Keeping Up With The Preppers

Simple and easy to understand prepping ideas that just may save your life.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Camouflage Netting Made Easy

Camouflage Netting Made Easy

Everyone that has served in the military knows that camouflage netting is excellent for providing shade as well as concealment.  For those of you that have not served or have little or no experience with  camouflage netting, I've put together simple step by step instructions on how to complete the set up at your camp or bug out location.

Camouflage netting can be found on Amazon in different sizes and is relatively inexpensive, however, it is NOT the same quality as  camouflage netting used by the military.  My main reason for constructing camouflage netting for my camp site was to provide shade.

You can find military quality (used) camouflage netting, poles and spreaders here:

If your project requires a large net, but you can't find a net that is large enough, you will have to sew two or more nets together.  I never cared for the military sewing kits, so I used simple nylon paracord for my project.


Lay out your camouflage netting close together in the pattern that you're looking to put together for your project.

Sew your netting together while keeping the slack even on both sides.  I tie knots every eight inches or so. Also, I use ten feet or less of paracord at a time so it's easier to pull through while tying your knots.

Once I've gone about half way from one side, I go to the other side so the edges of the two nets will be even. Any extra slack you can hide in the middle.

Once you have your nets sewed together, here's where you really need to picture how it will be applied to your project as you fold or roll it up.

Start on either side and roll that side to the middle of the netting.

Next, roll or fold the other side to meet, but do not overlap the first side you rolled.  

Roll up the netting half way or as far as you think you'll need it depending on your project.

For my project, I knew I would need one side to be smaller due to how I would have to install the netting.


Keeping in mind how you want the netting to be positioned once it's unrolled, place your prepped netting on top where it will unroll with little or no need for adjusting it once it's laid out.  It can be very difficult to make huge adjustments at that point due to the camouflage netting getting caught on everything and anything.

In the case of my project, I mostly wanted to provide shading for the porch / balcony area of my shelter and shade as much of the rest of the shelter with what netting was left.

Camouflage netting unrolled.

For my project, I was fortunate enough to mostly use the surrounding trees to secure the netting instead of having to use too many poles and spreaders.  It's best to have the netting completely off of your shelter or object you're covering and use poles and spreaders to break up the outline of what you're attempting to conceal.  

Shelter before camouflage netting.

Shelter after the camouflage netting applied.

Camouflage netting has many uses such as providing shade and concealment for vehicles, sitting areas, or campsites.  If you can imagine it, you can build it.  enjoy.

Saturday, April 1, 2017



Whether for your home or your "Bug Out" location, you're going to need water to survive, personal hygiene, washing clothing, etc.  I've made a simple rain catch system at our bug out location that any one can build for less than $150.00.

Although there are many ways to build a rain catch system, we found this system to be simple to build in under thirty minutes.  The items needed for this rain catch are:

  • Rain catch barrel (50 Gallon) with an opening on top with a piece of mesh held by multiple screws
  • Cement blocks to raise the barrel
  • 8 X 6 water proof tarp
  • At least 6 fence posts
  • Paracord or similar rope
  • Rocks and pebbles / gravel

Choose a location that has little or no trees that will cause pollen and leaves to clog the mesh on top of the barrel or your faucets.  This will also minimize the contamination of your collected water.  The cement blocks raises the barrel so that you can use the bottom faucet more easily.  You'll thank yourself later.

Remove the plastic mesh to expose the hole on top of the barrel.

Next, center your tarp over the hole and cut a hole in your tarp to match the hole in your rain barrel.

Simply replace the mesh and screws, securing the tarp to your rain barrel.

We had a roll of window screening laying around so we cut a piece for additional filtering of contaminants. Obviously an optional step in the process.

Add gravel and some larger rocks to add weight as well as filtering water as it flows into the barrel.
This step was to help secure the tarp to the barrel on windy days.  The added weight of the rocks and gravel also reduce the stress on the screws during high winds.

Drive your fence posts into the ground leaving room for adjustments as needed and attach the tarp (utilizing the eye holes in the tarp) to the posts slightly higher that the top of the barrel.  Now, just sit back and wait for the rain.

We were worried about high winds damaging or destroying the tarp, but we had two days of over forty MPH winds and it came through right as rain, so to speak.

Our rain gauge at our bug out location showed that we received one inch of rain which was enough to fill the rain barrel.

Now you'll have a renewable source of water.  Keep in mind, it's still best to boil and filter any bacteria and other contaminants that will inevitably get into your water.

When your rain barrel is full, it's a good idea to harvest and save the water you've accumulated. We use cat litter containers which hold nearly three gallons of water.

Use your imagination to improve on this design and feel free to share your thoughts or ideas to help out other folks looking to complete such a project. Enjoy!!!!!

Friday, March 24, 2017



It's impossible to ignore the increasing number of deadly encounters home owners across the country have faced over the recent years.  What's most disturbing to me is how the media and district attorneys seem to increasingly LOVE making examples out of good citizens that have the nerve to defend their homes and families. 

