Wednesday, July 31, 2013

TUTORIAL - How to Survive a Mass Shooting

Interestingly, the Australian government recently released "official guidelines" for how they expect people to act/react when caught up in a mass shooting.

While it's great that they have this kind of forethought, I wanted to present my own guide to you for what to do. The official guide is great and all, however it assumes that everyone in the vicinity will also be following this same process, and that won't be the case.

With the rise in terrorist attacks going on around the world it'd be foolish to think that it can't happen in Australia. Even just recently a gunman emptied the mall in Brisbane. He never fired a shot, but that doesn't mean to say that he couldn't have. Any crowded place is a risk factor - malls, bus and train stations, football stadiums, shopping centres... Be prepared, not scared, and you'll drastically increase your chances of survival if this sort of thing goes down.

Panic does strange things to people, and I have been unlucky enough to witness my share of it. What it breaks down to are three types of people:

The Herd (~70% of people)
The herd are the most dangerous, as they present the vast majority. When shit hits the fan they completely lose it. They start running, and they're not even sure where to. Because of this, they form into "herds" and all start just following each other. This creates a veritable stampede where self preservation for each individual takes over, and they will quite literally knock others down and walk over them to save their own skin. If you've ever had to deal with one panicked person, imagine having to take on a couple of hundred all at once.

The Watcher (~25% of people)
These people are like deers in headlights. When shit hits the fan, they freeze. They'll stand and stare, or wander aimlessly, wanting to get a look. Sometimes their curiosity overcomes their fear, sometimes they're in a state of minor shock and sometimes they're just stupid. These days, the watchers tend to pull out a phone camera and instagram their impending death #whatareyoudoing #run #youidiot.

The Hero (~5% of people)
These are the ones who have the safety of others in mind. They help guide people who are herding and help snap people out of it when they're frozen to the spot. They can be a hinderance in themselves as they may grab you when shit goes down in an effort to "help you" escape, but they may be herding you into a dangerous scenario. These people mean well, but think they know better, but you're better off fending for yourself.

So what happens when someone in a crowded place pulls out a gun and starts shooting? You'll hear the 'pop pop' of the shots, and then the inevitable screams. Most people's first reaction in this scenario would be to stop what they were doing and look around to see what the cause is. This moment of curiosity could very easily cost you your life, so avoid the temptation.

OPTION A - Run if you can!

As soon as you hear the first scream, the three people types listed above will move into action. The herd will begin to run away from the gunman, and will eventually coalesce into a single mass as they push to escape. The watchers will stand and stare while being jostled by the crowd. The heroes will start telling people "Over here! Over here!" and guiding people towards doorways, etc. One or two may even try to take on the gunman and bring him down.

Your goal should be to be like none of these people. As soon as you hear the shots and the screams, you need to run. Where to? That comes down to preparation. Any time you need to be in a crowded place, whether it's a theme park, a restaurant, a shopping mall or whatever, you need to locate and recognise no less than 3 quick escape routes. Why 3? Well, if you only pick one, then that escape route might require you to pass by the gunman to make it there. With at least 3, you can pick the one which is closest and most opposite in location to where the gunman and resulting chaos is. If your chosen exit is being flooded by the herd, however, it may be optimal to pick a different route. Acting fast is your best chance of survival. If you act quickly enough, you can be gone and have escaped via one of your exits long before anyone else even makes it there.

OPTION B - Hide if you can't run!

If, for some reason, all of your exits become compromised, then your best option is to hide until the chaos has ended. A gunman will never go long before he is dealt with by authorities. Familiarise yourself with materials that will stop a bullet and those that won't. Hiding behind wooden countertop may not stop a stray bullet. If you're able, learn the sounds that different calibre firearms make, and see if you can recognise how powerful the weapon is. A 0.22 pistol round will be easily stopped by a car door, but a 0.45 round wouldn't necessarily. Don't forget that a FMJ round will easily pass through a person and hit another person, and even flying debris from impacts nearby can cause you injury.

When choosing a hiding spot, make sure you have one or two exits from it. Don't run into a closet and hide there, as if the gunman comes to the door you will have no-where to go. Don't go into elevators or cram onto an escalator. If you have to get creative to get away, don't be afraid to. Sustaining a broken ankle from a small balcony jump is much better than being shot in the chest.

OPTION C - Confront the gunman!

