Do Your Kids Know these Survival Skills?


As a parent, it didn’t take me long to realize that I was different.

Like the other parents, I also realized that the world is full of dangers (and is quickly getting worse).

But, where all of the other parents were doing everything in their power to shield their kids from the dangers, I felt compelled to prepare my child.

In fact, I feel an obligation to make sure my child knows how to survive when SHTF.


Teaching Your Children the Survival Mentality – It is Never Too Early!

Survivalism isn’t about knowing a bunch of tricks (though that certainly helps). Survival readiness is a mentality.

And, while a 2-year old won’t be ready to light a fire or read a map, it is never too early to teach your kids the survivalist mentality.

It can be really challenging to teach your kids the survival mentality. It means telling them that bad things do happen, that there are bad people in the world, and that things aren’t as stable as they seem.

These are cruel life lessons. But, trust me, kids can handle it. And not telling them is much crueler because they will be unprepared when bad things do occur.

Aside from teaching my daughter specific survival skills, here are some of the things I do to teach her the survival mentality:

  • Take her out of her comfort zone: Whereas some parents never take their kids out of a 3-block radius of their homes, my daughter goes to all sorts of places. This includes the great outdoors, big cities, the metro, ethnic restaurants… By going to as many different places as possible, my daughter has learned to be comfortable and find herself in multiple settings, with multiple types of people.

Ask her what she thinks should be done to solve problems: I want to encourage critical thinking skills in my daughter. If I am always telling her what to do, then she isn’t going to learn to think for herself. So, when a problem arises, I ask her what we should do. Even at 5, she was able to make decisions like whether we should wait for the next bus or walk. These aren’t life-or-death decisions, but they do build the survival mentality.

  • Letting her explore, fall, and sometimes get hurt: As a parent, it is really hard to watch your child get hurt. But this is how we learn important life lessons. For example, there is one mom at the park who never lets her kid climb on the playground equipment because she is too worried that he will fall and get hurt. As a result of being coddled, the kid is one of the most uncoordinated 5 year olds I’ve ever seen. Yes, he could fall. But the chances of him dying or getting seriously injured are practically zero. So, before you tell your kid not to run, jump, climb, etc. out of fear that he/she might get hurt, think of the bigger picture instead!

8 Survival Skills Your Kids Need to Know NOW

How to Build a Fire

When my daughter was 3, I taught her how to make a safe fire pit by surrounding it by rocks (and to be careful lifting the rocks when in snake country!), and how to make the “tee pee” out of sticks.

When she turned 5, I let her light the fire – with supervision, of course! If she is ever lost in the wilderness, she will be able to stay warm, keep wild animals away, and signal for help with the fire.

How to Read a Map

Do you know about the sport Orienteering? It is a race where you have to use a map and a compass to get to certain points in the fastest amount of time. My dad took me Orienteering when I was a kid. I think I was about 6 when we started, and was running through the woods by myself when I was 7.

Start by taking your kids out the first few times. LET THEM GET LOST! Then let them find their way back again. Once they are versed in map reading, you can let them go out on their own.

You can find a local Orienteering club at their website here.


What to Do If They Get Lost

Make a safety plan and go over it with your kids! Otherwise, they will likely panic when they get lost and it could lead to disastrous outcomes. Here is what they need to know:

  • When lost in the wilderness: Stay put! Do not go anywhere unless you have a specific reason to do so (like recognizing a landmark or going to a water source). The more they wander in hopes of finding their way back, the more lost they are likely to get.
  • When lost in public places: Stop and observe! Often, the parents are just a few yards away. If the kids immediately panic and start running around looking for you, they will likely just get more lost. If they cannot find you within a few minutes of waiting, they should seek out an adult. First look for police officers. If none are around, then they should (ideally) approach a woman with children and ask for help.


What to Do During a Home Invasion

This is every parent’s worst nightmare – and a nightmare which unfortunately happens quite frequently. I recommend that you make a home invasion plan and run test drills with your children.

In the ideal situation, your children will sleep on the same floor as you (such as everyone being on the second floor). Then, if you suspect an intruder is on the first floor or outside, you could gather everyone in your “safe” room and call 911.

If you are unable to gather everyone in a safe room, then you need to have a code word or other signal which can be used from across the home. At the signal, the children should know to HIDE and not come out.

Recommended Reading – Bulletproof Home Defense: Tactics You Can Enact Now to Secure Your Safety

How to Find Drinkable Water

If your children ever get lost in the wilderness, they can go without food for weeks – but they will need water if they are going to survive. The problem is that most natural water sources are contaminated. This could lead to diarrhea, which in turn could lead to dehydration and death.

As soon as your children master the art of making a fire, you can teach them how to boil water to purify it.

But, there is a chance that your kids aren’t going to have a pot for boiling water if they ever get lost in the wilderness or are in a similar survival situation.

Teach them how to locate the safest sources of water – such as to drink water from the moving parts of streams and not from stagnant areas.

Also teach them tricks like using a piece of cloth to absorb dew and moisture from plants, and then wringing it out into a bottle or directly into their mouths.


To SCREAM, kick and fight!

If you ever go to a self-defense class, one of the first things you are going to learn and practice is screaming. The same applies to many martial arts.

Unfortunately, most people don’t send their kids to self-defense classes. Instead, we train our kids to be quiet, obedient, and listen to our elders.

So if your kids are in a threatening situation (being attacked, raped, kidnapped…), they might freeze up and become passive.

This is NOT what we want them to do.

As Safe Women and Girls points out,

“the biggest obstacle that most survivors report is the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response to trauma. Many women report that they didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late and then they were in such shock they were unable to think clearly or act in the way they would have thought they should.”

Teach your kids to SCREAM if they feel they are in a threatening situation.

If screaming doesn’t save them, they should fight back with everything they have!

Fighting back (no matter how seemingly hopeless because the attacker is bigger, stronger) could earn them a few extra seconds, during which time someone notices the struggle and is able to help.

Go ahead and get your kids into martial arts classes so they can practice this.