I hope to pass on a few tips on how to survive a home burglary or home invasion both physically and legally.



Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground Laws

Most states have some sort of Castle Doctrine or Stand Your Ground laws currently on the books. Each state's laws differ so learn and know the laws in your state.  If you live in a state or county where the so called authorities value their criminals more than their citizens, too bad for you.  

The Castle Doctrine generally covers a person defending their lives, or the lives of a third party from imminent serious bodily injury or death.  Keep in mind in most of those states, you'd better be able to articulate WHY you felt the need to use deadly force.

Stand Your Ground laws pertain more to situations outside your home and folks with a concealed carry license anywhere a threat may present itself.  Most Stand Your Ground laws also cover the defense of a third party from serious bodily injury or death.  Again, you'd better be able to articulate WHY you felt the absolute need to use deadly force.

This article will mostly deal with the Castle Doctrine and criminal situations at your home.

***Obviously, in a total break down of society, where law enforcement is extremely thin or non-existent, all bets would be off at that point.  You'd pretty much have to defend yourself and your family since 911 won't exist***

Home Invasions Vs. Home Burglaries Vs. Other Crimes

To understand how you should respond to any given situation, you should understand there are huge differences in the different crimes homeowners experience on a daily basis such as:

·        Home Invasion
·        Burglary of a residence (Including Kidnapping, Sexual Assault)
·        Theft (Outside the home)
·        Burglary of a vehicle
·        Auto Theft
·        Criminal trespass
·        Criminal mischief

Property Crimes Outside The Home

First and foremost, you should understand that although there are what's called "Defenses to prosecution" pertaining to many states' laws, it would be best NOT to count on these to save you from being charged and convicted for causing serious bodily injury or death in any given situation.

For instance, in the state of Texas, there is a defense to prosecution for shooting someone during the commission of theft and criminal trespass during the nighttime as well as other such property crimes that occur OUTSIDE of your home.

If you wake up in the middle of the night and catch someone breaking into your vehicle and you shoot them, there may be a defense to prosecution, but I wouldn't count on that saving you from criminal and civil liability.

As angry as such situations may make you, it is best NOT to confront the suspect or suspects as it could easily escalate to a deadly force situation.  Stepping outside and yelling out them may be enough to scare them off, but keep your distance as they could easily attack you and force you into a bad situation.   If you are going to confront the suspects, do it from a position of cover in addition to keeping your distance in case they are armed.

It's best to immediately call 911 and give the best description you can and give the direction of travel of the suspect(s) if possible.  

Crimes Inside Your Home

When a criminal enters your home, only they know what they intend to do.  As a homeowner concerned about protecting yourself and your family, you must assume the worst, especially at night.  When a suspect enters your home at night, any reasonable person would assume people will be at home and thus it has to be assumed that they are prepared to encounter the homeowners. 

In my opinion, once the criminal crosses the threshold of the door or window of your home, they have made themselves fair game.  In states with castle doctrine laws, there are no requirements to flee, attempt to apprehend a suspect or even warn them before using deadly force.   Obviously, common sense and good judgment should be use.  If you have teenage children, you might want to make sure that you positively identify your target before you do something you will regret for the rest of your life.

Criminals entering a home during the daytime MAY assume that no one is at home and will flee once discovering someone is at home.  It is also quite possible that a bad guy has conducted "Pre-Operational Surveillance" and knows that a female is home alone all day.  Police and prosecutors will find it more reasonable for a female alone or with children to use deadly force.

Most burglars will knock on the front door as if they are selling something, pretending they need gas, or other assistance.  Do not open the door.  In most cases, this is a ruse to see if anyone is home and they will simply move on after discovering the home is occupied.  It's always best to call 911 if you feel something is wrong as the police may have other reports of incidents that are similar. 

If you do not let them know someone is home by calling out through the door, they may simply kick the door in right then and there or they may go around to the side or back of your home to gain entry in such a way as to not draw as much attention to their activities by neighbors.

If a suspect does not leave after discovering someone is at home and continues to attempt to get you to let them inside, do not open the door.  Keep in mind that if a suspect attempts to force entry into a home while knowing someone is home, you need to be prepared for deadly force. 

Workers In Your Home

If you're going to have workers enter your home, it is best to conceal as many valuables as possible.  Most workers won't steal something while you're standing there with them, but could very well come back when they think you're not at home.  If you have a safe that will be visible in the room they will be working, attempt to conceal it if possible even if you have to drape jackets or other items over it.

Who Are You?

Investigators and prosecutors will look at the totality of the circumstances in any use of force situation involving deadly force.  This includes the criminal's background, size, whether armed or not, as well as the homeowner's background (law enforcement, military, criminal), size, gender, social media posts, etc.

