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Knight's Armory

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  • Faraday Cage

    Being able to survive off the grid and not using any fancy gadgets or electronics is a wonderful thing, but most of us do have, and often rely on, our electronics.  Most disasters won’t have an effect on the use of your electronics, but there are some exceptions that could completely ruin them for good.

    An EMP (electromagnetic pulse) will destroy your electronics.  Likewise, solar flares will have the same effect.  I am not going to go into what both are and how they work in this post.  Rather, I want to talk about what you can do to protect your valuable electronics from these events, with a simple faraday cage.

    The definition of a faraday cage is: grounded metal screen surrounding a piece of equipment to exclude electrostatic and electromagnetic influences. There is debate as to whether they must be grounded. But with that said, I’m sure that you could go out and buy some fancy mesh cage with a cool zombie logo on it and protect your electronics with a name brand, expensive metal box.  But why do that?  A faraday cage is nothing but a conductive box surrounding your stuff; that is all.

    There are numerous ways to protect your electronics with previously made conductive enclosures like microwaves, ammo cans, aluminum trash cans, filing cabinets (my personal favorite), etc. Some things that you will want to consider first are:

    • What will I be putting in my cage?
    • two way radios;
    • cellphones,
    • AM and FM radios;
    • DVD player (with a small monitor. If you have kids, you want to keep them entertained. A small battery bank can power it);
    •  Inverters;
    • Laptop computers and chargers;
    • USB drives;
    •  Flashlights;
    • Solar chargers; and
    • Any medical supplies that are electronic.
    • Insulate the inside: You don't want to have your electronics touching the conductive material.  For example, if you use a metal trash can with a lid, you could place a smaller plastic trash can inside of it then put your items in that.  You can use cardboard, plastic, rubber, anything that is not conducive can serve as a buffer between the faraday cage and your electronics.
    • If there are openings in the cage, you can seal it with aluminum foil and duct tape (or aluminum duct tape if you want to spend your money on that).

    You might ask, if the grid goes down, what is the point? Well, the electric grid might not be down forever, and if you have alternative means of power like solar, you will be able to power and charge these items (be sure to protect solar charge controllers and other components). Also, a lot of these items will be good for getting you by in the beginning. At least this way you won't be without all of your electronics immediately.  And keep in mind that people that use two way (Ham) radios will probably have theirs in cages also. So you will be able to communicate with others in this emergency.

    So to sum it up, having your vital elections in a faraday cage is a good idea, you can make one out of things that are easy (and cheap) to find, and you don't have to spend a lot of money to have a perfectly functional faraday cage.

    If anyone has any experience with this, feel free to add your insight to the comments.  After all, learning from each other is what this is all about.

    Until next time…

  • SAVING FUEL (GAS)

    This is something that I have very mixed emotions about.  On one hand, I love to stock up on anything and everything that I can, and fuel is a necessity if I want to be able to run my generator or hop in my truck and get out of dodge.  On the other hand, gas goes bad over time and it is not cheep.  Currently, I have  20 five gallon gas cans that I can fill if I need to.  I don't keep them full because I don't want the gas to go bad.  But if I need the gas in an emergency, I won't have it.  Just typing about this aggregating paradox is getting on my nerves. So, what do I do???  I have put a lot of thought into this and I think that saving gas is a good thing, provided that you take the proper precautions.

    Storage

    If you simply buy regular gas and put it in a can, you can expect it to last for about 3 months (weather depending).  However, adding Sta-bil to your can should give you up to a year.  With that said, experts say that you should still rotate your gas every 6 months to insure that there are no issues.

    Another thing that will help your gas last longer is trying to keep it out of the heat and sun.  Keeping it cool will reduce vapors from escaping.  Also, if you keep them in good metallic cans (not what I have) you will be better off.  The plastic cans tend to swell up and this is not good.  I need to take my own advice and invest in better cans.  I got mine for free by being at the right place at the right time when a company was tossing all their plastic cans and switching to metallic.  I now know that they did that for a good reason.

    You should label your cans so you know when you need to use your gas by.  Doing this will insure that you don't accidentally let your gas sit too long.

    Ethanol free gas is another good option.  Logic would tell me that this will last much longer, but adding a stabilizer to it is still advised.

    I still have a lot to learn on this and I am not going to try to I pretend to be an expert on this subject.  So, if anyone has experience with this, feel free to add your insight to the comments.  After all, learning from each other is what this is all about.

