This blog is to help you in preparing for an emergency. It also contains other information that you might find spiritually up-lifting. This is not an official website of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints". This site is maintained by Barry McCann (barry@mail.com)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

U.S. Homeownership Rate Hits 20-Year Low

Home for Sale

(CNSNews.com) - The homeownership rate in the United States dropped to a 20-year low of 64.5 percent in 2014, according to new data released by the Census Bureau.
The homeownership rate is the percentage of households that own the home in which they live. “It is computed,” says the Census Bureau, “by dividing the number of households that are owners by the total number of occupied households."
The last time the annual homeownership rate was lower than 64.5 percent was in 1994, when it was 64.0%, according to Table 15 in the Census Bureau’s “Housing Vacancies and Homeownership” data.
U.S. Homeownership Rate Hit 20-Year Low in 2014
In the years since 1984, which is the first year reported on Table 15, homeownership peaked at 69.0 percent in 2004. In the last decade, according to the Census Bureau, the annual homeownership rate has steadily declined.
Among the 50 states, New York’s 2014 homeownership rate of 52.9 percent was the lowest in the nation. California was second lowest with 54.2 percent. Nevada was third lowest with 56.0 percent. Hawaii was fourth lowest with 58.4 percent. Rhode Island was fifth lowest with 61.8 percent.
The District of Columbia—with a homeownership rate of 41.5 percent—was lower than any state.
West Virginia—at 75.6 percent—had the highest homeownership rate in 2014. Delaware had the second highest with 74.3 percent. Michigan had the third highest with 73.8 percent. Vermont had the fourth highest with 73.5 percent. And Mississippi had the fifth highest with 73.2 percent.
Among the 75 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the nation, as reported in Table 16 in the Census Bureau’s “Housing Vacancies and Homeownership” data, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana area had the lowest homeownership rate in 2014. At 49.0 percent, it was the only one of the top 75 metropolitan statistical areas that had a homeownership rate of less than 50 percent.
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island had the second lowest homeownership rate at 50.7 percent. Bakersfield was third lowest with 52.8 percent. Las Vegas-Paradise as fourth lowest with 53.2 percent. Fresno was fifth lowest with 53.9 percent.
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont was sixth lowest with 54.6 percent.
The Richmond, Va., metropolitan area had the highest homeownership rate at 72.6 percent. Birmingham-Hoover, Ala., was second highest with 71.9 percent. Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich., was third highest with 71.6 percent. Detroit-Warren-Livonia was fourth highest with 71.2 percent. And St. Louis, Mo., was fifth highest with 71.1 percent.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Of Knives and Guns!

Knives and Guns
Of Knives and Guns on The Human Path: Buying, caring for and using knives and guns can be overwhelming to a lot of people. Learning enough practical information about these very important tools and weapons before making a purchase can help save a lot of money and frustration. Join Sam Coffman as he discusses several points to consider when choosing, caring for and using various types of knives for various types of situations. He talks about common questions such as, “How much should you spend for a decent knife?” “Folding blade, multi-tool, fixed-blade or something else?” “Carbon or stainless steel?” “How long and what type of a cutting edge?” “How do you sharpen and care for a knife?” “What difference does the handle, sheath and shape of the blade make for different types of jobs?”
Knives and GunsIn addition to knives, Sam also discusses some gun basics this week. “What are some important considerations prior to spending money on a gun?” “Advantages and disadvantages to rifles vs. pistols and semi-automatics vs. revolvers and bolt-action rifles?” “Where do shotguns figure in to the mix?” “What are some simple training drills you can do at home to improve accuracy and gun handling without even having to spend money on ammo or go to a range, and why is it so important you do these kinds of drills?” “What are some of the common controversies around different caliber ammunition?” “When does caliber matter and when is it irrelevant?” Join Sam as he discusses these and other frequent questions that many people have when wanting to purchase and use a knife and a gun, both for utility and defense.

Listen to this broadcast of knives and Guns on player below!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Crossing a Fence with a Firearm the Safe Way

crossing a fence with a firearm

In this short educational video Hunter-Ed shows you how to cross a fence safely. Crossing a fence is a time when you should be most aware of being safe with your firearm. If you are traveling with people it is your responsibility to look after your own safety as well as the safety of everyone traveling with you. You should be as safe as possible when you are alone as well. You never know what could happen.

