Archive for Preparedness Articles – Page 3

The Poor Man’s Survival Kit

This is an updated version of a 1970s article about how to make a survival kit out of ods and ends of cheap materials.  This was long before all of the nice survival tools and products we have today came along.

The Poor Man's Kit,10-14



Preparedness Overview was published in American Survivor several years ago and reprinted recently as a handout at various Live Free USA seminars.  This article in combination with the article "Self-Reliance" overview provides a great guide in moving from emergency preparedness twords greater and greater independence and security.



The Poor Man’s Survival Kit

This is one of our articles from waaaay back in the 70s that we updated a bit and retyped.  Hope you enjoy it.

The Poor Man's Kit,The Poor Man's Kit,



I am often asked why a "survival" group has a political name.  From time to time over the past 40+ years I have needed to explain the relationship between preparedness/survival/self-reliance and politics.  The following is the most recent of these articles.


Politics & Self-Reliance,Draft,3-14


This article looks at several scenarios for combat by a civilian under survival conditions.




This article examins the various typs of survival camps based on test camps built by Live Free USA over many years




I have been in two burning buildings, served on and managed an industrial fire brigade and had access to extensive investigations of fires and tests of fire suppresion systems.  It is my oppinion that survival/preppers do not take the hazards fire seriously enough.  People are far more likely to die in a fire than in a home invasion under "normal" conditions and fire would be a bigger threat than shootings if law and order breaksdown. 


FIRE: Weapon of Mass Destruction


Disaster Preparedness Overview


By James C. Jones, EMT/CHCM


Distributed as a public service by Live Free, USA


An Overview of Why Personal Preparedness Is Important Today and the Various Levels of Preparedness Needed to Survive Common Emergencies and Future




  If you are reading this, you have already become concerned about future events and have begun to take responsibility for your own survival and that of your family.  You may be alarmed at the increasing number, variety and severity of “disaster” thought the world and particularly in the United States. This is not your imagination.  Things are getting more dangerous and the infrastructure and the emergency services are starting to breakdown. One disaster often contributes to another.  Who can doubt that the immense costs of the 9/11 attack and hurricane Katrina contributed to the economic collapse.  The shrinking economy reduces funds for infrastructure improvements, safety, emergency services and police; this then sets us up for further attacks and disaster.  The eventual result of these combined and multiplying manmade and natural disasters must be a general world collapse some time in the next twenty to one-hundred-years.                          

   The immediate mission for the responsible citizen is to prepare to survive increasingly severe and lengthy emergencies with less and less outside help.  Since these events will strike closer and closer to every family and economic conditions will become more and more challenging, it is imperative that people begin an energetic and systematic program to increase their emergency preparedness and long-term self-reliance while they still can do so.  Furthermore, the children and grandchildren of today must be reoriented from passive dependence to active self-reliance through preparedness training and the acquisition of basic survival skills.  Here are just a few of the scientifically calculated situation that are already in progress as you read this article:


  • As the population outpaces resources, basic necessities such as water, food, and fuel will become scarce. At first the famines, droughts, epidemics, wars and massacres will ravage the third-world countries, then it will spread around the world.


  • Increased population densities combined with economic decline will mean that floods, earthquakes and storms will cause astronomical death and destruction that will not be recoverable.


  • The combination of economic decline and growing populations will result in the collapse of infrastructure and public services in many (if not all) urban a suburban areas.  The failure of water supplies, electrical service, sewer systems, fire and police protection will make crime, riots, and epidemics more and more common.


  • The combination of less and less farm-land and shifting climates will ultimately lead to conflicts over food and water sources that could lead to wars.


  • International travel, population densities and possible biological experimentation probably will lead to one or more world-wide epidemics that will kill hundred of millions some time in the next few decades. Many scientist calculate that while the population may double or triple by the middle of this century, it will end at pre-1950 levels after starvation, war, epidemics and other events have reestablish a balanced system.


  • All of these factors will empower international crime cartels whose “street gang” solders are already in our streets. Desperate people will be easy recruits for extremists and terrorists.  In reaction, there will be great temptations to establish marshal-law, suspend basic liberties and even establish dictatorial governments.


