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Ben Sobieck

Should Disaster Insurance be Mandatory?


Mandatory Disaster Insurance

Should disaster insurance be mandatory?
Should disaster insurance be mandatory?

New rules under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are requiring some residents and business to purchase expensive flood insurance policies. The thinking is that being in a high-risk flood plain is too dangerous to not carry specialized disaster insurance.

As covered in a previous article about flood insurance, the NFIP had to undergo extensive reform because of the volume of claims recently, most notably Superstorm Sandy. Increasing the pool of high-risk insurance holders could prevent the NFIP from going bankrupt.

But should this kind of disaster insurance be a requirement? And does it set a precedent for other disaster-prone areas? Areas frequented by earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes and more could fall under the thumb of programs similar to the NFIP's forced disaster insurance.

Living Ready asked readers on its Facebook page that very question:

Should all homeowners and businesses be required to purchase extra insurance if they are located in an area frequented by natural disasters?

Should Disaster Insurance be Mandatory?

“I don't care if they decide to insure themselves or not, but if they don't, they should not be able to make a claim on the taxpayers to make up for it.” – Matt Pierce

“They would have to cover the whole country if they did a regional thing. For specific threats, like living in a specific flood plain that floods often, or living on the side of a volcano, yes. Choosing to live in OK, thus you might get hit by a tornado? nope.” – Jane MomwithaPrep

“No one should have to carry any insurance that they don't want, but they shouldn't expect, or receive, a government bailout if a disaster strikes them.” – Paul Kendall

“If you insist on building on an unstable cliff, yes. If you live below sea level, yes. If your house is in the middle of tornado alley, yes. Otherwise, everyone has to help pick up the cost of money lost by insurance companies when the odds catch up. If you drive every day in Dallas your car insurance is more than if you drive in the countryside for the same reason.” – Steven White

“Where is it safe to live that no ‘Natural Disasters' happen? Are we talking about only floods or Waves, Tornados, hurricanes, Fires, snow storms, earth quakes, Tsunami's, pick your poison? I live on the Gulf Coast and if you have to rebuild you have to meet new codes! It's not the same thing over and over!!” – Damon Stelly

“I live on Long Island IN Newyorkistan, all the insurance these people paid still hasn't helped them a year after SuperStorm Sandy. Ask the people of Katrina if they got paid as well. All the monies supposedly paid went right into government coffers for emergency management. Disgusts me as firefighter/EMT.” – Davy Poggi

“Hmmmmm, mandatory insurance, with a bit of grease for Uncle Sam's palm, you know, because what they mandate will be better than the junk you have now. Where have I heard this whole mandatory insurance bit before? It's a total win for the government, and a lose for all of us.” – W Toney Nikolatsopoulos

“No, but neither should they receive ANY tax dollars to rebuild when their house gets blown away. You take your chances, and you deal with the consequences.” – Carrie Bartkowiak

What Do You Think About Mandatory Disaster Insurance?

Should disaster insurance be mandatory? Leave your comment below or go the Living Ready Facebook page to join the conversation.

Outstanding Gear and Resources


Special Forces Survival Guide

Survival Straps Survival Bracelet

SAS Survival Handbook

How to Prepare a Zombie First Aid Kit


Many people know that Living Ready takes a firm anti-zombie stance. As in, zombie preparedness is misguided and a waste of resources.

But then we saw this zombie First Aid kit infographic. We think it's time to reconsider. After all, no one has ever proven zombies don't exist.

Sure, government zombie prevention efforts have managed to keep the hordes at bay for now. You don't see them anywhere, do you? But you never know how many zombie-free days we have left.

How to make a zombie first aid kit

Happy April Fool's Day. If you still have the itch to make a kit, check out this survival guide by John McCann. It's full of kit ideas for a variety of non-zombie emergencies.

Outstanding Gear and Resources


Special Forces Survival Guide

Survival Straps Survival Bracelet

SAS Survival Handbook

Help Us Design a Bug-Out Bike


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For a lot of city dwellers, a bugging out in a vehicle isn't an option. Many urbanites don't own cars in the first place. Those who do might find roads chronically congested and impassable by vehicle – and that's before a disaster hits. The solution is a bug-out bike.

In Build the Perfect Bug-Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit, author Creek Stewart explains the benefits of bug-out bikes for city folks. He writes:

Bicycles, for example, can be outfitted to carry a surprising amount of extra supplies in addition to BOB on your back. They are also not dependent on fuel, which will be in limited supply during any large-scale evacuation. [Bikes] also have excellent maneuverability through traffic jams and congested traffic.

The same could be said for motorbikes to a certain extent. But despite being fuel sippers, they're still going to need to fill up at some point. The pedal power of a bug-out bike can function so long as the rider can.