This should be your absolute last resort. I cannot stress to you enough how risky this option is, however, sometimes there is no choice. There are various scenarios that this may happen:
  • 1. He has found you and is close
    • Your only option here is speed. Don't think of surrender. A crazed man with a gun who has been shooting people isn't looking to let people go. You need to rush at him, preferrably after causing a distraction. Throw something into his face or eyes to momentarily distract him and rush him, focusing on removing his firearm. BE AWARE that if you stun or shock him in some way, his reaction may be to let off a wild shot or shots. Come at him from a direction oblique to where the firearm is pointing.
  • 2. He has found you and you have a distance advantage
    • This can potentially be dangerous, as you will be too far away to rush him. You have two options - a) find a means of escape while attempting to avoid being fired upon or b) lure him closer so that you can attempt option (1).
  • 3. You have hidden, he is near, but doesn't realise you're there
    • Ideally in this scenario you would want to stay hidden and hope that he passes, however, he may be actively searching for people, in which case your time is limited and you must act fast. Try and surprise him from behind (doing so from the front may result in you being shot). Focus on disabling his firearm hand and aiming for blows to the head to create both the maximum amount of shock/confusion as well as having the potential for the most damage. There is no reason to go soft on someone who is actively trying to shoot you dead.

When disarming a gunman, you need to be standing in a direction relevant to him where you are not within a 45 degree arc of where the gun is pointing. Be careful not to grab the gun itself. A revolver, when fired, creates a blade-like explosion from the sides of the rotating cylinder and it will quite literally slice your fingers off. A semi-automatic pistol's slide mechanism will slam backwards and then forwards again, potentially ripping your hand open.

Instead, try to control the gunman's wrist and forearm, as you will be able to control the direction that the firearm is facing at all times. Aim blows at the back of his hand, just above the wrist. This will cause his hand to go limp and potentially drop the gun. If you manage to break enough of the long bones in his hand, he will have considerable difficulty in being able to pull the trigger again.

While "handling" the gunman in this fashion, you need to take every oppourtunity to can to direct blows at his eyes, nose and throat. These vulnerable points will leave him stunned and have the highest probability of putting him down.

A WORD OF CAUTION - while you are struggling with the gunman it is essential that you are aware of where the firearm is pointing. He may fire randomly, and if you've manipulated his arm to be aimed at fellow civilians, you could be directly responsible for people being shot.

Once you manage to put the gunman down, DO NOT attempt to use the firearm yourself. If you know how (and ONLY if you know how), unload it (if it is semi-automatic don't forget the one in the chamber). Move it far from the gunman's reach, but maintain an eyeline to it in order to direct the attention of authorities. Then, use all required force to keep the gunman down and on the ground, preferrably face down. Restrain him by any means necessary as at this point he is a man with nothing to lose, and will do anything he can to avoid capture.

BE AWARE that he may have a second weapon, be it another gun or potentially a knife. Be vigilant at all times and DO NOT let your guard down at any point.

When the authorities arrive, they will be armed and will suspect you. This is normal, but you will be fine. Step away from the gunman when directed to, place your hands above your head and make no quick movements. Allow the police to move over and restrain you. Don't try and convince them that you're not the shooter, just let them do their job. Everything will be clarified later. Remember! You have plenty of witnesses!

I hope it never happens to you, but best of luck if it does! Remember to stay calm, stay alert, plan multiple exits beforehand and be prepared, not scared!

- CumQuaT

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

INFORMATIVE - Why Carry Vodka?

There are many good reasons to carry vodka in your kit, even if only a little, and none of them involve drinking it!

For a long-term bugout, you should aim to carry a lot of it (think Jerry Can) but for the day-to-day survivalist, there are many very good reasons to carry a small flask of it. Since vodka is odourless, it makes for a very easy and comfortable carry.

Why vodka? Why not just alcohol or methylated spirits? Vodka burns much slower and hotter than methylated spirits or pure ethanol, and gives off no odour at all, making it much better for stealth usage and comfort of carry. For medicinal use, vodka has much more potent bactericidal properties to something like isopropyl alcohol, and as such is much more potent. Don't forget the prepper rule: only pack things that have multiple uses! Vodka has more uses than other alcohol varieties, though only when above 100 proof.

The first, most obvious use for it is as a long-burning fuel for heat, cooking and tool sterilization. 120mL of 100 proof vodka will burn for a good 40 minutes in the right type of burner. If you plan on using it this way, it's a good idea to invest in a proper alcohol burner:
If you don't want to go out and buy one, you can build one easily enough out of an old soda can:

We've covered plant uses in a previous article, but you may recall that you can make a fairly decent shampoo out of Aloe Vera. Add a little vodka to that shampoo and it'll become REALLY good shampoo, stripping out any oil buildup and keeping your hair from clotting together and gathering dirt.

Vodka can make cut plants last a lot longer. You may have heard that you can keep flowers alive in vases for much longer by using vodka, but this also goes for foraged food. This way, it acts as a kind of refrigeration system for your gatherings.

If you get burned by poison ivy or stinging nettle, or even by a jellyfish sting, you can significantly ease the pain and discomfort by applying vodka to the affected site. It will also speed the recovery from the damage.

 If you get a cut or other wound and don't want it to get infected, you can disinfect the wound using a light application of vodka. Carrying around a tiny spray bottle can be handy for this.

