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Video: How to Make Fire Straws


How to Make Fire Straws

How to Make Fire StrawsThis video from Jim Cobb explains how to make a fire straw. It's a useful technique to learn because it offers a waterproof method of transport for tinder. It can also cut down on the amount of space tinder takes in a small tin.

For example, the photo at left is of a quick survival tin Living Ready staff made for a hiking trip. The tinder, cotton balls, takes up a significant amount of space. Turning these cotton balls into fire straws is one way to maximize efficiency inside that tiny tin.

How to Make Fire Straws: What You'll Need

  • To get started making fire straws, you'll only need a few simple items:
  • Several wide straws, such as the ones seen at fast food restaurants
  • Scissors
  • A small candle
  • Pliers
  • Cotton balls
  • A metal or wood skewer

Cut the straws to length to match the container they will be stored inside. Stuff the straws with cotton using the skewer. Melt the ends of the straws using the candle. Use the pliers to crimp the ends so they form a seal. Give the straws a minute to cool.

Now you have a waterproof, portable and efficient source of tinder. When it's time to use one, cut the fire straw open lengthwise and remove as much tinder as needed.

Learn More from Jim Cobb

How-to-Make-Fire-StrawsCobb is an all-around preparedness expert with a lot to offer. Be sure to check out his Online Course, How to Barter for Survival, for tips on navigating the barter economies that spring up after disasters. His 30-minute presentation, available as a video and as audio, also covers the items and skills to stock up on now for bartering later.

Outstanding Gear and Resources


Special Forces Survival Guide

Survival Straps Survival Bracelet

SAS Survival Handbook

Checklist: Summer Survival Kit


Share this page with friends so they can be better prepared this summer!

Summer-Survival-Kit-ChecklistThis summer survival kit checklist is adapted from a 1981 U.S. Army manual titled, Checklist for Individual Hot Climate Survival Kit. It contains a list of items and maintenance tips for those items. It's basic, but should provide ideas to get started.

No matter the summer survival kit checklist you use, keep two things in mind.

First, although it's always important, water plays an even greater role in a summer survival kit. The old adage of “one gallon per person per day” may not be enough, especially if travel by foot is involved.

Second, and less obvious, is to remember that hot days can still have cold nights. In a desert survival situation, for example, temperatures can plummet at night. A light sleeping bag may seem like overkill, but it won't be when the mercury hits the 40s.

Summer Survival Kit Checklist & Maintenance Reminders

  • Tarp – Holes, cuts, frays, tears, burns, loose or broken stitching, damaged grommets
  • Magnetic Compass – Cracked or broken dial face, test operation,
  • Insect Headnet and/or Body Net – Holes or tears in netting, broken or loose stitching, missing or broken elastic headband, loose or missing grommets
  • Plastic Fork/Spoon/Knife – Cracked or broken
  • Reversible Sun Hat – Cuts, frays, tears, broken or loose stitching
  • First Aid Kit – Make sure all components are secure and not expired
  • Survival Manual/Book – Missing pages, legible copy, viewable images
  • Matches in Waterproof Container – Failures in container, broken or wet matches
  • Non-Perishable Food Items – Spoiled or expired food, tears in packaging
  • Signaling Mirror – Scratches, chips, cracks, distortions
  • Rescue Whistle – Cracked or missing components, obstructions in mouthpiece
  • Tool Kit (including firestarting gear) – Damage or corrosion to tools, dull edges, dry tinder
  • Fishing Tackle (line & lures) – Corrosion, old line, dull hooks
  • Water Bottles (1 plastic, 1 metal, 1 collapsible & 1 gallon per person per day) – Dents, leaks
  • Water Disinfectant (iodine tablets, etc.) – Expiration, damaged packaging
  • Frying Pan/Pot – Rust, corrosion, cracks, buckling
  • Sunscreen Lotion – Damage to container, expiration of contents
  • Pocket Knife – Rust, corrosion, missing components, dull edges
  • Light Sleeping Bag – Tears, rodent damage, broken zipper, broken clasps

Your Summer Survival Kit Tips

The U.S. Army has its own ideas about summer survival kits. What are yours? Post your summer survival kit tips in the comments below.

Outstanding Gear and Resources


Special Forces Survival Guide

Survival Straps Survival Bracelet

SAS Survival Handbook

Let’s Make a List: Best Survival Guns

The Ruger 10/22 autoloader has become the benchmark against which other rimfire semiautomatic rifles are compared.

