New Mexico Urban Homesteader

Hello, I am A 50 Something, Prepper ;-}; former 60's Flower Child, don't believe in taxpayer subsidized special interest groups (political parties), DO believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights (1st 10). Long time Independent & Informed Voter. Lover of the outdoors and firm believer that History Teaches - if only we will listen!

(No longer Urban or in NM. Now Rural in the mountains of Maine.)

This blog was started at the request of some dear friends that wish to become Preppers.

“No man who is not willing to help himself has any right to apply to his friends, or to the gods.”

Demosthenes (384–322 BC, Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Farewell to NMUrbanHomesteader

Well folks I have my new site up and running for the most part; granted the Hoo, Haa, Haa section is still a work in progress, but all the other stuff, including downloads is up and running.

The first post on this new site is
What is a Bug-Out Vehicle & How do I Select One? so check it out for some good information on what to look for to meet your needs.


A 50 something, no longer so urban or in NM, prepping homesteader

I share Preparedness, Homesteading, Self-reliance knowledge & doc's at:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Moving Saga and Moving Again! (figuratively)

Well I am getting settled in my new state and so far I’m loving it!  I should have done this years ago; don’t know what I was thinking by waiting so long.

Had a scare last week when it rained and rained – I was watching the stream by the house and it kept rising and rising.  I was really concerned until someone pointed to this spot where previous high water was recorded and this time around wasn’t anywhere near that. 

Yet this got me to thinking about flash floods.  So you can expect an article about that in the near future.

Living rural means that stores close up shop by 11PM (MacDonald’s) and most close at 8PM around here.  I no longer have all these various specialty shops and rely heavily on Tractor Supply and Agway.  There is a Wal-Mart and KMart and even a small JCPenny store front in the area, however any other chain stores are about an hour and more out. 

Recycling is mandatory and although I do have weekly trash pick-up at this place it is only for garbage, garbage.  All paper, plastic, metal and glass must be recycled and that means making a trip to one of the recycling centers.  No “Use and Toss” mentality here that’s for sure.

Meanwhile, the site I used to post my documents for download on decided that I had questionable content and removed my account.  (This means all the download links here @ my NMUrbanHomesteader site are invalid.)  

After much searching around I found a new site and am building my new blog and library there.  This is all still “under construction” however keep an eye out for it.  The site is called

"(formerly NM Urban) Homesteader" @

The new site has a page for the “Blog”, “Events of Interest”, “Check these Sites Out!” and “Downloads”. 

My first official post at this new site will be about “Selecting a Bug Out Vehicle”.

Until then Keep On Preppin ;-}


A 50 something, no longer so urban or in NM, prepping homesteader

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My Moving Saga Part 1

Well the movers were 2 days late.  Ok actually one day late then took 1 ½ days to pack and load, even though I had packed almost 200 boxes myself.  The move was good overall as only one item was damaged.

The drive from NM to Maine took 4 days and 3 nights.  The hotels along the way were good and the one in PA was so pet oriented that they had an outdoor area for dogs and treats, as well as a fenced outdoor area for cats.

We were stopped twice by state troopers in TX and IL.  Both apparently were ‘profiling’ based on a van with AZ plates, dark tinted windows and a big dog.   We would get out, sit in their car so their sniffer dog could get a good whiff, be told to slow down or not follow so close and then we were on our way again.  I must say that in both cases we were treated professionally and with respect and for that I am grateful.

We only had one truly bad experience during the drive and that was because when calling ahead for a hotel we got Travelocity instead.  They never identified themselves (not once in 4 phone calls), outright refused to let us speak to a supervisor or manager (even their web site doesn’t have a complaint form, email or USPS address, yet alone a phone number for customer service outside of booking a place or trip).  I strongly recommend never ever using Travelocity!!!!

My daughter’s house is nestled into some woods on the side of a narrow road with a wide stream (which would be considered a big river back in NM) that runs along one side.  It is a rather strange stream as there are dams both up and down stream from house location and depending on which dam is releasing water the stream runs each way. 

My dog Max has seen ‘flying fish’, raccoon, possum, groundhog, fox and we have smelled skunk (thankfully Max hasn’t come face to face with one - yet).  There are tons of birds; yellow finch, sparrow, cardinal, robin, crow, osprey, hawk or falcon (couldn’t tell which) and golden eagle, to name a few.  I’ve also seen dear, raccoon and fisher (a type of weasel) tracks along the stream.

There are tons of wildflowers and I have to keep a constant eye out for poison ivy, oak and sumac which are abundant around here.

Since my in-law suite is not complete just yet I have gotten a room, close to my daughter’s for 4-6 weeks, out at an old farm that is owned by a person that rescues horses.  My dog now has several playmates to romp around with. 

The weather is pleasant; not too hot or cold (yet).  Although it does rain almost every night and the humidity is way up there compared to NM. 

Even though I didn’t want to live east of the Mississippi again, this is very rural, small town, mountain Maine and is surprisingly sparse with people that are good old fashioned down to earth, American, God fearing farmers.  Very few, if any, freeloaders, moochers or people controlled by any of the political parties.  These people employ American citizens before employing non-American residents.  In fact there are very few if any non-American residents here (maybe because this state does not pay out any service monies to non-Americans). These are real independent thinkers and doers – early to bed and early to rise, living off the land, American citizens.  A truly refreshing and blessed place to live for a spell!

Cell reception is sporadic at best and doesn’t really work in either house (probably due to the metal roofs), so it’s really kinda strange to walk outside, step away from the house and have the cell phone suddenly receive several text messages and ‘missed’ calls.

