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Puerto Rico is an island and I think when we saw that massive storm bearing down on the island we knew what was coming next. The first story I read was that the island could be without power for up to 6 months.

Image Credit: mashable.com

That was a terrifying realization in the modern world. I thought it would be very interesting to see how our nation responded. I was interested in seeing what aid looked like to an island that is so decimated.

SHTF Logistics

We learned from Puerto Rico that its not just about having the supplies and resources. There has to be a means of getting those resources to the people who need them. That takes logistics. Without planning how food, water, and medicine will move, following a disaster, you really have nothing. 

You can look at it the same way as the supply chain. Its post-disaster supply chain. 

The Florida Panhandle 

While Puerto Rico got a lot of press there was very little given to the Florida Pan Handle. At this moment there are still people living under little more than blue tarps. Whole lives have been reduced to meager belongings and tarp overhead. 

This terrifying situation is happening in the United States of America. It got almost hip to point out the fact that the people of Puerto Rico were suffering. Of course, no one wants to see that but what is happening in the Pan Handle is very alarming. 

What this tells us about FEMA is very clear. These government agencies are not inherently evil but they are inherently prepared to deal with disasters of this magnitude. That leaves us with only one answer. We must prepare ourselves. 

If you depend on yourself it will be much harder to fall short. 

Bonus: Root Cellar That Can Be Used as a Bunker

If you can’t afford the box culvert option you can look into is building a backyard root cellar that can be used as a bunker.

If you want to learn how to build a backyard bunker like your grandparents had, without breaking the bank, then check out Easy Cellar.

Easy Cellar will show you:

Easy Cellar will also show you how a veteran, with only $421, built a small nuclear bunker in his backyard.

This content was originally published here.

SHTFPreparedness may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.

On a subject like this, there is an awful lot of conjecture. You find that many people have opinions but very few have factual data to support those opinions.

Of course, either round would be a great one to stockpile. I think this article offers some insight that will help you decide. Which weapons you choose is a big deal because you only have the option to carry so many.

The same can be said for rounds. When you are in a well-stocked shelter you have options but the moment you decide its time to bugout things change drastically.

End of the day this is your decision. Let’s look at three things to consider when looking at ammo choice. 

Power 

How important is power? Is it the only reason you are using your gun? Are you concerned with breaching heavily guarded areas, putting holes in body armor or are you looking for a weapon to hunt and deter with? 

Hopefully, you are looking for a weapon to deter with. If you are the type of person that is going to be killing and breaking into homes, well, not cool. 

The availability of ammo is also important. Can you readily find that caliber, is it cheap and can you store a lot of it? Which is easier and more available. You know that the .223 is carried by most militaries in the world, therefore, they are making a lot of it. 

Another big thing to consider is what do the other people you associate with carrying? More important than the caliber you choose is the compatibility you have with people in your group or mag. If you find yourself in a gunfight protecting the perimeter or on security detail, you want to be able to both give and receive ammo. Be sure you are not the guy with the obscure round or you will be the guy with no ammo. 

Bonus: Root Cellar That Can Be Used as a Bunker

If you can’t afford the box culvert option you can look into is building a backyard root cellar that can be used as a bunker.

If you want to learn how to build a backyard bunker like your grandparents had, without breaking the bank, then check out Easy Cellar.

Easy Cellar will show you:

Easy Cellar will also show you how a veteran, with only $421, built a small nuclear bunker in his backyard.

This content was originally published here.

The Most Important Food for Surviving SHTFOne of the foundational pillars of civilization is agriculture. On a smaller scale, it’s called horticulture. And that’s important because the only way to survive a severe grid-down experience is to have the ability and the knowledge to grow your own food.

In this Youtube video from Canadian Prepper, he talks about a one-year test he did to plant a survival garden. He started with a small, 10 x 10-foot plot and primarily grew potatoes, carrots, onions, and some green beans. The question was, which of these foods is the most important for survival?

To Heirloom or not to Heirloom

Heirloom vegetable seeds are a great thing to have and grow, but don’t depend totally on heirloom seeds. They don’t present a lot of staple crops providing calorie-dense foods, although they do provide a nice variety.

The Importance of Calorie Density

The best survival foods you can plant are calorie-dense, providing more calories per pound. You also want a hardy variety that will grow in numerous plant hardiness zones.

Some Key vegetables he planted were:

The Importance of Micronutrient Density

You want to plant vegetables that provide you with high amounts of vitamins and minerals and also have a long shelf life. Off the grid means no refrigerator so you’ll need to think about root cellars and vegetables that store well.

You need to think about not only how a vegetable or fruit tastes, but its versatility. There’s only so much you can do with rice, but there’s a lot of things you can do with potatoes:

Think Russet

One of the best known and longest lasting potatoes for storage and versatility is the Russet Burbank potato. They can store for up to 165 days, which is enough to get you through the winter and still have some potatoes leftover to replant for the next crop.

What’s the Catch?

Potatoes are high in starches or sugars and can raise your glycemic index if your blood sugar is a problem, so remember to supplement your garden planting with a range of vegetables, particularly onions, carrots, and squash.

The Rototilling Key

Make sure you turn, loosen, and if you can, rototill your soil. Potatoes need room to expand and grow and tightly packed soil doesn’t make it easy for them.

This post is just a brief summary of the video below. For more details on growing potatoes for survival food, watch the full video.

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This content was originally published here.

In this articles, I will discuss some considerations for selecting and preparing your Schumer Hits The Fan (SHTF) vehicle.