Recommended Reading – Essential Guide To Self Defense

How many of these survival skills do your kids know?  Are you preparing your kids for survival?  Let us know in the comments.

From Primal Survivor.


EDC Essentials

EDC, or everyday carry, is one of the most important aspects of the prepper way of life. After all, it is a key component to the “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” mentality. Even in your day to day life, you will encounter certain situations from time to time that requires simple tools – having these on hand, ready to use at a moment’s notice can make a big difference. You might even save someone’s life.

There are different levels of EDC, depending on what you do for a living and where you live. While a first responder may always have a comprehensive medical kit easily accessible at all times, you may find that your lifestyle allows for a bare minimum EDC configuration. We’ll cover exactly that; the bare minimum every day carry.

Why EDC?

The concept of everyday carry captures the entire philosophy of prepping in general and brings it to everyday life. The implications of doing so benefit the prepper in practical ways, for sure: having the tools on hand to deal with emergency situations, however big or small, is important. There are also mental benefits of doing so. Every day, as you gather your EDC tools and begin your day, you feel more of a sense of preparedness, which is a highly useful and satisfying attitude to have.

EDC can look very different for everyone, based on a number of factors. Where you live, what you’re prepping for, and even certain conditions you might have can affect what you carry with you each day. For example, someone with asthma will surely find that an inhaler is an essential component of their EDC kit. For others, this would extraneous.

That said, certain items are agreed upon as essentials for EDC no matter who you are or where you live. There a few things to keep in mind when choosing EDC items:

  • Size – You’ll want to look for something that is big enough to get the job done, yet small enough to fit on your person without being bulky. (A lot of this depends on your height and weight. Someone who is over 6 feet will probably have an easier time lugging around a full-size pistol on their hip than someone who is 5’5”.)
  • Weight – It is important to keep the weight down to an amount that won’t be cumbersome after extended periods of carrying. (Particularly important for lighter everyday carriers.)
  • Durability – Make sure to filter out low-quality items, as they tend to disappoint when you need them most. (Such items as a poorly made knife can end up causing a grievous injury.)
  • Ergonomic – Keep in mind how things fit and feel in your hands. You’ll want to be able to have a firm, yet comfortable, grip. This particularly important for items that you expect to be used over an extended period of time since don’t want your hands to start cramping up from discomfort.
  • Satisfaction – This is a key factor since a specific item could be the right size and weight, have good durability and ergonomics and still be to your disliking for whatever reason. If that ends up being the case, you’ll be less likely to carry it with you every day – and that completely defeats the purpose.

Should I Purchase A Ready Made EDC Kit?

As you’re probably aware, there’s been a definite increase in awareness about disaster planning and preparedness in general over recent years. This is a good thing but comes with some interesting developments – one of which is some companies capitalizing on the trend in ways that really aren’t beneficial. One of these is the manufacturing of ready-made kits that are of little value to the prepper.

Kits like these pop up in all areas of prepping: food storage, medical supplies, and yes: EDC. While not already made kits are necessarily bad, the vast majority of the time it is more worthy of your time and money to assemble supplies yourself.

The problems with ready-made kits of all kinds are pretty consistent:

  • Substandard quality of tools and supplies
  • Incomplete items – you’ll often find too many of the less useful items and not enough or any of the more valuable ones
  • Inflated price – you pay for the convenience of having everything together and lose the quality you could get by assembling items yourself
  • Lack of knowledge – you learn more about how to use items when you do the research and shopping yourself. Don’t underestimate the importance of this!

Folding Knife: A good folding knife will come in handy, no matter what your usual daily activities are. A handy box opener when necessary as well as the perfect pry bar for stuff that requires more leverage than a fingernail; these easily concealed knives are generally the first thing that beginner EDCers set their sights on. Let’s not forget they provide a viable defense option in a pinch.

Look for blade lengths ranging anywhere from 2.5” to 3.5”. You can spend a lot of time learning about all the different types of steel available, but you mainly want something that is corrosion resistant, has good edge retention, has working hardness, and is wear resistant. A good knife can cost anything from $30 to $150, anything more had better be a collector’s piece.

Here’s a short list of some common quality steel: 154cm, VG-10, CPM D-2, 440 XH, S30V, ELMAX, M390, and ZDP 189.

If you’re not sure about which brands to check out, try these first: Benchmade, Spyderco, Al Mar, Victorinox, SOG, and Kershaw.

Multi-tool: Multi-tools can be a lifesaver in any number of situations. Jampacked with various tools that you find yourself in need of on a daily basis, they tend to be the most used item in your EDC setup. When it comes to choosing one, Leatherman and Gerber rule the industry. These two brands will provide a wide variety of configurations suitable for any type of person. Common prices for a solid multi-tool will be $50 to $150. Gerber and Leatherman both have specialty multi-tools for military and law enforcement that tend to run a bit higher price wise.

A few you may wish to check out first are: Leatherman Wave, Leatherman Juice S2, and the Gerber Diesel.

Free Multitool For First 384

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[Video] Best “Bug-Out Bag” Ever!

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Flashlight: Having a good flashlight is a must. A large number of everyday carriers will find themselves using their flashlight for tedious chores, such as trying to see where they dropped their keys in the dark, making a flashlight a very convenient sidekick. The reason these are essential, though, is because of their signaling capabilities and not so much because we tend to drop things.

You’ll want something that has multiple setting, such as a low setting with about 5-10 lumens and lots of battery life, for when you’ll be using it for extended periods of time (power outage). The high setting should be able to last at least 2 hours and is recommended that it be around 100 to 200 lumens. Many come with special settings such as a strobe or SOS which can be immensely helpful for extreme scenarios, though it would be wise for you to learn how to signal SOS regardless. (It’s extremely simple)

Sidearm: No one wants to have to use a gun unexpectedly, but then again, no one wants to be caught without one either. Unfortunately, in today’s society, it is becoming increasingly harder to own firearms, let alone get the ammunition to practice with them. However, not only is it important to be able to exercise your rights but also to protect you and your loved ones in case of an emergency. A sidearm is the least used item in your EDC, and with any luck it will never be used outside of practice.

