No, not this kind of double trouble.

Kevin over at Misfires and Light Strikes asked me to fill while he works on an important project, so I’ll be posting over there as well.  When you have a moment, go visit that site because it contains a lot of useful information on firearms as well as preparation-related topics.  There is a lot of wisdom contained within that site so consider bookmarking it too.

When things go wrong, you don’t want your vehicle’s fuel gauge to look like this.  Its a good idea to keep your fuel tank half full for a number of good reasons.

During an emergency, you may not be able to refuel when you need to.  This could be due to a power outage, fuel shortage, civil unrest, or other factors.  Also, if an evacuation is called for (ex. hurricane), you want to have enough fuel to get out of town and on your way to safety.  That’s why many knowledgeable experts recommend you keep your fuel tank half full.  Sure, it means more frequent trips to the gas station but its a small price to pay for being more resilient.

Listen, I am guilty of letting my tank get down to the last gallon or two so this is one piece of advice that I am implementing myself.  My suggestion is that you start doing this now in order to save yourself from running out during an emergency.

As you take steps towards becoming better-prepared, you will need to find vendors to sell you certain items.  One invaluable resource is your local army surplus store, kinda like this one…

Ever since I was young I have shopped at these stores, mostly to get items for camping.  However, army surplus stores are more than just a source for inexpensive tents, backpacks, and tarps.  They carry a lot of items you can add to your inventory and various kits.  For example when I went to my local store yesterday, they had a wide variety of:

  • MREs and dehydrated food
  • Chemlights
  • Jerry Cans
  • Ammo cans
  • Flashlights and lanterns
  • Shovels
  • Cookware
  • Paracord
  • Apparel

…and much more.  The great thing about these stores is they have both new and used equipment, which gives you options.  You can stretch a dollar by purchasing used equipment or get higher quality used items for a lower price.  For example, I was able to get a Made in the USA Gerber NATO folding shovel for under $30 used.  This is half of what a new one costs, meaning I can use the money I saved to purchase other items.

Something to be aware of though is being a surplus store, quantities and selection will vary.  My suggestion is if you find something you like when you are shopping, be ready to buy it if its a used item.  It may not be there the next time you go there, so be ready to buy.  Also, I suggest you ask the sales staff about items you have on your list that may not be in the store.  They can give you a good idea if they plan on buying certain items and stocking them.

If you have time, find out if there is an army surplus store in your city and go visit it.  If nothing else, you will gain a better understanding of what’s available and where you can go to get it.  Plus, it never hurts to support local business during tough times like these.  Happy shopping!

Kevin over at Misfires and Light Strikes shared a really good link with me that discussed the top five newbie prepper mistakes make.  You can read the full article by going here but here are the top five:

  1. Going it Alone
  2. Overestimating Physical Readiness
  3. Ignoring Water
  4. Focusing On Gear Over Knowledge and Skills
  5. Panic

Think about how you can avoid these newbie prepper mistakes and take time to increase your understanding.

Yes indeed, preparation is going corporate.

Credit: Christopher Wink

Today, there was an emergency preparedness event where I work that featured a handful of exhibitors.  This was a part of National Preparedness Month which is a part of FEMA‘s effort to get more Americans better prepared.  Overall it was a modest event with a handful of participants, but the more important aspect of the event was the fact it was taking place.

The company I work at is a large (>18,000 employee) investment brokerage company headquartered in…San Francisco.  Normally one would associate financial firms to be more concerned with golf, fine arts, and feel-good commercials about investing in the future.  However, issues like business continuity are a major concern for large Fortune 500 companies, so having prepared employees makes sense.  After all, businesses can’t run for very long without people.

This shows that being prepared for disasters is not just for loners who live in rural counties.  Everybody can benefit from being better prepared, especially those of us who live and work in major cities.

When I was back in Minnesota, I finally had a chance to watch this Doomsday Preppers in my hotel room.

Ok, where to start?

