Homesteading and Survivalism

Living a simple life

Tag: Urban Survival

Ideas for a get home bag

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Something happened to the main power feed for my town, and then the backup power feed failed. Someone said it was related to the wildfire about 15 miles north of here, but I do not have any proof of that.

First thing I realized was that we do not have a radio here at work that works off batteries. Once outside power is cut, we lose all communications with the outside world. My boss pulled out a hand crank radio, but the hand crank was locked up to the point where the handle could not be turned.

I thought about getting a $10 am/fm radio with some lithium batteries to keep at my desk. The power does not go off very often, but when it does it would be nice to get some news from the local radio station.

Second thing was that I needed a flashlight. I have a small AAA light on my key ring, but something a little larger would have been nice. My little AAA light does good for close in work, like plugging computer wires into the back of a computer, or lighting up a small room. To make sure the battery has plenty of life, I used an energizer lithium battery.

A hand crank flashlight would probably do good, but when you want to light up a road or a field, nothing beats a good 200 lumen light.

Third, I need a water bottle to carry water in case I had to walk home. Its only a few miles from where I work to my home, so it would have been an easy walk. The only real issue would be the 100 degree heat and water. There is a puny little 16.9 ounce / .5 liter bottle of water on my desk, but I would like to have something like a 32 ounce bottle of water for the walk home.

Fourth, the phone lines where overwhelmed. When I tried to call my wifes cell phone I got the classic “all circuits are busy” message.

Fifth, even though the power came on about 30 minutes before lunch, jack-in-the-box, mcdonalds and sonic were either closed of their computers had not come back on yet. Sonic could not even serve a couple of teas because their computers were down, same with jack-in-the-box, and mcdonalds was closed.

It was amazing to me how a small little power outage could disrupt peoples lives so much. A lot of places that pay their employees by the hour closed and sent their people home.

I do not have what some people call a “get home bag”. I work about 4 miles from my house, so walking would not be a big deal.

My wife and I carpool to work. She drops me off in the morning, then picks me up on the way home. If we met anywhere, she would probably drive by here to pick me up.

Get Home Bag Ideas

If I had to walk home, here are some items that I would like to have in my get home bag.

32 ounce water bottle
Rain poncho – even if its a light duty one
LED light, something like a Surefire G2X Pro
Mainstay rations
Road map
Phone number / contact list
Rope – 550 cord
Small first aid kit
Paper, pen and sharpie / felt tip magic marker
Money – at least $20

One of the first packs that comes to mind is the Maxpedition Noatak

The Maxpedition Noatak is large enough for all of my basic gear + some. The built in compartment for a water bladder is a plus, and then there is a place for a 32 ounce water bottle.

If I wanted to, the 32 ounce water bottle could be turned into a personal survival kit, and just use the water bladder to carry water.

Post your comments in this forum thread about the power outage at my work.

Texas February 2011 Ice Storm

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Texas Ice StormTo the northern states this might not be a big deal, but here in Southeast Texas, we are not used to dealing with this kind of stuff.  Ice is collecting on the roads, bridges, overpasses, on the cars, water lines are freezing and bursting, local government offices are closing, people are being told to stay off the roads.

The overpasses around the Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange areas are frozen over. Some of our bridges are closed – like the Veterans memorial bridge and the Rainbow Bridge.  The local news station showed a live feed from Interstate 10 through Beaumont this morning, and what was normally a busy highway, there were only a handfull of cars and 18-wheelers on the road.

The tarp that covers my boat has a thin lay of ice on it, and were rain water has collected, its frozen.

The windshields of my truck and my wifes SUV have a layer of frozen water on them.

The majority of the local court houses and schools are closed.  But for some reason Jasper ISD did not close their schools and are putting kids on the icy roads. Maybe its time to elect a new school board.

Ice cycles off the roof of the storage building are maybe 1 – 1.5 inches long and growing.

Its not expected to get above freezing until tomorrow.

Post your comments about the recent ice storm in this thread of the forum – East Texas is Frozen.

Texas rolling blackouts

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Around February 1st a major cold front pushed through much of the US. Estimates put about 1/3 of the total population has been affected in one way or another – including Texas.

Parts of North Texas may receive cold weather from time to time. But for the most part, our winters might be in the 20 – 40 range. Due to our mild winters, some of the Power Generation plants were not prepared for the cold weather. I don’t know the exact details as to “why” this has happened, but rolling blacks are happening in Central Texas – like around the Austin area. From the reports I have heard, the rolling blackouts are lasting anywhere from 15 minutes – 1 hour.