When it comes to choosing one to carry everyday, it is largely up to personal preference. It is recommended that you do no go for a caliber any smaller than a 9mm. Generally, most people are going to choose between a 9mm, 40 S&W, or a 45 ACP. A 45 ACP will pack a larger punch but will limit your magazine capacity. So, for the most part, you’ll be choosing between power and the number of rounds you’ll be able to carry. No matter what you choose, get in lots of practice with it.

Check out these brands, if you don’t know where to start: Beretta, Springfield Armory, Ruger, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, and Kimber.

Bag: While many people would not think of a bag as being essential to you everyday carry setup, you may find that having one with you can provide a certain amount of convenience. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a large backpack or messenger bag, a fanny pack will do just as well in most cases. The idea is to allow for a carrying system that gives you the ability to take other items that are essential to your specific needs. Many people will have basic first aid things with them (band-aids, gauze, ibuprofen) as well as other random tidbits.

When deciding on an EDC bag, it is not necessary to go with something fancy. In fact, most bags that are labeled “EDC bag” are actually a bulky, over-the-top, military assault packs. The camo colors on a bag you carry everywhere isn’t going to do much to keep you concealed, that goes for the O.D. green and tan (classic military camo is still camo). Don’t go for anything that has exterior MOLLE webbing, it’s just another thing that will attract attention and make people think they should follow you around if something goes wrong. It should be the same mentality as a bug out bag, you DON’T want people to know you came prepared. Check out 5.11 Tactical’s COVERT line of bags to get a better idea of what to look for in an EDC bag.

Some good brands are: 5.11 Tactical, Condor, Blackhawk, and Maxpedition.

Miscellaneous – As well as the basics listed above, there are a few other items that you’ll want to consider adding to your EDC layout:

  • Band-aids – dress minor wounds, prevent infection
  • Ibuprofen – reduce inflammation from wounds and injuries
  • Gauze – use for various first aid needs
  • Tweezers – endless uses: you’ll be surprised at how often you can use tweezers when you have it on you
  • Nail clippers – besides the obvious, use for cutting small items and first aid
  • Spare knife – handy for situations when you don’t want to dull your “good knife.”
  • Pen, notebook/notepad – obvious uses for recording data and/or sending messages
  • Paracord – a sturdy enough rope for many emergency needs, a length of paracord could be handy. You’ve probably seen bracelets made from paracord around: many of these can be unraveled to up to 20 feet.

You’ll also know personally what types of items you would need that would benefit you on a day to day basis.

The Difference EDC Makes

What makes EDC such an essential part of preparedness is the fact that it’s one of the most likely components of your prepping to be put to use in day to day life. Not convinced? Consider the following scenario:

You’re driving home at around midnight, getting back from whatever keeps you out that late. Barely any other drivers on the road. You come up to a bridge and you see a driver coming from the other direction. No big deal, but you notice that he still has his brights on and is within a hundred yards and closing, not very courteous of him. Oh well, it happens. You flash your brights at him a couple of times, but he seems not to notice or care. As you two are within seconds of passing each other, he drifts over into your lane.

You have a split second to make a decision; slam on the brakes or swerve. Either way, you’re SOL. So you swerve out of the way, directly into the barrier, over the barrier, and for a split second, you feel as light as feather before crashing into the water below. Now you’ve just gone from one bad situation directly into another; out of the frying pan and into the fire. You have a limited amount of time before your car is completely submerged and the cabin is filling with water fast. you move to undo your seatbelt but it’s jammed.

Luckily, you have your multi-tool on you, which has a saw blade. You quickly pull it out of its holster and get to work, simultaneously fighting off your nerves. After what feels like a lifetime, the seat belt is off. A rush of relief washes over you as reach to open your door only to find that pressure build-up from your submerging vehicle is too much for you to get the door to budge. Your nerves are screaming louder than ever as you find that you’re waist deep in cold water. You realize that your pocket knife has a pommel on it that might just be enough to break your window. You grab it, take a firm grip, and, while covering your face, swing as hard as you can. In the blink of an eye, you’re blasted with shivering cold water.

Wasting no time, you pull yourself out the window and float up to the surface. Gasping for breath, you swim to the shore and drag yourself onto dry land. Relieved to be alive, you stand up only to fall over. You seem to be quite a bit dizzy as well as exhausted. Instead of trying to stand again, you crawl up to the shoulder of the road. Taking a look around, you only see faint headlights in the distance, on a nearby interstate. The guy that ran you off the road probably didn’t even take a second glance behind as you swerved out of his way; he was most likely drunk or high. A little shaky from exhaustion, you rest your back up against the edge of the barrier and pull out your flashlight. Setting it on high mode, you start flashing 180 lumens in an SOS pattern directly at the faint headlights. After about 15 minutes of doing so, you see emergency lives heading towards you. With a sigh of relief, you stop flashing SOS and just leave it on a steady beam pointing in front of you.

Now, imagine the same scenario without any of your EDC items on hand – not quite as happy an ending, is it?


So, where are you going to put it all? Having a bag gives the option of consolidating much of it into the different pockets and compartments, which is great for the miscellaneous items and random tidbits but refrain from putting the more basic items in your bag. You’ll still want to be able to have easy access to your gun, knife, multi-tool, and flashlight instead of them becoming mixed up into a pile in your bag. The exception to this is that some of the high-end EDC bags will have specific slots for those items.

Commonly, people with have a quality gun belt to use for carrying their gun, multi-tool, and flashlight while their knife is clipped into their pocket. Galco Leather has superb belts when it comes to quality. In most cases, multi-tools and flashlights will come with quality holsters already. The same is not true for firearms, they are notorious for coming with no holster or a joke of a holster. Avoid buying the generic holsters you see at local gun stores as they are not made for any specific gun and you’d be just as well off sticking your gun in your pocket (which you should never do). Instead, shop around online and make sure that you get a holster that is made specifically for your model of gun.

EDC Bag vs. Bug Out Bag – What’s The Difference?

