Cold Weather Survival Tips

The following is a guest post by Chris Ruiz from The Bug Out Bag Guide.

Huddled within the snow-block Quinzee his father had built, snuggled up next to his sister with a campfire burning out front, it was almost possible for Jacob Voss to imagine he was playing in a snow fort, enjoying an outdoor adventure with his family. Almost.

Only hours before, the Voss family had been forced to flee the warmth and comfort of their home and take refuge in the wilderness. Sunlight lasted for only an hour, just enough time to find a place to camp and set up shelter.

As cold as he was, Jacob felt thankful. His family had been prepared and he was confident his father knew how to keep them alive. Others hadn’t been so lucky. He had seen his classmates running from their homes with nothing more than sweatshirts and sneakers. He was safe, his family was safe, and due to his father’s knowledge of outdoor survival, they were comfortable.

Bugging out in cold weather can challenge the survival skills of even the best outdoorsmen and requires significant training and preparation. If you live in an area where bugging out in winter is a possibility, make sure you regularly check you bug-out-bag to ensure you have the proper gear for the elements.

In this article, we will provide you with the survival knowledge you’ll need to keep yourself and your family safe in cold weather including staying warm, building shelter and fire, and performing first aid.

Staying Warm

The key to surviving cold weather is to keep your core temperature warm. This is especially difficult in harsh winter conditions when shorter days (less sunlight), wind chill, lower temperatures, and ice and snow are all working against you to steal your body heat and energy. In order to stay warm, your body is going to need to work harder and consume more calories than normal to keep you going.

Here are our top tips for staying warm in frigid conditions:

 

Layer Up

Unlike his ill-prepared neighbors, Jacob Voss had several layers to help keep him warm. Layering multiple items is preferable to one thick layer as air gets trapped between the layers and is warmed by your body to act as an insulator against the cold.

For an average adult, three to five layers is most desirable, starting with a light wicking layer closest to your skin to keep perspiration off. Your outer layer should be both wind resistant and waterproof to minimize heat exchange and keep water out. The great part about layering is that you can add or remove layers as needed to regulate your body temperature.

If you happen to be bugging out with children, like the Vosses, make sure to dress them in one additional layer than yourself to ensure they stay warm.

 

Stay Active

It may be tempting to bunker down and wait out the cold, but by keeping yourself moving you’ll ensure you keep your heart rate up and provide a good flow of warm blood to your extremities.

Remember to keep a moderate pace and maintain your body temperature by adding or removing layers as needed. By over-exerting yourself, you risk becoming drenched in sweat, which will create moisture that takes heat away from you.

 

Keep Hydrated and Nourished

Hydration and calories are key to keeping your body going in freezing temperatures. To fuel the extra energy you’ll spend keeping yourself warm, make sure to keep your bug-out-bag stocked with high calorie/low weight options such as nuts, granola bars, energy gels, and powerbars. For hydration, Gatorade powder can be mixed with water or melted snow, which will keep you hydrated longer than water alone.

 

Cover Your Head

A covered head is a key source of warmth – in fact, up to 90% of heat loss will be through your head if it isn’t properly covered. Make sure to pack a hat or jacket with a hood – or both – to keep your head covered in the snow. A hat or hood also provides an easy layer to put on or remove to regulate your temperature.

 

Building Shelter and Fire

After addressing your core temperature, building shelter should be next on your cold weather survival priority list. In the case of the Vosses, they built a Quinzee out of snow, but there are other options as well. The video below provides step-by-step instructions on how to construct a Quinzee if that’s the option you’ve chosen.

Another alternative is to create a basic A-Frame or Lean-To shelter using branches and piling snow on top. While it may be cold to the touch, snow is an excellent insulator and makes a great outer layer for a shelter. If your survival pack includes an emergency blanket, poncho, or tarp, these can all be used as a roof for your shelter by laying them on top of your branch frame. Additionally, if you have a spare, you can use one of these items on the floor of your shelter for added insulation. The video below provides practical guidelines for building a winter survival shelter:

Your next consideration should be building a fire. If you plan to have your fire inside your shelter, always ensure you provide for proper ventilation to avoid suffocation.

In cold weather situations, fire is essential for two reasons:

1. Keeping warm – while this may seem obvious, keeping warm has other less tangible benefits such as raising morale and keeping freezing-related medical issues off everyone’s mind.

