29 House Plants That Are Safe For Cats

9 May

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Note: Not your normal Prepper subject but I came across this excellent article by Anthony Duggan at Kitty Insight and was impressed with the detail and construction of the article and the useful information it conveyed. For the life of me I can’t figure out what I was searching for when I found this, I am not a cat person, perhaps it was child safety around the home, in any case I contacted Anthony and he graciously gave me permission to repost it here on The Prepper Journal, something I don’t normally do either. Think I’ll pick up a few Powerball tickets over lunch today, another thing I don’t normally do.

I went to check to see what house plants and garden plants were poisonous for my cat and got a bit of a shock. Turns out, by the looks of it, that most plants seem to be poisonous for my cat!

According to this site, there are literally hundreds of common, every day, flowers and plants that are poisonous. Now, obviously, some need to be totally eaten in huge quantities to have a negative effect – but some, just inhaling the pollen as your cat walks by could be life ending!

Well after reading through the seemingly never-ending list it occurred to me that it might be better to know which plants and flowers are not bad for my cat.

It might be easier to have a short list to work off and also to know what these harmless beauties look like for easy identification. Without further ado here are a bunch of completely harmless plants and flowers you can stick around the house and garden safe in the knowledge that kitty is absolutely safe :

Birds Nest Fern (Asplenium Nidus)

A great low light houseplant. Originates from South East Asia, Australasia, Polynesia & Hawaii. In the wild, this fern has a tendency to grow on trees, cliffs and other objects but you will probably buy it as a potted house plant. Comes from a tropical environment so likes humidity and moist soils but can put up with the odd dry spell. In the wild fronds would grow 20 to 59 inches long and up to 8 inches wild but domestically you are unlikely to achieve such good growth. Doesn’t flower but offers abundant greenery. An ideal bathroom plant.

Light Conditions: Medium to low indirect light

Watering: Likes humid environments and moist composts.  

Calathea Rattlesnake (Calathea Lancifolia)

A native of Brazil, the rattlesnake is not venomous to cats or humans! Likes Indirect bright sunshine and to be kept moist in spring and summer but not watered to soggy. Likes some humidity and grows large leaves up to 30 inches tall. Blooms yellow/orange flowers in late season. If the leaves wilt you haven’t watered lightly regularly enough.

Light Conditions: Bright but indirect sunlight.

Watering: Keep moist in spring and summer without making compost soggy. No watering in winter.

Spider Plant/Airplane Plant/Spider Ivy/Ribbon Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)

Very easy to grow as it loves a wide range of conditions. Bright indirect light and sporadic watering are all it takes for even the most useless gardener to keep this hardy plant alive and flourishing. A spider will give flowers in the right conditions and will send out tendril offshoots as it looks to become mobile and spread. Easy to separate and grow new plants from tendrils overall growth is inhibited by pot size.

Light Conditions: Bright but indirect light.

Watering: Regular or sporadic – just don’t over water.

Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea Elegans)

A popular houseplant that can grow two to six feet tall indoors in pots. Originating from Mexico and Guatemala, this little palm is popular because it grows well in low light conditions and at lower temperatures. Usually potted in clumps, this palm produces narrow, long, green leaves similar to those used on Palm Sunday. Doesn’t produce any flowers but is safe for cats and humans.

 Light Conditions: Low to bright indirect light.

Watering: Prefers dry to being over moist, waterlogged or sitting in water.

Staghorn Fern/Stags Horn Fern/Elk Fern (Platycerium Bifurcatum)

Easy to identify by its stag antler/moose antler-shaped leaves. Native to Australia, these ferns tend to grow on trees rather than on the ground – although if you are shopping for one it is likely to come in a pot. In the wild, these grow to a mighty size, but in a pot or outside its normal environment growth is going to be small and manageable. Very distinctive looking plant make this a houseplant that is growing in popularity allied to the fact they are reasonably easy to look after.

Light Conditions: Bright indirect light – doesn’t survive under just artificial light.

Watering: Won’t tolerate over-watering – likes misting and soaking – more light more water. Generally, water once per week.

Haworthia Zebra (Haworthia Attenuata)

A member of the succulent group of plants, this little plant, reminiscent of cacti, originates from South Africa. It has small and has striped leaves, occasionally flowers but rarely when kept indoors. Likes temperatures from 8 to 26 c and enjoys bright indirect sunlight. Related to the aloe plant without the latex that is poisonous to cats.

Light Conditions: Bright indirect light.

Watering: Water when well drained soil dries out in summer, don’t over water in winter.

Xerographica Air Plant (Tillandsia Xerographica)

This remarkable little plant originates from Mexico, Salvador & Guatemala. It is remarkable because of its highly original looks and the fact it is an air plant – it requires no bedding – whatsoever! In terms of looks, it’s fronds/leaves wrap around itself like soft mossy leaves – very unusual but interesting to look at! It likes bright light and in the correct temperatures can reside inside and out. Watering – how to water an air plant? Misting and soaking. Soak for 15 minutes once every other week or literally submerge it once a month for a few minutes!

Light Conditions: Bright direct or indirect light – thrives in both.

Watering: Misting and occasional soaking.

Money Tree/Guiana Chestnut (Pachira Aquatica)

Believed to bring financial good fortune to its owner, the money tree plant is another popular house plant that is cat-friendly. Originating from the swamps of central and south america they are easily identifiable by their interlocking trunks (that lock in good luck – so the theory goes). Not to be confused with the succulent money plant, they like water once a week and bright but indirect light.

Light Conditions: Bright indirect light.

Watering: Once a week in summer, don’t leave to stand in water.

