Signs of Financial Collapse and How To Avoid Last Minute Mayhem

Greece is now being compared to a country that has had its economy devastated by war. As on Sunday, Greek politicians voted NO to accept further financial help and implement austerity measures at the request of European bankers.  What is the result of this vote?  The Greek people have been forced to reduce their lives to the bare necessities.


Greece bare shelves

Aris Messinis/AFP

While the people have been forced to deal with decreasing incomes and supply problems for some time now, recently the situation has picked up speed. The Greek crisis began in 2009, so they have had years of cutbacks to prepare them for their current situation. We thought it would be an interesting opportunity to peek in on some of the signs of economic trouble that we should all watch out for, and some things we can do ahead of time.

These trouble signs are not just for far away countries, but our own nation and even our cities. When you see the following signs, you should wrap up your main supplies list and ready your LAST MINUTE WANTS AND NEEDS LIST. The goal is to have your important items well before the supply shortages and price gouging takes effect. The Last Minute List (LML) is designed so that any shopping you do is in places opposite of other people.

Increasing signs to look for in a faltering economy:

  • Increasing unemployment

  • Increasing budget deficits

  • Downgrading of national or municipal credit ratings

  • Salary freezes at government level

  • Increased taxes on fuel, tobacco, alcohol and luxury goods

  • Cuts in public sector pay

  • Bailouts

  • Civil unrest, Union strikes

  • The use of the word austerity

  • Bank closings

  • Limits on bank withdrawals

  • Stores run low on supplies

  • Medical supplies and services reduced

  • Law enforcement, civil servants reduced

  • Bartering becomes more common

Currently in Greece there are countless reports of the communities coming to a standstill. Shops are closing and stores are out of stock in many items. Right now there is a run on the basic necessities. Foods, medicine, and toilet paper are being stripped bare and stored in preparation of national unrest and total financial collapse.

The current most popular items being hoarded:

  • Cash

  • Sugar

  • Flour

  • Pasta

  • Canned Milk

  • Chocolate

  • Rice

  • Any foods that are non-perishable

  • Medicines

  • Toilet Paper

Items such as meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables are becoming scarce. ATM machines have been running out of cash and there is very little cash left to resupply the machines, even with the severe limits on withdrawals by individuals. People on pensions are having trouble just getting through the long lines to get their money. Many shop owners have stopped accepting credit cards from national banks. The deposit insurance fund is drying up and the banks are reportedly forming a plan to seize money in many accounts over a certain threshold. The Country of Cyprus recently did this to boost their own economy, which led to people withdrawing their money and placing it elsewhere. This has also happened in Greece, that practice is called capital flight.

There have also been stories of families who are surviving because they have gardens and small livestock such as chickens and goats. It has taken a number of years to make the news about the current situation but the Greeks and citizens of many other countries have watched their way of life deteriorate. Those that took the time to prepare just in case of such problems seem to fare more well than those unable or unwilling to do so.

If you found yourself in such a spiraling and uncertain situation would you be panic shopping? Hopefully not, but if you do there is a strategy to reduce your exposure to the crowds. Most people will wait until the last minute and then seek out basic survival supplies. We don’t want to be in that category, we prefer to have that out of the way as much as possible.

Below we have created a Last Minute List (LML). The items on this list are going to help you create/repair shelter and other possible tasks of survival as well as the benefit of having barter supplies. While other people are out stripping the grocery store shelves, you may want to visit the hardware store, auto supply, farm store and such. You shouldn’t have as much competition for resources as long as you are where others are not.

This list may be customized for your situation.

The Last Minute List (LML)

This list is to be regularly reviewed and fulfilled as possible. In case of pending or imminent threat, procurement tasking of desired items should be assigned to members based on skills and transportation abilities. Attempt to locate items where others may not look. Attempt to conceal the spoils from others. Mind your safety and security at all times.


Big Items:

  • Tow Trailer: Covered if possible like a Horse Trailer.
  • Pack animals
  • Off road transport
  • Livestock
  • Farming equipment

Construction supplies (hardware)

