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Planting for Calories

Planting for calories Garden potatoes planting

Based on calories per unit area:

  • Oil palm: Takes the crown for most calories per acre, thanks to its high oil yield. However, it requires specific tropical climates and intensive cultivation, making it impractical for most individual growers.
  • Sweet potatoes: Offer the highest caloric yield per hectare in a wider range of climates, making them a good choice for home gardens and sustainable food production.
  • Cassava: Another contender, particularly in warm, humid regions, with high calorie yield per area.

For individual gardens:

  • Potatoes: Easy to grow and provide a high number of calories per square foot planted. Just be aware of potential potassium excess from relying solely on potatoes.
  • Jerusalem artichokes: Produce substantial underground tubers rich in starch and calories. They are also resilient and tolerant of various soils and climates.
  • Legumes (beans, lentils): While not top contenders in calorie density, their high protein content offers additional nutritional value and can contribute significantly to daily calorie intake.

Bonus options:

  • Fruit trees: Banana, breadfruit, and jackfruit can offer high calorie yields over longer periods compared to annual crops.
  • Grain crops: Corn and wheat are major calorie sources globally, though require larger spaces and specific conditions for optimal yields.

Remember, “most calories” doesn’t necessarily mean the best choice. Consider factors like climate, available space, nutritional balance, and personal preferences when selecting plants for your calorie needs.

For a more specific recommendation, tell me more about your situation:

  • Where do you live?
  • How much space do you have available?
  • What are your experience levels with gardening?
  • Do you have any dietary restrictions or preferences?

Growing a bountiful harvest of potatoes at home requires some strategic planning and consistent care. Here are some tips to maximize your potato yield:

Choosing the right method:

  • Raised beds: Ideal for areas with poor drainage or limited space. Fill a frame with a blend of soil, compost, and manure, allowing you to control the soil quality and easily mound as the potatoes grow.
  • Hilled rows: Dig trenches, plant seed potatoes, and gradually mound soil around the stems as they grow, encouraging tuber formation.
  • Containers: Perfect for balconies or patios. Use large pots (at least 15 gallons) with drainage holes and well-draining potting mix.

Preparing the potatoes:

  • Seed potatoes: Invest in certified disease-free seed potatoes, not grocery store potatoes, as they’re specially chosen for growth.
  • Sprouts: “Chit” your potatoes by placing them in a cool, bright location for a few weeks before planting. This encourages sprouts to develop, leading to faster and stronger growth.
  • Cutting (optional): You can cut larger seed potatoes into pieces with at least one “eye” each. Ensure cuts are dry and healed before planting.

Planting and care:

  • Soil pH: Aim for slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6 and 6.5. Amend soil with compost or manure if needed.
  • Sunlight: Choose a sunny location with at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.
  • Spacing: Plant seed potatoes 12-18 inches apart and cover with 2-3 inches of soil.
  • Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist, but not soggy. Aim for 1 inch of water per week.
  • Fertilizing: Side-dress with a balanced fertilizer 4-6 weeks after planting and again two weeks later.
  • Hilling: As the plants grow, mound soil around the stems to encourage tuber development. Repeat every few weeks until the base of the plant is buried 8-12 inches deep.
  • Pests and diseases: Monitor for Colorado potato beetles and blight. Remove beetles by hand or use organic insecticidal soap. Be proactive with blight prevention by choosing resistant varieties and rotating planting locations.

Harvesting and storage:

  • Harvest potatoes when the foliage dies back or turns yellow. Gently dig around the plants to avoid damaging tubers.
  • Cure potatoes in a cool, dark, well-ventilated space for 1-2 weeks to allow skins to set and prevent rotting.
  • Store cured potatoes in a cool, dark place with high humidity, like a root cellar or basement.

Bonus tips:

  • Choose potato varieties well-suited to your climate and preferences.
  • Interplant with companion plants like marigolds and herbs to deter pests.
  • Mulch around plants to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  • Keep a garden journal to track your planting dates, care practices, and harvest results. This will help you refine your strategy for future seasons.

With dedication and these tips, you can enjoy a delicious and abundant harvest of homegrown potatoes!

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Secure Water for Disaster

Water Purification during a disaster
Storing, Purifying, and Cleaning Water During a Disaster

In the face of a disaster, access to clean water becomes an immediate and critical need. Whether it’s a hurricane flooding streets, an earthquake disrupting infrastructure, or even a power outage affecting treatment facilities, the ability to secure safe drinking water can mean the difference between survival and succumbing to waterborne diseases. This paper dives into the essential strategies for storing, purifying, and cleaning water during a disaster, empowering you to protect yourself and loved ones in times of crisis.