Peperomia Green (Peperomia Obtusifolia)

Otherwise known as the baby rubber plant, this plant originates in Mexico and the northern jungles of South America. Identifiable by its cupped, fleshy, leathery leaves this popular houseplant grows up to 25 cms tall when potted and flowers sporadically.  

Light Conditions: Bright indirect light, sporadic direct light.

Watering: Allow soil to dry out then water thoroughly – don’t allow to sit in waterlogged soil.

Echeveria Lola

A small succulent plant that grows to 6 inches tall. Has a distinctive light purple appearance shaped as a single rosette. Uncomplicated to grow, don’t allow to sit in water, remove dead leaves at the base and provide plenty of sunlight and it should grow reasonably well.

Light Conditions: Bright direct & indirect light

Watering: Don’t allow to stand in water. Water regularly.

Boston Fern/Sword Fern (Nephrolepis Exaltata)

If you have seen a fern indoors it was probably a Boston fern. These have been popular since Victorian times due to their interesting drooping fronds and easy maintenance. Generally reaching to 30 cm tall, they can grow much bigger if re-potted. Native to most tropical regions worldwide these are cat-friendly and a good looking house plant that reputedly cleans the air very efficiently. They like bright indirect light and humid conditions so work great in bathrooms. Need lots of watering during the summer period as they don’t appreciate drying out.

Light Conditions: Bright indirect light.

Watering: Keep moist but not waterlogged, enjoy humid conditions.

Maidenhair Fern/Walking Fern/Venus Hair Fern (Adiantum)

Grows to about 60 cms tall and in diameter but can be kept small by limiting pot size. This fern has more rounded leaves on the fronds than the Boston fern. Usually grows in the wild on rock faces or rocky river banks. This is not an easy plant to keep indoors. It doesn’t like bright light but needs humid wet air. Making it a difficult plant to please indoors. These finicky plants are safe for your cat but you will end up having to mist them daily, monitor water/humidity conditions and cosset the damn thing to keep it alive.

Light Conditions: Shaded, out of bright light.

Watering: Mist twice daily, keep soil damp.

Bamboo Palm/Areca Palm (Dypsis Lutescens)

Our second palm on the list is a graceful, upright, easy to look at, clumping palm. Very popular due to its good looks and relatively low maintenance. Completely safe for your cat, these palms like bright indirect light, misting regularly and watering with soft rainwater once the top layer of their pot has dried out. Keep away from radiators and strong heat sources.

Light Conditions: Bright indirect light.

Watering: Occasional misting, watering once top layer of compost has dried out.

Prayer Plant (Maranta Leuconeura)

A Brazilian rain forest native, this plant derives its name from the weird spectacle of its movement a day gives way to night and vice versa. The plant wilts and recovers with changes of light creating a praying period. The interesting coloration on the leaves make this plant a popular house plant – but they are not easy to maintain. They need moist and highly humid conditions to thrive and prefer bright indirect light.

Light Conditions: Bright indirect light.

Watering: Keep moist, but don’t over water or they succumb to root rot.

Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus Australis)

A popular house plant, Swedish ivy is prone and grows outwards as a mat or cascades from high spots. Neither a true ivy or Swedish it is identifiable by its round, evergreen leaves that have a saw tooth edge. This plant is fast growing and easy to care for. It is not fond of overly bright areas and is often killed by over watering. Produces white flowers and sometimes creates an aroma when touched.

Light Conditions: Shaded areas, out of direct bright light.

Watering: Avoid over watering – under-watered plants can be revived but over watered are goners. Let the soil dry out before watering.

Cast Iron Plant/Bar Room Plant (Aspidistra Elatior)

A native of Japan and Taiwan the cast iron plant derives its name from the fact it can be neglected without suffering too much long term damage. Broad, floppy leaves that shoot upwards from the pot makes this evergreen a popular good looking plant. Able to withstand drought, pest and poor light means even beginner gardeners find this plant easy to maintain and keep looking good. If you want the nearest thing to an indestructible house plant this is it.

Light Conditions: Avoid direct sunlight.

Watering: Water regularly in summer, cut down in winter.

African Violet (Saintpaulia)

Bored of evergreens? Need some cat safe flowers with color? The African violet is your huckleberry. Obviously, they come from Africa. Specifically Tanzania. They come in a huge range of color to satisfy any taste and are pretty easy to take care of. They like bright light to come into bloom but dislike direct sunlight that might scorch fragile leaves. They like room temperature tap water once their compost dries out and regular fertilizing with plant feed.

Light Conditions: Bright indirect light

Watering: Allow to dry out then water with tepid water, feed regularly.

Aluminum Plant/Watermelon Pilea (Pilea Cadierei)

An evergreen perennial native to China and Vietnam that grows to 30 cms tall. Perfectly safe for cats and humans. Usually has a wide pointed oval variegated leaf with a shiny wax finish. Produces flowers but they are not very impressive. The main beauty of the plant is it’s large green and silvered leaves. Handles low light conditions well and needs to be kept moist.

Light Conditions: Indirect light, shaded conditions

Watering: keep compost moist but not waterlogged.

Friendship Plant (Pilea Involucrata)

Native to Central and South America this plant is renowned for its easy maintenance and two-tone green fuzzy leaves. Likes indirect low levels of light and occasionally flowers with a pretty little pink flower. Called the friendship plant due to the ease with which cuttings can be grown at speed into plants that can be gifted. Grows to 6 to 12 inches tall.

Light Conditions: Low indirect light although needs some bright indirect light.

Watering: keep the soil moist in summer allow to dry out slightly in winter. Provide some humidity if possible.

Lace Flower Vine (Alsobia Dianthiflora)

As the name suggests this is a trailing vine offering loads of green soft leaves and in spring a wonderful white flower. A very decorative flower that can be moved outdoors in the summer. This is an easy-care houseplant that can take some neglect. Can be left to dry out between waterings. Favors bright through to shaded light making it easy to grow in most indoor locations.

