Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Complete Book of Disaster Readiness

Do you have a complete survival plan? Do you know where to start toward setting one up? This book might help you get going.
by Leon Pantenburg
The most common question from beginners has got to be: "How do I get started being prepared for disasters?"
aaaaaBut there is no easy answer because of the tremendous variables among individuals. Generally, my suggestion is that the newcomer start by thinking about it.

For that, a good book may be the place to start. Unfortunately "Doomsday Preppers" and other shows have made preparedness and survivalism trendy, and that means everybody is going to get on the bandwagon. Many opportunists are looking to write a book and make a quick buck.
Recently, I read "The Prepper's Complete Book of Disaster Readiness" by Jim Cobb, and I was impressed with the quality, depth and broadness of information.
The book starts, as it should, with the idea of creating a survival mindset. Often this critical aspect of survival is glossed over or neglected. IMO, the mindset is absolutely critical to surviving anything, and Cobb devotes a good bit of space to this.
Cobb also offers sound advice on water storage, food, shelter home defense strategies, bug out plans, offsite survival retreats and wilderness survival skills. Most importantly, Cobb promotes coming up with a survival plan that will work for the individual.
Here's where the book shines:
  • Survival kits: Nobody will ever agree on the best survival kit, nor should they. Each kit needs to be individualized, based on strengths and weaknesses. Cobb explores this topic thoroughly, and makes some sound suggestions. (Check out the survival kit videos.)
  • Water: The discussion is thorough and detailed. There are no exotic or impractical methods of water gathering discussed, and the storage section is excellent.
  • Food: The storage food topic has books written about it. Cobb's suggestions are very useful for a beginner to get started with. (View survival food videos.)
  • Firearms: I am a gun enthusiast and hunter and love anything that goes boom. And I am thoroughly bored with detailed discussions about what firearm is the best preparedness choice. Cobb devotes an appropriate amount of space to this topic, and I agree completely with his choices.
Too many preparedness books make vague, unsubstantiated statements, have no credible references and publish lists lifted from Wikipedia or other internet sources. The info supplied should be viewed with skepticism.
Cobb's book is solid, and can help a newcomer establish a baseline for preparedness. It would make a good addition to a prepper's library, and would be a good gift for someone interested getting started in preparedness.
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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Peter Kummerfeldt: Open My Eyes

Peter Kummerfeldt is an internationally-known wilderness survival expert (and a really nice guy) and when he comments on a technique, tool or book, I listen. Here Peter reviews the latest book by Brian Webb: "Open My Eyes."
by Peter Kummerfeldt
Brian Webb spent many years working in a number of capacities for the U.S. government. His duties took him to many parts of the world - some friendly and many not so friendly! In the course of his travels, often alone, Webb's safety was totally dependent on what he did to keep himself safe.
Open My Eyes captures the lessons he learned while on the road - lessons that kept him safe in some of the world's most dangerous places.
open my eyes
Chapters in Open My Eyes include:
- Understanding the dangers
- Perceptions and Intuition
- Pre-Travel Preparation
- Hotel Safety and Security
- Situational Awareness
- Foreign Travel
- Basics of Hostage Survival
............and many more.
Webb's concise, personal writing style makes this book "an easy read." If you adopt and practice the advice he gives, you will be far less
Brian Webb
Brian Webb
Brian Webb[/caption]
likely to have a problem when next you travel. Should something unpleasant happen, you'll be better equipped to handle it.
Unfortunately, many people fall into the trap of believing that nothing bad is ever going to happen to them and if it does, they will be able to muddle through somehow. They believe that if they get in trouble in the U.S. or overseas, someone is always going to come to their assistance.
In the "real world" bad things do happen to good people and sometimes no one comes to help. Take responsibility for your own safety - no one cares more about you than you do!
Webb specializes in conducting training sessions for those people about to depart on overseas Mission Trips. He can be contacted through his website IHS Training LLC
Peter Kummerfeldt has walked the talk in the wilderness survival field for decades.
Peter grew up in Kenya, East Africa and came to America in 1965 and joined the U.S. Air Force. He is a graduate of the Air Force Survival Instructor Training School and has served as an instructor at the Basic Survival School, Spokane, Washington; the Arctic Survival School, Fairbanks, Alaska, and the Jungle Survival School, Republic of the Philippines.
Peter Kummerfeldt has taught wilderness and urban survival for four decades.
Peter Kummerfeldt
Peter Kummerfeldt[/caption]
For twelve years, Peter was the Survival Training Director at the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado. He retired from the Air Force in 1995 after 30 years of service.
In 1992, concerned with the number of accidents that were occurring in the outdoors annually and the number of tourists traveling overseas who were involved in unpleasant and sometimes life-threatening incidents
He is the author of “Surviving a Wilderness Emergency” and has addressed over 25,000 people as the featured speaker at numerous seminars, conferences and national conventions.
Check out Peter’s blog at: OutdoorSafe.blogspot.com

