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JW Davis, CEO,

To put it simply; survivalism the process and practice of becoming prepared for unforeseen circumstances. To be a “Survivalist” is a way of life that helps navigate you through all those horrible things you never want to happen (natural disasters, war, pandemic, economy, crime). Find out more about the philosophies of survivalsm here: What is a Survivalist?

How do I become a Survivalist?

This step-by-step guide will get you started on your way to understanding what being a Survivalist is really all about.

1. Educate Yourself

Having a comprehensive library of survival resources is the most crucial step in becoming self sufficient. Most significant disasters will result in loss of some, if not all traditional power and heat resources. Most of us our used to being able to walk over to our computer and Google whatever question we may have at the time. Google will likely not be an option in the event of a major catastrophe, so your survival library might very well your lifeline in a survival situation.

A good book to start with is Making the Best of Basics 11th Edition. If you can only afford to buy one book for your survival library – this should be it! This book has been a staple among Preppers everywhere for years.

2. Get Your Provisions

Having a sufficient food and water supply(among many other things) is a very important element of survival, not only for emergencies, but also to protect against job loss, injury or illness.

Use the Ultimate Food Storage Calculator to determine the proper amounts of food and water storage for your family.

Be sure you have a bare minimum of 3 months worth of long-term food storage on hand for your family.

3. Survival Gear

Beyond just food and water, you also need to make sure you have all the other survival gear on hand you might need in a crisis situation.

4. Share the Love!

Now that you’ve become a Survivalist it’s your responsibility to share your knowledge with your fellow man. Not only will this help the people you choose to share with in their own lives, but it will also have a cumulative effect on the community around you. The more people we have around us that are prepared themselves, the less burden we will have to carry when times get rough. By helping others prepare, we are also helping ourselves in the long run.
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As the survivalism movement continues to gain steam in America today, many are starting to ask what it all really means? A lot of people throw around the term “prepper”, as an alternative to “survivalist” and it’s no surprise. But what exactly is a “prepper” or survivalist? A survivalist isn’t simply someone who’s thinking about the future or wanting to be prepared. Anyone can be prepared but I think true survivalists live a lifestyle of preparedness focused around clearly defined principles and continuous personal improvement.

While everyone may have their own definition of what a “survivalist” is, here’s our's:

A true survivalist:

  Already has or is in the process of obtaining food, water, medicine and other storage items needed to care for themselves and their families in the event of a long term emergency

  Has or is attempting to gain the knowledge needed to protect themselves and their families from physical harm including self defense training, home protection strategies, weapons and tools, etc.

  Attempt to make their lives more sustainable in every feasible way such as installing passive energy systems, organic gardening, reducing dependency on petroleum, etc.

  Is someone who takes responsibility for their life

  Has stewardship over mind, body and soul

  Always seeks to become less reliant on systems or technologies

  Is wise and frugal, always avoiding debt and wasteful spending

  Is always learning and expanding their personal knowledge

  Understands that no one is immune from danger

  Is consciences of their environment, aware and ready

  Cares about their community and strives to make it a better one

  Has and uses common sense

  Walks in light and love and has the wisdom to shut out fear and negative thought patterns.

  Takes the actions necessary to survive and thrive in their environment

  Is adaptable, changing, and if need be – ready to take control of a crisis situation

  Has a strong will and is ready to face obstacles, even in the face of fear

  Is a good Samaritan and does not work against peace and good will

  Believes in and when necessary fights for freedom and basic rights

  Values what they have and works to live providently

  Believes in themselves and they causes they stand for

Survivalism is a mindset, a movement and internal state of being that is centered in spirituality, truth, knowledge, wisdom, and good old fashioned patriotism.