2. Melting snow – the great thing about snow is that it provides a nearly limitless supply of water; make sure to boil melted snow before drinking to ensure all pathogens are killed.

When gathering kindle for your fire, look for dead branches on the lower parts of trees and stay away from those on the ground or in the snow – the moisture will make them harder to burn.

Performing First Aid

Besides the plethora of injuries that can arise when bugging out (check out my First Aid article for preparing for and treating typical injuries), cold weather offers the added dangers of hypothermia and frostbite.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia occurs when your body’s core temperature drops to the point where your body can no longer self-regulate (typically below 95 degrees Fahrenheit). The onset of hypothermia can come rapidly, especially if someone falls through thin ice into cold water, such as a stream or lake.

The following are symptoms of hypothermia:
● Shivering
● Loss of coordination
● Weak pulse
● Drowsiness
● Slow speech
● Confusion or memory loss

To ensure survival, hypothermia must be treated immediately. If you suspect that you, or someone in your group, have hypothermia, try the following treatments:
● If possible, seek emergency medical attention
● Replace any wet clothes with dry ones or dry items such as blankets or sleeping bags
● Ensure protection from wind or other elements that could cause heat loss
● Seek immediate shelter
● Warm the person up through shelter, a fire, or body heat from another person
● Have the person drink warm liquids as this can help bring their temperature back up

Frostbite

An exposed body part – usually a nose or ear – can become so cold that ice crystals will begin to form in the tissues. This is frostbite. Without immediate treatment, it can lead to the loss of the affected body part.

Symptoms of frostbite include the following:
● Numbness in the affected area
● White patches on your skin, which will turn black with severe frostbite
● Hardening of the affected area

If you suspect that you, or someone in your group, have frostbite, try the following treatments:
● If possible, seek emergency medical attention
● Gradually warm the affected area by moving it closer to shelter, fire, and away from the elements
● Applying warm water to affected area

In the case of frostbite, make sure you AVOID the following:
● Placing anything hot on the affected area – this can cause burns that are not felt as the area is numb
● Walking on frostbitten toes or feet – this can cause additional damage
● Rubbing the affected area to warm it up

Conclusion

Survival in the winter can prove to be one of the most challenging and brutal bug-out situations you can find yourself in. However, armed with knowledge and the proper gear, you will greatly increase your chances of survival.

There is no better test of preparedness than facing the elements head-on. To ensure you and your loved ones are properly equipped, spend a weekend in the wilderness practicing and honing your winter survival skills. Not only will this help test your preparedness in a controlled environment, but also highlight areas you may need additional training or gear for.

If you’re ever faced with bugging out in winter, you want yourself and your loved ones to be safe, comfortable, and perhaps imagining it as a family adventure, like Jacob Voss. Don’t get caught wishing you had been prepared, like his ill-fated neighbors.

About The Author
Chris Ruiz is a lifelong outdoorsman and has been interested in survival tactics and practices for many years. He currently helps people prepare for unforeseen disasters at The Bug Out Bag Guide. For more information on disaster preparedness, emergency planning, survival skills, every day carry, or picking bug out gear, please visit:
http://www.TheBugOutBagGuide.com/

DIY: World’s Smallest Fishing Kit

Ok, there might be one or two homemade kits smaller than this but probably not too many. I have to give credit to my youngest son for turning me on to this project idea. Big thanks, T-Man!

For this project, you’ll need the following:

Two plastic soda bottles, a glue gun, a hacksaw, sandpaper, scissors, marker, and an old gift card or something similar. Here’s we used one of those fake credits cards you get in the mail from time to time.

Start by cutting the threaded tops off of both soda bottles. Cut just behind the plastic ridge, as shown here:

Next, sand down the cut edges as smooth as you can. You might not be able to get them absolutely perfect, but that’s ok.

Now, take one of the bottle tops and place it on the credit card and trace around it.

Cut out that circle, trying to make the cut as clean as you can. While you’re doing this, plug in the glue gun so it heats up.

Run a bead of glue all around the plastic disk, then carefully center one of the bottle tops onto it.

Let the glue set up for a minute, then turn the bottle top upside down, run another bead of glue around the disk, and attach the other bottle top.

