Posts Tagged With: Emergency Preparedness

SunJack Solar Charger: Portable Prepper Powerhouse

by Todd Walker

SunJack Solar Charger: Portable Prepper Power | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I go to the woods to disconnect and unplug from the madness of modern life. Times of staring at nature’s off-grid TV as it warms my feet and heats my cocoa are too few and far between. As cliche as it sounds, it don’t get much better than this!

While I love to sit and document my dirt time adventures in my leather bushcraft journal, my scribbled notes don’t “upload” well to our blog. Electronic tools are more suited for this task.

Documenting dirt time in the wild is easy with electronic gadgetry… until the battery dies. As you are keenly aware, there are no electrical outlets in white oak trees. Bring extra batteries or… harness the solar energy to do the work for you.

If you enjoy unplugging in nature but want/need to carry electronic devices, here’s a simple, portable, renewable power source I think you’ll love!

I received the SunJack Phone (14 W) solar charger and CampLight USB Bulb to review. Out of the box I realized that this charger was simple to set up and use. I like simple! Plug in any USB device (camera, phone, iPod, tablet, etc.) into one of the two ports on the internal battery pack for quick wall-charging speeds. I topped off my iPhone as quickly as if I had plugged it into my wall outlet!

Here are some ideas on how to use this Portable Prepper Powerhouse…

Camping and Bushcraft

The two USB ports on the internal battery pack allow you to charge two devices or run that way cool CampLight which contains 8 LED bulbs. As a candling device, the CampLight’s illumination is equivalent to burning a 40 Watt bulb. That’s enough light to do camp chores, perform self aid, cooking, or reading your favorite book.

SunJack Solar Charger: Portable Prepper Power | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Handling sharp stuff in the dark is remedied with the CampLight hanging from my tripod!

SunJack Solar Charger: Portable Prepper Power | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Fire in the rain

Speaking of rain, the SunJack isn’t waterproof. I kept it covered with a contractor trash bag. SunJack offers plenty of accessories… one being a waterproof sleeve that maximizes the charging capacity while enclosed. Can’t do that with my trash bag. However, the CampLight suffered no ill effects from this wet test.

The SunJack weighs only 2 lbs. and folds up to the size of a iPad (actual folded size: 6.75″ x 9.25″ x 1.75″). It can be unfolded and attached to your backpack with several rugged loops and the two cheap carabiners that are included. Or simply prop it up on the ground in full sun to recharge at basecamp.

Oh, note to GigaWatt, Inc., a way to make us outdoor types even more happy would be to add a dimmer switch on the On/Off toggle located on the 7 foot cord. This one tweak would allow for longer burn times and give just the amount of ambiance for certain situations.

Emergency Preparedness

If you’re head lamps and flashlights use AA and AAA batteries, SunJack sells a USB charger for NiMH and NiCd rechargeable batteries ($9.95 for Amazon Prime members). It would be wise to transition all your gear to run on rechargeable AA/AAA’s. Keep in mind that those round nickel-sized batteries are hard to find. Keep it simple.

Being a simple man, I’m totally impressed with the 2 Watt CampLight. I intended to finish this review before Christmas. However, I agreed to build a covered wagon bed for a friend’s 6 year-old son. In a grid down situation, this little light (3.5 ounces) offers 340 lumens of brightness. Below is a photo of one wagon wheel roughed in. The CampLight was powered by my laptop in my shop. Here’s the best part… the price ($14.95 for Amazon Prime members). Order several for emergency lighting options.

SunJack Solar Charger: Portable Prepper Power | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Welcome to the 40 Watt Club

Vehicle Kit

Spread the charging panels on the dash board on your next road trip. Either connect directly to your device or recharge the battery pack. Depending on the sun and direction of travel, the battery pack can be completely charged in 3 to 5 hours.

SunJack Solar Charger: Portable Prepper Power | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

SunJack Solar Charger: Portable Prepper Power | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Use the carabiner to clip the CampLight to the hood latch

As mentioned previously, the entire system folds up to the size of an iPad in a OtterBox case for convenient storage options. With one of the extra CampLights in the glove box, you’ll be able to change a tire or repair a water hose at night if need be.

Self-Reliance

Self-reliance is about decreasing dependence on others and building independence. This Portable Prepper Powerhouse is a good first step in that direction.

The SunJack Phone (14 W) solar charger with one 8,000 mAh fast-charge battery pack retails for $150.00 on their website… but Amazon Prime members get free shipping. Can’t afford one? SunJack is giving away this exact charger each month on their site. Scroll to the bottom of their page and you can enter to win one.

