Category Archives: Survival

Hurricane Harvey

It has been awhile since I posted…

The largest and most expensive natural disaster in the United States. Many people blame Mayor Turner for not evacuating Houston. how can you evacuate 2-4 million people?

YOU CAN’T!!!! There is not enough highways to get that many people out of Houston. Many people got out, while others were high enough to weather the storm.

The storm did something that no one storm has done before, stalled out over a city or region as long as it did. No one Could have ever predicted the magnitude of what this storm produced. The forecasters predicted some of the characteristics of the storm where it would stall the first time backtrack some and then go… predicted a second landfall… and then 30″+ of rain…

No one predicted 51.88″ of rain was possible… the cold front, high pressures created the perfect storm…

Where I live in Texas, a week prior, we had a wildfire (small 35 acre), decimated by wildfires in the last 6 years, drought conditions, floods on Memorial Day the previous 2 years…  at my house, I measured 20″ of rain. I live close to the Colorado river and parts of my neighborhood were flooded. Downstream recorded 54′ ft, third or fourth highest river level in recorded history. The town of smithville and la grange saw the the brunt of the river’s force.

We used our neighborhood Facebook page in order to keep everyone updated, rain totals, flooded areas, and advice like not flushing or running water heavy appliances.

I went down to Houston this weekend. My wife’s grandparents had 4-5ft of water in their home. We ripped out the first floor, down to the studs. Most of the family that was able to be there was there. One of my good friends went with me to help. I am indebted to his generosity and strong back to travel down to help. That’s what makes Texas great.

Seeing what we endured, makes me think I am not as prepared as I should be. I will be studying what I need to do, and then prioritize the preparations and make sure we have an evacuation and shelter in place plans, depending on the need.

Let me know what you are doing for your preparations for these larger, unpredictable weather conditions.

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Go, live life, and enjoy your freedom.

Stocking Up on Gold and Silver

 I hear many people in the Prepping World talking about you need to stock up on gold and silver for the post-apocalyptic world. Yes, over the history of mankind, people have sought out precious metals. Yes, it allows for a standard bartering system, if the system was only standardized though.

During the initial phase of the  post apocalyptic world, food, medicine, and basic survival needs will be the key focus and many will barter for them. One cannot eat precious metals. Gold and silver will not save the hungry. Stocking food, weapons, basic necessities of shelter will be the goal of survival, or at least the smart ones.

Investing in precious metals have its rewards, before the economy collapses. Bear and bull markets, I don’t understand derivatives and all the ways the market, but I do understand the bartering between two individuals of goods or services.

In Katrina, there were reports of looting for tvs, electronics, and other non-survival goods. Why? You cannot use a tv to save you from a wall of water. You cannot eat those $200 pair of Jordans. Yes, you need footwear, but that was not the purpose of the looting. People did loot for food and survival gear.

Ammo! Ammo is something that many people do stock up on for safety purposes, but so fail to see the bartering positives of it. Depending on how much you have, you can barter with ammo. Bullets are a dual purpose prep; you can use it for protection or to  hunt game. Back in the 1800’s, saloons would you ammo for drinks. How many bullets can fit into a glass, later coined a shot glass. The saloon owner, or the barkeep, would then sell the ammo for profit.

Alcohol, especially vodka, have many purposes. The obvious, to get drunk. It also can be used as mouthwash, antiseptic, insect repellent, and bartering, just to name a few. Items like this will be something  will be invaluable. With so many uses, it would be something worth it to stock up, or find early during the decline. Better yet, learn how to distill vodka. Knowing the process will be beneficial to save money now and after the stock is depleted  during the breakdown of society.

If you have any thoughts on this, please reply to the blog to start a conversation.

Go, live life, and enjoy your freedom.

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Fire! Fire!