  • Wood – 2×4, 4×6, plywood,
  • 2×10″ Pressure Treated Lumber for Raised Beds:
  • Nails – 1″, 2″, 3″, 4″ Galvanized,
  • Screws – 1″, 2″ 3″, 4″ wood and metal
  • Brackets: “L” – “T” – Straight
  • Metal Piping and PVC piping, fittings ½ “ and 1”- 90 degree elbows, couplings and various fittings
  • Bricks:
  • Glue: Similar to all purpose Gorilla Glue
  • Epoxy
  • Duct Tape: Gorilla Duct tape
  • PVC Glue and Cleaner:
  • Screening Material:
  • Electrical wire and connectors
  • Hand tools Hammers, wrenches, Screwdrivers, Crowbars, Machete, shovels, axes, files
  • Saws
  • Gloves
  • 12v car/ motorcycle Batteries,
  • 12v led lights
  • Jumper Cables
  • Carts, wagons
  • Bicycles
  • Mason String
  • Tape Measure
  • Hose, tubing
  • Barbed wire
  • Solar panel materials
  • Plastic bins
  • Metal trash cans
  • Tarps
  • Rope
  • Buckets
  • Rain barrels
  • Chicken wire
  • Animal feeds, Chicken Rabbit, Dog, Goat, Horse
  • Zip ties
  • Bailing wire
  • Bug spray
  • Pesticides
  • Fertilizers
  • Fly traps
  • Rat/mouse traps
  • Spare shoes / boots
  • Trash bags
  • Charcoal
  • Grill lighters
  • Deodorant
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dish detergent
  • Baby wipes
  • Spices
  • Aluminum foil
  • Saran wrap
  • Oven roasting bags
  • Black/ Gray/Green/Brown spray paint
  • Cotton sheets
  • Bungee cords
  • Surgical tubing
  • Funnels
  • Cooking oils
  • Motor oils
  • Spare filters for any engines
  • Automotive belts
  • Radiator hose repair kit
  • Flat tire repair plugs
  • Bulk Fabric
  • Fishing Supplies
  • Personal Hygiene supplies
  • Extra Medical supplies; Bandages to Tylenol

Extra Fuel:

  • Kerosene:
  • Gas:
  • Propane:

Other/ Bartering Items:

  • Disposable Lighters
  • Batteries
  • Vegetable seeds
  • Sterno fuel cells
  • Alcohol: Whisky, Scotch, and Bourbon, Rum, Moonshine
  • Anything items that could be traded for other supplies, keep in mind comfort and off grid survival items.
The situation in Greece didn’t begin yesterday and will not end tomorrow. It has been said that we are all poor at different levels and those who make the effort to create surplus will the ones that have the upper hand in a crisis economy.

What do want to add to the Last Minute List?

Is Your Survival Group On Its Last Breath?

How often do you hear this from your group members?


Man, our survival group stinks.

We’re just a drinking group with a survival problem.

We never do anything cool, all we do is meet every once in a while but nothing ever seems to happen. 


Lucky for you I have some simple ideas how to get our group back on track. You need to start making things happen or your group will fizzle out, they always do.

Fun Fact:

Do you know what the most common problems are in groups?





Why? Well there are a number of reasons but often it’s because it usually isn’t as fun as expected, it truly is that easy. People stop showing up and the people that do show up either do all the work or spend their time socializing or disagreeing.

<<<Caution: Problems being solved ahead>>>

If you want people to spend their valuable time with you building a group, you need to give them something to work with. You must give it an identity and offer people a mission that they believe in. Even if you have a group that has been meeting for a long time you may need to take a step back and make sure you are moving in the right direction. We see groups that have fallen into autopilot mode and that’s not always good.

Championship sports teams don’t just keep winning because they keep winning, they need to re-calibrate and retool their plans, plays and teams to stay fresh and ahead of the game.”

Once we know what we are not doing we can come up with some ideas to get some things done. Those would be called goals. A goal is something that can be accomplished within a reasonable period of time that keeps the ball moving.

I’ll give you an example: have you ever been to meetings where nothing gets accomplished, or you never seem to complete a project, or the team gives up? I know for a fact that some of you right now are nodding your heads because I see it all the time.

“I don’t want excuses, I want results”

This is where the action plan comes in. Once you decide what you want to accomplish you need to take steps to get it done. Did you know that most people who are given responsibility would try harder to complete that responsibility if they believe in the task and know people are counting on them? Especially if they have to stand up at the next meeting and give a status report. You did choose the best people for your group didn’t you? Well you are about to find out.

Let’s get into how we should identify our goals and how to make that action plan so your group is working like a Swiss Watch. We are going to keep it simple and not bite off more than we can chew, for now. Remember, you want people to show up, participate, and go home feeling like they had a good time so they will keep coming back. They probably didn’t sign up for a second job so keep that in mind.

Have you ever heard the saying: “Train as you would fight and fight as you trained?” In order to train for the battle you are expecting, you need to know what you are expecting. Keep it close to the basics because every scenario you can imagine has similar requirements for survival. If you are prepared for an extreme natural disaster you are still pretty well covered in case of a zombie apocalypse. The main difference is the length of time you would need to be self-reliant.

