Prepper: 5 Preparedness Skills Every Woman Should Know
Here is the latest coming from the prepper world...
Situational AwarenessFor years I walked around with my head down and just went with the flow. I didn’t take notice to the people around me or my situation. It would have been very easy for anyone to walk up behind me and take my purse, or worst case scenario, attack one of my children or myself. Times changed though and so did I. I started taking notice to cars in the parking lot, people in the store or someone pulling up our dirt lane when I knew no one else was around. Being aware of our situation, puts us at an advantage, especially when something seems off.
The other evening my husband and I were in the drive-thru at one of our fast food places. The man in front of us was upset at the cashier and demanding his money back. She was trying to explain the procedure to him because it was after midnight, things work a little differently. He became belligerent and got out of his car, screaming at the girl inside. She told him she was calling the police and immediately closed the drive-thru window and he proceeded to bang on it. I was a bit nervous, but I knew to remove myself from the situation. I knew to take down his licence plate number in case he decided to drive off and I knew we needed to put as much distance between our car and this guy. There was no way I wanted my husband or myself in the middle of that situation. Luckily, it didn’t turn into anything major, the cops arrived, we got our food and we moved on. But, this man could have been armed and it could have turned out a lot worse than it did.
Women need to be aware of what’s going on around them. Sitting in your car to go through your receipts, your purse, jot down your purchases in your checkbook are dangerous habits to form. Attackers will use this as an opportunity to strike. Too many people think that women can’t protect themselves and unfortunately they think we are all victims. We need to be sure we can identify an attacker and we need to be sure we can observe the situation fully, remove ourselves if we are able to and be able to defend ourselves if it comes to that.
Self-DefenseKnowing how to defend yourself with your body is an important skill to have. Whether you are a concealed carrier or not, you may find yourself in a situation where you don’t have a weapon to help you and you may have to use other skills to protect yourself. We recently signed our 14-year-old daughter and 8-year-old daughter up for self-defense classes. I want to do everything I can in my power to be sure that they can defend themselves if someone should decide to attack them. Check online and see what types of self-defense courses are offered in your area. Most self-defense classes will cover: avoiding high risk situations, assessing your aggressor, disarming your aggressor, breaking free, choking defense, defense from the ground, defense in the dark, different striking techniques, and pressure points. By taking self-defense classes, it’s just one more skill in your arsenal to be sure you can protect yourself.
Armed DefenseThank God we have our 2nd Amendment right to protect ourselves! Sometimes, regardless of how trained you are in self-defense techniques, you may find you have to protect yourself using your firearm. But you can’t do this effectively if you don’t know how to use your gun, if you aren’t comfortable with your gun and if you haven’t practiced. There are many places across the country that offer firearm safety courses and some even offer classes just for women. All places will offer beginner classes and many offer advanced training as well. You can visit the NRA online or the gun shop you purchased your firearm from for information about who holds classes in your area. Be sure to also check out your local ranges and make a commitment to take the time to practice with your gun. Even if you’ve owned it for a long time, it’s good to stay on top of your training!
Home SecurityI’m not talking about a home security system here, although I do believe everyone should have one. We do need to be alerted somehow that someone is trying to get into our home. This gives us time to be able to grab what we need to protect ourselves. Taking extra measures doesn’t hurt though!
- Figure out what is the easiest place to break into your home and then take measures to secure that area.
- Keep all windows low to the ground locked.
- Put dead bolts on all access doors.
- Do not keep a hidden key outside.
- Keep your doors locked, even when you are home. I used to get nervous about the kids just walking inside after school with no key. I made sure my older kids had keys and I started keeping my door locked. If anyone would have seen my children just walking in, they’d know our door was unlocked and that was an open invitation to them.
- Install cameras – These here are pretty good ones that are relatively inexpensive.
- Lighting – Look around outside for spots that are hidden and dark. Installing lights to brighten up those areas will deter someone who is trying to break into your home. Install motion detector lights on your porch and near your doors.
- Don’t leave your garage door open. Anyone driving by will be able to see what you own and many burglars do this to scope out areas. Also, Google Earth takes pictures and if your garage door is open, it could end up on the internet for the world to see.
