took
Realistic Urban Survival
LDS Mormons are a significant element of the preparedness community. It stems from their doctrine “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear”. Preparedness is about personal responsibility. Members are encouraged to prepare for adversity in life, by storing a basic supply of food, water and silver coins. Workshops on emergency planning and food storage are common.
Specialists offer instruction to support their amateur radio network. Their level of organization enables a rapid response to global events. The LDS airlifted 80,000 lbs of shelter, water filtration, food and medical supplies, 24 hours after the 2010 Haiti earthquake hit. The LDS manual covers communication, medical, sanitation, shelter, energy, bug out bags, evacuation, pandemics and terrorism.
Unlike popular apocalyptic scenarios, temporary unemployment and natural disasters are relatively probable urban survival events. The Cuban missile crisis and the Able Archer exercise, brought us to the verge of thermonuclear war. However, the latter incident, inspired the superpowers to deescalate. Relations have since been reasonably stable.
Nuclear weapons are fitted with anti-handling devices that prevent hot-wiring by rouge factions. Measures are in place to detect the smuggling of nuclear and radiological weapons. Nuclear facilities are hardened against aircraft strikes and protected by heavily armed security details. Nuclear accidents have some probability but have been localized and infrequent.
Post-Katrina news stories of rape, murder, sniping and roving armed gangs, were largely concocted by the media. New Orleans' citizens didn't revert to savages after missing meals. Amateur radio wasn't jammed by nonsense. It provided a valuable link between locals and emergency services. Arguably, the most disconcerting event, was the authorities' house to house, confiscation of legal firearms.
During the L.A. riots, Korean-American shopkeepers validated carrying defensive handguns, successfully defending their businesses. Armed citizens have also thwarted criminals, active shooters and terrorists. The only survival specific advice, would be to build deep standardized caches, rather than broad collections.
Firearm ammunition remains viable for decades, if stored in cool, dry, conditions. Caching bulk ammo is more desirable than reloading loose components. Versatility, cost, weight and volume, make .22LR bulk packs a prime cache candidate. Select solid heavy bullets over fast hollow points. Larger calibers are preferred for self defense. However, Israeli sky marshals, proved .22LR pistols' defensive capability. They issued .22LRs to accelerate training. A revolver will cycle through .22LR misfires.
Unrifled Scavenger adapters, enable 12 gauge pump shotguns to effectively shoot, .22LR ammunition to 25 yards. This versatility can simplify logistics. The Sharp Shooter reloading kit, makes .22LR survival ammo. The 4 part priming compound, avoids Hazmat fees. Improvising primer compound from match heads or paper cap strips, is possible but tedious. Wear eye and ear protection throughout the loading process. The Scavenger adapters suit survival ammo. Stuck cases are easily cleared.
Black powder's low pressure, simplifies reloading brass shotgun cases and significantly extends case life. Lanes produce a durable loading set. Lee loaders are micro reloading kits, developed for popular center fire pistols and bolt action rifles. Each caliber specific kit, can reload a cartridge in 40 seconds. Lee rifle kits only neck size, thus spent cases remain fire formed to a specific rifle's chamber. Neck sizing also occurs during the .22LR kit's bullet crimp phase.
Semi-automatic rifle cartridges require hard primers and full length resizing. Obsolete hand dies required a vice, to full length
resize rifle cartridges. The portable aluminum Lee hand press, can fully resize cases, up to .308 Win dimensions. Full length
resizing and semi-auto actions stress the brass and reduce case life.
1: Water, Food and Hygiene
Sillcocks are external hose faucets integrated into rear walls of U.S. commercial buildings and highway rest stops. Look for small stainless steel panels located at knee hight. The panel hatch and faucet are unlocked by a silcock key. Many silcocks are private property but emergency use is acceptable. Add a sillcock key to the go bag and keep one in every vehicle.
Urban flood waters are often contaminated with harmful chemicals that can't be removed by filtration or distillation. Tanic water will prematurely clog many filters. The Lifestraw family filter is ideal for filtering collected rain water. Various collection systems plumb into home guttering. The Lifestraw filter is a proven system that can support a family of 4 for 3 years. The gravity feed operation doesn't burn calories.
Jif peanut butter is an excellent urban survival food. Stored correctly, it has a minimum shelf life of 2 years, anecdotal evidence supports no spoilage after 7 years. It's economical and widely available. High calorie density supports storage and transport. Small containers support bartering.