Don’t confuse having an EDC bag with the tools you’ll keep with you each day with having a bug out bag – a bag of supplies that you’ll need should disaster strike and you’re forced to evacuate, flee, or otherwise “bug out.” While the differences between the two are many, a few of the most obvious ones include:

  • Food. Unless you’re a diabetic or have other types of blood sugar issues, you won’t likely need food in your EDC bag. Food definitely has its place in a bug out bag, however: a 3-day supply is commonly advised.
  • Shelter. It’s a good idea to carry a tarp or even a small tent in your bug out bag, this would be extraneous as part of an EDC kit.
  • Essential, non-everyday items: the bottom line is there are a lot of essential items you’d need in a bug out situation that would just be too much weight to carry every day.

You might find that you think certain items have their place in your EDC layout and find later that you’ve been carrying them around for weeks and that maybe you misjudged their value. There’s nothing wrong with reevaluating your EDC items from time to time – in fact, it’s smart to do so. Virtually no one will assemble the perfect array of tools the first time, and even if you are lucky enough to be one of those people, needs do change over time!

As you can see, EDC is a great place to start with your preparedness efforts. Think about the day-to-day and begin with the threats and risks closest to you.

Always watching out for you,

Sterling Mason

How to start a fire with a coke can.

The following prepping advice is an example of the kind of wilderness survival tips which will be taught at the ShieldWall Network summer campout coming up on June 23rd:

Wilderness has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I credit my dad with a lot of what I learned and I feel privileged to pass much of this knowledge on to you.

I have to tell you, fire starting is one skill that is beyond valuable to you and your family whether you are caught in a survival situation or you are simply out camping. Things can happen out in the wilderness: matches get wet, lighters get lost…

Most people in our great country tend to enjoy a can of pop (or soda, or coke, depending on where you are) frequently, so I figured I’d share with you how you can start a fire using a soda can.

This method is based on the reflective qualities of aluminum. More specifically, it relies on you using the aluminum can to direct the sunlight onto your tinder, so you will need:

  • The sun
  • An aluminum can
  • Some way to polish the can (we’ll get to that)
  • Some dry tinder
  • A little time and patience

Once you have your materials, here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Clean the coke can and dry it.
  2. Polish the bottom of the can until it shines and reflects like a mirror.
    • You can use fine steel wool to polish the can.
    • Or you can use chocolate. If you are using chocolate, be sure to complete several applications. Rub the chocolate all over the bottom of the can, polish with a rag or paper and wipe off.

    The goal is to make the concave part of the can really shiny.

  3. Experiment with positioning the can in a way that it reflects the sun well. After you find a good angle that allows you to see a spot on the ground that receives the reflection of the concentrated light, move to step 4.
  4. Throw together some good primary tinder. You can use really dry grass or leaves or (if you follow my advice and carry them with you), Vaseline-dipped cotton balls. Place the tinder in the spot that you found in step 3.
  5. Position the can in such a way that the reflected sunlight concentrates on your tinder. Wait and watch as your tinder begins to smoke and, consequently, burn.
  6. When the flame gets strong enough to spread to the rest of your tinder and sustain itself, add some larger tinder (bigger sticks) to build a better fire.

It’s a good idea to take different fire starting supplies when you go camping and store them in different backpacks. Have each member of your family carry a lighter, storm proof matches and other fire starter of choice in their own bag. Be sure you do this for your EDC bags and bug out bags and have a bunch of different fire starting supplies in your prepper pile. You just never know what you’ll need in an emergency…

To your survival,
Richard Marshall

What steps have you taken to become more self-sufficient?

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for ways to become self-sufficient. One of the major steps you can take is going “off the grid”.

This means that you no longer use a gas and electric company, or water and sewer company, and you no longer need to rely on their infrastructure to supply essential utility services to your homestead — a huge plus in a survival situation.

What you need to understand first is that this is a major undertaking that involves a significant investment of time and money. This is why most people who go off-grid do it one step at a time.

The main consideration for going off-grid is choosing the right location.

You want to have land that aids in energy production. You also need to acquire water and mineral rights for the piece of land that you purchase. With that said, there are 5 additional considerations for going off the grid: electricity, water, water heating, sewer, and energy back-up.

Electricity/Gas. Two primary sources of power that are not derived from fossil fuels are wind power and solar power. Installing solar panels and wind turbines are simple enough, but both options are pretty expensive if you buy pre-manufactured systems from commercial dealers. They’re still well worth it in the long run, but you can save up to 50% (or more) on the costs by building your own home energy system. Ideally, you’ll use both sources to power your home. There are many other ways to create energy for your house, such as using Propane gas or using fertilizer and waste, but solar and wind energy are free, abundant, and easy to harness once you know how.

Heating. If you live in an area that gets cold in the winter, you need a way to heat your home. While you can use electric power to heat your house, you may want to consider installing a wood burner as well.

Water. To truly live off the grid, you’ll need to have your own water. You can install a well and a pump. Whether you’re building a new, energy-efficient home or thinking about installing a well for your current home, check your area water table to see if a well makes sense. Also, most municipalities in the U.S. do not allow wells to be installed within their boundaries, so check your local zoning laws.

Heating Water. You may not have thought about the need to heat water yet. Actually, there are many options. You can install a solar water heater or a propane water heater, use solar panels or hook your water heater up to your wood burner.

Sewage. The only way to deal with sewage in a sustainable way is having a septic tank installed. The tank will process the waste and release the product into the soil. This can be costly and can be tough to implement in urban areas, but if you plan it right for your off-grid property, a septic tank will last a lifetime.

Backup plans. Having a generator and/or battery backup to meet your energy needs in the event that your primary energy sources fail is a no-brainer. Everything I teach is about being prepared for unforeseen circumstances, and if you don’t have a well-thought-out backup plan then you’re not really prepared for anything.

Always watching out for you,

Sterling Mason

How to Make a Vegetable Oil Lamp (with Pictures)

Long before there was kerosene (aka paraffin) lamp oil, people used vegetable oil lamps for lighting their homes.

These oil lamps are really easy to make and today a lot of people prefer them to kerosene lamps.  They are natural, don’t produce toxic byproducts, and can be used in a pinch during power outages.

