Survival & Your Money–How’s Your Emergency Fund?

An emergency fund is a cushion you can fall back on when something serious comes up that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to pay for. Maybe the car breaks down, your refrigerator died, or you lost your job.

We’re talking about financial emergencies, not a slush fund for things you simply want.

If you’re like many people, you’re likely to put emergencies on a credit card or borrow it from a high interest financial services place. Believe me, I know what it is to be in that position. All you do is sink deeper into debt.

Many financial gurus say to pay down those high interest loans and cards as fast as you can. After all, why get 1-2% on a savings account when you can whack down that card that’s charging 12%, 19% or even 30%?

That’s a good idea in theory, but when you’re making payments and the financial emergency hits, what do you do when you have no savings set aside? It’s the debt trap all over again.

That’s why it’s crucial to have an emergency fund. It’s not for investments, so you don’t want it tied up in a CD or something else you can’t get at.

Your emergency fund needs to be liquid, such as a basic savings account, cash, or a combination. You need it when you need it, and you must resist the temptation to “need” it for anything but emergencies.

How much should you have in your emergency fund? I’ve heard varying amounts. A minimum would be $500. A thousand dollars is better. Some say to have three, six, or even eight months worth of income at your disposal.

If that last one sounds like too big of a bite, at least start somewhere. Set aside a little money each week or month as you can.

Even if you have $150 this month in savings and have to use it for a $300 expense, it’s $150 you didn’t have a short time ago. What would you have done without it being there?

Replenish your emergency fund before it’s totally depleted. Keep it going or you’ll wind up in the debt trap you’ve been trying to avoid.

Yes, the credit card interest rates will continue on as usual, and you have to keep paying down your bill. However, if something comes up and you have no emergency fund, you may miss at least one credit card payment, and that can only lead to more trouble.

It’s a balancing act, but do what you can to pay down bills while setting aside funds for an emergency. As with any survival strategy, start small if you can’t do anything else, but do something. You won’t regret it.

The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. – Proverbs 22:7, from the Holy Bible, King James Version.

Click here for more money saving strategies from Living on a Dime.


Surviving a Fire in a Burning Building

How often do you factor in fire when preparing for trouble? It’s worth consideration.

Buildings can be set on fire by rioters, lightning strikes, electrical shortages, or accidents. Situational awareness on your part could be the key which saves your life in a building that’s on fire.

Joe Alton, MD of has produced a video discussing some tragic building fires, especially in public venues. He examines what happens in a fire, how fire behaves, and what you can do to increase your chances of surviving the conflagration.

You won’t be dazzled by fancy graphics in this video, but in about 8 minutes, you’ll know what you need to know to stay alive when a fire breaks out.



Find out more about house fires, wildfires, burns, and much more in Joe and Amy Alton’s Third Edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way.


The Savage Darkness – Another Glimpse Into a Post-EMP World

Is it my imagination, or are we hearing from a growing number of public mouthpieces about the possible dangers of an EMP (electromagnetic pulse)?

Certainly it has caught the attention of a handful of authors in the past few years who have written novels about how we would survive the aftermath of such a widespread, devastating event.

One such author is Scott B. Williams who has two series of novels about living in a post-EMP world. One began with The Pulse, and the other began with The Darkness After.

The fourth novel in The Darkness After series is The Savage Darkness. As with Scott’s other novels, I enjoyed it.

Though intended for a young adult audience, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it, too, no matter your age. Scott has a way of blending suspense and action to keep you turning the pages.

This week’s DestinySurvival Radio features my conversation with Scott about the book–and plenty more. Below are my thoughts on the book and our conversation.

The Writer

Scott B. Williams has been my DestinySurvival Radio guest several times. Perhaps you’ve heard one of our past exchanges. However, if you don’t know who he is, here’s some background.

Scott B. Williams has been writing about his adventures for more than twenty-five years. His published work includes dozens of magazine articles and more than a dozen books. His interest in sea kayaking and sailing small boats to remote places led him to pursue the wilderness survival skills that he has written about in his popular survival nonfiction books and travel narratives such as On Island Time: Kayaking the Caribbean, an account of his two-year solo kayaking journey through the islands.

With the release of The Pulse in 2012, Scott began writing fiction and has since written multiple novels in The Pulse Series and The Darkness After Series, with more sequels in the works to each, as well as a new series coming later.

To learn more about his upcoming books or to sign up for his new-release mailing list, visit Scott’s website at:


The Savage Darkness


The Story

Here’s the series in a nutshell. After a massive solar EMP, a group of young people find themselves struggling to survive under primitive conditions of life in rural, southern Mississippi.