Peanut butter has a good balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate. Its liquid nature provides good nutrient bioavailability. Its liquid nature and calorie density minimizes sanitation issues. Consumption requires no exertion, water or fuel. The fat content makes it pleasing to the palette. The only negative is incompatibility with nut allergic individuals.
Bird flu, swine flu and similar contagious airborne virus, can be potentially lethal to people with deficient immune systems or pre-existing conditions. The typical incubation period for influenza is 1-4 days. Adults shed influenza virus from the day before symptoms begin and several days after symptoms recede. Severely immunocompromised persons can shed virus for weeks or months.
Transmission is possible through exhaled breath vapor, coughing, sneezing, spitting and mucus contact. Curad offer the only FDA approved antiviral face mask. CDC approved, Hibiclens antiviral handwash remains active for 5 hours. Diluted, it may be used as a non-stinging antiseptic wound wash. Health professionals and law enforcement wear eye protection to prevent pathogen infection, via blood spray, spitting or sneezing.
Gas masks are not designed to protect against virus or carbon monoxide. Thick smoke from house fires, will rapidly clog the mask's P100 filter component. Realistically, a stand alone gas mask, is ineffective against biological, radiological and nerve gas attacks. Nerve gas enters the body, through the skin. Anthrax spores will reside on clothing, to be inhaled upon mask removal. The same caveat applies to radiological shrapnel (dirty bomb).
Used in conjunction with disposable suits and decontamination procedures, bona-fide respirators, may reduce secondary, post-attack casualties.
The 3M 6000DIN and MSA Millennium respirators, are compatible with NATO 40mm NBRC filters. The industrial variant of 6000 respirator, is available
for size fitting at hardware stores. Non-state actors, have successfully executed, Sarin, Chlorine and Anthrax attacks. However, logistic and
capability constraints, dramatically mitigated impact. Bad guys prefer guns and explosives.
2: Radio Communication
Preppers' group survival strategy is more practical than the typical individualistic approach. This requires coordination and thus communication. Standard services are unlikely to be available under emergency conditions. Radio communication is extremely beneficial to any group activity. The economical, versatile, Baofeng UV-5R has become the standard prepper commo.
It can function as an FM commercial radio receiver, NOAA receiver, police scanner, FRS transceiver, MURS transceiver, GMRS transceiver, VHF Marine transceiver, 2M Ham transceiver and 70cm Ham transceiver. Two units can be linked with a 2.5mm male to 3.5mm male cable, to serve as a field expedient repeater. The transmit handset uses VOX activation. Prevent desensitization by spacing antennas at least 5 meters horizontally and vertically apart.
Repeaters are useful because radio communication benefits from altitude and large antennas. A handset can hit an optimized repeater and gain greater range. Low Earth Orbit satellite repeaters, provide an extreme range boost but are still at the experimental stage. Repeater communication requires duplex, the ability to transmit and receive on different frequencies. Ham and GMRS are duplex systems that require a license to transmit.
Ham also involves a written test. Licensing avails a large set of terrestrial repeaters and a friendly diverse community. Some Ham radio clubs are focused on emergency communication. It's correct that any radio system may be legally used in an emergency but commo gear requires set up, testing and maintenance, to support emergency usage.
Rechargeable batteries degrade without a charge. Electronic circuits are vulnerable to damp storage conditions. It's essentially a case of use them or lose them. RFinder is a subscribed global Ham repeater database, which is compatible with Chirp programming software. Enter a location, download the listings file and upload it to a handset via Chirp.
There are several accessories that expand the UV-5R capability. Avoid the cheaper problematic counterfeits. The USB programing cable is the only accessory that is immediately required. Manual programing is time consuming and frustrating. Program parameters may be overlooked. Channel parameters can't be manually edited once committed to memory. Manual cloning is not supported by the latest UV-5R firmware. The USB programing cable and free CHIRP software, make programing, editing and cloning easy.
The Nagoya NA-771 is a 15" broad band rubber duck that boosts transmit and receive by 40% bringing repeaters into play. It supports all of the bands listed above. PVC pipe and end caps, makes a good antenna case. The 2M/70cm Slim Jim is a lightweight, robust, roll up antenna, designed to be temporarily hung indoors or strung from a tree. It boosts performance by 300%. It also serves as a compact omni-directional satellite antenna for repeaters passing under 30 degrees elevation. Omni-directional antennas simplify connection to non-geostationary satellite repeaters.