If you want to make your own vegetable oil lamp, here’s how to do it!

What Vegetable Oil Can I Use for Lamps?

You can use just about any cooking oil as a fuel for a lamp. Other types of fat – such as ghee or butter – will also work.

  • Olive Oil: This is the best choice for your vegetable oil lamp. It won’t produce smoke while burning.

  • Canola or Sunflower Oil: These are cheap and will burn. However, they will produce some smoke.

  • Walnut, Almond, Sesame, Flax Oils: Nut and seed oils are great for lamps. They won’t produce smoke like canola will. However, these oils are pricey so you probably won’t want to use them for your lamp.  Cheap olive oil is a better option.

  • Ghee or Butter: Traditionally, animal fats (such as whale blubber or fish oil) were used for oil lamps, especially in cold areas where veggies weren’t available. You can actually just put a wick directly in a stick of butter and burn it.  These thick fats don’t work as well in jars though.

Used Vegetable Oil for Lamps

After frying food, save the vegetable oil in a jar.  You can use this oil for lamps.

Ideally you should filter the oil through a cloth first.  Otherwise the chunks of food residue can start to smoke and smell!

Vegetable Oil Lamp Instructions:

There are a few different ways of making a lamp with vegetable oil. 

Instead of giving you just one way, I’ll talk about the supplies so you can DIY in your own way. 🙂

Container for Holding the Oil

Almost any non-flammable container will do.

To save on oil, look for containers that are wider than they are tall.

For safety, you’ll ideally want a container which entraps the flame.

You’ll obviously want the container to be transparent though so you can actually see the flame inside.

Here are some options:

  • Glass Jars

  • Clay/Ceramic/Metal Dishes: Old Roman oil lamps were made from terracotta. They were shaped like gravy boats.

  • Kerosene Lanterns: You know those antique-style lanterns with a glass globe inside? Even though they are designed for kerosene, you can use vegetable oil in them.

orange peel lamp

Orange peel lamp

DIY oil lamp

Spoon holders work well for DIY oil lamps!

metal oil lamp

Metal oil lamp

Wick (Soaked in Salt Water)

Anything made out of cotton will work as a wick.  Ideally, the wick is made out of a braided material. Otherwise it will burn very quickly. Braided wicks also produce more light. However, in a pinch, you can use:

  • Shoe laces

  • Strips of old clothing

  • String

Tip:  For the wick to burn evenly, you should first soak it in salt water.  Then let it dry before using.

Wick Holder

Here is where you need to get creative with your vegetable oil lamp.

You need the top of the wick (the part that will burn) to sit slightly above the vegetable oil.  Otherwise, the oil will put out the flame.

If you are using a ceramic dish for your lamp, then you can just prop the wick on the edge.  This is a bit of a fire hazard though.

Option 1: Wire Coil

For glass jar lamps, you’ll want to use wire to create a stand for the wick.

  1. Wrap wire around a pencil to create a coil. The coil should be long enough so your wick will stick out of the oil.
  2. Make a much bigger loop on the end of the coil. This will be your base.
  3. Thread the wick through the coil.

Option 2: Bottle Cap and Wire

wick holder in mason jar lamp

One alternative solution is to use wire + a bottle cap to create a stand.

  1. Using a hammer and nail, poke a hole through a metal bottle cap.
  2. Twist the wire to make a holder for bottle cap.
  3. Put the wick through the hole in the bottle cap. Put the cap in place.

Option 3: Hole in a Jar Lid

jar vegetable oil lamp

If your glass jar has a lid, you can just poke a hole through the lid and thread your wick through it.

Note that you’ll have to poke air holes in the lid too.

Drape the Wick

If you use a ceramic or metal container for holding your oil, you can just drape the wick off to the side.

Of course, this means you have an open flame.  It isn’t as safe as enclosing the flame inside the container.

ceramic dish lamp

A traditional ceramic dish oil lamp

How the Vegetable Oil Lamp Works

The vegetable oil will be drawn up into the wick.

The flame ignites it, causing the oil to vaporize.  Even a small amount of oil can burn for a few hours.

Even if you are using olive oil (which is fairly expensive), it still ends up being cheaper than most candles.

Paraffin Lamp Oil vs. Vegetable Oil

Lamp oil that you buy online or from hobby stories is made from petroleum.  Sometimes it is called kerosene.  Other times it is called paraffin.

They are the same thing – just a highly-refined kerosene oil.

Paraffin lamp oil will not smoke or produce odor as some vegetable oils will.

Flash Point:

Compared to vegetable oil, paraffin lamp oil has a much lower flash point.  Flash point refers to the temperature at which it will ignite.

  • Vegetable Oil Flash Point: Around 650 F
  • Paraffin Oil Flash Point: Around 100-150 F

The lower flash point of veggie oil means it takes longer to ignite.  It will burn – but it is not exactly ideal for wicks.   As it burns, it will consume the wick quickly.

By comparison, lamp oil will burn off the wick quickly.  Very little of the wick will be consumed, meaning your wick will last a lot longer with paraffin lamp oil.

As a general rule: The thicker the oil, the faster the wick will be consumed and the more smoke will be produced.

Lamp Oil Is Still the Best Choice

In a disaster situation where you need some emergency lighting, vegetable oil is a great option for DIY oil lamps.

However, if you are making oil lamps for fun, then your best bet is to buy lamp oil.

It simply burns cleaner and won’t consume your wicks as quickly.

You can find lamp oil (called kerosene or paraffin lamp oil) online for fairly cheap. If you want to really save some money, then choose K-1 kerosene.

K-1 Kerosene Lamp Oil

You can find K-1 kerosene at some gas stations and at hardware stores.  It is very cheap to buy and has numerous uses – such as for heating or jet fuel.

K-1 kerosene will still produce some odors (it contains sulfur), but the smell is minimal.

Compared to vegetable oil, the K-1 oil will burn cleanly in lamps and won’t eat up your wicks so quickly.