Here is a step by step list for safely crossing a fence with a firearm

  1. Unload your fire arm
  2. Lay the fire arm on the ground on the opposite side of the fence with the muzzle pointing away in a safe direction. Cover the muzzle so nothing gets inside it.
  3. Try not to damage the fence
  4. Point the muzzle in a safe direction when you pick up your gun
  5. Check the barrel. Reload and check to make sure the safety is on
These five steps will keep you and your hunting buddies safe while crossing a fence. You may want to try it a few times to remember every step for future hunting! After all the best way to learn and remember is by experiencing it first-hand. For a great video representation on the steps above, check out the video!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Multipurpose Survival Items to Use in a Pinch

Resourcefulness is one of the most important values a survivalists can have. We can’t always rely on the outside world to provide everything we need in a disaster or even in everyday life. Learning to use what you have on hand is a vital skill if you want to survive. Even common everyday items can be turned into multipurpose survival tools in a pinch. In a medical emergency, natural disaster or SHTF situation, we have to use all our brain power to come up with a simple, inexpensive and effective solution. That’s where these multipurpose survival items come in.
It is said that the most difficult situations can bring out either the best or the worst in a person. A prepper should do his or her best in handling a crisis because after all, the goal is to survive, not to throw in the towel.
Part of being prepared is recognizing an opportunity or using common items in uncommon ways. Here are a few ways to do that.
For the full post click here.

Multipurpose Items To Survive Crisis On A Budget

History has already proven how fragile the global economy is and it really wouldn’t take much to have it collapse altogether. If that should happen, life will get exponentially tougher for the majority of us, so being prepared in advance is crucial.
As preppers, we’re always looking for ways to re-use, repurpose and get creative with what we have on hand so in that spirit, we’ve put together a list of common household multipurpose items to use when surviving an economic crisis. Don’t wait til the economy collapses, though.
These items are great to use now because they’re also environmentally friendly!
Duct Tape
I know that we preach the value of duct tape all the time, but it really can’t be overstated as an invaluable multi-use item that every prepper should have. Just a few things that you can use duct tape for include:
Patching tarps, rain gear, shoes and tents
Splint a broken tent pole (or a leg!)
Sealing broken windows
Sealing leaky window sills and frames
Binding wounds
Marking trails
Making a cup in a pinch
Making easy fly strips
Making a sling
Emergency vehicle repair (hoses, etc.)
There really is no limit to what you can use duct tape for.  Have several roles on hand.
According to the Salt Institute, there are more than 14,000 uses for salt; as a matter of fact, Roman soldiers were actually PAID in it! That’s what we call a serious multi-use item and the fact that it’s an abundant, cheap mineral makes it even better.
In addition to tasting good, salt also acts as an antibacterial, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agent when used topically and can be used for a number of household cleaning and disinfecting purposes.
Here are just a few of the 14,000 uses!
Salt melts ice
Use it to preserve foods, especially meats
Tenderize tough cuts of meat
If you forage for nuts, soaking them in a salt water solution for several hours will make them easier to open
A pinch of salt in coffee reduces bitterness
The trick to handling an emergency is to stay alert, stay focused and avoid going into a panic. You may not know when disaster can strike, but you can educate yourself, prepare, and learn to expect the unexpected. Those that do are usually the ones that come out alive when SHTF.
Think outside the box, set aside the assumptions and look at things from another perspective. Opening your mind will help you come up with new and creative ideas. Resourcefulness can spell the difference between survival and extinction.

Monday, February 16, 2015

MARCH 14TH Area (Ward)/District(Stake) Emergency Communications Drill

Each Emergency Coordinator will be distributing this to each home throughout our neighborhood several days before the test...Please put this on your calendar!

Area (Ward)/District(Stake) Emergency Communications Drill

Saturday March 14, 2015 Starting at 9:00AM

We are asking each family to place the appropriate colored card or ribbon on their front door by 9am on March 14th. (Key = Green: we’re all okay, yellow: we need help but it’s not life threatening, red we have a life threatening situation and need immediate help). All families should have a green ribbon or card on the front door for this test unless there is a real problem.).