Now, you could stop right here. What you have at this point is a nifty little storage container, suitable for things like tinder or meds. You could even omit the plastic disk and have a larger, single interior rather than double-sided.

But, I promised you a fishing kit so here’s what to do next. Cut the plastic ring off of one of the bottle tops. Then, tie on some fishing line and wind it around the bottle top, being careful to not go onto the threads. When I made this one, I stopped at 55′ of line. Crimp a split shot sinker on the loose end of the line and drop it into the bottle top, then screw down the cap.

Toss some hooks and split shot sinkers into the other side.

Again, it might not be the absolute smallest fishing kit in the world but it is pretty damn tiny. Toss one in your pocket and you’ll hardly know it is there. Be sure to use braided fishing line as other types have a “memory” and tend to end up in a coiled mess.

All told, I think it took my son and I maybe 15 minutes to put this together. And, that’s with stopping at each step to take photos. Admittedly, we could have taken the time to use a Dremel tool or something to clean up the cuts and such but that’s just window dressing, really.

Have some fun with this project and let me know how you end up customizing it for yourself!

Prepper Magazine Subscriptions – The Gift That Keeps On Giving

For those scrambling to find relatively inexpensive gifts for the preppers on your holiday list this year, you might consider giving them a subscription to one or another prepper/survival magazines. While they might not have a big wrapped gift to open, they’ll surely appreciate the gift that keeps on giving throughout the year. Here are my favorite publications, any of which would make for awesome holiday gifts this season.

Self Reliance Illustrated
Of all the magazines I get in the mail or pick up at the newsstand, SRI is my favorite. Each issue is chock full of great articles, most of which are DIY in nature or approach. What I really appreciate is that the folks featured in the magazine are real people doing stuff, rather than just fluff pieces featuring the latest and greatest gadgets and doodads. They offer a one year (4 issues) subscription that comes with DVD containing electronic copies of six additional issues, all for $31.00 plus shipping for the DVD.

Countryside and Small Stock Journal
Countryside has been around what seems like forever. It is geared toward the homesteading crowd, though they’ve expanded into the prepping world with the last couple of issues, something that is planned to continue at least for the next year or more. Countryside is a great, very down to earth, publication. They offer a one year (six issues) subscription for $18.00.

Survivor’s Edge
A relative newcomer to the prepper magazine market, Survivor’s Edge’s first two issues were impressive. Very professionally done, packed with great content of interest to both new and experienced survivalists. They offer a one year subscription (4 issues) for $23.97.

New Pioneer
Published by the same folks that do Survivor’s Edge, New Pioneer is focused on homesteading with a scattering of survival information here and there. Like Survivor’s Edge, very well done and the articles are largely written by folks who are out there doing the work every day, rather than just reading about it. They offer a one year subscription (4 issues) for $24.97.

Backwoods Home
Very similar in content to Countryside, with perhaps a touch more info on prepping in some issues. Something I really like about Backwoods Home is the informal tone of most of the articles. Many of the contributors aren’t professional writers but they darn sure know the material about which they’re writing. They offer a one year (6 issue) subscription for $24.95.

Backwoodsman
If you have someone on your list who truly appreciates primitive living, bushcraft, and historical lore, this is the magazine for them. Like some of the others featured in this list, Backwoodsman is largely reader-written. These are regular folks who are out doing what they love, then writing about it. They offer a one year (6 issue) subscription for $24.00.

Give the gift that keeps on giving, all year long!

Free Prepper Info!

Don’t say I never gave you anything. In the next several weeks, you’ll probably be spending a considerable amount of money on holiday gifts. Well, here’s one gift I have for you and it won’t cost you a dime outside of ink for your printer.

I asked several of my fellow prepper/survival bloggers for links to where my readers could find free downloadable checklists, forms, and other info. What I suggest to you is you warm up the printer, make sure you have plenty of ink, then spend a couple of hours going through these links, printing out hard copies of the stuff you find most useful for you and your family.

Might want to grab a cup of coffee, too, as you may be at this for a while….

The Busy B Homemaker — First Aid Kit Checklist: You’ll find the PDF linked toward the bottom of the article. Take the time to read the info there, too, as there’s some great advice found in this blog post.