Recommended Reading: How to Make DIY Emergency Candles

Urban bug out bag: Checklist and Planning Guide

If a disaster strikes, a city is arguably the worst place to be. Not only do you have to worry about issues like rubble and downed power lines, but crowds of panicking people who didn’t have the foresight to stockpile basic supplies pose a huge threat.

At lot of prepper websites will tell you to move the heck out of the city.  Yes – that’s good advice, but not all of us are in a situation where we can pick up and move.

What you can do is pack an urban Bug Out Bag.

What is an Urban Bug Out Bag?

There are a lot of different definitions of Bug Out Bag.  In general though, a BOB is defined as a kit containing everything you need to survive through disaster conditions for 3 days.

So, an urban Bug Out Bag will contain everything you need to survive a disaster in a city or other urban environment.

Why You Need an Urban Bug Out Bag

You might not think you need an urban BOB.  After all, you could just go home – right?

You might even keep a Get Home Bag in your car in case a disaster strikes while you are away.

The truth is that there are many situations where you could end up stuck wandering the city through a SHTF disaster.

  • Your home becomes completely unsafe (ask the people of Syria about that one!).

  • The city is put on lockdown and you are unable to leave.

  • You have a disability or illness which makes it impossible to get out of the city.

  • There are no rural/wilderness areas around you, such as in large cities on the East Coast.

  • It will take several days of trekking through the city to reach the nearest safe, remote location.

When planning any BOB, I encourage you to think about items in categories based on what goal they achieve.

For example, to survive in any situation we need Shelter, Food, Warmth, and Medical Supplies.  You can read more about these categories in our post 3-Day Bug Out Bag Packing List.

Most Bug Out Bag lists are created with the notion that you’ll be escaping into the wilderness.  You’ll find items on these lists like a portable saw and fishing kits.

These items can be virtually useless in an urban environment!

Here, I want to go over some of the survival considerations which are unique to urban environments.

1. Shelter Considerations

The great thing about bugging out in a city is that there are plenty of pre-made shelters available.  The issue is how you are going to access them.

This is where survival gear like bolt cutters and crowbars can come in very handy.  You might also want a plastic tarp and some duct tape so you can weather-proof a damaged shelter.

I’d also recommend mapping out some locations in your city which would make a good survival shelter.

Abandoned buildings like factories might be a good choice, though plenty of other people will probably have this idea.

Dilapidated buildings might be better as fewer people will think of going there, and they are less likely to be targeted by looters.

Read more here…

Communications in a SHTF Scenario

SHTF Survivalist Radio Lists

 by Rebecca


From monkeys in the Amazon Rainforest, to dolphins in the Caribbean, to ants under your picnic table, all species rely on communication with each other for survival. Humans are no different – we rely on communication to both warn and inform us, especially in times of crisis.

In our modern times, the possibility of being unable to easily and quickly communicate with your loved ones or receive vital information from trusted sources is hard to imagine. But in SHTF scenarios, one of the first systems to fail is modern communications. Regardless of the emergency—hurricane, solar flare, nuclear attack, or EMP, to name a few—communications with others will become extremely difficult, if not impossible. Without telephone, text, email, internet, or television, many people will be completely shut off from the outside world at a time when the sharing and receiving of information has never been more important.

Related: How To Make A Tin Can Directional WiFi Antenna to Extend your Communication after an EMP

Just a few examples of the ways you rely on modern forms of communication in emergency situations include:

  • Receiving alerts via text of natural disasters and dangerous weather (for this particular case it is always adviced to learn the lost art of reading nature’s signs);
  • Checking your favorite news app regularly for signs of SHTF;
  • Calling your family to let them know your spouse has to be taken to the emergency room;
  • Listening to the radio for traffic updates, including road closings and delays;
  • Emailing your boss to let them know that you have a flat tire and are going to be late to work.

When our communication is cut off, three things happen immediately:

  1. We lose our ability to send information;
  2. We lose our ability to get information; and
  3. People get scared.

If you are concerned that a SHTF situation, whether natural or man-made, could cut you and your family off from vital information you need to survive, take heart – by using a simple communication device, your family can continue communication with each other and with important sources of help, such as the Red Cross or your local emergency shelter.

To prepare your family for communicating in an emergency, you have several options of communications devices. From devices that just transmit (such as shortwave radio) to devices that will allow full two-way communication with other parties (such as amateur ham radio), each type of device will allow you to stay as up-to-date as possible on emergency situations in your area thanks to special frequencies that broadcast vital information you can use to survive.

Related: How To Tell When People Are Lying to You (in a crisis)

Before we get started on the main types of frequencies used in SHTF communication, it is important to point out that in order to pick up any broadcast, you need a reliable device that you are able to keep charged. Devices with multiple charging options, such as solar-power and hand-crank, provide better insurance against a disaster preventing you from charging your device, while having multiple devices ensure that you will backups in case your main source of communication isn’t functioning.

The main types of frequencies used in SHTF communication:

  1. AM/FM (one-way radio)
  2. SW (shortwave, pre-recorded broadcasts that are listen-only)
  3. NOAA (weather broadcasts, listen-only)
  4. VHF/UHF (amateur ham radio)
  5. FRS (two-way radio, can be used by anyone)
  6. GMRS (two-way radio, requires a license)
  7. MURS (handheld radio or stationary unit)

As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages for each. For example, NOAA frequencies are your best bet for hearing notifications of a hurricane in your area; however, should you need emergency assistance because of the hurricane, you can’t use the frequency to call for help. Some devices have frequencies that are available to everyone, while others require a special license in order to broadcast. Prices of devices range widely, as does the level of expertise needed to operate each device. You can choose the device that is right for your family by considering what your communication needs are, your proficiency with each type, whether you will be able to obtain the proper license to broadcast with certain devices, and the budget you are able to spend.

Regardless of the type of device you choose, there are frequencies available for each that will help your family survive emergency situations. To find out which frequencies you should use on three of the most popular prepper communication devices, see our handy reference list below!


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is a government-operated radio system for sending out warnings in the event of a hurricane, solar flare, nuclear attack, and other emergencies. Broadcasts are local and repeated approximately every 5 minutes around-the-clock. You can purchase a special NOAA-enabled radio that is pre-set to the appropriate frequencies and will alert you of emergencies whenever the radio is turned on.

