Monthly Archives: January 2012

Gold Rushes and Silver Linings

I once received an inquiry centered around alternative forms of currency for personal preparedness. I received the following set of questions (paraphrased):

What do you think of gold and silver for bartering purposes? Gold is far to expensive for our budget; however, silver is an option. I feel leery however having witnessed several other “hype” induced fads that burst (dot.coms, real estate, etc.) Once purchased, what about storage? I would doubt easy access to safe deposit boxes would exist in a crisis and storage within the home seems risky (burglary, vandals, etc.).

So…here’s what I wrote back…maybe it will be helpful to you too.

 “As far as precious metals for currency, I usually don’t discuss them [during the presentation] (unless asked 🙂 ) simply because they can be such “hot buttons” for some folks. However, having said that, I am personally a huge proponent of considering alternative forms of currency in case we lose the dollar someday for any number of reasons. I see this as leaving a couple of currency options that I believe could be realistic based on the scenario. 1) precious metals and 2) ammunition. I find myself in the same boat as you with thoughts on gold. And quite honestly, I wouldn’t buy gold (or much gold) even if I could and here’s why. Consider this, if things are so bad that you can’t get to your bank monies or that the dollar has lost its value, only things with inherent value will be feasible for bartering, i.e. precious metals. So…if you REALLY need a loaf of bread to survive but all you bought was gold pieces for hundreds of dollars apiece, guess what you just did…bought a $400.00 loaf of bread. What you really want would be precious metals but in what would be considered “small bills”. Don’t give the guy a fifty for that bread, give him a five!

SILVER. Now, problem is silver is also pretty expensive right now. So what can you do? Junk silver is one answer. I can’t guess what your knowledge base is here so hopefully this won’t bore you, but junk silver has no numismatic value. Which simply means that given it’s “banged up” or “junk” quality, there is no extra value for things like condition, year, rarity, type of coin, etc. The good thing is though, that it does have inherent value based on its silver content. There were coins produced way back when that have .999 percent pure silver content. These are worth money based on the price of silver per ounce. And in terms of money in a crisis, they will spend based off of their content instead of their numismatic value (which by the way, during a crisis wouldn’t matter anyway, no one would care that it was a really rare coin, just what it is worth.) So there are those of use who are stockpiling (as our budgets allow) in small batches at a time, junk silver. If you Google it, you will find more information than you can possibly consume. I don’t have as much as I would like, but we are working on getting more as our budget allows.

The only problem is that you and I aren’t the only ones thinking this way…so junk silver is getting harder and harder to find or afford. What I recommend is you do a little research into the cost of silver per ounce (again, internet), find your local coin shop, and stop in and ask if they have any “bulk” or “bagged” junk silver. If they do, ask how much they are selling it for. Do the math. Keep in mind, there is NO value in the junk silver other than the silver content, so if the broken down by ounce price is very inflated, leave because it’s not a good buy. Most of the time, it is marked up just enough for the guy to make some sort of profit, but not that much at all. Expect to be told by at least a few shops that they are “fresh out”. There’s been a run on this stuff lately. (And its been going on for months!)

Now where do you keep it??? This ties into home/self-protection. Start pricing guns safes, the big kind that will hold long guns. You should have one large enough that no one idiot-crew of thieves could possibly get it physically out of your home and well made enough that they also cannot break into it. If you shop around, you can find something good on the day after Thanksgiving sales for example. They are sometimes marked for clearance as well because they were an old floor model or they were scratch and dent (but what do you care what it looks like?). If you can get it to also be fireproof, I’d see about that as well. Make sure the wife can actually open it for sure. She needs to be able to ge into that thing in a hurry and under stress (muscle memory). Also, consider approaching your home owner’s insurance company about whether or not they insure precious metals. You could add it to yourcoverage via a floater policy.

As always, I hope this helps. Take care.

Educational Resources for Personal Preparedness

Did you know that FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute offers a wide variety of preparedness courses online? These independent study courses are free of charge at

As a part of my job, I’ve been taking courses both online and in-person at the Emergency Management Institute for years. I’ve taken the time to review their available online courses and want to highlight the following courses for your interest:

  • IS 7.a – A Citizen’s Guide to Disaster Assistance
  • IS 10.a – Animals in Disasters – Awareness and Preparedness
  • IS 22 – Are You Ready? An in Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness
  • IS 55 – Household Hazardous Materials – A Guide for Citizens
  • IS 111 – Livestock in Disasters
  • IS 324.a – Community Hurricane Preparedness
  • IS 326 – Community Tsunami Preparedness
  • IS 366 –  Planning for the Needs of Children in Disasters
  • IS 394.a – Protecting Your Home or Small Business from Disaster
  • IS 909 – Community Preparedness: Implementing Simple Activities for Everyone

If you are interested, go to the site and follow these steps to find the courses.

