How to Avoid Thermal Imaging Devices

thermal imagingThis excellent article on thermal imaging was sent to me by a friend.  I have doubled checked the information with a couple of other sources and have found it to be good.


A warm body can be detected by the IR (Infrared) heat that it gives off with thermal imaging equipment, and provides a difficult challenge to someone or some thing wishing to avoid detection. You may be camouflaged in the best concealment that there is, but you may be highly visible to thermal imaging from someone with a IR scope on the ground or that Drone flying overhead… This goes the same for any warm or hot equipment that you wish to conceal.

What is Infrared (IR)? It is light (not visible to the human eye); electromagnetic radiation with longer wavelengths than visible light, extending from the red edge of the visible spectrum. If you could see the waves, the wavelength would literally be only 0.00074 to 0.3 millimeters, or 0.00004 inches to 0.01 inches. Humans at normal body temperature radiate chiefly at wavelengths around 0.01 millimeters, or 0.0004 inches… right in the infrared.

There is no absolute certain way to defeat infrared, but there are some techniques that make detection more difficult.

One of the most effective methods to block IR is to conceal behind glass. Glass is opaque to thermal imaging. It is not a practical solution though, due to the obvious impracticality of carrying around a pane of glass, or constructing your walls and ceiling out of glass

A simple and effective method to block IR is an ordinary ‘space blanket’ or thermal blanket of Mylar foil. The foil will block the IR heat signature behind it. A problem though, is that whatever it is that you are attempting to conceal, its heat will either build up inside to an unbearable degree or it will escape ‘somewhere’, which will then be visible to IR imagers. Concealment for the most part will be temporary without elaborate mechanisms to disperse the heat signature.

For a quick temporary method of IR concealment, throw a blanket over yourself. A thick woolen blanket will help defeat thermal imaging. Covering with a layer of insulation, the heat is blocked (or partially blocked) so that it doesn’t radiate. This is only temporary concealment as the heat builds beneath the blanket, but it may work long enough to conceal during a quick TI scan or Drone flyover…

Other methods of partially hiding from IR is to conceal by blending in next to other warm objects like stones or thick walls that may still be holding the heat from the day. The vents in buildings may be out-flowing warm air; a source of heat that can help obscure your own thermal outline. You get the idea… wherever there is existing natural or man-made heat, you can blend in with that to help conceal your presence to an IR or thermal imager.

Wear an insulated jacket, insulated pants and a hat. It won’t be 100% but it will help lessen the heat signature. Again, the heat will build and escape through the neck openings and face. You could cover your face with cool mud, which will work temporarily. It’s all pretty much common sense; reduce, disperse, or cover the sources of heat.

Netting will help somewhat, but the holes throughout the webbing of the net will reveal some of the thermal IR heat. Netting will help to disperse the heat that may be underneath it as the airflow will be broken up somewhat by the webbing and will hide or smear hot spots better than nothing covering them at all. The heat signature will not be as intense, but spread out more. An example may be to cover a vehicle that has been running with netting, or to wear a Ghillie suit.

Put trees and/or brush between you and the suspected IR imager. Trees overhead will help break up the infrared signature, especially under a heavy canopy of leaves.

A moving heat signature at night is quicker to identify than a stationary one (up to a point).

When you are hiding your heat signature (with a Mylar space blanket or other means), undersome conditions your signature may look ‘too cold’ to an IR scan of the area (an extra dark outline, or a ‘black hole’), which may make you detectable. Surely this is better than otherwise, but keep in mind that the objective is to blend in with the thermal clutter of the surroundings.

Avoid open spaces and skylines by day or night.

Thermal Imaging does not perform well in falling rain.

The problem with most IR cloaking methods, IR clothing or netting designed to block IR, is that it will also block the background IR – creating a black hole of varying degrees. Ideally you would want something that ‘cloaks’ or blends your IR signature such that the background scatter at your location is what the observer sees.

We are entering the age of the Drones, and there will be (are) all sorts of levels of detection capabilities. But starting with the basics of ordinary IR heat signature is at least starting somewhere…


Space Blankets, are They Good or Bad?