It’s rugged enough for hiking, camping, travel, hunting, fishing, and any other off-grid adventures. If you’re looking for a simple solar solution, I’d recommend SunJack!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Daily Disaster Drills and The 5 C’s of Survivability

by Todd Walker

Everyday life if full of daily disaster drills.

daily-disaster-drills-5-C's-of-survivability

1.) Red Barn Forge Bushcraft knife 2.) Fire kit – ferro rod, lighter, magnifying glass, fatwood, char tin 3.) USGI poncho 4.) Pathfinder stainless steel bottle and cook set 5.) #36 tarred bank line

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The fire alarm blared mid-sentence second period. My first thought was that this couldn’t be a routine, scheduled drill. Our sixth graders were taking one of those useless, high-stakes standardized tests. A prankster either pulled a fire alarm in the hall or the building was on fire.

Waiting for fire trucks to arrive, our class stood in a hot Georgia sun. Sweat and hints of body odor began to waft through the crowd. Occasional whines floated through the air. But no visible smoke from the building.

Thirty minutes later, “all clear” was given. A defective alarm in the system cause 850 middle schoolers to line up, somewhat orderly, on the safe edges of our school yard. Every teacher and student knew exactly what to do and where to go. We practice fire drills, religiously, once a month. No coaching or coaxing needed. It’s automatic!

Had this been a real emergency – school burns to the ground – would I have been personally prepared to get home? I know many coworkers who leave car keys, phone, wallets, and purses in their classrooms during evacuation drills. Real “what if” situations aren’t likely. It’s only a drill, right?

Emergency preparedness doesn’t cover the entire scope of self-reliance. However, it often times serves as a gateway or starting line for deeper self-reliance and Doing the Stuff skills.

Having the skills to properly use supplies and equipment is even better. Layered redundancy in tools, coupled with practiced skills, equips you to handle stuff when the “what if” actually happens.

Two is One – One is None Mentality

What’s in Your Pockets?

Back to the school yard. What’s on my person that could affect my personal survivability?  Do I have the 5 C’s of Survivability on me at all times? How about backups to these essentials?

Let’s see…

  • Car keys in my pocket – √
  • Brain – √ (“If I only had a brain.” ~ Scarecrow)
  • Combustion device in pocket and on key ring – √
  • Cutting tool in pocket – √
  • Communications device (phone) in pocket – √
  • Cover in emergency car kit – √
  • Cordage in wallet (Gorilla Tape) – √
  • Candling device (flashlight) – √ [one of the 10 C’s of Survivability in my pocket]

If you’re familiar with the 5 C’s, you noticed I’m missing the all important Container from my list above. No worries.

Get Home Bag

I only teach one hour in my own classroom each day. The other four periods I move to other classrooms – away from my Get Home Bag. I can’t grab this bag if we evacuate the building after 9:50 AM. That’s why it’s smart to have layers of redundancy in your vehicle emergency supplies.

Vehicle Kit

My car keys are literally the KEY to accessing more essential survival stuff – metal container included. My vehicle is my preferred method of conveyance. If my ride dies, my hiking boots and spare socks (stored in the vehicle) are plan B for my 21 mile journey home.

I’ve written a detailed post on my car kit if you’re interested in seeing the junk in my trunk.

The Why Behind The 5 C’s of Survivability

These 5 tools have passed the test of time to help humans survive and thrive. From the first human who discovered a sharp edge on a flake of stone, our entire history changed – as did the size of our brains! The cutting tool put us at the top of the food chain. Animal fat and protein could now be harvested with sharp stuff and processed with another tool in the 5 C’s – combustion/fire.

daily-disaster-drills-5-C's-of-survivability

My nephew, Kyle, enjoying some wild ginger tea on our last rainy dirt time session

Skills to use these 5 items will always trump the “hottest”, shiny survival gadget on the market.

Here is the run down of why you should include these 5 items in every kit you pack.

To sum it quickly, specialized skills and material are needed to reproduce these 5 essential tools in the wilderness.

So you’re not into wilderness self-reliance?

You should be and here’s why

Chris Noble at Master Woodsman just gave me a different, and enlightened, perspective on what wilderness really means. I lifted these bullet points of his broader definition of Wilderness…

  • when you’re lost in the woods, roadless or not
  • it’s when the electricity stops coming through the wires to your house for a long period of time
  • or even worse, your home is damaged or destroyed from a storm or other event.  Don’t tell me after Katrina and SuperStorm Sandy those poor souls weren’t in a wilderness.
  • wilderness is an emergency situation with no immediate help [emphasis mine]

The 5 C’s are essential for any setting, urban jungle or vast wilderness. The tools pictured above fit nicely into my haversack and/or attach to my ring belt and accompany me on all treks, short or long, into my wilderness.

