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.

Be Prepared: House Fire

I love fires, properly contained and controlled, of course. I can spend hours watching flames dance and listening to wood crackle. But, if the flames are shooting out from your windows and the wood crackling is the studs in your walls, that’s not a wonderful thing. Taking just a few precautions can greatly limit your exposure to this risk.

First, you should have multiple smoke detectors in your home. I recommend a bare minimum of one on each level of the house, including the basement and attic. So, if you life in a two-story home, that could mean at least four detectors. Listen, smoke detectors aren’t expensive. Good ones, like this First Alert one, goes for less than eight bucks on Amazon. If you can afford the expense, place one near the bedrooms, one in or near the kitchen, and one near the furnace, again, though, ensuring you have at least one on every level of the house.

The common plan is to test the smoke detectors twice a year, often coinciding with the time change to and from Daylight Savings. Consider going a step further and testing them once per month. Really, this should only take a grand total of maybe ten minutes. You could even get the kids involved with this, provided they are able to safely climb a step stool to reach the smoke detectors. On top of testing them regularly, I also suggest you swap out the batteries once a year, whether they test good or not. Better to be safe than sorry, right? Use the old ones as part of your fire kits in your BOBs. Coupled with some steel wool, they make for a fun way to get a fire going.

Carbon monoxide detectors should also be present in the home. As with smoke detectors, there exists a wide range of products. They have generally come down pretty far in price compared to what they were when they first came out. I think we spent around $60 for our first one, back in 1995 or so. Whichever model you get, avoid locating it high up in vaulted ceilings and such. It might take a while for the CO gas to get to the detector if the alarm is too high up. Just place it a few inches down from normal ceiling height. I like to keep mine near our gas furnace, as that is the most likely place we’d see a gas leak.

Fire extinguishers are also important to have on hand. Keep one in the kitchen, but away from the stove. Think about it — where are you most likely to see a kitchen fire? Near the stove or microwave oven, right? Does it make sense to keep your fire extinguisher right next to where the fire is likely to be? Keep it nearby, say in a lower kitchen cabinet, but not next to the stove. Look for an extinguisher that is rated for A, B, and C types of fires.

A = Normal combustible materials, such as wood and paper.
B = Flammable liquid, such as gasoline, propane, and oil.
C = Electrical fire.

When using a fire extinguisher, remember the acronym PASS:

P = Pull the pin.
A = Aim at the base of the fire (not the flames themselves).
S = Squeeze the trigger.
S = Sweep the nozzle from left to right, again at the base of the fire.

So, what’s the plan if a smoke alarm goes off? This is something every family member should know. Get out of the house as quickly as possible and meet at a chosen spot, such as under the oak tree next door. If you’re in a closed room, feel the door. If it is hot to the touch, there are flames on the other side and that route is a no go. Bedrooms on upper levels should be equipped with safety ladders that can be quickly implemented for evacuation, should normal routes not be safe.

If smoke is present, get down as low as you can and cover your mouth and nose with a shirt or other fabric. Crawl until you reach a door or window through which you can escape.

Evacuation drills should happen regularly, so every person in the home knows exactly what to do and where to go.

What can you do to limit your fire risks?

Have your chimney cleaned at the beginning of every season. Creosote build up leads to bad things.

Any candles or oil lamps should be closely monitored when in use. Be careful around them and ensure all younger family members know how to behave when they are in a room with these little open flames.

Don’t leave food cooking unattended for long periods of time. If there is food on the stove or in the oven, you should be in the area checking on it. This will help you from ruining dinner, whether because it gets burnt to a crisp or because a battalion of fire fighters showed up.

Use common sense. Patio grills, whether propane or charcoal, are not be to used indoors, not even in a garage. If you’re not willing to stand in the rain or snow, then broil the steaks in the oven.

Practice fire safety year round. Invest in smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and a couple of fire extinguishers, just in case.

Is Your OPSEC Too Tight?

Regular readers here and of my books know I sometimes buck the trends of commonly accepted prepper/survival practices. Case in point, my long-standing opinion on bugging out being the LAST option rather than a primary plan. Today, we’re going to talk a bit about another favorite of survival lore — OPSEC.

For the handful of you who somehow stumbled your way here and have no clue what I mean by OPSEC, it is one of those quasi-military terms many survivalists love dearly and toss around like M&Ms on Halloween. It stands for OPerational (or OPerations) SECurity. Basically, the whole “loose lips sink ships” line of thinking.

Before we go any further with this discussion, let me make something clear. I fully recognize and support the idea that you should play your prepping cards close to the vest. You may be justifiably proud of your umpteen cases of home canned veggies and soups but you really shouldn’t be giving guided tours of your pantry to random strangers.

That said, I think that OPSEC can hurt as much as it can help, at least when you look at the big picture.

Think about it like this — every person around you who preps is likely one less person who might show up on your doorstep looking for a handout, right? If your neighbors only think of preppers as being the weird whack jobs as they are portrayed on TV, they might never take the initiative to think beyond tomorrow. Yes, I know, that’s on them and shouldn’t be your responsibility. I get that, really. But, there is safety in numbers and the more people in your immediate area who see the logic and, dare I say, the common sense in preparing for possible disasters, the better off everyone will be, should something happen.