“At the end of the day all you are trying to do is stay fed, watered, healthy and safely sheltered for as long as possible, so just do that stuff.”

How do I get this thing started?

Begin by asking your group a couple of basic questions and see if the answers are at least somewhat similar. If so, you are in good shape. If not then you’ll need to focus your group content at a lower common denominator so everyone is getting what they want from the group.

(Hint, there are no wrong answers, this is just feedback for planning)

  1. What is everyone preparing for?
  2. What are you as group currently doing to get prepared?
  3. Are the families supportive of what you are doing? Why not? What are you doing that turns them off? Maybe you need to refocus at the lower common denominator and re frame the discussion to a vision that is less extreme and more attractive to the layperson to get them involved.
  4. What kinds of things would you like to work on to get better prepared?

Your group is for all intents and purposes an extended family and it may seem like everyone has a different idea on what you should be doing. By clearing up the confusion of the basic stuff you pave the way to doing the cool stuff.

Let’s be SMART about this

Use the SMART method for determining what you want to get done. That’s another way of saying “setting goals.” When you have some ideas of things you want to do, take a moment and see if your idea meets the challenge of being SMART.

Ask yourself, is my idea:






Sample NOT SMART idea:

Let’s go turn Rusty’s house into a fortress! That’s a pretty tall order and could take a very long time not to mention we would all do it differently. Look at the Doomsday Castle as an example of different… and still not done.

Ok, let’s try again:

“How about we go on a camping trip where different people in the group teach skills they are good at to the rest of the group?” Is this a SMART idea? Not yet. It’s the beginning of an idea but not a goal that people can get behind yet. It’s actually more of a thought that will become another lost fantasy unless we nail it down.

How about we try it this way?

Get the leaders to meet sometime before the general group meeting to come up with ideas to get people involved. Then at the group meeting announce that we want to plan a camping trip to Rock Lake Wildlife Area in September where we will have members teach each other skills, try out our gear, cook-out, let the kids play and have some fun.

This meets the SMART guidelines and shows the group is doing fun productive activities.

Now that you have a goal you can put it into action.

The best way to do this is to form a team to make it happen. You can either volunteer or voluntold some people to form the planning team.

They will in turn take the larger problem of organizing the campout and break it into smaller pieces

  • Get available dates for the site in September
  • Get pricing for the site and a list of amenities
  • Create a list of class ideas and instructors
  • Create a time schedule for the event and classes
  • Come up with some social time ideas for the families
  • Plan group meals
  • Make a flyer with all the details for the group

And that’s how it’s done.

By creating good ideas that fit in with what the group is all about and including everyone you will:

  • Increase participation
  • Members will become more committed
  • Families will be involved
  • People will learn new things
  • The teams will work better
  • You will really get to know each other
  • The group will become stronger and more flexible
  • The dead weight of the group will disappear or at least you will know who they are

If you have ideas to share with us of things your group likes to do, post in the comments. People are always looking for good ideas.


Operations Planning for Your Family

Due to the nature of survival it is wise to prepare for what to do in case someone becomes incapacitated, missing or leaves for some reason, even if the event or absence is only temporary.  A disruption event can happen at any time; it doesn’t matter where everyone is or what they are doing.

To ensure that the family can come together and continue to operate you will want to do some key tasks ahead of time.

First we want to understand the different types of event that could happen and how they relate to your situation at the time. A tornado, for instance, is a very possible event that will drastically affect a relatively small number of people at one time and usually occurs with predictable severe weather. Often the tornado strikes during the day when everyone is separated, but not always. As for an event from the complete other end of the spectrum, a massive grid down power outage that keeps a city without electricity for many days, weeks or months will affect large numbers of people and cause all sorts of societal problems and could happen at anytime.

In either of these scenarios there is one thing in common, you and your family.  You have already stocked and planned for what to do in case of disaster, but have you planned on what exactly to do if someone is lost or incapacitated? What if that person, or even you, are the only one who knows how to survive, operate a well pump, flip a breaker, shoot a weapon safely, access a bank account, contact relatives, etc. In short, are you or the kids prepared to take over the leadership position in case the worst happens?

In the case of a large scale event you may have to bug out or you may even have people coming to you. In a survival group there are usually several people with key skills, but for a small family, this may not always be the case. In a complex survival situation it will be very difficult to know and do everything by yourself so why not plan ahead so you can keep operating if such a time comes.