  • Exactly how these events will unfold, when they will occur and how they will effect you is impossible to predict, some of these events will strike you and your families in the forcible future.   While there is not much you can do to prevent these complex combinations of man-made and natural disasters, there is much you can do to increase your chances of surviving them and retaining your personal freedoms and values through these challenging times.  Never has the future depended more on what you do today.


   The first step to survival is to assess your current situation and level of preparation against what you truly need to survive anticipated emergencies.  Having done that, you can then start improving your situation in an organized and scheduled manner.  To  aid in this process we will establish six levels of preparedness starting with “zero”.


“Level Zero”  Planning to be a victim

  The individual or family prefers not to think about “bad things” and has no plans or means for surviving even a “normal” emergency.  These folks are totally depended on the political, economic system for every day-to-day necessity of life. Any disruption will panic them. They are highly likely to be a burden on public services (if they exist) and/or turn violent under sever emergencies. They are a danger to their neighbors and the community and will probably not survive long into a true catastrophic event.  Unfortunately this classification describes a significant portion of the urban population.


“Level One”  Essential

  Even a casual concern for your own safety should put you here! You have a good flashlight, candles, a first aid kit, a few days of food on the shelves, a few gallons of water stashed away and you have given some thought to what you would do in emergencies such as: extended power outages, water supply interruptions, home invasion, fires, etc.. It’s not much, but it’s a start.  If you are lucky you will get through a few short-term situations, but if you don’t improve, you are going to be in real trouble at some point in the next few years.


“Level Two” Basic

  At this level, you are making a conscious effort to prepare for common, short-term emergencies.  You have put up at least 5-gallons of water per person and have a 5-10 day supply of food on hand.  You have invested in several LED flashlights and lanterns and have a crank powered emergency radio. You also have at least one good fire extinguisher and probably a firearm.  You may have a first aid manual and/or “how to survive” book. This is the minimum level for any responsible citizen.


“Level Three” Responsible & Ready

    This is where everyone needs to be ASAP!  At this level you should get through most “normal” emergencies and have a good chance to survive many serious and longer-term disasters.  You will not be a burden to your community and may be able to help others. In addition to your “level two” supplies you will have a 30-day food and water supply. You have a small 72-houre survival pack capable of supplying essential food, water, shelter and first-aid for a few days on the road.  You may have a generator and fuel to run basics (e.g. sump pump, freezer etc.) for 3-6 days and a safe portable indoor heater. You have the ability to purify water, cook food, put out fires and treat minor injuries, and dispose of bodily waste without help.


“Level Four” Advanced

  This level will make it possible to ride-out (at home) or escape from (evacuate) many serious disastersIn addition to your “level two and three” supplies, you have a fully equipped evacuation pack or “bug-out-bag” capable of sustaining and sheltering you for an extended time. You now have a variety of weapons for home defense, self-defense and hunting.  You have a number of survival books and have at least basic first aid and other survival related training.  You may also have acquired training and equipment to cope with nuclear, biological and chemical hazards. You will have made detailed plans for your own evacuation and may have established safe locations and caches of emergency supplies along that rout. At this level you should be involved with community emergency response organizations and/or preparedness clubs in your area.


“Level Five” Self-Reliant

   This goes beyond preparedness and moves towards a more self-reliant lifestyle.  While the previous levels involved putting away resources from the existing sources for a future need, this level implies being able to generate and use essential supplies from the environment over a long period.  At the extreme it can involve moving to a remote location and establishing a “retreat” with its’ own power supply, gardens, water source, etc.  This may be impractical for most people, but everyone can achieve at least partial self-reliance.  Adding rain barrels, wood stoves, vegetable gardens, solar panels or windmills can vastly improve your long-term survival chances. Developing skill that can be used to supply essentials such as hunting, fishing, sewing, metal working and carpentry. Put away tools and supplies that can be used as trade goods. This will put you in position to survive and even thrive during hard times.




While no-one likes to think about a future of dangers and challenges, an open minded look at current events and recent history leads to the inescapable conclusion that humanity is entering a perfect storm of combined economic, natural and man-made disasters. No amount of preparedness can guarantee ones survival under every conceivable situation, but a systematic and continuous effort to increase ones material, mental and psychological capacity to survive will greatly reduce the chances of serious, injury, lose and death.  The future survival and freedom of good and responsible citizens and their children is dependent on their efforts to become better prepared and more self-reliant. 