That's one rider, which is a major downside of bug-out bikes. Bringing someone else along on the handlebars only works in third grade. When it comes to bug-out bikes, everyone in the family unit should have their own set of wheels. Two- and three-person bikes make a degree of sense, but we at Living Ready have yet to give this tactic a full evaluation.

Top-Notch Gear and Resources


Happy Healthy Family


Aqua Vessel Insulated Filtration Bottle Black

Illustration: Anatomy of a Survival Knife

Click the image to see a larger illustration showing the features of a good survival knife.
Click the image to see a larger illustration showing the features of a good survival knife.

Share This Survival Knife Illustration

Copy the code below to share this survival knife illustration on your website or blog.

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Anatomy of a Survival Knife

In his book, Stay Alive: Survival Skills You Need, author John D. McCann reviews the features that every survival knife worth its weight should contain. Many have debated the merits of survival knives, and these must-haves are sure to get a similar response. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments are below.

Here are the highlights from the survival knife illustration, as written by McCann.

Survival Knife Steel

I prefer knives that are made from a high carbon steel, such as 1095 or 01. There are many, many quality steels when it comes to knives, but I feel that simple carbon steels work well for overall edge retention and toughness. A knife made with a high carbonsteel that is fully hardened can also cast sparks with a piece of flint.

Survival Knife Tangs

The blade and handle are made from a single piece of steel without joints or welds.

Survival Knife Spines

When the spine of the knife is square it may be used as a striker / scrapper on a ferrocium rod (aka firesteel or Mischmetal).

Survival Knife Edges

A Scandi ground edge consists of and edge with a single bevel and no secondary bevel and is the grind shown in the illustration. Other types of grinds such as convex, full flat with a secondary bevel are suitable and common grinds for a survival knife.

(Living Ready says: Download this guide to survival knife grinds for free.)

Survival Knife Handles

Micarta in simplest terms is any fiberous material (paper, burlap, linen, etc.) cast in resin and compressed. G-10 is similar but cast in a fiberglass resin. Both offer stability, durability, water resistance and provide a secure grip even when wet.

Survival Knife Bolts

I personally like the added security of handle slabs that are bolted on, rather than pinned or epoxied. Handles that are bolted on are much more secure.

Survival Knife Lanyard Holes

A hole near the butt of the knife to allow a safety cord (usually 550 paracord) that can be wrapped and secured around your wrist.

Top-Notch Gear and Resources


Happy Healthy Family


Aqua Vessel Insulated Filtration Bottle Black

Video: How to Make an Earthen Oven


Stacy Harris explains how to make an earthen oven in this video from GameandGarden.com. As she explains in the video, making an earthen oven can take some work. But the final product is worth it every time.

One step not covered in the video is removing the sand from the interior of the earthen oven. This is what Harris told Living Ready in an e-mail:

As you let the mud dry a few days, you begin scooping out the sand from the entrance.  Each day, you scoop out a little more until none is left. That gives it a chance to stay stable, but helps with the drying process.

More detailed instruction about how to make an earthen oven the Stacy Harris way can be found here and here.

One of the most common ways earthen ovens are used is baking bread. Harris mentioned that she'll be making Italian rustic bread soon and posting about it on the website.

Also note that earthen ovens hold their heat. This is ideal for cooking food in the long-term during survival scenarios. Although they must remain stationary, earthen ovens are an efficient use of limited fuel sources.

Harris is Living Ready‘s expert for all things homesteading. Look for more from her here on LivingReadyOnline.com. She's the author of several books about sustainable living for healthy families. Check out her website at GameandGarden.com and her Facebook page.

Top-Notch Gear and Resources


Happy Healthy Family


Aqua Vessel Insulated Filtration Bottle Black

What to Do When Disaster Strikes a Crowd

Being in a crowd during a terrorist attack presents its own set of problems.
Being in a crowd during a terrorist attack presents its own set of problems.

The tragic events during the Boston Marathon on April 15 shocked the world and everyone here at Living Ready. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all those affected now and during the long road to recovery.

It highlighted why having a plan in place for what to do if you're in a crowd when disaster strikes is important.

When disaster strikes at crowded event

Living Ready tapped disaster expert Paul Purcell, author of Disaster Prep 101 and someone who helped plan medical responses during a G-8 summit in 2004, to provide insights about what happened in Boston and what to do in crowds during a disaster.

Q: If it's revealed this was a bombing, was the April 15 event a “typical” attack?

A: The primary device is tragic enough, but in many cases there is a secondary device.  In this instance it seems as though the primary device was “double-primed,” or in shooting parlance, it was a double-tap.