Here is the problem – if our infrastructure is so weak that a cold front causes power plants to shut down, what would a bomb from a terrorist do? Or worse yet, what would happen if we went to war and some nation boomed a couple of our power plants? North Korea is supposed to be working on an intercontinental ballistic missile. It seems that a couple of well placed strikes could cripple this nations electrical grid.

Without electricity, the world as we know it stops to exist.

Post your comments in this forum thread about Texas rolling blackouts due to cold front.

Survival items for your car

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toyota t100 truckMy wife and I went home for lunch, turned on the TV, and there was this lady who was talking about items everyone should keep in their car. 1 thing she listed was a digital tire pressure gauge. She went on to talk about how nobody uses those $1 stem pressure gauges. About this time, I started thinking “lady, do you even own a car or truck?” 1 thing about those old style stem tire gauges compared to a newer digital one – the battery will never go dead. Usually, when I put something in my truck or my wifes SUV, it might stay in there for months before its used.

1. Hand crank cell phone charger – one of the big drawbacks to modern technology, they require power. Cells phones make calling people easy, but the phone has to be charged. This is where a hand crank cell phone charger comes in – it makes sure you have a working phone when you need it.

2. Hand crank flashlight – over time batteries will slowly lose their charge, so to make sure that your flashlight is working when you need it, eliminate the batteries.

3. Can of fix-a-flat and air compressor – Maybe it will be enough for you to get to a gas station.

4. Basic tool kit and duct tape – pliers, vice grips, screw driver, duct tape, pocket knife, crescent wrench.

5. Non-digital, old style air gauge with a stem, they do not use batteries like the new digital ones.

6. Couple of reflective triangles – these reflect the head lights of other cars and make your car easier to see at night.

7. Space blanket – their lightweight, compact and reflect a good bit of your body heat.

8. Tow strap / tow chain – a strap works better because it gives a little bit. Also, there is a chance of the chain breaking and flying back and hitting someone. A few months ago there was a man killed in Jasper, Texas because the tow chain broke when he was trying to pull a truck out of a mud hole. The chain broke, it flew back and hit the guy in the head, killing him instantly.

9. Map – as silly as it sounds, a lot of people do not have a map in their truck / car.

10. Bungee cords / tie down straps – if you own a truck, you never know when you might have to tie something down.

11. First kit

12. Fire extinguisher

13. Tissue / toilet paper – not only are they good for when you need to leave a crap in the woods, tissue is good for starting fires and taking care of minor wounds.

14. Hand sanitizer- good for cleaning your hands and taking care of minor wounds.

Collecting rain water urban survival tip

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In an urban survival situation, safe drinking water might be a little difficult to come by. If your family does not live by a canal, creek, stream, river or lake, or have your own private well, how are you supposed to get fresh water?

If your house as rain gutters, you could put some buckets under the down spouts, but that is just common sense stuff. Lets talk about stuff that people might overlook.

To collect a good bit of rain water, your going to need a tarp.

If you have a play set for the kids in the backyard, string the trap up so it creates a funnel going to a bucket.

A kiddie pool can be used to collect rain water.

If you have a truck, spread the tarp across the bed. The bed and the tarp will act like a bucket.

If you have a boat – make sure to take the cover off of it and put a bucket under the drain plug. I keep an 8 foot by 20 foot tarp over my boat. After a recent rain, the rain water had pushed the tarp down between the seats of the boat, which probably collected 30 gallons of water. So not only is a boat something that floats in the water, its also a rain water collection device.

Once you have the rain water, it should be collected and sealed in something. Sealing the water helps prevent 2 things – evaporation and breeding of mosquitoes.

Whats the use of collecting rain water if your just going to leave it exposed to the sun and evaporate? Pour that water into any container you have and get it out of the sunlight. During the summer months, and day time temps get into the upper 90s, its not uncommon for swimming pools to lose about 1 inch of water daily through evaporation. If you collect 3 or 4 inches of water in a bucket, that amount of water could be lost to evaporation in a matter of days.

The Asian Tiger Mosquito loves to lay its eggs in non-moving water. This also includes the water you just collected. Left untreated and exposed, standing water could quickly become a mosquito breeding ground. And the thing about the Asian Tiger Mosquito, they are aggressive feeders that will come out during the day light hours.

Mosquitoes also help spread certain diseases.

If you have some 5 gallon buckets, maybe put the water in the buckets and store them in the garage or storage building? Somewhere out of the sunlight (which promotes evaporation), and away from the reach of mosquitoes.

Even though people might consider rain water “clean” water – it probably needs to run through a filter first. If you collect the rain water in a bucket, you never know what kind of bacteria is living in that bucket. So play it safe and filter all of your water.  Everyone that takes survival seriously should have some kind of home based water filter, like a Berkey, or something like it.