Why is all of that important?  Sadly, the homeowner will often be scrutinized more than the criminal.  Investigators and prosecutors will find it more reasonable for a lone female to shoot an intruder than they would if a military or law enforcement veteran reacts the same way in the exact same situation.

Right or wrong, these are things to consider.  It's also best to never shoot at someone fleeing, especially if they are outside of your home.  Just let them go. It's not worth it.

It's difficult to say you were in fear for your life if the bad guy was running away from you. 

Force Continuum 

Depending on the size and scope of the event, it's always best to take a page from law enforcement training that is used all across the country. Most people are not trained to use force and therefore may not be prepared for such a situation. The following are some ways to handle a situation without resorting to deadly force.

Presence and Verbal Commands

Look like you know what you're doing! Most criminals look for easy targets so if you are able to control a situation by making would-be looters or criminals feel like it's in their best interest to simply move on, that's the best case scenario for all involved.  Loud and firm verbal commands beginning with, "Show me your hands!" or "Get off of my property!" may be enough to make people move along.  The potential looter's body language and general attitude will hopefully let you know if they will comply or attack.  Presence and verbal commands are usually more impressive with some sort of weapon visible if not pointed at the looter.

Empty Hand Control

Empty hand control for anyone with no training is VERY risky and should never be attempted while alone. If you are going to go "hands on" with a potential bad guy, you should always have someone armed to "cover" you while you make contact with the subject.

Soft Empty Hand Control - Soft empty hand control basically consists of take downs, "goose neck" holds, arm bars, etc.

Hard Empty Hand Control - Hard empty control consists of strikes and kicks without the use of weapons.

Impact weapons, Stun Guns/Tasers, or Chemical Agents (Pepper Spray)

Keep in mind that all of these Non-lethal weapons are very close range with the exception of the taser.  As with empty hand control, it is imperative that you have someone with lethal cover in the event things go wrong while attempting to subdue a subject. Impact weapons (clubs), stun guns, and/or pepper spray could be taken from the user and used against them.

It may not be a bad idea to have large zip-ties to take a subject into custody as a last resort.

 Deadly Force 

Deadly force is any force used in which a reasonable person would believe could result in serious bodily injury or death.  This includes baseball bats, knives, or any other weapons that could injure or kill someone.

If you are a beginner at handling firearms, please attend firearms safety classes. Bringing a gun into a home with no training and common sense can be worse than not having one at all. I really can not stress this enough.

Castle Law in Texas
Texas Castle Law - Texas Castle Doctrine 
Defense of Habitation Law

Relating to the use of force or deadly force in defense of a person.
SECTION 1. Section 9.01, Penal Code, is amended by adding Subdivisions (4) and (5) to read as follows:
(4) “Habitation” has the meaning assigned by Section 30.01.
(5) “Vehicle” has the meaning assigned by Section 30.01.
SECTION 2. Section 9.31, Penal Code, is amended by amending Subsection (a) and adding Subsections (e) and (f) to read as follows:
(a) Except as provided in Subsection (b), a person is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor [he] reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect the actor [himself] against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force. The actor’s belief that the force was immediately necessary as described by this subsection is presumed to be reasonable if the actor:
(1) knew or had reason to believe that the person against whom the force was used:
(A) unlawfully and with force entered, or was attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the actor’s occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;
(B) unlawfully and with force removed, or was attempting to remove unlawfully and with force, the actor from the actor’s habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment; or
(C) was committing or attempting to commit aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery;
(2) did not provoke the person against whom the force was used; and
(3) was not otherwise engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic at the time the force was used.
(e) A person who has a right to be present at the location where the force is used, who has not provoked the person against whom the force is used, and who is not engaged in criminal activity at the time the force is used is not required to retreat before using force as described by this section.
(f) For purposes of Subsection (a), in determining whether an actor described by Subsection (e) reasonably believed that the use of force was necessary, a finder of fact may not consider whether the actor failed to retreat.
SECTION 3. Section 9.32, Penal Code, is amended to read as follows:
Sec. 9.32. DEADLY FORCE IN DEFENSE OF PERSON. (a) A person is justified in using deadly force against another:
(1) if the actor [he] would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.31; and
(2) [if a reasonable person in the actor's situation would not have retreated; and
[(3)] when and to the degree the actor [he] reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:
(A) to protect the actor [himself] against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force; or
(B) to prevent the other’s imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.
(b) The actor’s belief under Subsection (a)(2) that the deadly force was immediately necessary as described by that subdivision is presumed to be reasonable if the actor:
(1) knew or had reason to believe that the person against whom the deadly force was used:
(A) unlawfully and with force entered, or was attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the actor’s occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;
(B) unlawfully and with force removed, or was attempting to remove unlawfully and with force, the actor from the actor’s habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment; or
(C) was committing or attempting to commit an offense described by Subsection (a)(2)(B);
(2) did not provoke the person against whom the force was used; and
(3) was not otherwise engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic at the time the force was used [requirement imposed by Subsection (a)(2) does not apply to an actor who uses force against a person who is at the time of the use of force committing an offense of unlawful entry in the habitation of the actor].
(c) A person who has a right to be present at the location where the deadly force is used, who has not provoked the person against whom the deadly force is used, and who is not engaged in criminal activity at the time the deadly force is used is not required to retreat before using deadly force as described by this section.
(d) For purposes of Subsection (a)(2), in determining whether an actor described by Subsection (c) reasonably believed that the use of deadly force was necessary, a finder of fact may not consider whether the actor failed to retreat.
SECTION 4. Section 83.001, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, is amended to read as follows:
Sec. 83.001. CIVIL IMMUNITY [AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE]. A [It is an affirmative defense to a civil action for damages for personal injury or death that the] defendant who uses force or[, at the time the cause of action arose, was justified in using] deadly force that is justified under Chapter 9 [Section 9.32], Penal Code, is immune from civil liability for personal injury or death that results from the defendant’s [against a person who at the time of the] use of force or deadly force, as applicable [was committing an offense of unlawful entry in the habitation of the defendant].
SECTION 5. (a) Sections 9.31 and 9.32, Penal Code, as amended by this Act, apply only to an offense committed on or after the effective date of this Act. An offense committed before the effective date of this Act is covered by the law in effect when the offense was committed, and the former law is continued in effect for this purpose. For the purposes of this subsection, an offense is committed before the effective date of this Act if any element of the offense occurs before the effective date.
(b) Section 83.001, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, as amended by this Act, applies only to a cause of action that accrues on or after the effective date of this Act. An action that accrued before the effective date of this Act is governed by the law in effect at the time the action accrued, and that law is continued in effect for that purpose.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Counter Surveillance and Situational Awareness Made Easy


