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Sunday, October 30, 2011

SHTF - The Bosnian Example

The below linked article is from www.Surivalistboards. I found it through a link on Chris Martenson's Daily Digest of 10/21.

I have often wrote that Survival is a Team Sport, as the tasks and necessities of survival in a collapse situation, or when SHTF if you prefer, is going to require many people. Obviously a smaller, tight knit team is better than a larger, un-disciplined group of individuals. The idea of surviving on your own, or even in a small family unit is fantasy unless you are so remote and so well stocked as to be able to pull it off. Even then, eventually the chances of running into trouble be it from an armed threat, .....or from disease, illness or injury that would require help are great.

In the reference post from www.survivalistboards, the author (Selco) talks about his experiences from Bosnia from 1992-1995. I found this quote of his quite telling: ".......and from my experience, you can not survive alone, strength is in the numbers, be close with your family, prepare with them, choose your friends wisely and prepare with them too."

Again, here is the link to the article.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gold and Silver - Perceptions Changing

UrbanSurvivalSkills received this comment from Anonymous…… ”I remained unconvinced that buying Gold or Silver is a smart move. Historically the prices have fluctuated, caused by the filthy rich people buying and selling large amounts to make enormous profits. Anyway, the ratio of Gold to Silver is constantly changes so people can lose their ass buying silver when it will be devalued against gold. If there is a really bad SHTF situation then all commerce will be conducted by either hyper-inflated dollars or through simple barter or trade goods. I also think there are people who are not thinking clearly about what can happen and scaring them into buying Gold and Silver is doing them a disservice.”

UrbanMan’s reply: Everyone has to make up their own mind on the value of owning precious metals, Gold and Silver, or even silver coins for their silver melt value. I know people in my income group who have spent 4x or 5x the amount I have spent on Gold and Silver. Obviously they value precious metals more; think that during a collapse or SHTF situation that it will be extremely valuable to own; or they are thinking about coming out of a collapse and beginning over with a lot of wealth.

I approach buying precious metals, overwhelmingly Silver, as a hedge against the projected worthlessness of paper money during a collapse and as a way to buy necessary items when barter or trade is not feasible. While I prefer Silver not to lose it’s value as I eventually want the world to return to normal and to pass off my Silver bullion and Silver coins to my family, it does not matter too much to me if silver drops to $10 an ounce. Once an economic collapse occurs, the value will certainly rise significantly. I simply own it to be provide a possibility of commerce after SHTF. I would much rather trade in Silver than in food or ammunition.

If you don’t want to procure precious metals, primarily Silver, as a contingency during hard times then that is your business. I just think the suggestion of making this decision after considering all the facts including historically use and value or precious metals; type of collapse and after affects we may see; and your current state of preparation.

Here are some facts from http://dollarcollapse

The US Mint sells about the same dollar amount of gold and silver coins, which means it sells 50 ounces of silver for every ounce of gold. UrbanMan’s notes: Today’s current prices were (approx): Gold/ounce $ 1,715.00 Silver/ounce $ 33.00 This is a near 52 to 1 ratio.

Ten times more silver than gold is produced each year, and the ratio in the earth’s crust is 15:1, so how can the price be 50:1? Expect a return to the historical norm of 15:1, which implies that silver will outperform gold.

The paper silver markets trade a billion ounces a day and the world only produces 900 million in a year. The amount available for settlement of these futures contracts is something like 1.5 million ounces, ludicrously little compared to the amount of paper. On the physical side most dealers are only seeing buyers not sellers. There are a lot more people who can afford a one-ounce silver coin than an ounce of gold.

UrbanMan’s notes: Consider this as well -

Today’s (Oct 2011) fuel prices were $3.55 a gallon and Silver is $ 33.00 an ounce. So one ounce of Silver would allow you to buy 9.3 gallons of fuel.