Personal Bug-Out PlanI am a stay at home and although The Patriot Dad also works at home, we are not always together. I am often here alone with one or more of my children. Faced with the fact that there may come a time that I may have to leave here without my husband, I needed to put a plan in place. Having a family communication and bug-out plan in place will help with the specifics of this part. However, I do realize not everyone will be bugging out with family, and they need to come up with a plan as well. Mapping out your plan of where will you go, how will you get there, what and who will you take with you and do you have your bug-out bag packed and ready? You can write all of this down, share it with your family and friends that are part of your plan and keep it in your home management/family preparedness plan binder.
Every women should know how to protect themselves and their loved ones. When we take the right steps towards being able to do this, that is true empowerment!
5 Winter Survival Skills That Will Keep You Warm, Dry … and Alive
Every different climate delivers a unique set of challenges in a survival scenario, and winter is no exception. If you aren’t too careful, the frigid wind and cold can immobilize you with frostbite and then kill you off with hypothermia.
In this article, we are going to look at five specific skills that you absolutely must have in order to survive when you’re stuck outdoors during winter.
1. Getting a fire going … and keeping it going
Knowing how to start a fire is an important skill to have in any survival scenario, but it’s extra important during winter. If you are ever wet and cold, a fire may be the only thing that gives you a chance of surviving. You also need a fire to dry out any damp clothing.
Unfortunately, it’s harder to build and maintain a fire during winter. The ground often is blanketed in snow or ice and the wood that is above the ground is saturated with moisture, too. On top of that, there could be high winds that put any spark you manage to create out in an instant. So how are you supposed to start a fire during winter?
The answer is to keep cotton balls that are coated in Vaseline with you at all times – especially during winter. These are highly flammable and will be a lifesaver in a winter survival situation. (They’re also inexpensive.) You’ll also need something to cause a spark, such as a ferro rod. But this is just the solution to getting a fire going. How can you keep that fire maintained?
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Construct a pit into the snow that is approximately two feet deep. This is so that the walls of the pit will protect the flames from the wind. The bottom of this pit should then be covered with logs and sticks. Next, set some tinder and your Vaseline cotton balls on top of these logs.
If all of the wood that you find is already wet, then use a knife or a hatchet to cut into it and see if there’s any drier kindling that you can get from the inside. Then, set up your kindling in a pyramid. This will allow the wood to dry and then burn faster.
The technique above might save your life.
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2. Building a warm-enough shelter
This is another survival skill that is important in any situation — but arguably more so in a winter scenario. During winter – unlike other seasons — you have to keep yourself warm and dry. For these reasons, you would be wise to spend more time working on your winter shelter than, say, your summer shelter.
Your shelter should be constructed in a site that is flat and on higher ground, with plenty of trees for cover from falling snow and wind. The trees also provide the natural resources you’ll need to build your winter shelter.
One of the best winter shelters to make is one that has natural cover, such as the boughs of a tree. You can dig around the trunk of the tree underneath the lowest boughs, so that the branches spread above you protect you from the snow and wind. The snow walls would then provide additional protection, and you can even set up a little place for you to make a small fire.
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3. Maintaining a proper body temperature
During winter, it’s easy to get too cold – but also too hot. Wear an outer shell layer that deflects the wind and the coldness, an insulation layer that keeps your body warm, and then a final layer that sticks right to your skin. When you’re traveling through the snow with all of this clothing on you, you can easily overexert yourself. The sweat will then freeze and make you at risk for both frostbite and hypothermia.
Keep close attention to your body temperature and add and remove layers as needed. If it is snowing or raining, wear all three layers so that your shell layer can keep your inner two layers dry. But when you’re traveling out in the sun or working on building a shelter, remove one or more layers so that your body can cool down and avoid perspiration.
4. Making snow goggles
While we most commonly use sunglasses during summer conditions, the ice and snow during winter can reflect the rays of the sun back to your eyes – essentially blinding you. If you don’t have snow goggles or sunglasses with you already, then you’ll need to know how to make them on your own, out of natural resources.
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The easiest snow goggles to construct are made out of birch bark. Birch bark is best for snow goggles because it can be removed from the trunk of the tree in sheets. Cut out a sheet of bark and then cut small slits in it for your eyes.
Next, cut holes into the sides of it so that it can be tied around your face. It may not sound like much, but these simple DIY goggles will provide your eyes with the protection they need when the sun is out.