To those of you that regularly read my blog, I will be set up soon so I can get back to it (even though I am no longer urban or in NM).   My first article will be on Choosing a Bug-out Vehicle To Meet Your Specific Needs.

Also note that for some reason, decided that I was an ‘inappropriate’ author and deleted my directory.  I am in the process of finding another web publishing site and will update the links to documents on my blog once I have accomplished that.

Keep in touch, take care and may the Creator bless you and yours always ;-}


Saturday, May 18, 2013

And So the Saga Begins ...

Those of you who have followed me these past years know I have been wanting to move rural for quite some time now.  

Well ...

I have sold my house and am moving to a rural area in a new state.   Since I am on a timeline to vacate etc, my postings will be few and far between until I get settled.

Keep an eye out here for the saga of a country girl gone metropolitan, to country again ...

Until then –

Prep On ;-}


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Utility Shut-off & Safety in an Emergency

If a crisis hits your home, neighborhood, town, state or region it pays to be able to locate and shut off your utilities before they can compound the problem.

Knowing where your utility mains are and how to operate them is key to household safety and can significantly decrease property damage during and after an emergency. 

Make sure every member of your household is familiar with the location of your main water, electric and gas switches and valves and knows how to operate them.

If the crisis is slow moving, where you have some time to prepare, like a hurricane – shut off your utilities BEFORE the crisis hits.  This greatly reduces the chances of additional sparks, floods, gas leaks and the like and keeps you much safer in your home during the crisis to boot.

Most municipal utility shut-offs require some kind of tool.  Each utility has its own versions of the various meters and such to shut off any gas, electric, water, propane and sewer intakes to your home.  So be sure to contact your local utilities and or propane, well and septic system vendors for specific information on your systems.  Also, be sure to measure exactly what size each of these wrenches or tools need to be, as different municipalities utilize different sized valves, switches and such.  You want a tool that fits perfectly, so it works perfectl!.

Everyday tools can work, but the going is tough and slow.  So if you have the required tools in your household emergency kit, this will save you time, energy and frustration, if not money and peace of mind too. 

Read on for guidelines on turning off your Electric Service, Water Service, Well Water, Natural Gas, Propane, Oil Furnace and Plugging your Sewer to avoid backflow  @


Keep On Preppin'


Monday, April 15, 2013

Building A Needs Based Preparedness Plan – Putting it All Together

I'm not so good at putting things into the written word, and this final part to building a Needs Based Preparedness Plan is more along the lines of 'gotta see it', so bear with me and follow the link at the end of this post to 'see' all the examples that give you an idea of what I am trying to explain ;-}

Organizing a plan is probably the toughest part in making any plan and a preparedness plan is no exception.  Over the years, the following strategy has proven instrumental in accomplishing this.  It is basically a ‘grouping’ of the ‘needs’ that are then put into an outline format.

Outline format allowed changes to my plan as I moved into or out of various areas that were prone to specific types of crises – without having to re-write the entire plan!  All I had to do was cross the Roman numeral out and then move that page to the end of the plan when I moved out of an area; or write a replacement Roman numeral for any new crisis when I moved into a specific area.  It sure does beat re-writing the entire plan ;-}

First and foremost we have to remember that a preparedness plan is NOT a set of how-to instructions on utilizing your goods or supplies.  Rather, this is the basic methods, processes and procedures associated to each need (goods, knowledge, skills) on your Per Crisis Needs Lists.

Let’s take Food Storage as an example:

Your preparedness plan will deal with the projected timeframe you want the food storage items to sustain you.  It will NOT however be your detailed inventory of how much food you have in storage at any given time or even exactly where it is stored.  Nor will the plan contain any recipes or medicinal uses.  Any detail or physical inventory on the quantity of each food item in storage, etc., will be in your Important Documents book under ‘Food Storage’.

So if your ultimate goal is a year’s supply of food and water, but you only have 6 months right now, your preparedness plan will read something like this:

Food Storage
  • Quantity: 6 mths, goal 1 year; budget is on track with our goal
  • Location(s):  primary retreat and several caches; goal secondary retreat

Note: If you have some ‘goods’ that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt, you won’t be able to utilize without a set of step-by-step instructions, then highlight these and be sure to create a ‘How To’ or ‘Instructions’ section in your Important Documentation book and put the instructions for these items there.

Most of the ‘needs’ on your Per Crisis Needs Lists can likely be grouped into one of the following group types.  So review your Per Crisis Needs lists with these potential groupings in mind.  

Keep a scratch pad with several columns on it and just make quick notes as you notice the various groupings of ‘needs’.

When you finalize these groupings, try to give each Roman numeral its own physical page when you type it up.  This will allow changes without having to re-write the entire plan.  Once this is completed print it off and put in your Important Documentation book – hard copy is for the truly prepared.  Make  changes as needed to your hardcopy to keep it up to date.

These ‘groupings’ are what I call ‘organizational indicators’ for your preparedness plan outline.

I.    The simplest ‘grouping’ concerns those needs that fall into the ‘goals and objectives’ realm.  Think along the lines of what you have yet to acquire, the quantity you wish to obtain or a retreat location goal or the example above on food storage and the like.

II.    Repeat ‘needs’ tend to be the more critical stuff and that alone forms one type of ‘grouping’ of needs.  For instance most of the following will usually fall into your repeated needs ‘grouping’:

  • Budget
  • Equipment
  • Supplies
  • Storage Areas
  • Practice Drills
  • Mobility
  • Physical Necessity to life:  breathable air, nutrition, water and shelter from the elements (clothing, shelter, heating, cooling)
  • Psychological Necessity to life:  spiritual and mental wellness, entertainment to eliminate boredom
  • DSS:  Defense, Safety and Security
  • Communications:  contacts, call tree, listening network, alternative powered radio, alternative 2-way communications
  • Medical, Dental, First Aid
  • Sanitation and waste
  • Alternative energy for heating, cooling, cooking and the like
  • Maintenance needs of all of the supplies:  usage and rotation of items based on use and shelf life.