One year ago (Oct 2010) fuel prices were $2.90 a gallon and Silver was $ 23.00 an ounce. This would allow you to buy 7.9 gallons of fuel.

Two years ago (Oct 2009) fuel prices were $2.80 a gallon and Silver was $ 17.25 an ounce. This would allow you to buy 6.2 gallons of fuel.

One more thing: Roger Wiegand of posted the following alert: "Chances of a major problem in Europe have escalated. Chances of huge precious metals moves in this last quarter of 2011 are very good. I am not talking of $60 in one day but perhaps a huge run from this morning’s gold futures at $1707 all the way to +$2,000. There is no where to go with money if bad things happen in Europe except physical PM and quality related shares. I would not touch any kind of bonds and the only stocks of merit are those juniors holding 2-3 three years of corporate cash with good prospects.

Also the intermediate and larger gold companies should be protected and do well. THIS WEEKEND IN THE USA IS CRITICAL. If SOMETHING GLOBAL BAD HAPPENS. It would probably hit after the markets are closed this Friday. Again, I caution everyone to hold a minimum of one month’s cash, fuel and other provisions. This is not a game. This is very serious and in all likelihood nothing happens. But not make a mistake disregarding this apparent danger."

I hope you are not alleging that I am either scaring people into buying Silver. I have nothing to gain from this. I am simply rendering my opinion. What is right for my Survival Plan is to procure Silver both in bullion and in coins for Silver Melt value. Even then the ratio of my silver procurements is much lower than most of the other Survival Preppers I personally know. I am just trying to cover all the bases. But by and large most of my resources are going into food and other material as well as alternate energy. I have bought several solar power kits when they are on sale – and these are for barter. I have bigger units and small man portable solar power solutions for my groups own use.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

EMP Radio Blog received a tip from Anonymous.  " I've found a lot of good blogs and articles that talk about EMP. The best thing that I came across was an EMP radio blog that holds live conversations with people every Wednesday at Noon (Eastern Time.) This Wednesday (tomorrow - 26 October 2011), Lt. General (retired) Thomas McInerney is going to be on their show. It should be really great to listen to- here's the link:"

EMP Radio Blog

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Growing Gangs - A Threat to SHTF Survival

I recently had a chance to read the FBI's 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment on Emerging Trends. This does not paint a rosy picture for Americans in general and Survivalists in particular, in the event of our existing enforcement infrastructure being degraded during a collapse.

Every Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) is allied with one or more U.S. based street gangs. The Mexican DTO presence is in every major American city; present in the National Forests with marijuana grows; and, the declining economy presents even a broader scope as a recruiting tool for American's, particularly our disaffected youth.

Organized gangs, organized before any SHTF event, will have an advantage from that existing organization and established networks. This makes it extremely necessary for Survivalists of all types (urban, suburban and rural) to put thought and effort in security, protective postures and building a survival team.

Click on the link above to read the entire report, otherwise the highlights I have posted below:

Executive Summary

Gangs continue to commit criminal activity, recruit new members in urban, suburban, and rural regions across the United States, and develop criminal associations that expand their influence over criminal enterprises, particularly street-level drug sales. The most notable trends for 2011 have been the overall increase in gang membership, and the expansion of criminal street gangs’ control of street-level drug sales and collaboration with rival gangs and other criminal organizations.a

Key Findings

Gangs are expanding, evolving and posing an increasing threat to US communities nationwide. Many gangs are sophisticated criminal networks with members who are violent, distribute wholesale quantities of drugs, and develop and maintain close working relationships with members and associates of transnational criminal/drug trafficking organizations. Gangs are becoming more violent while engaging in less typical and lower-risk crime, such as prostitution and white-collar crime. Gangs are more adaptable, organized, sophisticated, and opportunistic, exploiting new and advanced technology as a means to recruit, communicate discretely, target their rivals, and perpetuate their criminal activity. Based on state, local, and federal law enforcement reporting, the NGIC concludes that:

* There are approximately 1.4 million active street, prison, and OMG gang members comprising more than 33,000 gangs in the United States. Gang membership increased most significantly in the Northeast and Southeast regions, although the West and Great Lakes regions boast the highest number of gang members. Neighborhood-based gangs, hybrid gang members, and national-level gangs such as the SureƱos are rapidly expanding in many jurisdictions. Many communities are also experiencing an increase in ethnic-based gangs such as African, Asian, Caribbean, and Eurasian gangs.

