Using Controlled Burns and Backfiring to Fight Wildland Fires

backfiringToday I am sitting in my home and you can smell the smoke from the King Fire in Northern California.  The smoke is thick enough that the sun has a red halo around it and the amount of light it produces is reduced.  Since I have written about the dangers of wild fires, today I am going to write about how controlled burns and backfiring may help you save your home in a real emergency.

Controlled burns are normally done well before a fire, when the weather and other conditions are optimum.  The whole idea is to use small controllable fires to lessen the fuel load and prevent larger fires that are more dangerous.  The danger of controlled burns is that even large professional fire departments have lost control of them and caused damage to homes.  If you decide to use controlled burns to lessen the fuel load, make sure you have the equipment, personnel and knowledge on hand to control it.


Notice that the fireman is wearing full protective gear, which is necessary when starting backfires

Now back burning or backfiring is  done to stop a wildfire that is already in progress. Backfiring is a way of reducing the amount of flammable material by starting small fires along a manmade or natural firebreak in front of the main fire.  These small fires are started on the side of the firebreak closest to the oncoming fire.  These small fires are designed to ‘burn back towards the main fire front’ and are usually burning and traveling against ground level winds. This widens the firebreak and helps to suppress the main fire by removing the fuel.  It must be far away enough from the main fire that it creates a dead zone of consumed tinder, rather than merely adding to the larger fire.

Now backfiring is a technique that while it is widely used by the fire service does require some expertise.  Amateurs should not attempt to set backfires, because they can be dangerous. One can spread in the wrong direction, creating a bigger problem, and the fire can also cause severe injuries.  You may want to talk with someone on your local fire department if possible to get more information.  Joining a volunteer fire department is a good source of training and experience in both fire fighting and medical care.  As with anything, knowledge is power.


Luci, a Neat Little Solar Powered Lantern.


Here you can see Luci lit

The other day I received Luci by MPOWERED in the mail.  This is a small inflatable solar powered lantern that is very lightweight at less than 4 ounces.  It is about 5 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick when deflated.  Inflated it is 5 inches in diameter by about 4 inches thick.   It has a 3.7 VDC lithium polymer battery.

After getting it, I immediately had to inflate it and play with it.  It wasn’t hard to blow up once you found the trick.  You need to bite on the valve as you blow.  Once it was inflated, I pressed the on switch and it lit right up.  It has two levels of brightness and one flashing mode.

I was a bit surprised by how much light it put out.  After making sure, it was fully charged I took it into a dark room and turned it on.  It lit a small room well and I was able to read by it.  At this point, I notice two areas that could be improved.  One, the switch was a bit hard to locate in the dark.  Two, I would like to see a better method of hanging it up.  There is a small strap on one end, but it seems flimsy.  But overall, it lit the room up quite well; it would be more than adequate in most 4-man tents.


Here you can see the solar panels

Some of the things that I like about it are, it is waterproof, and small and light enough to fit into your bugout bag.  MPOWERED says it takes about 8 hours in direct sunlight to fully charge Luci.  Luci will then provide between 6 to 12 hours of light depending on which power level you operate it.  One thing that I noticed about Luci was that the smoother the sides, the better the light.  Make sure you blow it up all the way.

Luci is for sale on Amazon for $15 which is fairly inexpensive for a solar light.  It could be a handy item as part of your bugout bag or for backup lighting in case of a power failure.  Luci is not the strongest item and you will have to protect it from damage to get the most out of it.  But I will recommend it.


Today I Ate a 42 Year old Package of Long Term-Food Storage

long-term food storage

The 42 year old package of beef stew i ate today

It has been my contention that properly packed products will last beyond what most people would consider their shelf life.  Personally, I have limited my own purchases of long-term food storage to a few companies.  In the last, few years I have seen a number of new companies enter the long-term food market.  The majority of these companies seem to be just trying to take advantage of the demand for food and I would not trust their products to keep my family alive.  Some companies I do trust and today a friend and I ate a Mountain House pouch of beef stew dated the ninety-sixth day of 1972.