Space blankets also known as Mylar blankets, first aid blankets, emergency blankets, or thermal space blanketsblankets are a low-weight, small blanket made of metallic heat-reflective thin plastic sheeting.  This was first developed by NASA in 1964 for us in the space program. Their design reduces the heat loss in a person’s body which would otherwise occur due to thermal radiation, water evaporation, or convection.

These blankets have been widely distributed in first aid and survival kits and can be purchased rather inexpensively.  I have seen them on sale for $1.99 for a small blanket to $30 for a bivy sack that will hold a large man.

If you are putting together a survival or first aid kit that will need to be stored in a very small container, space blankets can be useful.  But first, you have to understand a few things about them.  Many of them are fairly small measuring in the area of 56 (4 ft. 8) X 84 (7 ft.) inches in size.  This is small if you are a fairly large man, they will not wrap around you, never mind work for two people like it suggests on much of the packaging.

Space blankets only serve to prevent heat loss in the following ways.

      • The airtight material reduces the loss of heat by convection.
      • Heat loss caused by evaporation of perspiration, moisture or blood is minimized by the same mechanism
      • The reflective surface inhibits losses caused by thermal radiation.

Unlike a wool blanket, the space blanket does not have any insulation to trap air and keep you warm.  If you are hypothermic, you will need to have an outside source of heat.

The space blankets manufactures claim that they will reflect back up to 80% of your body heat.  But remember you are still losing 20%; depending on the temperature they may just slow down the rate at which hypothermia kills you.

They are waterproof and can keep the rain off you, but because they are waterproof, if you are wrapped in one, they will not breathe and will hold your moisture in.  This may cause your clothes to become damp.  The optimum is to be warm and dry not warm and wet, or even damp.  They can make an excellent sunshade to protect you from the sun.

There are many articles written on how you can use space blankets to hide from infrared searches.  There is some true to some degree.  If used correctly they can reduce your chances of being found.  First, there must be open air between you and the blanket or your body will slowly heat up the blanket.  Second, the blanket itself will make a unusual light signature, so you must do something to break up the thermal patterns.  In the next few days, I will post an article on hiding from infrared thermal devices.

If you are purchasing a space blanket, look for the largest heaviest one you can find and then carry two.  The best one I have found is also the most expensive and that is the bivy sack made by Adventure Medical.  This is a bivy sack made from a type of space blanket material that is large enough for a 6 ft 6 in 250 man.  They come in a small stuff sack and are about the size of two fists.  Unfortunately, you have to pay for the best and they are about $30 each.

Space blankets if used within their limitations can be very useful and save your life.


Chicken Casserole ala Bonnie with Dehydrated Chicken

dehydrated chickenMy husband found a #10 can of Mountain House dehydrated chicken during our container remodel so I decided to try it. I don’t make many casseroles for just the two of us, but it was my turn to take food to my father in law, so thought I would try one with the dehydrated chicken. The chicken was at least 25 or more years old and looked pretty dry even for a dehydrated food item.

I didn’t have a recipe, so I decide to use some of the garden zucchini, (green & yellow, onions, and used spinach noodles for a binder and appearance. The following recipe is what I used for making this chicken casserole.

Remember that with any dehydrated food you have to reconstitute it first. If you have tried any of your dehydrated food you have to judge for yourself how much you will need in order to re-dehydrated for the recipe.

Ingredients for Dehydrated Chicken Casserole ala Bonnie

      • 2 cups dehydrated chicken, Cover with water and set aside until rehydrated
      • 1 red onion chopped
      • 1 yellow zucchini chop into 2 inch squares
      • 1 green zucchini chop into 2 inch squares
      • 8 mushrooms chopped
      • 5 cloves garlic minced
      • 1/2 tsp of thyme
      • 1 can mushroom soup
      • 2 cups chopped Swiss chard (have lots)
      • 1 cup peas (optional) or
      • 1 cup string beans (optional)
      • 1-cup spinach noodles any type (I used the long ones and broke them up)
      • Salt and pepper as needed.

Drain the water from the chicken making sure it’s not watery. Add the onion and garlic and sauté in  pan for few minutes and then add chicken. Mix well, then  add the vegetables, cook only until al dente. Adjust seasoning to your taste, I don’t use salt, so taste the food before adding more salt. The soup has a lot of salt also.