My overall impression of the show is that the people in it are being exploited and ridiculed by National Geographic.  Like most TV shows, it relies on generous helpings of sensationalism to attract an audience.  I found many of the people in the episodes I watched to be a bit out of balance, some even struck me as extreme.  The common theme was preparation for various doomsday scenarios where the preppers would retreat to a remote site and fend off crazed survivors.  In a sense, Doomsday Preppers reminded me of Taboo (another NatGeo series) with a similar cast of oddballs and misfits.

My advice is to consider the source of the information and regard it as for entertainment purposes only.  National Geographic is owned by a Mainstream Media channel (Fox) which is primarily interested in ratings and profits.  The show reflects that and is chiefly designed to move product for its primary advertisers who hope to cash in on the increasing popularity of prepping.  Any useful information presented in that show or on its associated website should be considered a byproduct of television production.

Instead of passively watching kooks and loners don camouflage while they vacuum seal supplies, pick up some books on the subject.  I’ve reviewed two such books here and here, currently I am reading through another one that will be reviewed soon.  Also, there are many good websites that I have linked on my Resources page that offer a wealth of practical advice on handling scenarios you are more likely to face than societal collapse.  Part of taking responsibility for yourself is to learn for yourself and critically assess what is being presented to you.  Not everything you see on TV, hear on the radio, or read on the internet is going to be helpful.  The best thing you can do is gather information from a wide range of sources and determine what information is most applicable to your situation.  Your mind is a critical tool so keep it sharp by reading and thinking so you can acquire the knowledge you need to be better prepared.

One September 12th, I was flying to Minnesota from Phoenix.  For over an hour, we experienced serious turbulence as we flew over Utah and Colorado.  After I landed, I found out why.

Credit: AP Photo/Earth Vision Trust

The Colorado flooding has been catastrophic, some towns may be uninhabitable for months due to contamination and flood damage.  While the death tool has been fairly low, damage to infrastructure and property has been extensive.  Some estimates put the value of the damage in excess of $2 billion.

Ready.gov has a lot of good information about how to prepare for floods, so make sure you check out their site to get a start on preparing for this type of disaster.  In addition, be aware that anyplace that gets rained on is vulnerable to flooding.  Even if you live in the desert southwest, you can experience flash floods due to seasonal monsoons or heavy winter rains.  Use the Colorado flooding disaster as a catalyst to prepare for it in your neighborhood.  After all, heavy rains and flooding can strike your community without warning so be prepared before they happen.

Over the last month or so, I’ve spend time reading various books, blogs, and other information sources regarding preparation.  One common theme in several of them is the importance of staying employed.

You would think this would be a relatively straightforward proposition, but times are tough and keeping a job can be a challenge.

However, not having a job can severely hamper your preparation efforts.  Not only does employment provide money to purchase the things you need, it also offers social contacts and learning opportunities.  All are important when turbulence hits.

I’ll have more to write on this subject later but one thought to keep in mind is that “job” doesn’t necessarily mean working for somebody else…

When I mention the importance of having extra car keys, I speak from experience.

GM Key Fob

Last year I had a problem with my car’s clutch and had to pick it up late after work.  The shop was closed and my mechanic locked the set I gave him inside the car.  I was going to use the second key to open my car, start it up, drive it home, and use it to get to work the following morning.

That’s what I thought at least.

What I neglected to do was test both keys *before* I dropped my car off.  You see, I switched the keys and had the dealer reprogram one of the fobs when I was going through my divorce five years ago.  My goal was to ensure my ex would not suddenly decide to drive off with my car, which I was able to successfully prevent.  However, in doing so I messed-up my second set of keys.

Fast forward to a dark night in the late fall of 2012 with a fixed car but a non-working key.  Oops, had to go home and get the plastic emergency key to finally get into my car.  That weekend, I went to the GM dealer and had both key fobs reprogrammed and two brand-new keys cut so everything matched.  Oh, and I tested both sets at the dealership before I left.

The moral of the story is even an ostensibly prepared individual can make mistakes through oversights.  Learn from me, test your additional keys and fobs to ensure they work before you need them to.  Testing your preparations is a key component in making them so don’t forget this step.