  BOB: Bug-out bag
  BOL: Bug-out location
  BOV: Bug-out vehicle
  Civie: This is US Military slang for civilian.
  CODEX: Newly developed food standards which my adversely affect modern farmers and the seek to control food supply. See also: Codex
  Camo: Slang for Camouflage
  DIY: Acronym for Do It Yourself
  Doomer: The Peak Oil crowd’s term for someone that foresees a chaotic societal collapse when oil supplies get short. .
  EMP: Electromagnetic Pulse.
  EOTW: End of the World (see TEOTWAWKI)
  ETA: Estimated time of arrival
  G.O.O.D.: Get Out of Dodge (as in Dodge City). Escaping from areas with high population density (usually big cities) to rural areas in the event of a disaster.
  FDA: Food and Drug Administration (this is a Federal Government Agency)
  FEMA: Federal Emergency Management Agency(this is a Federal Government Agency) GWOT: Global War on Terror
  G.O.O.D. Kit: Get Out of Dodge Kit. Basically a Bug-Out Bag (BOB) but on a larger scale.
  H5N1: The CDC’s designation for one of the current strains of the Asian Avian Flu Also called Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). See my article on How to Survive a Flu Outbreak
  Prepper: Someone who practices preparedness heavily, also known as “survivalists” (See also: Beginners Guide to Prepping
  Root Cellar: Underground storage area used for food and/or shelter. Common among Preppers.
  SHTF: Shit hits the fan or Schumer hits the fan. This means, when disaster strikes.
  Survival: Essentially means “to be alive” or “to exist”. Can also be used to describe avoidance of death.
  Survivalist: One who practices “survivalism”
  Survivalism: The process and practice of becoming prepared for unforeseen circumstances.
  Survival Gear: Any piece of equipment used to aid in prolonging the life of a human being (particularly in survival situations).
  Survival Dog: A canine who has been trained with specific traits that would be helpful in survival situation.
  Survival Retreat: A property that is stocked with everything you need to survive the EOTW. (See my article on alternative housing ideas)
  TEOTWAWKI The End of the World as We Know It.
  WTSHTF: When the shit hits the fan. Same as SHTF

We are now three to five generations removed from the rural backbone that strengthened America. The world at large has undergone a similar transformation as the promise of easier work has created a migration to big cities. These mega-cities could be seen as an experiment gone awry, as general well-being has declined, with suicide rates increasing across the world. Crowded conditions and economic strife have led to rampant crime, pollution, corporate malfeasance, and a dog-eat-dog type of competition that can be described as a temporary insanity.

The economic crisis we are living through has been the final straw for many people, as promises of a better, easier, and more creative life seem to have been sold to us by carnival-style tricksters who are laughing all the way to (their) bank.

Here are the top reasons for becoming self-sufficient; these are based on fundamental, systemic concerns for why undertaking this life change will not be a fly-by-night fad, but rather a long-lasting means for personal independence.