Yes, that was 1972; 42 years ago and we are talking about a pouch not a can.  At that time they were never expected to be kept for this period of time.  But they were packed with the best technology available.

As many of you know, I try to get my hands on all the very old long-term food storage I can find.  I have opened many cans and have refused to eat products from many companies.   Long-term Food Storage, 30 year Old Cans I Opened Today

Friends are always giving me all cans and packages that they are concerned about.  Anyway, I ended up getting several old pouches of Mountain House Beef Stew.  The pouches were in good condition and the food looked good so we rehydrated it and ate it.

long-term food storageOne thing that I have learned about older food freeze-dried and dehydrated foods is that you need to let them set in the boiling water a little longer than normal.  Second, they seem to require a little more water than the recommended amount.

The 42-year-old beef stew tasted fine and I enjoyed it.  Now I don’t know about how nutritious it was, but I know it filled me up and provided me with calories.  Now I am not advocating that you keep your food this long, I believe in rotating it regularly.  But if you run across some old Mountain House don’t be in a big hurry to throw it away.  It might still be good.


Major Wildfires Can be the Biggest Dangers to You and Your Preps

major wildfireEvery year I write a post on wildfires and try to warn people about their dangers.  Yet every year I see people who I know and have talked to about this problem ignore what I say.  Many of my friends who have been in the fire service feel the same way.  Until you have seen an out of control  major wildfire, you can’t understand the force they can generate.

A few years ago, 60 some odd houses burned down near me in an area most people felt could never have a major wildfire.  This can also occur in the cities. Go back in history and look at the fires that destroyed large areas of major cities like the Great Chicago fire.  These have not happened in recent years because of our fire departments.  But what about after a collapse of society?


The Chicago fire of 1871

Suddenly people will be forced to cook with fires and use fireplaces that have not been maintained in many years.  Kerosene lamps and candles will come back into use.  Take a look around you and think about what would happen in your neighborhood if people had to revert to the use of these items.

Now out west where we have major wildfires every year the dangers of fires may seem more real, but because you live in an area that does not normally have these types of fires, don’t think that things will not change.  Both house and wildland fires will become more common.

After TEOTWAWKI, you will be responsible for you own fire protection.  When you go looking for that bug out location, do you take into consideration the city boy who has never camped and might be building a campfire near you?  The just plain nut who wants to cause destruction?  When you buy a home or develop a bug out location, do you consider fire danger?  It very well could be your biggest danger.

Here are some articles that I have written in the past that may help you.

I think that in some areas, major wildfires will be more of a danger to you and your preps than looters


A Gray Man Vehicle, Why you Need One

gray man vehicle

A nice truck, but people remember it.

The other day I saw a prepper driving what he calls his bug out vehicle.  It is a nice older four-wheel pickup.  But it is painted in camouflage and stands out like a sour thumb.  It has extra lights, antennas and gas cans and attracts attention everywhere he goes.  What he really needs is a gray man vehicle.  The vehicle he is driving is a target.

A gray man vehicle does not stand out and draw attention.  It may be an older four-wheel drive pickup or SUV that is in good mechanical condition and is painted an ordinary color.  It shouldn’t be tricked out with gas cans and antennas.

Keep the vehicle well maintained, but don’t worry too much about the external appearance.  Remember you are trying not to attract attention.  No bumper stickers or other decals indicating your beliefs.  It should have good off road tires, a good spare and the appropriate jacks and tools.

If it comes time to bug out, your necessary bug out gear should be packed and ready to load.  The gray man vehicle should always be kept with the gas tank full.  If you feel that, you will need camouflage in the future.  Buy a case of 24 cans of Khaki Ultra-Flat from Krylon’s Camouflage paint system.  This is enough to paint the average vehicle and should cost about $120 if you shop around.  You will just have to create your own camo pattern are you go; it is not hard to create a decent pattern.

The main thing with a gray man vehicle is that you want to blend in with the other traffic on the roads.  You don’t want to be the one that attracts attention either from the government or from the general population.