Things were bleak at the end of The Forge of Darkness, the previous installment of this series. Marauders had burned Mitch and his friends out of Mitch’s dad’s home where they were staying.

I like how this novel begins. We’re introduced to Doug Henley, Mitch’s dad, who had returned home from Texas after what must have been a difficult trip. Rather than coming back to a hero’s welcome, devastation and bewildering questions greeted him.

Then we’re taken back a little while in time where we meet Mitch, Lisa, April, and the others we’ve become acquainted with in this series. Events progress, and Doug Henley enters the scene late in the book. But he doesn’t stay long, leaving us wanting to know more.

Mitch and his group were fortunate to have supplies and skills among them so they could build a shelter and keep themselves fed. Benny, an older gentleman, helped when he wasn’t sick.

And that brings us to an important element in this tale–the need for antibiotics and other medicine to conquer colds and coughs. Not only was Benny sick, but so was April’s infant daughter.

Mitch reluctantly left his little group to find the needed medicines in a nearby town. Fortunately, he met a friend, though their meeting was tense at first. You’ll have to read the book for the suspenseful details.

Unfortunately, Mitch didn’t find adequate medicine. Nonetheless, shared similar experiences strengthened the bonds between Mitch and the man known as Mr. Holloway.

We’re shown a glimpse of the brutality of the aftermath from the EMP when a little later Mitch and his sister Lisa traveled to a town where they’d heard of a trading post. Little had been left untouched by vandalism.

Purvis, the trading post town, gave Mitch a decidedly unfriendly welcome. Fortunately, the sheriff knew his dad from past law enforcement experience and came to his aid.

Later Mitch’s sister Lisa found herself in a frightening predicament as well. And at one point, when it looked like she would be rescued, things only got worse. But she made it through the roughest of her situation, as one would hope for in a good thriller.

Mitch is known for his superb archery skills in earlier books in this series. We don’t see them put to use until late in this one, but he’s as effective as ever.

The book ends on a hopeful note. However, it does so in such a way as to leave us wondering if there’s more to come.

The Bigger Ideas

Sickness–Can you imagine being in a grid-down situation without any medicine? You wouldn’t want to take the common cold for granted.

What if it turned into pneumonia? You or your loved ones could die. And that may not be an exaggeration.

Lawlessness–In our conversation Scott and I discussed how small towns could become like towns of the Old West. They would take the law into their own hands, like Purvis in the story.

In the wake of widespread catastrophe, towns could become defensive and militaristic. What will cities and towns do when there’s no state or federal help available to enforce the law or provide the other services we’re accustomed to?

Scarcity–Consider this. After months without help on the way, what will become of emergency centers? They’ll use up what supplies they have on hand. Then what?

Connections–In this novel, Mitch found himself in a bad spot in purvis. Having connections paid off. The fact that the sheriff of Purvis knew his dad worked to his advantage.

The lesson for us seems clear to me. Develop and use your connections with reputable people if you have them. And hope for the best when the chips are down.

The darkness–The word “darkness” in the title of this series and in this fourth volume could have more than one meaning.

In our conversation Scott and I touched on the subject of human nature. How will people behave in the stages of a disaster? Will they pull together at first? What will they act like after a prolonged period of time?

Venturing Beyond

Hear my conversation with Scott B. Williams by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for January 26, 2017. (Right click to download.)

Get your copy of
The Savage Darkness by clicking on its title wherever you see it linked in this post.

Fiction can help us escape our present world while nudging us to think about things we might not have considered otherwise. Venture into the savage darkness in your mind and see how far it takes you toward survival.


Ozarks Self Reliant Living University for 2017

There’s nothing like meeting face to face with other preppers and tapping into the knowledge of experts in various fields related to prepping and survival. And why not see some beautiful country while you’re at it?

If you live within a few hours drive of southern Missouri, take the opportunity to participate in the Ozarks Self Reliant Living University (OSLU) when it comes around each year. The event for 2017 took place January 28th and 29th.

According to information from event organizer Mike Slack, “This is year 8 of OSLU founded by the late Debbie Slack who felt a mission to teach homesteading skills and did so freely for years. She always hosted the two day special event in January and her family continues her tradition.”