Put in baking dish sprayed with Pam or butter: Sprinkle top with either panko or corn flakes crushed.

Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the top is brown.

You can add any vegetable that you like, since it’s the end of summer we used zucchini.  I also add Swiss chard, but you can add peas or sting beans if you want.

We enjoyed it with a green salad, but a fruit salad would have been nice also. Happy Cooking and let me know if you try it.

Preparedness Mom

The casserole was great, the chicken dehydrated well and you would never have know it wasn’t fresh.


Living Off the Land and Foraging for Calories.

Living off the landLiving off the land is an idea that is widely discussed in prepper circles.  I know people who plan to live of the land after TEOTWAWKI.  Fortunately, for most of them, they have never had to do it.  Living off the land is hard work and for most, it will be slow starvation.

An Australian study tells us that  hunter gatherers get 64% of their energy from things that move, 36% from plants, basically two thirds meat, fish or bug, one third plant. The creatures we eat are usually nutritionally dense and high in calories.  This does not hold true for plants. While plants can provide important minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and necessary trace elements most of them have the calories you need. Many plants take more energy to collect, prepare and consume than we get back in calories.

Let’s talk about how hard it is to find the calories you need in the woods. It has been stated that while at rest your body can consume calories equal to ten times your body weight.  However, if you are working hard, this can increase up to twenty times your body weight.

A 200-pound man in good shape and working hard  while living off the land could need up to 4000 calories a day.

So, what about calories from plants?

Acorns…………….112 calories per oz
Pecans…………….197 calories per oz
Apple………………15 calories per oz
Cattail tuber……….19 calories per oz
Blackberries………..12 calories per oz

Nuts are definitely the best source of non-animal-based calories in the wild. To get 4000 calories a day you  would need to eat 35 ounces (2.2 lbs) of acorn nut meat, which means collecting  more than that 2.2 pounds of acorns.  This takes a lot of work as you need to shell, crush, then extract the tannin from them before eating.  Pecans would be better, you would only need to eat 20 ounces of shelled pecan nut meat.

In a survival situation if you are not taking in more calories than you are expending. You are on a path to slow starvation.   If you are planning on living off the land, you need to not only learn the edible plants, but you need to learn what calories they can provide.


When Will We Face A Pandemic?

pandemicToday a friend sent me a link to an article entitled You Are Not Nearly Scared Enough About Ebola.   in addition, there was a link to another article that make some strong statements on the potential health problems that can result from the continued spread of the disease.  Ebola cases in west Africa could rise to 20,000 says WHO 

In this second article, Dr Anthony Fauci made the following statement regarding African countries.  “”What we have here is porous borders, poverty and big cities.  It is the perfect storm.”  What struck me about this statement is that it also applies to the US border with Mexico.  Our border with Mexico is effectively an open border.

There have been many news reports of illegal’s entering the US with all sorts of diseases including drug resistant TB, scabies, chicken pox, swine flu, dengue fever, Chagas disease hepatitis and other contagious diseases.  Many of these diseases have been almost eradicated from the US.

At the same time, we have these porous borders we have enemies in the Middle East like ISIS that want to kill us and have no scruples about how they go about it.  With all the attempts being made to weaponize diseases, someone will succeed.

I believe it is only a matter of time before we are faced with some sort of pandemic.  Now it may not be Ebola, it could be something like smallpox or bubonic plague.  In the movies, there is always the hero who flies in and saves the day with a miraculous vaccine at last minute.  In real life, you can’t count on this happening.  You will not be able to count on the government to save you.