Nearly all post-disaster/prepper/survivalist/etc. novels follow one of two plot lines. The first, our heroes are caught away from home and forced to travel on foot when their vehicle ceases to operate due lack of fuel, mechanical failure, being stolen, etc. The second, our heroes are at/near home and are bugging-in, using the vehicle for short trips until bugging-out when the situation deteriorates. Either of these plot lines show how vital reliable and capable motorized transportation will be when the worse happens.

Over several years now, my Bug-Out Vehicle has changed several times and I have made numerous modifications with the goal of maximizing what I thought to be the required capabilities. During this process, my thought process, goals, equipment have all changed many, many times as my thinking matured, routes and destinations evolved, and new equipment and vehicles have entered the market. I hope that my latest line of reasoning and evaluation will provide you with a springboard to start your own Bug-Out Vehicle Project.

The first place to start your considerations is to clearly define your needs, operating environments, and capacities. Someone that is bugging-in in a major city with a bug-out route over the Rockies will need a much different vehicle than some in a minor suburban area going thirty miles across the Plains. Try to use actual numbers, not just “Well, this should be plenty” or “Hmm, better take few off.” Doing so will help define the type of vehicle that is required.

To define your needs, consider some of the following items. Please take this outline as a starting point–not a completed list.

If the local situation is to the point where evacuation is being taken by substantial parts of the population, then it can be guaranteed that traffic conditions will be a mess and will resemble a cross between Mad Max and the end of major sports or entertainment event. Include the likelihood that law enforcement will not be pre-positioned to deal with traffic accidents and keep lanes open, a gridlock situation is almost guaranteed. This would require a vehicle that can: a) maneuver between and around vehicles easily, such as a micro-car, motorcycle or dirt bike, or b) maneuver off established roads onto secondary state and county roads or onto bare dirt, mud, grassy terrain at a variety of inclines without the risk of loosing control, such as a Jeep, a 4 wheel drive truck, or a side-by-side ATV, or c) be physically robust and powerful enough to force its’ way through, such as a large military surplus diesel powered truck.

Don’t forget non-motorized options for bugging-in transportation such as bicycles. These can greatly increase your range of operation, are quiet & highly maneuverable, low maintenance, and are easy to store. A small pull behind cart could be a great addition for transporting items.

What are the possible, worse-case weather conditions that could occur? We are all aware of how even moderate weather events can turn even the best roads into unpassable, crawling-along nightmares. Would the highly maneuverable micro-car or motorcycle still be a good choice if trying to move around gridlock with 6” of snow and ice on the roads? How stable will a lifted Jeep with mud tires be traveling at interstate speeds in a downpour? Will that surplus 2-1/2 ton truck diesel start or run when the temperature drops below zero for days on end?

For most, this would consist of your immediate family. Don’t forget to include pets, other members of your prepper group, or close friends and neighbors as they may apply. Try to be realistic in how many people can comfortably fit into the vehicle, particularly if your bug-out route is more than several hours long at best. As anyone who has drawn the short-straw and had to ride in the back of Camaro/Mustang/sports car, just because it has four seats, doesn’t make it a four adult passenger car.

This will vary wildly from individual to individual. Someone that has an established bug-out location that they visit regularly, such as second home, hunting cabin, etc., will most likely already have that location supplied. If so, the vehicle will only need to handle individuals, their bug-out bags, and perhaps a last round of “nice-to-have” supplies and luggage. At the other end, someone who’s bug-out location is several days away and is set up for short term visits may have to bring as much food, clothing, ammo, etc. as possible to have any chance at all at surviving.

Weight and Volume Test Loads

Once you determine how much “stuff” will need to be transported, you can begin estimating and test fitting for volume by using moving boxes, egg cartons, or ammo boxes to fill the cargo areas. It is best to try to pack as much weight forward of the rear axle as possible. This splits the weight onto the front and rear wheels instead of pulling weight off of the front wheels and making the vehicle “float” in the front. Weight can be estimated by packing a test container full of different supply types such as ammo, dry foods, canned foods, clothing, etc., and weighing with a bathroom scale. Another option, and the most highly recommended, is to do an actual test loading of all of your survival supplies and equipment.

Protecting your supplies and equipment is obviously of vital importance, as all the equipment in the world is of no use to you or anyone else if it arrives at your bug-out location damaged and unusable. Packaging gear is fairly simple if it is going inside an enclosed cab vehicle such as the hatch area of an SUV or back seat of a car and should be little different from loading up after a trip to Wal-Mart. Packing gear for extended travel in possibly poor conditions can be more complicated if using an open cargo area such as the bed of pickup truck or a hitch cargo rack. Options include installing a camper top shell over the cargo area of the truck, packaging supplies in weather proof containers such as Pelican or RubberMade cases, use cardboard moving boxes and then wrap each box with a plastic stretch wrap, or completely load the cargo area and then cover with a tarp. Each option comes with it’s own set of pros and cons and will have to be an individual choice. Be sure to adequately secure the load to prevent movement and damage. If using a tarp, the tarp needs to go around the outside of the vehicle cargo box and secured, not tucked inside. Tucking the tarp inside allows water to pull in the bottom of the cargo box and infiltrate your cargo.

Tow-behind trailers will depend highly on the individual locations and routes. Someone that is trying to bug-out from a city via the interstate to their bug-out location will most likely not want to use one due to the decreased maneuverability, additional vehicle length, reduced fuel mileage, and reduction in off-highway performance. Someone who is traveling along a lightly traveled secondary or lower ranked road from one rural or suburban community to another may not encounter conditions where a trailer is a hindrance. Most likely a loaded trailer– open or enclosed–would be a very tempting target for those taking advantage of the breakdown in social order.