Part 1: The Importance of Pre-Disaster Planning

The golden rule for water security is preparation. Before disaster strikes, prioritize building a reserve of clean water and acquiring purification methods. Aim for a minimum of one gallon per person per day for three days, though ideally, plan for a week or more. Here are some storage options:

  • Food-grade containers: Choose BPA-free plastic containers or glass bottles with tight-fitting lids. Rinse and sanitize them with a bleach solution (1 teaspoon bleach per gallon of water) before filling.
  • Water barrels: Consider investing in larger water barrels for long-term storage. Ensure they are made of food-grade plastic and follow the manufacturer’s cleaning and filling instructions.
  • Rainwater harvesting: If you have the space, install a rainwater harvesting system to collect and store naturally filtered water.

Part 2: Purification Techniques

Even if you have stored water, disaster conditions may necessitate further purification. Here are some effective methods:

  • Boiling: This is the simplest and most reliable method. Bring clear water to a rolling boil for one minute at sea level (three minutes at high altitudes), then let it cool before drinking. The only disadvantage to boiling, is the concentration of heavy metals, oils and other harmful compounds. Boiling water only addresses pathogenic contamination by killing the bugs.
  • Chemical treatment: Use chlorine bleach (5%–9% sodium hypochlorite) to disinfect cloudy or potentially contaminated water. Add two drops per liter or quart of water, let it stand for 30 minutes, and then test the water for residual chlorine. If the smell of chlorine persists, add a pinch of baking soda to neutralize it. While this does work for pathogens, this once again does not address other forms of contamination, and introducing bleach to your drinking water may not taste very good.
  • Water purification tablets: These readily available tablets are convenient and effective for individual servings. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for adding them to water and waiting for the recommended disinfection time. As the name imply, these tablets once again handle pathogens only and add a strange flavor to the water.
  • Filtration: Water filters remove large particles and bacteria from contaminated water. Choose filters with an absolute pore size of 0.2 microns or smaller for optimal protection. Remember, filters alone may not remove viruses or chemicals, so consider combining them with other methods. Many ceramic filters have some form of activated carbon inside which acts like a magnet to heavy metals, chemicals, and many forms of contamination.
  • Reverse osmosis (RO) water purifiers are one of the most effective ways to remove contaminants from your drinking water. They use a semipermeable membrane that allows only water molecules to pass through, while trapping most other contaminants, including:
    • Dissolved solids: such as salts, minerals, and metals
    • Chemicals: such as chlorine, herbicides, and pesticides
    • Microbial contaminants: such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoa
    • While RO works very well, the downsides to it include sometimes more than 50% of the water is wasted, RO membranes are expensive, and for emergency use, they are typically not viable since you need a constant water pressure for them to work.
  • Water Distillation: Water Distillation will give you most pure form of water. This process removes all contaminants while leaving the all the contamination behind.

Part 3: Emergency Water Acquisition and Cleaning

In dire situations where pre-stored or purified water is unavailable, you may need to resort to alternative sources. Remember, never drink untreated water directly from potentially contaminated sources like rivers, lakes, or flooded areas. Here are some options, but proceed with caution and employ additional purification methods:

  • Rainwater collection: In a pinch, collect rainwater using clean tarps or containers after the initial heavy washout. Filter and boil the collected water before drinking.
  • Melting snow or ice: Snow and ice from clean sources can be melted and boiled for safe drinking. Avoid areas near potential contamination like roads or industrial sites.
  • Distilling: If resources allow, you can create a makeshift solar still to evaporate and condense water for purification. This type of purification is typically the only viable way for someone to desalt (ocean water) during an emergency. All other forms of purification listed above cannot allow you to drink ocean water. (High pressure RO excluded)
    • Downsides to distillation include the process is energy intensive and slower production of usable water. Most household water distillers operate on electricity which may become a concern during a disaster, although there are systems that can operate and produce water without using electricity. (Examples are solar and non-electric water distillers)

Additional Tips:

  • Label all water containers clearly with the date of filling and purification method used.
  • Rotate your stored water every six months to ensure freshness.
  • Keep purification supplies readily accessible in an emergency kit.
  • Educate yourself and others in your household on these techniques before disaster strikes.