  2. Top left side of page – select “Emergency Management Institute”
  3. Top right side of page – select “EMI Independent Study Program”
  4. Scroll down to the middle of the page – select the blue banner “Total Active Courses: 126”
  5. Browse through the courses and select according to your needs

Missing in Action???

Sorry friends, I got sent on TDY for work and was nowhere near capable of getting up any posts. I’m back, so look for more to come. Hope you are all well. Send in any topics you are interested in.

Take care.

Bow Wow and Meow

Do you have an animal in your family that actually qualifies as a family member? Do these furry guys (and gals) count at your children? Well…you aren’t alone. 67% of respondents in an ASPCA survey said they would not evacuate their home without their pet(s). There were actually many incidents such as this in Hurricane Katrina. There were many cases discussed in the media about families or persons who would not leave the impending flood waters because they couldn’t take their pets with them. I think the world judge those folks rather harshly from the perspective of what is important to a person is very personal and not really for others to judge. Would I personally stay in this house and risk my life or the lives of my children for our cat, Rodeo? Absolutely not; however, far for me to judge others because they would. Again, it’s really not for me to judge.

What I would like to do is prompt those folks who would not be able to leave home without their fuzzy friends to include them in their emergency preparedness plans. Keep in mind that whatever you need for your pet on a daily basis, you will also need in your go-kit and shelter in place kit. You need to plan ahead for their needs just as you have yours. They will need enough food and water. Consider them in your water storage calculations. Are they taking any medications? You’d be surprised how many people have animals taking prescription medication on a regular basis. (I know someone who had a cat on dialysis – that’s love.) Leash laws are still in effect during a crisis, so be sure and have a leash (dog) or a crate (cat). Also consider vital records (see previous post entitled “Oh yeah…prove it.) for your pets. You should make copies of their shot records and any medical records that you may have. Those should be packed in your go-kits as well.

Lastly, seriously consider what you will do with your pet if you are forced to enter into an emergency shelter. Unless your pet is a service animal, they will not be allowed into the shelter. Imagine forcing the issue and getting them out of your home, just to find that you can’t get them into the shelter. Now what? Do some research on your local pet kennels. See if any have a business continuity plan to continue their operations throughout a crisis. Also check out this link to the American Veterinarian Medical Association for information regarding the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act of 2006. This Act was passed by Congress to mandate that governments allow for needs of households with pets during an emergency.

No matter what, you know where your priorities lie. Plan accordingly.

Mmm…I Don’t Wanna Talk About That…

If you are thinking of really embracing the prepper mentality then you will eventually begin to consider l-o-n-g term survival needs. This would be catastrophic, life changing, world may never be the same type scenarios. When you begin to plan for this level of survival, you will open up a whole new can of worms for preparedness topics. These are things that you would not really consider for your go-kits or even your traditional shelter in place kits. So on this Friday eve when we are all a little more laid back in anticipation of a Friday :-), l’m going to mention a few things that under normal circumstances we wouldn’t want to actually discuss. But trust me…under apcalyptic rules, you would want to have some of these items.

So here goes…please consider whether or not you would really like to get pregnant during these circumstances. Not that we as a race would never want to procreate again, but don’t you think you might want to be a little choosy on this one? Shortly after a catastrophic event, you would have a serious decline in medical care and nutritional options. Both of these areas would make it a less than ideal circumstance to create a new life. So, have an alternate form of birth control. Ladies, Walgreen’s won’t be hitting your automatic refill on those pills. Men, might rather wear a condom during such a period of time. Just consider it. (If you are, shall we say “unable” to procreate for whatever reason, then congratulations, do your thing 🙂  and move on to the next section.)

Next, should you choose to disregard the first point, would you like to be able to care for your new baby? Because lets face it, with no TV, nine to five job, or other form of alternative entertainment your lovin numbers are going to skyrocket. And your baby shower will not consist of a baby registry from your local Babies R Us. No ma’am, you are getting canned pears and used teddy bears. If nature nor scalpel have taken your procreation options yet, you might want to have just a few of the really vital baby care items. Consider purchasing even a basic set of cloth diapers and the coordinating needed supplies. Also think of things such as bottles and nipples. If this seems unrealistic given your lack of desire to reproduce…I suggest you re-read the previous paragraph.

