Improvised Tools: I

Welcome to the Improvised Tools Series.If you value self-reliance or survivalism, enjoy improvisation, or are preparing for creating your own tools while living off of the strictly regulated government grid, then this is the series for you. I am absolutely obsessed with all manner of recycled and improvised materials, and not only for practical utility in a day-to-day depressed economy but also for the long-term use in a situation of serious social collapse. The materials I like to use can be found anywhere and can be used to create all kinds of amazing tools and necessities for survival and even for regular use. Due to the bulk of creative and interesting tools I have found and experimented with, I will have to write these articles in installments. I present to you the first installment of improvised tools…

The Rocket Stove

This amazing invention utilizes some advanced concepts of heat and energy conservation. It basically makes your fire burn very hot, very efficiently, with less fuel, less smoke, and less waste! Everything you could possibly want in a camp fire, and with this kind of power it can even replace an electric or gas-powered stove.The building materials can be found at any Home Depot or Lowe’s, or even with some simple adobe bricks if you want to get very primitive. Maximum time investment is a few hours for the wildly cautious and inexperienced. The best way for me to describe how to make this is to provide you with some videos of how others successfully built theirs! Here are some videos of how to build your own rocket stove, along with the science behind the stove:

Home Made Blacksmith’s Forge

There are as many ideas for building Forges as there are ideas for running a country, and most of them are just like people’s government ideas: They simply don’t work, and if they do work it is a sorry sight to see. I have combed through tons of garbage, tossed aside endless scrap and poor materials to bring out these shining diamonds from the Forge.

Cast Iron Sink Forge: This one takes some workshop experience and a full day of dedicate labor to put together, but the good thing is that there is an integrated quencher (a water pail for hardening forged steel) and also an integrated vacuum unit for blowing the forge to VERY high heats. It takes absolutely no natural gas or fuel aside from forge coal, and of course an electrical outlet for your shop vacuum. Here are detailed instructions on building your own heavy-duty Improvised Cast Iron Sink Forge. This Forge is tried and true, and will provide all the heat you will ever need for makeshift knife making, steel working, and even for melting down metals for purification or for ammunition making. The one downside is that all extra heat is pretty much wasted, as the model detailed in the link does NOT have oven capabilities of heat trapping, so any heat not capture by the metal is not conserved and rapidly bleeds away.

Paint Can Forge: This is a much smaller and simpler option (just as effective for small metals, or long bars of metal). It utilizes a plumbing torch to create a high heat furnace from a paint can and high heat mortar called Satanite. It is very easy to build, requires relatively no skills or experience, is easily transported, and it is found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qn-qrgp9804&NR=1

Improvised Anvil: Once you have a forge it would be almost totally useless without an anvil. The problem is that many of these are incredibly heavy and expensive. Anvils can be hard to come by, so sometimes you have to improvise your own… The best article I’ve found on doing that is right here: http://www.britishblades.com/forums/showthread.php?11230-Improvised-anvils

Improvised Sandbags

Contrary to popular belief, making a sand bag is much more complex than simply filling a burlap or cloth bag with sand. Take it from me, since I have tried many times to build my own. My first attempt came in the form of a simple burlap bag with sand. The bag way WAY too heavy when filled completely, so I filled it partially. This partial fill made it awkward to move, especially due to shifting sand inside, and also the extra cloth made it likely to break and strain. A simple rip or tear due to the 40 – 50 lbs of weight inside would empty the entire bag and render it useless.

Next up was a plastic design (like the plastic thread bags sold in packs of 50 or more that hold up to 40 lbs of weight). These bags are cheap and come in large numbers, and the design allows the bags hold up to lots of weight and still not tear easily! I thought I had found my ideal solution to fortifying a position against gunfire or flood water, but alas I was disappointed. These bags will very easily degrade in sunlight. In fact just two days of sun exposure and most will begin fraying on their own, and turning to dust when handled.

So what is the solution to a proper improvised sand bag? For those who do not have military style burlap sand bags to fill and stack this will be a challenge handled by using thick zip lock bags and also contractor bags (or heavy-duty garbage bags that are at least 3 to 4 mil thickness). Use a simple burlap or cloth bag on the outside, such as those used to hold large quantities of rice. You can even use an old backpack or cloth sack of any other kind to get creative, as long as it ISN’T polyurethane (plastic). Buy a plentiful supply of 4 – 6 mil zip lock bags online (these are available cheap) and fill each of these about 3/4 full with sand, push out any excess air, and then duct tape them all around to make what looks like a sand brick. You will fill your bag with these little sand bricks, and even if one or many of them are punctured (which is extremely unlikely due to the 4 – 6 mil thickness) it will not destroy your entire bag. The outer covering will be sun resistant until water and mold destroy it, but that is still months of life when left outside as opposed to days.

If you don’t have the time to wrap up individual units of sand and are impatient then use the contractor bags I told you to get earlier. These are standard 3 – 4 mil thickness and will hold about 25 lbs of sand each if you wrap them in duct tape and remove all excess air. Do the same routine with these, fill them up with as much sand as they can hold and then duct tape them sealed and all around for extra stability. You can further coat them in another bag if you want increased weather resistance, but if you are in a hurry and preparing for a flood or hurricane then by all means have a friend help you by holding the bag open while you shovel in sand, then tape the bag shut as quickly as possible. You now have an improvised sand bag.

A note on sand bags for defense purposes: It takes 6″ (that’s right, six inches) of sand to STOP a high-powered assault rifle bullet. These bullets have low mass and high velocity, and pretty much turn to dust when they collide with the sand. A barrier of just over 6″ is preferable to stop pistol rounds, which can travel up to 9″ in sand because they have a higher mass and a lower velocity, so they deposit energy less readily in the sand and hold together very well even after impact. Sand bags are perfect for protecting against shrapnel of all kinds (remember the principle, low mass and high velocity = easily stopped by sand).

That’s all folks!

That’s all for now, as I find new and interesting things to have I will be sure to post them here as they become available. Before anything reaches this site I either build it myself, or find several examples of people who have built it themselves. I make sure this person or people have thoroughly tested it to standards I would employ myself, and I make sure to read their thorough reviews. If you find anything interesting that measures up and works well, please feel free to email it to me for use on this site with your review and instructions as well! Contact me at thenewamericanrevolutionary@gmail.com and help your fellow Revolutionaries with the greatest gift of all: Empowering Knowledge.

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U.S. Dollars Will Be Worthless

Do you understand economics?

If you are like most people I know then the answer to that question is “a little bit”. Some people claim to understand economics very well, but those who truly do understand this field will tell you that economics degenerates often into a study of humans and their strange financial and business decisions, rather than a clear-cut study of predictable growth or shrinkage of resources. Economics is a very weird, sophisticated creature. This is because of the fact that we humans are very weird, sophisticated creatures, and our behaviors determine our economics. Jobs can increase, income can increase, but a very debt oppressed population cannot spend when it is mired in debt, and this can depress and shrink the economy. Sound confusing? The more you research economics the more you see that it boils down to opinion and speculation, and that is why there are SO many different opinions within economics.

So what is economics to the layman? In our modern world, almost all economics are supposedly based on an exchange of value. This value can be either an exchange of services, materials and commodities, or an exchange of money. Many of us inherently know that money is valuable to us as humans, but do we really know why?

Paper and printed money started as a method of representing gold and silver. People used to carry these valuable resources with them everywhere they went, and carrying a lot of metal is a heavy, cumbersome, and dangerous thing. Eventually nations consolidated their gold and silver (along with other rare metals, which are collectively known as bullion when they represent wealth) and printed out paper money to represent pieces of this store of wealth. Your dollars are supposed to represent a piece of U.S. wealth. The only problem is that it doesn’t.

How long until your dollar is obsolete?