It's time to start naming names.

We've gone over the features of the best survival guns should sport: reliability, ruggedness, portability, simplicity and effectiveness. We've told you how the .22 is arguably the best survival ammunition. We've debated revolvers versus semi-automatics. We've explained that the best survival guns fill multiple roles, including defense, hunting, predator control, livestock harvesting and more. We've even talked about layered defense and choosing firearms that function well at a variety of distances.

It's time to get to the heart of the matter. Whether conducting research, talking with experts or visiting with prepared people, there are a handful of firearms that stick out. We aren't necessarily giving each the full stamp of approval, but it is telling when these models show up again and again.

Does that mean they're the best survival guns? You be the judge. Leave a comment below with your comments and suggestions. Let's make a list.

Are these The Best Survival Guns?

*Best Survival Rifle: Any pump-action .22 rifle – Let's start with a no-brainer. Capacity. Reliability. Cheap, lightweight ammo. Versatility. Save that Ruger 10/22 semi-auto for the fun stuff. When it comes to SHTF, a pump-action .22 rifle is the do-it-all workhorse. Go with a pump and take advantage of a magazine tube full of .22 long rifle rounds.

* Honorable Mention: AR-15 – This one should also come as no surprise. AR-15s offer tremendous versatility to fill a variety of roles, from hunting to defense. The customization options are limited only by imagination. Despite the hype, these modern sporting rifles have more in common with grandpa's favorite hunting gun from yesteryear than the military.

* Best Survival Shotgun: Ithaca Model 37 – And now for the controversial pick. While I'm a big fan of the Mossberg 500 (it's my primary shotgun), I have to yield to the Model 37. Even proponents of the Remington 870 have to admit, the Model 37 has the smile of a sporting gun but the heart of a tactical firearm. That it manages to balance both themes so effortlessly speaks to its usefulness during SHTF. There are many flavors of the Model 37 on the market. Choose one that fits your tastes the best.

Best Survival Pistol: Beretta 92FS – There's a line in the sand between this model and Glock's legendary simplicity. What pushes the 92FS above and beyond is its ruggedness. There are models functioning just as well today as they were 30 years ago. Some will (rightly) question the effectiveness of 9mm rounds in survival scenarios. They will point out that a 1911's .45s will pack that critical extra punch. Keep in mind, though, that the 92FS can carry 15 rounds per magazine. It's a tough call, but capacity beats stopping power for SHTF.

* Best Survival Revolver: Taurus Judge – Here's another controversial pick. This iconoclastic .45/.410 comes up time and again with prepared folks. Shooting shotshells is nice, but it's how the Judge works in tandem with a high-capacity, semi-automatic survival pistol (like the Beretta 92FS) that really pushes it over the edge. Need to put a lot of lead out in a hurry? Use the pistol. Need to lay down the law with a .45? Use the Judge. Need a close-range shotshell for varmints, predators and other lowlifes that won't knock your hat off like a shotgun? Use the Judge.

Your Turn: What are the Best Survival Guns?

This list will certainly bring out some strong opinions. Let's hear them. Post comments below and let us know the best survival guns from your POV.

Disturbing Food Poisoning Facts


u2850_500px_72dpiHere are some disturbing facts about food poisoning. If this doesn't have you considering growing your own food for safety's sale, just turn on the news. There's almost always an incident of contamination in the food supply, such as this recent outbreak stemming from bad bagged salad.

The Living Ready solution is to rely on yourself as much as possible. Start with the new book from Stacy Harris, Recipes & Tips for Sustainable Living, for inspiration.

Of course, growing food will only take you so far. It's important to keep good food available beyond its season. Tracy Schmidt's Living Ready University Online Course, Food Preservation & Garden Planning, will help with those things.

Now who's hungry?

Click the infographic for a closer view.

Chew On This: Impact of Food-Borne Illnesses

Top-Notch Gear and Resources


Happy Healthy Family


Aqua Vessel Insulated Filtration Bottle Black

Video: How to Open a Coconut


Knowing how to open a coconut is one of those things that many people think they possess until they actually do it. That's because they're usually using store-bought coconuts and steak knives. That's when they realize they didn't actually know how to open a coconut.

In the bush, as these videos from P.R.E.P. shows, things are different. The coconuts are greener and contain more layers than the store-bought kind. For survival situations in tropical climates, it's important to know not only how to open a coconut, but which parts are edible.

Once open, the water inside the coconut can hydrate and replenish sore muscles with potassium.