The 2017 speakers and topics include:

  • Dave Lohr, Mountain Man–survival in the wilderness, making pemmican and parched corn
  • Francine Frank, author and animal care expert–caring for pets and livestock
  • Allen Busick, Preparedness 101
  • Jessica Baker–Essential Oils for medical usage and for health
  • Mary Price, RN–When there is no Pharmacy or Doctor
  • John Price–Ham Radio Communications
  • Robin Gilbert, Medical Missionary–foods that heal and natural cures
  • Dr. Mobley–Medical Care When No Doctor is Available
  • Craig Wiles–Solar Power and alternative energy
  • Dawn McPherson, Medical Herbalist–healing with herbs
  • Dave Doughtery, author, history professor, Army Intelligence Officer–Killing the Beast, Reclaiming Your Rights and Country
  • Doreen Hanes, The Truth Farmer–Healing Power of Cannabis
  • Tony Piche, Down to Earth Foods–Long term food storage

This is an event people will travel considerable distances to attend. Click here for the complete OSLU schedule and more info.

If you’re curious you can click here to see what I wrote about my conversation with Mike Slack regarding the 2016 OSLU.

Treating and Preventing Hypothermia

Editor’s Note: Cold weather isn’t anything to take lightly. Temperatures don’t have to get very low outside before you start feeling their impact.

Knowing how to treat and prevent hypothermia could save someone’s life–maybe your own. You could find yourself out in the cold outdoors on a camping or hunting trip, get stranded in your car in winter weather, or you might lose power at home from a snow or ice storm. Whatever the situation, take note of the guidance Dr. Joe Alton of offers in the following article. – John


Dang, It’s Cold! Treating and Preventing Hypothermia



hypothermia (and bad judgment)


This winter has already seen deadly cold snaps where people have found themselves at the mercy of the elements. Whether it’s on a wilderness hike or stranded in a car on a snow-covered highway, the physical effects of exposure to cold (also called “hypothermia”) can be life-threatening.

Hypothermia is a condition in which body core temperature drops below the temperature necessary for normal body function and metabolism. Normally, the body core is between 97.5-99.5 degrees Fahrenheit (36.0-37.5 degrees Celsius). Cold-related illness occurs once the core temperature dips below 95 degrees (35 degrees Celsius).

When it is exposed to cold, the body kicks into action to produce heat. Muscles shiver to produce heat, and this will be the first symptom you’re likely to see. As hypothermia worsens, more symptoms will become apparent if the patient is not warmed.

Aside from shivering, the most noticeable symptoms of hypothermia will be related to mental status. The person may appear confused, uncoordinated, and lethargic. As the condition worsens, speech may become slurred; the patient will appear apathetic, uninterested in helping themselves, and may lose consciousness. These effects occur due to the effect of cooling temperatures on the brain: The colder the body core gets, the slower the brain works. Brain function is supposed to cease at about 68 degrees Fahrenheit, although there have been exceptional cases where people (usually children) survived even lower temperatures.

Prevention of Hypothermia

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To prevent hypothermia, you must anticipate the climate that you will be traveling through; include windy and wet weather into your calculations. Condition yourself physically to be fit for the challenge. Travel with a partner if at all possible, and have more than enough food and water available for the entire trip.

It may be useful to remember the simple acronym C.O.L.D. This stands for: Cover, Overexertion, Layering, and Dry.

Cover. Your head has a significant surface area, so prevent heat loss by wearing a hat. Instead of using gloves to cover your hands, use mittens. Mittens are more helpful than gloves because they keep your fingers in contact with one another, conserving heat.

Overexertion. Avoid activities that cause you to sweat a lot. Cold weather causes you to lose body heat quickly; wet, sweaty clothing accelerates the process. Rest when necessary; use those rest periods to self-assess for cold-related changes. Pay careful attention to the status of the elderly and the very young. Diabetics are also at high risk.

Layering. Loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in layers trap pockets of warm air and do the best job of insulating you against the cold. Use tightly woven, water-repellent material for wind protection. Wool or silk inner layers hold body heat better than cotton does. Some synthetic materials, like Gore-Tex, work well also. Especially cover the head, neck, hands and feet.

Dry. Keep as dry as you can. Get out of wet clothing as soon as possible. It’s very easy for snow to get into gloves and boots, so pay particular attention to your hands and feet.


st. bernard

Pet the Dog, Skip the Booze


One cold-weather issue that most people don’t take into account is the use of alcohol. Alcohol may give you a “warm” feeling, but it actually causes your blood vessels to expand; this results in more rapid heat loss from the surface of your body.

Alcohol and recreational drugs also cause impaired judgment. Those under the influence might choose clothing that might not protect them in cold weather.