Light Conditions: Bright indirect to shaded light.

Watering: Can dry out between watering without issue.

Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus Radicans)

If you like flowers and the African violet doesn’t do it for you then maybe the lipstick plant is a good candidate. Named after its red flowers that protrude out of darker red tubular sheaths this is a vine that will flower almost continuously in the correct conditions. Provide the vine with bright indirect light and plenty of water and you should get red flowers continuously. Avoid over watering.

Light Conditions: Bright indirect sunlight.

Watering: Weekly, avoid over watering or standing in water.

Phalaenopsis Orchid/Moth Orchid

If you want a cat-safe flower then the ubiquitous moth orchid is your first port of call. These are probably the most popular flowering house plant available. Popular as they provide wonderful flowers in multiple different color options all year round. Available from numerous outlets at incredibly affordable prices. These plants produce a wild amount of blooms for a prolonged period the go dormant. To restart blooming you have to subject them to cooler nighttime temperatures for about a month and water via ice cube. The temperature variation draws them out of dormancy and off the bloom again!

Light Conditions: Moderately bright windowsill or indirect light.

Watering: Water every 7-10 days or when it dries out

Polka Dot Plant (Begonia Maculata)

The polka dot plant is named due to the obvious pink spots on its broad green leaves. Native to Madagascar, it’s spots and dots can vary in colour from pink through to scarlet, lavender and white making these a highly decorative plant. Although they grow several feet tall in the wild potted versions are considerably smaller. These plants like bright indirect light, moist soils and require feeding monthly. In lower light levels they will go hunting for light.

Light Conditions: Wide range from shaded through to bright indirect light.

Watering: Should be kept moist but not over watered.

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)

This cactus originates from southeastern Brazil. Usually found growing in humid environments on trees and rocks, they are notable for their flat cacti leaves and when flowering their red or white tubular flowers. Easy to manage and maintain, these cacti are a very popular house plant. Non-toxic to cats, humans and dogs you can safely grow them without fear of poisoning kitty!

Light Conditions: Bright indirect light.

Watering: Soak once the top inch of compost goes dry, don’t allow to stand in water. Feed regularly.

Wax Plant/Wax Flower/ Hoya (Hoya Carnosa)

Originating from Asia and Australasia this climbing plant has waxy leaves giving rise to its name the wax plant and produces scented flowers making it a very popular house plant. Non-toxic to cats this plant is relatively easy to care for as it likes northern facing windows where the light is bright but indirect. Keep moist during summer months and the plant should flourish and produce many scented flowers.

Light Conditions: Bright indirect light, Northern facing windows.

Watering: Keep moist during growing season – avoid over watering.

Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea)

The ponytail palm is a very distinctive palm that has grown in popularity in recent years thanks to its fantastic shape and display. Originating from eastern Mexico, in the wild, this plant can grow to 30 feet tall although indoors the best you tend to get is 4 ft! Although called a palm due to its long shooting fronds that resemble those of some palms, it is, in fact, a member of the succulent family. This makes an easy to care for houseplant as it can take periods of poor low light and can live in semi-dry conditions so is ideal for a lot of areas of the home and lifestyles.

Light Conditions: Low light with some bright spells preferred.

Watering: Loves dry conditions.

Basil (Ocimum Basilicum)

A member of the mint family, Basil is native to tropical regions from central America through to Asia. There are several well-known variations: Sweet, Thai and Lemon Basil. Each variation has a slightly different flavor. Well known for its uses in cooking, this herb doesn’t flower but produces large leaves that have a subtle aniseed flavor when used in cooking. Can be grown indoors or outdoors. Growing indoors is easy an requires good bright sunshine and moist well-drained soil. Completely non-toxic to cats and humans…

Light Conditions: Bright direct light preferred.

Watering: Kept moist but well drained.

Sage (Salvia Officinalis)

Originally from the Mediterranean but now distributed widely, common sage is widely used in cooking. Identifiable by its woody stems, grayish leaves and blue to purple flowers, sage gives off a woody, pine-like aroma and is used in numerous dishes as a flavoring from sausages through to being sprinkled on meaty dishes for added flavor. Easy to grow indoors and outdoors this herb is a must in any cooks garden or kitchen. It can be planted in direct light and needs well-drained soil but is very hardy and easy to grow. Non-toxic to cats and humans and useful too…

Light Conditions: Bright direct sunshine where possible.

Watering: Water regularly, avoid over watering – Sage is fairly drought resistant.

Thyme (Thymus Vulgaris)

Another Mediterranean herb that can be grown indoors that is popular with cooks and harmless to cats! Thyme is a low lying shrub that loves sunny dry conditions and flowers with small white or pink flowers through from spring onward. This is nice and easy to keep indoors due to its drought loving nature and love of sunlight – stick it on a bright windowsill and you are good to go.

Light Conditions: Bright direct sunlight.

Watering: Sparingly, do not leave in damp conditions.

Editor’s Note: So all bets are off if you put some catnip on any of these plants. The cats will survive, the plant, not so much! Same for Christmas decorations. I do have a number of friends who have barn cats and they, as you know, are every bit working animals serving a vital purpose.  

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There Are Some Treasures in Cyberspace if You Look

22 Feb

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

There is a popular meme that states “the best place to hide a body is on Page 2 of a Google Search results” and this has proven to be true, trust me, I use a number of search engines every day and sometimes your would be surprised at what you find past the ones who have done their SEO homework AND paid a fee to get that premier spot on the results page. Positively surprised in this case which was unexpected.