5. Building a pair of snowshoes
Snowshoes distribute your weight over a larger area so that your foot will not completely sink into the snow. If you’ve ever tried to walk through a winter forest without snowshoes, you know how exhausting and time-consuming it is. Snowshoes will save you a lot of time and energy.
If you don’t already have a pair of snowshoes with you, you’ll need to make some on your own. The simplest form of DIY snowshoes are groups of boughs that are tied together and then lashed onto the feet. More traditional snowshoes will require some time and energy to build. You’ll need to find a long, flexible stick that you can bend and then tie at the end, followed by crisscrossing the insides of the snow with more sticks, vines, and/or rope.
Cooking Off Grid With a Wood Burning StoveAs much as I enjoy reading and learning about living off-grid, nothing interests me more than off-grid cooking using a wood burning stove. Sure, there are rocket stoves, and all sorts of grills available for use outdoors but it is a big, beautiful, antique-style wood-burning stove sitting in the kitchen that captures my imagination.
Alas, at present I do not have the space to add a full-sized wood burning stove to my modern kitchen. That does not preclude my desire to learn as much as I can about off-grid cooking using wood and biomass.
Today I am thrilled to bring us one step closer to learning our way around an off-grid kitchen.
Some of you may remember the article One Man’s Perspective From Living Off Grid. In it, you were introduced to Ron Melchiore and his lifelong commitment to living off the land. Much to my delight and to our benefit, today his wife, Joanna shares her experience maintaining and flourishing with an off-grid kitchen!
The Off-Grid KitchenFor over 30 years I’ve been faced with meal planning and preparation while living off-grid. My husband’s book Off Grid and Free-My Path to the Wilderness, has a short chapter devoted to our wood burning cookstove but I’ll elaborate on some of the finer points of my off-grid cooking experiences.
I grew up in a typical house and learned how to cook and bake with an electric range. When I met Ron, moved to Maine and began homesteading, he already had an antique wood cook stove set up in the kitchen and I learned how to use that stove to cook and bake. Believe it or not mastering the wood cookstove was not that difficult.
When we moved to a remote lake in the wilderness that’s accessible only by float plane, I remained committed to cooking with a wood stove. An electric stove was out of the question due to its high energy consumption. A gas model was of no interest either. Cylinders of gas need to be purchased and flown in by bush plane, an expensive proposition. If propane ever becomes in short supply or unavailable, we’ll be completely unaffected.
Since we are surrounded by acres and acres of firewood available free for the taking, a wood cookstove is by far the most practical choice for us.
I use my kitchen woodstove every day, spring, summer, fall and winter. I do all of my canning, baking, and meal preparation with this appliance. The stove was brand spanking new when we bought it 16 years ago. It came with a warming oven, water reservoir tank attached to the right-hand side and a water jacket installed in the firebox.Wilderness canning on a wood stove
This means the stove is plumbed so water pipes run to the firebox and then back out to a 45-gallon hot water storage tank. Every time I make a fire to cook, can or bake, I’m also heating our home’s water so that we have hot running water at both sink faucets and the shower. What an off-grid luxury! The set up is also very efficient as I’m getting the most I can out of each piece of firewood.
I have a set of good quality stainless steel pots with heavy bottoms in various sizes ranging from small saucepans up to stock pots. But my favorite cookware is cast iron.
I have an assortment of skillets passed down from Ron’s Grandmothers and my Mom which range from 6″ up to 12″. The largest pans hang on hooks from the ceiling on either side of my stove for easy access. Depending on what I’m making, I’ll employ several Dutch ovens differing in size from 8″ to 13″ in diameter. The biggest Dutch oven accommodates our Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas ham. After butchering, I also use it to render fat scraps prior to soap making.
My most prized cast iron piece is my antique waffle maker. A ring holds the lidded waffle iron in such a way that I can pivot the waffle iron back and forth so both top and bottom of the waffle cook evenly over the open fire. What a neat device! A muffin pan, griddle, and corn stick pan round out my cast iron collection.
Seasoning cast iron assures a non-stick surface and keeps the cooking vessel from rusting. Seasoning is the process of baking on a thin coating of grease. I use either oil or shortening. I wouldn’t trade any of my cast iron for Teflon or T-fal coated pans.