    Until next time,

    JDK II

  • Saving Water for a Rainy Day

    Saving Your Water

    I started saving water one 2 liter at a time. I simply saved coke bottles, washed them out, filled them with tap water, added a bit of bleach (more on this later), and dated the bottles with a sharpie. I filled just about anything I could think of with water to save it. Well, anything except milk jugs. Don't use them. I don't care how much you clean them out, they will stink and it will ruin your water (learned the hard way). Yes, I could buy water jugs that are made for this, but why waste the money on those.

    After I filled more bottles than I cared to count, I got some of those big tubs from Walmart and placed them in for safe keeping.  Be sure to get the dark tubs with lids. Light will cause your water to go bad.
    Next, I got my hands on a 35 gallon barrel (my actual tank in picture) that I keep filled. I refill it about once a year. If things go bad, that water will be good for much longer than that.

    My next step in this direction is a 275 gallon tank that I got and plan on using. But I need to prep this one. The tank is clear-ish so I think painting it will work to keep the light out. I will let you know how that works out.

    I also have a small rain collection system but I mostly use that for the garden. I plan on expanding this and going much larger scale with the rain collection in the future.

    Well now that you know what I have done in the way of saving water, here are some tips that I have learned from research and trial and error.

    Purification

    Adding bleach is the best way that I know for keeping your water. Here are the ratios:
    o 1 Liter of water = 2 drops off bleach
    o 1 gallon of water = 6 drops of bleach
    o 2 gallon of water = 12 drops or 1/8 teaspoon of bleach
    o 8 gallon of water = ½ teaspoon of bleach

    You get the idea.  Just do the math to figure out how much bleach you need to keep your water drinkable.

    Storage

    • Keep it out of the light: The sun will allow algae and bacteria to grow.
    • Keep it cool: Heat accelerates algae and bacteria growth.
    • Rotate your water: If you properly store your water, it will last for a very long time. It might taste bad after some time, but it will still be good to drink. A general rule is to start fresh once a year, but don’t loose sleep if you don't.
    • Use BPA-free plastic containers: BPA-free stands for bisphenol A. Basically this is just food grade plastic. If it had water or soda in it, you should be safe to use it.
    • Date your containers: Marking a date on your containers will let you know when you put the water in the jug.
    • Bleach: Don't use scented bleach or bleach that has additional chemicals in it. Just regular bleach.
    Well I am going to end this one for tonight. If you have any tips or comments on this, I would love to here them. After all, learning from each other is what this is all about. And as always, if nothing happens, great! But if it does…at least i’m ready!

    Until next time,

    JDK II

  • Emergency Medical Kit

    Needing a Medical Kit

    When people think about a disaster situation, something that is often overlooked is the real possibility that they (you) might be hurt.

    If emergency services are not available, you may very well be on your own to fix up yourself and your family.  Along with having the knowledge to do this, there are some important tools that you will need.  In the ARMY, in conjunction with being infantry, I was also a combat lifesaver. This meant that I had to poses the knowledge, skills, and tools to fix up any of my brothers that got hurt.  With that said, I am no doctor and I don't claim to be an expert in the medical field by any means.  I do however know that having a good medical bag is essentials if someone gets hurt.  In a short term disaster, emergency services might not be able to get to you, like in a flood for example.  Having a medical kit might get you or a loved one by until they can.

    Making Your Kit

    Now you can do this a couple different ways. You can buy a bag that is already put together with most everything you need. Or, you buy items individually and put them in a bag you create. I recommend a combination of this. Buying a medical bag that is already put together and organized is very convenient and you will get most of everything that you need. There could be other items you want to add like Quickclot or a survival knife, but for the most part, this will give you what you need.

    Not all bags that are on the market will have everything that you need, so be sure to review what is in there prior to buying. There are also small vehicle bags that are not bad to have that are much smaller and cheaper. But investing in a medical bag that has something for most all situations, will give you piece of mind and just might save your life.

    If anyone has any experience with this, feel free to add your insight to the comments. After all, learning from each other is what this is all about. Remember, in the event of a disaster, be prepared not dependent.

    Until next time,

    JDK II

  • Switching to LED

    Should I switch to LED?

    I’m just going to toss something out there I have been thinking about lately. I was recently looking for ways to save money and was reading up on LED lighting for my home. This got me thinking. If the lights go out, having these low energy bulbs would give me the ability to run more of them off of my generator.