The ability to access clean water during a disaster is crucial for survival. By taking proactive measures and understanding effective purification methods, you can turn a precarious situation into one of resilience and safety. Remember, planning and preparation are key. Start building your water security toolkit today and ensure you have the knowledge and resources to weather any storm, literally and figuratively.

Note: This paper provides a general overview of water storage, purification, and cleaning techniques. It is crucial to consult official guidelines and recommendations from trusted sources (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local government agencies) for specific instructions and updates relevant to your region and disaster scenario.

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Starting a Hydroponic Garden at Home

Hydroponic Gardening

Hydroponics, the art of growing plants without soil, might sound intimidating, but it’s a surprisingly accessible and rewarding way to cultivate a thriving indoor garden. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a curious newbie, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and steps to embark on your hydroponic journey.

Step 1: Choose Your Hydroponic System

A vast array of hydroponic systems exists, each with its own advantages and quirks. Here are a few popular options for beginners:

  • Deep Water Culture (DWC): Plants suspended in net pots rest over a nutrient-rich water reservoir, with roots dangling freely. Simple to set up and monitor, DWC is ideal for leafy greens and herbs.
  • Nutrient Film Technique (NFT): A thin film of nutrient solution continuously flows through channels or gutters, nourishing the plant roots as they pass through. NFT excels for lettuce, strawberries, and other fast-growing plants.
  • Wick System: Passive and self-contained, wick systems use wicks to draw nutrient solution from a reservoir to the plant’s growing medium. Perfect for herbs, small flowering plants, and beginners seeking a low-maintenance option.

Step 2: Gather Your Hydroponic Arsenal

Once you’ve chosen your system, it’s time to gather the essential equipment:

  • Growing containers: Buckets, tubs, or specialized hydroponic systems will house your plants and nutrient solution.
  • Net pots: These small, mesh baskets provide support and aeration for the plant roots.
  • Growing medium (optional): Inert materials like perlite, rockwool, or coconut coir provide structural support for the roots and help retain moisture.
  • Nutrient solution: Formulated specifically for hydroponics, these solutions deliver essential nutrients to your plants.
  • Water pump and timer (optional): For systems like DWC and NFT, a pump and timer regulate the flow of the nutrient solution.
  • Grow lights: Plants in hydroponic systems often require supplemental lighting, especially indoors. LED lights are energy-efficient and ideal for this purpose.
  • pH meter and TDS meter: Monitoring the pH (acidity) and Total Dissolved Solids (nutrient concentration) of your nutrient solution is crucial for optimal plant growth.

Step 3: Seeding or transplanting?

You can start your hydroponic garden by either sowing seeds directly into the growing medium or transplanting seedlings from soil. Seedlings offer a quicker start, while seeds give you more variety and control over the growing process.

Step 4: Planting and Nurturing

Fill your containers with the chosen growing medium and place the net pots with your seeds or seedlings. Ensure the roots are submerged in the nutrient solution (for DWC) or resting on the wicks (for wick systems). Adjust the pH and TDS of your solution as needed, following the instructions on the fertilizer packaging.

Set your grow lights on a timer to provide 12-16 hours of daily light. Monitor the water level and nutrient concentration regularly, topping up or adjusting as needed. Keep an eye out for pests and diseases, and address them promptly with organic methods whenever possible.

Step 5: Harvest and Enjoy!

With proper care, your hydroponic garden will flourish, rewarding you with fresh, delicious produce. Harvest your fruits, vegetables, or herbs as they ripen, and savor the satisfaction of cultivating your own indoor oasis.

Bonus Tips:

  • Start small and experiment with different plants and systems to find what works best for you.
  • Join online communities and forums to connect with other hydroponic enthusiasts and learn from their experiences.
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust and improvise. Hydroponics is a flexible and forgiving method, so have fun and let your green thumb flourish!

Remember, hydroponics is a journey, not a destination. Embrace the learning process, celebrate your successes, and enjoy the fresh, flavorful rewards of your indoor garden!

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How to Can and Preserve your Garden Bounty

How to can and preserve your garden bounty
Canning and Preserving Your Garden Bounty: A Comprehensive Manual for Home Preservation

Welcome to the delightful world of home preservation! Canning and preserving your garden’s bounty isn’t just a way to stretch your harvest’s lifespan, it’s a rewarding ritual that connects you to the land and nourishes you throughout the year. This manual aims to be your comprehensive guide, delving deeper into the intricacies of different techniques, equipping you with the knowledge and confidence to transform your backyard harvest into pantry staples and delightful treats.