Because we live so remote, we only shop twice a year. This means I make virtually all of our bread and other baked goods from scratch. Fortunately, anything can be cooked on or in a wood cookstove: yeast breads and rolls, coffeecakes, muffins, biscuits, sweet breads such as pumpkin and cranberry bread as well as cakes, cookies, pies and crisps. Roasts, stews, soups, casseroles and even pizza are all possible with a wood cookstove.
What do I cook and what do we eat?
I tend to make items that feature ingredients we grow or that grow wild. For example, we are surrounded by an abundance of wild blueberries and cranberries and I make numerous things with these fruits: blueberry muffins, pancakes, pies, and crisps; cranberry muffins and bread and of course cranberry sauce.
Through summer, we eat from the garden enjoying each veggie as it comes into season. First are radishes and early greens of lettuce and spinach, followed by peas, broccoli, zucchini and beans. By the end of summer, we are blessed with an abundance of corn, tomatoes, peppers and even cantaloupes. Our gardens yield such a bounty, I’m never lacking for the makings of a meal.
This time of the year, the garden has long been put to bed, but it continues to feed us. Not just from the produce I’ve canned and frozen, but also from the good winter keepers stored in the root cellar: potatoes, carrots, celery, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.Who wouldn’t want a pantry filled with home-canned goodness?
We eat a lot of cabbage in the fall and early winter. It stores well, we love it, and it’s a versatile vegetable since it can be used in so many ways: in soups, as side dishes, in casseroles, as an entree such as cabbage rolls and in many salads such as various slaws. I’ve included one of our favorite cabbage recipes. I haven’t included measurements because in all honesty when I make this, I never measure. I just sprinkle on the seasonings. Figure one wedge of cabbage as a serving and go from there.
Wedges of cabbage, core removed
Cajun spice( chili powder can be substituted)
Salt and pepper
Thin slices of fresh garlic
In cast iron Dutch oven, put about 1/2″ of water. Arrange cabbage wedges in bottom. Sprinkle liberally with Cajun spice, salt and pepper.
Put several slices of garlic on each wedge ( we like garlic so I put 3-4 slices on each wedge but you may prefer less). Top wedges with bacon, about 1/3 to 1/2 strip per wedge. Cover Dutch oven with lid.
Bake 350 degrees 1 hour. Enjoy!
~~~Ron and his wife currently live 100 miles in the Canadian wilderness on a remote lake. As part of the back to the land movement that originated in the 70’s, they have spent their adult years living the homestead dream. You can follow and contact Ron and Johanna on Facebook or at their website, http://www.inthewilderness.net/
The Final WordAfter reading about how Joanna cooks, cans, bakes, and heats her home with a wood burning stove, I am super-fired up (no pun intended) about expanding my outdoor cooking repertoire. Cooking with propane is one thing, but wood? This is one more skill that hope to really master.
For those of you that are enamored with vintage wood stoves, or even modern wood stoves, you can find a bunch of really cool pictures over on my Pinterest page, Vintage Kitchens, Stoves and Sewing Machines. Don’t blame me if you start to drool!
6 Old-Fashioned Ways to Predict the Weather
Guys and Gals, we’re going to cover the weather in this article: how important it is to forecast for bugging out, for your retreat location, and for your operations in a survival scenario. There is no foolproof method to determine the weather, as it is constantly changing with the introduction of many variables. You can, however, utilize certain clues in your surroundings as well as arm yourself with knowledge of how the weather works and how to determine changes that are significant for you.In some of these cases, depending on your locale, determining the weather can be a matter of life or death. Here in the Rocky Mountains, you need to know when the snowstorms are coming in, as well as the arctic storms and the serious drops in temperature. If you’re in the outdoors or at home here, you are subject to the temperature and the amount of precipitation and must adjust accordingly either with protective clothing, cessation of travel, or increased measures to protect and heat your home.
Firstly, pick yourself up some kind of reference material on the weather. Keep it simple and perhaps pocket-sized. I really like the old “Zim” guides by Herbert S. Zim on a multitude of subjects ranging from weather to fossils. They’re pocket guides that you can slip into a Ziploc bag to protect that give you information at your fingertips. Always work from low-tech to high-tech. Your Garmin or your Internet-connected Cell Phone are paperweights without power or if they are smashed.