Drinking water in an urban survival situation

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If the water went off tonight, what kind of plans do you have in place? As with everything else in my survival plans, water is broken down into 3 phases – short term, medium term, and long term solution.

Short Term – this is your bottled water. Most people have a couple of cases of bottled water laying around somewhere. On a trip to the grocery store most people might grab a case or two of bottled water to have around for guest or parties.

Some survivalist stockpile water in 35 or 55 gallon drums.

When the water goes out, the bottled and stockpiled water will go first. Its convenient, you just un-screw the top of the bottle and the water is ready to drink. Most people like to take the easy way out, and bottled water is about as easy as it gets.

Medium Term – this is your water filters. This may include your Berkey water filters or some kind of backpacking, lightweight water filter.

Sooner or later, the filter is going to reach its lifespan, and that is it.

Long term – private water well that is safe to drink. This could include water wells on farms, or rural water wells where people do not get city water.

Now that we are past the three layers of water preps, lets move forward.  “Where” exactly do you get water in an urban survival situation?  Lets see, there are – local ponds, streams, creeks, rivers, lakes, rain fall, ditches, bayous,,,,,.

For an example, in the middle of Jasper, Texas (where I live), there is a park with a small pond and creek.  Using my bicycle  I could cycle to the park, use some water bottles to retrieve the water, bring it back home and run it through my Berkey water filter.  Its about 8 miles round trip from my home to the park.

River water – Another example, the Angelina River is just a few miles from my house.  Once again, using my bicycle I could cycle to the river, bring several 32 ounce water bottles, collect the water from the river, cycle back home and then run the water through my Berkey water filter.

Rain water – once those 55 gallon drums run out of water, they could be positioned under the down spout of a rain gutter.  But this only works if you live in an area that gets rain fall.  If you do not have any 55 gallon drums, some 5 gallon buckets should work just as good.  If nothing else, refill those water bottles that were used when the event first started.

Waterborne diseases – As sewers fill up and start to back up, people will start doing their “business” outside.  The problem here, is when an area receives rain fall, the sewage can be washed off the soil and into the local rivers, steams, ponds,,,, any kind of surface water.  If water can stand around the pipe going into a well, there is a chance that contaminated water can get into the well.  That is why its recommended that a cement step be built around the pipe of a well.

Possible diseases include:
E. Coli
Legionellosis – Legionnaires disease and Pontiac fever
Salmonellosis – Salmonella (mostly foodborne)
Typhoid fever
Hepatitis A – food and waterborne
only to name a few.

In my opinion, the ideal situation would be to have a water well with some kind of solar water pump on it, or at least a hand operated water pump.  In a worse case situation, having a well and a hand powered pump is better then nothing.

One of the big differences between urban and rural water plans, would probably be that a lot of people in rural areas already have some kind of water well in place. Whether its to water the cows, horses or other livestock, or as their main water source, a lot of people who live in rural areas have access to some kind of water well. From there, its just a matter of getting the water out of the well with no electricity.

I would like to hear some input on this topic. What are your safe drinking water plans in some kind of long term survival situation? Do you have a water well already in place? Do you have a rain water collection system already in place? Do you have any creeks, streams, ponds or lakes nearby that your planning on filtering the water from?

Post your comments in this thread about drinking water in an long term urban survival situation.

Fruit trees and the urban survivalist

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Fruit trees are the friend of the urban survivalist. Unlike a garden, you do not have to replant the fruit tree every year, during the spring your neighbors will be jealous of the beautiful blooms, dwarf fruit trees can be planted just about anywhere, and some types of fruit trees are high producers. Meaning, that with just 1 or 2 trees, your family should be able to put up plenty of preserves.

Some types of dwarfs may not get 8 feet tall and might be something good to plant in the corners of your fence. If you have a fence in your backyard, what do you have planted in the corners right now anyway? Planting the fruit tree across the back fence might provide it with more sun light, as compared to planting it between the houses.

Over the past few years I have made it a point to plant some fruit trees. Some of the types I have planted include peach, plum, apple, and a fig tree.

When picking the different types of trees that you want to plant, take into consideration when the fruit is ready to be picked. I like to plant different types of trees so that the fruit ripens at different times. One might ripen in July, another might ripen in August, and another might ripen in September. This gives me time to preserve the fruit. Even if I do not preserve the fruit, having the fruit ripen at different times spreads out my food supply.

While planting the peach trees, I used miracle grow organic potting soil and some miracle grow plant food. The plant food said it was 10-10-10 with a little extra sulfur mixed in.