Below is a brief explanation and a minimum of three redundant uses for each of the 5 C’s.

A) – Cutting Tool

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – craft splints, dig splinters, remove ticks, etc.
  2. Shelter – craft stakes, toggles, supports, and other needed tools
  3. Fire – a 90º spine for ferro rod use, carve feather sticks, process wood
  4. Food – processing game and collecting edibles

B) – Combustion Device

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – sterilize cutting tools and needles
  2. Shelter – core temperature control
  3. Water – purification
  4. Fire – heat to complete the triangle of fire (heat, fuel, oxygen)
  5. Signaling – smoke rescue signal
  6. Food – cooking

C) – Cover (proper clothing is first layer of cover)

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – core temperature control
  2. Shelter – creates a micro climate for core temperature control
  3. Signaling – if your cover contrasts with your surroundings

D) – Container

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – make herbal concoctions and infusions
  2. Water – transporting water
  3. Fire – metal water bottles can be used to make char cloth for your next fire
  4. Food – collecting and cooking stuff

E) – Cordage

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – slings, pressure wraps, and bandaging
  2. Shelter – lashings and knots
  3. Food – snares, fishing line, hanging a bear bag, etc.

* The 5 C’s are adapted from Dave Canterbury’s Pathfinder System which I follow

Our other kits (vehicle, get home bag, and Bug Out Bags, hunting/fishing) contain duplicates of these 5 C’s and more. Obviously, our vehicles can haul more than these five items. When carrying capacity is a consideration, cull the shiny survival objects and build your skills with the 5 C’s.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , | 30 Comments

Neighboring Matters: Preparing For Unknown Unknowns

by Todd Walker

Are you prepare for all the unknown unknowns?

No matter how meticulous you might be at creating your list of lists, how much stuff you’ve squirreled away, or how sharply you’ve honed your survival skills, you can’t fully prepare for the unknown unknowns. That’s why neighboring matters.

If you get 10 survivalists in a room, you’ll get eleven different opinions on how to build community. In this installment of my Individual Preparedness Plan series, we’ll discuss what should be on top of every person’s preparedness priority list: Neighboring.

In the wake of Sandy’s unwelcome and devastating visit, I’ve noticed a pungent smell of superiority online from some (thankfully not all) “preppers”: “When will sheeple learn” and “We don’t look so crazy now, do we.” The back-patting party was furious in some cases. This kind of attitude and behavior only reinforces the negative stereotypical view of preppers being lunatics with guns and a superiority complex.

This got me wondering what our motives are in the preparedness community. We’re all in it for ourselves to some degree. Rugged individualism, self-reliance, independence, preparedness, back-to-basics, and sustainability are all noble pursuits. But what about those closest to us – geographically, not on social media sites? That nameless neighbor I wave to when checking my mail. He’s only two doors down. The older couple that I politely say hello to as they walk past while I’m on a run. I don’t know their names or situations, just that they live in my neighborhood.

Know Thy Neighbor

I often wonder how these nameless faces would respond to a natural disaster or extended SHTF scenario. What makes my middle class neighborhood different from those affected by Hurricane Sandy? Not a thing. Human nature is the same in New Jersey as it is in Georgia. We all need food, water, shelter, and neighbors… unless you live in an isolated cabin or cave in the hinter-boonies with wild animals as companionship. Then disregard this. For everyone else, your neighbors may unknowingly be your most valuable asset.

Got milk? No. Borrow it from your neighbor across the street. Uh, folks just don’t do that anymore. How about when a tornado rips through your town? Or an ice storm cripples the grid power? In these events, you realize a name goes with that passing face you wave to who now revs a chainsaw to saw through your driveway of fallen trees. When things go sideways, it’s what most (not all) humans do. Failure to build real relationships with real people will hamstring even those ‘super‘ preppers.

Intentional Neighboring

Isolation is intentional. So is neighboring. Which means more than pressing the “Like”, “Follow”, or “Friend” button for virtual friends thousands of miles from your computer. They won’t be able to pull your broken body from the rubble. They know you as an avatar on their screen. Real neighbors talk to you over your fence or share a drink around the backyard fire pit.