6 Old-Fashioned Ways to Forecast the Weather
Cloud readingThis is a great way to determine the changing weather patterns that help you forecast ahead of time. Usually, you can figure out what is going on about 12-18 hours out, or longer. When clouds clump, the weather will dump. An increase in cloud size and thickness usually mean the weather is heading south. Know your types of clouds, as follows:
Cirrus: long, high swirls, usually indicators of fairly good weather.
Cumulus: these are the puffed-up “cotton-ball” types of clouds. These when gray (especially in the morning) usually herald a rainstorm. When they form an “anvil” with a flattened bottom, they have changed/denigrated into cumulonimbus clouds, and this means heavy rain with electrical discharges (lightning), and sometimes hail.
Stratus: these have no true top or base, and are unformed layers. These clouds are usually precursors to activity within 24-48 hours, with their graying and massing being late indicators that they are ready to dump some rain or precipitation on you.
The faster the cloud movements across the sky, the greater the change in the wind velocity, usually followed by a change in barometric pressure. Factors such as temperature, humidity, and wind are heavily affected and influenced by the sun. Air rises in the mornings and falls at night. The ground is heated up, and the heat rises, as the cooler air stays closer to the earth when the sun departs. Terrain is a major part of this, as mountains will block or impede air flow, and valleys will hold on to moisture and cold air a lot more readily. Elevation is another big factor, as the temperature of the air decreases by 5.5 degrees for every thousand feet of elevation.
There are some tools you can pick up to help you. An anemometer measures wind speed. It is a four-tined device shaped akin to an “x” with equal parts with cups attached to the ends. As the wind blows, the anemometer measures the speed of the wind. The person recording should continuously note steady wind speed as opposed to gusts, that occur less frequently.
Another good tool is a barometer, that measures the change in air pressure. You may have to search a little to find a good one that is not computerized. Mine was made in West Germany (yeah, it’s that old!) with a little needle you can adjust to mark where the air pressure is, and then (with time’s passage) to see whether the pressure is rising or falling. I stress once again, pick up a model with glass and brass and the needles…no batteries required.
A good sturdy thermometer is also a useful tool to have. Most are “El Cheapo” Chinese-made pieces of junk. There are good ones to be found in scientific supply companies. Anything made by the Germans or Japanese are usually top-flight. Compact, sturdy, and legible are the qualities you’re looking for.Let’s also explore some other methods to forecast what will occur that are indicators of the natural world. Here’s a few:
Mosquitoes, No-see-um’s, and Black FliesThese guys really bug you, no pun intended, to their maximum potential about 12 hours before a major storm…and they’ll hightail about an hour before the storm hits. Yes, it works. You don’t know when it’s coming, but they do, and by watching them…you’ll know.
The CricketYes, they’re a pain in the backside when you’re trying to sleep, but you can determine the temperature from them. The number of chirps by a cricket over 14 seconds, you add the number 40 to it. Say the cricket chirps 40 times in 14 seconds, then add 40 to that, and the temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This is accurate to within 1-2 degrees most of the time.
Your CampfireIf the campfire’s smoke is sort of akin to a fog…close to the ground and oozing away toward the rest of the woods? This indicates the potential for rain, because there is a low-pressure system in your area. If the smoke rises straight into the air, it’s high-pressure that is in your area, and the weather will most likely be good.
FrogsIn the spring and summertime, the increased sounds of frogs singing indicates an increased humidity…just prior to the weather heading south. As the low-pressure system moves in, the humidity in the air increases and allows these guys to stay out of the water longer (they breathe through their skin).
Animals and BirdsSense the approach of storms and (with the former) usually seek shelter out of open areas, or (with the latter) fly to a safer position, such as a tree branch or a niche in the rocks or cliffs.
We haven’t delved into the tactical considerations for knowing the weather. That will be covered in a future article, as it is beyond the scope of what you need for an introduction. Wind, temperature, humidity, and altitude are the factors for consideration when you’re shooting, specifically, when distance shooting for accuracy. All of these factors influence, or are influenced by the weather.
So, in conclusion, we have covered some basics to start you with weather forecasting. Whether you’re in a field environment in a backpacking or camping mode, or just trying to figure out whether you can repair the shingles on your barn before the rain hits, it is important to gauge what you see and compare it to what will be.
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