At about 9:00 your Block Captains will initiate an emergency evaluation of your neighborhood. He/she will determine the condition of each home, and will report the results of the test to their leaders as developed in the neighborhood and Area (Ward) plans.

If you haven’t placed the ribbon or card on your front door by 9:00a.m., there will be someone knocking on your door to determine your family status. If you have questions see your block Captain.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

12. Oat Spike Paracord Survival Bracelet

This simple weave feels good on the wrist and is easy to deploy.
How To Tie Oat Spike Paracord Survival Bracelet

How To Tie A Paracord Bracelet: Oat Spike

A paracord survival bracelet is a versatile tool that can come in handy for a number of emergency situations. Whether you are a survivalist, frequent hunter, outdoors person or just value the need to be prepared at all times, knowing how to tie a paracord bracelet is a great skill. Knowing how to tie several is even better- try making our Cobra Paracord Survival Bracelet and our Tire Tread Paracord Survival Bracelet
In this tutorial, you will learn how to make the Oat Spike Survival Bracelet.

How to Tie A Paracord Bracelet – Oat Spike Paracord Survival Weave

Supplies you need:

  • Two 8 ft pieces of 550 paracord
  • Side release buckle
  • Tape Measure
  • Scissors
  • Lighter
Oat Spike Paracord Survival Bracelet Instructions and Supplies
Supplies you need when you make an oat spike paracord bracelet

Step 1: Get Started

In order to get started, make sure the ends of your paracord are trimmed and singed.
Then, fold each piece in half to find the center points.
Fold both piece of paracord in half to find the centers.
Fold both piece of paracord in half to find the centers.

Step 2: Put on the first buckle

Starting with the grey paracord, slide on the first buckle:
Take the grey piece and thread the two ends up the first slot of the male end of the buckle and back down through the second slot.
Take the grey piece and thread the two ends up the first slot of the male end of the buckle and back down through the second slot.
Now bring them back down through the second slot.
Now bring them back down through the second slot.
Pull the ends through the loop to fasten the buckle onto the paracord.
Pull the ends through the loop to fasten the buckle onto the paracord.
Pull to tighten.
Pull to tighten.

Step 3: Start weaving

Lay your blue paracord behind the grey to start:
Lay your paracord so the center of the blue piece is behind the grey piece.
Lay your paracord so the center of the blue piece is behind the grey piece.
Cross the blue strands around in front of the grey.
Cross the blue strands around in front of the grey.
Starting with the right strand, pull the grey strands up and under the blue loop.
Starting with the right strand, pull the grey strands up and under the blue loop.
Do the same thing with the left side.
Do the same thing with the left side.
Pull to tighten.
Pull to tighten.

Step 4: Continue on down the bracelet…

For the complete instructions from DIY Ready, click here.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How To Make Your Own Bar Soap

Soap making is a great “self-reliance” skill that enables a person provide something for themselves that they would otherwise have to depend on a store to get.   
Homemade Soap and Emergency Preparedness
Making soap is one of those old skills that used to be really common and now is nearly unheard of.  If soap makers are ever again needed, learning it would give you a valuable skill that could help your family and community.
However, for prepping purposes I prefer keeping a stock of ‘pre-made’ ready-to-use soap or even store bought soap rather than prepping ‘soap making supplies’ (click here for Five Great Soaps to Prep).  While I always have a good supply on hand, soap making fats and oils do not store well, so it is difficult to keep them for longer than a few years.
The only exception I make to this is lye, I stock plenty of lye as it consumes time and fuel to make.  I am not aware of a shelf-life on lye, and have personally used lye that was nearly 20 years old.  The store bought version is inexpensive, and has many uses – this makes it very easy for me to prep.
Soap Making Facts
Soap is actually a salt (source).  It’s the result of a chemical reaction between fat (an acid) and lye (sodium hydroxide (NaOH) or  potassium hydroxide (KOH) a base. Lye is also commercially sold as a plumbing solvent for clogged drains and is also used to preserve food like in the Norwegian dish lutefisk. Lye is not a scary man-made chemical, it occurs in nature and with a little knowledge can be handled very safely.