Treating Hypothermia

If you encounter a person who is unconscious, confused, or lethargic in cold weather, assume they are hypothermic until proven otherwise. Immediate action must be taken to reverse the ill effects of hypothermia. Important measures to take are:

Get the person out of the cold. Move them into a warm, dry area as soon as possible. If you’re unable to move the person out of the cold, be sure to place a barrier between them, the wind, and the cold ground.

Monitor breathing. A person with severe hypothermia may be unconscious. Verify that they are breathing and check for a pulse. Begin CPR if necessary.

Take off wet clothing. If the person is wearing wet clothing, remove gently. Cover the victim with layers of dry blankets, including the head, but leave the face clear.

Share body heat. To warm the person’s body, remove your clothing and lie next to the person, making skin-to-skin contact. Then cover both of your bodies with blankets. Some people may cringe at this controversial notion, but it’s important to remember that you are trying to save a life. Gentle massage or rubbing may be helpful. Avoid being too vigorous.

Give warm oral fluids if awake and alert. If, and only if, the affected person is alert and able to swallow, provide a warm, nonalcoholic, non-caffeinated beverage to help warm the body. Coffee’s out, but how about some warm apple cider?

Use warm, dry compresses. Use a first-aid warm compress (a fluid-filled bag that warms up when squeezed), or a makeshift compress of warm, not hot, water in a plastic bottle. Apply to the neck, armpit, and groin. Due to major blood vessels that run close to the skin in these areas, heat will more efficiently travel to the body core.

Avoid applying direct heat. Don’t use hot water, a heating pad or a heating lamp directly on the victim. The extreme heat can damage the skin, cause strain on the heart, or even lead to cardiac arrest.


Joe Alton, MDAuthorJoe


Find out more about cold-related injuries in our Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook, now at 700 pages! Also, fill those holes in your medical supplies at Nurse Amy’s store at You’ll be glad you did.


To Bug Out or Not to Bug Out in Long Term Situations

Much has been said about whether to bug out when the chips are down or shelter in place. A number of factors need to be considered when you decide whether to bug out or not to bug out.

Is it a short term or long term situation? If long term, how well are you equipped to deal with the following areas of concern?

  • Location and shelter
  • Water
  • Washing clothes and bathing
  • Storing up food
  • Gardening
  • Livestock and pet food
  • Firewood and fuels
  • Lighting
  • Guns and ammunition
  • Entertainment

Jackie Clay-Atkinson looks at bugging out in place in “Backwoods Home Magazine” for January/February, 2017, issue #163. An excerpt follows. Read the whole article by clicking on the link below.

Then draw your own conclusions and think ahead now about what you should do when there’s trouble.

Bugging out in place

By Jackie Clay-Atkinson

Some emergency situations require quick evacuation. You barely have time to grab your bug-out bag, gather the family, and run out the door. Most of us are ready for that situation, with a fully-stocked backpack equipped with such things as lightweight food, shelter, survival gear, clothes, and possibly a weapon and ammunition for both self-defense and food procurement.

But some other bad situations (economic collapse, EMP, widespread terrorist attack, etc.) will last longer than a few days or weeks. For these situations, you might find yourself traveling to a survival retreat in a very rural area or bugging out in place on your own homestead.

Read the whole article here:

Excerpt used with permission of Backwoods Home Magazine. (541)247-8900.

Jackie Clay-Atkinson has looked at both sides of the bugging out issue. View my post on what she said about taking it on the road here.


The Last Wizards

Editor’s note: What are our prospects for the future in a “dumbed down” society? Who among us will have what it takes to survive when the grid goes down?

Capt. William E. Simpson sheds light on these questions in the following article.

He occasionally contributes articles for DestinySurvival. He’s the author of The Nautical Prepper and Dark Stallions – Legend of the Centaurians, and has been my guest on DestinySurvival Radio. – John


If we traveled into the city, any city In fact, and tested the knowledge and skills of average people on the street who grew-up with the Internet, it would be shocking to learn that the majority of these people don’t have even the simplest knowledge or skills needed to survive for a couple weeks in the wilderness, let alone for months or years. Or for that matter, survive for a week without any technology off-grid in the wilderness.

Today, we find that most of the people who grew-up with the Internet believe that all they need or want to know about almost anything can be found on the Internet using a handy electrically powered device, such as a smart-phone. And they have become largely dependent upon the Internet for their knowledge base, as opposed to memorizing key information, as was the paradigm of the past. The result is that many people of the Internet generation have a very limited understanding of science, and have little to no applicable skills related to the sciences. This also applies to the world around them and is evidence by the fact that most cannot correctly answer even the simplest questions as seen in some of the on-street interviews that have been conducted by Mark Dice. The foregoing isn’t about berating anyone; it’s to showcase how ill prepared these people are for any kind of life without the Internet and the support of the government and business in order to just stay alive in the cities of today.