III.    Another ‘grouping’ usually shows up with long duration crises:

  • Education
  • Physical Fitness and exercise
  • Renewable food, gardening, seed saving, canning, dehydrating, Hunting, fishing, trapping, snaring and or food animals like fish, goats, chickens, etc.
  • Replenishable water

IV.    What methodologies, processes and procedures are utilized for the consumable and reusable ‘goods’ is another ‘grouping’; like food or sanitation and waste.

When looking at food we have some process and procedures as well as methods and tools or equipment associated to it:

  • Storing – containers, a safe location with the proper food storage environment
  • Preserving  - each food preservation method requires a ‘device’ or two to perform.  Think canning, dehydrating, smoking, curing and the like
  • Cooking  - pots, pans, utensils and a cooking heat source
  • Replenishing  - methods of procuring more food. Like gardening, hunting, fishing, trapping, snares, butchering, etc.
  • Eating – bowls, plates and utensils

Sanitation & Waste is another of this type of grouping:

  • Personal Hygiene – body, teeth, hair
  • Laundry
  • Cleaning of the various food cooking, eating, preserving and storage containers and utensils
  • Human waste disposal
  • Grey water re-use and disposal
  • Compost
  • Trash/garbage disposal

V.    Another type of ‘grouping’ appears when items repeat for a couple of specific crises on your list and are direct reflections or symptoms of the consequences of these particular crises.  For example let’s say you have 4 crises on your list along the lines of:

  • An ice storm takes out electricity, county wide for 5-7 days
  • A CME takes out electricity for several months or more, multi-nationally, and fries all digital devices
  • A hurricane takes out electricity, regionally for several weeks
  • An EMP takes out electricity, regionally to nationally for several months or more and fries all digital devices

All 4 of these crises involve loss of electricity and all that electricity provides, for more than an hour or two.

The ice storm gives one a chance to have a generator for 3 or more days, depending on how much fuel fire codes in your area will allow you to store.  After that you need something for cooking and heating.  A renewable energy source like solar, wind and hydro, complete with energy storage (battery bank, inverter, etc) would provide electrical energy for the long haul.

For the two electromagnetic crises, things are for a much longer time period.

Some of your items, like inverters and radios will need additional protection – a Farady Cage and you will also need to plan for replacement parts to some devices that are critical. Then there is the radiation and radioactive fallout hazard to consider too.

A CME does have some radioactive aspects, however geological evidence shows that most of the deadly radiation is diverted by the earth’s atmosphere and magnetic fields.

An EMP incident will present a much greater radiation aspect as it is detonated in the upper atmosphere.  In this case the radiation will be greatest near the detonation area, however windblown microscopic radioactive fallout can affect a much larger area for a longer timeframe.

For a ground detonated nuclear device, the range of the effects of the EMP portion of the blast will be reduced.  However the radioactive fallout from a ground detonated nuclear bomb will generate much more particulate debris (fallout) that ‘rains’ down for quite a while, over a very large area (even global).  It can take months for all of this debris to completely exit our atmosphere and we won’t always be able to see it.

This means that in the case of an EMP or ground nuclear detonation event you are not only dealing with no electricity for an extended period and the Farady Cage for electronic devices; you will also need radiation protection.

Note:  A CME or Coronal Mass Ejection is much stronger than a solar flare or storm.  A solar flare does have some electromagnetic elements; however it is mostly in the light spectrum range and not the super charged electro/ferromagnetic range of a CME.  Also, not all CME’s are associated with solar flares or sun spots or vice versa.  (See CME? EMP? Farady Cage? – Oh My! @ for more detail)

VI.    The last type of ‘grouping’ concerns the non-repeated or singular needs.  The placement of these ‘needs’ is based on the priority of the crisis itself in your Moderated Crisis List.

For instance say you live in an area that is just above sea level and usually very dry, yet on your Crisis List you have ‘Global Warming’ Flooding.  One singular need that may appear in this case is some kind of boat or raft or moving to higher ground.

Any of these bullet points could be their own Roman numeral in the preparedness outline, yet don’t have to be.  These groupings are merely to give you an idea of where to place these items in the overall plan.

Once you have notes on what kind of groupings your needs fall into, review them and decide which way you want to organize these in your outline formatted preparedness plan.

Some individuals will find a particular grouping method works best for them, while others may like utilizing more than one grouping method for their plan.  This is where the plan becomes even more customized for you and your household’s needs.

(There is an example of the Doe Family Preparedness Plan at the link on the end of this article.)

This plan should be stored in the beginning of your Important Documentation Book.


  • Prioritized Crisis Lists: Possibility (emotional), Probability (science & education odds), Moderated (balance of human gut instinct and irrational fears against science and educations truths and fallacies).
  • Per Crisis Needs (goods, knowledge, skills) Lists, Prioritized; along with a list of what we have yet to acquire.
  • Mobility Issues: getting home to shelter in place and evacuation/bug-out (Who, What, When, Where schedule & map, alternate retreats, routes and secret communication/rest stops)
  • Organizational Indicators to a Needs Based, Outline Formatted Preparedness Plan
  • The finalized plan in outline format

All of these steps have been geared to grab those variables within our realm of control, to balance emotions and logic and raise our survivability quotient.

These steps do take effort, time and some soul searching and none of this is easy in today’s world. Yet if we really want to be prepared, if we really want to do more than just survive, we will do this and reap the rewards.

