Cold Weather Survival

It’s going to get down to 15 degrees below zero wind chill here tonight so I thought I’d share some of what we have previously published on dealing with and surviving in cold weather.

Stay warm! (more…)

Rigging A Tarp Shelter Infographic

Rigging a Tarp Shelter


Andrew’s Note:  I’m still a fan of using bungee cords as described in Building a Poncho Hooch but this method of rigging a tarp shelter eliminates the need to carry additional gear/bungee cords.  Note that tarp shelter techniques can be used with poncho shelters.  Click on the graphic to take a look at

How To Build A Campfire Infographic

How To Build a CampfireAndrew’s Note:  A few years ago I took a group of kids out to the woods, broke them down into several groups and challenged them to build a campfire.  I had a prize waiting for the first group to successfully start their campfire…it was a very long wait.  Knowing how to build a campfire was skill nearly every child learned when I was a kid…not so anymore.  This is a critically important skill that’s key to protecting yourself from the elements in cold weather…pass it on. 


Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Andrew’s Note:  Today we present another lesson from our periodic Military Pedagogy series.  This discussion, from TC 21-3, the Soldier’s Handbook for Individual Operations and Survival in Cold Weather Areas [Approved For Public Release; Distribution is Unlimited] is on Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.  As our homes and offices become better insulated and sealed we increase the chances of serious injury or death resulting from carbon monoxide poisoning.  This lesson was written for soldiers living and working in tents and vehicles but applies to permanent shelters as well.  Learn the symptoms, learn the treatment and for heavens sake, learn the prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning  (more…)

Top 10 Preparedness Uses of Garbage Bags

Today Prepography is pleased to present garbage… garbage bags that is…as in the top 10 preparedness uses of garbage bags.  Garbage bags can be used by preppers for dozens of purposes besides rubbish disposal.  I like the heavy duty, Contractor Grade Garbage Bags because they’re larger and more durable than the typical kitchen variety.  In the Jackson household often buy our heavy duty garbage bags through school fundraisers but they’re also available from the big box and local hardware stores as well as online.

Top 10 Preparedness Uses of Trash Bags: (more…)

Sleeping Bag Infographic from Advertiser REI

Sleeping Bag Infographic


Check out REI’s wide selection of sleeping bags

Building a Bug Out Bag – Part V, Shelter, Clothing and Protection from the Elements

In Building a Bug Out Bag Part I we discussed why building a Bug Out Bag is important and what type of bag to select.  In Part II we discussed the Transportation Items to consider, in Part III we explored Water preparedness, and in Part IV we explored Food preparedness for your Bug Out Bag.  Today we’ll discuss Shelter, Clothing and Protection from the Elements preparedness considerations for building a Bug Out Bag.  Remember, this is your last ditch, carry on your back, walk away from trouble Bug Out Bag…not what you hope you can get to your bug out location if your car, SUV, or bugout ultralight makes it.


Homemade Laundry Detergent- RFI

Homemade Laundry DetergentRequest For Information (RFI):  Homemade Laundry Detergent

Daughter #2 is allergic to most laundry detergents and we have a hard time finding a new one that doesn’t give her hives when the current favorite is discontinued.  We’d like to make our own homemade laundry detergent so that we’re not at the mercy of the market and have to find a new product every few years.  The trial and error process is very expensive and uncomfortable for our daughter.  Being able to make our own homemade laundry detergent will also increase our self reliance and hopefully save money.

There are all kinds of recipe’s available on the internet, but we’re looking for something specific.  If you have a laundry detergent recipe that works for you please share it with me and Prepography‘s readers using the comment feature or Contact Page.

We’re looking for a homemade laundry detergent recipe that:

  • Is VERY hypoallergenic
  • Will work in an HE front-load washing machine as well as for hand washing
  • Is inexpensive to make
  • Is fragrance free

Thanks in advance for sharing your homemade laundry detergent recipe.  If you’d like to track responses to this homemade laundry detergent recipe request you can do so under the comment feature as well.


Preparedness Uses of Baking Soda – Top 10 Uses

Today we add another article in our Top 10 series…this time it’s the Top 10 Preparedness Uses of Baking Soda

What is Baking Soda?

Baking Sodais composed of pure sodium bicarbonate.  This common leavening agent is added to baked goods which causes them to rise due to the production of carbon dioxide bubbles.  Baking Soda reacts chemically to help neutralize and regulate pH in substances that are to alkaline or acidic.  Baking Soda differs from Baking Powder in that Baking Powder is a mixture of sodium bicarbonate, an acidifying agent and a drying agent.

Sodium bicarbonate, also known as sodium hydrogen carbonate is a naturally occurring compound but can also be produced using the solvay process.