The Prepper's Cookbook

So you have all these food storage supplies. Now what? How are you going to cook them?
by Leon Pantenburg
One of the most common questions from newbies related to food storage is: How do I cook the stuff?
Good question. After Y2K never happened in 2000, I was left with stores of food I was unfamiliar with using. So I just started.

preppers cookbookI learned to bake different types of bread to use up the flour. We ate a lot of fried rice and used the stored beans in chili, burritos and soups. I experimented with dried milk and eggs in cooking.
Using the familiar beans, rice and flour was easy. But some of the long term storage foods tend to be less intuitive and user-friendly. And this can create a problem.
It doesn't matter how much food you have - if you only know a couple ways to prepare it, your group can run the risk of developing food monotony.
This is a syndrome that can affect anyone, but particularly very young and old people. In some instances, people will just quit eating because they are so sick and tired of the same old food, meal after meal, day after day.
So it's a good idea to learn how to mix storage foods with fresh and that's why "The Prepper's Cookbook," by Tess Pennington is going to be so valuable to the prepared cook. Pennington is the founder of ReadyNutrition.com, a prepping website based out of Houston, Texas. She is a lifelong prepper.
The cookbook has 300 recipes to turn storage food into tasty meals. The recipes range from rice cereal to fish tacos to chicken pot pie. The selections are easy to prepare and quite good. (I love reviewing cookbooks - I enjoy reading them for content, and then trying out recipes for flavor.)
A couple of these sections I already had first-hand experience with, such as expanding canned goods meals. In collage, as a broke student who worked at a grocery store, I'd buy dented cans of food at a substantial discount. My roommates and I would stretch a can of Dinty Moore beef stew with a can of mixed vegetables and some instant rice. Or we'd take vegetable soup, and add cooked rice or a can of corn or peas.
Either of these recipes can easily double the volume of a can. The cookbook has a page of suggested stretch recipes.
Other sections include recipes for hot cocoa mix, spiced tea, rice pudding, 20 ways to eat beans and rice, and 25 ways to make interesting baked potatoes.
The book is an easy read, and entertaining. This would be a good addition to your storage food supplies, a great gift for a friend and you won't regret buying a copy for a reference book.

Andersonville Diary: Lessons from the Civil War

What does it take to survive? What are the rules of survival in an emergency situation or disaster? Most experts agree that the psychological aspect is more important than anything else. Here are some thoughts from a Civil War survival expert.
by Leon Pantenburg
Andersonville was one of many horrific Civil War prisons.
Andersonville was one of many horrific Civil War prisons.

When Dr. John Leach, published the groundbreaking "Survival Psychology" in 1982, he relied on a wide range of sources, including journals and diaries from the Civil War. "John Ransom's Andersonville Diary" was one of those sources, and Ransom's work is one of the first records of what it takes to develop a survivor attitude.
Leach studied survivors' reactions from many different disasters. Distilled down to one sentence, Leach's research found: Psychological responses to emergencies follow a pattern. In the case of John Ransom, we can learn a lot from a prisoner of war.