You will need to have the supplies and the ability to self-quarantine yourselves.  This means having food and water on hand for several months.  In addition you need basic medical supplies and knowledge of sanitation procedures. Here are links to several previous posts that may help you. Surviving Ebola and Other Infectious Diseases,  Flu Pandemic, When Will One Occur and How to Avoid Getting Sick?,   Disease Prevention

Unfortunately a pandemic may not be quick, the 1918 flu pandemic came in three waves and lasted two years.  Learn as much as you can and be as prepared as you can.  If you get the chance write to the idiots that are responsible for our open borders and tell them to fix the problem


Old Civil Defense Sanitation Kits

sanitation kitsOne of the advantages of being an old prepper is the fact that you will have accumulated a lot of stuff.  Now this can also be a problem, where do you store it.  This morning I have been sorting out a bunch of stuff that has been in the back of a shipping container.  One of the things that I found were several old civil defense sanitation kits from the 1960s so they are about fifty years old.

Now these were nice sanitation kits when they were made, each containing the following items inside a heavy fiber drum.

Commode Seat, Plastic               1
Sanitary Napkins                      60
Polyethelene Gloves (pair            1
Water Dispensing Spout              1
Tie Wire (bag closing)                 1
Cups and Lids (plastic                70
Commode Chemical (pack)        12
Poly Bag Liners (commode)         1
Instruction Sheet                          1
Toilet Tissue                             10

sanitation kit

It came with a toilet seat and plastic bags to line the drums.


When I saw these, I figured after fifty years, they are going to be history.  So I opened them up and found everything in pristine condition.  The toilet paper was made by Scot and is like new.  The plastic cups and lids were like new and were still pliable, no cracking.

Even the rubber hose for the water-dispensing spout was still flexible and showed no signs of cracking.  The chemical was still soft and not in the hard block, I expected to find.  My wife examined the sanitary napkins and said they are a little old fashioned, but were in good shape and could be used.

Now I know that these sanitation kits have been exposed to heat and have not been stored under the best conditions.  I am impressed the government must have used only the top of the line materials in making these.

sanitation kits

Sanitation kits

A bit old fashioned, but usable.

One thing that I found interesting was that each one of these kits was suppose to last 50 people for 2 weeks,  seems a bit skimpy to me.

Every now and then, I see one of these sanitation kits for sale cheap.  Next time I might just buy it.



Shipping Containers and How to Insulate Them

shipping containerI have always liked shipping containers for storage and other uses.  My family has several and I have had one in my yard for many years.  They are inexpensive to purchase, require little maintenance, and hold up well to the weather.  In all the years I have had mine I have never had any problems with leaks or rodents.

My shipping container is currently stored under a carport to protect it from the sun.  This helps to keep it much cooler.  But recently I have decided to reorganize some of my storage and want to store some items in the container that are more heat sensitive.  Just by painting it a light color and putting in under the carport has lowered the temperature significantly, but not as much as I would like.

shipping container

Here you can see the container under the carport.

shipping containerSo after looking at what one of my friends has done, I am insulating my shipping container.  It turned out that the hardest part was emptying it.  I lined it with two-inch form insulation board.  The board with the aluminum foil on one side. The foil is important and should go on the side facing out.  I used liquid nail to glue the board to the sides and top of the container.  Only use the liquid nail or other glue on the aluminum foil side.  Some of the glue will melt or damage the foam insulation.

The insulation is easy to work with; all it takes is a good pocketknife to cut it up.  To line an eight by twenty container took 19 sheets. After I got the insulation up I filled up all the joins with expanding spray foam insulation.  This comes in aerosol cans and can be purchased in any hardware store. I will now install a small wall air conditioner.  Based on my friends experience it should stay about 65 degrees on the hottest days.

Because of the insulation and the fact that the shipping container is shaded, it should not cost more than twenty dollars a month in the middle of summer.  I may even go so far as to run the air conditioner off solar panels  in the future.

Here is the link to a previous post I wrote on shipping containers and what to look for when you purchase them.  Inexpensive Storage Space  

If you need extra storage space and what prepper doesn’t, these are an inexpensive way to go.  You can purchase a eight by twenty container for between $1000 to $2000.



Baking Powder vs Baking Soda, Understanding the Difference

baking powder vs baking sodaWhen I was younger I could never figure out the baking powder vs baking soda thing.  When I started baking years ago with my grandmother, she tried to explain to me the difference, but being young, I didn’t understand.  Now that I bake a lot, I try to teach my granddaughters that these two products are needed in your storage and why you need both.  Especially since, they love biscuits.