Top 10 Preparedness Uses of Baking Soda

  1. Odor Neutralization:  There’s a reason your mama kept an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator…it absorbs and neutralizes odors by neutralizing the pH of odor producing nastiness.  It can do the same thing when sprinkled on odor producing garbage, spills or even carpets (let stand for at least 15 minutes).  It can also be used to remove an odor from a container…use with hot water and leave the water and Baking Soda mixture in the container overnight.   Add to animal litter or bedding to reduce odor.
  2. Personal Hygiene:  Apply directly under arms or mix with warm water and apply with a cloth after bathing to reduce body odor smells during the day.  Mix with hydrogen peroxide or use directly as a toothpaste substitute.   Wash your hands with Baking Soda to remove odors.
  3. Medicinal:  Soothe heartburn with a teaspoon of Baking Soda added to six ounces of water.  Mix into a paste with water to soothe skin if mildly sunburned, bitten by insects or suffering from poison ivy.  It can also be added to bathwater to soothe mild rashes.  A paste made from Baking Soda will reportedly extract splinters.  Mix with water and gargle to soothe canker sores (reportedly freshens mouth as well). (more…)

Fire in Cold Weather Survival Situations

Andrew’s Note:  Today we present another lesson from our Military Pedagogy series.  This discussion, from FM 21-76, the U.S. Army Survival Manual [Approved For Public Release; Distribution is Unlimited] is on the importance of fire in cold weather survival situations.


Fire is especially important in cold weather. It not only provides a means to prepare food, but also to get warm and to melt snow or ice for water. It also provides you with a significant psychological boost by making you feel a little more secure in your situation.  Use the techniques described in Chapter 7 to build and light your fire.  If you are in enemy territory, remember that the smoke, smell, and light from your fire may reveal your location.  Light reflects from surrounding trees or rocks, making even indirect light a source of danger.  Smoke tends to go straight up in cold, calm weather, making it a beacon during the day, but helping to conceal the smell at night. In warmer weather, especially in a wooded area, smoke tends to hug the ground, making it less visible in the day, but making its odor spread.  If you are in enemy territory, cut low tree boughs rather than the entire tree for firewood.  Fallen trees are easily seen from the air.

All wood will burn, but some types of wood create more smoke than others. For instance, coniferous trees that contain resin and tar create more and darker smoke than deciduous trees.

There are few materials to use for fuel in the high mountainous regions of the arctic.  You may find some grasses and moss, but very little. The lower the elevation, the more fuel available.  You may find some scrub willow and small, stunted spruce trees above the tree line.  On sea ice, fuels are seemingly nonexistent.  Driftwood or fats may be the only fuels available to a survivor on the barren coastlines in the arctic and subarctic regions.

Abundant fuels within the tree line are–

  • Spruce trees are common in the interior regions.  As a conifer, spruce makes a lot of smoke when burned in the spring and summer months.  However, it burns almost smoke-free in late fall and winter.
  • The tamarack tree is also a conifer. It is the only tree of the pine family that loses its needles in the fall.  Without its needles, it looks like a dead spruce, but it has many knobby buds and cones on its bare branches.  When burning, tamarack wood makes a lot of smoke and is excellent for signaling purposes.
  • Birch trees are deciduous and the wood burns hot and fast, as if soaked with oil or kerosene. Most birches grow near streams and lakes, but occasionally you will find a few on higher ground and away from water.
  • Willow and alder grow in arctic regions, normally in marsh areas or near lakes and streams.  These woods burn hot and fast without much smoke.

Dried moss, grass, and scrub willow are other materials you can use for fuel.  These are usually plentiful near streams in tundras (open, treeless plains).  By bundling or twisting grasses or other scrub vegetation to form a large, solid mass, you will have a slower burning, more productive fuel.

If fuel or oil is available from a wrecked vehicle or downed aircraft, use it for fuel.  Leave the fuel in the tank for storage, drawing on the supply only as you need it.  Oil congeals in extremely cold temperatures, therefore, drain it from the vehicle or aircraft while still warm if there is no danger of explosion or fire.  If you have no container, let the oil drain onto the snow or ice.  Scoop up the fuel as you need it.

CAUTION:  Do not expose flesh to petroleum, oil, and lubricants in extremely cold temperatures.  The liquid state of these products is deceptive in that it can cause frostbite.

Some plastic products, such as MRE spoons, helmet visors, visor housings, and foam rubber will ignite quickly from a burning match.  They will also burn long enough to help start a fire.  For example, a plastic spoon will burn for about 10 minutes.  In cold weather regions, there are some hazards in using fires, whether to keep warm or to cook.  For example–

  • Fires have been known to burn underground, resurfacing nearby.  Therefore, do not build a fire too close to a shelter.
  • In snow shelters, excessive heat will melt the insulating layer of snow that may also be your camouflage.
  • A fire inside a shelter lacking adequate ventilation can result in carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • A person trying to get warm or to dry clothes may become careless and burn or scorch his clothing and equipment.
  • Melting overhead snow may get you wet, bury you and your equipment, and possibly extinguish your fire.

Cooking Fire and Stove, Figure 15-7

In general, a small fire and some type of stove is the best combination for cooking purposes.  A hobo stove (Figure 15-7) is particularly suitable to the arctic.  It is easy to make out of a tin can, and it conserves fuel.  A bed of hot coals provides the best cooking heat.  Coals from a crisscross fire will settle uniformly.  Make this type of fire by crisscrossing the firewood. A simple crane propped on a forked stick will hold a cooking container over a fire.

For heating purposes, a single candle provides enough heat to warm an enclosed shelter.  A small fire about the size of a man’s hand is ideal for use in enemy territory.  It requires very little fuel, yet it generates considerable warmth and is hot enough to warm liquids.

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