In an increasingly dangerous world, counter surveillance and situational awareness are skills everyone should learn and practice in their everyday lives.

Actual surveillance photo (Above) from many years ago that I took while on surveillance during a large drug transaction. This couple was attempting counter surveillance prior to the "meet" with their supplier.

Of my combined twenty-five years in law enforcement, fifteen years of that was working in a position where I conducted surveillance and counter surveillance operations almost every day.  I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the best in the business.

Types Of Surveillance

There are many types of surveillance used by law enforcement agencies.  However, we will only discuss basic surveillance techniques used by common criminals.  To understand counter surveillance, you need to understand the many facets of surveillance.

  • Pre-Operational Surveillance
  • Fixed Surveillance
  • Mobile Surveillance 
  • Probing Surveillance

The purpose of this article is NOT to educate crooks.  I will not discuss sources or methods used by law enforcement. It is also not my intention to make folks paranoid.

The purpose of this article is simply to share tips I've accumulated over the years and offer techniques everyone should learn and use in their everyday life that may keep them from becoming a victim of a crime or worse.

Pre-Operational Surveillance

Pre-Operational surveillance is usually conducted to some degree by bad guys ranging from mere purse snatchers, to terrorists.  This type of surveillance commonly known as "Casing" a target and could involve seconds, minutes, hours or days, depending on the intent and the sophistication of the bad guys.

During the pre-operational phase, the bad guys will be attempting to determine the intended target's strengths and weaknesses.  The bad guys are also most exposed and vulnerable during this phase.

In the case of a purse snatcher, he or she is likely watching to see who is paying attention to their surroundings and who is distracted by kids, their phone, or who has earphones in as they walk down a street, jogging path, or through a parking lot.

Parking Lots, For Example

Unfortunately, a great number of robberies, theft from persons crimes, kidnappings, etc, occur in shopping center or apartment parking lots where the victim feels comfortable and becomes complacent.  It's best not to draw attention to yourself by wearing flashy jewelry, expensive purse, flashy car, etc.  It's sad that it's come to that, but your chances of becoming a target goes up if you advertise you have money.

When attempting to pick off criminal surveillance, keep in mind that gender, skin color, or manner of dress is not necessarily an indicator.  Bad guys and girls come in all shapes and sizes.  At the same time, do not allow political correctness to turn you into a victim. Nine out of ten times, their body language and their eyes will give them away.

Probing Surveillance

If you've ever been in a parking lot and had someone approach you asking for money, directions, or simply making odd comments about your appearance or possessions that are visible, chances are you were being probed.  Chances are, if they are preparing to attack, they will be looking around to evaluate potential witnesses.

While the eyes are the window to the soul, it's their hands that will hurt you so watch their hands. One hand in a pocket or otherwise hidden can be a danger sign, but keep in mind they may feel that they do not need a weapon to take what you have.

Probing surveillance can quickly turn into an attack.  For instance, if you pull cash out to peel off a dollar, but you have more money visible, the chances of becoming a victim just sky rocketed.

Probing surveillance at your home or apartment will often consist of one or more subjects knocking on your door either asking for someone you won't know or help of some sort (car ran out of gas or some other reason they need to use your phone).  Most of the time, the would be crooks are just checking to see if anyone is home and will quickly leave, however, some crooks will force their way into your home if you open the door.