* Gangs are responsible for an average of 48 percent of violent crime in most jurisdictions and up to 90 percent in several others, according to NGIC analysis. Major cities and suburban areas experience the most gang-related violence. Local neighborhood-based gangs and drug crews continue to pose the most significant criminal threat in most communities. Aggressive recruitment of juveniles and immigrants, alliances and conflict between gangs, the release of incarcerated gang members from prison, advancements in technology and communication, and Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization (MDTO) involvement in drug distribution have resulted in gang expansion and violence in a number of jurisdictions.

* Gangs are increasingly engaging in non-traditional gang-related crime, such as alien smuggling, human trafficking, and prostitution. Gangs are also engaging in white collar crime such as counterfeiting, identity theft, and mortgage fraud, primarily due to the high profitability and much lower visibility and risk of detection and punishment than drug and weapons trafficking.

* US-based gangs have established strong working relationships with Central American and MDTOs to perpetrate illicit cross-border activity, as well as with some organized crime groups in some regions of the United States. US-based gangs and MDTOs are establishing wide-reaching drug networks; assisting in the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and illegal immigrants along the Southwest Border; and serving as enforcers for MDTO interests on the US side of the border.

* Many gang members continue to engage in gang activity while incarcerated. Family members play pivotal roles in assisting or facilitating gang activities and recruitment during a gang members’ incarceration. Gang members in some correctional facilities are adopting radical religious views while incarcerated.

* Gangs encourage members, associates, and relatives to obtain law enforcement, judiciary, or legal employment in order to gather information on rival gangs and law enforcement operations. Gang infiltration of the military continues to pose a significant criminal threat, as members of at least 53 gangs have been identified on both domestic and international military installations. Gang members who learn advanced weaponry and combat techniques in the military are at risk of employing these skills on the street when they return to their communities.

* Gang members are acquiring high-powered, military-style weapons and equipment which poses a significant threat because of the potential to engage in lethal encounters with law enforcement officers and civilians. Typically firearms are acquired through illegal purchases; straw purchases via surrogates or middle-men, and thefts from individuals, vehicles, residences and commercial establishments. Gang members also target military and law enforcement officials, facilities, and vehicles to obtain weapons, ammunition, body armor, police gear, badges, uniforms, and official identification.

* Gangs on Indian Reservations often emulate national-level gangs and adopt names and identifiers from nationally recognized urban gangs. Gang members on some Indian Reservations are associating with gang members in the community to commit crime.

* Gangs are becoming increasingly adaptable and sophisticated, employing new and advanced technology to facilitate criminal activity discreetly, enhance their criminal operations, and connect with other gang members, criminal organizations, and potential recruits nationwide and even worldwide.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wood Stoves and Preps

Received this from Dan in the Midwest: ”Hey urbanman, been reading your site for a while now and haven’t read anything about wood stoves. I live in the Midwest where the winter temps are usually highs of maybe 30 and lows in the mid teens and we do get snow. Enough snow to make me not like it, except for the moisture it brings to the soil for the farmers, which I am not one. I put in a wood stove with a low electric blower. During a power outage, I’ll be able to charge up my solar
recharged automotive batteries then power the small electric blower on the wood stove to eat the family room which the stove is place in. This past winter, we turned the heat off in them morning, did errands and such, then came back in the later afternoon and fired up the stove, used the blower and the main room was toasty in no time. So in a crunch, we plan on using the main room as a common room and the bedrooms with big sleeping bags for sleeping. right now, I have about 6 cords of wood on hand, and have access to wooded areas to cut more if needed. There is a storage lot about 1 and ½ miles away from my house which contains, among
many other things, stacks and stacks of wooden pallets. I intend of procuring this supply of wood if it becomes necessary.