Top 5 reasons you will need to consider a continuity or succession plan:

    • A key person is delayed by  disaster conditions or travel restrictions
    • Someone is injured, ill, lost or killed along the way
    • Someone cannot participate because of their own lack of planning
    • Not able to communicate for some reason leaving everyone else in the dark
    • Perhaps a key person just chose to not participate for some reason

How do we get started?

The first steps are to identify who is key to the plan and identify an alternate person who is not in the primary member’s traveling party or immediate family. This is to give the best chance of the alternate showing up and staying with the survival group, family or community. The alternate should be able to perform the duties of the primary and be trained properly. Importantly, the alternate must be made aware of his/her title as alternate, and must voluntarily accept the assignment. At this point the alternate will provide all possible contact info to include an out of area relay contact so that there is the best chance of communication.

*Important tip: Anytime an out of area contact is to be used as a relay point for information, the information relay person must be made aware of the arrangement and be ready to answer calls from unusual numbers.

Next is to identify key operations. These are tasks or processes that must be done to provide for the safety and welfare of the family or survival group in an emergency.

Key operations may include:

  • Activating the emergency plan

  • Collecting everyone from work, school, shopping or other travels

  • Security: protecting everyone and everything from loss or destruction at all times

  • Food and water provisions to keep everyone going strong for the predetermined period of time. i.e. 3 days, 3 months, 1 year, etc.

  • Sheltering: keeping everyone out of the elements

  • Energy for warmth, power or communications

  • Transportation to re-position resources or evacuation

  • Medical response to injuries and safety oversight during emergency activities

  • Site safety such as immediate response to fire, flood, wind events, dangerous people

  • Communication with each other and outside world. Use your Commo Plan to stay in contact and set up a relay contact that is far away from the event location

  • Evacuation/convoy in case of rapid displacement

But what about the smaller disasters?

Not every event is the coming apocalypse, what happens if a family member is in a car accident? Your wallet gets lost, you must hurry to a family emergency out of town for several days. Who will hold down the fort, feed the kids and pay the bills?

This is when your Family Contingency Binder (FCB) will prove to be a lifesaver, This is a notebook that contains all of your operational information from critical documents such as birth certificates to credit cards to insurance policies and vehicle titles.

The FCB also has your emergency plans, maps to important places, passwords to everything, medical information, wills and trusts, Powers of Attorney for someone to handle your affairs and those of your children and actual written phone numbers to everyone important in your life (just in case you lost your cell phone too).

Just as with planning for alternate key personnel, alternate methods to achieve key operations should be defined, documented and communicated to all personnel within the group or family, not just those involved in those operations. Resilience depends on a group wide effort and everyone should know what is supposed to happen and how it should get done, this way people can adapt as needed and remain close to any defined objectives or wishes. Be sure to keep all of this information secure and under lock and key but don’t forget to make sure that several people know how to access it in an emergency.

If a sudden emergency strikes and you must evacuate quickly, try to take your binder, it will have everything you need to recover from a burned out home, prove who you are and get your life back on track.

When you take some time to prepare the people in your life as well as the stuff on the shelf you will begin to see that you may need less stuff. Share your plans and expectations with the people around you so they can be there when you need them the most and have them do the same. Give everyone the tools they would need to stand in for you if something happens, because something always happens.

For more information on group and family contingency planning, check out The Survival Group Handbook at 

Why Survival is Mental At Any Age

Survival is not always a gear-centric proposition.

In fact, gear is only a small (albeit important!) factor in many scenarios. It has been said that survival is 90% mental and 10% everything else. A recent tragedy in the news demonstrates just how true this is and offers some great opportunities to learn from a brave young girl’s actions.

Many people familiar with the story of Sailor Gutzler will insist that it is only by divine intervention that a seven year old was able to survive in freezing conditions lost and wandering in thick woodlands at night for help. While a miracle is possible, along with an amazing amount of luck, the will to survive likely kept her going long enough to find help for her family.

At the innocent age of seven this girl was not tainted by the demon of hopelessness, she was apparently taught by her parents when to go for help in an emergency and a plane crash where her family wouldn’t wake up certainly met the threshold of an emergency for her. She had a mission and was determined to go for help.

As we read a summary of her story I want you to consider your possible actions from two angles, the victim and the person who answered her knocks at the door.

Important thoughts and take-a-ways from her experience:

  • What is the importance of individual basic survival skills?

  • Would you know what to do if you were presented with the responsibility of caring for victims until help arrives?

  • Would you know what to do, both as a victim and as a citizen first responder?

  • Do you know how to call or signal for help?