If you do not open the door and lead them to believe that no one is home, they may break into your home thinking no one is there.

It's best  to call 911 in these cases because at the very least, they may be questioned and identified as suspects in other such crimes in the area.  This would be a good time to arm yourself.  Advise 911 that you are armed so the responding officers will be sure to announce themselves.

In my state (Texas), once a bad guy forces entry into your home, they are fair game.  Obviously, that is something you will have to research pertaining to the laws of your state.  Unfortunately, these days, you could still suffer civil penalties not to mention the trauma of such an event.

Practical Exercise

Try this exercise the next time you go to the grocery store.  Think of yourself as entering the "danger zone" as soon as you pull into the parking lot.  Most people will simply be looking for the best parking space possible and will often miss potential danger signs such as subjects sitting in vehicles who are watching who is coming and going from the store.

An occupied vehicle that is backed into a parking space could possibly indicate that the occupant(s) may be prepared for a quick get away.  You could very well be witnessing what's called "Fixed Surveillance." Take the time to look around the parking lot for such activity. You will be practicing counter surveillance.

If you do see people sitting in vehicles, 99%  of the time, they will simply be waiting on someone that in the store.  If you can see them well enough, attempt to observe if they appear to be watching random people walking through the parking lot.  Either way, make a mental note of the vehicle and occupants and park well away from them if you feel they are suspicious.

Situational Awareness 

Keep in mind that you are most likely safe until the moment you park and open your door to exit your vehicle. Once you exit your vehicle, before closing the door (in case you need to retreat back into your vehicle from a threat), take a moment to scan the parking lot as best you can for anyone that may be looking directly at you in a suspicious manor.  A vehicle that is parked, but then moves closer to where you parked could also a danger sign.

You may be surprised to notice things such as a woman leaving her purse in the shopping cart as she loads up her car with kids or groceries.  That's just asking for trouble.  I would put the purse in the car while putting the kids in the car and then take another moment to look around to see if you are being watched or approached.  Do this every time you've taken your eyes off of your surroundings.

Before leaving the safety of the store, take a moment or two to scan the parking lot and evaluating potential threats.  Look for anyone that is paying just a little too much attention to you.  If a crook is planning to do something bad, he or she will immediately look away after locking eyes.  Chances are, if he or she is too far away to go through with their plan, they will likely choose a target that is not paying attention to their surroundings.  Most crooks are looking for someone that they can approach without being detected until it's too late.

Self Defense In These Situations

Personally, I feel like every law abiding citizen should have the means to protect themselves.  If you do carry a weapon such as a pistol, always have it where you can get to it. Without A LOT of practice, good luck getting to your ankle holster if someone surprises you.

If you carry a purse, have the pistol in your hand inside the purse as you walk to your car. At close range, you shouldn't need to remove the handgun from your purse to be accurate at close range. Sorry about your purse.

Simply do what's called "Point Shooting" meaning you're simply using hand eye coordination to shoot without using your sights.  It's a good idea to practice and learn this skill.

Rolling Or Mobile Counter Surveillance

While I believe shopping center or apartment parking lots are far more dangerous, it's always possible some nut or crook could key in on you on the roadway and decide to follow you home.

Rolling or mobile surveillance can be challenging to even a full team seasoned professionals.  One person attempting to "tail" you should be easy to pick off if you are paying attention to your surroundings.

Chances are, such an incident will stem from some sort of road rage incident so you will know which car to watch. DO NOT GO HOME.  If you do believe you're being followed, call 911 and drive to the nearest police or fire station. You can also coordinate with 911 a public place where you and the police officers could meet to hopefully prevent the event from escalating.

Stalkers, Known Or Unknown

If you believe you are being stalked, you are probably already on heightened alert.  Whether the stalker is an estranged ex or simply an acquaintance, you probably know the stalker even if you don't know exactly who it is that's stalking you.  Unfortunately, in most states, it's a very difficult crime to prosecute and will take multiple reports to satisfy most prosecutors.

Heat Checks

Simple counter surveillance techniques that will assist you in proving or disproving whether or not you are in fact being followed are called "heat checks."  A heat check is an action that you take to provoke a reaction from the person you believe may be following you.

If you are on say a three lane highway, move to the far inside lane.  Inexperienced people attempting surveillance will often attempt to stay close to their target and will often change lanes with their target. If traffic is clear enough, when approaching an exit, pull all the way across all three lanes and take the exit.  The person following you will have no choice but to continue on or follow you across the lanes and thus, exposing himself and his activities.

On surface streets, if you believe you are being followed, attempt to be "number one" or first at a stop light.  Once it's clear, run the light. Obviously, this is dangerous and illegal, but again, it will force the person following you to either wait for the light and hope he can catch up to you once the light changes, or he will run the light and expose him and his activities.  In a perfect scenario, there will be at least one car behind you and in front of the bad guy and he won't be able to run the light to follow you even if he or she wants to do so.