I thought about throwing some nuts, bolts or nails in the hole before the tree is set in. That way the tree has a source of trace minerals will will take a long time to break down. This was not done during the 2007, 2008 0r 2009 planting season, but I might do it this year. There are some 3/4 inch round bar rods at the camp. I though about cutting some pieces off of those bars – say about 2 – 3 inches long – and putting the bar under the tree. It might take those bars decades to break down all the way where there is nothing left

In 2008 I spread some 13-13-13 fertilizer around a peach tree in the spring. We were “supposed” to get some rain to help was the fertilizer in. We did not get the rain and the tree died. I think I put too much fertilizer around the tree. So in the spring of 2010, I’am going easy with the fertilizer.

Post your comments in this forum thread about fruit trees.

Floods from nautral disasters

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This is the intersection of HWY 87 and chemical road, which is between Orange and Bridge City, Texas. 2 major intersections which were blocked by debris and water from Hurricane Ike. Keep in mind, this intersection is about 20 inland from the Gulf of Mexico.

As far as anyone could remember, this part of Orange County, Texas had never flooded – at least not this bad anyway.  When Hurricane Ike pushed the storm surge into the communities of Southeast Texas, a lot of people were caught unprepared.  An unknown number of people did not have flood insurance, mainly because the area where they live had never flooded.

Some of the lessons learned:

You can not protect your house against something like a hurricane. What you do, is make sure you have plenty of insurance, both flood and home owners.

My mom and dad will be ok. They have home owners and flood insurance. For the most part they will recover.

My brother had flood insurance, but nothing on the contents. Meaning he lost everything in his house with 4 – 5 feet of water.

My buddy did not have any flood insurance. He got about 2 feet of water in his house and has lost almost everything.

To protect your family and your property, have a fall back position. My family used my house as such a location. They had a safe place to stay, instead of sleeping in hotels and spending a small fortune on rooms and food.

When the local authorities call for an evacuation, heed those warnings, pack up your stuff and leave.  Property can be replaced, lives can not.

How fast things can break down

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In February 2008, some thunderstorms rolled through the town I live in, knocking out power to thousands of the local residents.  During the storm a bolt of lightening hit a transformer at the local Wal-mart.  In a larger town this might not be a problem, but in Jasper, Texas there are only 2 grocery stores – Wal-mart and Brookshire brothers.

Within hours of the power going out, the wal-mart employees were throwing away meat and other products that can spoil. What gets me, why did the store throw the meat away? Why not give it to the community? I guess if they throw it away, its counted as a lose and insurance will cover it.

The store was closed and locked down. So 1/2 of the food in this town was cut off. Just one lightening strike did all of this.

This is a good example – when there is a disaster, companies will be looking at how to protect their profits, not how people can work together.

Post your comments in the how fast things can break down thread of the forums.

Planting potatoes, peas and corn

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Potatoes, peas and corn – plant them in that order.

Commercial grade fertilizer has 3 numbers, such as 13-13-13. Those three numbers stand for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (also called Pot Ash).

nitrogen – large leaves, tall growth – greens, spinach, corn, okra
phosphorus – root growth – potatoes, turnips
potassium / pot ash – pod production – peas, beans, corn, okra, squash

Potatoes – use fertilizers with a high middle number, such as 10-20-10 fertilizer. The higher phosphorus content helps promote root growth.  The potatoes can be harvested and eaten at anytime.  Just dig around the base of the potato plant and pull out the potatoes when you want some to cook.  Or, wait until the top of the plant dies, then you know the potatoes are full grown and ready to harvest.


Urban survival and safe drinking water

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Over the past few weeks I have been putting a lot of thought into the availability of safe drinking water in an urban survival situation. Its not enough to have access to “water”, when its not safe to drink.

Its common knowledge that people require food, water and shelter to live. From those three points it breaks down into sub categories.  Such as what kind of food, what kind of shelter and what kind of water.

I have decided to break my water preps into 3 simple phases based on the amount of safe drinking water you have access to – short term, mid term, long term.

Short term – this is your bottled water. Regardless if its 1 pint plastic bottles, or 55 gallon drums, this is your short term solution.

Why is it short term? Because its in limited supply – sooner or later its going to run out.

Mid Term – This is something like a berkey water filter, something where you can take river, lake or pond water, filter it and make it safe to drink.

The mid term solution does not rely on stockpiling massive amounts of water. You keep a little water at your house, then use the filters to make water from outside sources safe to drink.

Filtration could be either a short or mid term solution – because the filters have a limited life. Even if the filter has a rating of 10,000 gallons, that is still a hard limit.