Good Equipment and a Lack of Prepper Skills can Kill You

prepper skills

Nice gear do you know how to use it?

At least once a week it seems as if I encounter someone you has gear that they have spent good money on and then just set in the corner.  In some cases they have never even unwrapped it.  Often the husband knows how to use it but has never taken the time to show his wife how to use it.  Prepper skills are something that we need to share.

Because I write this blog and know many people in the industry, I have accumulated a pretty good pile of different types of equipment.  My wife likes to cook and work with food, she knows all about solar ovens and various methods of cooking.  But in some other areas, I have been wondering.  Now I know that she proofreads every blog.  So tonight I laid out a bunch of solar chargers like the Goal Zero, the Sunjack various lights, batteries and, various lights.  Now there was nothing really complicated, if she has been paying attention to the blogs, she should have a good idea what to do.

I then asked her to see how many lights she could get turned on.  With a little coaching, he finally stated to get some of them lit.   She was a bit embarrassed about not knowing how use some of the equipment and it was a good lesson for both of us.

I need to do a bit of cross training on some of the things she can do in the kitchen and I need to spend more time teaching her essential prepper skills.  She is a quick study and always eager to learn, so it is my fault for not having taken the time to teach her and the same thing probably applies to the rest of my family.

If you have read much of my writing, you know I always stress practicing your prepper skills.  Well it seems that in my busy life I have not paid as much attention to training my own family.  Fortunately I still have time to fix the problem. Don’t you make the same mistake and only discover it when the crunch comes, it may be to late to fix it.



Improvised Autoclave, How to Make One to Sterilize Your Medical Equip.

improvised autoclave

One problem that we all face in medical situations is how to sterilize instruments and possibly homemade dressings.  One possible solution is to use a pressure cooker or canner as a improvised autoclave.

First a few words of warning there is no way that we can be sure that a pressure cooker will be as efficient as a real properly designed autoclave.  However, it may be the best thing we have.  It will be better than using boiling water.

Warning: Before you use your pressure cooker always read and follow the provided safety instructions. Improper usage of a pressure cooker may result in dangerous situations!

How to use your improvised autoclave.

improvised autoclave

Just cut off the handles to make them fit.

The way that you sterilize items in a pressure cooker is to use a combination of time and steam.  A normal autoclave will reach temperatures of 250° F.  A good All American pressure canner set for 15 lbs can achieve the same temperature.

To use the pressure cooker or canner as an autoclave you need to put a wire rack in the unit that will hold the items to be sterilized above the water.  One way to do this is to take a perforated or wire mesh, stainless steel deep frying basket upside down in the cooker to act as a shelf and keep the items to be sterilized above the water.

Steam is the main agent that does the sterilizing.  When you are sterilizing anything in a pressure cooker, it is important to ensure that those items are placed above the water that is boiling.  The goal is to expose them to pure steam.  If any or all of the items are immersed in the water then complete sterilization may not occur.

The items need to be exposed to the steam for a full 30 minutes.  This means you don’t start timing until the steam begins to vent from the pressure cooker.  When you fill the cooker, be sure not to over fill it and block the vent.

Instruments can be set directly on the racks.  If you are sterilizing homemade dressings in your improvised autoclave, you will need to dry them when they come out.  Maintain sterility as much as possible.  If possible I would probably use a solar over to dry them


Tourniquets are an Essential Part of Any Good First Aid Kit


The CAT tourniquet


Back when I first learned to use a tourniquet, we were taught to release it every 15 minutes in order to keep from losing the limb.  Well all that has changed, now you leave them on until you reach a more advanced level of care.  Now I am not going to tell you how or when to use a tourniquet, there are people that are much better qualified than me to provide you with that information.  What I am going to do is provide you with some information on the best type of tourniquet to have in your first aid kit.

A tourniquet is a constricting or compressing device, specifically a bandage, used to control heavy bleeding in an extremity for a period of time. Pressure is applied circumferentially upon the skin and underlying tissues of a limb; this pressure is transferred to the walls of vessels, causing the blood flow to cease.