Soap cannot be made without lye.  It is possible to create a cleansing substance without lye, but it will not be soap.  Sodium hydroxide is often used to make solid soap while potassium hydroxide is usually used to make softer soaps and liquid soap.  For this article we will be using sodium hydroxide (NaOH) for a harder bar of soap.
The amount of lye needed to react with the fats and oils will vary depending on the chemical makeup of the fats and oils you are using.  This is why it is important to use an established soap recipes or a lye calculator, when you make soap.  A cup of olive oil may not need as much lye as the same amount of  a different type of oil, so if  you swap oils on the recipe you may end up with too much or too little lye. Too much lye means the soap will be caustic (capable of burning, corroding, or destroying living tissue) too little lye means the soap will contain too much fat, which will go rancid in time.
Cold Processed Soap vs Hot Processed Soap
Cold-processed soap still requires some heat but not much.  This soap making process requires exact measurements of lye and fat amounts and computing their ratio, using saponification charts or a lye calculator.  With cold processed soap, the bulk of the saponification happens after the combined oil and lye solution is poured into molds, usually over a period of two to six weeks. Because of this, cold processed soap still contains glycerine which is generally considered good for human skin.
Hot-processed soaps are created by encouraging the saponification reaction by adding heat to speed up the reaction. Unlike cold-processed soap, in hot-processed soap, the oils are completely saponified by the end of the handling period.  Therefore hot processed soap is ready to use right away.  In the “fully boiled hot-process” technique the glycerine and most of the impurities in the fat, lye, and water (which gives cold pressed soap its color) are completely cooked out of the soap and drained off as a liquid to be repurposed, leaving a pure hard white bar.
For the purposes of this article I will go over cold processed soap. But you can click here to learn more about each process.

Equipment List
  • IMG_5537Scale that weighs in pounds and ounces (digital is preferred in soap making for precision but a manual scale will also work)
  • One large stainless steel or enamel pot (do not use aluminum for soap making, aluminum is reactive)
  • One large stainless steel or enamel bowl (use this if you are splitting a batch for different scents or colors)
  • Hand stick blender (you can stir by hand if you want, it just takes more time)
  • Plastic measuring cup (for weighing out your oils and anything else)
  • IMG_5543Two cooking thermometers that must read over 100 degrees
  • Two wooden or plastic spoons (if using wood or plastic, here on after, use this equipment ONLY for soap making)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Clear half gallon plastic container – like a juice pitcher
  • Soap mold (a couple of cardboard boxes lined with freezer paper, chunks of PCV pipe, or a clean kitty litter box will also work as a mold)
  • Old bath towel 
  • Rubber spatula (for scraping the pot and/or bowl after pouring)
There are many different types of soap; like goats milk soap, pine tar soap, castile soap, and coffee soap, but I will cover those in future articles.  Once the equipment is obtained and the process is learned these new types of soaps will be fun and easy.  For this article I will include two simple recipes (below) the instructions are universal and can be applied to most cold pressed soap recipes.
Simple Cold Processed Soap
This recipe will make 25-30 nice bars of soap that will be kind to your skin, that you could gift to friends and family.  The lye is discounted at 7% (this means there is more fat in the recipe than the lye can convert to soap, the extra fat is good for your skin).  You can make it as fancy or as simple as you want and it stores really well.  I recommend that people learn how to make soap with this recipe then move on to other recipes that may peak their interests. 
First gather your equipment and pre-measured ingredients.  Wear a long sleeved shirt, rubber gloves, eye protection, keep your hair pulled back and wear shoes. Keep some vinegar nearby, so that if you get some lye on you (it will start to itch before it burns) you can treat it. Wash with plenty of soap and running water *first* and then rinse with vinegar.  Same with surfaces, wash and rinse in case of spills then spray with vinegar and then repeat when you are finished making soap.  If you get some on your clothes, immediately throw them in the washer.
  • 32oz Cold Water
  • 12oz Powdered Lye – pure sodium hydroxide (NaOH)
Add 32oz of water to the plastic container.  In a well ventilated area slowly add the lye into the water, stir gently trying not to splash. Never the other way around – you will get a violent volcano reaction.  Always add lye to water.  Set aside with one of the thermometers to cool to around 100° F – this could take several hours, to speed the process along set pitcher in an ice water bath or on a cold cement floor.  If the lye has cooled too much vigorously stir the mixture, this will heat it back up.
In the large stainless steel or enamel stock pot add following solids, then place over medium-low heat on the stove until all are liquified:
  •  24 oz Coconut Oil (coconut oil gives soap its bubbles and gives hardness to the bar, this is why most soap makers will tell you that bubbles to do not necessarily equal cleaning power).
  • 28 oz White Shortening (Crisco will work)
  • 10 oz Rendered Bacon Grease, or Rendered Tallow (click here to see How to Make Your Own Tallow)unsalted butter will also work.  I don’t do vegetarian soap, I live on a farmstead so I use animal fat in all my soaps.
Remove melted solids from heat (from here on out you are done with the stove, turn it off). Check your lye water temperature.
This will start lowering the fat temperature, you want  it at 100° F as well (you can combine lye water and the oils anywhere between 125°F -100°F as long as they are the same temp or within 4 degrees of each other). Use the other cooking thermometer to check the temp. Once the temperature of the lye water and oils are the same, slowly stir the lye water into the melted fats and oils. Watch as the mixture begins to change color, get cloudy and thicken as the chemical reaction starts.  You just made soap!