Many, MANY preppers have complained to me over the years that they just can’t seem to find like-minded people in their own area. A big part of the reason for that is that OPSEC has been so ingrained into the prepping mindset, folks are afraid to even let out a hint that they are getting prepared for come what may.

Part of the thinking behind OPSEC is that you don’t want neighbors knowing what you have on hand. Hunger can do funny things to interpersonal relationships, y’know? The folks next door, with whom you’ve enjoyed many a backyard cookout, suddenly become THE ENEMY if you have food and they don’t. So, you don’t want to give them the idea that you have been stocking up, in case something happens and they come a-knockin’, politely at first then perhaps not so nicely. The solution, so goes common thought, is to avoid any and all possible situations where someone could possibly come to the conclusion you have more than perhaps a day or two worth of food in your home at any given time.

Here’s the thing, though. Odds are pretty damn good that they already know you’re taking steps in becoming more self-sufficient. Unless you are really, REALLY good at covering your tracks (hint: if you’re surfing the web for prepper info, you likely aren’t to that level of sneakiness), they already know.

Rather than avoid any and all discussions on the topic, you may be better off broaching the subject with your friends, family, and neighbors. Don’t jump up on your soapbox and go on and on about how the world is going to end soon. Instead, one easy way to introduce the subject is to talk about pop culture. There are a ton of books, movies, and TV shows that at least touch on prepping if not embrace it fully. The Walking Dead is one that comes to mind. Millions of rabid (no pun intended) fans all across the country. What if, instead of a zombie outbreak, it was a flu pandemic? Or, buy them a paperback copy of One Second After and ask them to read it. Talk about ways you can help one another, both now and later.

Encourage them to set aside enough food to last through a moderate event, say at least a couple of weeks. No need to bring them into your basement so they can marvel at the pallets of Mountain House and cases of bottled water you have squirreled away. Give them advice when appropriate.

Will every person you talk to embrace the prepping mindset? No, of course not. However, let me share this with you. I talk to a LOT of people, from all walks of life and all socioeconomic strata. In easily the last couple of years, possibly longer, I have yet to talk about prepping to anyone who blew me off completely or ridiculed the whole idea. Not…one…person. Many of the people with whom I’ve spoken have responded quite positively, saying they’ve already started setting aside a bit of food and bottled water or that they’ve started researching ways they can become more self-sufficient.

The takeaway here is this — don’t let your fear of the unknown override your common sense. You have the ability to form working relationships with those around you. Take advantage of that, rather than just writing off the folks who could be valued members of your community later.

Disguises for Use in Disasters – Good Idea or No?

I don’t spend a lot of time perusing survival/prepper forums anymore. Entirely too many keyboard warriors who are apparently still living in Mommy’s basement and not nearly enough functional adults who live out here in Big People Land.

Today’s topic is one that I’ve seen posted about ad nauseum on many forums. The general idea is that some folks have purchased or cobbled together, well, costumes, that they plan to use as a way to get around roadblocks and other obstacles should a widespread disaster hit. The most common costumes or disguises are of law enforcement officers, FEMA workers, or even National Guard soldiers. These people figure that if they’re dressed in such a way, a little bluffing will get them through a checkpoint or whatever and they can continue on their way with little delay.

Um, yeah. Folks, this is a really, REALLY bad idea.

I know a lot of law enforcement types. Most of my closest friends wear badges or they did until they retired. They are pretty good at spotting fake cops. Further, they don’t tend to look favorably on those who take this route to fame and fortune. While minor misdemeanor offenses like littering or jaywalking are probably going to be ignored in the wake of the crisis, someone showing up wearing a tin badge and pretending to be a cop from a neighboring area is likely going to see some rather intense scrutiny.

Hell, it could even go the other way. Let’s say you pull off an Oscar-quality performance and they buy it. You just might find yourself being asked to pitch in with the relief efforts. Declining that request could subject you to closer examination, bringing you back around to square one.

Many of my readers are military veterans. Show of hands – how many of you don’t mind in the least when you learn of someone lying about a service record? I know one guy who tried doing that online, telling folks he had been a member of some Secret Squirrel outfit that was an offshoot of the Army Rangers. Perhaps not surprisingly, when a few REAL Rangers found out about this, they checked him out and found out he was a fraud. Squirrel dude has been pretty quiet ever since. I’m guessing he’s still learning how to type with his toes.

On top of the risk of being found out by the people wearing the real uniforms, you know, the ones they actually earned the right to wear, this course of action flies in the face of the Grey Man concept we try to stress. Rather than blending in, all you’re doing is calling attention to yourself. Think about this for a second — in the event of a major crisis, do you really want to have anyone think you are even remotely “in charge” of the emergency response? To many laypersons, anyone in a uniform is going to be seen as someone with information about the situation, someone with answers, and they’ll want to talk to them.

A far better plan is to do everything you can to avoid potential roadblocks and such. Donning a Halloween costume in hopes of pulling the wool over the eyes of those manning those obstacles is just inviting more trouble.