In recent years, the US military has done extensive testing on the treatment of wounds in the field.  This has resulted in the development of new individual first aid kits or IFAKs.  Currently there are only two tourniquets that are approved to be used in these kits. These are the North American Rescue CAT or combat application tourniquet and the SOFTT tourniquet.  Both are similar in style and consist of a strap and buckle with a windlass to tighten it.

The CAT is an excellent and simple tourniquet and is very effective.  The Cat has a good reputation with the military medics and with friends on the fire department.  However they all warn you that you need to practice and learn how to use it.  You should be able with a little training to put it on very fast.  The windlass on the CAT is plastic and I have heard reports of older tourniquets breaking while being tighten.




The SOFTT-W Tourniquet is the second one that is approved for the IFAKs. The basic mechanism is similar to the Cat in that both work by the rotation of a twist bar.  The big difference is the SOFTT uses steel and nylon webbing instead of the plastic and Velcro of the CAT.  Some people find that the mechanism of the SOFTT is easier to use under pressure.  Both the SOFTT and the CAT can be used one handed


SWAT-T tourniquet

The  SWAT-T, is another commercially available tourniquet, that you often see in first aid kits outside the military. This tourniquet did not meet the military  requirements. The SWAT-T is basically a long strip of elastic rubber.  They still will work and are less costly than the CAT or SOFTT and can be used to hold pressure dressings in place.

The CAT’s and SOFTT are both pricey often selling for up to $30 each.  The SWAT-T sells for about $8 each.

There are many other tourniquets and items you can use in an emergency, including such things as the Israeli bandages.  Many of these will work.  But I have decided to follow the militaries advice and I will include the CAT or SOFTT in my kits.

A couple of things to remember when using a tourniquet, once it is on, leave it on until you can reach a higher level of care. When a tourniquet is applied correctly, it hurts.

Hope you never have to use one.


What You Need to Understand about CMP and EMP


CMP is caused by solar storms on the sun

This morning the earth was hit by a solar storm, fortunately the majority of the storm missed us and we were just on the edge.  Tomorrow another storm will hit the earth.  Last July the North Koreans had a tramp steamer off the coast of the US with scud missiles and launches on it.  What you need to understand about CMP and EMP is that the danger is always there.

Lets talk about CMP and tomorrow, Saturday Sept 13th 2014.

Here is the space weather report put out by NOAA for tomorrow.

“2014-09-12 01:15 UTC  The First CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) Has Arrived

The first of the two CMEs predicted to arrive today made its appearance right on time. G1 ((Minor) geomagnetic storming is expected to begin within the next few hours with a maximum projected level of G2 (Moderate) storms for September 12th.  A G3 (Strong) Geomagnetic Storm Watch is still in effect for September 13th due to the combined influence of this CME and the one projected to arrive late on the 12th. G1 (Minor) storming is likely to continue into September 14th.  In addition, the S1 (Minor) solar radiation storm that is in progress as a result of the eruption on September 10th is expected to persist for the next few days with a possible slight increase with the arrival of the CMEs.  Keep in mind that the forecast periods listed are in Universal Time so aurora watchers in the northern U.S. should be looking for possible activity tonight through Saturday night. Stay tuned for updates.”

“This is a pretty strong solar storm, and we just won’t know until it gets here” what it will do, said CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

Now I am not saying that this storm will be the one that devastates this country, but I am saying that the threat is always there of a CMP hitting the earth directly.  To avoid confusion CMP and CME is the same thing just a different term.

CMP and EMPNow what about EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) which could be described loosely as a man made CME.

Dr. Peter Vincent Pry who is Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and Director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both Congressional Advisory Boards, and served on the Congressional EMP Commission, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA.

Dr Pry recently stated, in interview with the Blaze Magazine the following

“Many Americans have no idea that North Korea has actually been making preparations for a future attack on the United States”

“Last July, there was a tramp freighter they sent into the Gulf of Mexico,” said Pry.  “On board were two SA-2 nuclear-capable missiles on their launchers. They weren’t equipped with nuclear warheads, but they were the exact kind of missile you would need to do a short-range, high-altitude EMP attack to take out the U.S. grid.  The only reason we found out about it was because, once they saw that they could bring the missiles in close to the U.S. [off our southern coast], they decided to see if they could get them through the Panama Canal.  And that’s where we caught them. We found the two launchers under a few thousand bags of sugar.”