In many cases there may be a secondary device set up to go off for the purpose of disrupting emergency response. Locations for these types of devices are chosen based on a guess where arriving responders would park and gather for a temporary Command Post.

Q: Should there be concerns about more explosions in Boston?

A: Though there may be a secondary device, there are very few organizations on the planet that have the resources to set numerous working bombs. So, chances are good that, in the case of something as massive as the Boston Marathon, most people there, mathematically speaking, will be safe from other devices.

However, people should keep their eyes open for odd unattended packages, suspicious behavior (i.e. someone skulking about trying to hide identity when others running for safety, etc.).

Q: What should a person do when inside a crowd that panics?

A: When in crowds, the worst thing is a stampede. Try to stay out of the main flow if possible, and be ready to sidestep into alleys, stores, etc. if need be.

Q: What are some things to consider when a city is on lockdown?

A: A city on lockdown is a major pain. Your best asset at this point is patience, and thinking ahead.

First thought: Get some water. Duck into a restaurant or store to get a bottle or two of water before they're bought up by the crowd. Then pick a comfy spot to wait. Eventually, they'll put mass transit to work as much as possible and get people out of the area. It'll take a while, but that's always emergency management's  game plan.

Q: Why are cell phone networks sometimes shut down in an emergency like this one?

A: With cell phones, many emergency management agencies will have trunk priority [Living Ready says: Think of trunks like channels] so they shut down civilian calls to allow them plenty of emergency response access.

One thing to try is texting and then multi-media messaging [i.e. sending a picture from your phone to another phone]. Those services use different trunks and you can sometimes get a message out. Also try a long-distance call which uses yet another trunk (which is one reason everyone should have an out-of-town emergency contact person).

The thing to do with multimedia is to take a picture of yourself or a picture of a handwritten note saying you're okay and what you'll do and/or where you'll go.

Q: What should people do if their cell phones stop working?

A: You should ALWAYS have a set of “standing orders” or a set reaction plan that you will follow WHEN all communication goes down. Cell phones are great, but the foundation is standing orders.

Q: Although it doesn't appear the Boston incident was one, are there special considerations if an attack is also biological?

A: One other consideration in bombings in crowds is that it may be a form of a “dirty” bomb, either with radioactive materials, biochem components, poisons (there was a container of cyanide in the truck bomb in WTC '93), or simple irritants. So, in a situation like this, you should protect your breathing as much as possible with even simple methods like covering your mouth with your shirt, tie, or other tightly-woven cloth.

On the next page, don't fall victim to panic.

Events such as the one in Boston underscore why it's important to always be prepared. Disasters don't take a holiday, be it Christmas in Alabama or Patriots Day in Boston. Unfortunately, those holidays are often the targets of terrorists looking to inflict the greatest psychological damage.

Don't Let a Terrorist Damage Your Psychology

“Terror” refers to psychology by definition. True, a terrorist can and will try to hurt people physically. But the real effects are psychological. That's why the targets are usually symbolic. Consider 9/11 and the Twin Towers, the 1996 Olympic bombings in Atlanta, the Murrah Federal Building in 1995 in Oklahoma City, the World Trade Center in 1993 and even the 1920 bombing on Wall Street in New York that killed 40 people.

Unlike physical attacks, would-be victims of psychological terror have a choice: Give in to panic or continue life as normal. Living Ready chose the latter. To do anything else is to allow the terrorist to have power over us.

That meant not posting information we couldn't verify on social media. When we listed a hotline for family members in Boston, we included the source. Not everyone was as cautious, and rumors hit Twitter and Facebook that only increased the potential for panic.

That's not a wise decision – and it was a decision. Unlike those physically injured, no one was forced to give in to fear and panic. Hopefully, Living Ready readers showed restraint and waited for the dust to settle – figuratively and literally.

On the next page, a Living Ready report from Boston on the resilience of the city.

Living Ready Staff Report from Boston

Meghan Shinn is editor of Living Ready sister pub, Horticulture. She's behind much of the food growing content you see at Living Ready. Shinn is from the Boston area, and had the following to say about the resilience of the city:

Marathon Monday always disproves the stereotype of Bostonians as a bit gruff, or a bit snobby. This year, obviously, everyone got to see how helpful, capable and generous Boston folks can be. Yet even in years past, if you came here for the race, you'd find a welcoming spirit and a real camaraderie surrounding race day and its related events.

Marathon Monday is also Patriots Day, which is a Massachusetts holiday, so most schools are closed, government offices are closed, and so on. It's the start of spring vacation week for the public schools.