If you feel you do not have enough time or money, really stop and think for a minute.  I hate to tell you this, but you are most likely wrong about that!

Don’t believe me? 
Well I was a single parent with two toddlers, two dogs and a non-child support paying ex; I worked two jobs, stayed off welfare and only took WIC assistance for the first year; I grew most of our veggies and melons; baked bread (cause it was cheaper than purchasing) and sent my kids to school with bag lunches.   In order to keep a roof over our heads, cloths on our backs, the utilities on and nutritional food to eat I had to make the best use of my time and money.  I can’t say it was easy; however it is indeed quite possible.

If you ‘don’t have enough time’ consider this:  Everyone has 24 hours in a day, no exceptions.  The average person gets about 8 hours of sleep, so that leaves 16 hours.  Then this person works for a living so take out 10 hours to allow for commuting and lunch, that leaves 6 hours.  Now let’s apply those 10 hour work days to the weekend to account for all those household chores and such.  This means that the average person has 6 hours every day to devote to other things.  So if preparedness takes only 1 of those hours every other day, you can be prepared in a year!  (And ya gotta admit that 20 hours a week for household chores and tasks is a bit on the generous side, which should balance out if the workweek day are a little longer than 10 hours for work.  For people who do not work, I don't know what to say except that you must not be utilizing your time wisely or you don't really want to be prepared.)

If you ‘don’t have enough money’ try this little experiment:  As a family put a jar or can in the kitchen and then for the next two weeks every time any one of you gets ready to pull out the wallet to pay to do something or purchase something ask yourselves “Will I die in the next month if I don’t get or do this right now, this instant?”.  If the answer is NO, then every other time, don’t do it or buy it and when you get home put the monies in that jar.  At the end of the two weeks count the money in the jar.  I’m willing to bet there will be more money than $30.00.  Here are your preparedness monies!

Above all, remember that a Preparedness Plan cannot be wrong unless you do something nucking futs like build a house on the San Andres fault and do nothing more for earthquakes than match building codes - OR - You chose not to obtain or learn something that could prevent your family from suffering more trials and tribulations (or worse), when you could have; and when a crisis hits you then become a danger to yourself and everyone around you.

In my mind preparedness, beyond first aid kits and insurance policies, means that you care, so it is a way of 'taking care' of your loved ones and who doesn’t want to do that!?!

For additional examples of the various groupings, the Doe Family Needs Based Preparedness Plan and additional information see: Building A Needs Based Preparedness Plan – Putting it All Together @

Good Luck & Be Prepared, Not Scared


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Building a Needs Based Preparedness Plan – The Final Data Collection

Well now, we have created our Crisis Lists (possibility, probability, moderated), we have defined what goods, knowledge and skills we need to survive these crises for their potential scope of involvement and duration, plus what needs we already possess and have yet to acquire; and we have planned for the worst case scenario, utilizing our Who, What, When and Where Schedule and Map. 

What else can there be before we actually draw up our plan?  To be honest, two more biggies in terms of potential ‘dings’ to our survivability quotient and a few, shall we say, housekeeping issues. Both of these fall under what I call the ‘sad and bad’ ‘don’t want to think about it’ category.

To avoid some of our nasty human characteristics – like hating to think about anything bad or sad.  Remember that it is far easier to think and plan about this ‘sad and bad stuff’ when we are NOT under the duress of actually being in that situation, than it is to attempt to do so in the middle of a crisis. So here we go …

Mortality:  We humans just hate discussing death, yet this too is best done without the burden of the actual crisis. 

Most of us have wills of some kind, this is good and a copy should be in your Important Documentation Book.  However, our world now and our SHTF world could be two very different things.  You may wish to have a ‘SHTF Will’ that covers what to do when funeral homes and the like are not available, or if say, the disposition of your remains are taken out of your survivors hands. 
When your household knows how you want things done in the case of a SHTF death, there will be no guilt or remorse because they could not fulfill your physical body disposition last request. 

The next biggie is the dreaded Evacuation or Bug-Out scenario.   Many of us feel we would rather die than consider that we may have to vacate our homes.   However, reality is that there are some things that could cause us to do so in order to stay alive.  As mentioned before a house fire is the most common that we will likely face.

Before we can discuss the possible evacuation from our homes we need to understand some fairly standard authorative/governmental actions that occur when evacuation notices are issued or when a large crisis hits that requires authorative/governmental post crisis action.
It takes a lot of money, effort, organization, equipment, supplies, human-power and time to issue and implement an evacuation – no matter if it is large or small.  So issuing one is almost always done at the last possible moment!

This means that once the notice is issued you will NOT have the time to decide and pack what to take with you, yet alone to decide where to evacuate to.  Nope, you have to be ready to go within minutes of the notice being issued.
Most countries have two (2) types of Evacuation Notices:

  • Mandatory, which does NOT mean the authorities will drag you out of your home kicking and screaming.
  • Suggested, which is used when the scope of involvement has a few too many variables.  (Remember New Orleans and Katrina)

In the United States, where our states still have some independence and sovereignty, you may have only one type of notice or several additional types of evacuation notices. 
For instance in New Mexico they do not have a mandatory notice, only suggested evacuation notices.  Also in the US there is this thing called the ‘No Notice Evacuation Notice’ that can be issued by any department of transportation entity, at any time and does not require door-to-door notification.  This is generally issued in the case of say, a toxic spill or gas explosion and the like.
Then there are the usual ‘After Crisis Protocols’ which all the public safety, fire, search and rescue entities use to leverage their minimum equipment, human-power, time and finances to help the most people.  It goes something like this:

  • The area that received NO Evacuation Notice will be addressed first.  This is where the greatest number of people are likely to be trapped and or in need.
  • The area that received a Suggested Notice will be addressed second, as this is the next largest number of people trapped and or in need are likely to be.
  • The area that received a Mandatory Notice will be addressed last.  Historical crises have shown this area to have no more than 7% of people who are likely to be trapped or in need.