Coconut meat can offer important calories, too. Just don't overdo the meat too much. The flesh can be a double-edged sword. Depending on your body's condition, you may wind up with diarrhea or constipation.

From Livestrong.com:

Bouts of diarrhea lasting more than three days can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Diarrhea that lasts more than a week can indicate an underlying serious illness, such as colitis. Contact your doctor about severe abdominal pain accompanied by a fever that occurs with diarrhea. If you're experiencing an acute episode of diarrhea, however, coconut meat or water might help relieve your symptoms.

Moderate consumption of coconut meat is probably the best bet in either situation.

Top-Notch Gear and Resources


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Aqua Vessel Insulated Filtration Bottle Black

Photos: How to Save Tomato Seeds


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Using tips from Living Ready author Stacy Harris and inspired by the information in her excellent new book, Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living, I learned how to save tomato seeds using a pretty straightforward and easy method. It already has me thinking about starting tomatoes from seed indoors next spring.

Heirloom tomato seeds harvested using the following method should last a few years if preserved in a cool, dry, dark container.

How to Save Tomato Seeds: What You'll Need

Grab a few exceptional, homegrown, heirloom tomatoes, a knife, some water and a small plastic container. Even if you plan on harvesting a lot of seed, don't use one large container. Use several small ones. That way if one becomes contaminated or spills, you're not out too much.

How to Save Tomato Seeds: Squeeze ‘Em Out

Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze the seeds into the container. Don't worry if some of the pulp comes out, too.

How to Save Tomato Seeds: Add Water

After all the seeds are squeezed out, add an equal amount of water to the container.

How to Save Tomato Seeds: Wait Three Days

Let the container sit in a warm area outside for about three days. This will ferment the contents of the container. (That's a fancy way of saying the seeds will start to rot.)

How to Save Tomato Seeds: Mold is a Good Thing

Mold will start to form on the surface of the seed mix. That's a good sign you're on the right track.

How to Save Tomato Seeds: Add More Water

After three days of fermenting, it's time to separate the good seeds from the bad. Fill up the container with water and let the mixture settle. The good seeds will sink. The bad ones will float.

How to Save Tomato Seeds: Removing Bad Seeds

Dump out the seeds that float. You'll be left at with good seeds at the bottom.

How to Save Tomato Seeds: Panning for Gold

Keep working out the seeds that float until you're left with the best of the best at the bottom. It's a little like panning for gold.

How to Save Tomato Seeds: Let ‘Em Dry

Strain out the good seeds from the water. Let them dry on a plate for a few days. The seeds are finished drying once they don't stick to the plate. They should be bone dry. One way to test is to shake the plate. If the seeds move around easily, they're done.

How to Save Tomato Seeds: Preserve Those Seeds

Store the dried seeds in a cool, dry, dark place inside a tightly sealed container. They'll stay fresh for a few years. Start seedlings indoors in the spring, then do the process all over again in the fall. Heirloom gardening is as fun as it is delicious and sustainable.

Top-Notch Gear and Resources


Happy Healthy Family


Aqua Vessel Insulated Filtration Bottle Black

Survival Bread Recipes


What is survival bread? Check out these survival bread recipes to use during tough times or to practice with to be better prepared.

Traditionally, survival bread has gone by many names, such as hard tack, ship biscuits, molar breakers and other colorful phrases not suitable to repeat here. No matter the name, the recipes called for flour, water, maybe salt and some time in the oven.

While those recipes are still used today, modern survival bread is different in a few ways. For starters, most prepared people aren't storing just flour and water. They have a variety of ingredients in storage, including oil, sugar, seasonings, powdered milk, dehydrated eggs and more.

With that in mind, “survival bread” is anything you can make using these stored items. Sure, flour and water will still get the job done. But there are other survival bread recipes that are just as simple and offer some much needed variety.

Here are two I recently tried.

Survival-BreadSurvival Bread Recipe #1: Applesauce Bread

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup milk (can be re-constituted powdered milk)
  • 1 yeast packet
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup applesauce

Heat the milk until it's warm, then mix it all up. Let it rise in a bowl for 30 minutes, then bake at 400 degrees for another 30 minutes.

Taste: Fantastic. The pillowy slices stuck to my ribs, but they were still flexible enough to pull sandwich duty. The only catch is this bread isn't going to stay fresh long. That's OK, the loaf will go quick.