  • What skills should kids learn and how early should we start them?

A summary of Sailor Gutzler’s story:

A 7-year-old girl survives a plane crash that kills her whole family on a trip back from the Florida Keys to Illinois. The small twin-engine plane crashes in stormy weather at night and ends up upside down in thick woods in western Kentucky.  There were 4 other people in the plane with her, her two parents, a 9-year-old sister and 14-year-old cousin. After the crash everyone in the plane was unconscious, she tried to wake them up but was not successful.

Sailor climbs out of the upturned aircraft past her dead family dressed only for the warm Florida weather in a t-shirt and shorts, no shoes and no jacket. She has a broken wrist, cuts and bruises. She finds herself in wet 38-degree weather with no idea where she is and no indication of civilization in sight.

The wing of the plane is on fire. She attempts to lite a stick to make a torch to see with but the wet weather doused the fire. There is no trail for her to use and she is not at all outfitted for the journey.

Knowing she must go for help she chooses a direction and walks nearly a mile in dark, dense, wet, freezing underbrush of thickets, blackberries, fallen trees and a 12-foot deep creek embankment.

With great fortune she eventually stumbles upon the only occupied house in the area for miles. Had she gone in any other direction she would have certainly been lost to the environment and succumbed to hypothermia.

Upon getting someone to answer the door she has the composure to explain her ordeal and ask for help. She gives enough accurate information about her situation to guide rescuers on foot to the crash site within 2 hours. She also gave enough information to increase the response from lost child to downed aircraft; this can make a difference in the type of assets called in and the speed of response.

It has been reported that the second grader had been taught some basic survival by her father and it seems that she attempted to apply some of that knowledge in her situation.

Let’s think about how this situation played out and then how we can learn from it. Ask yourself or even better; ask your family the following questions. Keep in mind that this was a seven year old who acted with amazing resolve. Think of how you would do things different at different age, health and skill levels.

    • What was working against Sailor? (Climate, fear, terrain, etc.)
    • What did she do right?
    • What poor decisions did she make?
    • What could she have done to better her chances? (Put on shoes and warm clothes, left a message at the crash, etc.)
    • Think of some similar situations that we might find ourselves in? (As a rescuer and possibly a victim)
    • What are our immediate basic needs in a survival situation?


In order to survive we must address our basic needs of physiology then safety and while they are very closely related, they must be in this order. When you find yourself in a survival situation, your decisions and priorities of work must address keeping you alive and safe before you do anything else. Only then can you work on improving your position, signaling for help or setting off to find help.

This leads us to the well-known Rule of 3’s

In any extreme situation you may not survive for more than:

    • 3 minutes without air (underwater, confined, hazardous atmosphere)
    • 3 hours without shelter, clothing (freezing, hot, exposed)
    • 3 days without water
    • 3 weeks without food.

The Rule of Threes is just a guide or rule of thumb and is not scientifically accurate in all situations. The thing to remember is that if you make it to 3 in any of these categories, you are already in serious trouble and going downhill quick, hence the need to protect your physiological situation first and foremost.

Take-a-ways for the victim of disaster or tragedy

  • Provide for your physiological needs such as air, food, water and shelter/ create a microclimate
  • Assist others in your situation
  • Secure the scene and make your location safe
  • Plan to be rescued or decide to thoughtfully self-rescue
  • Use your surroundings and all resources to your advantage
  • Continually update your plan and predict for important needs
  • Draw on your will to survive and have a reason to survive no matter how odd it may be, this is critical and gives you a mission to accomplish (think of the movie Castaway and the FedEx box)
  • Focus on the job at hand and just keep going

What if someone else needs help?

As a citizen you may be called upon at any time to help in an emergency and possibly even provide life saving medical assistance.  Most of the time we have something called reach back capability. This means that there is almost always someone else to call for the next level of care and support no matter how bad or how big the emergency or disaster becomes.

Since we do not very often call for help we may be a little rusty at actually providing the proper and timely information. Additionally the stress and or surprise of an emergency may very likely cause us to forget the most basic information such as where we are, our address, phone number or even our own name.  It may sound easy to describe what is happening around you but when the adrenaline begins pumping your words might just jumble up on the way out of your mouth.

So how do we react to something dangerous and unusual where people may be injured, maybe our family or even ourselves?

