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  • May 30, 2014

    Survival Gear Review: The Platypus GravityWorks 2.0L Water Filter-1

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    Platypus gets it. You can’t last very long without water. That’s why they’ve been making water supply products for years. I still have two of the original 1-liter Platypus collapsible water bags. I thought they’d last a few months, at the most. The plastic seemed kind of crunchy, like it would crack at the corners. But they’re both still holding water 15 years later. How does Platypus’ new GravityWorks 2.0L water filter perform? Let me pour you a drink and I’ll tell you all about it.

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  • May 29, 2014

    Survival Skills: How to Make Lard and Lye Soap -0

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    Thousands of years ago, our filthy ancestors made a discovery that would keep them cleaner—soap. Over the last hundred years, soap has become an inexpensive and readily available resource, saving us the time and trouble of having to make it ourselves. Shortly after people stopped producing soap in the home, however, the art of making a batch of homemade lye soap became a mysterious and confusing process. If you’re like me and you can see the merits of being able to make your own soap, then you should appreciate this simple method.

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  • May 27, 2014

    Survival Skills: 14 Wild Medicinal Plants-0

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    Medicinal wild plants have been collected from the landscape and added to home gardens for centuries. In modern times, the cultivation and use of these healing plants may represent a healthier way of living to the homesteader crowd, and a sustainable re-supply plan for preppers and bug-out enthusiasts. While these home remedies should never take the place of professional medical care, it’s nice to have a sense that you are not helpless, should you end up fending for yourself. Below is a list of 14 great plants that you can find in the wild places. Some can even be picked up at garden centers and added to your own personal medicine garden. 

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  • May 27, 2014

    Survival Skills: How to Make Wild Medicine Tinctures -0

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    A simple and effective way to preserve the medicinal quality of a wild medicinal plant is to make a tincture using the plant and a food-safe alcohol. Tinctures are more powerful and last longer than dried herbs, and you can even make your own combination formulas.

    You’ll need three things to make your own tinctures—a strong alcohol, the dried plants, and plenty of time for soaking. Vodka is an affordable and common alcohol that can absorb and preserve the active compounds that you wish to keep, but the best choice is a high-proof product called Everclear, which is almost pure alcohol. This may be hard to find, though: It’s not legal to purchase or possess in some areas. 

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  • May 23, 2014

    Survival Skills: Learn to Forage for Urban Edibles -0

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    Urban foraging has grown over the past few years, from a few folks offering plant walks in city parks, to a career path for urban outdoors people. There’s good reason for it too. There is an amazing array of wild edibles within the limits of every city I’ve ever visited. Tough weeds spring up through the cracks in the sidewalk and in green spaces throughout the modern metropolis. If you're cautious about pollution, you might surprise yourself with a fancy meal of city weeds.

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  • May 19, 2014

    Is MERS The Next SARS?-0

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    Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, has been in the news a bit lately. If this is the first you’ve ever heard about it, it’s important to realize that it’s not a previously unknown ailment that has taken the world by surprise. Knowledge of this emerging disease dates back to 2012, if not earlier. But what is MERS, and why should we care, especially if we don’t live in or plan to visit the Middle East?

    MERS is a virus that causes coughing, fever, and sometimes a fatal, pneumonia-like complication that accounts for its near one-out-of-three fatality rate. MERS is a coronavirus from the same family as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). If you remember the SARS scare, this virus killed about 800 people worldwide after first appearing in China in 2002. Since the discovery of MERS, there have been 572 cases of it in 15 countries, with a death rate of 30 percent. When compared to SARS with its 9- to 12-percent mortality rate, MERS is beginning to receive global attention.

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  • May 16, 2014

    Survival Skills: 5 Urban Survival Kitchen Hacks -1

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    Standing in your kitchen after a disaster can be very demoralizing. What was once the center of food prep and industry in your home, now lies silent and inactive due to a lack of electricity, gas, and/or water. But just because your utilities are now out of service, doesn’t mean they’re totally useless.

    The average American kitchen can be rebooted and revitalized in many unexpected ways, should a storm or some other calamity cut off your power and water. Implement these five off-the-wall survival hacks, and your post-disaster kitchen won’t seem useless after all. 

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  • May 15, 2014

    Survival Skills: Make String — And Cloth!-0

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    I’ll bet the majority of the contestants on Naked and Afraid kick themselves for not picking up some textile skills before shipping out. I don’t know about you, but I was raised with a little modesty, and enough smarts to avoid the casting calls for exploitation TV shows. But if the money was right, and I decided to display my bare buttocks to the world while attempting to survive in a harsh environment, you can bet my hind end wouldn’t be exposed for long. I’d find the best local materials to twist into string, and then weave the string into some clothing and footwear. Here’s how to do it.

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  • May 12, 2014

    Survival Skills: Make Some Emergency Vehicle Repairs -1

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    After a disaster, or in the middle of nowhere, it may fall on you to patch up your own damaged vehicle. In addition to some hand tools and basic survival supplies, you should carry in your vehicle some specialized tools and materials to be more self-reliant and able get the job done. This is where a little forethought and planning can make all the difference. Consider learning the following tricks and carrying these items for emergency roadside repairs that will keep your vehicle running, no matter what.

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  • May 9, 2014

    The Times I Almost Died, Part Three-1

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    For the third and final installment of this week-long series, I have saved the worst for last. If you caught Part 1 on Monday and Part 2 on Wednesday, you saw things go from bad to worse. This final tale is sobering and hard to explain in logical terms, so I’ll just present the story as it happened and let you decide how I’m still here to write about it.

    It was a cold and drizzly morning, Nov. 2, 1999. I was working at a refinery that processed fuel-grade ethanol—essentially, a giant moonshine still. One of my duties was to measure the liquid levels in the tanks in the tank farm, which was an excavated area holding eight large tanks containing tens of thousands of gallons of flammable liquid—everything from low-proof alcoholic waste product to gasoline and 198.6-proof alcohol (nearly water-free). The chill and mist of the morning had me bundled up more than normal for November, and as I scaled the ladder on the side of a 40-foot-tall rusty metal tank, I had no idea how valuable those layers of wet clothing soon would be.

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