    A normal (incandescent) light bulb that produces 1600 lumens uses 100 Watts. That same bulb in an LED uses 20 Watts. If I have 10 lights on, I am using 1000 watts per hour. By switching to its LED equivalent, I am sitting at a cool 200 watts. That's an 80% reduction! That means I can run more on my 5000 watt generator at any given time.

    Something else I found interesting is that these lights last 15 to 20 years. An incandescent has a 1 year life expectancy. Hum?? This seems like a no brainier. Then I look at the price per light…ouch!
    The cost of a normal 100 watt light bulb is around $.90 cents. An LED starts at about $10.00 and goes up from there. That's a 1011% increase. I say again, ouch!

    I guess long term this is a good option for saving money and it does make sense to use these when I am running generator. But this option does have a high upfront cost.

    I think a will be doing this transition slowly over time and hopefully the price of LEDs will be going down in price and I can get enough of them before the SHTF on us.

    If anyone has any ideas on this feel free to add your insight to the comments.  After all, learning from each other is what this is all about.  And as always, if nothing happens, great! But if it does…at least I'm ready!

    Until next time,

    JDK II

  • Hurricanes

    With Hurricane Michael coming close to Florida, now seems like a good time to do a post on Hurricanes.  Don't ya think?  So let's get going!

    WHAT TO DO IF A HURRICANE IS COMING

    Obviously the best option if a hurricane is coming is to get out of the area and head to safety. Unfortunately, that might not always be an option, or maybe you just want to "weather the storm". Either way, there are some things that you should consider BEFORE the storm hits.

    STICKING IT OUT

    First of all, if you are going to stick around for the storm, you should be prepared to be without electricity and water for a few hours to a few days, or more. During Hurricane Irma that got Florida, I was without power for about 9 days, many had it much worse.  I was ready with water, food, fuel, a generator, and protection, so my family and I were ok.  So with that said, here are some things that you will want to have if leaving is not an option:

    WHAT TO HAVE AT HOME

    • Generator: having electricity when the lights go out can keep you from loosing all your food in your fridge, being able too run fans to stay cool, and having light to fix broken windows or doors. Having been in this situation, I can tell you that it is only fun for about an hour when the lights go out, then the fun is over and the reality sets in. so do you and your family a favor and GET A GENERATOR! also, small solar power packs are good too!

    • Fuel: make sure that you have plenty of fuel for/in your vehicles and generators. After a hurricane, gas pumps might be out for days. Also keep some propane for cooking.  Having a bit of propane and a small stove will keep the family fed and happy.

    • Water: have at least three days worth of water. After a major storm, tap water can be contaminated and non potable. Have some bottles of water and fill your tub before the storm hits.  at minimum, you will need 1 gallon of water per person per day.

    • Food: just like water, have at least three days worth of food. Remember that you might not have electricity, or might not want to waste the electricity you have trying to run a stove. Have food that you don't have to heat or that has self contained heaters like MREs. Having propane gas to cook with is a good idea. Get a small camping stove if you don't have a grill.  A solar oven is an awesome thing to have also.

    • Storm shudders and Hurricane Fabric: if you have storm shudders or hurricane fabric for your windows, great! If not, board them up. Flying glass can cause you to have a very bad day. So remember to board them up and stay away from the windows.

    • Protection: if you are the only house on the block with lights, you could draw some unwanted attention. Protect your family from people that might want what you have. As a side note, protect your generator too. People might try to steal it from you. A common trick is to run an old lawnmower and leave it where your generator is so you don't hear them turn it off and leave with it (they often use YOUR lawnmower for this).  So get or make a generator cage.

    • Entertainment: breakout the board games. Keeping the kids entertained will greatly reduce stress during a stressful time.

    AFTER THE STORM

    When you go out for the first time after the storm, be carful. There could be standing water, trees knocked down, and down power lines, to name a few hazards. Be mindful that, if you live in tropical areas, snakes and other wildlife could be out and about after the storm.

    Check out FEMA Information for a comprehensive check list of what you need to think about before the storm.

    Lastly, and most importantly, make sure that you have a plan, and plan for the worst case scenario. If nothing happens, great! But if it does…at least you're ready!