Survival-Bread-RecipesSurvival Bread Recipe #2: Hard Cider Bread

  • 3 cups flour
  • 12 ounces hard cider or beer (less than 5% alcohol by volume and high sugar content)
  • 1 yeast packet

Warm the cider, then mix the ingredients together. Let the mixture rise for about 45 minutes. Bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees.

Taste: This tasted like something out of the Civil War. The crust had a nice crunch from the sugar in the cider, but the inside was dense. Really dense. If you pass on eating it, this bread might also do well in a masonry project.

What are some of your survival bread recipes? Did they turn out? Leave them in the comments below.

Stop: Don’t Barter Your Ammunition Away


ball-ammo1-300x2251It's been repeated many times in the preparedness community that “ammunition will be the new currency once the SHTF.” Other calibers are mentioned, but this idea is most commonly associated with .22 ammunition.

SurvivalWeekly.com's Jim Cobb disagrees.

In fact, Cobb not only discourages people from stockpiling ammunition to trade later, he offers this advice in his new Living Ready Online Course, How to Barter for Survival:

“They might decide to return it back to you at a very high velocity, then see what else you have,” Cobb said in his Online Course on bartering.

That's not a hard and fast rule, though. It often depends on how well the barterers know each other.

“The only exception would be if it's a family member, a close friend or someone in your retreat group. Then it's probably OK. But a stranger or anything like that, I would avoid it all costs,” Cobb said.

Still, it's tempting to think of ammunition in terms of barterable items. After all, it meets Cobb's 3 Rules of Bartering.

Instead of ammunition, Cobb recommends stocking up on other essentials for post-disaster barter economies. He reviews them in detail in his How to Barter for Survival Online Course.

It's important information to know, because it's nearly guaranteed that businesses won't be operating normally following a natural or man-made disaster. Bartering for goods and services will be the only way – outside of looting, which is never a good idea – to obtain needed items.

Would you be willing to trade away ammunition? What items do you keep on hand for bartering? Leave a note in the comments below.

Outstanding Gear and Resources


Special Forces Survival Guide

Survival Straps Survival Bracelet

SAS Survival Handbook

Critical Wildfire Preparedness Tips


Wildfire-PreparednessEditor's Note: Watch for a detailed Online Course from Paul Purcell on wildfires soon. In the meantime, be sure to read the article on wildfires in the Summer 2013 issue of Living Ready.

With the worst wildfires in the history of Colorado charring the Centennial State, many are on the hunt for solid wildfire preparedness tips should the worst happen in their area.  Living Ready tapped Paul Purcell, author of Disaster Prep 101, for these wildfire preparedness tips from his renowned book.

Wildfire Preparedness Tips: Bugging Out

Let's discuss a a few considerations to keep in mind if a fire is outside your home and threatening your property. We'll use the scenario of an approaching wildfire with several hours notice.

Do things in this order:

  1. Prep the family to evacuate
  2. Set up any water pumping and spray gear you might have
  3. Shut down and seal the house
  4. Perform any last minute protective landscaping
  5. Load any valuables or heirlooms that will fit in your vehicles
  6. Protect valuables and heirlooms that have to be left behind
  7. Evacuate

Note: These steps are all time sensitive. Any fire in your area should be monitored so you'll know exactly how much time you have. Anything less than two hours, perform only numbers 1 and 7.

Use the acronym W.I.L.D. to remember what to do in advance of a wildfire.

  • Water
  • Interior
  • Landscaping
  • Depart

Wildfire Preparedness Tips: Detailed Preps

  • Keep a small bug out kit away from home during wildfire season in case something should happen to your home while you're away.
  • Conduct fire drills at home and ask that they be conducted at work. Make it a habit to learn all the fire exit locations of any building, structure or vehicle you or your family frequent. (Don't forget schools)
  • If you live or work in a tall building above the 10th floor, examine alternate escape methods in case all exits are blocked by fire. Fire truck ladders are limited to about the 10th floor. Getting down from anything higher will be up to you.
  • It's a good idea to have these tools on hand: shovel, heavy rake, axe, sledge hammer, chain saw and enough garden hose to reach from two separate water sources to the farthest side of your house or yard. They can be used for any number of wildfire responses.
  • Do your best to keep flammable material away from the exterior of your home. Same goes for the windows on the inside of the house.
  • Don't keep your keys inside your bug-out vehicle. You never know who might panic and be in desperate search of a way out of the area. Keep your keys secured to a belt or on a neck chain.
  • Create a threat map to identify evacuation routes.