As anyone who has ever went on a road trip gone bad knows, even the most comfortable vehicle to travel in is among your worst options for places to sleep. This condition will be much worse when every seat in the vehicle is filled with either an individual or supplies which may or may not be weather sensitive. Several options are available to minimize this challenge. Having a rotating driver schedule so that more distance can be covered before having to stop. Keep caffeine supplements on hand. Pack all-weather camping equipment that allows for sleeping outside of the vehicle, there are also roof-top pop-up tents are available for a wide range of SUVs and pickup trucks.

Defining the operating range of the vehicle should generally be defined as either a) the longest route practically possible to travel from your bug-in location to your bug-out location or b) the maximum range of your vehicle carrying as much fuel as possible. There are few options available for shortening your bug-out route aside from planning and even than you are still at the mercy of Mr. Murphy as to how far you may have to travel to reach your final location.

Options for Extra Fuel

Increasing the amount of fuel you can carry is an area you can have meaningful effect. For almost all vehicles, it’s possible to somehow carry an additional 2 to 90 gallons of fuel. Multiple manufactures make saddlebag fuel cans for motorcycles, standard 5 gallon metal jerry can or plastic fuel jugs can be found at many local gas stations and nearly every hardware store. Vehicle specific enlarged replacement fuel tanks or in-bed transfer tanks can be sourced at most farm and equipment stores. It should be noted that fuel cans should never be transported inside the cabin of a vehicle and that federal law limits what kind of tanks and jugs that can be used for gasoline.

Vehicle Modifications

Now that your needs, environments, and capacities have been defined, let us consider how to prepare your vehicle with some useful modifications, tools, and equipment that can maximize the performance of your vehicle.

Hopefully the preceding outline will provide you with starting points in evaluating your vehicle needs to bug-in or bug-out.

This content was originally published here.

(Natural News)
Air conditioning is a common part of most households, but like most modern appliances and devices, it relies on electricity to function. With the U.S. power grid on the brink of a breakdown, one intense heatwave could fry the grid and millions of households would lose electricity. If this happens, would you know how to keep cool without air conditioning?

In a grid-down scenario, preppers make good use of their resourcefulness. Here are some ways to keep cool without electricity. (h/t to SHTFPlan.com)

Sustainable ways of keeping cool

High temperatures may lead to discomfort, dehydration and even heat stroke. This is why it’s important to know how to keep cool when the air conditioning fails.

Solar-powered attic fan

One of the best sources of power is sunlight. A solar-powered attic fan can keep your house cool while preventing humidity. A 40-watt cooler costs around $175. This can cool off spaces of up to 2,200 square feet. (Related: Stay cool without electricity: New “radiative sky cooling” system may prove useful for preppers.)

DIY solar-powered cooler

If you don’t have the budget for a solar-powered attic fan, you can improvise with a DIY solar-powered cooler. It’s simple, effective and a great sustainable method of cooling your home.

This portable air conditioner works by letting cold water flow through a bucket, cooling a window screen and dissipated by a fan. (h/t to SurvivalLife.com)

Materials:

(Note: A fountain pump is a device that spouts up water in a pond or aquarium.)

Tools:

Instructions:

If you want to use this DIY air conditioning while camping, you can add a 90-degree piece of PVC pipe and dryer vent hose to isolate the air.

Hang up wet sheets

Back when civilizations had no electricity, people kept their homes cool by hanging wet sheets. Damp sheets or towels hung around the house — even on the headboard of your bed — can cool through evaporation.

Open the windows

Open your windows once the sun starts to set to let cooler air in the house. You can keep them open well into the night, but consider your location and level of security before doing this, especially if you’re living in the city or suburbs.

Use curtains or blinds as cover when the sun starts coming in through the windows. You can use reflective window panels if it gets too hot.

Plant trees

Planting trees is a long-term solution for keeping the air around your property cool. Big trees provide natural shade and fresh air. If you start right now, you can enjoy the benefits of growing trees after a few years.

Plant the trees in locations around your property that receive direct sunlight, especially during summer.

You should also learn how to spot heatstroke in humans and pets, so you can take the necessary actions in case one occurs. Learn more about keeping cool the prepper way at Preparedness.news.

This content was originally published here.

(Natural News)
Preppers know that when SHTF, safety is a priority. Before you bug in at home or head to your emergency hideout in your bug-out vehicle, you must first decide which will be the safer option: Mobility or defense. (h/t to ThePrepperJournal.com)

On a normal day, you’d be planning vacations months in advance to get the best bargains on plane tickets and hotel rooms. It makes sense to do the same for your bug-out plan.

Weigh the pros and cons of bugging in versus bugging out, and set up your preps for both scenarios. If you’re living in an area prone to storms, it might be best to make bugging in preparations.

On the other hand, if you’re worried about impending civil unrest in your area, it might be best to be on the move.

Setting up an armored bunker for bugging in

Nothing beats a heavily armored bunker for long-term bugging in. If your hideout is deep enough underground, with limited access in or out, you would be safe when SHTF.

Building a bunker involves a lot of planning before you start digging your backyard. Some things to consider include:

It’s reassuring to wait out a disaster in a bunker with steel and concrete walls. Consider this option if the outside world is getting chaotic.

If your hideout is well-made and properly camouflaged, your bunker may remain untouched during times of conflict.

Bugging out and staying mobile

You should also have a plan B for when the situation escalates to a point where staying in your bunker is no longer safe. In this scenario, it’s crucial to get moving. Get as far away as you can from the chaos.