I have my wife and two kids to think about. My brother and his wife and kids, plus my wife’s brother and his wife would be coming to stay with us in any scenario where we feel unsafe. I have about 10 Wise survival food buckets. They come in 56 packet buckets for meals. Plus I have 60 lbs of rice right now and just over 100 pounds of pinto beans stored in mylar bags inside of buckets. I think I am okay. My brother and brother in law would be bringing down all the stored food they have as well."

UrbanMan's comments: Dan, The food you have stored would not last very long for 10 people. Think about what would be necessary to feed ten people each day, then see how many days your food would last. I am not trying to diminish you efforts as you are much further along than most Americans. I have written about the categories of food I have stored from canned and dried pantry goods for immediate food, to military MRE's and commercial dehydrated foods, to bulk foods like rice/beans/pasta as well as sealed units of sugar, salt, peanut butter, nuts, honey, bullion and spices, all of which are things you can procure on a small or larger basis to further you ability to survive a food crisis. Any collapse, not matter what the cause, will interdict our food supply and lead to massive riots and chaos. I would also continue stocking more foods along he line you already have, and hope you have a year round water source.

Also consider stocking non-hybrid seeds. I have a pretty big supply of non-hybrid seeds. I plant a decent sized garden each year using store bought hybrid seeds. I will also buy additional hybrid seeds of whatever brand and type seems to do well. These are for an immediate needs and also for they tend to be much cheaper.

I think wood stoves are probably necessary for all survival locations as they can be used for cooking and for heating. Depending upon your location you will need to take steps to migrate the threats of using a wood stove. The wood smoke smell and the visible smoke trail could attract unwanted people to your location.

Good for you for having the situational awareness to determine other local sources of needed items such as the wood pallets nearby. Your ingenuity on the solar power solution to your blower is a good idea. I do not have blowers on my wood stoves but will not consider it because of your idea.

You do not mention means of protection such as firearms. It's going to be hard enough for 10 people to accomplish all the daily survival tasks without a robust means of protection.

Lastly, I hope you in a location outside of potential or probably refugees or rioting and are considering building a bigger team. Not necessarily to absorb into your survival household, but to make your community safer....and some type of communications capability can make a different in identifying and reporting threats and garnering support within your local community be it a suburban street, gated community or small town.

be safe and prepare well

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Weapons Maintenance the Interesting Way

Those of us who ever served in the military have had it drummed into us about weapons maintenance. Woe behold the young serviceman who did not take this seriously. Maintenance, cleaning supplies including solvents and lubricating oils, and, spare parts are going to huge in a collapse scenario where SHTF factors make it unlikely that these items will be commonly available.

As I age, I reflect on training methodology and wonder if there wasn't a better way to instill the need for very tight weapons maintenance and the process to train young men how to take care of their weapons. Well, lo and behold I receive an e-mail with a weapons cleaning video that I thought would keep young men's attention on the task at hand.

For any of you who get upset at the video, please chill out. I meant nothing by it except a break from the serious. Even if the young lady's Glock cleaning techniques could be improved, she did get the lube points right.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Reader Comment of Societal Breakdown following a Collapse