In looking at a site run by Grizzly Tarps of Azusa California, B.Air.com, I found a number of pretty cool guides on Natural Disaster Planning with a lot of great detail on things like water quality after a disaster, tips on how to deal safely with seniors, pets and on the dangers of water damage. And better yet, they were more than happy to let me share them stating “If this helps even one person to protect their family and property, then we are doing a necessary job by increasing public awareness.” Kudos to them.

The links are as follows and really worth your time to work through:

I found them to be informative and easy to absorb. A good review with well laid out information that preppers will appreciate.

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X Marks the Spot – Search Codes That Matter to Preppers

28 Aug

Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another article from R. Ann Parris to The Prepper Journal. Admit it, when you saw the title you thought this was about one of the Internets search engines. Alas, and thankfully, it is about something so much more important. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share then enter into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies!

Search and Rescue codes largely entered mainstream American awareness in the U.S. courtesy of massive hurricane disaster areas. We saw them before Katrina, although she brought them into American homes and still bears their scars, and sadly, we’ve seen them since and will likely continue to see them.

For preppers, there are two main reasons to understand the most common codes used to mark structures by teams in a disaster area.

One, there’s the counter-intel aspect. They can be used as camouflage, misleading others about our home or the entire area around our home – which can keep others from even getting close to us if applied properly.

*Be able to cover or remove markings especially if applied to a whole neighborhood in case a real disaster occurs and somebody is able to respond. If it looks like another unit checked the area or has done follow-up recently, they may assume SNAFU is in full effect and hop the block/road to work an area that hasn’t been covered yet.

Two, we can use them to gather intel should we find ourselves moving through a disaster area.

Let’s hit that “moving through” aspect, because there’s usually a lot of resistance there.

There are all kinds of reasons we might be out and about after a disaster, whether that disaster is what drove us out or we wander into the aftermath of a disaster while passing through.

Straight from the news: air, surface, and ground water contaminated by chemical spills from trains, factories, mines, and ships; housefires, wildfires, and droughts, which then exacerbate rain into floods and mudslides; upstream dams and levees failing; natural disasters kicking off fires, releasing previously contained toxins, cracking wells, tumbling houses, and wrecking cellars.

That’s not the what-if of a paranoid prepper.

That’s straight from the news.

Fires occur and spread daily – it’s why you have a fire department. Annually, monthly, weekly, we get things beyond our individual control, already causing people to relocate or find alternate resources even with all our technical advances in our nice, modernized nations.

That’s not the WROL (Without Rule of Law)/pandemic human-contact concerns, or the cooling tanks in nuclear plants steaming off over days or 2-20 years. It’s not droughts lowering water tables, animal plagues, or woods too emptied of trees or animal/plant foods to sustain another winter and spring. It’s not somebody traveling even “just” 30-100 miles from home before a disaster strikes.

Using just things that happen, pretty regularly, portions of the population are forced from homes that had seemed like perfect locations.

There are all kinds of reasons to include a Plan B (or C,D,E…) that involves traveling, and not always in nice, empty backcountry.

Being able to recognize what we’re seeing from either the “safe” resource site or avoidance perspectives while passing through is huge.

We can also plan to learn the CDC and HazMat codes that may become applicable even in our local neighborhoods.

Recognizing where we don’t want to be is one of the biggies for gaining International Search and Rescue Group – INSARAG literacy.

Lots of bodies, no marks for reclaiming them, disease is hella prevalent, pretty much guaranteed. I would rather not pick through a building that was already so questionable a search team opted not to press a full search. If it was already overrun by rats “then”, unless I’m desperate enough to eat them, I’d really rather hop well out of that neighborhood before we find a bed-down pocket.

We can learn lots of things when we know how to read INSARAG. The dates and updates alone can give us information about the area, human climate, and resource potentials.

Disaster Search Codes

In the U.S. we mostly use and see FEMA “X” codes – a circle divided into quadrants. Other NATO nations use a circled box.

There’s also a separate box that’s part of a three-tier structural integrity rating.

Take that with a grain of salt, because it’s “significant” hazards. Lesser risks that were no big deal in a mostly functional world can deliver a world of hurt if we’re already working with limited resources.

It’s also being assessed by teachers, lawyers, random National Guard types, clerks, landscapers, and cops, as opposed to firefighters, who develop a good eye for these things, or qualified civil engineers.

Those X’s that denote a big issue are worth paying attention to, period. Something stuck out at them to be marked. If that box is empty or “just” a slash … again, it was probably not cleared by professional housing inspectors. Be super-duper leery anyway.

There’s also a victim-location code based around a V. It’s sometimes used on its own, but it’s most commonly seen as an add-on.

All three contribute to streamlining both initial searches and follow-ups or retrieval operations. They convey basic information like the date, status of the structure, victim information, and risks.

There’s some personal twists added sometimes, some specific-unit tweaks and shorthand, and in some cases, simplification and deviations that develop in really widespread disasters.

The variations can help us if we’re using them along with noise and light discipline to discourage incursions during excessive loss of rule of law or by looters/survivors after a disaster.

Anyone familiar enough with the codes to accurately read what we’re saying will expect to see some of those deviations. However, if you put information in the wrong place or use some random combination, you may actually attract attention.

X codes are most common in the U.S. but it’s worth learning what you’re seeing in NATO INSARAG boxes and reading-writing victim V-codes, too.

FEMA “X” Search Codes

Top goes the date (and rarely the time). Left goes the unit that’s searching (and sometimes the time). Hazards, actions we took, and special notes go to the right.

Everybody knows a flood means human waste, wood rotting as it goes, and mold developing, but if the floor’s crumbling already, that gets put there with “hamster removed” and “GL” (gas or fuel leak visualized or smelled).

That’s also where a no-go, break-off, or exterior-only survey is noted, with or without a secondary structure box.