Our Money Policy = Our Money Problem

Due to the policies of the Federal Reserve and their ideas of economic regulation and money politics, your money is only as good as the word of the Federal Reserve. The system that they implement on our money system is free from the control of Congress, and in the process of doing as they liked these men decided that the dollar should no longer be reliant on the stores of gold the United States owns. This means that there is a tremendous sum of money floating around that represents ZERO real world value, yet we and other nations continue to use it because we all assume it still means something.

How do I know this to be true? The U.S. rate of printing money FAR EXCEEDS the rate at which it acquires valuable resources such as gold and silver bullion. This is the clearest and most obvious sign that tons of our money is printed without commodities to back it up. The next sign is that our dollar used to mean a good deal of wealth (as we know from the old days when a man was well off if he earned $10 a day). Our money means less and less, because we print more and more, and do not continue to acquire wealth to back up all the money that is floating around out there.

Many people, especially financial experts all over the U.S., are taking every opportunity to get out there and snatch up all the gold and silver they can get your hands on. Just look online and find all the sites that have cropped up, as well as all the second-hand buyers who look around for people selling old gold and silver jewelry to be melted down. These people understand that it is absolutely certain that the U.S. dollar will continue to weaken (the Federal Reserve policies guarantee it) and due to this trend it is highly likely, and to some it seems inevitable, that the U.S. dollar will collapse.

When this occurs, all of your retirement, all of your savings, all of your property, and every dollar you own has the potential to mean absolutely nothing. And if it means anything at all it will be valued at a grossly smaller fraction of what it is currently “thought to be valued at”. I put that in quotes because your dollar really is currently worth only a tiny fraction of what everyone thinks it is, the problem is everyone continues to use it as if it worth more because economists tell us we can. Everyone agrees it is stronger than it really is, and because of that we continue to pretend it has high value. DON’T BE FOOLED.

If you have any doubt whatsoever that the value of money could ever be so grossly misrepresented, or if you have any doubt that people would continue to over value money out of simple fear, please educate yourself on the recent Global Financial Collapse of 2008. And you should probably know that Mr. Warren Buffet, a key U.S. investor and economics expert, agrees with my conclusion that the dollar will be worthless, although he admits it would become worthless to EVERYONE if we continue printing more money (the Federal Reserve has already declared its plans to do just that).

Treat your money like its burning... Get rid of it! Trade it for commodities as soon as possible.

What should you do?

Get rid of your dollars at the safest rate you possibly can, and invest in some wealth security such as gold, platinum, silver, or other precious metals that you can hold onto yourself and have in the case of a dollar collapse. There are all kinds of guidelines to follow because this market has become very large, and I am only recently getting into it myself. Find someone who is very experienced in this area, and please do your research thoroughly! There are many scam artists and frauds out there who aim to steal your money and give you no authentic bullion in return.

If you do your research and invest carefully, you can protect your family from the collapse of the dollar. And if you are a perpetual optimist, and don’t believe the dollar will ever fail, then at the very worst you will gain a considerable amount of money by investing in commodities that NEVER drop in value. Bullion is as safe as it gets when it comes to investing, and it is a form of wealth that is safe, predictable, and (for now) easily within reach. Now get out there and secure your family’s financial future.

UPDATE 8/27/11: We are currently in a Gold Bubble, which means that Gold is at an artificially high price right now, and is maintained there by the people who own it so that they can make a considerable amount of money on others who they sell it to. DO NOT BUY GOLD AT THIS TIME, people who own large amounts of it purposefully keep it off the market so that the gold prices can stay artificially high. Instead make a safer investment and buy silver, which is having the opposite happen: it is being kept artificially low. An investment in silver means greater long term security because its price will go up and will not implode like the price of gold.

Personal Defense

This Article is still under construction!

I write this article with great hesitation and apprehension, because it has the potential to be misused. Before I begin I will give you a serious disclaimer about self defense and having a weapon in the home, as well as the Self Defense Mentality… Although I am an advocate for being armed, I mainly an advocate for armed AWARENESS. Many people who are armed today (in fact the vast majority of armed Americans) have a terrible attitude, are poorly trained, have a bad combat mentality and rules of engagement, and worst of all most of them have no idea what real violence is.

Violence is a game of dice where you can train, practice, and do everything right and still die. It is an arena where very serious and life altering things can happen to you, your family, and anyone else involved. It is NOT a situation where the enemy can be clearly defined, as sometimes it occurs with family members, coworkers, peers, or even between other people with you as a bystander. Sometimes it occurs as a criminal element that confronts you or your family, other times as a criminal element you witness in the world. Violence is intensely complex, risky, and personally damaging to the human psyche and spirit.

Also, many people consider personal defense as an excuse for violence. These are the people who constantly ask questions about situations that MUST lead to violence, such as “What if I was cornered and couldn’t escape?” A person set on escaping will run over anyone and anything in their way to get out of a room, and are infinitely harder to stop than someone who is unsure and might stay and fight. Or they might ask an unrealistic, horribly stupid situation to put yourself in, such as “What if I’m surrounded by gun toting thugs and have to shoot my way out?” Who on earth would even allow themselves to come to such a situation? These are a total failure of all your primary defense, the first of which are awareness and common sense, which together make up PREVENTION.

Ask yourself if your goal really is protection of your family and self defense, because most of the time I assure you that people’s goals are NOT for personal defense. The best question to prove this point is, if you are really concerned about your family’s safety: “Do you have a first aid kit, and do you know how to use it? Do you know CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver? Do you have a disaster plan?” If 2 out of 3 are answered negative, then guess what: You aren’t that concerned with your family’s safety, because you haven’t prepared for the most common causes of death and familial loss. Question yourself and your motives, because you will need to be sharply self aware to be a responsible weapon owner, and a safe weapon operator.

If you have considered the options, care about family safety and self defense, and can wrap your head around what violence really is, you might be qualified to look into owning a gun. The right mentality to have it to be a person looking for a tool in their layers of self defense (the FINAL tool that you can fall back on, not the first). If these describe you, then know that nothing equals the odds with a larger foe like an armed, trained, law-abiding citizen who has the right frame of mind and the ability to react effectively to a threat.

Let me repeat that if you are not willing to handle what violence truly is and cannot accept the harsh realities of it then you have no business owning a gun, a knife, or any other form of weapon. You will only end up bringing MORE harm to yourself and your loved ones when your unrealistic view of violence lands you dead in the gutter, or lands someone else dead while you end up in prison for most of your natural born life. Either step through the door to violence fully prepared and fully committed, or shut the door behind you and stop peeking in.

With all that said, let’s begin. Second Amendment Rights are the security, pride, and joy of many Americans today. Despite the cowardly lunatics who abuse this freedom by using it to shoot up an unarmed mini-mall or college in true coward fashion, many of us are sane and kind people who effectively and safely handle our own guns. In the modern world these armaments allow the average citizen to have the right to personal protection on their own terms, without having to wait 30 minutes after a life threatening emergency has started to receive help (assuming they can even call for help and are not being attacked or raped).

Many Americans would be shocked to know that the United States is the single most violent 1st-world country in the world. The only other country that even comes close to our violent crime and imprisonment rate is Russia, and some people would consider most of Russia’s countryside to be third world (when excluding the major cities which are well advanced and first world like ours). When you note the history of violence in the United States, and when you also note the mentality of many of today’s criminals (rob, then rape, then kill everyone involved, whether they cooperate or not) it becomes very clear that the only thing that will protect your family is an armed person (hopefully you rather than the police officer who is miles away). If you consider a baton, pepper spray or Taser to be enough, you would do well to remember that almost all violent crime has multiple criminals involved: in other words, trouble often travels in groups of two or more.

                             Which option will you choose?