My boys, my wife and I went “camping” in the back yard in the last few month. The experience was to see how the boys would react. They loved it! They are so ready to go deep in the woods to camp, or so they have asked. My wife and I are not so sure just yet on the deep woods adventure. State parks are the next step in camping for our family and looking to go this summer. We love the outdoors, but need to make sure they are ready for the challenge. So it got me to thinking about what would be important to know when we do go this summer. Food, water, fire, and shelter.

FIRE! Creating fire is one of the most essential lessons to learn. Most people do not know how to start a fire using primitive methods. I will have future posts about the necessities to survive.

Creating fire is pretty easy when you have dry tinder, dry wood, a good fire starter, and ideal situations. Many times people are trying to start a fire but they are working against the elements. Depending on if it’s a dire need based on a true survival situation or an experiment (camping included), one needs to know what to use and how to use their supplies. Survival skills do need practicing in order for that time when it does mean life or death.

My wife and I keep all of our dryer lint for making fires in our pit outback. I am looking to stuff paper towel rolls with lint for emergency tinder in a bug out bag situation. I will be sealing it in zip locked bag to keep it dry. The lint will be the first step to create a fire and the tube will be the next easiest piece to catch.

When the conditions are wet, some individuals use cotton balls and other will use cotton balls dipped in petroleum jelly as a fire starter.  It is key to have dry tinder. I usually keep something flammable in my bag to help to get the fire going. Crayons are good way to keep a small flame going. Light the paper and the wax will keep it from burning too quickly. Worst case, take lint off of your cotton garments and use that for tinder.

The main thing you need to go along with the tinder is enough of various sizes of dry wood. I keep a few knives in my truck at all times. In case of emergency where I am stranded, I can always at least make a fire. I use the knife or hatchet(don’t keep in my truck but should) and a blow-stick to hit the back of the blade with. Using this hammer and wedge method will allow you to slice your firewood into various sizes to have a better chance of success of getting the fire started. You can also use the knife to create wood shavings for tinder.

My main spark for fire is my fire steel. Some people will make fun of me but I have the Bear Grylls Fire Starter. Nice and compact and easy to use. I also have a magnesium fire starter. It does burn great, but trying to shave the magnesium into a small pile and start a spark into it usually sends all the shavings flying. Maybe I get too close to do it. Maybe I am not doing it correctly, but I am not a fan of the magnesium fire starter. I have waterproof matches, but not a great concept for a long term scenario.

I was that guy who just used lighter fluid and matches to get fire started. Those days are done (mostly) because there will be a time I need a fire but don’t have anything to start it with. Finding different methods that work. I have not tried the following methods: fire piston, bow drill, or with steel wool and a 9 volt battery. Now, the most interesting one I have never tried are Doritos.  The oils that the chips are cooked in soak into the chip and should be able to light that oil on fire and the chips will burn.

Practice your methods of fire starting, along with the rest of your survival skills, You never know when you will need to use them in a life or death situation. Go, live life, and enjoy your freedom.

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Survival Multiplier

What does survival multiplier mean? Survival multiplier is a skill or characteristic that one possesses that gives him or her an advantage in a situation. In a physical fight, if one of the fighters had extensive hand to hand combat training, then that would be their survival multiplier.

How do we gain a survival multiplier? People enroll in many different courses to gain an advantage over an obstacle or an opponent. I wish I thought of this when I was in college, I would have signed up for some of the recreation and combat classes Texas Tech offered. I did not. Others sign up for courses in building and construction trade, cooking, botany, survival schools, and many other courses that allow them to learn a skill or a trade that one day will help them survive. Some people read books and watch educational videos.

What happens when you do not have time or money to enroll in all these different courses? What do you do?  If you are like me, I eat, sleep, and work. I don’t have much time outside the normal work day to do anything extra (until summer break). So, I take the time at lunch and my break to watch videos (mainly YouTube) to learn different things. You have to be wary of which videos you do watch. For instance, I recently watched videos on canning, so I made sure it was filmed or sponsored by a canning company like Balls or Kerr Jar Co. Many people out there have techniques and practices, but some of them don’t know their elbow from their earhole.