10 Reasons to Become Self-Sufficient

1.  Freedom from market manipulation – The traditional market-driven investment vehicles are more and more obviously controlled by traders and banking institutions. The debacle of the private Federal Reserve Bank is just the icing on the cake to a previous decade full of Ponzi-type schemes. Now, the institutionalized looting of retirement money is being planned.
2.  Hedging against inflation – Have you noticed the price of goods lately? Even Wal-Mart is silently raising its prices. People might have a choice whether or not to buy stocks or gold, but people have to eat — the current increases in basic goods portend hyperinflation, and will not ease anytime soon. Food shortages could make the problem exponentially worse.
3.  Increasing health and wellness – It has now been revealed that some “organic” items have been falsely labeled. In addition, a host of “GMO-free” brands have been exposed as deceptive. GMO food lacks the nutritional value of what can be grown in the average backyard. GMO mega-corporation, Monsanto, has a sordid history and has continuously trampled on our trust. It is time that we do the work ourselves.
4.  Building community strength – We constantly hear people say, “I don’t even see my neighbors, let alone know anything about them.” Of course not: 80-hour workweeks and grabbing meals-to-go doesn’t exactly promote community interaction. With such little time to interact with our immediate community, it is no wonder why many people report feeling disconnected. In these trying times, it is a local community that can offer the best support.
5.  Working for yourself – Working hours are increasing, pay is often decreasing, and corporate executives are taking bigger bonuses than ever. This is leading to a prevailing disgust, as people are being forced to admit that they are living lives of near-indentured servitude. Even for those not working in corporations, working for someone else is rarely as satisfying as creating and working for something where every minute you spend is yours alone.
6.  Having more free time – We have been taught to believe that life on a farm is arduous sun-up to sun-down drudgery where you collapse at the end of the day. This is not so much the case anymore. Sure, the setup of any farm or self-sufficient endeavor is often time-consuming and laborious, but new technologies and new skills of manufacturing food via permaculture and aquaponics are offering low-cost start up and minimal maintenance, as these techniques serve to create symbiotic systems that are remarkably self-governing.
7. Generating food and energy security – The planet is running out of food and traditional energy. Climate volatility, market forces, GM foods, and rising costs of harvesting and transporting food are all conspiring to create food shortages even in the First World. This trend will not reverse. And our oil-soaked way of life is being threatened by mounting evidence that the oil lifeline could be disconnecting rather soon. We should be looking to the air, sun, geothermal, and wave power to wean us from the energy grid.
8.  Acquiring an appreciation for life – As one gets closer to life-giving forces, there is a natural appreciation for how things come into being. When you have created your garden, toiled there, selected the best for harvest, and have prepared that food for your family and community, the significance of what you have taken part in can be transformative.
9.  Restoring balance – Nearly everything in our society is at a peak, or is drastically out of balance. The systems and governments to which we have looked for balance restoration are missing in action. We must take it upon ourselves to restore our own financial and environmental balance sheet. The best way to do that is to reduce our overconsumption.
10.  Becoming a producer, not a consumer – This is the best way to reduce your cost of living and increase your self-sufficiency. In the U.S. over 70% of the economy is based on people buying things. This is a clear sign of imbalance and, by extension, it is not sustainable. Furthermore, we also have seen corporations race to the bottom to find low-cost production on the backs of desperate people. The exploitation of the Third World to clothe, feed, and entertain the First World is something that most people do not want to think about, but it is abominable. Again, new technologies are making it easier than ever to produce your own food, and even your own clothes.  As the cliche goes: Freedom is never free. But it sure beats the alternative.

The global economic collapse has become an eye-opening experience for many people. The ongoing crisis continues to create more joblessness at a time when the cost of essential items like food and energy continue to rise.

Inflation is only expected to continue due to excessive printing of money to compensate for the bursting economic bubbles, which were arguably created by printing too much money with artificially low interest rates in the first place.

The 2008 price shocks in oil followed by the financial collapse have led many people to begin taking measures to become more self-sufficient. And recently the ominous signs of food shortages, the weakening dollar, and the rising price of oil all point to a similar atmosphere as 2008. Some have taken steps to conserve electricity, reduce spending and consumption, while others are planting kitchen gardens and installing solar panels on their homes. Even living off the grid is becoming a mainstream concept for those seeking independence.

Indeed, becoming more self-sufficient is proving to make common sense whether one anticipates more hardship to come or not. Sure, many of us would love to live completely off the grid without giving up everyday comforts, but this is not practical for most of us. However, there are many steps that can be taken to move towards self-sufficiency which can be relatively painless and quite rewarding.

The following are 10 suggestions that can lead to independent living:

  Reduce your debt: Especially get your credit card debt under control, since it is entirely corrupt. Call your credit card companies and ask for a work out plan similar to what they received from the taxpayer bailout. If they don’t cooperate to your satisfaction, there are some reasons not to pay at all.

  Reduce your consumption: Evaluate your current budget and determine absolute necessity. Push your comfort level to find areas where you can scale back, and then identify comforts that you’re willing to sacrifice.

  Reduce energy use: Change light bulbs, have entertainment systems plugged into a splitter that can be shut off completely to reduce phantom charges, etc. Carefully plan shopping trips and other transportation needs.

  Store energy: Always have back-up propane storage and a large wood pile for a rainy day. Investing in a generator of some kind (even a solar generator) will be money well spent.

  Invest in food storage: With a falling dollar and rising food prices, why not create a food savings account? Get some good books, dehydrators and vacuum sealers for storage methods. Best storable food items are grains (rice, beans, flour), canned goods, seeds, and some prepackaged items.

  Produce your own food: Replace your lawn with a garden, fruit trees, and keep chickens. Go on hunting and gathering adventures for nuts, fish, and wild game. Store extra garden seeds!