Chapter 1: Gearing Up for Garden Bounty Preservation

Before diving headfirst into preserving your delicious harvest, equip yourself with the essential tools for success:

  • Canning Jars and Lids: Mason jars are the classic choice, but any canning-specific jars with two-piece lids and seals will do. Ensure they’re free of cracks or chips.
  • Canning Pot: A sizeable pot with a tight-fitting lid is crucial for both water bath and pressure canning methods. A capacity of 20 quarts is ideal for accommodating multiple jars.
  • Jar Lifter: This handy tool safely retrieves hot jars from the boiling water and steam of your canning bath, protecting your hands from burns.
  • Funnel: A wide-mouthed funnel makes filling jars a breeze, especially with smaller fruits and vegetables. Say goodbye to messy spills!
  • Bubble Remover: A small spatula or bubble remover helps eliminate pesky air pockets trapped within the food, ensuring a secure seal.
  • Headspace Tool: This handy gauge takes the guesswork out of headspace (the space at the top of the jar), crucial for proper processing and seal formation.
  • Sharp Knife and Cutting Board: Essential for prepping your harvest before canning.
  • Peeler (Optional): Depending on the fruits and vegetables you’re working with, a peeler can save time and effort.
  • Blancher Basket (Optional): This handy basket helps you quickly pre-cook vegetables before canning, ensuring their texture and color remain vibrant.
  • Pressure Canner (Optional): For low-acid foods like meat, vegetables, and some fruits, a pressure canner is essential for safe and proper processing.

Chapter 2: Choosing the Perfect Produce for Canning and Preservation

Not all fruits and vegetables are created equal when it comes to preservation. Here are some tips for selecting the ideal candidates for your pantry shelves:

  • Peak Ripe Perfection: Freshness is key for safe and delicious canned goods. Choose fruits and vegetables at their prime, when they’re bursting with flavor and nutrients.
  • Firm Flesh is Your Friend: Avoid overripe or bruised produce. Opt for fruits and vegetables with firm flesh that will hold their shape during processing and storage.
  • Acidic Allies: High-acid fruits like berries, citrus, and tomatoes are your best friends for water bath canning. Their naturally high acidity inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria.
  • Low-Acid Lows: Low-acid foods like corn, beans, and peas require the extra heat and pressure of pressure canning to ensure their safety.

Chapter 3: Demystifying Canning Methods

Two main methods reign supreme in the world of canning:

  • Water Bath Canning: Ideal for high-acid fruits and vegetables, this method uses boiling water to create a vacuum seal in the jars, effectively preserving their contents.
  • Pressure Canning: For low-acid foods, pressure canning is your guardian angel. This method utilizes steam under pressure to reach temperatures that safely kill harmful bacteria, ensuring long-term preservation.

Chapter 4: The Canning Journey: A Step-by-Step Guide

While specific steps will vary based on the fruit or vegetable you’re preserving, here’s a general overview of the canning journey:

  1. Jar and Lid Prep: Wash them thoroughly with hot soapy water and rinse well. Sterilize them according to your chosen method (boiling water bath for water bath canning, pressure canning for pressure canning).
  2. Harvest Hero Prep: Wash, peel, and chop your fruits or vegetables as needed. Some may require blanching for optimal texture and color retention.
  3. Jar Packing Party: Fill the jars with your prepared harvest, leaving the recommended headspace. Remember, precise measurements matter!
  4. Liquid Love (Optional): Depending on the recipe, you may add water, juice, or syrup to the jars for added flavor and moisture.
  5. Rim Rescue: Wipe the jar rims clean of any food residue

Chapter 4: How to Store your prepared food

Once you’ve poured your heart and soul into canning your garden’s bounty, the journey doesn’t end there! Proper storage is essential for ensuring your delicious creations stay safe and tasty for months, even years, to come. Here’s your guide to conquering the pantry and making the most of your preserved harvest:

Finding the Perfect Place:

  • Cool and Dry is Key: Aim for a temperature between 50°F and 70°F. Avoid hot areas like stoves, radiators, and uninsulated attics. Moisture is the enemy, so steer clear of damp basements and leaky pipes.
  • Darkness is Your Friend: Light can degrade the quality and color of your canned goods. Opt for shelves tucked away from windows or consider lining shelves with dark cloth or paper.