When bugging out in a jeep or truck, you may need to sleep in a tent or portable shelter at night, so pack accordingly. Another option is to bug out in an RV so you won’t have to worry about finding shelter.

An RV is a great choice for a bug-out vehicle because it offers a lot of storage room and you can treat it as a home away from home while you’re on the road. RVs are also a civilian vehicle, meaning you can blend in with the crowd while bugging out. (Related: 5 Must-haves for your bug-out vehicle.)

A jeep or other military-style vehicle might draw unwanted attention; with an RV, it will be easier to slip past others who might be targeting you or your supplies when SHTF.

Maintaining overall health when disaster strikes

Once your armor, mobility and weapons preps are done, you need to prioritize your well-being before SHTF.

Stock up on survival essentials such as:

Finally, get enough quality sleep. If you opt to have someone assigned on lookout duty, make sure the people in your group take turns so the others can rest when they need to.

Before you decide to bug in or bug out, consider your options and set up your preps accordingly to ensure that you have whatever you may need if SHTF.

This content was originally published here.

I. INTRO

When the world as we know it collapses into anarchy, most gun guys talk about which rifle they’ll grab first, but what about the secondary weapon? Sometimes handguns get brought up as an afterthought in
“Shit Hits The Fan” discussions, but I’d like to focus on why handguns are just as important. I plan on grabbing my trusty CZ SP-01.

While this article is about my choice for a handgun, it’s by no means my only go-to gun. James already succinctly covered my choice for an AR-15 equipped with a low power variable optic (LPVO), but this series would get pretty boring if we all repeated the same aspects of gun use to be applied during any given SHTF scenario. It’s my belief that handguns will also provide a vital ancillary role for those just trying to get by.

II. SCENARIO/LANDSCAPE

1. Disruption of food, medical and fuel supplies and lack of utilities.

2. Natural or man-made (EMP) disaster diverting all national resources.

My area is very rural, interspersed with small towns. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by do-it-yourselfers and knowledgeable people, willing to lend a hand, but it’s not that there aren’t some ne’re-do-wells nearby. My area is mostly farmland, with a mixture of small wooded patches, so a scoped rifle will come in handy, but subsistence living requires a lot of hands-on work, and slinging a rifle on one’s back won’t always be an option.

III. MY GUN OF CHOICE/SPECS

The pistol I plan on taking to the edge of the world as we know it, is the CZ SP-01 Phantom that I reviewed last year. I absolutely fell in love with the SP-01 platform from the moment it was in my hands. If you told me a few years ago that I’d actually be voluntarily switching back to a DA/SA pistol as my go-to over Glock for the apocalypse, I’d have laughed in your face. I’m certainly not bashing Glock, and if it’s your go-to, you’ve certainly got a reliable, proven pistol, and a lot less parts to keep track of. I’ve been slowly picking up some spare parts for the Phantom from Brownells and Cajun Gun Works.

Since my review of the SP-01 Phantom, I’ve put close to another 1000 rounds through it without a single hiccup and it eats everything I feed it. Putting the time into shooting it whenever I can has helped me get more in tune with the Phantom’s trigger and I shot my state’s law enforcement qualification course better than I did with my duty pistol. Although, I’ll freely admit that that style of test only induces some stress by adding time constraint, compared to the real stress of a deadly force situation involving rioters, raiders from the next town over, or (according to the wild-haired guy on the History Channel) aliens.

The CZ SP-01’s have quite a variety of offerings, some of which include night sights, suppressor sights and threaded barrels. However, the polymer-framed SP-01 Phantom I reviewed (and purchased) only came with photo-luminescent (glow in the dark) sights, which require you to charge them with a flashlight if you want to see them at night. The charge lasts long enough to check out a strange bump at o’dark-thirty, but when you’re pulling guard duty on your livestock and gardens, you don’t want to be giving your position away by shining your flashlight at your hip every once in a while. To alleviate this issue, I changed the front sight to a Meprolight night sight to start turning my SP-01 into a modern fighting pistol. I’ll change out the rear sight in the future when the budget allows (assuming there’s a future to be had). By upgrading the front sight, it at least gives me a point of reference for where the muzzle is pointing in the dark while it’s in my hand, as well as lets me know where the gun is when it’s on the nightstand.

I also added a Streamlight TLR-1 weapon mounted light to the accessory rail on the SP-01’s dust cover. This allows me to keep my aim on a threat. A separate flashlight will also be at my disposal to help identify threats.  Feel free to check out Pete’s guide to weapon lights HERE, in which the TLR-1 HL is included.

V. AMMO/MAGS

Finding ammo that my SP-01 Phantom likes wasn’t a problem, it’s eaten everything I’ve fed it, from Federal, Hornady, Fiocchi, Blazer and others. One load I like to keep on hand for the end of the world is Hornady’s American Gunner in 9mm. It’s an affordable defensive load for those with budgetary concerns, but still loaded with a little extra oomph (very scientific term) and their hollow point XTP projectiles, although that projectile can be a bit of a wild card according to Lucky Gunner’s gel tests.

The two, 18 round magazines that came with my SP-01 Phantom work great, but to be honest, they’re a little pricey for this family man’s budget, so I tried one of the cheaper options Brownell’s had to offer, which are Act-Mag’s 17 round magazines for the CZ 75. I tried one at first just to make sure, and it worked flawlessly, so I bought two more for the time being, with more to follow in the future. I filled in the numbers on the witness holes with fingernail polish as I covered in a previous DIY article.