I believe many people forget one of the characteristics they need in order to survive, and that would be they need to be physically fit. You may not need to have 10% body fat, be able to run a marathon, or bench press 350 lbs but I do believe you need to be able to manipulate your body enough to get in and out of tight spots. For about a year now, I have been running. I am also starting Insanity Max. I am embarrassed that I have not done it much lately because I came down with the flu and tournament season in softball (I teach/coach high school students) got me off track. Spring Break starts this evening. I will try to get back on track with my fitness this coming week.

Other skills I believe are considered my survival multipliers are able to build and fix most things, cook, sew, fire starting from various methods, not afraid to scavenge for materials, and the ability to problem solve. My wife is one of my best survival multipliers because she comes up with ideas for me to try, usually from Pinterest. I play ‘podcasts’ while I am travelling to learn about things, or at least have a chance to spark ideas on how to improve items I already have.

Growing up, I had many different adults in my life, and I learned a great deal of skills from them. If you consider yourself a homesteader, a prepper, a survivor, or just an average person, there is one thing all of them need, and that is a teacher. I am not talking about a school teacher, but some do teach more than their content, but someone who you can listen to, imitate, and look up to in order to gain knowledge. Knowledge is the ultimate survival multiplier. Papa was a great teacher. Sometimes my brother and I would go fishing with him and learned different fishing skills, how to tie a knot on a hook, make our own fishing bait, or just watch our poles. He helped us one year roof our house and showed us how shingles were supposed be laid down. I wish I was able to spend a little more time with him, but he passed few years ago. I inherited some of his woodworking tools because he thought I would use them. I try to honor him by keeping his tradition of building gifts instead of buying them. I may have replaced some of the tools but it isn’t the tool, it’s the tradition.

I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for every situation, but I think with the proper training and learning, you can problem solve your way out of most situations. I tell the students in my classes, sometimes it is not the content we are learning, the teachers are trying to teach you problem solving skills through our content. I teach geometry, which I believe is a very relevant subject to know. Many industries and jobs require some level of geometric knowledge in order for the worker to be successful.

(Picture of a sword and shield I made for my sons.)

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What Direction To Go?

You hear about people getting lost in the woods, desert, or just went missing for other reasons. Why does this happen? Some of these missing people are never heard of again or their remains are found years later. Are we so different than the animals in the wild?

Birds, fish, and other migratory animals have an instinct on where they need to go, even if the countryside has changed. Do humans have this ability? I believe some individuals have a better sense of direction than others. When we travel somewhere that we have been years before, I usually remember the route. My wife makes light of it, and I usually say “Don’t you remember?” Can we learn a sense of direction or are we a society evolving to be directionally challenged?

Historically, humans have been able to get from point A to point B. Indigenous tribes travel, sometimes great distances, to hunt food, follow the migration of animals, or because natural disasters. During the 1800’s, Americans migrated westward during the Westward Expansion. Direction was key. If you went too far north, the wagon train froze. If you went too far south, you may have ran into tribes of American Indians. If you went at the wrong time, you had catastrophes like the Donner Party.

What do we do when migration in developed societies cease to exist? Do we have an inherited sense of direction? Is it learned? Some people go to survival schools in order to learn survival skills. One session that should be taught is mapping. The time spent teaching map skills does not make you an expert, but it is a start. The instructors, hopefully are trained extensively, took years to learn their skills. To practice is to learn, to teach is to master. We are starting our boys at an early age.  My 2 sons (2 and 4 years old) are always pointing out stores, restaurants, and other landmarks when we are driving. My wife and I usually quiz them on where are we going? What is over there? We want them to explore their surrounding. I think If we let the 4 year old out somewhere near his school, he could make it to school on his own. We would not do that, of course, because it’s a pretty busy road with train tracks running through, construction of an overpass, and the fact of he’s 4 years old.