Another risky, but effective technique is to make an abrupt U-turn.  Again, you are attempting to provoke a reaction from the person you believe may be attempting to follow you.

Dead end streets are good for picking off surveillance.  However, it can also quickly turn into a trap if your car is blocked. Once your car is stopped or blocked in, you could be in serious danger.

What If I'm Not Sure?

In the event you're not sure enough to call 911 or commit traffic violations, a good technique to practice is surface street heat checks.  Imagine you are driving home after work, and you notice a vehicle that keeps changing lanes with you on the highway and then takes the same exit off of the highway.

Obviously, this happens everyday out of sheer coincidence.  As you drive through your neighborhood, observe if the same vehicle keeps turning with you.  As you get close to your street, drive around a block or two making multiple turns to see if the vehicle attempts to stay with you.  If it does, lead them away from your home and call 911.

It's also not a bad idea to know or even utilize alternate routes on a regular basis.  This could come in handy in many different situations.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Truth About Dirty Bombs And Decontamination


What The Heck Is A Dirty Bomb?

Source: U.S.N.R.C. (United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

A "dirty bomb" is one type of a Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD) that combines conventional explosives, such as dynamite, with radioactive material. The terms dirty bomb and RDD are often used interchangeably in the media. Most RDDs would not release enough radiation to kill people or cause severe illness - the conventional explosive itself would be more harmful to individuals than the radioactive material. However, depending on the situation, an RDD explosion could create fear and panic, contaminate property, and require potentially costly cleanup. Making prompt, accurate information available to the public may prevent the panic sought by terrorists.

A dirty bomb is in no way similar to a nuclear weapon or nuclear bomb. A nuclear bomb creates an explosion that is millions of times more powerful than that of a dirty bomb. The cloud of radiation from a nuclear bomb could spread tens to hundreds of square miles, whereas a dirty bomb’s radiation could be dispersed within a few blocks or miles of the explosion. A dirty bomb is not a “Weapon of Mass Destruction” but a “Weapon of Mass Disruption,” where contamination and anxiety are the terrorists’ major objectives.

Sources of Radioactive Material

Radioactive materials are routinely used at hospitals, research facilities, industrial activities, and construction sites. These radioactive materials are used for such purposes as diagnosing and treating illnesses, sterilizing equipment, and inspecting welding seams. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission together with 37 “Agreement” States, which also regulate radioactive material, administers more than 22,000 licenses of such materials. The vast majority of these materials are not useful as an RDD.

Are Terrorists Interested In Radioactive Materials?

Yes, terrorists have been interested in acquiring radioactive and nuclear material for use in attacks. For example, in 1995, Chechen extremists threatened to bundle radioactive material with explosives to use against Russia in order to force the Russian military to withdraw from Chechnya. While no explosives were used, officials later retrieved a package of cesium-137 the rebels had buried in a Moscow park.

Since September 11, 2001, terrorist arrests and prosecutions overseas have revealed that individuals associated with al-Qaeda planned to acquire materials for a RDD. In 2004, British authorities arrested a British national, Dhiren Barot, and several associates on various charges, including conspiring to commit public nuisance by the use of radioactive materials. 

In 2006, Barot was found guilty and sentenced to life. British authorities disclosed that Barot developed a document known as the "Final Presentation." The document outlined his research on the production of "dirty bombs," which he characterized as designed to “cause injury, fear, terror and chaos” rather than to kill. U.S. federal prosecutors indicted Barot and two associates for conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against persons within the United States, in conjunction with the alleged surveillance of several landmarks and office complexes in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Newark, N.J. 

In a separate British police operation in 2004, authorities arrested British national, Salahuddin Amin, and six others on terrorism-related charges. Amin is accused of making inquiries about buying a "radioisotope bomb" from the Russian mafia in Belgium; and the group is alleged to have linkages to al-Qaeda. Nothing appeared to have come from his inquiries, according to British prosecutors. 

While neither Barot nor Amin had the opportunity to carry their plans forward to an operational stage, these arrests demonstrate the continued interest of terrorists in acquiring and using radioactive material for malicious purposes.

How can I protect myself in a radiation emergency?

If an explosion occurs, it may not be known immediately that radioactive material is involved. If you are made aware that you are near the site of an RDD or potential release of radioactive material, you should:
  • Stay away from any obvious plume or dust cloud;
  • Walk inside a building with closed doors and windows as quickly as possible and listen for information from emergency responders and authorities;
  • If there is dust in the air, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, filter, clothing or damp cloth to avoid inhaling or ingesting radioactive material;
  • Remove contaminated clothing as soon as possible and place them in a sealed plastic bag. The clothing could be used later to estimate a person's exposure; and
  • Gently wash skin to remove any possible contamination, making sure that no radioactive material enters the mouth or is transferred to areas of the face where it could be easily moved to the mouth and swallowed. More on decontamination later.
If you are advised to take shelter, whether it is at home or in an office, you should:
  • Close all the doors and windows.
  • Turn off ventilation, air conditioners, and forced air heating units that bring in fresh air from the outside. Only use units to re-circulate air that is already in the building.
  • Close fireplace dampers.
  • Move to an inner room.
  • Keep your radio tuned to the emergency response network.