The city just has a very fun, holiday feel, with tourists and locals alike milling about and enjoying the day, particularly if it's at all warm, like it was yesterday. People who have to work despite the holiday might pop over to the finish line on their lunch hour to cheer a few random runners on. Several times when Horticulture had a larger Boston office a few of us did just that. There's also a Red Sox home game every year, with a special early start.

When I was 9 or 10, my dad took me to see the Sox on Marathon Monday. I can't remember anything about the game. I only recall the spring sunshine, the happy crowds of people and my dad holding my hand as we worked our way back to the T (subway station) after the game. I remember him congratulating some runners, all wrapped up in their free race-day ponchos.

When I think about it now, the memory feels so bittersweet. It seems like it was such a simpler time. I now have two daughters of my own, and I worry when we go out to special events. I worry even more about what the world will be like for them years from now.

What makes me feel better, and gives me some hope, are displays of caring and bravery such as we saw from the first responders and simple bystanders yesterday. I have to hang on to the idea that such spirit will always prevail, and I'm proud that it was so evident in my commonwealth yesterday.

Outstanding Gear and Resources


Special Forces Survival Guide

Survival Straps Survival Bracelet

SAS Survival Handbook

How to Make a Threat Map

A “threat map” details the hazards in your area. It helps choose evacuation routes and a rendezvous point.
A “threat map” details the hazards in your area. It helps choose evacuation routes and a rendezvous point.

The explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas this week killed several people and injured many more. It brought to mind the “threat map” disaster expert Paul Purcell details in his book, Disaster Prep 101. (Look for a full review of the book soon.)

A threat map is something you create at home. It details potentially hazardous sites, like a fertilizer plant, should a disaster strike. Using readily available maps at places like Google Maps and Mapquest, the idea is to best assess where not to travel during an evacuation.

The following lists are from Disaster Prep 101. This is just a brief overview. The book contains a lot more detail on these subjects.

Maps to Gather to Create Your Threat Map

Street maps

Aerial photos of your workplace, children's schools and your home

A city map

A county map

A state map

A national atlas

Start Making Your Threat Map

On each of the maps, mark the following things:

Potential targets of terrorist attacks

Prevailing wind directions – You'll need this determine where to go if toxic chemicals are in the air. In the case of the fertilizer plant explosion, it would be a good idea to stay upwind.

Chemical, hazardous materials and nuclear sites

High-crime areas

Transportation bottlenecks

Flood plains

Any other hazard relevant to your area

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Lessons from an Attempted Carjacking

A True Carjacking Story

Because she was mentally PREPARED and SKILLED, the author's mother walked away from what could have been a carjacking. Now that she is more AWARE of the threat, she adjusted her strategy and became better prepared should it happen again. (Image via sxc.hu)
Because she was mentally PREPARED and SKILLED, the author's mother walked away from what could have been a carjacking. Now that she is more AWARE of the threat, she adjusted her strategy and became better prepared should it happen again. (Image via sxc.hu)

My mom nearly became the victim of a carjacking this week.

After parking her vehicle on a city street, a man rushed up to the rear passenger door. He opened it and got in.

Her immediate reaction was to yell, “No” and “Get out” as loud and as mean as she could muster. It did the trick. The stranger left the vehicle and ran off.

Fortunately, she walked away from the incident with a story, not an injury and a police report. What this man's intentions were will never be known. It's better that way.

After talking with her about what happened, it became clear how this is the perfect example of the preparedness mindset. “Prepared, Skilled, Aware” is more than just a catchy tagline at Living Ready. It's a way to be ready before, during and after an event.

Prepared for a Carjacking: She Had a Plan

Waiting until an event happens is the wrong time to develop a plan. There's barely time to think. My mom's incident didn't last more than a few seconds.

So don't think. Go into autopilot and execute the plan. In this case, my mom already knew what to do: Use her voice to bring as much attention to herself as possible.

Perhaps the menacing way she said “No” and “Get out” suggested she wasn't going to tolerate this person's presence. But my money is on this guy weighing the odds of getting away with a crime. The incident happened in a city with a lot of foot traffic. The odds were good someone would notice the confrontation.

This plan might seem overly simple. But consider how natural it is to freeze up. To allow terror to gel a person's better judgement.

That didn't happen because my mom was mentally prepared. She's safe now. However simple, the plan worked.

On the next page: SKILLED and AWARE

Skilled for a Carjacking: an Appropriate Response

It's one thing to have a plan. It's another to execute it properly. In this case, her plan was to draw attention to herself. The way she executed it was with her voice.

In the time since the incident, some suggested that a firearm would've helped. I disagree.

Yes, using one would've drawn attention to herself. But any concealed carry advocate knows that this level of escalation needs an equivalent threat in order to be legal.