Anonymous left a new comment on the post titled: "Urban Survival Firearms - Sniper Rifle Necessity?",......"I think the 0%/99% (??) commenter improperly judges survivalist prepper's and the "culture". Many of us are not itching for a reason to shoot someone. I see things heading in a scary direction, and feel it's prudent to prepare to be able to provide for myself and my family and protect us if it's necessary. If ever the SHTF, words like "civilian" and "gang member" will be meaningless, if that individual is an actual threat to you or your loved ones. People get violent and ugly quick if they think they need to in order to look out for #1. People got into fist-fights over bottled water in Boston when the water main broke, and that was just a couple of years ago (the 21st century!!... but yeah, 'mankind has evolved". Right. Sure we have). Heck, people get trampled to death in Walmart's for Thanksgiving Black Friday deals, and that's just to save some money on a bauble. You're right, the thought is horrifying that I may
need to defend my family by killing someone in the future. That it is horrifying is irrelevant if the situation ever becomes that dire. You and I may not be able to determine what the world does around us or if TEOWAWKI happens or not, but it is foolish to not prepare - especially given current indicators. For your own sake, I hope you are preparing, which means all the things they discuss on this blog: food storage, knowledge for crop growing, a water supply, shelter, gear (rain, boots, cold weather, etc), and owning and knowing how to use a weapon to defend yourself."

UrbanMan replies: I am agreeing with you on all your points.

Only ultra liberals and ostriches cannot see what this country is heading for,...a total economic collapse which will be followed rapidly by a societal collapse. Gang Bangers, racist militia, etc., will all change to a general category to be known as the threat. The Threat may include your neighbors. Especially if they are not prepared and know you are.

It will help to understand the threat as all operations are in a planning and execution deficit without intelligence or just plain information about the enemy. And this enemy will be driven by fear and hunger for the most part. This is a potent danger as common people who will hold the door open for you and stop on the side of the road to help when you have a flat tire, all will be driven to do things they, at present, may not have any idea that they are capable of doing.

The prudent person prepares across the necessary categories of food, shelter, water and protection......and all the little things, and not so little things, that comprise those categories.

I was just explaining to a friend on the phone a few days ago that I know a handful (maybe more) of people who have taken loans out of their 401K or Government TSP plans to buy long term food and some other higher end items like solar generators. This way they have adequate (for the moment) stocks and can pay back the costs of their preps a little at a time. And if the SHTF in the mean time, I guess they get out of that debt anyway.

I hope to never have to shoot another human being again. I hope to never have to harvest another animal again, but I know I have it in me if the situation requires it. I just hope like hell that time never appears and I am distrustful of people who hope it will. But like that old saying goes, "Wish in one hand and spit in the other and see which one fills up first",.......

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Survival Prep Questions - Switchblade Knifes and Raising Animals for Food

I thought I would use this spot to answer two questions that have been in my que for a couple weeks.

Larry, from New Orleans e-mailed me this question: ”Urbanman, I bought a Infidel switchblade made by Benchmade from a buddy of mine. This is one of the coolest knifes on the market and just wanted your opinion on it.”

UrbanMan replies: Larry, I have handled a Benchmade Infidel and did not like it for a survivalist knife. Maybe a pimp knife. I would not own any switchblade knife for many reasons…..1 – they are illegal in most locales and the Benchmade Infidel IS a restricted item – hope you bought it legally and hope you can get rid of it as legally; 2 – they are inherently weak because they use a spring with can weaken with age (and use or non-use); and 3 – they are also weak because the blade has to move to open hence not having the integral strength like a full tang knife or even liner lock type folders.  I suppose you bought it for last ditch, close personal defense – if so, consider that the blade design can/will snap or bend at the handle/blade connection if stabbing someone or something, or trying to leverage a cut on a tree limb. I think you would be much better off instead of spending the several hundred dollars that you undoubtedly spent on this type of knife, by buying several well made folders and/or small fixed blades, AND, sharpening equipment.

Anonymous e-mailed me this question: You talk about storing food and growing gardens but I have not seen any information on raising animals for a food supply. My husband and I raise rabbits. We sell them to local kids for fairs and FFA projects and other events, but we primarily raise them so when the crunch hits we’ll have a source of meat and barter. Rabbits are very high in protein and low in fats so they really are a good food source once you get over the harvesting your pet thing.”

