Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Quick Pick: Garbage Bags

     That's your Quick Pick, garbage bags?!  This guy off his rocker?  I am not, or at least the people around me tell me I'm not... Any who, garbage bags, or I should say, the right kind of garbage bags are extremely useful to keep in your apartment, and in your B.O.B.   In fact, they are so important, that I have this post labeled as a "Bare Minimum" and "Quick Pick".  They have a ton of applications, too many to mention here, and are cheap, easy to find, and compact. 

     There are many garbage bags on the market, though these are not the bags I mean.  The ones I'm suggesting are called Contractor Bags and are not typically meant for everyday use.  They have different capacity options (anywhere from 30-55 gallons), and are made of different thickness (1.0 mil up to 3 mil).  I personally suggest the bigger, thicker versions of these; the 55 gallon, 3 mil versions.  I can't link the exact ones I use on Amazon here, but you can most likely find them at the local hardware store.  A few survival themed uses for these awesome bags would be;
  • Use as a Tarp for a make shift shelter.
  • You can use it as a poncho if caught in the rain.
  • It's a strong, light bag to carry things, like clothes in.
  • You can use them as a rain catch.
  • Very useful as a lining when you fill something like a dirty bucket or bathtub with water. *This is a very important survival strategy.  If you know a disaster is about to happen (e.g.hurricane), you can fill your bathtub, sinks, and anything else large enough with water in case you lose utilities.  These things tend to be unsanitary, so by putting a clean bag liner in them before filling with water, you can make sure the water does not get contaminated.  If the utilities don't come back in a few days, I suggest filtering, or chemically cleaning the water before you drink it.*
     Here is a link to some bags they sell, on Amazon.  They are not the largest, but they are thick.  Like I mentioned, I bought mine at the local hardware store in a box, I'm sure you can do the same.  While there, pick up some WD-40.  Stuff is priceless.


Bare Minimum: Radio

     I'm starting a series of posts called "Bare Minimum".  It's being created because of friends who often ask me to suggest a few basic survival prep items they should keep in their apartments.  These posts are also for those of you that are just starting out in survival prep and want some advise for the bare minimum stuff I suggest you keep in the apartment for "little disasters".  Events that I consider "little disasters" are things that last anywhere from a few days to a week.  A few examples would be loss of electricity, big snow storm, or a bad rainstorm.  If there is anything you get out of this blog, I prefer it be these items and ideas from the "Bare Minimum" posts.  These are the "no-brainer" most important, must have things in my opinion.  All of the items in this series are easy to acquire, cheap, and most will not take up much space at all.  No more excuses, as I'm doing the research for you!  The littlest bit of prep can go a long way in keeping you, and those you love, safe.   

     The first post in this series is about an item that I feel is an absolute necessity to keep in your apartment; the radio.  A radio can take up virtually no room, and will help in most disasters from minor (power loss) to major (hurricane).  Having a portable AM/FM radio can keep you "in the know", telling you what is happening and if you need to bug-out (A term used for when you have to leave your residence in a hurry.  Also referred to as G.O.O.D. or Get Out Of Dodge).  I suggest a radio with a sustainable power source such as hand-crank or solar power, and will go over the two I own and recommend. 

     *Survivalist Alert* (My disclaimer for thoughts and ideas that go beyond most people's vision of survival.  Intended for "hard-core" survivalists.)  EMP (Wiki; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_pulse ) attacks and CME's are two known problems if relying on any electronic devise for your safety.  A large enough EMP pulse could force all electronic devices near it to receive a damaging power surge rendering them useless.  A massive CME could leave whole countries, or even the world, without power for years.  If educated on EMP, and CME damage you would probably piece together what happened when all of your electronics stopped working, and hopefully could figure out your next coarse of action.  If something like either of these disasters was to occur, humans would be put back into the dark ages in an instant.  Let's hope that is never the case.

      The Kikkerland radio I suggest below is a perfect hand-held radio.  It has a hand-crank and is also solar powered.  Hand-cranks need to be cranked every few months or the battery in them dies, so what makes this little gem ideal is that you can leave it on a window sill and it will be constantly charged by the sun.  This radio is also small and compact, making it perfect for carry and is a great size to put in your Bug-out bag if you decide to make one.  It receives AM/FM signals as well as weather band, and can find a signal without problems even in a Manhattan apartment.   

     The next radio I suggest is a bit bigger and has a hand-crank system for charging.  It has the added benefit of being able to charge some cell phones (does not charge iPhones, but there are alternatives that I will get into at a later date) as well as having an LED flashlight built into it.