As you can see the threat of CMP and EMP are both real.  CMP has affected the earth on previous occasions such as the Carrington Event of 1859 and the Quebec Incident of 1989.

Here are some links to posts that I have written in the past to help you prepare for such an event.

As you can see from the above articles there is a lot of confusion on the effects of CMP and EMP.  I am attempting to learn more about it and will post some new articles in the near future.  If any of you have good information on this subject please share it with the rest of us.



Why Should Preppers Store Lime

limeThere are many things that we should store that will make life easier after a major disaster and I know it is not possible to store everything.  Near where I live there is a old limestone quarry that still has lots of stone.  Hopefully someone will get it functioning after TEOTWAWKI.  Lime has many uses for preppers.

There are three types of lime

Also, it is important to know that lime comes in different grades. The grades are Pharmaceutical, Food, Feed, and Industrial/Technical, the pharmaceutical and food grade are safe for human consumption.

Agricultural lime – This is one of the simplest and least expensive form of lime since it is generally made from crushed limestone.  Crushed limestone directly from the quarry should not be considered food grade unless specifically marked as such.

Agricultural lime be kept dry primarily because it is hard to use it when it is a sludge, and it can cake up when it dries, making it hard to use.

Lime is generally considered chemically inert, but it is a chemical base.  Agricultural limestone can cause skin irritation, redness and burning of eyes, and prolonged exposure can cause irritation of the respiratory tract.

Quicklime –  This is a more volatile form of lime that reacts endothermically with water. It is formed by baking agricultural limestone in a kiln at temperatures between 1652-1832° F. It is also known as hot lime, or burnt lime.

This type of lime  needs to be stored in a moisture proof container. Over time, a container may absorb some moisture, and this can cause the quicklime to either melt the container or react violently, depending on the amount of water it has came in contact with. Quicklime is not a flammable material, but its reaction with water can cause high temperatures.  It should not be stored near combustible materials.

Quicklime can be especially dangerous to animals because of its reaction with water, and it can cause chemical burns to the eyes, throat, lungs when it reacts with the body’s moisture.

Hydrated Lime  This is also known as slaked lime, cal, and pickling lime. Cal and pickling lime are both food grade.  This requires no special storage.

The following are some use of lime.

        • Quicklime is used in blacksmith and smelting
        • Gardening – Use Agricultural limestone to raise PH levels of soil in your garden.
  • Livestock – Use to help control flies in barn areas, spread agricultural lime or hydrated lime on the barn floor.
  • Outhouse – To help control odors in outhouses, sprinkle agricultural or hydrated lime over the waste.
  • Tanning. Hydrated lime is used for removing the hair from hides in the tanning process.
  • Cal (hydrated lime) is a critical ingredient in  making masa (corn flour) and hominy. Masa is the basis for corn tortillas and tamale dough.  The process of making masa (called nixtamalizing) actually does make the corn more digestible and, therefore, more nutritious.  Nixtamalizing Corn to Prevent Pellagra  
  • Whitewash. Hydrated or agricultural line can be combined with water and salt to make whitewash or lime-wash.
  • Food preservation.  Hydrated lime is also called pickling lime helps to preserve food because it can be used in pickling.
  • Agricultural lime or hydrated lime, can help control odor and bacteria in garbage. Simply sprinkle the lime in the garbage pit every day.
  • Agricultural lime or hydrated lime can be used in outhouses, and open pit latrines.  Simple sprinkler some on the waste after use.
  • Covering a body with a light coating of agricultural lime or hydrated lime will help keep the odors down from a decaying body.

As you can see from the above partial list of its uses, lime has many uses that can help make life a bit better for a prepper.  Whether you store some or figure out how to crush limestone and make your own this will be a valuable material.