Before even thinking about a gun or what kind of gun to own, I would suggest your go to No Nonsense Self Defense right now and spend a few hours (at least) reading their articles to understand a truly sophisticated and realistic mind-frame of self defense and violence prevention. Only after reading their site and understanding the topics presented there would I suggest continuing to the paragraph below. They go over topics such as the differences between Aggression and Assertiveness, knowing the 5 levels of self defense, knowing how to avoid becoming a target, and knowing how to be a true alpha male instead of a beta male pretending. They teach you that rudeness and macho bravado are a weak man’s imitation of strength, and they teach you how to leave behind the violent geek’s mentality of violence to adopt a healthy, mature understanding you will need to react in a violent and emotionally charged situation.

Have you read some of their brilliant articles? If you have, then let me begin by saying that the way most “gun buffs” and gun salesmen teach you to choose your weapon is hands down wrong. They try and cater your approach to each and every caliber and brand as if all of these factors make a considerable difference to a civilian who is employing this weapon properly (which is as a last line of defense when all your other barriers of protection have failed). I have heard dozens of people encourage high capacity magazines for shootout situations, and encourage entirely the WRONG kind of gun owning and gun using mentality.

You as a possible gun owner need to know there is a difference between preparing a citizen’s armory (for purposes of war, or national defense) and preparing for self defense (which includes home defense, survival, or a criminal confrontation). There are many options you have to choose from in the United States, and with all the varieties available it is easy to go to an extreme that you will never need. Let’s take a look at the kinds of weapons available to us today:

  • Handguns – Small, concealable, and low powered rounds that are designed for urban situations and concealed carry. Perfect for mobile personal defense, but less than ideal for home defense. If considered for home defense it must be with special frangible ammo (such as Magsafe or Glaser to prevent penetration of walls). NOT to be used in home defense with normal ammunition due to over penetration of rounds through 3 – 4 walls of most homes with a single shot.
  • Sub-machine Guns – Used in very close quarters combat with a large volume of small caliber rounds (usually handgun calibers). Not concealable, and designed to dump a very high number of rounds in a short time over close to medium distances. Due to the same issue as handguns (over penetration of walls), these are not practical for home defense. With safety rounds they might be a viable option, due to their increased capacity and accuracy.
  • Carbines – Used in close quarters combat with high powered rifle rounds in a small, compact rifle setup. Only practical for wartime use due to high powered rounds that will go through a dozen walls or more, like assault rifles. These are designed at lower capacities to be effective at all ranges, and are often highly versatile tools for warfare.
  • Shotguns – The best all around utility tool for home defense (such as riots, natural disasters, temporary collapse of order, handling a wild animal, handling a home invasion, etc). They can carry all kinds of creative rounds such a slugs (for BIG holes at long distance), buckshot (for home defense or for animal hunting), birdshot (small pellets for bird hunting) and even less lethal rounds such as high powered bean bags and rubber rounds for humane self defense. Also highly effective at room clearing and offensive close combat when semi-automatic and with tactical accessories.
  • Precision Rifles – Used for long distance hunting, and taking out threats from a great distance (50 feet to 1 mile and beyond). Long barreled, usually bolt action with large rounds and a low capacity, and often used with bipods for increased accuracy. These are highly effective for long range offensive operations such as harassment of troops from a concealed location, targeted killings of leadership or threats, and also for hunting of game and wildlife. As such they are totally impractical for self defense.
  • Assault Rifles – These are used with high powered rounds that penetrate cover, vehicles, armor and people. They are great for military applications at medium to long distance, but are easy to get tangled up with at close quarters. It is a very unwise and unsafe decision to use these for self defense or property defense in a populated area. However they are a must have if the day ever comes to defend your life and rights from an invasion, or even from our own government or any of its misguided lapdogs who would take away your freedom or your life for the power of the elite.
There are other categories of weapons that I will not go into, since you as a civilian have no use for these in the goal of personal defense. Automatics should never be used in personal defense since they are highly dangerous to you and those around you if you intend to use them for home defense. Even trained mercenaries and military professionals hesitate to use the full auto function unless laying down a stream of supporting fire. Since you aren’t flanking any fortified positions, leave the automatics to the professionals. As you have guessed, I advise people to choose their firearms based on their competence, and also based on versatility and utility. These Class III weapons and destructive devices (along with explosives and silencers) only have a useful place on the battlefield or in your citizen’s armory (where they wait until they potentially reach a battlefield one day). I hope that is crystal clear.

American Civil Unrest

As I write this in August of 2011, a huge number of issues loom heavily on the U.S. horizon.There are some critical issues in our country’s foundation, any one of which has the capacity to bring a nation to its knees if managed incorrectly. Despite this dangerous juggling game we are playing, if you ask anyone what they think about the coming civil unrest and their eyes will widen a bit, and they will wonder (probably out loud) at how you could have ever come to such an idiotic conclusion. “You mean rioting and collapse of order? The end of our economy? You seriously think there will be any kind of collapse here?

These people (and they are the majority) have seen all of the recent issues just like you and I. The crisis of the debt ceiling and the crisis on defaulting our loans has been resolved, apparently in the nick of time. The solution of simply piling on more debt is bound to have long-term ramifications for our children and our country that none of us could possibly foresee, but I digress. The default has been avoided but debt continues to build on us in crushing volume, and the economy continues to decline. In fact the entire last two years of economic and stock growth was lost over the course of a single week due to our very slow but inevitable decline. People are widely expressing just how unhappy they are with the government, and many of these people are becoming desperate as even well to do families become homeless and jobless. Now government services and jobs are being cut, and all of the solutions the government has promised have amounted to changes everywhere except where they are needed the most. Despite the fact that almost every American is aware of all these problems, they still ask themselves the same question…

Are Civil Unrest and American Collapse Really Possible?

To answer that question we must first take a look across the ocean at our nearby neighbor England, shall we? Riots have rocked London, and if you were to have asked any Londoner if they thought riots were likely in their country they would have likely responded, “You mean here? Absolutely not, this is a stable country.” The average Londoner could not have conceived for a reason behind the riots, nor assumed they would be so widespread and result in such a destabilization of their lives. People have  killed each other, communities have been torn apart, and the police have stood by and simply watched. That’s correct, they have stood by and simply observed without interfering.

Now ask the average American if they see Civil Unrest In the U.S. on the horizon, and many respond with the same passivity and blind trust that these Londoners did – and they would be just as wrong too. Why? Because the average person is so mired in all the crap that has accumulated around their ankles, and so caught up in their day-to-day world that they aren’t even aware of all the clear and distinctive signs that something is very wrong.

Does this idea sound familiar? Photo: Fibonacci Blue

Lets return for a moment to the trusting citizen who responds with disbelief when asked about American Collapse. Ask this person if they are satisfied with our current government and how it is working, and chances are 4 to 1 that they are frankly unhappy with what our government is doing and what is has  become (and 79% of American’s will agree, according to the Washington Post polls). Ask if they have confidence in our government to resolve the spending crises and debt and another crushing 74% say NO according to that same poll. People have lost faith that their government can fix these issues, and they have also lost faith in the system itself and the people running that system. There is a clear and pervading sense of dissatisfaction, the economy is wavering and squeezing our means of living even tighter, our leadership  is failing us… The government has already made airtight preparations for this same situation that most Americans cannot even conceive of: Look to the fact that the government has made extensive preparations to keep the people in check.

The Government Has Taken Away Your Right to Privacy

Many trusting and kind citizens see the Patriot Act as  a measure meant only to protect citizens, and these people sadly do not realize the obvious truth: it has been over ten years since the last terrorist attack of any kind on U.S. soil. Is it because of this Act and all the invasions of privacy that we are attack free? Absolutely not. In fact leading security analysts tell us repeatedly that we are not any safer now than we were then despite this Patriot Act. How could that be? Because it is today used for spying on U.S. citizens without warrants or questions asked, and is used to maintain order. Is it used to good effect in the wars on Drugs and Terrorism? Absolutely, just as effectively as it is used to silence any voices of dissension or unrest among the mass of unhappy citizens. People today are quite aware of the government’s ability to intercept text messages, phone calls, and even their emails, and somehow these things are now considered acceptable now to many of us because we are tricked into thinking it is making our borders more secure and our domestic lives more safe.