Our best hope of surviving catastrophe on a personal, local level is friends and neighbors. Daniel Aldrich, a political scientist living in New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina hit, tells his story and study of response to natural disasters.

He had just moved to New Orleans. Late one August night, there was a knock on the door.

“It was a neighbor who knew that we had no idea of the realities of the Gulf Coast life,” said Aldrich, who is now a political scientist at Purdue University in Indiana. He “knocked on our door very late at night, around midnight on Saturday night, and said, ‘Look, you’ve got small kids — you should really leave.’ ”

The knock on the door was to prove prophetic. It changed the course of Aldrich’s research and, in turn, is changing the way many experts now think about disaster preparedness.

Officials in New Orleans that Saturday night had not yet ordered an evacuation, but Aldrich trusted the neighbor who knocked on his door. He bundled his family into a car and drove to Houston.

“Without that information we never would’ve left,” Aldrich said. I think we would’ve been trapped.”

“Really, at the end of the day, the people who will save you, and the people who will help you,” he added, “they’re usually neighbors.”

The Best First Responders

Family, friends, and neighbors help rebuild and restore order better than large organizations, government or otherwise. The more value-adding neighbors you have, (and not all wear the label “preppers”) the more hands, legs, minds, and overall resources become available. I sold my pickup truck this year to cover shortages in our family income when Dirt Road Girl could no longer work due to cancer. My across-the-street neighbor gave a standing offer to use his spare truck for any hauling duty that might come up. He and his wife have been so supportive to our family in our personal SHTF scenario. From meals, prayers, dog sitting, and just plain old neighborly stuff, they’re not just neighbors, they’re true friends now.

How Many?

Jesus maintained an intimate circle of twelve friends and only three in his inner circle. This number of face-to-face, close friends is about all mere humans can really manage. Any higher and we begin to spread ourselves thin. Keep in mind that this group is your real, trusted friends.

What about those outside this inner core? Dunbar’s Number sheds more info on manageable social group sizing. Dunbar theorizes that 150 is the mean group size for people. Of course, physical proximity to each other would either raise or lower that number. A lot of social grooming is required for this size group to stay intact. I can only count on one hand the number of intimate friendships I have. I think that’s healthy. From there my circle expands to close friends, friends, and acquaintances.

OpSec Concerns

What about OpSec (Operational Security)? I don’t divulge the full scope of our preparedness plans with every person on the street. That would be inviting trouble. DRG and I do have a small group of trusted friends that would run to our aid in the event of an extended event. They know we’d do the same for them. This type of friend is one  that knows you, likes you, and loves you – warts and all. They know our plans because they’re part of our plan.

Building relationships with physical neighbors is mutually beneficial. The neighborhood preparedness quotient and survivability increases. A lone wolf can’t prepare for all the unknown unknowns.

Practical Stuff

Here are a few not-so-pushy ways to do this stuff. I guess you could canvas door to door. But you don’t want to come across as annoying. If you have an agenda other than being a good neighbor, folks will see through you. Keep it simple neighbor.

  • Give: You’ve got carpentry, plumbing, electrical, or computer skills. Offer to help a neighbor. This opens a door for mutual and reciprocal giving.
  • Get involved: Local farmers markets, festivals, concerts, school meetings are all attended by neighbors and friends.
  • Yard sales: Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with people. As an added bonus, you’ll likely find useful stuff for your preps. Two weeks ago I scored a box of candles and mason jars from an older lady two streets down. I let her know where I live when I introduced myself. The transaction went very smoothly and I made a new friend.
  • Share your Stuff: DRG makes killer sausage balls. She prepares a few plates every Christmas and delivers trays to neighbors. I share smoked Boston butt with a few as well. One of my neighbors samples my home-brewed beer.
  • Ask for help – without being needy: That’s the only ice breaker needed to move from acquaintance to friend sometimes.
  • Be a connector: Refer people needing stuff to people with the right stuff or skills.
  • Trade stuff: One year I had a bumper crop of tomatoes while my next door neighbor produced more peppers than he could eat or cared to store. We traded throughout the summer.
  • Barter stuff: If there’s a local barter network already established in your town, get involved and add value.
  • Local clubs: Hunting, fishing, golf, knitting, or canning. Ask a neighbor to go learn a new skill together.

Hopefully these tips will motivate us to get out of the house, network, and meet your neighbors. Do you know your neighbors? They may be the missing link to the unknown unknowns.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Barter, Doing the Stuff, IPP: Individual Preparedness Plan, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , , | 32 Comments

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