Whatever you do, do things in advance of the fire to protect your home and do not stick around to fight a wildfire. Small grass fires, maybe, but not a full wildfire or forest fire.

Your Wildfire Preparedness Ideas

Wildfire preparedness certainly doesn't end with this list. For example, this free wildfire app from the Red Cross issues real-time alerts to your mobile device.

If you live in wildfire territory, what are some of the preps you do to be ready?

Outstanding Gear and Resources


Special Forces Survival Guide

Survival Straps Survival Bracelet

SAS Survival Handbook

Safe Travel Tips: Staying Healthy


Safe Travel Tips

File this one under "the nose knows." Living Ready contributor Vincent Zandri stands next to the special of the day at a butcher shop in Cairo, Egypt. Although not every call will be as easy to make as this one, the rule of thumb for travelers is to avoid anything that doesn't look or smell right.
File this one under “the nose knows.” Living Ready contributor Vincent Zandri stands next to the special of the day at a butcher shop in Cairo, Egypt. Although not every call will be as easy to make as this one, the rule of thumb for travelers is to avoid anything that doesn't look or smell right.

A big part of being prepared is something called “situational awareness.” It means being aware of your surroundings at all times, and taking action to prevent situations from becoming dangerous. That goes for at home and on the road.

Because summer is a busy travel season, here are some safe travel tips for staying healthy while outside the country. They're offered by Living Ready‘s in-house travel expert, globe-trotting journalist Vincent Zandri, who spends most of his time out-of-the-house. Be sure to check out all his safe travel tips in his Living Ready Online Course, Travel Safely Outside the Country.

Safe Travel Tips: Staying Healthy

Zandri's safe travel tips:

Avoid the tap water. Stick to bottled water whenever possible. But watch for dishonest vendors who fill bottles with tap water to sell to unsuspecting foreigners.

Your nose knows. If something doesn't smell right, don't eat it.

Although it can't help with viral infection or parasites, a bottle of ciprofloxacin (aka “cipro”) will clear up most bacterial infections. It's the traveler's best friend. You will need a prescription from a doctor to obtain this medicine.

A portable water purifier is a great idea. Zandri carries a SteriPEN, which uses ultraviolet rays to disinfect water.

Domestic medical insurance plans often won't cover international expenses. Check your plan, or buy separate insurance just for the trip. If possible, use a short-term service like MedjetAssist to get you back to a U.S. hospital if the situation calls for it.

All travelers should consider packing the following items: antibiotic ointment, antacids, thermometer, hand sanitizer, bandages, surgical tape, over-the-counter pain relief, gauze, temporary dental filling material, anti-diarrheal pills and a sewing kit for stitches.

Your Safe Travel Tips

What safe travel tips can you offer? Leave a note in the comments below.

Top-Notch Gear and Resources


Happy Healthy Family


Aqua Vessel Insulated Filtration Bottle Black

Organization Key to Changing Backyard Chicken Ordinances

Image via Andover Backyard Chickens
Image via Andover Backyard Chickens

It's not zombies and supermoons you have to worry about when getting started in self-sufficient homesteading (not yet anyway). It's building codes and zoning ordinances. Time and time again, those who live against-the-grain or off-the-grid get pinched by well-meaning local officials. The backyard chicken group I met this weekend was a perfect example of how to correct those misguided ordinances.

After finishing a charity 5k of all things, I jogged (OK…walked) over to check out the sponsor booths. One of them was an organization called Andover Backyard Chickens. You can probably guess what its cause was about.

In an eggshell, Andover Backyard Chickens is trying to relax local zoning restrictions to allow homesteaders to keep birds inside Andover. This mostly suburban city is located a few cities out from Minneapolis. While urban homesteading is popular, Andover sits at the intersection of big city, suburban and rural lifestyles.

The situation was similar to many others across North America. But there was one important difference:


Andover Backyard Chickens not only sponsored a 5k full of locals who could put pressure on the city, it put together a comprehensive proposal for city officials to consider. This included specific zoning suggestions, licensing suggestions (such as taking a class before getting a permit for chickens), breed information and more. It was all put neatly together in a 3-ring binder.

Additionally, Andover Backyard Chickens sported matching “Got Chickens?” T-shirts, passed out homemade brochures with backyard chicken FAQs, got a petition together, started a Facebook page and generally stuck to a few key talking points.

All this added up to an organized effort that has a great chance at beating city hall on this issue.