The Home Ready Home — Grab-n-Go Binder: Another great article, well worth the read. You’ll find the PDF toward the bottom.

Your Own Home Store — Important Documents: As you go through this article, you’ll find a ton of different printable documents and forms, all centered upon collating your important information in one easy to access binder or folder.

Food Storage & Survival — Shelf Life Chart: This is a great resource for anyone concerned about how long their peanut butter, canned goods, and other stored foods will last.

Food Storage & Survival — Car Emergency Kit Checklist: Kit content lists are a dime a dozen online but this is one of the better ones.

The Survival Mom — Giant List of Checklists: Ok, that’s not what she calls it but the name fits. Here, you’ll find tons of printable checklists and forms, covering a wide range of topics. Very, very comprehensive.

SurviveHive — Checklist Generator: Rather different than the others on this list, here you can customize checklists to suit your individual needs. There are six different basic checklists (72 hour kit, first aid, food & water, vehicle gear, spices, health & hygiene). You decide from the master list in each category what items you want to put on your list, then print them out. Pretty cool!

Ed That Matters — Education After The Collapse: Free e-book on educating your children when public schools aren’t an option.

The Bug Out Bag Guide — Making a Customized Bug Out Plan: Very comprehensive approach to planning for bugging out.

Melissa K. Norris — Ultimate Food Preservation Guide: This great guide covers just about every method of food preservation out there, from home canning to root cellars and everything in between.

Prepared in Every Way — 100 Things Survivors Must Do: A handy guide to planning for death, including collecting important contact info, documents that should be drawn up, and making arrangements ahead of time.

Common Sense Home — Seed Starting Calendar: A very common dilemma among new gardeners is trying to figure out exactly when they should start planting certain seeds. This calendar takes all the guesswork out of the equation.

My Food Storage Cookbook — First Aid Kit Checklists: A great collection of six different first aid kit checklists, covering everything from medications to bandages.

2014 Holiday Shopping List for Preppers

Well, we’re rapidly reaching that time of year again. While the stores have been decorating for the holidays since Halloween, it isn’t until Thanksgiving that many of us start making out our gift lists. Naturally, every prepper blogger worth their salt is going to have a post like this sometime between now and Christmas. What follows are my suggestions for possible gifts for the preppers in your lives, or perhaps you’ll find a thing or two you might want to add to your own wish list.

Personally, books are always high on my own wish list. A few I’d recommend this year include:

The Survival Group Handbook by Charley Hogwood: This is the first book I’ve seen that addresses group dynamics, networking, and setting up any sort of survival community. Expertly written by someone who knows his stuff.

Practical Self Reliance by John D. McCann: John truly lives the self reliant life and it shows throughout this great book. It is packed with solid information, based on hard won experience rather than theory. If you are truly striving to become more independent, this book should be your guide.

Alien Invasion: Owners’ Resistance Manual by Sean T Page: If you have a sci-fi lover on your gift list, this is THE book for them. I’ve been a fan of Sean’s books for a while now. While they are quite funny, written with tongue firmly planted in cheek, there’s actually a fair amount of solid information scattered within. This book, like his previous Zombie Survival Manual, is written as a guide for those who think we might come to be at war with beings from beyond. Profusely illustrated and just tons of fun!

The Rule of Three by Eric Walters: The first in a planned trilogy, The Rule of Three is one of my favorite fiction reads this year. You can read my full review here.

Of course, I’d also have to point you in the direction of books I’ve written as well. If I didn’t, then my publishers would take to task for not doing so. You can find my books on Amazon as well as pretty much any other decent bookstore.

Every prepper needs a good quality knife, if not more than one, right? If you have someone on your list who has been exceptionally good this year, consider picking up for them a GNS Knife by LT Wright Knives. Honestly, I’ve owned a ton of blades over the years and the GNS remains my absolute favorite. A close second would be the Condor Bushlore. Very similar in size and shape, the Bushlore’s blade is a bit thinner and the steel just a tad inferior to the GNS. But, it is also less than half the price, so there’s that.

Flashlights are always a hit. The Coast HP550 is just crazy bright and is about the same size as the average Maglite. Seriously, you could land aircraft with this light!