VI. FIELDING/RANGE TIME – CZ SP-01

Okay, it’s larping time. I set up a budget-minded battle belt that’s still a work in progress, but it makes for a quick and easy way to kit up if people start running for the hills, particularly my hill. Amazon was an easy stop for most of what I put on the belt, which I’ve collected over time. I wanted to keep the belt light but practical, so I kept it limited to my SP-01’s magazines, a homemade hammer/tomahawk handle loop, Gerber fixed blade knife and the SP-01 Phantom in a Safariland holster. The only changes I plan to make on the rig is to add a tourniquet and some belt keepers to secure the battle belt to my everyday belt.  I ordered the belt on the slightly larger size so I could adjust it to wearing over winter coats if need be.

While my set up isn’t flashy or pretty, it was within my means to acquire, and I think men and women with a family to care for during a major societal or geological upheaval would be well served by something similar with a CZ SP-01. By including the pistol as a go-to loadout, it gives you more leeway to defend yourself and your loved ones with one hand if the other is occupied with children or other necessary gear. It should at least give you time to get to your rifle kept nearby. The CZ SP-01 is also easily manipulated without needing lots of hand strength and easy to teach family members that may have previously been unwilling to learn about firearms.

While we all know that handguns aren’t that great at ballistics when compared to rifles, they serve their purpose when rifles become a hindrance or aren’t suited for the task ahead.  A reliable pistol in a good holster on a sturdy belt gives you the ability to tend to duties that don’t require a gun, all the while being ready at a moment’s notice.

What pistol do you plan on strapping to your hip when the feces hits the wind generator?

This content was originally published here.

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Aquaponics is the combination of two food growing methods to make a more sustainable and independent system that has many benefits for a prepper. Hydroponics, or growing plants without soil and aquaculture, or farming aquatic animals, are combined so that the animal waste feeds the plants.

It’s a little more complicated, but first let’s talk about why preppers should learn about aquaponics in the first place. After, all it seems complicated, right? Is it worth it?

Why Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a great solution for producing food in some circumstances where the traditional method of growing food in the soil starting in spring just isn’t going to work for you.

Urban preppers are already familiar with the high risks that their environment places them in during SHTF events. Aquaponics can make up for the lack of available soil, cramped conditions, and even the need for secrecy in the suburbs or city.

Aquaponics can produce a lot of food per square foot, and protein too which is especially difficult to source in the city. Having your own source of food in your home will prevent you from taking a risk by going outside in volatile times. An aquaponics system can also be easily hidden, keeping dangerous folks from being drawn to your property.

Rural and urban preppers can gain other benefits from an aquaponics system. It doesn’t use soil, so in a situation where the soil is tainted with a chemical or other hazard, you can still produce food with aquaponics.

The soil may also be unusable, or less productive, if pests have developed, perhaps as a result of a SHTF event, or perhaps just out of bad luck. Aquaponics protects you from many pests too.  

So, perhaps you’re wondering why anyone would use aquaponics over hydroponics in these situations? Well, with the addition of fish and the bacteria that turn their waste into nutrients for your plants, you don’t need the fertilizer that you’d have to use for hydroponics.

So there’s no stockpiling necessary for this system (although you can stockpile aquaponics specific fertilizer and testing materials to help keep the system running, if you wish). You also don’t need a lot of room to make compost.

Aquaponics also has the benefit of providing you protein, where the best vegetables for a hydroponics system are not those that give protein. You could grow beans, for example, in a hydroponics system, but they will need more inputs and won’t do as well as the leafy greens that people normally grow in these systems.

What You Need

1. Sunlight:

The plants still need light to grow, but there are many ways to get them that light. If you have a generator or another source of power you can use lights (specific grow-lights) to sustain your aquaponics system indoors. You can use a skylight or large windows in an urban area. Of course, you can put your system outdoors, but if you do you need to protect the plants and fish from pests and predation.

2. Water:

You’ll be growing the plants in water and keeping the fish in water, of course. You’ll need to have a non-chlorinated method of sterilizing water before you give it to the fish or plants, as the chlorine will harm the bacteria you are relying on to turn the fish waste into plant-ready nutrients.

Aquaponics require a lot of water when you’re starting up, but don’t need to be topped up too often. Research shows that aquaponics uses 90 percent less water than soil gardening.

3. Breeding Pairs of Fish:

You need male and female fish in order to keep sustaining your population.

You should also select the breed of fish carefully, some species do better in captivity than others, some are suited for different temperatures (and must have plants which compliment that), and of course, some are more delicious than others.

Types of Fish

These fish do exceptionally well in captivity, and many new varieties have been bred to deal with different conditions in various aquaponics systems.

Some can withstand colder water, but if you live in a cold climate you’ll won’t be able to heat the water enough after SHTF to keep these guys alive. Solar power systems have been developed for the pumps though.

Many different varieties of perch ensure that you can find one to suit your projected climate and food source. Most species are very nutritious, grow quickly (not the silver), and are omnivorous.

Some, like the silver and yellow, can deal with low temperatures. Perch are good for beginners.

More commercial aquaponics systems use channel catfish than any other fish. This is partly because they grow remarkably quickly and can tolerate heat and cold.

However, channel catfish have no scales so they need to be free from unnecessary handling. When harvesting them, you need to skin them, unlike most other fish.

Trout grow very quickly and prefer cool temperatures. However, they need a very good filtration system and are more sensitive to poor water quality than other fish.

Trout is an ideal for those who already have on aquaponics system up and running.

These fish are not edible, but for those who are only interested in growing vegetables and are not concerned with harvesting fish, these are the easiest and prettiest fish to use.