Vodka is somewhat of a bactericide, and, as such, can be used as an effective deodourizer. Think of it like Febreeze, allowing you to remove odours in clothes and other items by killing off the odour causing bacteria in the fabric. A spray bottle can be handy for this, also. Masking your odour has many more uses than just keeping presentable. If you're hunting game, it can hide your presence from the animal.

Vodka works well to polish equipment. You'd think that's not really a priority in a survival situation, but if you're relying on a survival mirror for signalling, or a fresnel lens for fire starting, then keeping it shiny is of utmost importance.

While it has no Deet in it, vodka, when sprayed on the skin, works as quite an effective insect repellant which can greatly reduce your risk of mosquito or tick-borne diseases.

You can use it as a very effective antiseptic mouthwash (just remember to spit it out again) killing off any mouth bacteria and helping maintain fresh breath. Oral/dental hygeine is something many preppers overlook in their bug-out scenarios.

Walking long distances and spending long amounts of time in boots can lead to some very severe foot problems. Allow your feet a good chance to heal by soaking them in vodka from time to time. It will revitalize the skin, prevent boot chafing and remove bad odours by killing any nasty bacterial buildup.

So go out, buy yourself a hip flask and track down some 100 or 150 proof vodka to keep in it. You never know when it might come in handy!

- CumQuaT

Monday, July 1, 2013

TUTORIAL - Building a Food Store of Your Own

So there was our big food storage post earlier, but what about the contents? What foods do you need and why?

Well, that depends on certain factors. So what this post is for is to cover some of the best long-term storage foods, how best to store them, and why they're good to have. That way, when planning your food stores, you can see what you might need!

Breadmaking Supplies

Learning how to bake bread is a priceless skill, but to do it, you'll need certain ingredients in bulk. The issue, though, is that storing breadmaking supplies in bulk comes with risks and certain requirements.

Here's what you need to make basic bread:
- Flour
- Sugar
- Yeast
- Cooking oil
- Salt
- Water

Storing each of these things has certain requirements.


You can get straight flour, but you can get longer storage out of raw grains. But you'll need a grinder of some kind to turn that into flour if you want to use it to make bread. Grains breed weevils, so you'll need to freeze your grains overnight before storing, and then store in a totally airtight, food-safe container with oxygen absorbers inside to prevent an infestation. When storing grains, keep them in a dark, cool place, well away from sunlight and heat: under some stairs, in a cellar if you have one, etc. A good practice is to break down your store into manageable containers which you can break open and use one by one, rather than risking a compromise of your entire store just for one cup of flour.

Sugar and Salt

Sugar and salt, on the other hand, are super easy to store. Get a large, airtight, food-safe container and dump it all inside. It handles being exposed to air from time to time, and doesn't go bad for a good 30 years if you look after it well. It likes the same sorts of conditions as any food storage. Cool, dry, away from sunlight.

Cooking Oil

Any sort of oil is good to have, be it vegetable oil, olive oil or ground nut oil. When you buy it bulk, you'll get it in a large tin with a pop-top lid. These tins are the best way to store the oil, and it'll last a very, very long time like that. If you want an even bigger tin, find a bulk supplier of raw olives, and ask if they have any spare tins. Olive tins are much larger than olive oil tins, but have the same make and can be used in the same way.

Yeast is picky. There are two ways you can store it long term. One is vaccuum sealed, and the other is "live". Don't forget that yeast is a living microorganism in the fungi family. Just as you can't expect your cat to stay alive very long if you just vaccuum pack it and stuff it in a cupboard, you also can't expect it from your yeast. Yes, it's hardier than your cat, but it has similar needs. A vaccuum packed lump of yeast will keep for 2 or 3 years, but once you break the seal of it, it will start to deteriorate unless it is fed. That's why the second alternative is handy and most recommended. Keeping a sourdough starter alive in your house is a great way to maintain yeast long term, and it's one of the first things you should organise if the shit hits the fan. Here's a video showing how to make it work for you:


Water storage is something else entirely, and is luckily very easy to do. We cover it fairly thoroughly towards the end of this article, so have a read of that. One thing I'd like to point out here though is that water doesn't ever "go stale" as many people think. The water you drink from your taps at home has been sitting in rusty old pipes underground for a good 2 to 5 years before you drink it. It stores forever. The only important thing is to keep it clean.


It's the little comforts that you'll miss. Things many people don't think about when they prepare a store. Toilet paper, toothpaste, deodourant. All things that - while not at all essential - will do wonders for morale. If your plan is to keep a stockpile of 3 months worth of food, keep 3 months worth of Poo Tickets, toothpaste and deodourant as well.