One of the coolest things I reviewed this year is the Grid-It organizer. It is awesome for keeping all those little odds and ends in your pack from being scattered all over the place. It would also be perfect for the gadget hounds on your list as it works great at keeping chargers and other accessories organized and easily accessible.

Now, should you have that one person who seems impossible to buy for, and the budget allows for the purchase, the Echo-Sigma Get Home Bag is what I would consider to be one of the premier commercial survival kits on the market today. Very well built and packed with all sorts of high quality gear. Pricey, but worth it, in my opinion.

For those who do a fair amount of camping, the CanCooker line of products are awesome. Of course, they’d also be handy to have around the house for off-grid cooking should that be necessary. They basically pressure cookers, which allow you to cook large amounts of food fairly quickly and with far less fuel than you might otherwise need.

Lastly, coming soon will be the first three DVDs in the Make Ready to Survive series by Panteao Productions. I believe they’ll be available on Amazon at some point, though I’m not sure exactly when. You can buy them direct from Panteao, though, and even pre-order them if you’d like. The plan is to have the first three DVDs on the shelves in early December.

Is Prepping a Legal Obligation?

A colleague of mine is an attorney. No, he’s not a shuckster from the firm Dewey, Screwem, & Howe. He’s actually a pretty sharp guy with a great heart and a ton of experience with prepping and such. He’s been at it damn near as long as I have.

Given his background and education, he comes to the table with perhaps a bit of a different take on prepping than the average person. I thought I’d share with you his perspective and see what you think.

What it boils down to is this — parents have a legal obligation to protect and care for their children, right? I mean, on top of the emotional desire to keep our kids safe, we as parents are required by the law to feed and clothe them. Failure to do those things leads to visits from child services, at the minimum.

With that in mind, would those obligations extend to prepping?

Rest assured, I’m not at all suggesting any sort of legislation be written to codify such an obligation. The last thing we need in this country is more laws on the books. However, this sense of a sort of legal requirement to provide for your children, whether we’re talking normal day-to-day stuff or in a crisis, could be rather useful as a talking point.

Many preppers complain that they have people in their lives who just plain don’t get it. While in my experience the numbers of people who remain completely uninterested in prepping seem to be declining (your mileage may vary, as they say), there are folks out there who still believe in their heart of hearts that someone will always step in to save the day, typically someone wearing some sort of uniform.

Rather than argue until you’re blue in the face about how even a minimal amount of stored food and water could make a huge difference in an emergency, take a different approach. If you talk about the obligations we have as parents to provide for our children’s safety and well being to the best of our abilities, perhaps that might be just enough to help them see the light, so to speak.

Be Prepared: Civil Unrest

More and more often, we’re hearing in the news about protests turning ugly in many cities. Most recently, at the time of this writing, has been discussion of what’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri, where at this moment people are anxiously waiting to hear the results of a grand jury hearing. Many pundits and such are predicting that, if the officer who shot Michael Brown is not charged, we could be looking at riots similar to or exceeding what was seen in Los Angeles after the Rodney King situation.

Obviously, looting, rioting, and such are predominantly urban issues. You just don’t hear much about such activities happening in Small Town, USA. However, many of us who live out in the sticks, so to speak, still travel to the cities for work, shopping, and other activities. So, while this is primarily an urban problem, it can affect any of us at any time.

Situational awareness is key. If you are out and about and things start to look dicey, get out of the area as quickly and safely as possible. Alert signals would include protesters lining up, large groups forming, or just a general sense of unease creeping down your spine. Listen to your gut.

If you find yourself on foot and caught up in some sort of demonstration, link hands with those with you (carry smaller children if at all possible) and begin moving perpendicular to the mob’s direction of travel. Don’t try to fight your way back through the crowd, just move sideways across the group as best you can. Keep moving until you reach an area that is relatively free of protestors and then beat feet to a safer location.

If you reside in an urban area and find protestors or similar groups acting out in your area, lock your doors and stay inside. While your first instinct is to want to gear up and storm outside, hollering at those kids to get off your damn lawn, that’s not likely to be your safest option. Far better to document any vandalism and such with pics or video and then file an insurance claim than have to spend time in a hospital bed.

However, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t do anything if you genuinely believe your life or the lives of your family are in danger. If that’s the case, then do what you feel you must to protect you and yours.