In this case, it's not known whether the man had a weapon. His intentions weren't explicit. He didn't physically attack her.

To the layperson, that doesn't matter. A stranger entering a vehicle is enough justification. But to a prosecutor considering a homicide case, these details make all the difference.

There are times and places for using lethal force. This wasn't one of them.

Aware of Carjackings: Changing Settings on the Vehicle

The incident made my mom more aware of a security risk in her vehicle. After putting the vehicle into park, the doors automatically unlock. That's what happened just as the man entered the vehicle.

Perhaps this stranger knew about these settings, saw an opportunity and went for it. It's hard to say, but this could have been the case.

Changing the lock setting wasn't hard. For those who frequent cities, it's not the worst idea to do the same.

Conclusion: Never a Better Time to be Prepared, Skilled and Aware

It's worth mentioning again how fast that entire incident happened. A few seconds. No time to think.

That's why it's so important to have a plan, know how to use it and to be able to analyze it after the fact. Prepared, skilled, aware. Before, during, after.

Things could have turned out much differently for my mom. Thankfully, they didn't. I hope this story inspires you to follow her lead and be proactive about your preparedness.

Do you have a true carjacking story or other self-defense lessons? Post them in the comments below.

Recommended Book: Personal Defense for Women

Personal Defense for WomenThis incident reminded me of the rich resource that is Personal Defense for Women: Practical Advice for Self-Protection by Gila Hayes. It's an excellent source of information for women interested in concealed carry, self-defense or how to be better aware of threats.

Click here to get Personal Defense for Women from the Living Ready Store for just $10.

How to Clean a Wild Turkey


How to clean a wild turkey. These are good skills to know even if the only turkeys you see are in a grocery store.

How-to-Clean-a-Wild-TurkeyMany hunters prefer to fillet the breast meat and legs off their turkey, and why not? It’s clean, easy and saves freezer space.

First, remove the turkey’s beard, and then slice off its legs where the scaly skin meets feathers.

Using a sharp knife, slice into the gobbler’s skin at the point of its breast. Then, with your fingers, pull the skin away from the sides, top and bottom of the breast, exposing the meat.

Next, grab the turkey’s breast sponge, on the top edge of the breast meat, and use your knife to peel it off. Also, pull out the turkey’s crop while removing the sponge.

When the crop and breast sponge are out of the way, begin filleting the breast. Make an incision along the center of one side of the breast plate, and then gently cut the meat off the bone.

When you reach the upper portion of the breast meat, follow the wishbone with your knife up to the wing joint. Slice through the tendon that attaches the small, underlying “tender” portion of the breast, and then finish cutting off the breast.

After the breast is free, trim off excess fat or connective tissue. Then, remove the other side of the breast using the same process.

How to Clean a Wild Turkey: The Legs

Many hunters don’t take the legs from their turkeys, but that’s a mistake. The thighs and drumsticks provide great meat for stew, soup or gravy. To remove the legs, pull the skin down past the drumstick, and then pull the leg free, as if you are taking off a turtleneck.

Then, firmly grasp the top portion of the thigh between your thumb and forefinger, and quickly push the thigh bone upward, separating it from the body. Use your knife to cut through the tissue connecting the thigh to the torso.

How to Clean a Wild Turkey: Removing the Skin

Many folks like to save the entire bird but don’t want to pluck it. Skinning provides an easy option.

First, remove the beard and lower legs, and then cut off the wings, starting at the second wing joint from the body. You can also remove the tail if desired.

Then, gut the bird. Make an incision just below the gobbler’s breast bone. Work your hand into the bird’s chest cavity, grasp the viscera just above the heart, and pull out the innards.

Cut around the bird’s anal area and remove the intestines and other guts. Slip your fingers between the lungs and ribs, and gently pull out the lungs to the side, away from the spine. You might have to use a toothpick or paper toweling to further clean out the lung tissue.

Then, slice off the bird’s head close to the torso. Grab the skin atop the breast and slowly peel it off, working from top to bottom.

As you work the skin off the bird, make sure to remove the breast sponge and crop. You might have to use a knife to cut around the ends of the wings and drumsticks.

When you’ve removed the skin, thoroughly wash the bird inside and out, and remove excess skin, feathers and breast sponge tissue.

How to Clean a Wild Turkey: Plucking Feathers

This can be a chore, but if you like roasted turkey, it’s worth it. If you don’t pluck a turkey immediately after killing it, the skin tightens, and you’ll rip much of it off with the feathers.

However, you can remedy this by dunking the bird in a vat of scalding-hot water.

You can remove the wings, viscera and lower legs of the bird before or after plucking, but it’s probably easier to do so before.