NOAA broadcasts can be heard on the following frequencies:

  • 162.40 MHz
  • 162.425 MHz
  • 162.45 MHz
  • 162.475 MHz
  • 162.50 MHz
  • 162.525 MHz
  • 162.55 MHz
  • 163.275 MHz

Emergency radio frequencies

  • 34.90 & 163.4875: National Guard
  • 39.46: Inter-department emergency communications by local and state police forces
  • 47.42: Red Cross
  • 121.50: International aeronautical emergency
  • 138.225: FEMA Disaster Relief Operations
  • 142
  • 154.28: Local fire departments inter-departmental communications
  • 155.160: Inter-departmental state and local communications during search and rescue
  • 155.475: Inter-departmental emergency communications for state and local police
  • 156.75: Maritime weather alerts
  • 156.80: Maritime distress, calling, and safety
  • 163.5125: National Disaster Preparedness (Armed Forces)
  • 164.50: Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • 168.55: Disaster and emergency channel for civilian agencies of the federal government
  • 243.00: Military aviation emergency
  • 311.00 & 319.40: U.S. Air Force
  • 317.70 & 317.80: U.S. Coast Guard (Aviation)
  • 340.20: U.S. Navy (Aviation)
  • 409.625: Department of State
  • 462.675: General Mobile Radio Service (emergency assistance and traveler assistance)

Amateur Radio Allocations Apr 2017

Technician Class Frequency Privileges In Ham Radio

Band Frequencies (In MHz) Modes You Can Use
80 meters 3.525 – 3.600 CW
40 meters 7.025 – 7.125 CW
15 meters 21.025 – 21.200 CW
10 meters 28.000 – 28.30028.300 – 28.500 CW, RTTY/data, 200 watts PEP maximum powerCW, phone, 200 watts PEP maximum power
Above 50 MHz All amateur privileges

CW = Morse code; PEP = peak envelope power; RTTY = radioteletype.

General Class Frequency Privileges In Ham Radio

Band Frequencies (in MHz) Mode
160, 60, 30 meters All amateur privileges
80 meters 3.525 – 3.6003.800 – 4.000 CW, RTTY, dataCW, phone, image
40 meters 7.025 – 7.1257.175 – 7.300 CW, RTTY, dataCW, phone, image
20 meters 14.025 – 14.15014.225 – 14.350 CW, RTTY, dataCW, phone, image
15 meters 21.025 – 21.20021.275 – 21.450 CW, RTTY, dataCW, phone, image
17, 12, 10 meters All amateur privileges
Above 50 MHz All amateur privileges

CW = Morse code; RTTY = radioteletype.

Common Ham Radio Q Signals

Q Signal Meaning
QRL Is the frequency busy?
The frequency is busy. Please do not interfere.
QRM Abbreviation for interference from other signals.
QRN Abbreviation for interference from natural or human-made
QRO Shall I increase power?
Increase power.
QRP Shall I decrease power?
Decrease power.
QRQ Shall I send faster?
Send faster (__words per minute [wpm]).
QRS Shall I send more slowly?
Send more slowly (__wpm).
QRT Shall I stop sending or transmitting?
Stop sending or transmitting.
QRU Have you anything more for me?
I have nothing more for you.
QRV Are you ready?
I am ready.
QRX Stand by.
QRZ Who is calling me?
QSB Abbreviation for signal fading.
QSL Did you receive and understand?
Received and understood.
QSO Abbreviation for a contact.
QST General call preceding a message addressed to all
QSX I am listening on ___ kHz.
QSY Change to transmission on another frequency (or to ___
QTH What is your location?
My location is ____.


Common Ham Radio Repeater Channel Spacings And Offsets

Band Output Frequencies of Each Group (In MHz) Offset from Output to Input Frequency
6 meters 51.62 – 51.9852.5 – 52.98

53.5 – 53.98

– 500 kHz
2 meters (a mix of 20 kHz and 15 kHz channel spacing) 145.2 – 145.5146.61 – 146.97

147.00 – 147.39

– 600 kHz– 600 kHz

+ 600 kHz

222 MHz or 1-1/4 meters 223.85 – 224.98 – 1.6 MHz
440 MHz or 70 cm (local options determine whether inputs are
above or below outputs)
442 – 445 (California repeaters start at 440 MHz)447 – 450 + 5 MHz– 5 MHz
1296 MHz or 23 cm 1282 – 12881290 – 1294 – 12 MHz

CB frequencies

Citizen’s band radio is any easy way for anyone to communicate in an emergency without a license. Standard channels range from 1 – 40, with additional channels being available with freeband operation. Some helpful frequencies to monitor include:

  • Channel 3: Prepper CB Network
  • Channel 4: The American Preppers Network
  • Channel 9: reserved specifically for emergency communications/ REACT channel
  • Channel 19: the channel most widely used by truckers across the country

Emergency communication tips

Whether you choose to monitor NOAA broadcasts or utilize CB and/or ham radio frequencies, there are a few tips that can help you communicate most effectively in an emergency:

  • Have an emergency communication plan in place
  • Don’t limit yourself to only one type of communication: having multiple devices can save your life!
  • If speaking to emergency services, speak slowly and clearly and be able to provide details of your emergency, such as the number of people needing assistance, your location, and any life-threatening injuries
  • In a bug-out situation, the noise of your device may give your location away to others: make sure you are in a safe location before tuning in!

Top 10 Survival Skills For the New Year

by Richard Marshall

What if you woke up one morning and the world as you knew it was gone?

Would you be ready to sustain yourself and your loved ones? How would you know? Serious preppers understand that “knowledge is power” and that “practice make perfect.” These two elements of wisdom should guide your prepping activities.