Stir the soap for 10 minutes, then let it rest for 15 minutes, set a timer if you need reminding.  Some people say to stir continuously, I have found this has no effect on how fast the soap finishes, so you might as well do something else for 15-20 minutes.  Continue on this way until a thin layer of oil remains and the surface thickens to the point where you can see a trail where you just stirred (see picture below). This is called “trace,” and it indicates that the soap is ready to be finished.

 Hand stirred soap can take several hours to achieve “trace,” to speed things along use a stick blender.  Be sure to run the blender for a few minutes and then let it rest.  Their cheap little motors will burn up if they are run continuously.  Don’t lift the bender above the liquid level, doing so will mix in a bunch of air into your soap.  Trace can be achieved in as little as 5-10 minutes using a stick blender, but it can take longer.
  • Add 3 oz of any desired essential oils, or any colorants and desired botanicals (like corn meal or oats for scrubbing power) an mix well at this point.
Finishing the Soap
Stir thoroughly, then pour into molds. Almost anything can be used as a mold, shoe boxes can be used for soap molds, wrap in wax paper or butcher paper to prevent sticking. If the mold does not have a lid, place a piece of butcher paper over top of the soap.  This will help prevent soda ash from forming on the soap.  Wrap with the towel, and place in an undisturbed dark area for 24 hours.  Do not check on it.  Leave it alone.  After 24 hours remove the towel and let it sit for *another* 12 hours.


Cutting the Soap
After that point it should be a nice block of soap that you can pop out of the mold.  Continue to wear gloves, at this point the soap is still caustic.  Once out of the mold you may want to let it firm up for another day before cutting.  A mitre box can be used to cut straight bars.  It’s important to do this fairly early in the game, because if the soap firms up too much it will cut poorly and flake.
Collect the soap trimmings after cutting soap bars and press them together with your hands to make soap balls.
Set the bars some where dark to cure and harden uncovered for 2-6 weeks.  Like wine, the longer cold pressed soap sits the better it will be.  If you jump the gun and use your soap too soon it may burn you or it may just be too harsh, so its important to let it sit.


Long Term Emergency Basic Soap Recipe
(recipe credit – Millersoap.com)
This recipe makes about 9 pounds of pure, hard, smooth no-nonsense soap suitable for hand washing, cleaning, laundry or soap flakes, follow this simple recipe:
  • 13 oz of lye 
  • 5 cups cold water 
  • 6 pounds clean fat (tallow or lard or some combination of both)
Follow the above procedures of making lye water, melting the fats, combining the two, stirring until trace, then adding to a mold.  If you  are in a cool area and it looks like the fat is starting to set up before the lye can convert it to soap (this is known as a false trace), apply some gentle heat to the bottom of the pot.  A false trace may present itself as a really grainy texture.  Stirring continuously and briskly for this recipe is better, when it starts to trace for real it will start to stick to the side of your pot.
There is nothing fancy about this recipe, the soap it produces will not lather real well, and may dry your skin – but it will get things clean.  You may want to give this a try some day, and/or print the recipe out and keep it on hand just in case.