Have any of these people realized that drugs continue to cross into our ports and pour over our borders in the millions of kilos per year, and any one of those illegal transports into our country could bring in terrorists or armaments for terrorist activity (including a dirty bomb, explosive munitions, armaments, or even trained men)? The Patriot Act is effective domestically, for handling domestic threats that use electronics and are easy to track: like citizens who happen to get out of line and have all these pesky things called rights between them and government control. It is NOT an effective tool at addressing terrorist threats, or even drug runners who simply operate off of the electronic grid to avoid the government.

So what does this mean? The Patriot Act is NOT your friend, it does NOT keep you safe, and it was set in place long before unrest grew in order to keep our passive and fearful population under control. After it was safely in place, the Leadership unleashed a volley of reprehensible, stupid decisions that we continue to suffer for today. And that little act they passed while we were all scared of attacks that never repeated themselves? Oops, guess it’s here to stay now as the consequences of all these stupid decisions catch up with us.

Trouble on the Horizon

Many Americans are living in a powerful illusion and denying the obvious truth all around them: Our great country is in decline, and at the end of every decline is a collapse. It might be momentary, it might be limited in its severity, it may last for many years or only a few weeks. But it is coming, and if you do not prepare for it then you will ultimately be caught with your pants around your ankles at the worst possible time. You will be one of millions who will be affected by problems that many of us already see coming and are preparing for, such as:

  • Downgrading of the U.S. Currency (And eventually an obsolete U.S. dollar… say goodbye to savings and retirement)
  • Food Shock and Shortages (Any attack on the unprotected American food supply is a terrorist scenario most people do not even imagine, despite how likely they are)
  • Invasions of your Privacy (Patriot Act anyone?)
  • Civil Unrest, Looting, Rioting
  • Homeland Terrorist Attack (Which is still a distinct possibility, homegrown or foreign)
  • Natural or Environmental Disaster (FEMA declares one multiple times a month all over the country for severe storms and disasters… are you somehow immune?)
  • Nuclear Plant Disaster (If you live 300 miles from a Nuclear Reactor then you are in the immediate danger zone for nuclear fallout, so make a plan and be prepared).
Are you unprepared for any of the above situations? Are you ready to secure your future against any changes in our government, our currency, our food supply, our environment and more? If you are ready to undertake this hefty task, then please look the right side of this page and subscribe to this blog. Take some time to learn as much as you can about Survival and personal preparedness as you can, because your life (and the lives of your less prepared friends, relatives, and neighbors) may one day rely on you and the knowledge you acquire today.

Prepare for the unexpected!

And while you’re at it, check out a site that at times can be over the top and extreme, but is also an amazing source of real news that major news won’t and can’t run… news that sadly turns out to be true: Visit infowars and read what’s out there so you can at least make an informed decision on what to believe.
Finally, read as much as you can, prepare while you still can, and remember this simple truth: “Those who sweat more during times of peace will bleed less during times of war.”
UPDATE: 9/7/2011 – I have just come across some very important and shocking information. As early as 2001 the U.S. Army started drilling their officers in a very specific invasion routine. The Mission: Invade the United States. Their task was to quell any civil unrest at home, and this included searching civilian vehicles and residences, and securing legally owned civilian weaponry at gunpoint. You read that correctly. The U.S. Army is being trained to directly violate the Constitution of the United States of America by enacting martial law and policing its own citizens. How long before this training mission becomes a reality? Will you wait passively to find out?

Roadside Emergencies: High Risk

If you haven’t read an article on the most common auto emergencies, that would be the best place to begin. In addition to the many auto incidents I’ve seen over the years, I have also encountered my share of freak accidents on the road. I have had the opportunity to give hands on first aid and help at least 8 serious accidents and many more violent incidents so far. In those experiences I have seen children and adults with traumatic wounds, I have seen people die, and have also saved a life with quick action. Clearly these events are not enough to qualify me as a paramedic or a major authority on the subject, so I will defer to the expertise of any doctor or paramedic out there, however these experiences have given me hands on experience far beyond the level of any average citizen. I am writing from experiences that most people  have never had (which is a good thing, as seeing someone die is very traumatic and hard to get past even with training).

My main qualification is as follows: After hundreds of hours of training in First Aid, and after getting certified in First Aid and emergency response, I am now qualified to administer health care for traumatic wounds, bleeding, heart attack, shock, frostbite, heat stroke, dehydration, concussions, seizures, burns, and animal bites. On the matter of legality, there are Good Samaritan Laws that will protect you in the case that you decide to stop and help someone, but let it be known that I do not support an untrained person administering first aid. You are just as liable to hurt someone as you are to help them since a lot of first aid is not common sense, and in fact a lot of it goes against common sense. If you are serious about helping people then please take a class on First Aid and really be prepared to administer aid in any situation to become a true helping force to others.

Now, I have broken up my experiences into several different categories according to what you can possibly encounter on the road. Before we begin, there are some common precautions you should always take! Remember that if you charge into a situation that is dangerous you could easily go from being a helper to being another victim. Before administering first aid you must first deal with any dangers, such as:

  • Traffic risks such as other cars still speeding by that could kill you or any survivors of the wreck you have just witnessed; pull over safely when you see an accident and have made a decision to help, and turn on your hazard lights. Make yourself visible by wearing a neon vest (find one at any Home Depot store, a must have for your kit) and set up some kind of visual signal. You must have one of the following for safety if you stop: flares / signal lights/ reflective triangles to alert and direct traffic away.

Real world hazards aren't nicely labeled... Stay Alert.

  • Biological hazards from the victims are a very real threat to first aiders. Always wear nitrile gloves to prevent any contamination to you through any blood or cuts. Latex offers more protection, but if you use them you run the risk of causing a damaging and potentially lethal latex allergic reaction in as many as one in ten people. Never use vinyl gloves as they are very weak and offer poor protection.
  • Fire hazards are very serious, and must be searched for as soon as you arrive on scene. Fire hazard include leaking gasoline tanks (which smell like gaoline, duh), a smoking engine that could possibly flare up into a flame, any small flame under or around the vehicle (including lit cigarettes near gasoline), or a broken battery (which will smell very distinctly like sulfur, or rotten eggs; if you smell this sharp stench, do not turn on your car or there will be a violent explosion). For these hazards you should always have a fire extinguisher ready and in your car. I have had to watch a man burn to death in front of me because I did not have a fire extinguisher to break the windows out of his car and extinguish it, and I carry that memory with me to this day. Don’t be like me, and please be prepared today.
  • Hostile or Emotional People are common at accidents, and not to be taken lightly. They can include the victims who are angry they were hurt, or those involved who do not want to accept responsibility for their actions. Any of the people present may be on alcohol, behavior modifying medications, or illegal drugs, and may be aggressive or highly emotional and reactive in an emergency situation. You must keep a close eye and a calm mind to be able to handle emotionally charged situations: the goal is to keep everybody calm and to keep everyone focused on helping one another.

Car Accident

In any kind of accident where there is a person and a car involved, there is the potential for some very horrific damage. There are some specific things you should look for that will be the most important to correct immediately, and I will summarize the safest, quickest and most effective things you can do. Many of these instructions are simplified for the average layperson, and many can be performed without any particular training. Some however will require lots of practice or training, and I will specifically mention these cases when they come up. If I recommend training, do not take it lightly and simply think that you can get by. I am speaking from experience with actual human lives, and if you fail to prepare adequately when calm then you will be useless when in a life or death situation. Read carefully, and remember that time spent preparing and practicing is time you are investing in helping another human life. So in a word: PRACTICE!