I mention this because, unfortunately, some self-sufficiency/preparedness groups don't display this level of organization. They're forgetting that successfully communicating a message requires two parts: the message itself and an effective way to get the point across. Neither is more important than the other. This matters quite a bit when it comes time to talk with media or offer testimony.

It's no guarantee, but the kind of organization that Andover Backyard Chickens displayed is the best shot at changing things for the better.

PowerPot Review: A Portable Generator That Runs on Water

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PowerPot Review

There is a lot of so-so survival gear out there. It's hard not to become just a little cynical here at Living Ready. So when staff first heard of a portable generator called the PowerPot that converted heat from hot water into electricity, the first reaction was, “Prove it, wise guy.”

But after a test run, there's no doubt about it: The PowerPot is the real deal. Read the full review below or get started right away by ordering the PowerPot from the Living Ready Store (hey, you even get a free rechargeable battery on the house). Yep, staff liked it so much that the PowerPot is in the official Living Ready store.

PowerPot Review: An Innovative Portable Generator

The PowerPot works like this. First, fill the 46-ounce pot up 2/3 of the way with water. Attach a USB 2.0 plug into the side of the pot. Connect your cell phone or other gadget to the USB 2.0 plug. It cranks out electricity as soon as the water warms up.

That's it. No moving parts. No degree in thermodynamics required. Phones will charge in 1-2 hours.

PowerPot Review: More than Just a Portable Generator

PowerPot Portable Generator
Specs – Voltage: 5 volts; Regulator Current: 1 amp max; Power: 5 watts max; Weight: 18.2 ounces; Dimensions: 4.5″ x 5.5″ without bowl/lid or 4.5″ x 8″ with bowl/lid; Volume: 46 ounces (1.4 liters)

In addition to being able to charge gadgets, the PowerPot does a lot more.

For starters, it's a pot that can boil water inside. I don't have enough space in this article to list why that's so important in a survival situation, but Living Ready readers know the significance of that trait.

On that note, there's nothing special about the way it needs to be used. Heat water with it just like you would any other pot. The only exception is that the water doesn't need to be boiling for it to work.

That means you can use it on or near a fire, on a portable stove, inside a solar oven, on the hood of a hot car or any other method that heats water. The stove in the Living Ready kitchen was used for this review out of convenience, but field tests have shown how responsive this device is to any heat source. Charging times may vary depending on heat intensity, but who cares? It works. That's what matters.

Second, the PowerPot comes with an LED attachment that's painfully bright. It could easily light up a room in the dark or a camp. This might seem redundant considering a heat source may also be producing light (fires, for example), but remember that illumination at night can equal safety. And it's just not possible to be too safe.

Third, the PowerPot comes with a small bowl for cooking. The bowl sits on top of the larger pot, creating a double-boiler for food. It can't heat a lot of food, but this added functionality really adds to the versatility of the overall product.

However, PowerPot stresses that the pot with the water should not be used to also cook food. Only water should be used. Food goes in the separate bowl.

On Next Page: The Final Verdict & How to Get a Free PowerPot Battery

Video: Knife Sheath DIY Survival Kit

Those Altoid tin survival kits can be handy, but space restrictions mean carrying a more functional knife is out of the question. Is there a way to combine the best of the mini survival kits with the workhorse of a fixed blade knife?

Yes, as survival authority Jim Cobb shows in the video above. His knife sheath DIY survival kit strategy combines the portability of small kits with the utility of a knife.

This technique would work perfectly as an outdoor survival kit, a travel survival kit, emergency kits for cars, camping survival kits or even a fun project as survival kits for kids (with proper adult supervision, of course).

Putting Together a Knife Sheath DIY Survival Kit

Cobb first made a couple Altoid mini survival kits  before attaching a camera pouch to a large knife sheath. The tins slip nicely inside the camera pouch. Additional compartments in the pouch can hold a number of other helpful items.

Cobb points out these items in his knife sheath DIY survival kit:

Tinder tabs
LED light x2
Snare wire
Over-the-counter pain relief and caffeine tablets
Butane lighter
Signal whistle
Small folding knife x2
Button compass
Can opener
Magnesium fire striker
Water purification tablets
Signal mirror
Paracord (18 feet)

Knife Sheath DIY Survival Kit: Considerations

As Cobb mentions in the video, adding the DIY survival kit makes the sheath heavier to carry. It might be better to wear the sheath on a shoulder instead of on a belt.