Organization is Everything:

  • First In, First Out: Label your jars with the date they were canned and use the older ones first. Rotate your stock regularly to avoid forgotten treasures languishing at the back of the pantry.
  • Stacking Smarts: Avoid placing heavy cans directly on top of lighter ones. Use sturdy shelves or risers to distribute weight evenly and prevent buckling.
  • Grouping Buddies: Categorize your canned goods by type (fruits, vegetables, meats) for easy access and meal planning inspiration.

Can Do, Don’t Do:

  • Freezing No-No: Freezing can cause cans to burst and compromise their seal. Stick to room temperature storage for optimal safety and quality.
  • Rust Busters: Inspect your cans regularly for signs of rust or dents. Discard any cans with compromised seals or bulging lids.
  • Open Air Outcasts: Once opened, transfer unused portions of canned food to airtight containers and store them in the refrigerator. Consume opened canned goods within 3-5 days for optimal freshness.

Bonus Tips for Extra Shelf Life:

  • Vinegar Power: For pickled goods, a splash of vinegar added to the jars before sealing can help extend their shelf life.
  • Honey Helper: Adding a spoonful of honey to fruits before canning can prevent browning and preserve their vibrant color.
  • Salt Savvy: A pinch of salt can enhance flavor and help suppress the growth of harmful bacteria in some canned foods.

By following these simple storage tips, you can ensure your home-canned creations thrive in your pantry, ready to nourish and delight you long after the harvest season has passed. So, embrace the joy of preservation, conquer your pantry, and savor the fruits (and vegetables!) of your labor!

I hope this comprehensive guide helps you store your canned food like a pro! Remember, with proper care and attention, your home-canned treasures can bring deliciousness and memories to your table for months to come.

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How to Prepare for Civil Unrest

Be prepared for civil unrest

There’s a distinct pattern when society breaks down, and as our society becomes more desperate, poverty-stricken, and lacking of moral compass, this trend will become more obvious. Note that the “lacking of moral compass” part does not just refer to the thugs rioting and looting in our larger cities, but this also applies all people from investment bankers robbing hard working folks of their life savings, to people ignoring someone in a cross walk, to inconsiderate drivers, to yes even a percentage of police officers, who think that they can treat people without regard.  We are all people and the human race needs to learn to behave kinder to our fellow citizens.

There are of course, criminals, thugs, gang members, low-lifes, and for the lack of a better word, animals in our society that hold full disregard for all human life, respect, and any remorse.  In dealing with groups of people that have chosen, a life of crime and thuggery, over an education, work ethic, and becoming a contributing member of society, we need to protect ourselves and our families.  When dealing with ignorance, reason will not work!  You can’t reason with a wild lion to not eat you, because all it knows is instinct.  

Here is what happens in our society when reasoning breaks down.

  • Ignorance breeds ignorance.  When people fail to receive a minimum education, their skills to cope and reason with their fellow citizens decrease.
  • An uneducated generation of people, have children and without a modicum of 
  • Violence and Criminal activity has a direct correlation with lower educated populations.
  • An outrage occurs.
  • Good people react and protest the outrage.
  • Those perpetrating the outrage try to quell the protest because they don’t think that the outrage was actually outrageous.  (And whether it was or not can fluctuate – in some cases, force is necessitated, but in more and more cases, it is flagrantly gratuitous.)
  • Others react to the quelling and join the protest.
  • A mob mentality erupts. Thugs say, “Hey, it’s a free for all. I’m gonna get some Doritos and while I’m at it, beat the crap out of some folks for fun.”
  • All hell breaks loose.
  • The military gets called in.
  • The city burns, and neighborhoods get destroyed, and no one in the area is safe.
  • Cops act preemptively, out of fear, and for a time, there is no rule of law.
  • If you happen to be stuck there, know this: you’re completely on your own.

As people watch their precious freedom slip away, watch incidents of horrifying brutality from the people they were told as small children to trust, and watch their ability to earn a decent living disintegrate along with the national economy, you can expect this to happen more and more.  It doesn’t only happen in big cities like Baltimore, as we were shown when rioting hit Ferguson, a town of just over 20,000 people.

It’s important to remember that when something happens that may (or may not)  be worthy of protest, they will actually organize folks from other areas to go and “protest.”  So even if you live in a small town filled with mostly good neighbors, you could be overrun with angry mobs that were imported specifically to wreak havoc and get their leaders some free press on the evening news.