Both baking soda and baking powder are chemical leavening agents that cause batters to rise when baked.  The rising agents enlarge the bubbles which are already present in the batter produced through creaming of ingredients.  When a recipe contains both baking powder and baking soda, the baking powder does most of the work.  The baking soda neutralizes the acids in the recipe plus adds tenderness and some leavening.

When using baking powder or baking soda in a recipe, be sure to sift or whisk with other ingredients before adding to the batter to ensure uniformity.

Some recipes call for baking soda, while others call for baking powder.  Which ingredient you use depends on the other ingredients in the recipe.  The ultimate goal is to produce a tasty product with a pleasing texture.  Baking soda being a base will yield a bitter taste unless countered by the acidity of another ingredient, such as buttermilk.  You’ll find baking soda in cookie recipes.  Baking powder contains both an acid and a base and has a neutral effect in terms of taste.  Recipes that call for baking powder often call for other neutral-tasting ingredients, such as milk.  Baking powder is a common ingredient in cakes and biscuits.

You can substitute baking powder in place of baking soda (you’ll need more baking powder and it may affect the taste), but you can’t use baking soda when a recipe calls for baking powder.  Baking soda by itself lacks the acidity to make a cake rise.  However, you can make your own baking powder if you have baking soda and cream of tartar. Simply by making two parts cream of tartar with one part baking soda.  Leavening Bread with Homemade Baking Powder.

For most purposes other than baking, baking soda has an unlimited shelf life.  To test if it’s still at its maximum effectiveness for baking, put a few drops of an acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice, in a small bowl and add 1 tablespoon of baking soda. If the soda fixes immediately, it’s still effective.  If the fizzing is delayed, keep the soda for cleaning purposes and buy a new box to use for baking.

Baking powder is more likely to lose its potency over time.  Check it by stirring 1 teaspoon of baking powder into 1/4 cup of water.  If it doesn’t readily bubble, discard the baking powder and buy a fresh can. The containers of baking powder and baking soda contain expiration dates, but, can be kept longer and then tested before using.  Always store these items in their own containers.

Hopefully this article will help some young bakers out there to understand the baking powder vs baking soda issue.  Happy baking.

Preparedness Mom

Preppers can Learn From the Homeless


Notice that this tent is covered with a tarp.

If you really want to learn about free or cheap gear talk to a homeless person.  They are the real experts on how to get by with very little.  Now I am not talking about many of the beggars that you see on the street corner, far too many of them have their housing paid for by some government agency.  I am talking about the hard-core homeless who are living in a homeless camp.

There are a few things that I have noticed that are common in every camp that I see.  Keep in mind I am not in an area that gets heavy snowfall.  One, regardless of the quality or type of tent they have they always cover it with something else.  This may consist of a second tent or a tarp or both.  When the weather is bad, they want as many layers as they can get.  This is probably for two reasons, rain and cold.

Now if you live in an area with heavy snow you may see that they need to build a shelter over the tents to help carry the snow load.  In the Sierras where snowfall is quite heavy they use scrap lumber, downed trees or whatever else they can get.  Probably the best camp that I have seen was a tepee.  They seemed to get along quite well in this regardless of the weather.

But remember they all had as much extra gear as they could get their hands on.  This is a good example of why you need good gear and lots of backup.  Regardless of how fancy your gear is, it will deteriorate with age and tents do fail.

A while back, we were camping on the coast and had three tents with us.  A cheap one I bought wholesale for $4.50, a Walmart tent and a fancy REI tent that cost $400.00.  During the night, it rained hard.  One tent leaked, you guessed it, the expensive one.  It was new and had a bad seam.  This is why you need to be sure and use your equipment and become familiar with it.

Another thing about the homeless, you will notice that even though they do not have top of the line clothing, by dressing in layers they are able to survive in bad weather.  They get most of their gear at the thrifty shops or from hand me downs.

Now the one place that I have noticed that they fall down on is food.  Because of all the shelters, charities and food stamps around here, most of them have become dependent on the system for food like most people.

Next time you see a homeless person take a look at what they are carrying.  If they are receptive spent a few minutes talking to them you may be surprised at what you learn.