Once you arrive at an accident, you must proceed in a methodical order. If you just go in willy nilly you will miss something important, and the panic of the situation will also affect you (turning you into another pancked and useless bystander)… don’t let this happen to you! Follow the following routine and you will always be collected and in control of your situation as much as is humanly possible:

  • Initial Size-up: Take a full 10 seconds to fully size up the number of victims, and any additional hazards in the area. Look at every victim before you treat a single one to determine which has the most severe injuries
  • First Check: 1st priority is anyone who is unconscious.If someone is bleeding and breathing (shouting, talking, etc), then unless that bleed is an arterial or greater vein bleed they will most likely survive longer than the person who is not breathing. When you approach an unconscious person your nerves may blur your memory, so I will keep this simple. Remember A.B.C. (Airway, Breathing, Circulation). Check that their Airway is clear so air can enter (use the head tilt, chin lift method to move the tongue from the back of the throat, as it is the most common obstruction). If the airway is not clear DO NOT put your fingers blindly into their mouth and throat, as this can worsen their choking or may cause them to bite down hard and easily remove your finger. Instead check for an obstruction, use abdominal thrusts, and then if you see the object you can attempt to remove it carefully (and still at risk to your fingers). If the patient in conscious but not breathing and getting your attention use the Heimlich Maneuver. Check that their Breathing is normal (if there is no breathing, try breathing into their nose or mouth to see if their chest rises, which will indicate a clear airway). If they can breathe and you have cleared the airway as previously described, you must listen for sounds. If you hear snoring that indicates that there is a partial block of the airway, most likely by he tongue. If there is gurgling then there are fluids in the throat. Crowing indicates a spasm in the throat or foreign body, and wheezing indicates an obstruction or a tightening of the airway.  After checking that there is breathing, you must then check the pulse. If any of these are missing begin CPR immediately (which is now hands only by the way). After you have checked for these things you can then check for sign of bleeding. If any blood is noted you must carefully (using blunter paramedic shears to avoid cutting the victim) cut away clothing over the bleeding. If the patient is female and their breasts or other areas are exposed due to treatment, please use common human decency and remove your own shirt to cover them so that bystanders do not gawk. All of the above should happen ideally in under a minute (or two at the most).
  • Begin Physical Exam: Once you have performed the above checks for all victims and have ensured that no one is dying, you can take some time to do an in depth physical exam and determine injuries to assist paramedics. This is NOT simply emergency first aid, and since it requires experience and some guidance and training I will not go into it here. For those who are more advanced or who are taking a first aid class, I will provide another article on how to conduct a proper and full physical injury exam on site.
During your first check you may notice that there are a number of huge problems not related to breathing. The most common of these that occur due to high trauma situations are Bleeding, Broken Bones, Concussions, and Amputations. These all must be treated differently s any one of them can be life threatening:

Bleeding – Bleeding can come from a variety of sources (if it is coming from the eyes, ears, or the nose then please follow procedure for concussions, listed below), but the bleeding for this part of the article specifically refers to bleeding from a laceration or skin puncture. You must recognize bleeding quickly as being from one of four sources, which are ordered here from most to least urgent. *Important Notes: Only attempt to control chest or abdominal bleeding with Celox clotting agents, cold packs, and/or trauma pads and dressings. Pressure points will not be effective, and neither will tourniquets. NEVER remove an object that is impaled in someone, as this will cause more trauma and bleeding, leading to possible death. Do not ever try to control bleeding from the head by applying pressure. Do not try to control bleeding from a protruding broken bone with pressure, as this will only lead to greater damage. See the sections on Concussions, Broken Bones, and Amputations to learn how to deal with these situations.

  1. Arterial Bleeding is bright red blood that spurts with each heartbeat. It is the most dangerous kind of bleeding, and must be addressed immediately with strong pressure on the wound. At this point you make a decision based on whether or not the bleeding is controlled. IF the bleeding is controlled, then this pressure must be maintained until emergency personnel arrive. If bleeding continues simply put another wound dressing OVER the last one. DO NOT CHANGE wound dressings, as you may accidentally dislodge any clot forming that will prevent further bleeding. If direct pressure does not stop the bleeding and it is still hard to control, you must then locate a pressure point and apply direct hard pressure to that point as if you’re trying to press hard on the bone. Here is a diagram of pressure points (I am not referring to nerve pressure points used in martial arts, I am referring to those pressure points where the human arteries are closest to the surface, and are easily pressed against the victims own bone in order to stop blood flow and prevent bleeding out). Note that this technique is very challenging, but it is necessary (not optional!) before moving to a tourniquet, which carries serious risks to the victim and their survival. If you are inexperienced then please experiment on your own body by pressing pressure points until your limb becomes numb (this will work with all pressure points except the ones in the neck, which will cause someone to pass out, therefore DO NOT EVER PRESS neck or head pressure points to slow bleeding). If you have tried direct pressure, and employed pressure points to slow bleeding from limbs, the only other option is a tourniquet. A tourniquet comes pre-made in stores as an emergency trauma precautionary item, and should only be used as a LAST RESORT. It works by stopping the blood flow to the affected limb completely, and should only ever be applied at limbs, NEVER at the neck as you will kill the victim! Another down side to using tourniquets (especially on amputated limbs) is that you will kill all of the delicate nerve endings and sensitive tissue that must stay alive for you to reattach the limb. UNLESS DEATH IS IMMINENT, DO NOT USE A TOURNIQUET. Now, there are detailed instructions in your tourniquet kit on how to use it. The ones you buy in stores can be cinched (kept in place) without maintaining constant pressure, a feature which makes purchasing one worth it. If you are foolish enough to NOT add a tourniquet to your bleeding control kit, or simply find yourself separated from it in an emergency, then know that you might just be able to improvise one from daily items. This could include any number of things, but one method I have personally used is as follows: Use your own shirt tied a little loosely into a circle around the limb, or a belt closed into a circle where you wish to apply pressure. Find a cane or a stick of some kind that you can put through the shirt you have tied together or the belt you have closed, and begin turning this straight object in circles in order to tighten the circle. You can stop turning once the bleeding stops, and you are NOT to let up on the pressure until a medical professional arrives, at which point you will inform them of ANY tourniquets you have applied. These are dangerous and professionals must be informed of them so that the victim you are helping does not permanently lose their limb.
  2. Internal Bleeding is difficult to detect and can easily be lethal. A ruptured aorta will kill a person within 30 seconds. A ruptured liver or spleen will dump large volumes of blood into the abdomen without an outward sign. There are some signs that may be indicators, including: Shock, a very painful tender area, (rarely) deep bruising of the skin, vomiting, and coughing up blood (for home applications you can also detect internal bleeding by poop that is black, indicating digested blood, or poop with bright red blood, which indicates bleeding near end of intestines). If you suspect internal bleeding all you can do is break and ice pack and apply it to where you suspect the bleeding, and when you call 911 mention the internal bleeding. If you believe it to be severe, tell them to consider sending a helicopter, as this kind of bleeding can only be treated with immediate surgical intervention.
  3. Venous Bleeding runs continuously, and is darker red like the color of an old rose. It can be deadly if left unchecked, and some deep veins can bleed as massively as an artery. Most of the time venous bleeding can be controlled with direct pressure since they flow continuously and do not spurt. Use wound dressings or trauma pads (which are simply thicker wound dressings) to apply pressure. If the bleeding continues despite the pressure, you must apply pressure at a point on the wound that is FURTHER away from the heart than the wound is (this is different from the use of the arterial pressure points). This is because veins return blood from the extremities back to your heart. If you stop the blood flow back to your heart from that limb, you should effectively stop the venous bleeding.
  4. Capillary Bleeding oozes slowly, and is easily controlled and usually the result of skin deep cuts. These can be controlled by applying a wound dressing or gauze pad over the wound and applying pressure for 30 consecutive seconds, or until bleeding stops. These are the least of your priorities, and should be left for last with other serious emergencies taking precedence. Note that normally I would suggest irrigating the wound (washing it with water under pressure to remove all foreign material and potentially infectious material) and then cleaning the wound with peroxide and triple antibiotic before dressing it, but these are the rough and tough emergency tips for trauma first aid (which means lives are on the line and we do not have time for these niceties, so we will kindly leave them to the hospital personnel to do once the victim is stable and not at risk of death). Home and daily first aid will be covered in a separate article, and should not be confused with trauma and emergency procedures.