Some people are just waiting for the opportunity to behave in this fashion. They’d love to act like that every single day, but they don’t want to spend the rest of their lives in jail. But when a verdict gets rolled out, when a storm takes out the power, when a disaster strikes, they delight in the chance to rob, pillage, loot, and burn.  

I remember learning about “sublimation” in a high school psychology class.

Sublimation is a defense mechanism that allows us to act out unacceptable impulses by converting these behaviors into a more acceptable form. For example, a person experiencing extreme anger might take up kickboxing as a means of venting frustration. Freud believed that sublimation was a sign of maturity that allows people to function normally in socially acceptable ways.

If you believe Freud’s theory, then it’s easy to see that many people look for an excuse to revert to their true natures.  In a situation where “everyone” is doing something, they are able to cast off their normal control of their impulses without much fear of reprisal. The number of looters and thugs far outstrips the number of arrests going on in Baltimore, so there’s a very good chance that someone swept up in that mentality can go burn somebody else’s home or business and completely get away with it.

Let me reiterate this: DURING CIVIL UNREST SITUATIONS, YOU ARE COMPLETELY ON YOUR OWN. Do you think the people in the video above respect your home, your fence, or the locks on your doors?

And while I’m at it, let me flash forward a bit to a hypothetical future.  These people aren’t even hungry.

What if the world as we know it ended? What if there wasn’t food in the grocery stores? What if there was no longer any such thing as EBT, for those who have made a career out of milking the system? What if the police and military finally threw their hands up in the air, gave up, and went home to protect their own families?  Who’s going to keep your family safe then?

You are.

You have to realize that at any point in time, you could find yourself on your own, without backup from 911.

Whether civil unrest is right outside your door.

Whether a group of thugs decides to invade your home to rob and/or terrorize you.

Whether the world we know goes down, via an EMP that takes out the grid,  civil war, economic collapse, or a breakdown in the national transportation network.

The only person you can rely on to protect your family is yourself.

You can stockpile until you have a decade of supplies put back, but if you can’t defend it, you don’t actually own it. You only have it because no one has bothered taking it away from you yet.  You have what you have based on the goodwill of others, who are stronger, greater in number, and better armed.

You have to look at the psychology of this. People can justify pretty much anything when they or their children are starving. And I can understand that to a large degree – who could stand to watch their babies suffering?  But if someone can devolve to the above degree just to because everyone else is doing it, the chaos we saw above is only a tiny sample of what could come if people were truly hungry.

Take a long hard look at the threats you face during civil unrest, and develop one. Wherever you live, whatever your situation, you need to plan as though 911 does not exist. Whether riots are occurring in the streets or not, in the seconds during which the lives of your family hang in the balance, you are completely on your own.

Following is a plan for dealing with an episode of civil unrest, taken from an article I wrote during the Ferguson riots.  This plan is also applicable for societal breakdowns that occur in the aftermath of a huge disaster.

Get home

In a perfect world, we’d all be home, watching the chaos erupt on TV from the safety of our living rooms.  However, reality says that some of us will be at work, at school, or in the car when unrest occurs.  You need to develop a “get-home” plan for all of the members of your family, based on the most likely places that they will be.

Devise an efficient route for picking up the kids from school.  Be sure that anyone who might be picking up the children already has permission to do so in the school office.

Discuss the plan with older kids – there have been rumors that children could be moved by the schools to a secondary location in the event of a crisis.  Some families have formulated plans for their older kids to leave the school grounds in such an instance and take a designated route home or to another meeting place.

Keep a get-home bag in the trunk of your car in case you have to set out on foot.  

Stash some supplies in the bottom of your child’s backpack – Be sure your children understand the importance of OPSEC and don’t include items that will get them suspended or arrested because of the fear-culture in our schools. Have things like water, a snack, any tools that might be useful, and a map.

Find multiple routes home – map out alternative backroad ways to get home as well as directions if you must go home on foot.

Find hiding places along the way.  If you work or go to school a substantial distance from your home, figure out some places to lay low now, before a crisis situation.  Sometimes staying out of sight is the best way to stay safe.

Avoid groups of people.  It seems that the mob mentality strikes when large groups of people get together.  Often folks who would never ordinarily riot in the streets get swept up by the mass of people who are doing so.