  Learn new skills: Surf the Internet, read books, and take courses in practical skills like gardening, cooking with whole foods, composting, carpentry, alternative energy, natural health and wellness etc.

  Start a side business: Turn your passion or hobby into a small side business to make some supplemental income. Who knows, it may become your path to full financial independence.

  Install alternative energy: Start with small installations like a solar hot water system, a solar freezer, a solar attic fan, or a wood stove etc. If you have limited funds, tip-toe your way to independence.

  Suggest solutions for your community: Start or join a local cooperative for food, products, and services. Engage your local community in discussions to take steps for self-sufficiency. Share your story and build support.

These steps will save money as we move closer to the ultimate prize of independence. Each action we take to live more simply frees us from the control systems put in place to make our lives more complicated, more toxic, and less independent.

Trading and bartering were an important part of our ancestors' lives. Bartering involved all kinds of items as currency. Furs, silks, perfumes, spices, and tea were some of the more traditional items of barter; human skulls and poisons are a couple of history's more outlandish trade goods. Bartering also took place during the Great Depression of the 1930s, after credit diminished and bank lending decreased. Should that kind of economic collapse happen again, bartering could become an everyday occurrence again. 

Here are 10 obvious trade goods, and three that you might not typically think of.

10 Important Barter Goods

1. Medical supplies: First aid gear and medical supplies could be vital, especially if care is unavailable or unaffordable.

2. Food: Shelf-stable, ready-to-eat foods would obviously have a lot of value in lean times.

3. Water purification: Tablets, filters, and other disinfection gear could mean the difference between contracting a waterborne illness and staying safe.

4. Ammunition: If things have gotten so bad that you have to barter for goods, you’ll want to be able to defend those goods, too.

5. Batteries: Assorted sizes that could be used in flashlights, radios, and many other devices.

6. Fuel: Gasoline, diesel, propane and other fuels in portable containers will help keep things running.

7. Lighting: Candles, headlamps, and flashlights will be popular items if the power is out, or if electricity becomes too expensive.

8. Hygiene items: Toilet paper, soap, tampons, baby wipes, and other hygiene supplies are always relevant.

9. Alcohol: Alcohol can be drunk, used as a disinfectant, and serve many other roles.

10. How-to books: Books on gardening, foraging, first aid, and security can teach skills to those who didn't study up before it all hit the fan. 

3 Extra Barter Goods

1. Cigarettes and other tobacco products: These will be very important to those who need their nicotine fix.

2. Entertainment: Fiction books and other things that can pass the time would be valuable to the easily bored.

3. Caffeine: Energy shots, tea, and coffee would feed the caffeine lovers in the way that cigarettes work for smokers.

What items would you make sure you had on hand for trade during tough times? 
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AN EMERGENCY SITUATION (Revised and Updated)

At this point, unless your new to preparing for emergencies, most everyone has seen this list, it has circulated all over the internet for years now. We are updating the list based on information from actual events such as the collapse of USSR, Greece financial meltdown and Iraq, along with other events and situations. We have condensed the list down to only 70 items and categorized them to give you a better overview.

Food & Supplies
1. Chickens, Cows (diary and beefers) and all other forms of livestock will be hoarded, stolen, traded and sold for insane prices. After a month or so you will not be able to purchase any. 
2. Deer and wild game will be shot and wiped from existence quickly. 
3. Water (Bottled, Gallon and 5 Gallon) 
4. Water Filters/Purifiers including bleach will be impossible to find after a week or so. People will be selling spring water and public springs will have lines hours long. 
5. Salt – this is a vital nutrient and will be used to preserve meat. Don’t be surprised to see this used as currency, it has been used as such in the past and in a SHTF situation it will be used that way again. 
6. Cast iron cookware - long lasting and can be used over an open fire. 
7. Rice, Beans, Wheat, Flour and Yeast. All these basic ingredients will be purchased in mass and quickly hoarded. Expect these to be purchased faster than canned goods. 
8. Cooking Oils 
9. Charcoal – city folk will hoard this immediately as they will see it as the only way to cook their food. 
10. Everything Gardening (Seeds, books & videos, supplies and tools) 
11. Canned Foods of all types. People will just shove them into their carts without even looking at the labels. These will also be used as currency as in a few months everyone will be tired of consuming canned goods but they have value so they will barter with these. 
12. Canning supplies (Jars/lids/wax) – Most stores carry very little if any canning supplies so one person can easily clean out the entire store’s inventory. 
13. Jerky and other long lasting meats 
14. Teas, Coffee, Gatoraide and Koolaides 
15. Milk – Powdered & Condensed 