That takes care of the authorities, what about other things that might cause us to vacate our homes or render them un-safe to stay in?  Well I feel we are all smart enough to think these up ourselves, so I won’t list them.  Just know they are out there and ‘Murphy’ is just waiting to throw one our way.
No matter what, we need to identify what to look for in determining if we should vacate our home, be it a potential ordered evacuation or just a judgment call our part.  Discussing this NOW, without the stress of an actual crisis, is not only much less stressful, we also have more time to think about it than if we attempt this during the crisis.

Bottom Line: If we do not discuss and plan for this, it can lead us and or our loved ones into a deadly situation.
There are 3 key questions to ask yourself on this subject:

  • Will staying change anything when it comes to ‘saving’ my home?

  • If I stay behind and keep my family with me, can they handle what I can handle?

  • If I stay behind and send my family on, can we all handle the possibility that we may never see each other again?
Note:  There is a great podcast on this subject that discusses in detail the 12 questions that are pivotal to making a bug-out or evacuation decision @  Bug In or Bug Out - 12 Questions to Ask - Episode-289 found at:
We also need to hone our Situational Awareness by keeping an eye out for some ‘signs’ that ‘indicate’ that others feel evacuation is eminent or the authorities  are contemplating issuing an evacuation notice.
The more ‘signs’ we can quickly identify, the faster we can pack and go, and decide which secondary retreat will be best.  A side benefit to this is that you and your household will have a very good chance of beating the rush to get out of Dodge!

  • Stay aware. Keep your eyes and ears open and be alert to what is going on around you.  Take advantage of every possible type of news communication in your area:  Newspapers, TV, Radio, HAM, CB, Scanners, internet, weather alerts and the like.  The more sources of information, the faster you will be able to determine if you can stay put or must bug-out.
  • A rush or long lines at banks, gas stations, grocery, home improvement, sporting, camping or gun stores and the like
  • An increase in police, fire, rescue and military personnel or vehicles
  • An increase in barrel, barricades and their trucks
  • Ambulances and medical personnel are flocking to the hospitals
  • Long term care facilities appear to be removing residents
  • Nearby airports or military bases appear to be ‘on alert’ and or are calling in personnel.
  • Civilian air travel may be halted or flights canceled.
  • Public transportation may be halted, delayed or unusually crammed.
  • A sudden shift of who and what is out and about in your area.  Are the streets suddenly empty or crammed?  What kinds of people are out and about, doing what?  What kind of vehicles?
  • There is more traffic leaving your area than approaching 

All these signs tend to appear before any evacuation notice is ever issued or the potential is reported on the local news.
Remember that the needs and agendas of authorities and governments are different than that of its citizens.  They are not being cruel or mean, it is just the way things are, especially when contemplating something as complex as an evacuation.
All of this is your choice, your responsibility and yours alone! The stakes to this bet are the lives of you and yours.

  • We have identified and prioritized what crises we are concerned about, both consciously and unconsciously.
  • We have identified and prioritized what goods, knowledge and skills we need to survive the crises on our list.
  • We have identified and created our Who, What, When and Where schedule and map with its alternate routes and retreats.
  • We have addressed the two types of mobility issues and what we plan to do about them.
  • We have used methods to grab control of the few variables to our survivability quotient to reduce (or eliminate) the trials and tribulations of surviving the crises on our list.

Some things I have not mentioned or discussed are your budget and Important Documentation Book.  Although these things are very important, they do not affect the needs based plan per se. We’ll cover these later.

Next time we will go over how to take all this data collection and formulate a plan that is good, cheap, flexible, viable and based on the process and procedures behind all our goods, knowledge and skills or needs, required to survive any crisis on we are concerned about.


"Be Prepared - Not Scared"

To download this information see:

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Building a Needs Based Preparedness Plan – Mobility Issues

Okie-Dokie  We have identified what crises we are concerned about, both consciously and unconsciously.  We have also created a prioritized list of goods, knowledge and skills needed to survive those crises and what needs we have yet to acquire.  Yet we still aren’t quite ready to hash out a plan. Yeppers, we still need to address some other potential ‘dings’ to our survivability quotient.

One of the ‘dings’ I see most often is mobility.  People have it in their head that they are going to shelter in place and so they don’t need any go-bags, e-kits, caches, or planned alternate routes and the like.  They couldn’t be more wrong if they tried.  The reason this mindset is wrong should stick out like a sore thumb – big time!

Don’t believe me?  Just take stroll down memory lane and past history.  How many personal and large crises, emergencies and disasters have occurred when one was ready for it?  How many of these past crises, other than say hurricanes, did we know was coming on such’n’such a date at blah-blah time?  Not many and most certainly less than half.

Yes siree, most of the time a crisis will hit unexpectedly while we are out and about, doing the things we do as we live our lives.  If sheltering is needed to survive this crisis, we need to get home to do that, and that my friends - requires mobility.

This is the first post-crisis place that puts humans in danger.  The unprepared will stand around waiting for someone to come along and help them or waste precious time trying to figure out how to get home.  Some of the unprepared may also be uninformed and pick a spur of the moment alternate route that leads them into even greater dangers.  The possibilities are endless when it comes to the actions of the unprepared.

Depending on what crises are on your list, your vehicles and usual routes could be available, and most people will think along those lines.  Yet several of those pesky human characteristics holds us back from actually thinking and planning about what to do in case our usual modes of transportation and routes are not available immediately following the crisis.