Keep in mind that in many civil disorder situations the authorities are to be avoided every bit as diligently as the angry mobs of looters. Who can forget the scenes of innocent people being pepper sprayed by uniformed thugs in body armor just because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Stay home

Once you make your way home or to your bug-out location …. STAY THERE.

By staying home, you are minimizing your risk of being caught in the midst of an angry mob or of sitting in stalled traffic while looters run amok.  In most scenarios, you will be far safer at home than you will be in any type of shelter or refuge situation. (Obviously if there is some type of chemical or natural threat in your immediate neighborhood, like a toxic leak, a flood, or a forest fire, the whole situation changes – you must use common sense before hunkering down.)

This is when your preparedness supplies will really pay off. If you are ready for minor medical emergencies and illnesses, a grid down scenario, and a no-comm situation, you will be able to stay safely at home with your family and ride out the crisis in moderate comfort.

Be sure you have a supply of the following:

  • Water
  • Necessary prescription medications
  • A well stocked pantry – you need at least a one-month supply of food for the entire family, including pets
  • An off grid cooking method (We also have an outdoor burner, and a woodstove inside)
  • Or food that requires no cooking
  • A tactical quality first aid kit
  • Lighting in the event of a power outage
  • Sanitation supplies (in the event that the municipal water system is unusable, this would include cleaning supplies and toilet supplies)
  • A way to stay warm in harsh winter weather
  • Over-the-counter medications and/or herbal remedies to treat illnesses at home
  • A diverse survival guide, a very thorough preparedness book, and a first aid manual (hard copies in case the internet and power grid are down)
  • Alternative communications devices (such as a hand-crank radio) so that you can get updates about the outside world
  • Off-grid entertainment:  arts and craft supplies, puzzles, games, books, crossword or wordsearch puzzles, needlework, journals (here are some more ideas to keep the kids entertained.)

Be prepared to defend your home

Out of all of the ways to be prepared for unrest, this is the most important one.

Sometimes despite our best intentions, the fight comes to us.  Even though we stay home, something about our place draws the attention of an unsavory person or group.

Defense is two-fold.  You want to stay under the radar and not draw attention to yourself.  The extent to which you strive to do this should be based on the severity of the unrest in your area. Some of the following recommendations are not necessary during an everyday grid-down scenario, but could save your life in a more extreme civil unrest scenario or a situation that has gone long-term. It’s always better to be over-prepared than underprepared.

The best way to win a fight is to avoid getting into that fight in the first place. Secure your home and lay low, but be prepared if trouble comes to visit.

Here are some tips to make your home less of a target:

Keep all the doors and windows locked.  Secure sliding doors with a metal bar.  Consider installing decorative grid-work over a door with a large window so that it becomes difficult for someone to smash the glass and reach in to unlock the door. Install a door bar on your front and back doors.

Keep the curtains closed. There’s no need for people walking past to be able to see what you have or to do reconnaissance on how many people are present. If the power is out, try to put dark plastic over the windows. (Heavy duty garbage bags work well.)  If it’s safe to do so, go outside and check to see if any light escapes from the windows. If your home is the only one on the block that is well-lit, it is a beacon to others.

Keep cooking smells to a minimum, especially if there is a food shortage.  If everyone else in the neighborhood is hungry, the meat on your grill will draw people like moths to a flame.

Don’t answer the door.  Many home invasions start with an innocent-seeming knock at the door to gain access to your house.

Keep pets indoors. Sometimes criminals use an animal in distress to get a homeowner to open the door for them. Sometimes people are just mean and hurt animals for “fun”.  Either way, it’s safer for your furry friends to be inside with you.

Fire is of enormous concern in these types of scenarios.  Fire is a cowardly attack that doesn’t require any interaction on the part of the arsonist. It flushes out the family inside, leaving you vulnerable to physical assaults.

Be ready for the potential of fire.

Have fire extinguishers mounted throughout your home. Be sure to test them frequently and maintain them properly. Have fire escape ladders that can be attached to a windowsill in all upper story rooms.  Drill with them so that your kids know how to use them if necessary.

Have bug-out bags prepared that contain all of your important documents in them in case you have to grab and go.

If, despite your best efforts, your property draws the attention of people with ill intent, you must be ready to defend your family and your home.

For some, vandalizing and destroying property is the order of the day.  Often, times of civil unrest give people of a certain mentality the excuse they need to seek vengeance against those who have “more” than they do.  Tensions erupt between the “haves” and the “have-nots”.  When this occurs, often destruction of property is the way these people choose to show their “power”.