A few tips on choosing your fish:

4. Bacteria:

As fish give off ammonia from their gills and through their waste, a bacteria has to come and turn that ammonia into nitrite (Nitrosomonas bacteria). Another bacteria has to turn that nitrite into nitrate (Nitrobater bacteria) which the plants can then use.

These bacteria are everywhere, including in the water and air around your aquaponics tanks. Given a small source of ammonia, you could allow the bacteria to naturally develop over a few weeks. Once the bacteria is present you can then add fish.

For speed, and to ensure the right bacteria is cultured, many prefer to buy bacteria starter. You can find it online. When the ammonia is also provided the starter is called cycling material, if not it is just live bacteria. Don’t buy too much– bacteria are living and they will reproduce given time and ammonia.

5. Seeds:

You need plants to grow in your system of course. You should choose plants that need oxygen (ie., aquatic plants won’t work), that you like to eat, and that are suited to your water temperature and target pH. At first, you won’t want plants with large root systems or that have large nutrient requirements, as most systems won’t accommodate either.

Starting with leafy greens is a good idea—they do best. Preppers will also want to consider if their plant can be easily fertilized by hand, because, if indoors, there will be no critters to do it for you. And, getting seed from your own plants will keep the system sustainable in the long term.

Best for Beginners:

Cold Weather/Water Crops:

Challenging but Possible:

This includes fruiting plants and root crops, which need high nutrient density and room.

6. Containers and other hardware

You’ll also need tanks, pumps, and pipes to keep your system in. You can purchase system from various vendors, or you can find many DIY Hydroponics builds that use relatively simple materials plus an air and water pump.

It’s best to take a look around and see what kind of design would work best for your space. Note that most of the builds use IBCs, or Intermediate Bulk Containers, for tanks.

Shawn Paul has a walk-through of his system here:

I’ve been recommended his e-book on the subject many times, I imagine it would be a great resource for building your system.

I also think Rob Bob’s system is great, he’s a very knowledgeable guy about growing in general. You can see his build here:

One of my other favorite DIY Aquaponics builds is just a garbage can, a simple pump, and a plastic tray for the plants. You can find it at Home Aquaponics System.

7. Growing Medium

You actually need two types of growing mediums in an aquaponics system: one for the plants and another for the bacteria. Neither the bacteria nor the plant roots can just be free floating in water. The bacteria need a material to cling to, like aquarium gravel, sand or even specialized bacteria housing material.

For plant growing medium you can use expanded clay balls (or simply expanded clay), which are very popular but more expensive than other options. Gravel, sphagnum moss, coconut fiber, rockwool are all good options too. Just be careful that your gravel isn’t going to dissolve in the water, and test it to ensure it won’t raise the water’s pH. Technically, you could use dirt with some kind of netting, but it is hard to keep the dirt away from the fish.

Keeping it in Balance

Once you cycled your water, started your seeds and added your fish, what more is there to do to ensure the system works? You need to feed the fish, of course, and watch the water quality to ensure that everything is working in balance together.

At first, you will need to test for pH, ammonia, and hardness. If you’ve selected saltwater fish, you’ll need to test for salinity as well. Generally, you’re going to need to keep checking temperature throughout the system’s life.

As you work out the kinks in your system it will stabilize and things won’t change much unless you make a change—which will keep preppers from relying on purchasing test kits or using up precious energy with electronic testers during SHTF events.

Further, as Urban Aquaponic’s amazing review of testing kits note, the plant’s health will indicate to you if anything is deficient in your system. If you need to add anything, it will probably be iron. Unless, that is, you’re trying to grow nutrient-hungry plants like tomatoes or root veggies.

For more information on testing, check out the CTSA’s analysis here.

Further Resources

Final Thoughts

Aquaponics is a relatively new field, where new ideas and start-ups are changing the game (or trying to) all the time. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on, even if it doesn’t fit your needs for prepping right now, it may in the future.

If you enjoyed this article, consider to email updates.  When you do, you will receive a free, downloadable copy of the e-Book, .   Also check out our Facebook page regularly for links to free or almost free eBooks that I personally reviewed just for you.

This content was originally published here.

Over the last few weeks, the TFB crew has discussed a number of times what their End of the World gun would be if they had to just pick one. I was rather torn since I typically carry a 10.5 AR pistol in my truck on a daily basis. The more I thought about it, there’s no way I would be stuck with a really short 5.56 barrel on my end of the world gun. Pete started this series and encouraged everyone to write their perfect gun and for the most part, I agree with Pete’s choices. The main difference between Pete’s choice and mine is the fact I live in the rather flat areas of Michigan.

Living in West Michigan is interesting just for the fact there’s a good mix of wide-open land mixed with urban areas. One thing I will openly admit right now is the fact I oftentimes train with something and fall in love with it. Some of my choices for gear haven’t been changed in over a decade. Honestly, I just enjoy certain pieces of gear because I know how to use them. Don’t get me wrong, I love the latest and greatest but if I need to rely on just one rifle till the end of days, I want every piece of that gear to run flawlessly for as long as possible. Let’s jump into my SHTF rifle for the end times.

Landscape and AOR Overview

West Michigan is an interesting landscape with wide-open fields and farmland that goes on for miles sometimes to dense urban cities and towns. It’s a tough mix when it’s time to pick out a correct barrel length, but it’s an important aspect if you decide to build a rifle specifically for your area.

For my situation, I went between barrel lengths of 13.7-18″ and finally decided on the ultra common 15.1″ 1-7 stainless steel barrel (sarcasm). It’s all fun and games saying you want a full auto belt fed until you have to haul the ammo around. Even a minimalist 308 AR10 rifle gets heavy after hauling it around to the local Costco to grab toilet paper and Cheetos to go back to the safety of mom’s basement.