If you want to save the beard, be sure to cut it off before dunking the bird.

After the water is ready, submerge the bird for a couple of minutes. Then, pluck it immediately.

Grab the feathers near their bases, and rip them upward. Take special care to remove all the small feathers under the wingbone and along the lower legs.

When the bird is clean, wash it thoroughly, cook it, and enjoy.

Busting Myths About Flood Insurance


Flood-Insurance-RatesThe National Flood Insurance Program issued the FAQ below about flood insurance myths. If it's something you've wondered about, this should answer many questions.

One thing it does address is the recent retooling of the National Flood Insurance Program. Following the passage of the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, the National Flood Insurance Program will lose many subsidies that kept rates low.

Rates will also rise for areas more frequently hit by storms and flooding. The artificially low rates in these areas will be adjusted to reflect actual risk.

Implementation of the increases are being staggered throughout 2013. The additional costs to policyholders could be in the thousands.

Is flood insurance still a viable option? In an interview that will appear in a future edition of Living Ready magazine, disaster planning expert Paul Purcell said the decision must be made on a personal, case-by-case basis. There isn't a set “yes” or “no” answer.

Hopefully, the following FAQ from the National Flood Insurance Program will help homeowners make a decision.


Why You Shouldn't Count on Flood Disaster Assistance

Before most forms of federal disaster assistance can be offered, the President must declare a major disaster.

The most common form of federal disaster assistance is a loan, which must be paid back with interest.

The average Individuals and Households Program award for Presidential disaster declarations related to flooding in 2008 was less than $4,000.

To qualify for federal home repair assistance, your home must have relatively minor damage that can be repaired quickly.

You do not qualify for federal rental assistance unless your home has been heavily damaged or destroyed.

The Costs of Having Flood Insurance vs. Not

The duration of a Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster home loan can extend to 30 years.

The monthly payment on a $50,000 disaster home loan at 4 percent interest is $303 for
20 years.

The average premium for federally backed flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is $550 a year.

The cost of a Preferred Risk Policy starts as low as $119 a year.

What are the Odds of Needing to Use Flood Insurance?

Floods are the most common, and most costly, natural disaster.

In the past several years, about 60 percent of all declared disasters involved flooding.

Because more roads, buildings, and parking lots are being constructed where forests and meadows once stood, floods are becoming more severe throughout the U.S.

In areas with the greatest risk of flooding, Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), a building has a 26 percent chance of being flooded during a 30-year mortgage.

On average, 25 to 30 percent of all flood insurance claims paid by the NFIP are for property outside of SFHAs.

Outstanding Gear and Resources


Special Forces Survival Guide

Survival Straps Survival Bracelet

SAS Survival Handbook

Photos: Tips for Bug-Out Locations


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A bug-out location, also known as a BOL, is the go-to place during an emergency. Whether it's short- or long-term notice, “bugging out” involves getting the heck out of Dodge until it's safe to return. That's why a BOL is important to identify ahead of time.

For many, a cabin or property in a rural area is a popular choice. It's not always an option, since such a bug-out location requires private investment or knowing someone with property.

If you're able to set up your own bug-out location at a cabin, the photos above contain tips to help increase efficiency and sufficiency. The snow had just finished melting a few days prior, so pardon the mess. But the points are clear. This bug-out location can run itself until it's clear to head back home.

One quick note: Electricity is still being provided via a local utility. That could change in the future. But for now, the cabin can sustain itself with its own heat and water. Preparedness is a marathon, not a sprint.

Tell Living Ready About Your Bug-Out Location

Have any bug-out location tips of your own? Post them in the comments section below.

Outstanding Gear and Resources


Special Forces Survival Guide

Survival Straps Survival Bracelet

SAS Survival Handbook

Tree Removal for Severe Weather Preparedness


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Editor's Note: With severe weather season in full swing, it's a good idea to minimize storm debris risks around the exterior of your home. One way is to remove dead or sick trees that could fall onto structures or other valuables. The following tree removal tips were submitted by Davey.com.

9 Ways to Tell It's Time for Tree Removal or trimming

  1. Watch for open cavities in a tree’s trunk. These can create weak spots in the entire structure.
  2. Dead wood – Dead trees and large, dead branches can fall at any time.
  3. Cracks – Deep splits through the bark extend into the wood of the tree. Internal or external cavities.
  4. Decay – In advanced stages, soft wood or cavities where wood is missing can create hazardous conditions.
  5. Weak branch unions – Two or more branches grow too closely together, with bark growing between them. This bark does not hold the branches together.
  6. Heavy canopies – Excessively thick branches and foliage catch more wind during stormy weather. This increases the risk of branch breakage and uprooting.
  7. Cankers – Caused by fungi, cankers occur on the stems or branches of trees (bark is sunken or missing). Stems or branches are prone to breaking off near cankers.
  8. Root problems – Without a strong root system, trees are more likely to be uprooted or blown over in stormy weather. Look out for nearby construction that may sever large roots or compact the soil too much to allow for healthy root growth.
  9. Poor tree architecture -This is characterized by excessive leaning of the tree, or branches growing out of proportion with the rest of the tree crown. Odd growth patterns may indicate general weakness or structural imbalance.