While this starts out as purely a property crime, the situation can quickly turn violent. If someone is outside bashing the headlights of your vehicle, it isn’t a far stretch to think that they’ll bash on you if you confront them.

How to respond to this is a very individual decision, and depends to a great extent on your personal skill levels and confidence. For example, I’m a single mom with daughters. As much as I like my Jeep, it’s unlikely that I’d confront an angry mob destroying it, because that just wouldn’t be sensible. Things can be replaced, but you and your family members cannot. If you are a person who is unaccustomed to physical confrontations, you may be better off staying inside and calling your insurance company after the fact. No possession is worth your life or the lives of your family.

Be armed.

Alternatively, in some situations, it won’t stop with the destruction of your property. You may have to defend your home. And for this, you MUST BE ARMED.

I’m sure I’ll receive another barrage of email wishing me and my children dead by our own guns. (It always amazes me how people who swear vehemently that they’re against violence can send me those letters that fervently hope for bloody and terrifying deaths for us.) Some people are so terrified of self-defense tools that the very idea of using one causes veritable spasms of cognitive dissonance and denial.

Those very same people will tell you that they’ve survived riots or unrest and never had to have a gun or shoot anyone. Chances are, you won’t have to unholster your weapon. But this is a plan based on pure luck, and survival favors the prepared. I do not base my preparations for my family on the hope for good luck.

Firearms are an equalizer. A small woman can defend herself from multiple large intruders with a firearm, if she’s had some training and knows how to use it properly. But put a kitchen knife in her hand against those same intruders, and her odds decrease exponentially.

If the situation does escalate and the lives of you and your loved ones are in danger, there is no substitute for meeting force with force. You may not wish to engage, but sometimes there’s no time to escape. Sometimes there’s no place to escape to. In these situations, you won’t be able to talk your way out of it, hide from it, or throw dishes at the intruders to fight them off.

Don’t rely on 911. If the disorder is widespread, don’t depend on a call to 911 to save you – you must be prepared to save yourself.  First responders may be tied up, and in some cases, the cops are not always your friends.  

Be armed and keep your firearm on your person.  When the door of your home is breached, you can be pretty sure the people coming in are not there to make friendly conversation over a nice cup of tea.  Make a plan to greet them with a deterring amount of force. Be sure to keep your firearm on your person during this type of situation, because there won’t be time to go get it from your gunsafe. Don’t even go to the kitchen to get a snack without it. Home invasions go down in seconds, and you have to be constantly ready.

Know how to use your firearm. Whatever your choice of weapon, practice, practice, practice. A weapon you don’t know how to use is more dangerous than having no weapon at all.

Make sure your children are familiar with the rules of gun safety. Of course, it should go without saying that you will have pre-emptively taught your children the rules of gun safety so that no horrifying accidents occur. In fact, it’s my fervent hope that any child old enough to do so has been taught to safely and effectively use a firearm themselves. Knowledge is safety.

Have a safe room established for children or other vulnerable family members. If the worst happens and your home is breached, you need to have a room into which family members can escape.  This room needs to have a heavy exterior door instead of a regular hollow core interior door. There should be communications devices in the room so that the person can call for help, as well as a reliable weapon to be used in the unlikely event that the safe room is breached. The family members should be instructed not to come out of that room FOR ANY REASON until you give them the all clear or help has arrived.  Focus the tips for creating a safe room in an apartment to put it together more quickly.

Plan an escape route.  If the odds are against you, devise a way to get your family to safety.  Your property is not worth your life. Be wise enough to know if you’re getting into a fight that you can’t win.

Civilization is just a veneer.

So many times, when interviewed after a disaster, people talk about being “shocked” at the behavior of others.  Their level of cognitive dissonance has lulled them into thinking that we’re safe and that we live in a civilized country.  They are unwilling to accept that civilization is only a glossy veneer, even when the evidence of that is right in front of them, aiming a gun at their faces, lighting their homes on fire, or raping their daughters.

They refuse to arm themselves and prepare for an uncivilized future.

Accept it now, and you’ll be a lot better off when the SHTF.

Look at the videos of what’s going on in Baltimore. Look at what happened during the Ferguson riots. Look at the behavior of the stampeding masses on any given Black Friday shopping extravaganza.

Then tell me how “civilized” our country is.