In the bottom, a zero or empty quadrant means nobody’s home, dead or alive. Victim counts are listed live to dead, top and bottom or left to right separated by a dash, dot or slash.

FEMA now advises to mark search results on windows and doors, and use their big stickers when available, instead of wrecking house paint and siding. If local teams are doing it and you’re aiming for camo, mimic them.

*If you’re marking for an animal rescue that’s coming through after you, make it Big and Bold, and note if it’s going to require saws/jacks to get them out.

Top Three Super-Duper Big-time Warning Signs

One, there’s that “no go” structural safety box with the X. If professionals with healthcare did not want anybody else to poke inside, that’s a real good one to skip.

Two, we want to be hyper-vigilant for the word “dog(s)” somewhere.

Now, I like dogs. I like my dogs a lot. But, my dogs make me very, very aware of other dogs. Especially my current girls, because they – Lab-terrier mixes, never strays, never starved, never abused, with no training for it – will separate, hug verges all nonchalant, easy-going postures, and then launch for takedown from multiple angles like a pack of lionesses.

So I watch for whether dogs are happy to see people, period, or happy and excited about chasing something that’s not as athletic as a squirrel. And I watch my flanks for others.

Three, we want to be very leery if we ever see a single diagonal slash with or without a date.

See, we’re trained to mark a slash – and, unit by unit, the date-time – before we enter a building or floor/area/apartment in large buildings. If we abandon a search before we finish, we are supposed to paint a dot/circle in the middle of it.  (Completed searches get the X, even if it’s “did not enter/exterior survey only – hazards”.)

Even if we’re leaving in a hurry, we’re supposed to put that dot on there.

That way if we don’t make our rally or contact, people know right exactly where we are. No question of did we get snatched off the porch, have an accident after leaving the building, or which building, floor, or compartment we bounced to next. If we drew that single slash and there is no other marking (+/- the date), we are still within that threshold.

This applies to preppers as “oh my my” because if there is only that slash, we have two conditions.

One, there is still a team inside. Maybe good, if we’re seeking other intelligent life. Maybe cause to fade away if we want to go unnoticed.

Two, the searcher(s) went in and either did not come out or something so bad happened inside that they un-A’d the AO in such a rush they didn’t even take time for another slash and an X-box.

That suggests, right up there with dogs, bodies, and compromised structures, that we do not want to go through that door.

*If you’re aiming for camo in EROL conditions, don’t use that one. SAR, first responders, and military will go in after each other almost as fast as if we heard a crying baby.

Now, shorthand/personalization that develops in widespread disasters means some never even drew a slash. But if we see just that slash, that is a warning sign.

Applying INSARAG Markings

INSARAG can provide intel on local conditions just by the quickie versions that suggest more need than available CERT/SAR teams could handle, and give us the number and types of teams working an area.

We can also use clues from how they’re marked. For instance, any time markings seem really high up on a building, or have serious up-down wavering of lines, circles undulating like scalloped pattypan squash, or oval “tornado spirals” instead of circles, it indicates a flood high enough that it was easier/safer to stand in a boat to paint than be in the water. Heights and dates of marks can tell us if water was rising or receding.

On the counter-intel front, we can use things like follow-ups and some of those super-duper bigtime warning signs to disseminate false information, projecting that fires gutted flats or stores, or there’s heavy mold and decaying bodies, etc.

They’re worth being familiar enough with to plan our actions to mitigate likely risks, choose avoidance of an area, or pick locations that may still have useful resources with the safest access, even if we’re not planning a bugout, ever. Too much goes wrong even right now to steadfastly insist we’ll never be away from home and traveling, or ever be forced out of our homes.

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   Prepper Gifts for the Holidays

9 Dec

Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Note: Tis’ the Season after all. This is a Guest contribution from Red J in the true Christmas spirit.

Gifts aplenty for the everyone!


For the Non-Preppers:

A small portable water filter is a dual-purpose item that could be used by hikers or campers, as well as the obvious use for survivalists.  Water purification tablets are an alternative.

A multitool is something that many people would find handy.

If the person loves to read, a prepping novel may be a good introduction to the prepping world without being pushy.  This could also lead to a discussion of why prepping may be wise when the person reads it.  The novel, One Second After, by William R. Forstchen, has opened the eyes of several people I know.

A book on securing one’s home is an option.  How to Defend Your Family and Home: Outsmart an Invader, Secure Your Home, Prevent a Burglary and Protect Your Loved Ones from Any Threat Paperback, by Dave Young, an ex-Marine and law enforcement officer, is an affordable book that’s very highly rated on Amazon.

Practical gifts include a fire extinguisher or flashlight and extra batteries.  A headlamp is an alternative to a flashlight.

A 5-gallon bucket with some of your favorite survival foods that will last long term, would be a good gift for someone open to prepping, but who has not taken this step yet.

A first-aid kit – believe it or not, some homes do not have a first-aid kit.  Those not interested in prepping would see this as a practical gift that could save a trip to the store when a simple medical emergency arrives.  You could give a first aid book instead.

If you know someone who commutes to work, consider putting together a small kit for their vehicle trunk, with items like a small flashlight, two 12 ounce water bottles (perhaps with a few drops of bleach, if you explain that it helps keeps the water safe for a while), a few trail mix bars or protein bars, a cap and gloves (especially for those in colder climates), a lighter and/or matches, a candle or two, a jackknife, and perhaps a pepper spray (“Just in case you need to defend yourself.”)  When I got engaged to my wife, my future mother-in-law gave me a similar kit which I saw as very thoughtful and practical.

Essential oils have become popular in recent years.  If you know someone who has a specific medical issue, you may be able to find and give essential oils for that specific health condition.