Base Rifle Specs

The biggest debate for me when putting a SHTF rifle together is going either proven and reliable or modern and lightweight. Some will argue there’s a number of products out there that cover both aspects and there’s no denying that’s true. I decided to go with parts I know will survive any punishment I put it through to build a true go to hell and back type rifle. I took roughly 14 months to piece this rifle together buying from various vendors and companies at either full price or sales when various vendors offered free shipping or promotions. Heres what I decided to build:

Brownells will occasionally get these in stock. I bought mine from them last year

Keep it simple and this is easy to replace down the road.

Simple, reliable, and has a great feel when shouldered.

A mils-pec trigger may not feel the best but they have never let me down and with a good bit of polishing can really feel nice over time.

Reliable and simple.

I installed a Milspec safety selector for simplicity.

Based off the original SOCOM design and is an affordable option compared to the Douglas barrels. Douglas barrels are a great option if you can find the correct barrel length for them.

I did this to keep the gun correct for the RECCE rifle era.

Probably one of the most durable handguard I have ever used. I previously had one on a rifle growing up and it was beat like a red headed stepchild without any issues.

This collar and brake system was one of the cooler pieces of gun tech to come out of the early 2000’s. The suppressor is insanely quiet. More to come on the AEM5 down the road.

Accessories and Modifications

For this build, I decided to keep it simple while leaving room to add accessories I would have on me if certain situations call for it. Adding multiple accessories onto the front can cause the gun to be extremely front-heavy and I would rather have a well-balanced rifle over a bunch of crap I may or may not need. Below is a general list of things I have on the gun and will include the additional accessories below the general accessories.

This is an extremely old optic and is one of my favorite LPVO with the overall size and weight. It may be dated and bulky to today’s standards but it’s been incredibly reliable throughout the years and hasn’t let me down for the 15+ years I’ve owned it.

Vertical Grip – Chopped Down Knights Armament Picatinny Vertical Grip

Knights Armament sells a full-size vertical grip and I ended up chopping it down and reassembling it. If there’s any interest in seeing how to do this, I may write up a how-to tutorial but there’s a number of videos online showing how to shorten the vertical grip.

Back-Up Iron Sights – Troy Industries Metal HK Style Sight Set 

Well built iron sights that are well worth the money. KAC’s sights are also a great option but are very expensive and sometimes hard to find.

I love the overall size of this light and with 500 lumens it’s not the brightest option but has always been bulletproof reliable for the number of years I have used them. I know there are brighter lights on the market but it comes down to it, I would rather use something I can trust with my life and know it’s reliable than something I don’t have experience with.

The basic Surefire tape switch works fine but the dual switch really I nice for momentary or constant light.

The AEM5 suppressor system is almost 20 years old but compared to something like a SilencerCo Saker, it’s definitely a quieter suppressor. If I can get my hands on a DB reader I will do a comparison but it’s a fantastic suppressor and has quite the following still.

The ESD sling is a lightweight quick adjustable sling that’s easy to use. I’ve been using this sling for about 7 months and have had an excellent experience with it.

The downside to running an older style Picatinny rail is the fact there’s not many QD sling attachments built in. The Magpul QD mount attachment makes it very easy to attach a 2 point sling to the rail.

Additional Accessories I Keep With The Gun

Harris is affordable and extremely reliable. The LaRue QD mount makes life way easier for installing and taking the bipod off.

An IR laser can be bulky on a rifle but with night vision is a legitimate game changer and makes life insanely easy to shoot at night.

Magazine Choice and Ammo Selection

Ammo Types

For ammo, I usually look at the twist rate and length to determine what I want to shoot through it. I’ve had great luck shooting 77gr Black Hills Ammo as well as 77gr SIG match grade ammo through it for the longer shots or getting tighter groups. I’ve played around with Federals 69gr Gold Medal Sierra Match ammo as well. With those I will typically have .75-1.25 inch groups at 100 yards with precision ammo.

I have also shot about 1,200 rounds of 62gr SS109 ammo through it with good performance as well. The groups will usually be 1.25-2″ but typically that is loose pack bulk cases so the ammo isn’t exactly consistent.

This Rifle shoots really well with SIG’s 77gr Match grade ammo

For magazines, I often go with a few different metal variants that I’ve used for years. My first choice for magazines are the SureFeed E2 magazines, they are fairly inexpensive and bulletproof reliable. In the past, I have beaten the crap out of these mags during range days and overall wear and tear with zero issues. Typically, you can find them on sale at GunMag Warehouse and Brownells for $12-14 depending on capacity and color.

If the SureFeed magazines are out of stock, I will often buy the C-Products DuraMag as an alternative. The C Products Defense magazines are a great option as well. I have never had issues in the past and usually, these will be less expensive than the SureFeed magazines. Typically, the magazines will be $9.99-12.99 depending on where you go.

The base rifle without a suppressor is incredibly balanced with most of the weight being right around the magwell. I tried to keep the front clean of accessories to keep the front end weight low, but even with a suppressor, it’s still extremely well balanced. Don’t get me wrong, I love a 13-15″ M-LOK rail on a rifle but a shorter rail does keep the accessories and weight further back.  Shooting this rifle is surprisingly easy with the suppressor and at 100 yards I will have consistently 1 inch or smaller groups with no point of impact shift.