Impact Of A Dirty Bomb

The extent of local contamination would depend on a number of factors, including the size of the explosive, the amount and type of radioactive material used, the means of dispersal, and weather conditions. Those closest to the RDD would be the most likely to sustain injuries due to the explosion.

Will I Glow In The Dark?

Not really.  A dirty bomb is mostly a weapon to instill fear.  If you ever do find yourself in the vicinity of a dirty bomb explosion. First, DO NOT PANIC. 

Simple Steps Anyone Can Take To Protect Yourself and Your Family

Most citizens will not know the size of the explosion or amount of radioactive material used in the device, but there are things you can do just to be on the safe side.

Check the wind direction. After the initial blast, the radioactive material will most likely be carried by the wind and will create what's called an "ellipse."  

Source: Nuclear Secrecy Blog

If you are well upwind from the blast, you will most likely be fine.  But if you do find yourself downwind from the blast, there's still no reason to panic.  As radioactive material spreads, it becomes less concentrated and less harmful. 

Prompt detection of the type of radioactive material used will greatly assist local authorities in advising the community on protective measures, such as sheltering in place, or quickly leaving the immediate area. Radiation can be readily detected with equipment already carried by many emergency responders. Subsequent decontamination of the affected area may involve considerable time and expense.

Immediate health effects from exposure to the low radiation levels expected from an RDD would likely be minimal. The effects of radiation exposure would be determined by:

  • The amount of radiation absorbed by the body;
  • The type of radiation (gamma, beta, or alpha);
  • The distance from the radiation to an individual;
  • The means of exposure-external or internal (absorbed by the skin, inhaled, or ingested); and the length of time exposed.

The health effects of radiation tend to be directly proportional to radiation dose. In other words, the higher the radiation dose, the higher the risk of injury.

Protective Actions

In general, protection from radiation is afforded by:
  • Minimizing the time exposed to radioactive materials.
  • Maximizing the distance from the source of radiation.
  • Shielding from external exposure and inhaling radioactive material.
  • Deploy your gas mask if you have one. Radiation inhaled or digested is MUCH more dangerous that radiation on your clothing and skin.

Just To Be On The Safe Side - Down And Dirty Decontamination Procedure

Once in a safe area, decontamination can be as simple as stripping down (beginning from head to toe) and washing with soap and water.  Gas masks and clothing should be pealed off in a way they are turned inside out as removed.  Your gloves should be removed last to protect your hands from the rest of your contaminated clothing.  Removal of shoes and clothing can reduce contamination by as much as 90%.

Anything you were wearing should be treated as contaminated and should be placed in plastic bags or container that you can seal.  Once the event calms down, contaminated items can be disposed of by professionals.  Don't forget to used soap and water to decontaminate your gas mask as well.

Check out the REMM link above for more information. 

The complete instructions on decontamination procedures from Radiation Emergency Medical Management (REMM) 

Perform two decontamination cycles if feasible, with a whole body radiation survey after each cycle.

Use tepid decontamination water.

Avoid cold water which tends to close skin pores, trapping radioactive contamination. Cold water may also cause hypothermia.

Avoid hot water which tends to enhance absorption of radioactive material through vasodilation and increased skin blood flow. Hot water may also cause thermal burns.

Add mild soap (neutral pH) to water to emulsify and dissolve contamination.

Direct contaminated waste water away from patient, rather than over the rest of the body.

Stop whole body external decontamination efforts after 2 decontamination cycles and handle patient with standard precautions if the second whole body radiation survey shows:
External contamination in excess of 2 times background radiation level

Additional whole body external decontamination efforts do not further reduce contamination levels by more than 10%.

Consider that attempts to remove all contamination from skin may not be feasible or desirable.
Some radioactivity may be trapped in outermost layer of skin (stratum corneum) and will remain until normal sloughing occurs (12-15 days).

Attempts at vigorous decontamination may result in loss of normal intact skin barrier and an increased risk of internal contamination.

Cover areas of residual radiation contamination with waterproof dressings/drapes in order to limit spread of contamination to other body sites, immediate environment, and others.

Persistently elevated levels of external contamination after adequate decontamination efforts may also be due to internal contamination, retained radioactive foreign bodies (shrapnel), contaminated wounds, or contaminated body orifices.

Move Along, Nothing To See Here

The sight of emergency workers wearing protective gear while you are not will most likely be the most frightening aspect after the initial blast.  If you are close enough to see them, you're probably too close to the event.

Should I purchase potassium iodide tablets for protection against radiation?