    • Take a deep breath to purge your adrenaline and unlock your muscles
    • Size up the situation for safety
    • Take charge or follow the lead of someone who seems to be knowledgeable
    • Don’t argue or make things worse
    • If appropriate, send a specific person or team to call for help (you may need to provide information to guide responders to scene)
    • Secure the area
    • Provide care up to the level you are officially trained in but don’t be afraid to perform lifesaving measures
    • Gather information and update responders when they arrive
    • Assist them if they need and want help
    • A responder may also have a heavy emotional load and may need to dig deep to endure tragic situations, respect that and give them space to work
    • In long duration events you must also care for yourself. Water, food, rest
    • After all is done it will be important to properly debrief and address your mental trauma as well as others involved. It may take weeks or months for trauma to manifest

If someone flags you down or knocks on the door you will do most of the same things we just talked about but maybe in a different order.

    • Calm the person down
    • Ask what happened
    • Is anyone injured?
    • What help do they need?
    • Where is help needed?
    • Gather information needed to direct response to scene
    • Call for help
    • Go to scene or wait for help to arrive
    • Size up the scene for safety
    • Update responders with any new information if necessary
    • Render assistance as needed

In the case of the young crash survivor, she went for help and the neighbor who was at home watching TV became the initial response.  He asked the important questions and got enough information to relay to 911 to get the proper level of help alerted and on the way. He then provided care until responders arrived.  The girl knew just enough to point the responders in the right direction of the crash.

What should we teach our children that can help them survive and possibly get help in an emergency?

General Safety:

    • Their name address and phone number
    • How to call 911
    • When to call for help (mommy or daddy won’t wake up, smoke in the house, sibling is playing near the pool, etc.)
    • How to recognize dangerous situations (true signs of drowning, fire, electricity, poisons, animals, strangers, etc.)
    • Home hazards awareness
    • Basic first aid
    • Fire safety

Basic age appropriate survival:

    • What to do if they get separated urban/wilderness
    • How to stay warm/cool
    • The importance of drinking water and where to find it
    • How to make a fire
    • How to make an emergency kit for home and away
    • How to signal for help
    • How and where to build a quick shelter
    • Lightning safety/ severe weather awareness
    • How to swim, water safety
    • Recognize the real signs of drowning, how to safely rescue or help others
    • Animal dangers from pets to wild animals
    • Cyber safety
    • Stranger safety, self defense and escape from capture
    • Firearm safety

Most kids will resist outright attempts to teach them anything, especially from parents. You may need to create a culture of fun or covert learning and almost fool them into it.  It is easier if you sneak the training into events like camping, even if it’s in a tent in the living room or backyard. Anything that helps with problem solving and understanding danger is helpful and success will make them more confident.  Start young and build on their training because some skills are perishable.

Here are some ways to remember important information in case of emergency:

    • Write important things down and post on refrigerator or cabinet
    • Create a family contingency binder of critical information
    • Create a wallet card for each family member that lists everyone’s phone number including an out of area contact to use as a relay for messages. (Don’t trust memory of common numbers)
    • When you leave for the day actually look at the clothing everyone is wearing and try to remember it or take a quick picture with your cell phone you use in case of becoming separated
    • Take a headcount so you know how many are with you and if you have everyone throughout the day
    • Pay attention to where you are while driving or riding. Look at mile markers, exits, notable places
    • Know what direction you are heading
    • Be able to describe your stuff, family members, and vehicle, tag number, etc.
    • Keep a notepad and pencil handy at all times
    • Use your smartphone to take notes and pictures
    • I.C.E. the important contacts in your phone
    • Add your emergency contacts to your driver’s license online at the DMV website. Also do this for family members. In case of accident you will be notified

Let us know what you do to teach kids about survival and safety in the comments section.

Best of luck and be safe

Critical Documents Binder: FREE Downloads

With the start of the school year, now is a good time to update your critical documents binder to make sure you have the most current information.

Don’t have a critical doc binder? Here’s some free downloads to get you started:

Critical Document Checklist

Emergency ID Cards for each family member

The Survival Guide To The N.A.Z. (No Acronym Zone)

Perhaps it is due to the military-esque nature of modern survival but everywhere we turn we see acronyms. So we are going to take this opportunity to clear up some of the confusion about what these abbreviations really mean. We may even throw in a few nicknames and definitions too. For the new kids in class, an acronym is just a short way of saying something by using some combination of letters from the phrase we are describing. Acronyms can be very handy but are often way over used. So here are the most common acronyms you’ll see.