    Until next time,

    JDK II

  • Purifying Water

    One of the most useful skills, in my opinion, is the ability to make contaminated water drinkable again. If things get bad and the only water you can find is dirty, having the knowledge to fix it can easily save your life and the lives of your family. Think about it, it doesn't even have to be a SHTF scenario. Look at the people in Louisiana right now. They are surrounded by water, but drinking it could make them much worse off than they already are. Standing water is filled with bacteria, insects, and, oils, and other pollutants.

    Below I am going to discuss some methods for purifying water. Sure there are fancy gadgets out there that can do it easily, and I will discuss those too, but do you really want to rely solely on those?

    Water Purification Tablets or chemicals

    Iodine tablets, bleach, and germicidal tablets in general do a good job of killing the bacteria in water. What this means is that you can scoop up some pond water, add some of this, and in a few minutes you are all set. The down side to this is it does not remove solids or metals and the taste is not good. That means that if you are trying to get one of your kids to drink it, it will be like trying to get them to eat their vegetables…difficult!

    Boiling

    If you have the luxury of a fire, boiling your water is a good option. Boiling for 5 minutes will kill the bacteria that can be found in standing water. The problem here is it also will not remove any metals, minerals, or solids from the water, and if the water is dirty, boiling won't make it look like sparkling water. But keep in mind that if you drink tap water, you are drinking metals/solids. Get you a Ppm (parts per million) tester and see how your water stacks up.

    DIY water filter

    I’m sure you've seen, or hopefully already know how to make, a homemade water filter. This is a good method for purifying water. For this what you need to do is:

    • Get a container like a two letter bottle;
    • Cut off the bottom and poke some holes in the lid;
    • Add a bit of cloth or coffee filter and screw the lid back on over it;
    • Add a bottom layer of charcoal (top of bottle upside down);
    • Add a layer of fine sand;
    • Add a layer of small gravel rock;
    • Add another layer of sand;
    • Add another layer of rock;
    • And I like to finish it off with a coffee filter or a bit of cloth, rubber banded around the top, if I have those items (this just gets some of the stuff before it goes in the filter and will help it last longer);
    • Then poor your water in from the top (bottom of bottle) and let it drip into a cup. It is that easy.

    This method is good and will give you some clear tasty water. It won't completely remove all bacteria though so boiling beforehand will cover all your bases. But if you don't have or can't make fire to boil, I would be confident with this method.

    Distilling water

    This is really the best way to know that your drinking water is free from metals, bacteria, and other solids. Distilling is where you turn the water into stem, the steam condenses, and is good drinking water. The process for turning the bad water into steam then into water for you to drink is not that hard and, like most other things, there is more than one way to skin a cat. This is the simplest way that I know.

    • Start by getting a pot (or tea kettle if you have it. Different method, but works better);
    • Sit a cup (one that won’t break or melt) in the middle of the pot;
      Pour some dirty or salt water (yes, this works with salt water too) in the pot around the cup (don't add too much causing the cup to float);
    • Put the lid on upside down (this is so the water vapor will condense on the lid and drip into the cup);
    • Add the heat under the pot;
    • The water that drips into the cup is just about as pure as it can get.

    Again, there are better ways to distill water, but this way is very easy and requires the least materials.

    UV Pens

    Using an ultraviolet pen is definitely a good way to purify and kill the bacteria in your water. There are numerous different brands on the market and they all do pretty much the same thing. They are easy to use, purifies a lot of water fast (in just a few minutes), and kills the bacteria that can make you sick. With that said, keep in mind that gadgets break, require batteries, and can be expensive. I don't currently have one of these but I may get one some day. They do work from what I am told and might be fun to take hunting or camping.

    Things you could have with you

    To wrap things up

    Knowing how to purify your water is a skill that I think every person should know. You won't make it too long without water and you certainly don’t want to be in a situation where you or your family are forced to drink water that could be harmful.
    If anyone has any experience with this, feel free to add your insight to the comments. After all, learning from each other is what this is all about. And as always, in the event of a disaster, be prepared not dependent.

    Until next time,

    JDK II

     

     

  • SOLAR STILL

    Being able to get water is not only a valuable skill, it’s a necessity!One way to do this is by making a solar still. There are numerous ways to do this, but this method is pretty straightforward, and anyone can do it with just a little material.