Civil unrest comes in many forms, from looting and vandalism to marching protestors gumming up the works. It can be very frightening to find yourself caught up in it. Even more scary is mob mentality taking over. Keep calm, stay rational, and avoid just going along with the crowd.

The Charity Bucket

In the event of a major disaster, it stands to reason there will be many who were unprepared for it. A fair number of those folks, assuming they’ve survived the initial crisis, will be forced from their homes due to damage, looting, or other reasons. They’ll be on foot, tired, hungry, and scared.

There’s a prevailing school of thought in the “survival” world that says anyone who shows up at your door looking for help should be turned away, with force if necessary. A subset of that line of thinking says they should just be shot on sight. For many preppers, though, the idea of just shooting someone outright for daring to ask for help just isn’t workable. I would guess that the majority of preppers would rest easier at night knowing they were able to lend at least some small degree of assistance to a needy family, especially one with young children in tow.

That’s where the charity bucket comes in. The idea here is to assemble a small collection of supplies that you can position in a hidden spot nearby. If someone shows up looking for help and you feel compelled to do something other than bury them in the backyard, you can direct them to the charity bucket.

What should be in the charity bucket? Well, that’s up to you. It at least partially depends upon what you have available to spare as well as how much you are willing to give away. It should go without saying that by parting with these supplies, you are reducing your own stores. Here are a few suggestions, though, of what you might consider tossing into the bucket.

Food and Water
1-2 cans of soup or stew
1-2 granola bars
2-3 bottles of water

Shelter
Emergency blanket
Knit hat
50′ paracord
1 pair socks

Fire
Small bag of strike anywhere matches
Small bag of dryer lint or other tinder

Tools
Inexpensive folding knife
P-38 can opener
Small soup pot
Spoon or other eating utensils

Hygiene
Small bag baby wipes
Toothbrush
Travel size toothpaste
Small bar of soap
Hand towel

Also, if you know of any community shelters, whether set up by local government or churches, include a list of them as well as directions on where to find them.

Many of these items, such as the soup pot, utensils, and clothing, can be had dirt cheap at thrift stores and rummage sales. The food items shouldn’t cost you more than a few dollars if you shop around.

The container for these items need not necessarily be a bucket. Originally, the idea was to use a five gallon pail, such as those you’ll find at delis and bakeries. However, given the popularity of those handy devils, you might find it difficult to obtain them. Seems like someone always gets there before us, right? The bucket would be ideal simply because it would help prevent animals and bugs from getting into the goodies.

Alternate containers, should buckets be unavailable, would include thrift store backpacks or canvas shopping bags. But, bear in mind, those sorts of things will not protect the contents from the weather or animals so you’ll need to be creative in where you position them for pickup.

How to Properly Buy, Sell, and Trade Items on Facebook

In the last year or so, the number of Buy/Sell/Trade groups on Facebook as just exploded. As I’m always on the hunt for a bargain, I’ve joined a few of them, both ones that are local “rummage sale” types as well as those focused on prepping and related topics. For those interested in bushcraft, I’d recommend this one. This one is great for general prepping gear.

During my time spent in these and other groups, I’ve come up with a few hints and tips for those who are selling, buying, or trading. Nothing earth shattering, just a few helpful guidelines that will serve to make your transactions go much smoother.

Sellers

1) We need ALL of the relevant information in the original post. Always include the brand name (if applicable) and the condition of the item. Clothing should include the size. Vehicles should include year, make, model, and mileage. Including all of this information at the beginning will help reduce the number of questions you’ll be asked. You should also mention the forms of payment you’re willing to accept (Paypal, mailed check/money order, etc.).

2) Be sure to also include the asking price. I can’t tell you how many posts I’ve seen where this vital piece of information was missing.

3) Do your homework on the item you’re selling. Get a good sense of the actual worth of the item. If it retails on Amazon for $20 and you’re asking $40, you probably aren’t going to get a lot of interest.

4) Most potential buyers are going to send you a private message on Facebook. If they aren’t already a “friend” of yours, their message is likely going to land in your Other folder. You access this by going to the Facebook site and clicking on the Message icon in the upper right corner of the screen. Then, click the Other tab in the little window that pops up.

Buyers

1) Read the post carefully before you ask questions. Make sure the information you seek isn’t listed before asking the question.