For Preppers:

This seems tougher to choose an appropriate gift because there is such as wide spectrum of preppers in various stages and prepared for different kinds of emergencies.  A gift card to a farm-home store or garden supply center in your area would be appreciated.  If you’re truly stumped for ideas that would be appropriate for the prepper on your list, a gift card to Walmart or Amazon could be useful for anyone.

An appropriate book is an option.  Not long ago, I gave a copy of How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It, by James Wesley Rawles, to an experienced prepper who appreciated the wide variety of possible scenarios described in that book.  If you can spend more on a book, When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency, by Matthew Stein is a treasure trove still available on Amazon.


Another idea is to get a county road map, drive around the area of the one whom you plan to give it to, and add creeks, ponds, railroad tracks, and other landmarks in their area.  If your recipient lives near a county line, get a map for the neighboring county too.  You can find county maps at your Chamber of Commerce, online, your US State Department of Transportation, or a retail store. Matching sweaters, not so much.

Of course The Prepper Journal already has some ideas for the prepper who has all the necessities.  Think non-electronic entertainment options such as puzzles, board games, or books (the paper kind, not eBooks).  When our daughter came home from college, she introduced us to the board game Settlers of Catan which our family has enjoyed.

When You Don’t Have Much Money for a Gift:

If you don’t have much money for a gift, you could teach them a skill.  Look at your skills.  If you have skills in sewing, carpentry, woodworking, plumbing, public speaking, teaching, writing, first aid, or other skills, be assured that some need these skills around their home or small business.  You could offer to use your skill(s) to help them, or teach them how to do it, for a few hours, and your offer would be appreciated.

For example, you could offer to help them start a small garden, perhaps in a few containers if they live in an apartment.  This would be especially appreciated by those who like fresh, healthy food.

If you can teach, you can offer to tutor someone’s child or grandchild.

If you’re gifted in shooting, give a beginning shooter a homemade coupon for a personal lesson at the range.

Do you have a prepping-related book that you do not use anymore?  If so, it may be something that another prepper could find helpful.


If you know a prepper who needs another source of water, could you offer to help them set up a rainwater collection system?  Or repair their existing system if it’s aging and in need of some tender loving care?

Another idea is to print an article from ThePrepperJournal.com to give, along with your offer to help them make progress on it.  For example, a family with young children could use help developing an emergency fire plan with home fire safety. If your friend depends on wood to heat their home in the winter, maybe something in this article, Safely Chopping Firewood could help them cut wood more efficiently, or you could offer to cut some wood for them.

Making a gift for someone is an old tradition that has become occasional but can be very personal.  One time, a friend wrote a poem for me about the situation that I was facing at that time, and it was one of the most personal gifts I have ever received.

I believe that the giving and receiving of gifts adds joy to our lives and enriches our relationships in the holiday season.  The Good Book says that God loves a cheerful giver.  May your giving reflect the joy and peace of this festive season.  Finally, remember that your relationships with people are more important than things.

Editors Note: Andrew McGuigan sent us a set of the cards and we found it a good teaching tools for preteens. Here is their statement:

BUG OUT BAG is a card game created by Andrew McGuigan, under the name ‘BAZCARDS.’

Now available to buy at https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/bug-out-bag

BAZCARDZ games are for players of all ages and aim to be both fun and tactical, with elements of information and learning. BUG OUT BAG focuses on one area of disaster prepping, which is often a necessity in parts of the world with extreme weather and natural hazards. We hope that this game can be a fun introduction to further survival education.



The post    Prepper Gifts for the Holidays appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

Why Geodesic Shelters Make the Best Emergency Shelters

18 Nov

Written by Cody on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A second guest submission from Cody Jarrett to The Prepper Journal. Serious Preppers will see the advantages in new products like these. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly receive a $25 cash award like Cody, as well as being entered into the Prepper Writing Contest AND have a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

This year the United States has seen a large amount of natural disasters including earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and blizzards. In many cases these disasters left thousands of people stranded without food, water, first aid, shelter and other necessities. It is a recurring theme we as preppers follow, plan for, and hope against.

A good shelter is one of the most important items when planning for an emergency. The website Ready, the Official website of the Department of Home Security  lists shelters as the 2nd thing to plan for in an emergency. While most preppers plan to shelter at home as a first base, they also know having a bug-out destination is always necessary planning. After many disasters, it may be difficult to evacuate because of road damage, flooding, or lack of resources. In these instances, it is important to have a good shelter on hand that is adequate for your climate and family situation.

When researching shelters there are various kinds from army tents, yurts, bunkers and even camping tents. There are pros and cons to each one, but I am here to write about why geodesic shelters (specifically Geo Shelters) are the best shelters to live in after a disaster.

What exactly is a geodesic shelter?

The word geodesic refers to the shortest distance between two points on a curved surface. A geodesic shelter is a dome that is made of half a geodesic sphere. They are usually made from an array of triangles that form this sphere. These spheres enclose a maximum amount of space with the least amount of materials and they don’t require any interior supports.

What are the Benefits of a Geo Shelter?