Broken Bones – broken bones can present in two forms, and each must be dealt with very differently. In most emergency situations you cannot do anything immediately about broken bones, and should not due to a risk of further injuring the victim. I will include an article on broken bones in Wilderness Medicine where there is no choice but to begin treatment while waiting for rescue, but for emergency medicine you should LEAVE BROKEN BONES AS THEY ARE because help is usually not more than 10 – 30 minutes away. The rest of this section on broken bones is for informative purposes only, with a special section on Open Breaks and how to stop bleeding (which IS considered an emergency procedure):

  1. An Open Break is one in which the broken bone has pierced the skin and protrudes outward through the flesh, which adds a very dangerous element of bleeding to the pain of having a broken bone. It also poses a hazard for you and rescue workers since this bone may cut through gloves, or through the victim’s flesh and possibly arteries or veins. The only response for you as a first aider is to take a roll of gauze and wrap it around your closed fingers (all four fingers together forming a straight hand as if you were preparing for a karate chop) to make a circle. Then loop this gauze around the edges of the circle until it forms a nice reinforced circular loop. Use this bandage to apply pressure AROUND the broken protruding bone, and be careful to not cause further pain or injury to the patient. If this pressure method does not work you will have  to use pressure points to stem bleeding, and if the broken protruding bones are on the chest (rib or clavicle) inform 911 dispatch immediately, as these bones can puncture the lungs (slow death) or the heart (immediate death).
  2. A Closed Break is a break that remains within the skin, and is sometimes hard to immediately spot. Some are obvious however (due to obviously unnatural twists in limbs) and will cause excruciating pain in a victim. These should be immobilized if possible since any sharp ends inside the flesh can puncture the closed skin, and possibly sever arteries or veins if moved. The simplest way to immobilize any limb is to tie it to the nearest working limb or surface. That means a broken arm to a working chest, or a broken leg to a working leg. DO NOT tie two broken limbs together under any circumstances. An easier option is to buy and learn to use a SAM splint, which is a premade splint for the purpose of immobilizing a limb. *NOTE: You should NEVER move a victim with a suspected broken back or neck, or with ANY kind of neck or back injury. IF their neck or back is broken and you move them you will sever their spinal cord and paralyze them for life. How can you tell if someone has suffered a spinal injury? Swelling in the injured area will be apparent, and if they are conscious they will report pain in the neck or back. If they have cut their spinal cord they will be unable to move or feel their toes, and sometimes as far up as their fingertips. The ONLY exception to this rule is if the victim is not breathing, or if there is an immediate danger (such as a snowstorm, a possibility of fire or explosion, or another pressing emergency that demands quick movement of the victim to avoid certain death). In these exception cases please try to have someone else hold the head in line with the body, and have them prevent it from moving side to side. You can brace the neck by laying the head on a makeshift pillow, and also by holding the head up gently while others move the body. Be sure to move IN UNISON, slowly and carefully if at all possible.

Concussions – A Concussion is defined as any trauma to the brain tat disrupts the normal brain function. This means if someone is punched in the face and they are knocked out, they have just suffered a concussion (since the brain briefly stopped working). Sometimes concussions are not as obvious, and will only indicate by subtle signs that must be looked for carefully. Any penetrating head trauma (breaching of the skull) should be treated as a concussion and a medical emergency, and should be treated as an Open Break under broken bones. Concussions are difficult to treat even for medical personnel, so this section will focus mostly on noticing the signs of a concussion so that you can identify it and report it to trained professionals.The signs of concussions are as follows:

  • Dilated pupils: If the pupils are muc larger than normal and the patient has not had their eyes dilated that day due to an eye exam, then they most likely have had a traumatic brain injury. Other possibilities include alcohol use or marijuana. If you shine a light into their eyes, the pupils will respond normally and contract as long as there is no brain death.
  • Pinpoint pupils: When the pupils become little pinpoints and do not dilate even under darker conditions, this is a clear sign that your victim is on drugs. Opiates, heroin, and Oxycontin cause this response in humans. It can also indicate a severe concussion, so be alert and look for signs of drug use or head injury.
  • One pinpoint pupil, one dilated pupil: This is indicative of severe brain damage and death, and also of strokes. When this occurs it is IMPERATIVE that this person reach a hospital immediately, as they are most likely hemorrhaging blood into their brain due to a tear of some kind.
  • Battles Sign: Discoloration/bruising behind an ear that shows up a while after an injury is known as Battle’s Sign, and its a clear indicator that this person suffered a skull fracture and a concussion. It looks like a normal bruise, but it is directly behind the ear, and shows up even when no direct impact to the area behind the ear has occured.
Always look for CSF (cerebro spinal fluid) which is a clear fluid that is inside of your brain and spinal canal and should never be seen outside the body. It looks exactly like tears, sweat, or lymph (the clear fluid that occasionally drains from wounds or pimples) and so in order to check for what you suspect to be CSF you must check near any head openings such as the ears, the nose, and the eyes (as well as any sites of trauma around the spine or brain where there is bleeding). This is called the Halo Test, and it consists of finding a 4 x 4 gauze and dipping it in the fluid you suspect may contain CSF. When you dip, allow it to wait over the wound or fluid for a moment and observe. If there is a dot of blood at the center (appearing as a dot at the point where you touched the fluid) and a yellowish circle around that dot (looking somewhat like very thin urine) then what you have is a breach of the brain and spinal cavity, and a leak of CSF. This is an emergency, and must be mentioned immediately to professionals once they arrive so they can attend to it.

Amputations – An amputation can occur in various different ways, including twisting off of limbs, crushing of limbs, and the clean cutting off of a limb. Of all these, cutting is the most preferable because the limb can be saved and reattached. A completely crushed limb will be useless even if it is “saved” (no tourniquet applied), and will bleed like an awful mess. A limb that has been twisted off will also bleed and appear nasty, and may not be completely separated. You deal with amputations with a very specific set of guidelines in all cases, with the goals being to stop the bleeding while treating for shock, and also to maintain the viability of the lost appendage so that the victim may be whole again. The guidelines are as follows:

  • Use DIRECT PRESSURE to control any bleeding. Elevate the limb that has suffered the amputation, and please keep strong pressure on the pressure point that supplies blood to the amputated limb. Many times the trauma from an amputation will cause an artery to tighten and close itself, but this is a temporary reaction. Given enough time (anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes in some cases) the artery will un-clench and blood will begin to spurt forth. Remember to avoid the tourniquet at all costs, as this little tool will prevent the victim from having their amputated limb re-attached to their body.
  • Recover the amputated part, DO NOT CLEAN OR WASH IT as this can remove blood from the limb and fill it with water. This is called waterlogging, and it will ruin the limb! Instead wrap the limb in dry gauze or cloth. Put it in a plastic bag or WATERPROOF container and keep it cool (preferably atop a bed of ice, NOT buried in ice and NEVER FROZEN as this will prevent reattachment).
  • Get medical attention ASAP. Limbs left uncooled may only last several hours, whereas cooling will allow for a high probability of reattachment. Muscles without blood-flow die within 4 to 6 hours, so this should be treated as the maximum time frame to keep a functional limb.