Lastly  for today, (we may revisit this type of topic later), LADIES…without your local Walgreens, your birth control pills are not the only things you aren’t getting. Unless you are able to pray yourself straight into menopause, you’re going to need feminine hygiene products. And, men, don’t freak out and skip this part because if your wife is not a prepper and therefore not going to do her own planning, I guess you better. As much as you don’t like this topic on a sunny day, catch your lady without her supplies and it will be pretty impossible to ignore. Also, ladies (and men) even if you are cycle exempt, if you have daughters (of any age) this will at some point be applicable to them as well. So moving on, you need to purchase a basic stock of washable sanitary pads. Yes, you can get those. (Wrap up your freak out, it is what it is.) I realize you could easily just buy a boat load of the traditional supplies, but again tonight we are talking absolute catastrophic event. You cannot reasonably tell me how many pads/tampons you would need for an undetermined amount of time. Do you really think Tampax, Kotex, or Always are going to be one of the first products to return to production and achieve supply chain success? Me neither, so stock up now on what seems unreasonable, but would in fact be invaluable.

There I”ve done it. I talked about sex and periods all at once. Do with it what you will. 😉

Don’t forget! (1)

I’ve decided to add a new type of post. When something random but important (in my mind) pops into my head, I’m going to make a quick post entitled “Don’t Forget!”. It will be short, sweet and hopefully contain a great tip. So here goes the first “Don’t Forget!”

Don’t forget to purchase and store away a traditional thermometer. This would be the old school glass variety. Meaning, no batteries required and hella reliable. Try and get one that comes in a protective case. I would recommend including this in your shelter in place items. Consider that most of us these days have the fancy digital versions of some type (under the tongue, inside the ear, or over the forehead) however, what about when those little batteries die? We’ve had a post previously regarding medical supplies, but one of the first steps for lots of illnesses is taking someone’s temperature. So, get yourself a good old fashion version that will always be reliable and never need batteries!

What’s Cookin?

Because we purchased freeze-dried meals as a part of our preparedness planning, we had to decide how we were going to boil the water without electricity. Sure lighting a good old camp fire would work but building it up to the point where our pot would be usable although do-able, is not ideal. I decided to look into the camp stove option. I was thinking that I would have to purchase something bulky and heavy. Not so! (I am going to go ahead and put in a plug for REI because quite frankly their sales people cannot be beat. They know everything about everything. They are true wizards. They have consistently given me amazing customer service.) So I go in for what I think will be the traditional Coleman camping stove, I came out with the Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System.

I love it. It is pricey to be sure. I won’t sugar coat that. It ran me just under $100.00. However, I think the reason why it seems so expensive is because of its size. You would expect to pay that much for a large camp stove, not something as small as this. It is only 4″x7″ and it weighs just under 1 lb. (without fuel).  Essentially the system is an integrated cooking cup and burner all in one. There is even a measuring cup that comes attached to the bottom that serves as a dual use protector for the igniter system when not in use. The burner portion detaches and stores inside the cup when not in use. The cup capacity for this model (there are other models available from Jetboil) is two cups. Another positive feature is the push button ignition to light your fuel. (Canister fuel sold separately.) The cooking cup actually clips to the burner when assembled which in combination with the included tripod helps to stabilize the unit to prevent it from turning over. And as if all that wasn’t enough, it comes wrapped in an insulated neoprene cover that has a color-change window to indicate when the contents are hot. The system will boil two cups of water in two minutes.

I have found this system easy to use, understand,  light (the first time, it may take some effort, but after that, no worries) and clean. It is lightweight and compact for an easy fit into our go-kit. Most of all, for our plans (freeze-dried and dehydrated foods that need boiling water) this a fast and effective product. It is also useful for water purification (see previous post “Water, water everywhere, but which drop can you drink”).

Lastly, if you need to cook in something larger than the cup, or if you have already purchased a portable cooking pot for your go-kit (as we had), there is an optional accessory that allows the system to support cooking pots as well. We bought this too and have been equally pleased.

I’m sure there are other wonderful products out there, but this was the best choice for our family and I have been pleased with its test performances. I highly recommend this for your go-kit or even shelter in place kit. No matter what brand you consider, be sure to think of alternative ways to cooking in an emergency beyond the basic campfire.

Jetboil Flash