UrbanMan replies: Rabbits. I have ate plenty of them over the years. Not necessary some I would order in a restaurant but that’s not the point, is it? Rabbit meat is a good source of protein but is not very high in carbs nor does it have all the essential amino acids like beef. None the less, roasted rabbit would sound (and smell) very good if you were hungry.

I have not talked much about raising animals such as rabbits, chickens, goats, sheep or even cattle because it is not something an urban or even suburban dweller would do. However, now that I think about it a couple rabbits, maybe 2-3 females and a male (buck) rabbit kept apart then used to breed when the coming economy and therefore food collapse happens would be a good idea. Not all urban survival preppers will want to do this. One thing they can do is locate retail or private supplies of animals and be prepared to immediately buy animals when the indicators for SHTF are aligned. The raising of rabbits or any other animals would require some facilities such as cages and stored feed. If you Survival Plan includes a Bug Out Plan (as it should!) then preparations for transport of these animals would be necessary.

There is a gent about ¼ mile from me who raises pygmy type goats. I have struck up several conversations with him (building rapport and winning the hearts and minds) and even took him a couple squash that I grew. He knows me as someone on the fence about make a decision to raise goats or not. I have some t-posts and hard wire fencing stored in my garage and my plan is to buy a couple goats to breed for meat if I can time it right based on the collapse indicators. I can always try and buy or barter for some later as well.

If your plan to raise rabbits works for you, then great. However, don’t let this food source be your only one. Good luck.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Backyard Homestead

If you are not on Organic Gardening e-mail list, then you should think about getting on it. This site occasionally offers good deals on home gardening products and information.

Organic Gardening

The last Organic Gardening flyer, advertising the Backyard Homestead book, stated that even if you live in an apartment, you can start growing at least some of the food you eat and reap with every harvest — saving money ... boosting health ... savoring irresistibly fresh flavors ... conserving energy ... and have loads of fun. And I think also learning a thing or two and be much better prepared for a Collapse where these skills will come in handy.

Not only a source for growing the vegetables and fruits, Organic Gardening's Backyard Homestead also covers keep bees, raise chickens, goats, or even cows. As well as how to cook, preserve, cure, brew, or pickle the fruits you grow.

Some of the subject material in this new book, also include: 13 container-loving plants; Best ways to water for sweeter strawberries; Why you should never soak bean seeds before planting; How to tell if a tomato plant is hungry; Why your fruit tree needs a mate and what to do without one; Complete herb-growing guide from basil to watercress; How to tell if an egg is fresh; and, Beekeeping the easy way.

Another key element of gardening is crop rotation and learning how to properly do so is a great way to get more variety and bounty out of even the smallest gardens, while keeping in more soil nutrients. But successful rotation means planting the right crops in the right order — and making sure you don't follow certain plants with their "arch enemies." Backyard Homestead covers fail-proof planting plan for crop rotations.

Free Trial issue of Organic Gardening and a Garden Planner, click here.

Home gardening in preparation for a SHTF scenario has taken on a new importance with the degradation of the U.S. farming capability. The U.S. used to feed the world. Now we would have a hard time, absent of an exports ban, to feed ourselves. Part of the problem is the high start up and maintenance costs of commercial farming. Read this post from the Greenhorns Blog.

Greenhorns Blog/high costs of farming/

Friday, October 7, 2011

Orgaznied and Pro-Active - A Survival Team

UrbanSurvivalSkills received a comment from Chris, regarding the post about our accountant being a surprise prepper,... ......."With indicators becoming so clear and prepping going "mainstream", Is there anyone starting a movement that doesn't involve Egypt-style riots? As preppers, we know how to farm, and most are handy with a hammer... I just think we'd all have a better chance together, organized and pro-active."