Always Carry a Knife 

By Jim Jones


  There is probably no single item that defines, establishes and sustains an individual’s survival, self-reliance and freedom potential more than the knife.  The knife and its modification the spear was in use long, long before the arrow, sling or firearm.  Flint blades predate almost any other manmade device.  The name “Saxon” in “Anglo Saxon comes from the name of the long, heavy bladed knife called the “seax” carried by the Anglo Saxons.  Carrying the seax was the mark of a free man.  Slaves, of course were prohibited from carrying arms.  As we know, being prohibited from caring arms is still the mark of a slave.

   Today, virtually everyone uses some kind of knife at least a few times each day.  The possession of a knife imparts a huge survival and self-defense advantage to anyone.  If you have nothing else with you, a knife gives you a chance to survive.  Not carrying a knife of some kind is surrendering your survival potential to luck and the whims of nature and man.  The prepared person will carry a pocketknife or a pouch knife throughout the day.  He or she may keep a larger “survival knife” or “hunting knife” in their vehicle or other accessible location.  Of course there will be well selected small and large blades for outdoor activities and stashed in the survival/evacuation pack.  One may carry a heavy bladed 6 to 8 inch blade length belt knife for heavy work.  A small thin bladed pocketknife for fine work and maybe a Swiss Army type knife or Multi-Tool with a variety of blades and gadgets as well.  Some Multi-Tools even have an LED flashlight included.  Some “survival knives” come with a match compartment in the handle and a compass in the butt.  These are good for backup caches or extra knives, but most are weakened by the hollow handle and may break in heavy survival use.  The exception will be covered later in this article. You may want to consider one of the military bayonet/knives that work with the sheath to cut wire.  Going cross-country in most areas will mean crossing a lot of wire.  The M9 and M10 and the AK47 bayonets have wire cutters. Small sharpening stones are often included in a pouch right on the sheath.  This is a highly recommended feature.  The knife is not where you want to go cheap!  A blade that goes dull or brakes when you need it most is no bargain but there are over-priced knives where you are paying for style or a name.  We are not talking about knife collecting or knife show knives here.  We are talking about reliable use and abuse blades. Ultimately you have to select your knife set based on as much quality\ as you can afford.  Survival and self/reliance knives can be classified as pocketknives, pouch knives, sheath knives and combat knives.  The following are some recommended selections from several knife experts.


Pocketknives are single or several bladed knives that fit into ones pockets comfortably and unobtrusively.  In the past almost everyone carried a pocketknife or “pen knife” to sharpen quill pens, clean pipes and perform other daily tasks.  For our purposes a pocketknife is a single or double-bladed knife of no more than 3-inch blade length.  You want this knife to be thin and light so you will carry it comfortably at all times, but also strong and sharp.  Some good choices are the Spyderco ™ Native folder at about $78.00, the Kershaw ™ Combo Edge folder and the Gerber ™ Mini Covert folder at $36.00.  The Smith and Wesson ™ S.W.A.T. frame lock folder and Black Ops folder priced in the $25.00 to $35.00 range are good values as well.  If you want more than one blade, the Swiss Army ™ Soldier knife (the first Swiss Army knife) with a blade, can opener, bottle opener, two screwdrivers and an awl point fits in the pocket for about $25.00. 



Pouch knives are those that are carried in a belt pouch or may be kept in other places, but are too large for comfortable pocket carrying. This includes large folders, Swiss Army Knives and Multi Tools.  If your normal apparel is work cloths or blue jeans you may be able to wear a belt pouch without attracting any negative attention.  This provides the opportunity to carry larger and more versatile knives.  Things get more complicated here because you have to choose between one big strong blade with limited uses or several smaller blades and tools with multi-use capabilities.  In the Multi-Tool category there is the Leatherman ™ New Wave tool with over a dozen functions at $75.00, the Gerber ™ Diesel multi-tool at $53.00 and scores of other models to meet your requirements.  Some even include LED flashlights, fire starters, whistles and magnifying glasses.  The drawback to the Multi Tool concept is that the primary tool is usually a pliers rather than a knife blade and getting to the knife blade is a bit slow and troublesome. Once deployed the knife blade of a multi-tool is rather clumsy to use compared to a folder. You may still want or need to carry a pocketknife along with the multi tool. The Swiss Army knife is a knife first and a tool second and the traditional Swiss Army ™ knife also offers a great variety of choices.  The ones with 6 to 8 blades and devices are more compact and easier to use than the puzzle-like multi-tools. The Swiss Army ™ Ranger with its 20 tools is a good choice for about $40.00 or you can go all out for the huge (and clumsy) Champ selling for close to $80.00. Some have 20-30 devices, but are bulky and awkward.  Avoid cheap imitations.  Stick with brand names and be sure of a good strong pouch that will not tear or come off your belt..  Large folders with blades of about 4-inches offer the blade of a sheath knife in a more compact form but they cannot be a strong for some applications.  Consider the KA-BAR ™ Mule folder at about $48.00 or one of the popular Buck ™ large folding knives.