     Radios are cheap, easy to store pieces of equipment that no apartment should be without.  Make sure to check that it is in working condition every year or so by testing it.  If you want more privacy, keep a pair or headphones secured around the radio with something like a Ranger Band so you can listen to it without interrupting those around you, or if you would like to keep your location covert.  Remember that in the event of a disaster, all TV and radio stations transmit The Emergency Broadcast System.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Quick Pick: Recon Wrap

     Today's Quick Pick is an item called a "Recon Wrap".  Similar in design to a neck gaiter, these are lightweight, multi-climate, multi-mode pieces of fabric that are used by the military and hunters.  Typically worn on the head, it is comparable to a bandana with a bit more function and use.  They are made of a lightweight, stretching fabric that is durable and doesn't shrink when washed.  Perfect for all seasons, I use one in the summer as they are perfect for keeping the sun off my head, and help with wicking sweat.  During the colder months in the city, I use them in the hat, or beanie, configuration to keep my head and ears warm or as a neck gaiter to keep my neck warm. 

     If you buy them in neutral colors, you will find that they look no different from what most people on the streets wear these days, and you will "blend in" perfectly.  Remember, the N.Y.C. Survivalist wants to blend into the crowd, and never draw attention.  We don't walk the streets of Manhattan in full battle fatigues, all camo'd up.  Attention is unwanted in the city, and in most situations in life for that matter.  Items like this are perfect as multi-functional pieces of gear that you can have on you at all times, without "announcing" to the world that your a survivalist.

     Here is the official site for the Recon Wraps, it explains the multiple configurations they can be used in.

     Here is a version that can be a little more fashionable for the ladies.  It still has just as many functions, and is great to have on hand.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Quick Pick: Ranger Bands

     This post is the first in a new series of posts I'm calling "Quick Pick".  It is a mix of a quick gear review, and link.  

     Today I'm going to introduce you to something called a "Ranger Band".  They are thicker, stronger rubber bands that have millions of applications.  You can use them to secure items to an "ALICE System" (All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment;  a system the military uses to carry heavy loads).  They can also be used just like rubber bands to help keep items organized and secure.  If you watch some of the YouTube videos I suggest from people like Dave Canterbury, you will see that they are used often.  I keep a few spare ones around the apartment and find they have a ton of uses.  You can also make a strong ranger band out of bicycle inner tire tubes.  These can be cut as thick or thin as you like, and are great at keeping useful items on knife sheaths.  Inner tube makes great emergency tinder and will burn for about a minute as well.  I suggest keeping a few in your B.O.B. (Bug Out Bag,) and or camping backpack as they are light and cheap.


Book, and Blog

     So I have been writing a book, and as you would guess it takes up much of my writing time.  I will do my best to keep up on posts as I write my book.  I am planning on putting together a favorites tab, and post on some book suggestions, as well as a post on fire starting gear and techniques in the near future.  I am also slowly filling in gear that I recommend, researched, or own in those tabs.  I will be posting on much of those items as well.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Kids and Survival

     A friend recently mentioned that his son was interested in survival, as I'm sure a lot of kids are becoming.  With The Discovery Channel's line up on survival themed shows, survivalism is definitely becoming more popular, and though it might be a trend, the life lessons you can offer to yourself and your children can be far reaching.  As a busy New Yorker, I understand it is not always feasible to leave the city weekends and take your kids camping.  Remember, though camping is ideal, you don't always have to leave as there are a ton of activities related to survival in N.Y.C. for you and your adventure/survival seeking children.  I would like to share some links, items, and ideas that can help you keep your kids appetite for knowledge, fulfilled.

  • The Boys Scouts of America - Although the Boy Scouts can be an amazing learning experience for your children, you run the risk of them losing interest in it.  The BSA, is an old and established American institution that has endless learning possibilities.  It has big flaws though, the main one being that it does not reinvent itself and can become either boring or "uncool" to most growing adolescents.  Its counter part, The Girl Scouts of America is just plain insulting, making young girls sell cookies instead of allowing them to do the more interesting things the boys get to do.  I suggest running a merit badge system yourself.  By doing so you are teaching yourself, and your children, a uniformed curriculum that is controlled by you.
  • Books - I have listed a few books from Amazon that are geared toward Survival/Adventure seeking kids at the bottom of this post.
  • Rock Climbing - You may think to yourself, what does rock climbing have to do with survival?  Turns out tons!  I'm somewhat new to rock climbing myself and I have found it very addictive and fulfilling.  It has multiple survival applications for kids and adults.  You and your children can find it to be a fun, energetic experience that teaches proper rope usage, incredibly useful knots, and build core muscles and agility.  
    • There are a few places in N.Y.C. that offer classes and have walls.  My favorite is in Brooklyn and is called Brooklyn Boulders. It is by far the best, and largest, indoor climbing gym around.  It offers great rates, and is kid friendly. 
  • Public Pools - Teaching your children to be strong swimmers goes beyond being necessary for survival, it's necessary for life.  N.Y.C. offers swim lessons at its public pools, as well as YMCA's.  Take advantage during the warm months.  http://ymcanyc.org/index.php
  • Fishing - Introducing your children to fishing can be fun and relatively simple.  All you need is a pole or two, some bait and a license.  You actually don't need a license to fish in the Hudson, but it never hurts;  http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6091.html   I was taught at a young age to fish by my grandfather, and it's still some of the fondest memories of my childhood.
  • Camping - Taking your kids camping can be the highlight of your little ones month or year.  Letting them practice the things they see on TV or read about, in a supervised environment, can really let them get a feel for the outdoor life.  You can teach basic survival knowledge like different fire starting techniques, Firesteel (linked below), bow drill, or a parabolic mirror (linked below).  Show them all the stuff the skilled survivalists on TV teach, with an emphasis on fun.  Don't forget parents, one of the main points of these little trips is to show that survival is not like TV, and all these things are a lot harder and time consuming then kids will realize.  Hollywood magic is needed for much of the things they demonstrate on these shows because without it, a 45 minute show would cover the fire making procedures and that's about it.  Some research is going to be necessary to find proper parks that allow hunting and fishing, and what licenses you need.  You will also have to see where you can practice fire making and who allows it.  New York's laws are pretty strict, places in Pennsylvania can be a bit more lenient.  There are campgrounds with running water and bathrooms all over.  At first you might just want to get out and spend sometime in one of them to see how your kids like sleeping in the wilderness.  Here is a place that I have stayed, and can recommend.  It is cheap, has working bathrooms, and little fire pits to practice fire making with.  If you don't have much outdoor experience yourself, places like this can be great because it is not exactly "ruffing it".  You can use a tent, or your car.  Remember, though not five star, you have working amenities and your pretty close to civilization.
  •  Central Park and Museums -  Places like the Museum of Natural History and The Met can show children that survival is not just something that we do because it's "cool".  It is, and has been a part of life for humans throughout time.  Survival was not just something to do on weekends.  It was, and in some parts of the world is still, a way of life.
     You can use your childrens' interest in survival for many things, the most important is an activity that lets you spend quality time with your family.  Through your teaching and research, you will start to expand on your skill base and learn many things that can be very useful to you and your children.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Site Construction; Slow and steady wins the race