Dried Food

Dehydrated food is a great way to keep well fed. It's quite picky when it comes to storage, but if you have an airtight, waterproof, food-grade container then you're set. Here's what you should aim for:

Get a wide variety of pasta types. It stores a long, long time. Buy it bulk in individual bags as it'll keep the weevils out (remember that pasta is mainly flour, so weevils will still get you unless you keep the oxygen out)

2-minute Noodles
A fantastic long-term food. Comes in a variety of different flavours, are quick and easy to prepare and can be combined with other things for a more complete meal.


White rice stores better and longer than brown rice, but weevils are a real problem. Follow the same storage routine as you do with your grains and you'll be fine.


Dehydrated vegetables can often be purchased in bulk lots and are a great way to add palatability to your food.


Yep, you can buy dehydrated meat! Stores a ridonkulously long time and is packed full of protein and precious calories.


You can make even the most terrible, scrounged food taste better if you have a good store of herbs. They also have MASSIVE medicinal qualities and will go a long way to keeping you healthy. I keep mine in an old 50cal ammo tin, as it seals airtight, is watertight and very rugged, so they won't get damaged. If you don't know which herbs to get, grab parsley, rosemary, basil, paprika, cayenne pepper, ground black pepper and some good quality salt (preferrably something like tibetan rock salt, as it holds its flavour much longer)

Canned Food

Canned food goes without saying, but what types should you get? And why?

Canned Vegetables

An absolute necessity as it will help keep your nutrition levels high. Buy a combination of mixed vegetables and also plenty of cans of individual vegetable types. Corn, carrots, peas, baby potatoes, lentils, etc, are all good. Amongst your choices, however, try to include the following:

    Creamed Corn
    Not only is it quite healthy for you, but it's almost like a dessert in itself. It's delicious
    cold or hot, makes an excellent dip for breads or other foods, and it packs a punch in
    terms of boosting your morale. If you doubt it, grab a small can of it next time you're
    at the supermarket and try it out.

    Diced Tomatoes
    Diced tomatoes are the best thing for when you're making soups and stews to give
    body to your food. There's nothing worse than eating the same, watery, thin rations
    each day.

    Baked Beans
    My all-time favourite canned food. Baked beans are delicious, simple to cook,
    RIDICULOUSLY healthy for you, high in protien and can be mixed with all manner
    of different things. The only thing to watch for is the salt content, but if you're doing
    a lot of activity, it won't be a problem. You can also buy salt-reduced varieties, so
    that fixes that problem.

Stock Cubes
Try and get a range of beef, chicken, fish and vegetable stock cubes if possible, as each has its own specific flavour. All, however, help add flavour to your dishes, which is something you don't want to forget about.

Condensed Milk

A fantastic treat and energy booster. Its high sugar content prevents bacterial grown and so it stores well.

Evaporated Milk
Basically dehydrated milk. Add water and you've got milk, but it is incredibly shelf-stable.

Powdered Milk

Another way of storing milk. It's good stuff and keeps for ages.


Good ol' Spam. We've all been there at some point, and it's a great thing to have in your store. It's tasty enough, high in protein and really adds a sense of substance to a meal, especially when you've gone a long time without meat. Be careful about eating too much of it, though, as it does pack a LOT of salt (which lends to its long shelf life) and also contains sodium nitrate, which in excess can cause problems, but you'd have to gorge yourself on Spam every day for it to be a major issue. Keep it as a treat for morale.


Canned chicken usually only comes in quite small cans, but it's good stuff, and often comes in various flavours. Avoid buying those "whole chicken in a can" things and go for the smaller cans of shredded chicken. They're a great way to add some protien to your diet, and are a bit of a treat as well. Many varieties don't even need to be cooked first, but check the label.


There are oh-so-many varieties of canned soup to be found, but try and get a good variety. Also try and aim more for the chunky soup types with lots of vegetables and herbs, as you'll get more nutrition from them.

Canned Meals
Many companies sell pre-prepared meals like stews or curries or spaghetti or ravioli in a can. These are pretty handy to have and are quite easy to cook up and eat for a quick and easy all-in-one meal.

Long-Life Spreads

Things like peanut butter, vegemite, etc store quite well and oftentimes come in large containers. Peanut butter, in particular, is great for this. Have a few kilos of it in your store, as it can even be eaten on its own as a bit of an energy food.


Things like muesli store well under similar arrangements to grains and rice, and make for a delicious breakfast when combined with reconstituted milk!

So there's a pretty good range of items. There are other things, of course, but it comes down to personal taste. The list above is aimed at being fairly well-roundedto try and suit as many different tastes as possible.

They key to a good food store is variety. Eating the same thing every day will quickly make you sick of eating that way. Many people will often keep a bucket store of MREs for this reason, as they are always really tasty and make for a really nice treat after "roughing it" in terms of your dining for a week or so.

Best of luck in your food store endeavors! If you have any items to add, we'd love to hear from you in the comments section!