Tips for Tree Removal and Pruning

  • Regular tree maintenance can mean a world of difference when it comes to tree strength during a storm.
  • Strong branches = stronger tree
  • Although defective trees are dangerous, not all of them need to be removed immediately, and some defects can be treated to prolong the life of the tree.
  • Proper pruning thins the tree canopy, allowing wind to blow through it instead of against it as though it were a sail. Pruning also removes potentially hazardous dead or weak branches.
  • Not all tree risks are visible or obvious. If you're especially concerned about a tree, a certified arborist can evaluate soil conditions, wind exposure, defects, overall health and other factors to determine a tree’s hazard potential.


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Video: Tips for Baking Bread in an Earthen Oven


This is the earthen oven Stacy Harris used to bake the bread.
This is the earthen oven Stacy Harris used to bake the bread.

In an earlier post, Stacy Harris showed you how to make an earthen oven in your backyard. Now she takes you step-by-step through the bread-making process using that same earthen oven.

Harris appears in the video above starting around the 7:40 mark. The bread comes out of the oven in the last few minutes. The episode aired on Venture Outdoors, which broadcasts in Alabama.

The advantage of earthen ovens is how they hold their heat. This characteristic is what makes them extremely efficient. It also makes them ideal for baking.

The only downsides are the time earthen ovens take to dry. As Harris mentions in the video, it took two months for the one she made to dry. The other disadvantage is that they're stationary. This may not matter depending on the situation, but it's something to keep in mind.

Your Turn: Ever Used an Earthen Oven?

Have you baked in an earthen oven before? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below.


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Travel Tips: Preparedness and Piranhas in Peru


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Vincent Zandri is a globe-hopping journalist, author and Living Ready contributor who recently took a trip into the Amazon wilderness of Peru. It put to practice the safe travel tips he outlines in his article in the Summer 2013 issue of Living Ready magazine and the in-depth travel preparedness Online Course he presented.

Travel Tips: No Watches? No Clocks? No Problem

We talk a lot at Living Ready about what to do when essential services go away. But as Zandri pointed out, there are plenty of people in the world who wouldn't know what they're missing anyway. And they seem perfectly happy.

From Zandri's notes to Living Ready:

“The people here don't have clocks. They don't have watches, they don't have smartphones, and they don't have internet (as far as I can tell). They don't have any kind of device that chimes, rings, chirps, vibrates, or belts out the opening bars to some Lady Gaga song stuffed into their pockets.

“They don't need to be reminded of the time. Like one of my travel partners tells me, ‘In Russia, we have a saying: those who are happy do not need to know what time it is.' Such is the case when it comes to the Peruvian people who occupy Llachon.”

That perspective is shared by many throughout the world. In addition to being a travel tip for making a mental adjustment, it's food for thought when making preparedness plans in the United States. No matter how bad it gets, chances are good you'll be OK. All it takes is shifting a comfort zone.

Travel tips: An Injury Overseas? Yeah, That's a Problem

In his Online Course, Zandri talks extensively about being prepared for health emergencies while traveling. But being prepared doesn't mean fate won't strike.

Zandri sent Living Ready these thoughts after returning from the trip.

“I went straight to the surgeon from the airport only to learn that I snapped a tendon in my right foot during the many hikes through Peru's mountainous jungle. I need an operation that will lay me up for two months.”

That's two months in an American hospital. Sometimes, it's better to wait to get medical attention – if you can bear it. Bad treatment can be worse than no treatment at all.

For domestic preparedness, this brings to mind triage skills. Learn what's important to treat now, in a little while or not at all. That prioritization will make better use of limited resources. Living Ready will have an Online Course soon on simple ways to apply medical techniques in survival situations.

Travel Tips: Know your animals

An important preparedness detail that Zandri emphasized in his Online Course is to research the area. That includes weather, laws, people and animals.

He found out that last one the hard way. A piranha but his finger. Seeing as how writing is how he makes his living, this would've been an especially dire situation had the wound

Zandri reflected on his animal encounters:

“A piranha bit my finger as I pulled it in with fishing line and hook. The bite stung and drew blood. It also caused the guides to laugh out loud while shaking their heads, saying, ‘Who's the silly gringo in the Indiana Jones hat?'