2) Be fair with any offer to purchase, if you’re looking to spend less than the asking price. If they post a price of $30, don’t offer them $7 and then get snippy when they turn you down.

3) It is considered good form to post in the Comments “PM sent” after sending off a message to the seller. This alerts them to look for your message.

4) If you disagree with the asking price, either counteroffer or just keep your trap shut. Nothing is more irritating to all involved than a lengthy debate about the price. If you feel the price is too high, don’t buy the item, simple as that.

5) While many sellers work on the “first come, first served” principle, it isn’t required of them to do so. In other words, if your offer to purchase arrives first, but is soon followed by another offer, that one from a guy the seller has successfully done business with before, you might be nudged out of the line.

Traders

1) Whether you’re offering something or wanting an item that’s been posted, do your homework and know the relative value of the knife or whatever. Doing so will avoid many headaches and arguments.

2) When offering something for trade, it is very helpful if you can give some ideas of what you’re hoping to get in return. Unless, of course, you love getting a couple dozen messages with people offering you all sorts of oddities. Admittedly, that can be interesting.

Once the deal is struck, communication is key. Get your payment or item in the mail promptly and let the person know when that happens. Providing a tracking number is considered customary. Upon receipt of your purchase or trade, examine it carefully and make sure it measures up to your expectations. If it doesn’t, contact the person right away and explain your concerns. Try to work things out privately before you create drama on the group. Could have been an honest mistake, it happens.

Becoming active in some of these buy/sell/trade groups can be a great way to obtain gear at prices lower than you’ll find on Amazon and elsewhere. But, as with anything else, buyer beware. Know going in that you’re likely not going to be making a ton of money as a seller and that you aren’t going to find a great deal every single day as a buyer.

I Feel A Storm Brewing…

If you’ve spent any time at all reading articles on this site or perhaps leafing through one or more of my books, you know I’m about as far from being an alarmist as you can get in the prepping world. Hell, even throughout this whole ebola craze, when lots of prepper bloggers are predicting mass quarantines and such, I’m over here shrugging my shoulders and saying, “Meh.”

That said, for a while now I’ve been feeling a storm brewing in this country. A growing number of people are getting more and more angry, more and more upset, more and more desperate. The disparity between the “Haves” and “Have Nots” is becoming larger and larger, with no signs of slowing.

It used to be we had the poor, the middle class, and the upper class. In recent years, that middle class has all but disappeared, replaced with just varying degrees of insolvency. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, y’know?

Those who manage to have jobs find themselves working harder and harder, putting in longer hours, and yet their paychecks don’t last nearly as long as they did in years past. Here’s just one example. I graduated high school in 1990. That summer, I was hired on as temporary help in a local factory. Starting wage was $15.00 an hour, with increases every 30 days through the probationary period. After 3 months, full benefits including health and dental. Vacation time after a year.

A couple dozen years later, you’d be hard pressed to find a job paying even $10.00 an hour as a starting wage. And health benefits? Yeah, right, good luck with that.

The few available jobs out there pay a pittance and you’d have to work at least two of them in order to earn something approaching even a modest income. Yet, at the same time, the fat cats are lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills, guffawing at the profits they’re making by sending more and more jobs overseas, to places where there aren’t pesky laws dictating how many breaks they have to give workers during their shifts.

I’m telling you — people are frustrated at how things are going in this country. I don’t “do” politics on this site and that’s not even really what I’m talking about here. This isn’t the result of any particular person being President or even politicians in general. Overall, it is greed on the part of the “Haves.”

Mark my words. I truly believe a reckoning is coming. You can’t keep a significant portion of the population trapped underfoot forever. If things don’t change, if the economy doesn’t improve, and SOON, I think we’re headed for another civil war. This time, rather than the North versus the South, it is going to be a class war.

While the wealthy can afford the nicer toys, the poor will have anger burning in their hearts. They’ll also have a much greater number of people at their sides.

Make no mistake, I’m not hoping such an event takes place. Far from it, actually. But, every day, I feel we’re drawing ever closer to it happening.

Tell you something else. If it does happen, it is going to be absolutely, horribly brutal. The Civil War (1861-1865) killed over 600,000 Americans. I shudder to think what the body count would be if my prediction were to come true.