Automobile Fire

Once an automobile fire has started you will only have moments to react, so if you want to be able to respond to a fire you must have a chemical rated fire extinguisher in your vehicle at all times. Don’t settle for a tiny hand spray one, you need a serious sized one ($20 kind) that can handle a vehicle fire. Once a fire starts a HUGE risk occurs, so most of preparing for a fire should be prevention.

  • When you arrive at a vehicle crash, make sure that the cars involved are turned off, and that the keys are taken out of the ignition.
  • Check for gas leaks during your initial scene size-up, and if you see a gas leak then MOVE EVERYONE before beginning first aid.
  • In the event that a fire begins despite your precautions, and you are still close to a vehicle, you must immediately decide if you are willing to risk your life. (An important fact to know is that most gasoline fires will burn slowly very hotly over time, and anyone close will be killed by fire but it will not be a very rapid explosion like those seen in the movies… these types of explosions are  VERY rare, and almost never occur).
  • Fire extinguishers each come with a set of instructions, so now is the perfect time to start using yours.

Fire extinguishers should be used in a preventative capacity. In other words, if you see a gas leak or some fluid, or smoke coming from the hood, you should spray down that hood and the fluid with a fire extinguisher to prevent it from catching flame before there is a problem. If there is already a fire DO NOT ATTEMPT TO OPEN THE HOOD. This will add oxygen to the fire and will make it spark up faster. It is impossible to determine when the gasoline will reach the fuel tank, but you should know that it takes several minutes if the car is standing up, and happens very quickly if the car is rolled over onto its top. Once this occurs there may be minor explosions that can launch shrapnel at lethal velocities, and additional fires will also result.

Hostile Environments

Would you consider yourself safe from violent crime? According to International Crime Statistics, the United States is 5 times more violent than the nearest First World Country. This right, out of all the “civilized” countries such as Britain, Germany, Scotland and others, we have an average of five times more violent crimes per thousand people (Here is the Proof). Mind you that is an average of the nonviolent areas (such as the far West where populations and crime drop significantly) and the highly violent ones (such as Miami, L.A., Detroit, and others). Violent crimes in these cities are many more than the national average. In lieu of this information, and due to my definition of what it means to be a good citizen, I think that every single man and woman has an obligation to themselves and their families: Learn to defend yourself and your loved ones, and be prepared to do it if necessary. By being prepared you are one of the few that chooses not to pass the buck to your nearby Officer, who is already struggling to keep up with criminals who have him outnumbered and outgunned. It is a bad idea to always rely on police to protect you and your family, since in many cases a phone call to 911 occurs when something terrible has already happened. This means you and your family will be alone with a nasty situation for a full 15 to 30 minutes while they head over after a call. And that is a response time in a urban area. Think rural and your chances of survival dwindle as response times range into an hour or more.

Preparedness for Hostile Environments entails basic preparedness (such as extra gasoline and roadside emergency skills) as well as defensive preparations (such as a handgun chosen for vehicle defense and training in using it from your car, or from a position using your car as cover). These are issues that will require a separate article to address, which is soon to come.

Roadside Emergencies: Most Common

In just about every single year of my life I have witnessed at least one car related roadside emergency a day, sometimes to the tune of several a day during hectic times like holidays in the cities of Miami and Orlando. What qualifies as an auto event? Here are the most common in my experience:

Flat Tire

By far the most common Roadside Emergency I see is a loss of tire pressure due to a blowout or a leaking tire. The best way to prepare for when this eventually happens to you (and trust me when I say it will happen to every single driver at least once in their lifetime behind the wheel, if not more) is to take thirty minutes out of one day and take a look at your spare tire. Your spare tire is your very good friend, because it is your lifeline. Once you open your trunk, clear out whatever crap is covering your tire and have it in front of you, we are going to check for several very important things: Is it filled to adequate pressure? Do you know how to determine what “adequate pressure” is? Can you tell if there a leak? If the pressure is satisfactory, can you change the tire onto your car?

Seen this before?

First, you must check the pressure of your tire by twisting off the valve cap. There is only valve on the tire so it won’t be hard to find, but when twisting off the little cap just be sure you don’t twist off the whole valve. Sometimes people lose their caps, so if  the valve doesn’t have a cap on it then the tire will most likely be low pressure, as the cap is designed to keep air in. Now in order to check the pressure you will need a simple pen gauge, which you can get as cheap as a dollar or less at any Auto Store. You can also use electric air pumps sold at auto stores, or the pumps labeled AIR at gas stations, both of which will automatically read the tire pressure when you plug them into your valve opening.

This is what your valve looks like!

How do you determine what normal pressure is once you’re checking? You will have to read the side of your tire and look for a number with the letters PSI next to it. Factory standard for my cars is usually around 32 PSI, but don’t be lazy by assuming a tire pressure is 32. Many tires have standard pressures that vary by as much as 10 PSI or more, and going over this limit can be deadly to you. How? Tires are liable to explode violently if overfilled, and can launch rubber and shrapnel with enough force to kill you. If death by tire is not how you want to leave this world then visit your nearby Auto Shop and have one of the workers there help you find your standard factory pressure. Different tires have different pressures, so if you use several different tires on each car or even the different wheels of the same car, be sure to check the pressures for each. Be aware that if they are different you will encounter problems in driving and unequal wearing on your car.

Now that you’ve checked the pressure you should fill the tire to that pressure and not over by more than a few PSI at most. Are your tires filling normally? Is your tire pressure staying full? Some people may find that after a few days in their trunk, their tire loses pressure. Losing pressure over great spans of time, such as months on the road or at home, is perfectly normal. But losing significant amounts of pressure within a week or even a day is not normal, and may indicate a nail in the tire or a leak that must be located at your local tire shop, or by you with some water and laundry soap (use laundry soap only, since it doesn’t bubble from mixing like dish soap, and it allows the escaping air to form bubbles that you can see and use to seal up whatever hole is in your tire with a kit or you can have a professional do it, which would be wiser and safer).

The final step is to get outside and see if you are capable of changing your own tire. Although there are all kinds of varieties of tools to elevate your car, the basic tools and processes remain the same. I recommend that every person who drives a car finds either an auto mechanic or an experienced and qualified friend to help and instruct them in the safe use of a jack and in the proper way to change a tire. For the sake of information I will explain the overall process: You must first get under your car with a lifting jack (usually included in your car) and use the owners manual to find the contact points, or the locations on you car that are safe and stable for you to use to elevate your car. Once you find these points,learn to use your jack, and use the jack to lift the car up off the ground. Once the car has been lifted at a point near the faulty tire, you simply use the tire iron like a lever to twist the tire screws out of the tire. You lift the tire off of the axle of the car, then replace it with the spare  tire and screw everything back on TIGHTLY. You don’t want any play whatsoever in the tire screws, since having them come off could mean the tire coming off in the middle of driving. I don’t need to explain to you why this could lead to your death. Please be careful when you change a tire, secure it tightly, and when you’re all done bask in the accomplishment of having changed your own tire.

What if your problem is simple a nail in the tire on the side of the road, and no spare is available? You can carry a very simple tool known as a tire patching kit, which essentially fills in the hole in the tire long enough for you to get to an auto shop and get a spare. This is relatively inexpensive and easy to use, and you can carry it with you in your car in case of an emergency, or in the case that you are not in the physical condition to change your own tire (such as handicapped or elderly persons).