UrbanMan's comments:

I recently talked to a retired banker, who had converted much of his wealth to previous metals, mainly, silver, then converted most of his silver to gold to reduce the weight to wealth ratio. This gentleman did not know about me nor my survivalist preparations. I could sense his reluctance to talk me about possible scenarios that would make survival preparations necessary. The conversation started about how Greece may default on or about 10 October and what repercussions this would have not only on the European Union but for the United States as well. Then it melded into peak oil, then the problems with the U.S. capability to grow and feed ourselves and the phenomenon with the giant increase in family gardening. Only when I started to describe my thoughts and preparations did this gentleman open up and tell me about his wealth - precious metals conversion, and his procurement of six AKM's and 9mm handguns for his family and his current focus on stockpiling food for what he see's as a huge catalyst for SHTF and one that is most probably.

Interestingly that this guy, without any military or law enforcement time, instinctively chose to standardize firearms.

Anyway, this gentleman lives with his wife in a city and is actively looking to move to a small town with agrarian links, size anywhere from a few hundred people up to a few thousand population. He is scared about the big population centers and the high density of starving, desperate people that would come from a food crisis with or without a collapse of the monetary system.

I did not let on about this blog site, but I did talk to him about building a survival team with alike minded and alike prepared individuals or families. So when I read Chris' comment about "we'll all have a better chance together, organized and being pro-active", he is right on the money. Without a survival team large enough accomplish all of the necessary survival tasks in a worst collapse scenarios, we'll be scrambling.

Some of the Survival tasks a group or team may have to consider would be:

~ Provide Security for the Group, 24/7

~ Provide for a rest/sleep cycle for team members

~ Growing food, processing food and cooking - which may involve some travel away from the Team location of safe zone

~ Travel to meeting with other groups - which may require any additional manpower for security or to transport material

~ Procurement patrols - which may include travel to barter with other groups

~ The Survival team may establish a command post type of duty to monitor radio frequencies for dedicated net control or to collect information on other radio traffic

I would think that a minimum Survival Group, for sustained operations, would be around 8 people, all who had compatible skills and who could be relied upon to accomplish any of the Survival Group aforementioned tasks. This minimum number could be larger if the threat situation warranted it, or if the environment (terrain and weather, urban, suburban or rural areas) dictated it as well.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Restraints - You May Need Them

J.M. left a comment on regarding handcuffs, which to me are a much better restraint method than flex cuffs, duct tape, rope or anything else.  Anyway J.M. says “These seem to be quite strong, but the ones I got were slightly bent right out of the package, and one cuff didn't close too smoothly. Seems like poor quality control. Worse, I think ASP missed the whole point of hinged/rigid cuffs - with the wide availability of universal cuff keys, having the keyholes faced away from the hands is a great aid to security, but with these, the double-sided keyways allow anyone who's concealed a key to remove them. The removable locking mechanism might allow modification.”

UrbanMan replies: We have been using cuffs and other restraint devices for several decades now so we have an opinion on what works and what doesn’t.  No cuffs are pick proof.  But you will get what you pay for. 

The ASP cuffs are too easy to pick or shim.  As well as can be pried apart.  They are in fact, part plastic and do have handcuff key holes on both sides.        

The Schrade cuffs are terrible.  Bad finish and fit.  Another brand I don't recommend are Hiatts.  However, I have some (older) Peerless cuffs and they are serviceable.  

The Smith and Wesson Cuff are quality cuffs but they too can be picked or shimmed.

Flex cuffs are designed for one time use.  I would not re-use them as it makes the teeth catch weak.  Besides, flex cuffs are inherantly weak, all it takes is for the restrained person to notch the plastic just a little bit and the flex cuffs (or field expedient) wire tires can be leveraged and broken. 

Duct tape?  You gotta be kidding me.  A person can get out of duct tape in seconds, unless you use a whole roll of tape to restrain them.  
The idea when you detain people, such as people you find on your property after SHTF, is to have the ability to restrain them, and again handcuffs are best,...... AND have a armed guard at a appropriate safe distance.   You may have to hood or blindfold these temporary prisoners if they will see too much of your lay out, defensive positions and measures, supplies, personnel strength, etc., where you detain them. 