     As I've been putting NYC survival blog together, I'm reminded of one of the fundamental truths of survival prep; you have to build your knowledge and supplies slowly over time.  Just like my survival skills and equipment, I need to take my time with this blog and get it right.  Control is key.  If I went out and bought all the gear in my B.O.B. in a day, I would be broke.  If I put all the links and information on this site as quickly as I could, I would be exhausted, and probably never write again. 
     It's a constant struggle when you start to focus in on something you are passionate about.  We tend to run the risk of overdoing it.  When I found my passion for survival knowledge and prep I found myself obsessing over it, wanting to buy all the newest and greatest gear.  I started to feel that there was never enough time in the day to read all the books, blogs and information that was at my finger tips just waiting to be learned. 
     You can start to feel like a disaster is eminent because of all the research, and lose sight of reality, believing that anything can happen at anytime, which is true, but even basic supplies can get you through a lot.  You may think that the quicker you get things together, no matter the cost, the more prepared you can be.  Anything in excess can be harmful.  I soon realized I needed to slow down and to live and enjoy life first, with an eye toward survival preparation.  My passion for prep, was starting to overtake my passion for life!  I started to remember why I prepare in the first place; to continue living and enjoying life and all it has to offer.  I want to survive, and do all that is in my control to let life continue for me and for those I love.  That's my driving force, and I suggest you find yours as it will help you survive anything that is thrown at you.
     So with that in mind, I will continue to build this blog up slowly taking time to do it right.  As you will notice, I have started to put up links to websites I suggest, and will be getting into more detail about the sites in a few days.  I have also placed some blogs I keep up on.  I am building up Amazon recommendation lists with gear that I own and or have researched.  They are being put into categories and I am commenting on their intended uses.  I will get into more detail about these items in the future as well.  If you end up buying the gear from the link I get a small percentage from the sale.  This blogs intention isn't to make me money.  It's here as an extension of my passion, so if you don't use the recommended links, I don't mind.  I will continue to put this site together, and will also continue to live and enjoy my life in this amazing city.


Sunday, August 15, 2010


Damian Brandon-freedigitalphotos.net
     This blog is for New Yorker's who, like me, believe that our city is on the brink of disaster.  Big, small, environmental, or social it's bound to happen and is not a matter of how, but when.  The goal of this blog is to get you to think in a more proactive, preparation oriented mindset and make you more aware of how to prepare for disasters in a simple, realistic, minimal way.  It is also going to be a shared data base of information, ideas, and items that apply to our unique situation of living in a major metropolis.
     Our urban survival surroundings can be a bit different from our rural brethren, but is stemmed from the same basic principles of survival knowledge and preparation.  This blog uses these principles and applies them to us as New Yorker's.  Simple provisions and the knowledge of how to use them can be paramount to survival for you and your family in these uncertain times.
     Curiosity is the first step to being prepared, and by reading blogs like this you are expanding your knowledge, making an effort to learn how to handle situations you can control, and letting go of those you can't.  The ideas, and information here has taking years to acquire and should be used as a guideline.  Feel free to share your survival preparation knowledge so that we New Yorkers can live, prepare, and survive anything that comes our way.  Stay tuned....