With being a high school coach, we travel throughout our region for games. I have worked for 3 different schools in 3 totally different areas, so I am becoming more aware of my state. I know back roads, side roads, and ways to get to my destination when there are no roads. Sometimes I think I am turning into my dad. He worked for years as a truck driver, picking up and delivering loads between Houston, TX and Kansas. He seemed to have everything mapped out in his head. This happens because of the countless trips and hundreds of thousands of miles that he drove to provide for the family.

Are we evolving to be without direction? Look at society. Cell phones, GPS, and other electronic gadgets guiding us are the norm. Bluetooth linking your electronic map to your vehicle speakers are making travelling easier, but dumbing down the navigation part of the trip. “In 200 yards, turn right.” Even the cars nowadays dumb down the driving experience with lane departure, emergency vehicle braking, self parking, and numerous other features.

As technology increase, the ability of us to think for ourselves decreases. We can’t add, subtract, multiply or divide. As those basic traits decrease, so will skills for survival. We can travel the same road that everyone else is stuck on, or we can pave our own road. “Roads… Where we are going, we don’t need roads.” Doc Brown from Back to the Future said it exactly. I think it was more of a metaphor for living than the literal aspect of the flying Delorean (which would be cool though).  Have a philosophy to live by, know the direction you are going, and pave a new path for you and yours.

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Daily Travel- Survival For Breakdowns

I think being prepared when travelling started in college(1999-2004). I had an 1986 Toyota 4Runner that I bought from a man who purchased it in 1986. This gentleman made meticulous people look messy. He had every document for the truck and documented everything he did down to adding air to the tires.  He had a tote in the back of extra parts, including but not limited to radiator hoses, spark plugs, wires, light bulbs, and various fuses. This was nice because I was, like most of you, broke and couldn’t afford to buy parts to fix the truck or have it tow. I would go back every month and half or so to visit family, and fill my belly with something other than Ramen noodles. My trips would be through the country and 60 miles between 2 towns on a stretch of it. So a breakdown would definitely be a bad thing.

Every vehicle since then, I have had a tool box to give me a chance to fix things on the side of the road. I haven’t gone as far as having spare parts for every vehicle, but I do carry more survival items. I travel 130 miles a day for work, and sometimes in the late evening. Most of the roads I am on are frequently travelled. Even if the roads are travelled, I do carry things that would keep my alive if something does go wrong. In my truck, I have a fixed blade hunting knife, fire starters, water filtration straw (Life Straw), tarp, water bottles, jacket, gloves, beanie, sometimes a bat (depending if we are in season–high school coach), extra clothes and many more items.

My biggest survival item are my boots that I wear daily. Tennis shoes don’t hold up when trying to hike or go through unforgiving terrain. I wear 5.11 ATAC 8″ boots to teach in. I know the kids mentioned them a time or two but they are comfortable, especially standing and walking on concrete floor during the school day. In my school bag, I also carry a small first aid kit, something for minor bumps and bruises. I am starting to carry a little extra food, just for those times.

My truck, 2006 F150 with the 5.4L, is getting up in years and mileage (109,000). A week ago, the motor blew a spark plug completely out of the head. Good thing was that a Ford dealership did the plugs because they are know to break on you when you are replacing them (they broke 3 of mine). After reading about the situation, this seems to be a design flaw by Ford. I had to take it back to Ford this past Friday because of a check engine light. She is getting old but she still needs to last longer, so repairs are in the future. If you know me, I HATE letting others do what I can do, but I do want the warranty on the repairs.

I have not really put together a BUG OUT bag. Although I am falling behind on this, I usually have enough gear in my truck to get me home if something does happen. I usually have a duffle bag full of clothes, from shorts to balaclavas, because you never know what weather you will get here in Texas. I coach and teach for a living and I need to make sure I have enough gear for any type of weather. I usually have a jar of peanut butter in my lunch bag because I eat a banana and peanut butter on my long trip home everyday instead of stopping off at McDonalds. Addition to the gear bag, I do have my backpack for my school gear. A laptop will not do much in survival, but the information on it is invaluable. In the near future, I will do a post on a bug out bag.