On the other hand, people who lead rural lifestyles far from the cities are by necessity able to provide for their own needs on a normal day-to-day basis. They have the skills and knowledge that give them the unique ability to live in a sustainable manner in remote rural areas. But these people only make-up about 10% of the total population. The other 90% of Americans live in the cities and urban areas.

Prior to the advent of the Internet (pre-1990), people had to learn skills and memorize knowledge. For instance, how many people do you know personally that can rebuild the engine or the transmission from your car, other than a professional mechanic? How many people can milk a cow or a goat, make fire with just the things found in nature, identify any of the stars in the sky overhead or navigate through the wilderness without a compass or GPS? Not many I would guess. Of course there are many other skills that would be necessary for survival without technology during a long-term national crises, such as during the aftermath of a collapse of the national energy grid. And cities will be the most hostile of places to attempt any sort of survival, even on a short-term bases.

Few people realize that if the national energy grid collapses (aka: ‘grid-down event’), the odds of ever re-energizing the grid are small at best and would result in a pre-industrial revolution (‘dark age’) in America for decades. Adding to complexities of attempting to repair and re-energizing the grid are some critical facts that are easily overlooked.

The key power transformers that would be damaged on the national grid, for which there are no spares laying around, take months to custom-build and are made overseas. Under ideal circumstances (with power) these building-sized transformers require months to install if you have the highly-skilled people and supporting logistics available at each of the dozens of damaged sites. But many of these people would likely succumb to all of the chaos and carnage post-collapse, resulting in the loss of the relatively very few technical personnel who had all the intrinsic know-how to re-energize the grid.

It wasn’t too long ago when many people had a host of practical personal skills accompanied by a wealth of memorized knowledge that was available to them without the need for a device to access the Internet to ‘look stuff up’, a crutch that is heavily relied upon by most millennials today. Other than the local library, the human brain was the storehouse of knowledge, and numerous practical skills were taught from 7th grade through high-school.

For instance, classes in gardening, first aid, electronics, metal and wood shop, drafting, welding and auto-shop were common classes provided up through the 12th grade prior to 1990. The Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts actually provided hands-on training in all the woodsman skills, which are hard to find today. The 4-H and the Future Farmers of America (FFA) taught American youth critical agricultural and animal production skills. These skills are now rarities in today’s American technocratic society, where at least 81% of Americans live in cities.

If we envision the predicted post-disaster America as a place where there is no electrical grid then the ramifications of that are grim at best. Without power society loses almost everything is has come to depend upon and in the process, the thin veneer of civility peels away revealing the savageries of the human survival instinct. Without power, there is obviously no light or ventilation in any building, there is no fresh water coming out of the pipes, no functional sewage systems, no functioning hospitals, no refrigeration, no fuel, no transportation systems, no Internet or cell phones, and only very limited short-wave radio communications. How would the masses of people survive? The simple answer by the people who have studied this issue in great deal is that, most people will die.

The sad fact is that, according to a commission appointed by Congress, about 90% of Americans would perish within 12-months of an EMP attack, solar event or computer-hack on the national energy grid. The result of which is that nothing powered by the grid would continue working. And the damage can also extend into many devices that are connected to the grid when it fails, so even if temporary alternate energy sources are available, these devices are also useless. Furthermore, according to the same blue-ribbon commission, the odds of bringing the grid back online after such an event are slim to none, even after two years. So the question arises, who would be surviving after two years?

I have not written this article to scare people; what’s the point in that? I have written this article to help Americans to wake-up to the fact that if they fail to prepare properly now while it’s possible, then they will be facing the ugly situation that has been presented in a candy-coated manner. Make no mistake, things would be far worse than can be cited herein.

The government is pathetic in its approach to taking effective actions against this very real probability, and have failed in every respect to properly inform and educate the People of the United States so they at least have the option of doing something for themselves.

In the aftermath of such a grid-down national disaster and after it has taken its full toll upon the population, there will be very few people left alive who have a deep-well of knowledge and complex skill sets. And because of their knowledge of many things unknown to others, it may very well be that these individuals will become the last Wizards.

All of that said, I’m not one to just showcase the risks without offering a solution, or in this case, a survival strategy. Here is an article that provides both some strategy and tactics that would allow some people to vastly increase their odds of surviving such upheaval.

Bliss is not derived through ignorance, it comes from being aware and prepared.


Capt. William E. Simpson II – USMM Ret.
Member: Authors Guild