Moving with the rifle during drills is very easy despite it not having a super short barrel. Being a 5.56 rifle, it keeps the weight relatively low while offering a decent amount of firepower.  The mil-spec trigger may not be anything to write home about but it’s definitely improved with little time and simple polishing. Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware the majority of this rifle is old technology. The majority of this gear has been out for 10+ years and while some may say it’s an outdated setup, these parts have been out long enough to be tested and built a reputation of being some of the toughest pieces on the market.

Final Thoughts

If I had to take one gun to rely on in an end of days type scenario, it would definitely be this rifle. My choice falls in between Jame’s Jack Of All Trades rifle and Pete’s 11.5″ SBR but for my landscape and surroundings, I think it’s the perfect rifle for the job. The 15.1 RECCE rifle has a great balance of weight in hand and has enough barrel length to reach out but is still relatively short for mobility.

It may not be everyone’s first choice but I grew up shooting these style rifles and I trust them to be insanely durable. Let me know what you guys would pick for a SHTF type rifle and why you would pick it in the comments below. If you have any questions feel free to shoot me a message on Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there!

This content was originally published here.

(Natural News)
Preppers follow different sets of rules to prepare for various survival scenarios. While most of these guidelines cover things like essential survival skills and what kinds of supplies to stock up on, there are also mistakes that you must avoid so you can survive when SHTF.

If you want to survive something like the coronavirus pandemic, pay attention to the 10 mistakes detailed below.

During dangerous times, smaller mistakes can snowball into tragedies that can even claim lives.

To ensure the safety of your loved ones, keep yourself from making common prepping mistakes by practicing your skills, using your common sense and being disciplined. Acknowledge these common mistakes, and optimize your preps, so you don’t make the wrong choice when time is of the essence.

Being hotheaded

Acting decisively is different from acting rashly. The latter can get you killed, but the former involves studying the data you have, reconsidering your options and making a decision based on the pros and cons.

Not planning ahead

Preppers are planners. From your garden layout to your bug out and bug in plans, you need to sit down and draft your plans before finalizing and setting up your preps.

Once you’ve written down your plans, think of how things can go wrong and make plan B, so you have a backup when plan A fails.

Not being prepared

Your skills are important, but being prepared means you’ve already won half the battle.

Take this scenario: You’re going camping, but you didn’t pack several firestarters in your gear. It starts raining when you reach your campsite, and it takes you a while to get a warm fire going.

Contrast this with a scenario where your camping gear includes matches in a waterproof container, a lighter, and a ferro rod. Doesn’t scenario B seem more reassuring?

Improvisation is a life-saver, but you can tip the odds in your favor by setting up preps that won’t require you to make a split-second decision to save your life.

This doesn’t mean you can’t relax even in quiet times. Once you’ve set up the necessary preps, you can take things easy, but you should remain in a state of relaxed awareness, just to be safe.

Not learning basic survival skills

Technology has made life easier for the last couple of decades, but you can’t always rely on your GPS or gadgets when SHTF. If you’re lost in the woods, or you have a power outage at home, you’ll need old-school tools like a paper map and hand tools.

Balance your preps by using technology to your advantage and learning essential survival skills like firestarting and foraging. It’s a win-win for you.

Should you lose your phone or accessories, you can find your way back to civilization using a compass.

Below are some survival skills that you need to master before disaster strikes:

Trying to be heroic

While it is noble to help strangers in times of disaster, if you have a family of your own you need to think twice about risking your life. If anything happens to you, who’s going to protect your loved ones?

When SHTF, focus on staying alive so you can help more people.

Disregarding disaster response and safety procedures

Living in states prone to certain types of natural disasters like earthquakes or hurricanes means you must always monitor the news for disaster response and safety procedures.

Ignoring these warnings is the fastest way to get yourself and your loved ones killed when SHTF. It’s better to be too cautious when you hear warnings about a hurricane than being caught unawares.

Being too trusting

Preppers are cautious, not paranoid.

When disaster strikes, there are always those who will take advantage of your kindness to take what they need from you. Keep your preps a secret, and don’t announce your prepping lifestyle to avoid looters or unnecessary trouble when SHTF.

Staying ignorant

As a prepper, you must take advantage of technology and learn whatever you can — using the resources available to you.

Start by learning the skills that provide your basic needs, such as shelter, fire, water, food and security. (Related: OBLIVIOUS: People are telling me they are “fully prepared” because they have 2-3 weeks of food… later this year, these people will be eating each other.)

Being complacent

Complacency is another trait that seems harmless, but it can turn into your biggest enemy when disaster strikes.

Have emergency drills, check your gear, maintain your bug out vehicle, and replenish your stockpile regularly. Practice your skills and learn new ones whenever you have free time.

Be disciplined, even when things seem normal and quiet. Follow a balanced diet, be mindful, and exercise regularly to maintain your overall health.

Panicking when SHTF

Remain calm when facing a survival scenario. If you have to evacuate, get your bug-out bags, gather your family, and quickly go through your emergency preparedness plans.

If you are the head of the household, your loved ones will look to you for guidance when things are bleak. Maintain your composure and make sure everyone follows the plan.

If you’re easily rattled, try exercises to help improve your mental and emotional equilibrium. Focus on the things you can control, and think of your plans and preps.

When SHTF, don’t panic and follow plan A. If that doesn’t work, proceed to plan B.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the mistakes detailed in this list. Once you’ve made the necessary preps and learned the essential survival skills, you can protect yourself and your family from disasters like a coronavirus pandemic.

Everyone makes mistakes, even experienced preppers. What sets you apart from non-preppers is your self-discipline and foresight when SHTF.

This content was originally published here.