I have read forums where Survival Preppers are declaring they will be shooting trespassers or worse yet, any shoot simple stragglers who approach their Base Camp, be it a urban home or a remote farm.  Killing people ain't as easy as some arm chair operators think  Outright murder has got to much harder not to mention immoral.  Everybody has it in them to kill, especially when their family or their own life is threatened, however murdering people outright to keep from having to feed them and sending them on their way, just ain't right.  

My Survival team has talked about this and to be sure we have some people in the group more hard line than others, but murdering people ain't even on the table for us.  Hence the need to restrain people until you can turn them over to authorities, or in the absence of authorities you can figure out what conditions you will use to let them go.        

Handcuffs L to R: Smith and Wesson Model M300 Hinged – Recommended; Schrade Professional – NOT Recommended; Smith and Wesson Model 1 Chain – Recommended; and, ASP Model 250 Hinged – NOT Recommended. Not shown, but recommended – Smith and Wesson Model 100 – chain which are smaller than the S&W Model 1 but have a double lock mechanism.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Survival Kits and Contingency Planning

Did you read about the 64 year old man who was hiking in the Utah desert, broke his leg and survived four days until Search and Rescue found him? This was the same area where another hiker wedged his hand in a crevice and had to cut off his hand to escape? This was made famous in the movie "127 hours".

Amos Wayne Richards of North Carolina, was hiking in the same area where Aron Ralston of "127 hours" fame had his self amputee event, when he fell and dislocated his shoulder and broke his leg. All he had on him was two water bottles, two protien bars, a cell phone (out of service area), a camera and a GPS. Mr Richards crawled about 5 miles until (four days later) he signaled a search helicopter
using the flash on his camera.

Mr Richards was lucky. Temperatures in the region were in the 80s F in the day to upper teens at night - more than a sufficient temperature difference and drop to make hypothermia a real threat.

In any event the two points I'd make about this latest hiker getting hurt are the absence of an on the body survival kit and the absence of a contingency plan.

Survival Kit

Just how much room or weight does it take for a person to carry an adequate amount of survival gear or equipment on any foray into othe wilderness? A hydration pack, with fire making items - yeah magnesium strikers are good but it doesn't take up much room or weight to add a cheap butane lighter (or two) and some fire starting material...even a mini-can of sterno. A poly pro or thermal top, a watch cap, gloves, ground cloth and/or thermal blanket are all light weight enough to carry.

Chemical lights, flashlight and even a mini-strobe would be necessary additions.

A small water filter straw and/or water purification tabs plus some more food items such as nuts and jerky would have been really useful as well.

Contingency Plan

We all know contingency plan are useful when things don't do as planned. We do this instinctive in some cases, such as when we drop our kids off at the mall and tell them "I'll meet you here at 5:00pm. Call me if you're are running late. I'll call you if I am running late. If I'm not here by 5:30pm, then head over to the Denny's restaurant and I'll pick you up over there."

There are some essential elements for a contingency plan. These essential elements are:

~ Intended Route - a map with crayons marks on it would do! Otherwise a written description and a sketch would certainly help understand the intended route.
~ Intended Timeline - where you plan on being when.
~ Emergency Actions - what you plan on doing if something goes wrong. Can included safe areas or holeups and emergency rally points or pickup points
~ Communications plan and contact schedule. This would also include any code words - avoid using real names over an unsecure line, as well as any visual signaling measures.
~ What to do if you don't show up.

If Mr Richards would have simply left a contingency plan with a friend and told that friend that if he didn't call by a certain time to call the Canyonlands National Park and inform them of Mr Richards' plan.

If we're involved in a total SHTF scenario where we are running patrols out of a safe site, then developing and issuing contingency plans for patrols of other movements outside of observation and/or supportable distance from the base camp needs to become second nature.