Geo Shelters have several advantages when compared to conventional emergency shelters or housing. But some of the best benefits are:

  1. Strength Most people find it difficult to comprehend the strength of a geodesic dome. The American Institute of Architects say that “The Geodesic Dome is the strongest, lightest and most efficient means of enclosing space yet devised.” The strength of a Geo Shelter comes from the characteristics of the triangles and dome shape. Triangles are the strongest shape because they have a fixed angle and don’t distort very easily. If a pressure is applied to one edge of a triangle, then the force is evenly distributed to the other two sides. A force applied to the corner of a rectangle can deform it into a parallelogram, but the same force will not deform a triangle. Pair the triangles with a dome and you incorporate the strength of the triangles with those of an arch. When many triangles are connected to form a dome, the structure then becomes self-supporting.  This means that any pressure applied to the Geo Shelter will be evenly distributed throughout the structure making every part of the structure work against the pressure.  That cascading distribution of pressure is how geodesic domes efficiently distribute stress along the entire structure and help eliminate the need for supporting structures. Each connection or hub on a Geo Shelter can support hundreds of pounds of weight.
  2. Size – Geo Shelters have a 24 foot diameter giving the shelter over 450 square feet of open space. A geometric dome supports itself without needing internal columns or interior load-bearing walls; which gives the shelter more openness.
  3. Most effective against wind and storms Unlike square structures that have flat surfaces and corners, Geo Shelters are naturally resistant to the forces of nature because their dome shape allows wind and storms to pass around them. Geodesic domes are especially efficient at shedding snow, rain, and wind. The aerodynamic exterior allows high pressure air to force the dome towards the ground instead of lifting it up and blowing away.
  4. Maximum solar exposure A square or rectangle building receive less sun in the morning and evening and more sun at midday. A Geo Shelter receives more direct sunlight throughout the day because the sun follows the shape of the dome. This solar exposure helps to naturally heat the shelter in the winter and allows for more natural light. The shape is also ideal for solar panels to collect energy.
  5. Air circulation The spherical design makes the Geo Shelter highly effective at circulating warm or cold air since it can move freely without being trapped by corners. The dome shape also means outside air will flow around the structure instead of forcing its way into the interior.
  6. Even temperatures – Easy air circulation allows the Geo Shelters to maintain an even temperature. Lack of corners eliminate the cold areas found in square shelters. The surface area of a geodesic dome is less than 40% of a box shaped building that covers the same floor space. Less surface area makes it easier to heat and cool the Geo Shelter and gives less surface area to be exposed to outside temperature fluctuations.

Other benefits include affordability, ease of assembly, energy efficiency, and versatility.

What makes a Geo Shelter different from other shelters?

Geo Shelters are one of the most portable shelters for their size. The frame on the Geo Shelter is made of aerospace grade aluminum giving the structure its strength and integrity while also helping to keep it significantly lighter than its competitors. The base weight of the 24-foot shelter is 211 lbs. and is broken up into 4 bags giving the shelter the ability to be loaded into cars with ease.

Geo Shelters are also made for long term use. The fitted cover is made from an architectural vinyl fabric that is rated to last 5-7 years, 365 days a year under any weather condition. The cover material is UV protected and fire retardant.

One of the great benefits of a Geo Shelter is the ability to customize the shelter to fit your family’s needs. Some of the options are the number of vertical doors, its color  (white, tan, or digital camo), or added insulation and stove jack insert. A wide selection of accessories also help customize the shelter. Some of these accessories include vestibules, interior doors, gear lofts, room dividers, screen doors, stoves, solar panels, lighting, and sleeping systems.

We are a fan of Geo Shelters lightweight and portable structures and they will guide you through the process of designing your shelter to best fit your needs, and your budget. The code “ThePrepperJournal2017” is good for a 10% discount.

The post Why Geodesic Shelters Make the Best Emergency Shelters appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

Preppers – Got Glut? Cut Feed Bills!

28 Oct

Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

An overabundance of eggs or milk is a good problem to have. It’s one some families will never experience, but it’s a common enough problem that it pops up annually on Facebook groups, homesteading and preparedness forums, and family gatherings.

I’m a huge proponent of various preservation methods, from freezing and oiling eggs to churning and pressing home-raised milk into salted butters and hard cheeses for later use. I’m especially a fan of the pre-modern storage methods. Sometimes, though, there’s just not enough time or space to develop skills or store it all.

If we have livestock and pets, they’re happy to help us deal with those gluts, as well as our table and garden scraps. In many cases, they’ll reward us with increased health or production as a result. Almost always, if we’re paying for our feed anyway, labor or cash, using our gluts can help us cut some of the costs.

Incredible Edible Egg

One of those things that so commonly pops up at day classes, tours, and online is an overabundance of eggs. There are many ways to use and store them, but sometimes there are still eggs ad nauseam.

Easy fix. It starts with scrambling them. You can cook a whole lot of eggs really quickly in either a steam table tray or a lasagna dish. You can even use a big metal mixing bowl.


You do want to scramble them, or boil and mince them. Otherwise, birds and other animals start associating those ovals with tasty nibbles.

Once that habits starts, it’s hard to break and it regularly spreads.

(Psst … Watch hogs – They don’t need the introduction to know eggs are tasty. It’s in their genetic coding to eat eggs of pretty much any kind.)

Eggs are fantastic due to the protein content – it’s usually proteins we’re paying the most for in our pet and livestock feeds. And while rich, most animals have no problem consuming them.

That makes them an excellent addition or replacement for dogs, cats, any poultry, and pigs – especially the young birds that need higher levels of protein to grow, carnivourous pets, and high-production laying hens.


Whole, Raw Milk

Like eggs, milk is an excellent source of protein and calories. Most poultry is sensitive to milk and other dairy products, however, cats, dogs, and pigs can handle raw milks and pasteurized goat or sheep milk just fine, even if they’re lactose intolerant with supermarket milks.

Pasteurization destroys some of the milk enzymes as well as bacteria and viruses that cause illness. It’s those enzymes – still present in raw milk and soft products made from raw milk – that make it more digestible. Goat and sheep milk have different types of fats and enzymes, which leave them more consumable for more of the population than cattle milks.

(Psst … Penn State did a dairy waste milk study in 2015. They suggest not giving finishing hogs commercial milk due to antibiotic presence, but saw 6-7% cost decreases when nursery hogs were offered that waste milk.)