A portable radio mast elevates the Slim Jim antenna at any location, enabling the establishment of an emergency base station or repeater. The Jackite 28 ft telescopic fiberglass mast, is the only component of the radio kit that won't fit in a small backpack. However, it collapses to 4 ft and weighs only 4 lbs.
The mast's PVC case can be strapped to an external frame pack or bicycle cross bar. Standard bungee cords or pack straps will brace the mast against picnic tables, fence posts, sign posts and any other fixed vertical projection. Jackite offer temporary ground stake mounts and permanent vehicle bumper mounts. Taping the base of the Slim Jim antenna to the mast, unloads weight from the mast's delicate tip. The mast is rated to 25 mph winds.
An extended battery supports day long operation. The USB transformer cable, regulates voltage from a USB solar charger, to a standard UV-5R battery charger. This supports off grid and grid down operation. Remote speaker microphones are useful when commo is secondary. The radio is stored in a belt pouch, jacket pocket, cargo vest or backpack. It doesn't need to be unclipped, activated and then replaced. USGI flashbang pouches fit the UV-5R with either battery.
The speaker mic also abstracts the operator from the handset's modes and functions. The heavy duty QHM22 speaker mic incorporates
a standard 3.5mm port to feed audio to electronic hearing protection. Peltor 300 electronic muffs incorporate a 3.5mm AUX input
port and ship with a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable. Their digital external sound processing is superior to the analog entry level units.
3: Food Security
Preppers develop food security as a contingency to job loss, economic recession, depression, hyperinflation, fuel shortages, food shortages, water shortages, labor strikes, national debt default and political upheaval. Urban vegetable gardens offer the ability to feed a typical family. Traditional gardening focuses on developing ideal soil composition and culture. This can be challenging, time consuming and expensive.
Traditional methods may be acceptable for hobby flower gardens but won't provide food security. Vegetable plants require large volumes of nutrients to survive and successfully produce crops. Traditional gardening only fertilizes plants at the beginning of the season, often this stock of soil nutrients is depleted by mid season. Popularized after WWII, intensive farming regularly fertilizes plants throughout the entire season.
Hydroponics is an attempt to boost the efficiency of intensive plant farming. Inside a greenhouse, a closed pumping loop mainlines nutrient rich liquid to plant roots, via inert media such as perlite or stone. Unabsorbed liquids drain through the media and back to the pump. Aquaponics incorporates aquaculture into hydroponics, by utilizing fish ammonium and solids as plant fertilizer.
It's an intensive, delicately balanced system, which is totally dependent on pumping. If the pump shuts down, the fish will quickly de-oxygenate their water and suffocate. Without the pump, plant roots will dry out and die. Water acidity (PH) is heavily monitored and adjusted, because it determines the water's ratio of ammonium to ammonia. Fish can process ammonium out of their system but are very sensitive to ammonia, particularly with intensive stocking levels.
Devised to address global food shortage, the Mittleider gardening method, acknowledges both the success and expense of hydroponics. Dr Mittleider essentially combined the simplicity of soil gardening with the proven nutrient delivery of hydroponics. Grow boxes of specific dimensions keep measures simple. A mixture of sawdust and sand, serves as the inert media, which is less hospitable to weeds and bugs.
A pre-plant mix is applied to the media, to support plant root growth. Standard powdered fertilizers and minerals, are premixed and applied once per week. The media is watered once or twice per day. Watering stops when water flows from the bottom of the grow box. Moisture is retained by the media rather than recycled to a sump or fish tank. The Mittleider media supports calorific root and tuber crops, such as carrots, beets and potatoes. The moisture saturation of hydroponic media, rots these crop species.
The Mittleider Gardening Course book was focused toward feeding the developing world. It assumes the reader has no farming experience. The delivery is similar to a professional kit car manual. Each procedure is broken down to simple steps. Construction materials are modern copper treated wood and PVC pipe. Both materials are non-toxic and easy to work with. PVC pipe is used for a simple automatic watering system, mini green houses and full size greenhouses.
LDSPrepper's instructional youtube videos serve as a complimentary resource.
Pay the extra few bucks for the paperback book. Commit to the system, just for one grow box. Don't blend it with other methods.
Beware of electronic and mechanical hose timers. They have a high failure rate, which can damage or kill your plants.
Questions & Feedback.
Well, that's about it guys. I hope you found this guide useful. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to contact me through the welcome page.
Ian ST John.
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