Prison camps
Ransom, brigade quartermaster of the Ninth Michigan Calvary, was 20 years old when he was captured in eastern Tennessee in 1863. He was first sent to the prison at Belle Isle, Virginia and then to Andersonville, Georgia.
Civil War prisons on both sides were hell holes. Best estimates, according to the book introduction, is that the Confederacy imprisoned, over-all, about 194,000 soldiers, of whom 36,400 died. The Union held some 220,000 Confederates, of whom 30,150 died.
Camp Sumpter at Andersonville, was among the worst.
Andersonville was one of the largest Confederate military prisons during the Civil War. During the 14 months the prison existed, according to the National Park Service, more than 45,000 Union soldiers were confined here. Of these, almost 13,000 died here.
The pen initially covered about 16-1/2 acres of land enclosed by a 15-foot high stockade of hewn pine logs. It was enlarged to 26- 1/2 acres in June of 1864. Flowing through the prison yard was a stream called Stockade Branch, which supplied water to most of the prison. The first prisoners

were brought to Andersonville in February, 1864, according to the park service. During the next few months approximately 400 more arrived each day until, by the end of June, some 26,000 men were confined in a prison area originally intended to hold 13,000. The largest number held at any one time was more than 32,000 in August, 1864.
Survival situations bring out a variety of reactions, Leach writes, including some that make the situation worse. Leach's studies show that only 10 to 15 percent of any group involved in any emergency will react appropriately. Another 10 to 15 percent will behave totally inappropriately and the remaining 70 to 80 percent will need to be told what to do.
The most common reaction at the onset of an emergency is disbelief and denial.
Here’s the typical disaster reaction progression, according to “Survival Psychology” and how it played out in Andersonville:
This 1993 recreation shows how the camp might have looked.
This 1994 recreation shows how the camp might have looked. (National Park service photo)

*Denial: The first reaction will probably be: “This can’t be happening to me!” This disbelief can cause people to stand around, doing nothing to save themselves. The 80 percenters in any survival situation will have to be ordered to help themselves.
Ransom noticed this bewilderment among newcomers to the prison pen. Some were literally frozen in place, making them easy prey for gangs of robbers.
"All are considerably surprised to find themselves in quite so bad a place," Ransom writes, and he mentions that many were incredulous they were supposed to live under those circumstances.
"A new prisoner fainted away at his entrance to Andersonville, and is now crazy, a raving maniac," he adds.
Another prisoner, Robert H. Kellogg, wrote about this denial at Andersonville in his book "Life and Death in Rebel Prisons":
"As we entered the place, a spectacle met our eyes that almost froze our blood with horror, and made our hearts fail within us. Before us were forms that had once been active and erect;—stalwart men, now nothing but mere walking skeletons, covered with filth and vermin. Many of our men, in the heat and intensity of their feeling, exclaimed with earnestness. "Can this be hell?" "God protect us!" and all thought that He alone could bring them out alive from so terrible a place. .. how we were to live through the warm summer weather in the midst of such fearful surroundings, was more than we cared to think of just then."
*Hypoactivity, defined as a depressed reaction; or hyperactivity, an intense but undirected liveliness: The depressed person will not look after himself or herself, Leach writes, and will probably need to be told what to do. The hyperactive response can be more dangerous because the affected person may give a misleading impression of purposefulness and leadership.
Many prisoners reached these states, Ransom writes, and would do crazy things. One man threw away all his clothing and possessions, Ransom observed, and walked around in a daze. Conversely, many would sink into deep depression, not take care of themselves and just die.
Andersonville, August, 1864 ( Library of congress photo)
Andersonville, August 1864

*Stereotypical behavior: This is a form of denial in which victims fall back on learned behavior patterns, no matter how inappropriate they are. The Boss may decide to continue in that role, even though he/she has no idea of what to do. Sadly, the underling may also revert to that subordinate role, even though he/she may be better prepared mentally.
This was a frequent occurrence, Ransom noted. Groups of solders would form "messes," frequently based on familiar squad structures. A sergeant might not have any skills in building a shelter or cooking under primitive conditions, but still end up as the leader.
"Being in these conditions brings out a man for just what he is worth," Ransom writes. " Those whom we expect the most from in the way of braving hardships and dangers, prove to be nobody at all. And very often those whom we we expect the least from prove to be heroes every inch of them."
Anger: A universal reaction, anger is irrational.
Psychological breakdown: This could be the most desperate problem facing a victim, and this stage is characterized by irritability, lack of interest, apprehension, psycho-motor retardation and confusion. Once this point is reached, the ultimate consequence may be death
Ransom and his comrades realized they were going to need a survival plan if any of them were to survive. They organized themselves immediately, and established a protocol for living in the prison.
By day three in Andersonville, Ransom's mess had already made rules:
"In our mess, we have established regulations, and any one not conforming with the rules is to be turned out of the tent. Must take plenty of exercise, keep clean, free as circumstances will permit of vermin, drink no water until it is boiled, which process purifies and makes it more healthy, are not to allow ourselves to get despondent, and must talk, laugh and make as light of our affairs as possible. Sure death for a person to give up and lose all ambition."
Sanitation in the crowded, filthy compound was critical, Ransom writes, and was incredibly important to survival.
"Some men are very filthy, which makes it disagreeable for those with more cleanly habits," he writes. "I believe that many, very many, who now die, would live if they adopted the rules that our mess has, and lived up to them. It is the only way to get along."
But the attitude that got Ransom through his captivity was one of optimism.
"Have been reading over the diary, and find nothing but grumbling and growlings. Had best enumerate some of the better things of this life. I am able to walk around the prison, though quite lame. Have black pepper to put in our soups. Am as clean, perhaps, as any here, with good friends to talk cheerful to. Am probably as well off as any here...and I should be thankful, and am thankful."
Order your copy of "John Ransom's Andersonville Diary" here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Prepper's Home Defence - Security Strategies to Protect Your Family by Any Means Necessary