Whole milk is too rich a resource to let it go to waste. It’s also rich enough that if it’s being given as more than a dribble for cats and dogs, or a quart or half gallon for hogs, it’s worth doing some figuring with a Pearson square for proteins (and calories) so you can cut back on other feeds.

That’s the point, after all. Using up our gluts, but doing it in a way that doesn’t increase the cost we’ve already put into producing those gluts.

Livestock Trash Compactors

In many cases, chickens and hogs will eat anything that doesn’t eat them first. It’s one of the things that makes them useful on a homestead of any size. Goats that can help keep fields and fences cleared are also big winners.

Chickens especially, though, sometimes just aren’t capable of being foragers, and won’t survive or thrive on the same levels of feed substitution.

There’s a big difference between homestead-bred dual-purpose heritage breed birds that hunt but are easy to handle like the Dominique, and something like the white cross hybrids that would die of heart attacks or develop broken legs from their own body weight by 9-12 months of age.

There’s also a big difference in birds that have no idea you can peck into the big orange thing for tasty squash and seeds, and birds that grew up thinking it was totally natural to at least attempt to munch anything in the same space as them.

It’s not just the egg-meat yields. As with dipping a chick’s beak to show it how to eat and drink, some of our livestock have lost the skill to feed themselves, even heritage breeds.

If you’re going to try to use some of the garden produce to replace feeds, especially, you’ll want one that’s been bred to have an adaptable stomach.

If you’re specifically looking for livestock that will do well on a varied diet, especially if you’re after bug hunters and foraging birds, the Livestock Conservancy is a good site to visit. The mypetchickens.com site is also an excellent resource, but the Livestock Conservancy is nice enough to make at-a-glance comparison charts for us.

They compile ratings that include foraging skills (and predator savviness) along with other breed information.

Working with breeds that can do well on self-found foods, rough browse over higher-protein, higher-calorie hays and grains – even if their production is lower – isn’t just useful for decreasing glut wastes. The ability to replace feeds, not just give a treat, becomes a sustainability issue for truly long-term disasters.

Cats and ferrets, too, may take a while to warm up to the idea of new foods if they’re straight bag-can animals. I hear there are picky dogs, too. I haven’t actually run into any that aren’t delighted by milk or eggs and scraps, but I hear they’re out there. Somewhere.


Calories Matter

Sometimes as I follow along various blogs and social media, I end up feeling sorry for somebody. That was the case when I read this article http://farmfolly.com/2011/03/complete-costs-of-raising-pigs/. It’s a fabulous write-up about home-raised hogs, with excellent price and input-output charting.

What I want to draw attention to is what they fed their hogs, and the realizations they reached once it was all said and done.

Two market-sized hogs of a lean, meat-heavy breed consumed 1,350# swine feed, 50# squash (pumpkins), and 38# of eggs (ten eggs per pound, 380 eggs). They got other garden produce as well, but those were the significant sources of proteins and calories.

And in the end, all the labor, cost, water and feed/fertilizer that went into those eggs and pumpkins amounted to barely more than 1 percent of the hogs’ diets.

The author surmises that feeding hogs on grain is inefficient. I have to assume that’s a typo, or a reflection of hogs’ efficiency – not grain efficiency. I feel safer in that assumption since the author makes the point, “We had hoped these would reduce our feed bill. The numbers tell a different story … One really gains a sense for how calorie dense grain is when you realize that 380 eggs and 50 pounds of squash represent the calorie contents of just 18 pounds of grain.”

That’s not intended to blast a hole in everything I’ve said about using up gluts. It’s intended to make us aware of the effort-reward scale that will be vital if we’re trying to cut cords now or planning to live off our land at some point.

What we feed – to which animals – should factor in the type of animals.

Those 380 eggs go almost nowhere between two hogs – 1.4-1.6% of their total feed for the ones raised by that blogger. That’s about 2 days at market weight, off the annual yield of a high-producing layer – which is being fed as well, and high-quality specialized feed at that.

However, 380 eggs between my two smaller hounds (45-55#) is protein and a big chunk of calories for 95 meals.

In prepper world-down conversions, I can just about keep those dogs for two months off the annual yield of a single high-yielding hen on bagged feed or a pair of hens fed off mixed forage, garden patrol, and worm bins.


Then, being me, I bang my head at the thought of feeding an animal that can thrive as an herbivore pumpkins instead of grain.

(Psst … if you can produce 50# of pumpkins, you can produce 18# of wheat, barley and oats – usually with fewer pests, irrigation, and fertilizer, regularly in less time, and reap far higher protein yields while you’re at it, along with bedding straw or mulch.)

When we opt to feed gluts, or aim for production, we need to consider each component in our system, and weigh where our efforts are being placed.  I’m better served using my glut for an animal where it makes a significant difference than I am something where it barely even registers in their feed needs.

That’s one place where a SWOT analysis intended for business practice can be a huge benefit.

For that, I need to have done my homework on each animal. How efficiently they convert those foods depends on calorie and proteins and total bulk needs. It goes back to size, type, and specific breed – and the specific genetic lines of those breeds.

Switching Diets

Whenever we change feeds, it’s a good idea to do so slowly. We also want to be careful how much rich foods we offer at once.

The 10 percent-10 days rule works like a charm for most animals, although I rarely use it since I’ve been hugely lucky with my stock and pets.

If your animals have a history of intolerance or sensitivity, and with young or senior animals, consider moving very slowly indeed. However, animals that often get a variety of foods commonly keep diverse gut bacteria that decreases the risk of having negative reactions.

At some point, if we’re looking at a long-term disaster – whether it’s an extended job loss, an issue that interrupts shipping or our ability to fetch feeds, or a major national or international disaster – we’ll have to consider the sustainability of our animals. Having some tricks in the back pocket to make use of gluts can help us make plans, as well as avoid waste.



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