  • AAR – After Action Review. Used to evaluate a previous activity.
  • AR – Automatic Rifle as in AR-15
  • ARES – Amateur Radio Emergency Service. HAM Radio group
  • ARRL – American Radio Relay League. HAM Radio group
  • AO – Area of Operations. The area you are working in
  • AoA – Avenue of Approach. Roads, trails, waterways, etc. that lead to your position
  • AoE – Avenue of Escape. Escape routes from your location. You should have 2 at all times
  • Bug-Out – To leave quickly. From the Korean War era
  • BIB – Bug In Bag.  Supplies to shelter in place
  • BOB – Bug-Out Bag.  A pre-packed survival bag. Different skills and scenarios require different supplies in the bag.
  • BOGO – Buy one, get one free.
  • BOL – Bug-Out Location.  A predetermined evacuation location
  • BOV – Bug-Out Vehicle. The vehicle or conveyance you will use to evacuate
  • Car Kit – Survival supplies stored in your vehicle at all times.
  • CB – Citizen’s Band Radio. A limited range 2-way radio usually in vehicles. No license needed. Not secure for sensitive information
  • CBRNE – Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosive.
  • CCW – Concealed Carry Weapon. (Or permit or license)
  • CERT – Community Emergency Response team. A federally funded emergency training initiative for citizens
  • CME – Coronal Mass Ejection. Plasma ejected by the Sun. If directed toward Earth it could damage the electric grid severely
  • Commo – Communications.
  • Commo Plan – Communications Plan. A plan to remain in contact with each other during emergency. Includes back up plan and out of area contact to use as a relay for information
  • Contingency Binder – A binder with all critical documents located in a safe, fireproof place
  • CONEX – Cargo shipping container used for storage
  • COOP – Continuity Of Operations Plan. Designates alternate personnel, processes and equipment to replace primary in case of catastrophic loss
  • CTX – Classroom Training Exercise
  • Decon – Decontamination. Removing chemical or biological contaminates
  • EBV – Ebola Virus
  • EHV – Ebola Hemorrhagic Virus
  • EMP – Electromagnetic Pulse . Caused by CME or atomic detonation. A horizon to horizon event depending on altitude of detonation
  • EOC – Emergency Operations Center
  • EVAC – Evacuation
  • FIFO – First In, First Out. An inventory term to use the oldest supplies first
  • Freq – Frequency
  • FRS Family Radio Service. Usually a set of Walkie-talkies that do not require any license. Available at most sporting goods or hardware stores. Not secure
  • FTX – Field Training Exercise
  • GCP – Group Continuity Plan – (See COOP)
  • GHB – Get Home Bag. A bag kept at work or in the vehicle designed to help you get home in case of emergency. Includes 3 days of supplies
  • Go-Bag – Similar to a Bug-Out Bag. May be mission specific with respect to content such as specialty gear
  • Golden Horde – Predicted horde of looters and refugees pouring out of major cities into the countryside after a major evacuation
  • GOOD Bag – Get Out Of Dodge Bag. A bag filled with supplies to help one leave an area immediately. See (GHB, BOB)
  • Gray Man – An approach employed to make oneself unnoticeable and not memorable. Usually used when moving through a community to be less of a target by dressing blandly and never making eye contact or speaking to anyone. Not suspicious, showing nothing of value, no logos, no bright colors, nothing tactical, not moving with any urgency but not loitering
  • Grid down – The electric grid and key infrastructure has failed, usually referred to as a permanent or long term chaotic situation
  • HAM – An amateur radio user. Communications of various frequencies able to reach extreme distances around the world. Often the last line of communication when all else fails
  • Hazmat – Hazardous Materials
  • Hills – An expression often used to describe a generalized distant location where one hopes to bug out to. A poor plan if you have no specific place to go. The hills don’t care for strangers
  • Hooch – A crude shelter in the form of a tarp or natural materials. Also moonshine
  • IFAK – Individual First Aid Kit – Usually in a pouch attached to battle gear or pack. Includes basic trauma supplies
  • INCH – I’m Never Coming Home – A concept of a bag loaded in such a way to permanently leave home.
  • Independence Conflict – The individual struggle to overcome when joining a survival group. Most survival minded people don’t like to depend on others
  • IR – Infra red – Invisible light detected by night vision devices
  • Ferrocerrium Rod – A fire starting rod that is used by scraping carbon steel to produce showers of sparks
  • LIFO – Last In, First Out – Using newest supplies first
  • Lima Charlie – Loud and Clear – Radio term
  • Lines of Drift – The natural path a person or animal will travel out of ease. Usually in the woods. Always a bad idea in hostile territory due to potential ambush or traps
  • LogPak – Logistics Package – Military term for supplies being delivered. The reason that most military personnel do not understand grid down survival. There is no reach-back capability in true survival
  • MAG – Mutual Assistance Group – A group of people who pledge to work together in emergency, disaster or survival
  • Mall Ninja – A person who buys all the tacticool stuff yet has few if any skills. Also – Armchair survivalist, keyboard commando, E-Thug