Sheath knives are larger sheath carried blades ranging from the short bladed USAF Survival Knife (5”) and U.S. Marine KA-BAR (6”) to machete lengths of 12”.  The actual military surplus USAF Survival Knife and U.S. Marine KA-BAR are good values at about $40.00, but KA-BAR ™ brand makes a variety of KA-BAR variations selling in the $50-$60 range.  Smith & Wesson ™ offers the KAB-BAR like “Search and Rescue” sheath knife with an excellent sheath and sharpening stone for under $30.00.If you do elect to go with a hollow handles, Rambo style “survival knife” you will need to spend some real money to get strength and reliability.   Chris Reeve ™ makes hollow handles “survival Knives” from a single bar of A2 tool steel with a handle cavity sealed with an “O” ring to keep matches and other items dry.  These knives sell in the $200 to $400 range.  For value and quality there are several good choices among military bayonets.  The M-9 and M-10 are good choices.

    Knives of over 14-inches over-all length become impractical for most folk to carry on a belt ankle of harness sheath.  If you anticipate some serious chopping and hacking you may want to consider carrying a heavy bladed knife in or across the back of your pack.  Consider the Ontario ™  RTAK-II Bush knife with its 10” blade and 17-inch over-all length for about $90.00 ™  or even a military surplus Machete on the market for as little as $20.00



Combat knives are those specially designed for fighting.  They are not usually ideal for other survival uses.  These range from small concealable 3” blades and throwing knives through boot knives and commando knives.  While knife fights are possible they are not probable so put survival knives ahead of combat knives in your priorities. In certain situations and urban environments a well-hidden combat knife could be just what you need. You may want to add something like the OSS Spike dagger that is carried on the wrist or the Special Ops ™ 5-inch blade boot knife selling for about $24.00.  There are variations of the famous Applegate-Fairbairn ™ World War Two style combat knives selling for from $50.00 to $100.00


   This article would not be complete without a few tips on the care and sharpening of your knives.  Leaving knives out is an invitation to trouble. They can be lost, stolen, damaged, picked up by children or even used against you. Keep them in their sheath or pouch and in a safe location when not in use.  Clean and lightly oil multi blade knives so they open freely when you need them.  Knives are not intended for prying or hammering. Keep your knives sharp and clean.  Sharpening techniques would take more room than we have in this article, but  there are some devices that are recommended. Cabala’s offers a wide variety of electric and hand sharpeners ranging in price from $20.00 to $400.00.  You can get a good diamond stone for $30 to $60. and these come with instructions.  The Gatco ™ Edgmaster sharpening system will do a good job for $40.00.  The Edgemaker ™ device is handy for fast restoration of a blade.


    Your choice of a knife system will depend on your anticipated every-day uses and your worst-case emergency needs.  No one knife will be the best for every situation. You should have at least one high quality pocketknife, pouch knife and sheath knife and carry all three if possible when in a potential survival threat  situation.  Carry more than one knife if possible.  Cheaper backup knives stashed in various locations (e.g. vehicle, office, pack, etc.) will be way better than nothing if you are unable to access your primary blade. In some cases what you want and what you can legally and practically carry will be a compromise, but always carry a knife.  We invite the reader’s input and comments on this subject.






As a Safety Manager for a chemical company and a Hazardous Material Technician for 30-years, I trained hazmat teams and managed some hazmat situations.  Military and industrial hazmat situations require extended exposure in "hot zones", but the civilians challenge is just to limit contamination and inhalation while getting out of the hot zone.  This article is intended for practical situations whith practical equipment.