According to the U.S.N.R.C. (United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission).  Potassium iodide (KI), which is available over the counter, protects people from thyroid cancer caused by radioactive iodine, a type of radioactive material that can be released in nuclear explosions, and depending on the amount released, can later cause thyroid cancer. KI should only be taken in a radiation emergency that involves the release of radioactive iodine. Since the use or release of radioactive iodine from an RDD is highly unlikely, KI pills would not be useful.

This is obviously controversial. My feeling is it would not hurt to have  potassium iodide tablets on hand.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Grid Down Scenarios, Sniper Attacks on Large Power Transformers (LPT) and Grid hacking


Most preppers already know about the dreaded EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) weapons, but how many people are aware that on February 5th, 2014, terrorists attempted to take down part of the power grid in California?  Probably not very many since the story was well under reported.

"The Wall Street Journal's Rebecca Smith reports that a former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman is acknowledging for the first time that a group of snipers shot up a Silicon Valley substation for 19 minutes last year, knocking out 17 transformers before slipping away into the night."

"The attack was "the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred" in the U.S., Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time, told Smith."

"A blackout was avoided thanks to quick-thinking utility workers, who rerouted power around the site and asked power plants in Silicon Valley to produce more electricity. But the substation was knocked out for a month."

"The FBI says it doesn't believe a terrorist organization caused the attack but that it continues to investigate the incident."

"Smith and colleague Tom McGinty assembled a detailed chronology of the attack that includes some amazing details, including more than 100 fingerprint-free shell casings similar to ones used by AK-47s that were found at the site and small piles of rocks that appeared to have been left by an advance scout to tell the attackers where to get the best shots."

Source: The Wall Street Journal / Business Insider

Snipers armed with high powered rifles would probably be the most likely and low tech way to take down sections of the power grid.  But what if multiple sniper teams attacked these power stations simultaneously?   

In a report published by the United States Department of Energy in June of 2012, it's clear the U.S. government is also worried about aging LPT's and the difficulty in replacing them.

Read the full report at the link below

"EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) assessed the procurement and supply environment of large power transformers (LPT) 1 in this report. LPTs have long been a major concern for the U.S. electric power sector, because failure of a single unit can cause temporary service interruption and lead to collateral damages, and it could be difficult to quickly replace it." 

"The rising global demand for copper and electrical steel can be partially attributed to the increased power and transmission infrastructure investment in growing economies as well as the replacement market for aging infrastructure in developed countries. The United States is one of the world’s largest markets for power transformers and holds the largest installed base of LPTs— and this installed base is aging. The average age of installed LPTs in the United States is approximately 40 years, with 70 percent of LPTs being 25 years or older. While the life expectancy of a power transformer varies depending on how it is used, aging power transformers are subject to an increased risk of failure. Since the late 1990’s, the United States has experienced an increased demand for LPTs; however, despite the growing need, the United States has had a limited domestic capacity to produce LPTs. In 2010, six power transformer manufacturing facilities existed in the United States, and together, they met approximately 15 percent of the Nation’s demand for power transformers of a capacity rating greater than or equal to 60 MVA. Although the exact statistics are unavailable, global power transformer supply conditions indicate that the Nation’s reliance on foreign manufacturers is even greater for extra high-voltage (EHV) power transformers with a maximum voltage rating greater than or equal to 345 kV."

 Let's hope that improvements have been made since the above report was published. 

Electrical Grid Hacking

Source: Business Insider

"Strong intent. Thankfully, low capability," John Riggi, a section chief in the FBI's cyber division, told CNN about ISIS' hacking attempts.

"But the concern is that they'll buy that capability."

"That concern is warranted, the FBI told CNN. Highly capable hacking software is available for purchase on the black market and could be used to hack networks associated with energy companies, fuel refineries, or water-pumping stations."

Unfortunately, ISIS isn't the only group wanting to do significant damage to the United States. Enemy states such as Iran, China, North Korea, and Russia are just a few countries that would love to cause chaos and destruction in this country. 

That doesn't even include left wing domestic terrorists that are indigenous to the U.S. that are working everyday to cause havoc by any means possible on a grand scale.

Real life zombies above compared with TV zombies below.

Results Of Such Attacks

Such attacks would likely not yield the immediate dramatic results of an EMP where most electronics would be destroyed. Planes wouldn't fall out of the sky and your car wouldn't just stop leaving you stranded. It is believed, however, that eventually, without emergency power, the results would be the same in the long run.

Immediate Results

The immediate results of a hacking attack could possibly be damage to electrical appliances that are plugged in at the time of the attack.  If the LPT's are overloaded, this could cause a huge power surge down the lines. It's possible and hopeful that relay stations would blow out first before reaching the consumer.

Either way, without power, significant damage would already be done to the infrastructure including no food, gas, and eventually water service.

Long Term Effects

I think we all know the long term effects would eventually be exactly the same as an EMP attack.