Does your disaster preparation plan include security? This book can provide some solid information.
by Leon Pantenburg

Prepper's Home Defence is the latest publication from security expert Jim Cobb.
All your stockpiled food, clothing, medical supplies etc will be useless if someone comes takes it away from you.
How to prevent that , and ensure your personal safety, is the theme of Jim Cobb's latest book "Prepper's Home Defense," which came out in late 2012. Part of your preparedness planning must include some security measures.
Cobb's book shows you how to implement a complete plan for operational security and physical defense, including:
  • Perimeter security systems and traps
  • House fortifications and safe rooms
  • Secured and hidden storage
  • Firearms and defensive combat techniques
  • Gathering intelligence and forming alliances
All this information comes from the back cover. Cobb is a disaster readiness expert and has impressive credentials for writing this book. He worked almost 20 years in the security management and investigation fields. Cobb formerly wrote The Frugal Prepper column in Survivalist Magazine, and currently writes a daily blog for SurvivalGear.com. Cobb lives and works in the Upper Midwest.
Without resorting to a doom-and-gloom approach, Cobb supplies some valuable information. Having no way to test the information regarding fortifying a house, I'll have to take Cobb's suggestions at face value. And since I haven't had much to do with setting up trip wires, traps and safe rooms, I'll pass on commenting. I found the book to be well-written and informative, and I didn't have a struggle finishing it.
I found the security aspects very interesting and some of his tips will provide valuable info to readers with no background in security.
But in the areas I have some experience with, Cobb proves he knows his stuff. His section on firearms for defense is excellent. I appreciate how Cobb discusses the best gun deals for the money and how he doesn't necessarily recommend getting an assault rifle. Some of Cobb's weapons choices are similar to what I have used and recommend, so I know they work.
Likewise, the discussions about building, concealing and storing caches of food, weapons and equipment are excellent. Cobb discusses making caches out of PVC pipe and where to bury them. He also offers tips on how to keep people with metal detectors from finding a cache with metal objects in it.
The security and home defense aspect of preparedness are outside of my fields of expertise, and I need to learn more, so I'm glad there is a book like "Prepper's Home Defense" available. I will be reading this book again.
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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Alaska Homesteader's Handbook: Independent Living on the Last Frontier