Out of Gas

Some people absolutely love to drive. Some of them love it so very much that they can’t be stopped to fill up their tank of gas to continue driving. I have to say I see one of these people walking up the highway shoulder every few days, and inside I shudder thinking of the walk they face in the heat to the gas station against traffic. There is one solution to this (aside from filling up your tank regularly that is) and this solution is affordable and safe. What you have to do is go onto Amazon or your favorite online retailed and find yourself a gas can, but NOT the kind made out of plastic that you buy at Walmart. What you’re looking for is called a Type II can (which is slightly more expensive  than a Type I can, but is also much safer than the Type I). A Type II is different from your average gas can because it has a spring loaded valve that closes up tight and doesn’t let any vapors escape the can. It allows pressure to build within the can if the gas gets hot, and prevents them from sparking or escaping. It also has a second valve aside from the pour valve (thus the name Type II) which allows excess pressure to safely escape and not to pray up at you or out when you use the gas can. It also has a flame arrestor screen, which means if you’re stupid enough to get it lit somehow it will most likely stop the flame and save your life. Look for the ones with all these features, and if you would like the integrated pouring spout that should also be part of the type II (type I usually comes with a simple pouring funnel that can get very messy).

Don't let this be you...

If you’re storing gas in your car or hot garage this is the ONLY way to store it safely, as plastic cans will degrade over time and puff up without handling the pressure well. And be sure that if you’re storing the gasoline you add a stabilizing agent to it to keep it usable. An application of Sta-bil will keep your gasoline good for up to a year, and a double dose will keep it for up to two but that is pushing it. You should burn off extra gasoline once a year at least, otherwise it may clog your engine and cause harm in your vehicle.

For those who see this as an unneeded precaution: This is second only to flat tires, and if you think it won’t happen to you just think of all the things in your life you have tried to prepare for, only to have them go wrong anyways. Having a gas can in your car is the ONLY fail-safe way to not be stranded on the road in a potentially dangerous or life threatening situation (such as a snow storm without heating, hot weather without water, or a dangerous neighborhood without a means to defend yourself). Think of your family and any others that may be traveling with you, and how they might be in danger if you were suddenly stranded on the road.

Dead Battery

Have you ever been in such a rush that you forgot to turn off your headlights as you left the car? A lot of newer models protect against this from accidentally happening with auto-shut off lights, but many people driving cars older than 5 years old (and even some newer models) can still have a battery failure happen due to the lights being left on for several hours.

The only solution for a battery that has died is to use jumper cables. Buy yourself a set at a nearby auto store, and be sure that if you own a truck or pickup you will need a larger thickness of wire on the jumper cables to effectively jump your car (which means they will have a smaller gauge, and also a larger price tag). If you use a full size or smaller, or even an SUV then feel free to get the cheapest set you can use with a clearly marked positive and negative node. Make sure that the car jumping yours is OFF. Be sure to set them onto your car (dead car) first, and then to touch the negative (ground) node on the other working car first and then attach the positive lead. You will take them off in a different order (take off the positive first, and then the negative). Remember to never let the two cables touch, or they will spark and potentially cause damage to you or your car.  Now that the cables are attached, its time for you to crank the working car and allow it to “charge” your battery for a little while. After a period of about 5 minutes, crank your car and keep your car running! Do not turn it off or it may not restart. The action of having your car on actually charges the battery, and without that additional juice you will most likely need another jump.

The Order of Connections to follow

But what happens if your car keeps consistently shutting off? Or if even jumps don’t get it to start? Most people don’t know until it happens to them, but even if cared for properly and never left running, your battery will eventually die given enough time (usually 1.5 – 2 years of normal use). When it is totally dead, that is the end of your battery and there is nothing anyone can do about it except install a new one. This is a situation where you are going to have to call a friend and take a trip to the auto store, or invest in a roadside assistance program.

Engine Failure

This is the worst of all the 5 most common, and I would say that there is absolutely no common solution I can offer here. Reasons are few and far between for Engine Failures, with the only common thread being the result: Stuck on the side of the road. All I can offer in this case is a few universal pieces of advice that you should ALSO apply to all these other situations involving roadside events of any kind:

  • Pull over safely to the side of the road and get as much space between yourself and traffic as possible so that you and your loved ones can exit the vehicle out of harms way. (If you are caught in a middle lane and cant pull over fully yet, please turn on your hazard lights and try to safely make your way out of the road because the road is a DANGEROUS place to be)
  • Keep safety equipment packed in your trunk. This should include either triangular hazard signals, flares, or roadway hazard lights to indicate you are in the road or shoulder and to keep high speed traffic away from you and your family.
  • If you plan to work on your vehicle or near it, please buy a simple reflective safety vest like those worn by night time construction workers. These are available at any Home Depot or online.
  • Keep Roadside Service numbers programmed into your phone before an accident so that you can call them when you have an emergency.
  • Keep a car cellphone charger at all times. Without your cell phone you are a sitting duck.

Overheating

You are coasting along in your car, enjoying the radio on a warm summer day.  Although you may not notice it, your heat gauge climbs steadily. There could be a number of very wrong things happening here, but the end result is mostly the same. Your car will stop running, most likely start fuming smoke, and possibly your engine block will melt along with its components. There is even a possibility of a fire, leading to a very nasty High Risk situation you don’t want to be in. Where does all of this start and how can you prevent it?

This, like engine failure, is never a one shot kind of deal. It is one of the most common, and costly failures that send people to mechanics to get their radiators replaced or repaired. Sometimes its as simple as a leak in the radiator, which you will know immediately because there will be radiator fluid (essentially antifreeze) leaking under your car, which can be bright green, blue, pink, or even yellow or orange. Any of these colors indicate a leak which can easily be patched. If you don’t have the money to get it patched or replaced, you can take the cost effective method: Water. Lots and lots of water. Carry gallon jugs of water and regularly dump them into your radiator as you travel, being very careful not to burn yourself and careful not to let the system overheat as you go. This is highly inconvenient but will get you by until you save enough to fix your radiator. If you take this option please filter your water, since the highly mineralized waters of some states will RUIN your radiator as they evaporate within it and leave behind mineral deposits.

Another possible problem is the engine fan, which will require replacing. If your car only heats up when you stop, and then cools down as you move, its an issue of the engine fan not drawing hot air into your radiator to cool it. The only solution in this case is to get to an auto shop as soon as possible, without melting your engine block in the process and with as few stops as possible. The best way to safely navigate without stopping often is to stay in the right lane so your engine block doesn’t melt. If it gets too hot, take a right turn, continue down until you can make a u-turn or left of some kind without waiting at a light, and then take a right to continue down the road you wee previously traveling. Again this is tedious but should get you as far as an auto shop. Again, the only one surefire way to cover all possible problems coming from overheating is to invest in a nice AAA membership (or an equivalent).

Final Tips

Treat your car as your moving home away from home! Why? Because if you are like other modern Americans you are spending over 25% of your working life in your CAR. The only place you spend a near equal amount of time is your bed. When a quarter of your time is spent on the road, that means a quarter of your life experiences during that time will also be on the road. Will you be prepared when one of these events occurs, and will you be able to have the equipment needed to stop and help someone?
My final advice on Roadside Emergencies: Carry one spare of your most important toiletries so you can always be prepared if you have to stay somewhere unexpectedly, or if you are caught in a jam and have to stay at a hotel or even just freshen up on a long trip. ALWAYS have a bag or travel pack complete with:
  • Raincoat (weather and wind breaker)
  • Jacket (a size fitting you and your spouse, for cold buildings or cold nights)
  • Umbrella or Poncho
  • Napkins / Towel Roll
  • Sunglasses (polarized)
  • Convenience Package: Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, PeptoBismol Tablets, Nail Clipper, Eye Drops, Lighter, etc. This is your custom little package of needs on the road, and the most common needs for other people. Other things to include might also be Midol (for any women in your life) and even Pads (I mean feminine hygiene pads, they also double as trauma wound dressings in an emergency).