Arm Yourself With Knowledge


SAS Survival Handbook

Coleman 4D XPS LED Duo Lantern

Special Forces Survival Guide

A Disturbing Fact About Traveler’s Diarrhea


What is Traveler's Diarrhea?

Travelers-DiarrheaTraveler's Diarrhea is a broad term for diarrhea contracted while traveling, most often associated with consuming contaminated foods or drink. This general definition could cover international, domestic or even local travel (to a neighborhood restaurant, for example).

Because remedies are readily available in the developed work, some may not take the illness seriously. But travelers at home, abroad or around the block need to be wary of the affliction at all times. Diarrhea can cause severe dehydration, which can kick off a host of other health concerns.

Traveler's Diarrhea: Prevention

As Vincent Zandri points out in his Living Ready University Online Course, Travel Safely Outside the Country, there are some common sense ways to avoid Traveler's Diarrhea no matter the location.

Zandri recommends avoiding ice from questionable establishments, watching for tap water being sold as bottled water and carrying a portable sterilizer, such as a SteriPen.

On the food front, Zandri says to trust your nose. If it doesn't look good to begin with, don't eat it. Remember that restaurants might serve food that looks safe, but the conditions in the kitchen could be appalling. Food served hot usually offers the best odds of a safe meal.

As a rule of thumb, remember the old traveler's rule of “boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it” when it comes to food.

Traveler's Diarrhea: The Disturbing Fact

Even if all the advice in Travel Safely Outside the Country is followed, that still might not be enough to prevent Traveler's Diarrhea. Here's why, according to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found in the Living Ready University Online Course.

The earliest study that addressed the question of food and water precautions was published in 1973; it concluded that “drinking bottled liquids, and avoiding salads, raw vegetables, and unpeeled fruits failed to prevent illness.” In a study of returning travelers from Mexico and Peru published in 1978, in which >70% of travelers reported TD, the author noted that “avoidance of tap water, uncooked foods, and ice cubes did not make a difference in the outcome.”

In a famous study in 1983, a survey of over 10,000 travelers worldwide found not only that observing food and water precautions failed to prevent TD, but also that people who claimed that they exercised more caution were at increased risk of acquiring TD: “Diarrhea seemed to occur more frequently the more a person tried to elude it!”

That's right. Just by virtue of traveling outside your regular area (in or out of the country), your odds of contracting Traveler's Diarrhea go way up. So what can you do about it?

Traveler's Diarrhea: It's Not What, But Where

The CDC goes on to state that it's not what you eat or drink, but where you consume it that makes the difference. This is because food preparation conditions can vary.

From the CDC:

Some restaurants fail to provide sinks for employees to wash their hands after going to the toilet. Cutting boards may not be washed between cutting raw meat and peeling and cutting vegetables. Foods are cooked but then may be left to sit at ambient temperatures for extended periods of time because of a paucity of refrigerator space or power cuts.

Windows may not be screened to keep out flies. Defrosting meat can sit on a refrigerator shelf and drip juices on already cooked foods.

Again, this could happen while traveling in or out of the country. On your home turf, you know the best places to get safe food and drink. Away from home you don't. Your odds of Traveler's Diarrhea go up.

Traveler's Diarrhea: The New Rule of Thumb

That doesn't mean you should abandon common advice about Traveler's Diarrhea. Avoid tap water, eat cooked foods, etc. But the new rule of thumb is to either prepare the food yourself or to find out if where you are eating is truly offering safe food and drink.


Video: Make a Workplace Survival Kit


Why You Need a Workplace Survival Kit

Jim Cobb is back with another of his innovative survival kit ideas. This time he focuses on making a workplace survival kit.

No, his mini survival kit video isn't about navigating awkward water cooler discussions or office politics. The aim here is to have a pocket survival kit that can be carried to and from the workplace.

Workplace survival kits are an often overlooked part of emergency preparedness. In a given week, a person working full-time likely spends a high percentage of the day away from home (don't forget the commute). Home survival kits are great, but they don't carpool.

A full-blown disaster doesn't have to happen for workplace survival kits to become necessary. Severe weather could prevent employees from leaving. A power outage might make things uncomfortable. Sprinklers could drench employees as they exit because of fire. In the winter, that could be deadly.

Workplace Survival Kit Items

Here's Cobb's workplace emergency kit checklist from the video:

Pen light
Small knife
Coins (money to use in vending machines)
Emergency blanket
Snack foods
Pain relievers & over-the-counter medicine
Emergency whistle
Hand sanitizer
First Aid kit

Other items could include bottles of water, prescription meds, N95 face masks, extra clothing, a cell phone charger and anything else specific to the workplace location.