Medicine & Health
1. Hygiene supplies: Shampoo, Toothbrush/paste, Tampons, Mouthwash/floss, nail clippers, etc 
2. Vitamins and Supplements – Some foods like bananas will be hard to come by so pills will be the only source of many needed nutrients. 
3. Tylenol, Advil, cough syrup etc … 
4. Wine/Liquors (for bribes, medicinal, etc…) 
5. First aid kits 
6. Gas masks 
7. Medical guides, books and magazines – Knowledge is power 
8. Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Paper Towels 
9. Infant/Toddler Supplies (formula, cloth diapers, wash cloths)

Outdoors Gear
1. Survival Magazines, Books and Guides – Knowledge is power and Americans lack the basic skills needed to grow food and survive 
2. Fishing supplies/tools – Need meat? Everyone will be wiping out the fish in all public rivers, lakes etc … 
3. Bug and Rodent killers, repellents and treatments. 
4. Tarps/stakes/twine/nails/rope/spikes 
5. Lumber (all types) 
6. Wagons & carts (for transport to and from) 
7. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, Wedges (also, honing oil) 
8. Gasoline Containers (Plastic & Metal) 
9. Clothes pins/line/hangers (A MUST) 
10. Body Armor 
11. Insulated ice chests (good for keeping items from freezing in Wintertime.) 
12. Potting mix 
13. Flashlights/LIGHTSTICKS & torches, “No. 76 Dietz” Lanterns 
14. Gloves: Work/warming/gardening, etc… 
15. Work boots, belts, Levis & durable shirts 
16. Cold weather clothing and weather clothing 

Household Goods
1. Candles (Long burning) 
2. Backpacks, Duffel Bags 
3. Large garbage cans – Can be used for trash, storage, water collection, hauling goods etc … and garbage bags (so many uses for them) 
4. Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite) 
5. Knives & Sharpening tools: files, stones, steel 
6. Sleeping Bags, Blankets, Pillows, Mats and Inflatable Mattresses 
7. Animal Control Products (Mousetraps, Bug repellents etc …) 
8. Cleaning materials both personal and for the home 
9. Plastic Wrap and Home Insulation Kits 
10. Glue, nails, nuts, bolts, screws, etc … 
11. Portable Toilets 
12. Weapons – Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats, Tasers & Slingshots. 
13. Washboards, Mop Bucket w/wringer (for Laundry) 
14. Aluminum Foil Reg. & Heavy Duty (Great Cooking and Barter Item) 
15. Writing paper, pads, pencils and solar calculators 
16. Brooms 
17. Air Filtration Units (Room based and portable;Blue Air is the best) 