The next reality check is that as individuals and civilian groups (even groups up to say 10,000 people) we lack the benefits of a large infrastructure entity that would lend itself to a viable back-up plan to this mobility issue. 

We lack the monies, the human-power and the supplies, as well as everything else that goes with those much needed things.  Then add in that any crisis that can take out transportation vehicles is likely to take out electrical items too.  

On top of that, in most metropolitan areas (urban and suburban); when the electrical grid fails, the devices that keep the pressure up in water and gas lines fail too, not to mention gas pumps, ATM's and communication towers.  Most of these areas do not have back-up generators and if they do, they will run out of fuel in 3 days or less, most in less than 24 hours.

This means our preparedness plan should be based on the worst possible scenario for getting to our home and or retreat so we can shelter in place.  To do this our plan needs to assume that our usual modes of transportation are unavailable and our usual routes of travel are unavailable - we are on foot, with what we have with us when the crisis hits.   If our plan is geared to the worst case scenario here, our backup plans are no brainers.

Think about it.  If your vehicle is working, but your usual route is unavailable, no problem your plan has been based on backup routes.  If transportation is not available, but your usual route is, no problem, your plan has been based on no transportation.  You don’t even have to think about what to do because your plan was based on the worst case scenario to begin with – ie: the backup plan is a given as it is closer to the every day, non-crisis  scenario we live in.

Bottom line:  Mobility WILL be an issue, even if it is just to get home to shelter in place.  Failure to plan for this MAY cause injury or death.

I call this step to collecting the information needed to formulate a viable plan the Mobility Exercise

In my book this is the hardest part of the information gathering requirements to any good preparedness plan.  Yet once done it has one of the greatest impacts to boosting our survivability quotient.

This mobility exercise will require a few tools:

  • A map of your town and surrounding area
  • Acetate/plastic sheets (like the ones used on those old overhead projectors)
  • Grease pencils or dry erase markers (enough colors for each member of your household)
  • Paper clips

Make a schedule or list of everything each member of your household usually does.  Like school, work, sports, shopping, entertainment, doctor’s appointments and the like.  This is your Who, What, When, Where Schedule.  Don’t worry if you don’t always know the exact particulars to each aspect. 

See the example of the Doe family schedule, which consists of two adults, two children and a german shepherd dog @

As you can see coming up with the ‘schedule’ is going to take a bit of thought.  For some things you may not know exactly where you will be or when and with whom.  At least list the usual ‘haunts’ or ‘hang-outs’ and which members of your household this applies to on this schedule.

Tip:  It is a good idea to collect addresses and phone numbers to these various activity locations and keep this list in the ‘Communication’ section of your Important Documentation Book.

The next thing to do is to put a big ‘X’ where your home is. 
Most of us plan to shelter in place and the best place is our own homes.  After all that is where all of our stuff is right?!

Then mark all these activity locations on our map, using a different color marker and or different symbol for each household member.  Now take a good long look at this map.

Consider how long it will take you to walk from any of these locations to your home?  What is the overall environment (weather, road blocks, etc) likely to be immediately following the crisis?

Next review your Moderated Crisis List.  Are there any crises that may render your house off limits?  Just so you know there is at least one that will – FIRE and depending on what is on your list, there may be other crises that will do this too.

This means we need to consider, at minimum, one other secondary retreat.   Again, depending on what crises are on your list, and if you lean towards the preparedness rule of redundancy, you may need to select more than one secondary retreat.  Just make sure this secondary retreat is outside the scope of involvement of any crisis on your list and is not a public shelter or evac center.

These ‘retreats’ don’t have to a cabin in the woods, an RV that runs on bio-diesel or the like.  Consider family and friends, even if they themselves are not Preppers.   

For example, let’s say that your home has a chance of being flooded by a nearby stream.  You can ask a non-Prepper friend or relative if your family can go to them for at least the first 2 weeks after the flood hits and if you can store some stuff in their garage or attic for your family to use.  Then if some other larger scope of involvement, longer duration crisis hits, they won’t care if you are there, especially if your family arrives prepared.  Fact is they will most likely be grateful and latch onto you because you appear to know what you are doing.

If this other friend or relative is a Prepper, well asking is a breeze.  Just say ‘can you be our secondary retreat and may we store some stuff here; in exchange we’ll do the same for you’.

The other thing to consider when looking at your map is if you think you can walk it, on foot, with no help, from any of the activity locations to your home in 3 days or less, even if you have a minor injury.   If you do not think you can do that, then consider if you have any friends , relatives or ‘safe’ spot between the activity location and your home that you can use as a temporary ‘safe house’ or rest stop.

Mark these secondary retreats, safe houses and rest stops on your map.  Use a symbol or color that tells you what they are (rest stop, secondary retreat 1, secondary retreat 2 and so on).
Up to now was probably rather difficult, however the most trying part is next.  It’s time to paperclip those acetate/plastic sheets over your map. 

Pick at least 2 alternate routes from each activity location, to each possible retreat.  This may sound easy to some, yet we must remember we are doing ‘worst case scenario’ here– we are on foot with only what we had with us when the crisis hit and the usual does not apply.

While you are selecting these alternate routes, consider the terrain, each household members physical capabilities and what is along these routes.  After all in a worst case scenario mode, we may not be able to use the actual road or sidewalk itself.  Are there any places along the way that will be ‘safe’ (protection from the elements or people) to stop and rest, and leave a secret signal for another household member?  (Now you know why I said to use the acetate/plastic sheets so you can erase and try again.)

Once you have finalized these alternate routes, mark them on the actual map and then replace the acetate/plastic sheets for the next step.

This step tends to cause people to roll their eyes, throw their hands up in the air and yell ‘I quit’!  Just hear me out before you do that.  