“A family of howling monkeys growled at me while protecting their new baby. A tarantula blocked my path on a narrow trail as me and my guide tried to get back to the lodge in the dark of night.”

However, because he was prepared, none of this turned out to be life-threatening.


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Tornado Survival Tips



Tornado Survival Tips

Tornado preparedness is a front-and-center issue not just for the central parts of North America known as Tornado Alley. Considering the tough economic times and limited response services, it's in the everyone's best interests that tornado preparedness is taken seriously.

Use these tornado survival tips to stay one step ahead of the storm.

Tornado Survival Tips: Get this App Right Now

App-Tornado-Survival-TipsAs the skies grew dark this past weekend, my smart phone buzzed in time with a few lightning strikes in the distance. The free Red Cross app had alerted me our county was under a tornado watch.

This heads up changed our plans to travel later in the day. Instead, I worked with some neighbors to remove a dead tree next to our house. We'd been putting that to-do item off for some time. But priorities changed in an instant with that alert.

Click here to get the free tornado app from the Red Cross. You can set up alerts by ZIP code. It's one of the best tornado survival tips for today's digital world.

Tornado Survival Tips: Getting Ready

The following tornado survival tips about preparations are from Pat McHugh:

Plan how members of your immediate family will stay in contact if you are separated.  Identify two meeting places: the first should be near your home if realistic, and the second place be away from your neighborhood in case you cannot return home.

Pick a friend or relative who lives out of the area for household members to call to say they are OK.  Pick a safe place to meet if you are separated.

Make sure everyone in your household knows how and when to shut off water, gas, and electricity at the main switches. Consult with your local utilities if you have questions.

Reduce the economic impact that could be caused by any tornado on your property and your household's health and financial well-being. Review property insurance policies before disaster strikes. Make sure policies are current and be certain they meet your needs.

It is advisable to keep a small amount of cash or traveler's checks at home in a safe place where you can quickly gain access to it in case.

Consider ways to help neighbors who may need special assistance, such as the elderly or the disabled.

Make arrangements for pets. Pets are not allowed in public shelters. Service animals for those who depend on them are allowed.

Do emergency planning for people with special needs. If you, or a member of your family have a disability or special need, you may have to take additional steps to protect yourself and your household in an emergency. If you know of friends or neighbors with special needs, help them with these extra precautions.

  • Hearing impaired may need to make special arrangements to receive a warning.
  • Mobility impaired may need assistance in getting to a shelter.
  • Households with a single working parent may need help from others both in planning for disasters and during an emergency.
  • Non-English speaking people may need assistance planning for and responding to emergencies. Community and cultural groups may be able to help keep these populations informed.
  • People without vehicles may need to make arrangements for transportation.
  • People with special dietary needs should have an adequate emergency food supply.

Tornado Survival Tips: Riding Out the Storm

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers tornado survival tips on what to do during a storm. Here's a summary of this important advice.

In a Structure – Get to a safe room, as identified ahead of time at home or as directed by the operators of some other building. The idea is to get away from windows, glass and things that could fall. Put as much sturdy material between yourself and the outside.

In a Mobile Home – Grab your bug-out bag and head to the nearest emergency shelter.

In a Vehicle – Don't drive to an overpass or bridge. Don't try to outrun the tornado. Buckle up and head to a ditch or another low point in the terrain if getting to a shelter isn't possible. Once parked, get down onto the floor of the vehicle. Flying debris can shatter the windows and cause injury.

Outside – Take shelter in a low point in the geography. Avoid areas that could produce flying debris.

Tornado Survival Tips: Don't Open the Windows

A common myth about tornadoes is that opening a window will relieve pressure against the outside of a building, such as a home. That's like swapping a bear on the outside for a bear on the inside.

Strong winds could lift the roof of the structure once it gains entry. It's better to leave windows shut.

One final point. What do all home videos of tornadoes have in common? None of them use common sense. Get away from windows and into shelter. Flying debris doesn't give much warning before it comes through the glass.

Top-Notch Gear and Resources


Happy Healthy Family


Aqua Vessel Insulated Filtration Bottle Black

Video: Disaster Preparedness Card Trick


Jim Cobb is a Living Ready contributor, book author and the operator of SurvivalWeekly.com. He came up with this unique video as a way to demonstrate the importance of disaster readiness plans.

While it is a neat sleight-of-hand card trick, the video drives home an important point. Having a plan is critical in keeping your family together when disaster strikes.

What plans have you made? Leave a comment below.

Outstanding Gear and Resources


Special Forces Survival Guide

Survival Straps Survival Bracelet

SAS Survival Handbook