  • Mess – Military term for food. Mess plan, Mess tent, etc.
  • MRE – Meal Ready to Eat – Military rations in plastic pouches. Not a good long term food storage option
  • OPORD – Operations Order – 5 paragraph plan to conduct a mission consisting of Situation, Mission, Execution, Service/Support, Command/Signal and annexes listing any Standard Operating Procedures
  • OPSEC – Operational Security – Military term used to safeguard critical information or operations. Used in survival as a prod to not share personal or survival information including what you have and where it is and what you are going to do
  • OP/LP – Observation Post/Listening Post – A hidden battle position placed beyond the outer perimeter of a defensive location usually manned by no less than 2 people with Commo back to the command post with the mission to report any activity in the area. They are never to engage, only report. There should be a clear path of escape back to camp.
  • Out – A radio term used to say that the radio conversation is complete
  • Paracord – Nylon parachute cordage that may or not be of military quality
  • PPE – Personal Protective Equipment – Gloves, eye protection, outer clothing, respirator, mask. Usually used around chemicals, health care settings or contagion
  • QRF – Quick Reaction Force – A reserve force that is ready at all times to deploy in case of threat or attack. A secondary QRF may be secretly positioned in the center of the defensive location and only deployed if truly needed. Note: some attacks are only to probe defenses and draw out reserve forces on purpose while main attack comes from another position on the perimeter. Don’t fall for it.
  • RACES – Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (HAM radio)
  • Rally Point – A Rally Point is a location where everyone will meet up in case of separation. There can be several Rally Points along a patrol or hiking trail and must be unique and recognizable from both front and back while traveling in a hurry. Evac Rally Points can be predetermined on a map for vehicle convoys as well
  • Retreat – A location prepared for survival in case you need to leave home
  • ROE – Rules Of Engagement – Rules that specify when you can return fire or attack depending on varying circumstances.
  • Roger – A radio term used to acknowledge that you understand the last transmission. Also used as “Roger Out” when you understand and are ending the conversation
  • Ruck – Military term for back pack as in Rucksack
  • SHIP – Shelter In Place
  • SHTF – Sh*t hit the fan. Term used to describe when everything goes wrong
  • SITREP – Situational Report – What is happening right now where you are? Used to assist others in understanding your situation and be able to plan accordingly
  • SODIS – Solar Disinfection – A water purification method that uses UV rays from the Sun to kill pathogens in water. Does not work on chemical contamination
  • SOP – Standard Operating Procedures – A set way of performing specific drills and tasks that everyone knows and will usually perform without further instruction. Should be practiced in order to reduce reaction times
  • Stray Cat Syndrome – Happens when you give food to someone and they keep returning for more and may bring more mouths to feed. Never hand out supplies to others at your supply location. Anonymous charity left on the porch of a needy neighbor is safer and can be discontinued if necessary
  • Strip Map – A simple hand drawn map used to locate a place or address where signs are missing or terrain is damaged. Often used by group members as a reference to retrieve stranded members. Map consists of avenues of approach from 4 different directions and indicates all sturdy landmarks with the target location placed in the center of the map
  • SWOT – Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats – A table used to identify these qualities in a way to prepare planning and training
  • TEOTWAWKI – The End Of The World As We Know It
  • Wilco – Will Concur – A radio term used to acknowledge that you understand and will do as requested
  • WROL – Without Rule Of Law – A term used to set the stage for discussing a scenario where the is no effective governing body or law enforcement
  • 2A – Second Amendment of the US Constitution regarding the citizen’s right to bear arms
  • 4A – Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution regarding citizen’s rights against illegal search and seizure
  • 2WD – Two wheel drive vehicle
  • 4WD – Four wheel drive vehicle
  • 3-monther – A survival group member who begins as the nearly perfect candidate but becomes intolerable or inactive. Usually seems to happen at about 3 months for some reason
  • 550 Cord – Official military specification parachute cord. Has a working strength of 550 lbs. and consists of seven interior strands of nylon cord contained in a single sheath. Has a myriad of uses
  • 100 mph tape – Military grade OD green duct tape. Cloth backed and very adhesive. Gorilla brand tape is the closest civilian version

There is your list. You may see other terms along the way but these are the most common and should help you understand what someone is talking about. If you have anything to add let us know and we’ll update the list. Send an email to


Happy prepping!

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