We now need to pick at least 2 locations along these alternate and primary routes that can be used as rest and/or secret communication stops. 

Keep in mind protection from the elements and or people, and what is along the route that one can carve or scratch a symbol on.  Like say a park bench, tree trunk, rock, outdoor newspaper/vending machine, underpass, wall and the like. 

Also keep in mind that you may have routes that cross each other, merge or come within a block or two of each other, even if they are from different activity locations going to different retreats. 

This allows you to utilize one secret communication/rest stop that serves more than one route.
See, you can stop rolling your eyes now ;-}

If you haven’t already done so, select a symbol for each household member.  Keep it simple so that it is easy to freehand or scratch onto something. 
Tip:  Many people then use lines under the symbol to signify to which alternate retreat they are heading towards; one line for secondary retreat 1, two lines for secondary retreat 2 and so forth. You house or primary retreat will have no lines.
These symbols can be anything from hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades or trail signs, to ones of your own invention. They only need to be simple to draw, carve or scratch onto some surface.

If you have young children, infants, toddlers or a family member with some kind of mobility disability or health condition consider this:

These individuals usually do not travel anywhere without someone else who has no mobility disability or is old enough to grasp what is being discussed in our preparedness plan.
When it comes time to do a practice drill (there should be at least one a year), make it easy on yourself by borrowing or renting a bicycle, wheelchair or motor scooter chair.  This way you are not risking anyone’s health or taxing their patience.  It has been found that just being familiar with the route will reduce the stress from any crisis by half, no matter the age of the individual.  Increase familiarity and reduce stress and you increase one’s survivability quotient 10 fold.

Most children will not be frightened by this kind of activity.  In fact studies have shown that they tend to be more secure and will often want to help in any way they can.

Keeping all household members in the loop and having them participate, even the very young, shows they are being ‘taken care of’ and protected against all kinds of known’s and unknowns.

Ok, I have stressed several times that our worst case scenario is on foot with what we have with us at the time the crisis struck and without the usual routes or modes of transportation.  So to increase our survivability quotient it pays to have a few things with us that we otherwise would not carry.  This is where go-bags come into play.
Grab-bags, go-bags, e-kits, 72 hour bags and bug-out bags come in all sizes and shapes, have all kinds of catchy names, and range from 3-10 day survivability.  For this discussion I am going to center on the 3-day or 72 hour bag, as I am assuming that most people will only need this emergency bag to get them safely from where ever they are when the crisis hits to home and can usually do that, on foot, in 3-days or less. 
No matter what, these bags primary purpose is to provide the basics to life (human or pet) for, in this case, 72 hours or 3 days.  The basics in the first 72 hours after a crisis hits are:

•    Air
•    Food (nutrition)
•    Water (container & purification tools)
•    Protection from the elements (space blanket, fire, heat, cooling)
•    First Aid/Medication
•    DSS (Defense, Safety, Security)

Go-bags should be as light as possible.  I believe the average fit person can easily carry up to one third of their body weight.  However, I do know that as we age, we usually can carry less and less.  When in my prime I could carry a 60-75 lb bag, today I can’t top 30 lbs. and do best around 20 lbs.

This means anything we put in the bag should be small, compact, light-weight and as multi-functional as possible.  For example the basics are:

  • Some clear plastic, a space blanket and a few lawn & leaf bags can give you a poncho, water distillation and keep you warm or cool. Get a better quality space blanket to have more functionality as well as multiple use.
  • Food bars, Coast Guard certified, are smaller and lighter than MRE’s, freeze dried or dehydrated meals in a packet and produce less trash to deal with.  Remember this is only for 72 hours and not the long haul.
  • A water bottle.  I recommend the lightweight stainless steel kind, wrapped in a bandana or tape (to reduce the noise factor) over pre-bottled water as they are more multi-functional and can take more of a beating.
  • At least two types of water purification.  Like a small and light backpackers filter straw and tablets.  Or you can carry some charcoal in a zip lock bag and use it with a bandana to strain or filter water.
  • A Swiss Army knife or Leatherman type tool and one fixed blade knife.
  • A combat saw (the small wire type not the chain saw type)
  • Small first aid kit and some super glue (super glue can be used in place of stitches for many wounds). Gauze, antibiotic ointment and medical tape work better than band-aids.  An elastic bandage and pain reliever, fever reducer, plus some multi vitamins.
  • Signal mirror
  • Whistle
  • Compass
  • Water/wind proof matches, lighter, magnifying glass, steel wool, 9 volt battery and maybe some ‘instant’ or ‘backpackers’ tinder.
  • Fishing line, sinker and hooks.
  • Duct tape
  • About 25-50 feet of light weight rope like parachute cord.
  • Extra zip loc bags, about 3 feet of heavy duty aluminum foil and plastic wrap
  • Flashlight, water proof, with extra batteries and a glow stick or two.
  • 2 pairs heavy duty wool socks.  These can be used as gloves, hot pads as well as just plain old socks.
  • About $10-$20 dollars worth of quarters
  • Can of bear spray (great non-lethal self-defense weapon, stronger and cheaper than pepper spray)
  • Something spiritual for peace and motivation
  • Depending on your list you may want some kind of breathing apparatus (respirator, gas mask, etc) or decontamination suit

A pet will need food and water too. 

  • If this is a dog or cat; be aware that they will need more water if you use dry pet food over moist.
  • Some moist pet food is now sold in Mylar plastic pouches, which although expensive, is great for pet go-bag use.
  • Go to the pet or sporting goods store where they sell the fabric/Mylar roll up bowls for pets and keep this in the pet’s go-bag.
  • If the dog is large enough you can get a dog backpack so the dog can carry its own go-bag.
  • For smaller pets you may need a crate and a folding, lightweight luggage dolly with bungie cord

Remember this bag is only to get you from where ever you are when the crisis hits to home in about 3 days or less.  It is not intended to allow you to live off of indefinitely.