Here are the top 10 skills I teach my students when first discussing their plans for disaster preparation:

  1. First Aid. As a medic, I know first-hand the importance of taking fast action in the event of a medical emergency. Take a First Aid/CPR class while you can and learn how to use a tourniquet, administer stitches, and care for broken bones and gunshot wounds. Buy a couple of field manuals and keep one at home and one in the car, along with your first aid kits.
  2. Self-defense. I don’t have to tell you how dangerous desperate people are. Hopefully, you and the people you come across in a survival situation can lend a helping hand to each other and share/trade in a civilized fashion. If not, prepare to protect yourself, your family, and your supplies.
  3. Fire-starting. A fire will keep you warm, make your water safe to drink, and make your food edible. With its critical survival applications, fire is one of your best friends and fire-starting should be one of your most-practiced skills.
  4. Fishing. “If you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for the rest of his life.” Although there is science to fishing, it’s best learned by experience. A fishing pole may become one of your key survival supplies. Purchase a high-quality one, along with a fishing guide for your region. Remember, in most states you will need a fishing license.
  5. Hunting. If a disaster of catastrophic proportions strikes, things may never go back to normal. If you cannot buy food at a grocery store, you will have to find your own. Knowing how to hunt will put fresh, protein-rich meat on the table. Learn to use a hunting rifle as well as a bow-and-arrow, and how to set traps for small game that you can capture without the need for ammunition, which may be scarce in a crisis.
  6. Gardening. Being able to grow your own food is valuable skill, not only in a survival situation, but in everyday life. With all of the pesticides and herbicides that our produce is bombarded with, I’m not a big fan of grocery store produce. Knowing how to grow medicinal herbs can also come in handy and give you some bargaining power, too.
  7. Firearms. Firearms have many potential survival applications, from hunting to self-defense. Hopefully you won’t ever have to shoot someone to protect you family or property, but you never know. Go to the shooting range often to keep in practice, and stay up-to-date on the latest regulations in your area regarding concealed carry permits.
  8. Navigating. If you don’t know how to hold a compass, you better figure it out now. If you have to bug out, especially if you are meeting someone in a pre-determined location, you better know how to get there. Buy laminated maps of your region and keep them in your bug-out bag and get-home bag.
  9. Construction. If the crisis persists and the world as we know it no longer exists, we may be back to living in colonial times. You will be way ahead of the competition if you have basic construction skills and a set of hand tools.
  10. Food preservation. If refrigeration is not available, preserving food will become the norm. From salt preservation, to smoking, canning and dehydration, extending the life of your foods is a valuable skill.

It’s also imperative that you start stocking the supplies you’ll need to use each given skill effectively. Your hunting rifle is useless without ammunition, and you’ll wish you had some tinder in your bug-out bag when nighttime rolls around.

Resource Location and Allocation

ShieldWall Network homework assignment for over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays: For your local area, research where are the nearest of these resources and assets to your location:

-non-perishable food distribution centers and food warehouses

-Water treatment facilities

-sources of live water (rivers, creeks, lakes)

-Electric power production facilities

-Propane storage facilities

-Gasoline storage facilities

-National Guard Armories

When the collapse happens, those who are able to feed themselves, their neighbors, and their fellow citizens, and provide access to the other above-mentioned resources, will become the persons of influence in their communities.

After you locate the nearest locations to you of each resource, in the next phase research what would be necessary to secure and defend each of those sites from looters. Think about roads and rail lines and waterways accessing them, existing security emplacements there, and how they could be improved. In the final phase, consider what kind of transportation resources would be needed to move those resources to another, more defensible location, where applicable, and how those means of transportation may be accessed near you.

Eventually and inevitably, ShieldWall Phalanx training will expand into wargaming exercises based on the defense of these kinds of locations from thieves and looters, for the good of the community at large, and the distribution of these resources to the community under our supervision in a SHTF scenario as America balkanizes.



Rest In Peace

The reason why you may be reading this is because you want to learn how to stave off disaster. In the coming years, it is not entirely certain what the time will hold for the world, and it is important to get ready.  But what is the real reason why you are preparing in advance?

The simple answer is; peace of mind.

You want to know, beforehand, you will be able to survive. You are beginning to prepare because you don’t want to struggle when the world crumbles; you want to know that you have as many of the contingencies you can plan for squared away because you’ve already done the majority of the work. It doesn’t matter if it happens in three years or twenty; you know that you’re going to be okay.

However, survival is more than food stores and ammo.

Survival means more than taking care of the physical body. Survival also means you still take the time to stop and smell the roses, hold your loved ones, take in a beautiful view, and reconnect with whatever makes you tick. It means that you learn to depend on God as much as you learn to depend on gardening skills, your hunting prowess, or the homesteading and back-to-basics skills you’re cultivating. You constantly need to remind yourself of why you are putting in the effort. It’s not just so you can eat another day. For the Christian, God has given us much more of a responsibility than that.

The goal is not just to prepare and survive while others perish. A larger perspective motivates the follower of God in their prudent preparations…that is to wisely prepare so that one can adequately and skillfully continue to minister and serve to the true needs of others. That is our number one obligation. God didn’t tell Noah to build a boat just so he could experience the first ocean cruise.

That knowledge should not only produce a fervor and zest for life, but it should also produce peace.  The health of the mind is the most important part of survival, because without the focus, the assurance, and the knowledge to get through any situation – whether man-made or natural disasters – your actions and reactions will more than likely remain within the realm of chaotic and aimless. Peace is crucial during catastrophe, and it will not only offer you calm amidst the storm, but it also offers several other advantages.

If you are cool and calm during a catastrophe, you will be able to do several things:

-You will not make hasty decisions. When riots are occurring in the streets or there is a mass evacuation, usually people make rash decisions that can cost lives. If you are at peace, then you will have the unclouded ability to think critically.

-You will not consume as much energy and resources. People who are flustered and worried tend to gather more than they need or rush more than they have to.  Both take far more energy than is necessary, and energy translates to vital calories.

-Being at peace will keep you from succumbing to fear. Fear can make people do unwise things, and tyrannical governments have a knack for using fear as a psychological weapon.

-You will remain focused and steady when the world crumbles to the ground. Of course, you will not know of what is to come, but you will not have nearly the stress that others might have. Stress can lead to sickness and irrational decisions, so keeping yourself relaxed will prevent that from happening.

The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth,

Jonathan Chambers