Your Workplace Survival Kits

Of course, every workplace survival kit will be different. This video is just to get you thinking. The only hard-and-fast rule is that something is better than nothing.

Have you made a workplace survival kit? What items did you include? Leave a note in the comments below.

Arm Yourself With Knowledge


SAS Survival Handbook

Coleman 4D XPS LED Duo Lantern

Special Forces Survival Guide

Three Gun Myths That Need to Die


Editor's Note: This piece on gun myths was submitted by reader Joseph Terry. Terry is a retired law enforcement instructor who now offers tips for using firearms as a tool for preparedness.

It's important to stay level-headed with any element of preparedness, but it's especially true when it comes to firearms. There are plenty of assumptions about their use during personal protection encounters. Don't fall for the hype. If firearms are part of your preparedness plans, you owe it to yourself and your family to seek training from professionals.


Three Gun Myths that Need to Die

by Joseph Terry

Guns come with a ton of mythology that can get you killed. Here I will bust three of the most common gun myths.

Gun Myth #1: It's Enough to Just Have a Gun for Personal Protection

Purchasing a firearm for personal protection when you don’t get adequately trained in its use is just like handing your kid the keys to the car without a driving class.

Think about the effective use of that firearm. It's the ability to deliver, in less than two seconds, two adequate projectiles into the center chest area of a person who has demonstrated the intent and capacity to do you lethal harm at distances of 10 feet to 25 yards.

Do that while you are so amped on adrenalin that you can’t see straight, take a deep breath or perform any fine motor functions.

Get the picture? A gun without effective and frequent training is a hollow threat.

Gun Myth #1 Solution

When you go to the gun store, don’t buy a gun (yet). Ask where you can get good training.

All serious shoot schools and gun clubs have “loaner” guns, and they are both friendly and effective at giving a beginner a good launch pad.

Before you buy any gun, get trained first in basic gun handling safety and see which guns seem to fit well in your hand and point naturally. (Pick a spot on the wall, close your eyes and point the gun at where you remember the spot to be. Open your eyes. If the gun is on-target, it fits you.)

Get the gun type that is most simple to operate and that fits you, then pick the caliber. Shot placement is much more important than what the gun shoots. Figure into the price of the gun the cost of 500 rounds of ammo for it. (It will take you not less than three hundred rounds to learn to shoot your gun.) Store the remainder of the ammo in a cool, dark place. Price and availability on ammunition will vary widely with the political winds. A gun without ammo is as useful as a microwave oven in a power outage.

It's also a good idea to take a concealed carry class if one is offered in your area.

Gun Myth #2: I Can Just Take My Gun Out and the Bad Guy Will Go Away

Do not point a gun at anybody unless you are legally justified to use lethal force. Train using verbal commands, such as, “Back off or I will shoot you.” And for goodness' sake, sound like you mean it.

Gun Myth #3: I’ve Shot My Gun, I Know How It Works

Think so? Let me tell you what basic firearms proficiency is as a police firearms instructor. It is the ability to consistently:

  1. Pick up the gun from a table and quickly confirm that it is unloaded, or safely unload it.
  2. Combat load (with a cartridge in the chamber and safety “on” if magazine fed).
  3. Holster or sling without looking.
  4. Draw the handgun or shoulder the weapon smoothly, in a good stance without endangering other shooters or bystanders.
  5. Demonstrate standing, kneeling, prone and barricade shooting positions.
  6. Aim using the sights properly and sweep the safety “off” (only after the gun is pointed on target).
  7. Engage multiple targets at varied distances appropriate for the firearm, then immediately return the weapon to “safe.”
  8. Reload while moving to another shooting position without looking at the gun or ammo pouches.
  9. Clear jams if they occur, smoothly and quickly, without losing sight of the target(s).
  10. Field strip, clean and return the firearm to whatever condition required by the instructor.

Gun Myth #3 Solution

Do that drill at least three times a year (which means you have to find a range that lets you move while you shoot) and guess what? You are still a “novice” defensive shooter.

Then, take a class at one of the many excellent schools that offer personal defensive shooting techniques and rise to the intermediate proficiency level.

Arm Yourself With Knowledge


SAS Survival Handbook

Coleman 4D XPS LED Duo Lantern

Special Forces Survival Guide