There are three types of these 72 hour go-bags:

•    Individual – One for each family member and or pet that is included in your plan.  This is where you can personalize it so if a family member has say asthma, you can include an extra RX and inhaler.
•    Vehicle – One for each vehicle. This should account for the maximum number of people and pets that can be in the vehicle at any given time.  Here you can use the chain saw type Combat hand saw. This is not the vehicle’s emergency kit with fix-a-flat and universal fan belt.
•    Household – Realistically this is more of a duffle bag than a go-bag as it should account for the average number of people and pets that can be in your house at any given time and may need to vacate the house quickly.  Here you can use the chain saw type Combat hand saw. This bag should also include your Emergency Documentation Book.

Remember the Doe family?  They have an aunt and uncle with their dog that visits once a year and the two children each have a friend that stays over once a month.  This means that their household go-bag will be for 4 adults, 4 teenagers and 2 dogs. We can’t account for everyone that might be at our house when a crisis hits, but we sure can account for the most likely number of people that could be in our house.

Get in the habit of always having a go-bag with you. 

•    If you are a business person there are high end briefcase/laptop case type backpacks that have plenty of room for your go-bag essentials too. 
•    Ladies, those extra large, over the shoulder satchel style purses are still the rage.  Just put a couple of purse organizer pouches in it – one for your purse stuff and one for your go-bag stuff. 
•    Diaper bags now come in backpack format and have plenty of room for the additional go-bag stuff. 
•    Younger children can use kiddie suitcases or backpacks (some of these backpacks come with wheels and handles too)
•    There is a high end backpack that in the day was called a Kangaroo Pack.  It actually consisted of three different packs.  A small one that can be removed and worn around the waist, a medium sized one that could be removed and used like a day pack and a larger one,  that the other two attached to, which was more like your standard backpack and could be used by itself or with the others attached. In the 70’s this cost about $80 and was more than worth the price.
•    There are backpacks for medium to large dogs, so the animal can carry its own go-bag.
•    For smaller pets, a crate stored with a small backpack of pet goodies and a lightweight, portable, folding luggage dolly.  Store the pets go-bag and the luggage dolly with the crate.

Avoid book bags and fashion backpacks as they are often made of inferior materials and will fall apart under stressful use very quickly.

There are some very small, super minimal ‘survival’ kits that can fit in a purse or a glove box.  Some homemade ones fit in Altoid tins.  Basically, there really is absolutely no reason not to have something with you at all times.

Note: For more detailed information on these various go-bags the following two documents go together.  One explains the differences (What is the Difference Between All the E-Kits and Bags and What Do I Need? and the other is a spreadsheet comparing the various go-bag, camping and backpacking checklists (Preparedness Bags Checklist Compare  
A quick word about Water 
Water is essential to human life.  We cannot live long without it. 

1 Gallon of Water =  a little over 8 pounds

Now think about this: The average water needs for humans is about 1 gallon per day and one gallon weighs about 8 pounds.  When it comes to mobility, most of us humans cannot carry three days worth of water with us all time, as that is about 3 gallons and 24 pounds of water per person!

Water Needs

  • General Rule with hygiene:  MINIMUM is 1 Gallon per person per day
  • Human General Average:  MINIMUM of 2 liters or 8 cups per day to maintain efficiency;  In general one quart of water is needed daily for every 50 pounds of body weight; Children require about 4-6 cups of fluid per day on average.

Factors that Determine the Water Needs for adults, children and pets:

  • Age  
  • Weight - The heavier a human or pet is, usually means they need more water to sustain themselves.
  • Activity - The less active one is; the less water they can get away with.
  • Health  - A female that is pregnant or nursing needs more water than one that is not.
  • Dry pet food will require more water for the pet than wet pet food.

Water in and of itself never really goes bad.  It can get polluted, poisoned and dirty, Yes - go bad, No.

Tip: If you are storing water in large containers it can develop a ‘stale’ or ‘stagnant’ taste.  This is easily fixed by putting the water in some kind of clear container and placing it in the sun for a few hours.
Then there was this law that was passed back in the 90’s and went into effect in the early 2000’s that requires all plastic containers, holding liquid for human consumption and of 2 liters or less, to be made with the new bio-degradable plastic.

BYU did a study on this new plastic when used for pre-bottled water.  What they discovered is:

  • In about 1 to 1 ½ years the plastic degraded enough to taint the taste of the water.  Not poison it, just taint the flavor, and that one could not ‘refresh’ the taste out by any means. 
  • After 2-3 years the bottles degraded enough that over 50% of them were leaking. 

Kinda explains those expiration dates on the pre-bottled water doesn’t it?
This bio-degradable plastic is also much weaker than re-usable plastic containers.  It splits, cracks and punctures easily.  Yes, re-usable plastic water bottles are stronger than the bio-degradable pre-filled ones are, but these too can handle less heat or cold and become brittle and break quicker than metal.

It is for these reasons that I recommend the stainless steel water bottles over pre-bottled or reusable plastic bottles, especially for any long term storage of water in say, a rarely used go-bag.

Let’s face it – if we want to accomplish anything worthwhile, we can’t pay someone else to do it for us; we can’t just buy it - we need to DO IT ourselves

Next time we will discuss the last piece of information collection needed to form our Needs Based Preparedness Plan.  Can you guess what it is?


Read on for detailed examples @

“A prudent man foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” - Proverbs 22:3