Ever wonder how homesteaders in the Alaskan bush manage to get by in the extreme conditions? This book can give some insight.
by Leon Pantenburg
Check out this Altoid tin survival kit kit with knife!
The Alaska Homesteader's Handbook: Independent Living on the Last Frontier by Tricia Brown and Nancy Gates
My typical reaction to getting a new book in the mail is to leaf through the pages, and decide when (and if) I want to read it completely and do a review.
But The Alaska Homesteader's Handbook grabbed me from page one and held on for about 40 stories and a couple hours. My first impression, re-enforced through the writing, was that this book is a well-written, informative collection of useful knowledge. In addition, most of information would be valuable to homesteaders anywhere or to anyone interested in emergency preparedness.
The writing is superb, and the authors show the communications experience gained in years of newsroom publications.
Tricia Brown is a former writer and editor for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Magazine. She spent nearly 30 years traveling the state of Alaska writing about the state and the people.
Nancy Gates is an Alaska resident since the 1970s, and has written for various magazines such as We Alaskans, Alaska Magazine and the Cup of Comfort anthologies.
Together, the writers interviewed more than 40 pioneer types ranging in age from mid-90s to mid-20s, and compiled a series of how-to articles that covers everything from building an outhouse, to skinning a moose to baking sourdough bread.
The publication is lavishly illustrated with drawing and photographs that enhance the information.
Some of the people interviewed were actual homesteaders. Others were bush-dwellers and/or city dwellers. The common attraction was the adventure of living in Alaska.
Homesteaders anywhere can appreciate the challenges of off grid living and self sufficiency. But in Alaska, you also have to factor in extreme isolation, arctic weather, incredible storms, and predators that can kill you.
Obviously, Alaska is not for everybody, but most of the homestead lessons could be applied anywhere. In the book, you can learn:
  • How to put in a running winter water hole that will work at -50 degrees
  • Spinning dog fur: What breeds produce the best hair, and techniques for processing it
  • How to keep moose out of the garden
  • Tips for getting started in trapping
  • Smoking salmon
  • How to start a chainsaw
  • Getting started in off-grid living
  • Set up a backcountry first aid kit
As someone who loves esoteric knowledge and timeless homesteading and survival skills, this book fascinated me. In addition to being an interesting read, the book could also serve as preparedness manual.
For people not yet interested in preparedness, this publication could provide that final nudge. Chances are experienced outdoorspeople will learn a lot too.
The Alaska Homesteader's Handbook is going in my preparedness library, and I'd recommend you get a copy too.
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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Relocate! 25 Great Bug Out Communities

On of the common plans of many survivalists has to do with "bugging out," or leaving the scene of a disaster. But the most important question should be: Where do you go?
by Leon Pantenburg
The C.T. Fischer four-inch Bushcraft is a great choice for an all-around, everyday carry knife. Check it out!

Relocate! 25 Great Bug Out Communities by Dave Stebbins
The whole Bug-Out scenario generally centers around large urban areas. It goes something like this: You must leave your urban home to go somewhere else. It could be there was a flood, fire, pandemic, earthquake or some other large-scale emergency that forces you to evacuate.
Assuming you have individual emergency backpacks and gear, a vehicle with gas in it, and roads that can be traveled, where would you go?

A common - and dangerous - misconception is that of "heading for the hills." In this situation, the intent is to head to the nearest wilderness area, and blend into the landscape.
In reality, a trailhead may be the last place you want to end up. I have been to many backcountry wilderness trailheads prior to opening day of elk season. Some of these, 25 miles or more from the nearest paved road or town, resembled gridlocked parking lots, as outfitters parked horse trailers and SUVs and pickups jockeyed for parking places. I could only imagine the scene if a bunch of desperate, hungry, unprepared city people got that far.
Author Stebbins practices what he preaches. He has lived for the past 12 years off the grid in a small town. He teaches renewable energy classes in a community college, and his suggestion is that you relocate BEFORE an emergency to some small town or rural area. Stebbins' book is about finding a community before you have to deal with unprepared hordes of refugees.
Specifically, he recommends 25 communities throughout the United States that could meet your relocation needs. Naturally, this is a small cross-sampling, but Stebbins mentions some small town characteristics worth looking for.
To someone considering relocation, Stebbins suggests moving as soon as possible. The best idea, he claims, is to find a place you genuinely would enjoy living, with affordable housing, low crime, and access to healthcare, churches and recreational areas.
Move now, Stubbins recommends, so you become part of a community and learn to get along with the local people whom you will have to depend upon. Then, if the unthinkable happens, you already have your support group in place.
A nice feature of the book is that the representative communities are located all over the country, ranging from high desert to heavily-forested lowlands. Far from large population areas, these suggested communities allow you to start your initial shopping.
I'd suggest taking a look at climate first. Someone who would not want to relocate to a tropical climate might like the snowy northwest. Whatever your climate preferences, there is sure to be a community listed in the book you would like.
Some of the things Stubbins ranks communities on include: medium housing costs, school quality, weather. and unemployment rate. He also lists distances to the nearest hospitals, community colleges and universities.
For big city dwellers, he also offers tips on how to get along in a small town, and explains some of the differences in the urban versus rural, small town lifestyles.
Stebbins' book is a good place to start if you're considering a move to a more rural area. The book can help start the conversation about where you might want to end up living.
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