    The items that you need are as follows:

    • Plastic tarp (preferably clear)
    • The sunnier the location the better
    • Enough fist size rocks to anchor around the tarp
    • A cup or bucket to capture the water
    • A shovel (otherwise you have to dig with your hands or a stick)
    • Wet green leaves, if they are available
    • A small pebble or something for the center of the tarp
    • And if you have a long tube for a straw, that is good.
    • (this is also not a bad thing to have in your arsenal (click))

    The process for getting your drinking water goes like this:

    1. Dig a hole in the ground. Go down deep enough so that your cup or bucket is not touching the tarp and allow room for your tarp to sag in the middle so the water can accumulate and drip in the container. Make sure that you dig the hole wide with a gradual slope down. Also, make the hole slightly smaller in diameter than the tarp.

    2. Put your bucket in the middle of the hole. You can dig it in about half way to give you some extra room.

    3. If you have green leaves at your disposal, place a thick layer of them in the hole, but not in the bucket. If the ground is already visibly wet, you don't have to use leaves.

    4. If you have a long enough tube that you can put in the bucket and run out of the hole, this will give you a straw so you don't have to disassemble everything to get a drink.

    5. Lay the tarp over the hole. Remember not to stretch it too tight because it needs to sag in the middle.

    6. Use rocks or some other way to anchor the tarp. Make sure you don't leave gaps for water vapor to escape.

    7. Place a pebble or bit of sand in the middle of the tarp so it sags over the container (without letting it touch the container).

    8. You will see the tarp start to fog up. This is the beginning of your water.

    9. When you see water in the container, have a drink. It is that easy.
    Keep in mind that by doing this you are distilling the water, so the water in the cup is clean and perfectly safe to drink. Even if it starts out as salt water, your water will be perfectly safe for you and your family.

    If anyone has any experience with this, feel free to add your insight to the comments. After all, learning from each other is what this is all about. And as always, in the event of a disaster, be prepared not dependent.

    Until next time,

    JDK II

  • Bug Out Bag

    What is a bug out bag

    People often view the “bug out bag” as something that you grab when the SHTF. This is one way to look at it. Another way is to look at it like a bug out bag is nothing more than a bag that makes you ready for a given situation. I look at them kind of like a first aid kit. You think of what could go wrong, and put the items in the bag that will mitigate the situation, and increase your chances.

    Now that I have covered that, let's talk about some things you might want to consider before making your bag.

    What do you need the bag for?

    The first thing that you want to consider is: What is my bag for? Do you want it for grabbing in an emergency and leaving the house, never to return? Or are you thinking more along the lines of needing to evacuate for a few days due to weather conditions, like a hurricane. I personally have multiple bags for multiple situations, but let's start small.

    Making your first bag

    Getting a bag that is big enough to fit everything that you need is important. You also want the bag to have plenty of compartments so you can be organized, otherwise you might as well just toss your stuff into a pillow case.

    The color of your bag might seem like a silly consideration, but think back to what you need it for. I have bags that are bright and easily visible; I also have bags that are black or camouflage, in case I don't want them standing out.

    What goes in?

    Now the fun part…filling your bag. There are a lot of really good sources out there with checklists and guides, but here are some “must haves” in your bag:

    • Water: you really need about 3 days worth but that is not exactly lite. I personally have a separate bag just for water. Also, water purification tablets aren't a bad idea to have.

    • Food: having enough food in your bag is very important. Make sure that the food will provide the energy you need and that it is easy to prepare.

    • Fire: waterproof matches, a lighter, and some kindling. I have a small bag of dryer lint in every bag I have.

    • Clothes: being able to put on dry clothes could save your life. Don't forget socks and boots.

    • Multi tool: always have a multi tool in your bag with a knife and screwdriver.

    • Protection: having a pistol in your bag could save your life. Don't forget extra ammo.

    • Health: get a small first aid kit.

    • 550 cord: type three nylon or 550 cord is a must. It has so many uses. I suggest 100 feet.

    • Communication: get yourself a small ham radio. They are cheep and very useful. Baofeng has some good radios.

    • Lighting: flashlight/glow sticks.

    Nobody can have everything that they need for every situation all in one bag, but just do your best to have the essentials. As you make your bag(s), you will think of more that you might need like a whistle, duct tape, or batteries.. Make a checklist, keep it organized, and know what you have and how to use it. Remember, if you don't know what you have and how to use it, it won't do you any good when you need it.

    Until next time,

    JDK II

     

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