Misc Goods
1. Bibles – When I was in boot camp no one wanted a Bible when they offered them to us numerous times while in processing. After a week of being in the barracks suddenly everyone was coming up to me asking to borrow mine or read over my shoulder. People like to bash Christians but when the goings get tough, my experiences show that they always turn to God for answer, help and support. 
2. Duct Tape and Electrical Tape 
3. Bicycles…Tires/tubes/pumps/chains, etc most efficient method of transportation. If you think about it, standard bikes will become extremely valuable. 
4. Hand pumps & siphons - Gas, water, etc … 
5. Cigarettes – People will always need stress release and if you haven’t noticed even the poorest people on all types of government assistance always can find money to buy cigarettes. This will continue to ring true in a SHTF situation. 
6. Generators (Solar, Gas, Diesel, Propane, Kerosene) – Buy solar now cause nothing will be available when they are needed. People will kill over generators so be warned. 
7. Seasoned Firewood - Wood takes about 6 – 12 months to become dried, for home uses. There are ways to speed up the process but it will still take time. People will begin cutting down all trees they can access in order to provide warmth and fire for cooking. 
8. Lamps, Candles, Flash Lights, Matches etc … 
9. Batteries (all sizes…buy furthest-out for Expiration Dates) rechargeable batteries are ideal. Don’t forget car batteries. 
10. Big Dogs (and plenty of dog food) - Valuable as looters and robbers will be plentiful. Dogs can see and hear what we can’t. The more vicious the better. 
11. Country Land - Good farming land will be nearly impossible to find as the cities and suburbs empty. You will also need to defend your property from large groups of people demanding that you share and make your land a community garden and all that communist bullshit … 
12. Gold and Silver – This will be the new currency when things begin to settle 
13. Motorcycles – There is a reason they are so popular in 3rd world nations, they are cheap, easy to maintain and gas goes a long way.

And finally something to think about:
When the crap hits the fan, where will you live? Where will your parents live? Where will your adult children live? When the USSR collapsed, 3 generations all moved into the same home, why? Your immediate family is the most trusted people in your life, they would give their lives for you and you for them (hopefully). People living in the USSR during the collapse where a custom to hardship, they were secretly self sufficient as if they didn’t produce their own food they would starve to death. While in comparison the last election shows that most Americans feel they are entitled to everything. Americans are no longer producers, we are a service based economy. If the economy were to collapse, most Americans wouldn’t even know how to grow an ear of corn much less achieving self sufficientness.  

We pay someone for almost everything, thus depriving us of important essential skills that will be needed in a SHTF situation so it is important to hoard knowledge and begin becoming as self sufficient as possible.

Could your family survive being stuck in your car for hours on end?

Go sit in your car and picture it – your whole family in the car and it’s been four hours since you have been able to move the vehicle amidst all the traffic. The weather outside is awful, so no one wants to get out of the car, either.

It happened here in Ohio. It rained and rained and rained and water suddenly rushed across the eight lanes of I-70, trapping people on the highway for six hours.

What about the mom who didn’t pack the extra bottle? 

What about the dad who had the ingredients for dinner? 

What about the teenager who didn’t have any water or food in her car? 

What about the man who’s next round of medication was waiting at home? 

Would I be ready if I had gotten caught in that traffic mess? 

Thinking about this scenario is a good place to start for having an emergency kit in your car. A few hours could easily be made more bearable by just having food, water, something for entertainment, a light source, and supplies for babies and medications. Watching gas levels is a good idea, too. Many people (myself included) try to keep gas tanks at least half filled all the time. You would hate for the traffic jam to free up and then run out of gas while getting out of there.

I used to think about getting stuck in my car a lot with little children when we lived in Alaska. Driving from Anchorage to Wasilla, there is only one highway. Our worst-case scenario was having an earthquake hit during a heavy snowfall. I made sure I had enough food, water and supplies for 2-3 days in case we were stranded on the highway. I also made sure we had blankets and warm clothing so we wouldn’t have to keep the van on the whole time – both to conserve gas and to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Fortunately, the worst thing we saw while we were there was the 2-hour traffic jam due to state fair traffic. We were glad for the almost full gas tank during that trip.

Another important consideration is bathroom facilities, or lack thereof. Keep a roll or two of toilet paper handy, take a look at the Go Girl, and if you have young kids, especially, keeping a small potty chair in the trunk is a great idea, and something most adults could use, in a pinch. Add some hand sanitizer, waste bags, and Clorox wipes for good measure. A box of kitty litter would be helpful to keep down odors and include a travel size bottle of Stain & Odor Remover from Kids’n Pets as well.

By the way, if using a potty chair just strikes you as wrong, check out these other possibilities:
Luggable Loo 
Hassock Portable Toilet 
Or, snap on a portable toilet seat to a 5-gallon bucket 

So, grab a pen and notepad and take 15 minutes to go assess your car – what do you need to have in there if you and your family where stuck for hours? Then, make sure to do something about that as soon as you can!

What do you need to add to your car’s emergency kit?