Long term – Something along the lines of a private well. You have your own private supply of safe drinking water.  Wells have allowed mankind to have safe drinking water for thousands of years. There is no reason why they will not work today.

One of the problems faced in the urban jungle – some cities prohibit citizens from having a private well. If that is the case, then the laws need to be changed.  People should have the right to access the water under their land.

In some areas, such as around chemical plants, the ground water might not be safe to drink. Dumping and leaking of chemicals have contaminated the ground water in places like Port Arthur Texas and Houston Texas.

Over the years I have seen a lot of water storage solutions discussed. Some of those solutions include – cases of bottled water, 35 and 55 gallon drums, water beds, 500 gallon above ground storage tanks, swimming pools, fish tanks, rivers, streams, private wells.

Regardless of the solution, it all goes back to – is the water safe to drink – yes or no? If the answer is no, what is required to make the water safe to drink? Is that solution a permanent solution? Or will it run out, or wear out – like a filter will do?

The next question is – is the water supply a permanent solution? Yes or no?

Bleach or other chemicals – not a permanent solution
Man Made Filters – not a permanent solution
Mechanical Desalination – not a permanent solution

The final goal is to have a permanent solution for safe drinking water.

Please post your comments in the Urban Survival Water Solutions thread of the forum.

Good hot meal after a disaster

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Some kind of SHTF / TEOTWAWKI survival situation has happened, the moral of the group is down, everyone is acting depressed or irritated, what do you do to help resolve the issue?  What can you do to help improve the morale of the group?

Never underestimate the power of a good hot meal during times of stress. After a disaster, and stress levels are up, food can be used as a comfort blanket.

When my family returned home after hurricane Rita, and Hurricane Ike, we found the yard covered with tree limbs. One tree in the back yard had blown down, but landed away from my house. Some of our group started cleaning up the yard, and piling the limbs up. While this cleaning up was going on I started cooking.

The pit was fired up, some sausage and steaks were cooked and we all had a feast right before dark.

It was of great comfort to have a good hot meal after a stressful event. The night before, it sounded like we had a train sitting on top of us for about 8 hours. The next morning everyone was stressed out, and edgy, but the hot meal was like a turning point for that day.

After a stressful event, plan on the group using a feast to comfort and reassure them that life will return back to normal. Then is not the time for powered eggs and freeze dried foods. Pull the steaks or ribs out of the freezer and cook them up.

The food in the freezer should be eaten before the packaged stuff anyway. So its a win win situation. The group gets a good hot meal and the perishable foods are eaten before they spoil.

Never underestimate the power of a good hot meal. It can really help with the morale of the group.

Post your comments in this thread of the urban survival forum.

Related Articles:

  1. Prepping the Bug Out Location
  2. Stockpiling food, ammo and fishing supplies
  3. Hastily assembled and ill equipped survival plans
  4. Bug out location essentials
  5. Long term survival plans
  6. Surviving a long term disaster

Patio Gardening Project Finale and Review

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This is the finale to our patio gardening project.  So lets discuss how things went, the results and the types of seeds we should stockpile.

Overall, I was how the project went.  Even though the box that the plants grew in was only about 6 inches tall, it seemed that the plants grew pretty good for the amount of sunlight, water and fertilizer they received.

Because the growth of the plants was stunted, lets not grow anything that takes a long time to mature – like watermelons, or squash.

Instead, lets focus on plants that can grow quick, do not require cooking and can be eaten at any time.  A few examples of these include greens, radishes, and cabbage.

Patio Gardening Project – 2nd Update

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This is the second update to the Urban Survival Patio Gardening series.  In the first video, the 2 tubs were taken, filled with potting soil and were planted with radishes and spinach.  The feetilizer that was used was stuff that you might use for flowers.
Episode 1 – the introduction
Episode 2 – the first update

The radish tops are about 1 inch – 1 1/2 inches across. I feel that their growth might be a little stunted due to the cool weather and lack of full sunlight.

The spinach has not done anything worth talking about. Just a few are sprouting and they are not really doing anything.

The green onions are coming along rather nicely with new shoots 1/4 inch – 3 inches tall. The green onions came from a local grocery store, the tops were cut off for a baked potato and the root ball was planted. Within a matter of days new shoots are starting to come out of the onion.

Urban Survival Patio Gardening – Episode 1

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This is the first video in a series on Urban Survival Patio Gardening. The plans are to take a plastic tub and turn it into a small garden. The tubs were used to store canned goods and dried products under beds and out of sight of friends and family members.

Once the food is taken out of the tubs, they are just sitting there not doing anything. So lets take them fill em full of dirt, add some fertilizer, seeds and lets see what happens.

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