Typically it’s the Northwest that people think of when they think of volcanic activity. The Pacific Ring of Fire is a horseshoe-shaped area of seismic activity that stretches from the west coast of South America, to the west coast of North America, across the Pacific Ocean by Alaska, down the east coast of Asia, Japan, the Phillippines, the north coast of Australia and the islands of Oceania. Most of the world’s earthquakes, the overwhelming majority of the world’s strongest earthquakes, and approximately 75 percent of the world’s volcanoes occur within the Ring of Fire.

Now, the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont are at risk from a massive blob of magma that’s been recently discovered. Scientists say the blob is like a hot air balloon, slowly rising under New England. While an outright eruption might be decades away, it could increase seismic activity in the area.

The study, led by researchers from Rutgers University, used EarthScope to connect thousands of seismic measurement devices over the continental United States for two years. Nothing on Earth has been done on this scale, the lead researcher, Vadim Levin, said.

The Earth’s magnetic field is acting strangely enough for scientists to study it. And the changes that are coming are not well-understood at this point. Here’s what they’re saying could happen . . .

Every few thousand years, the Earth’s magnetic field flips. Based on the magnetic fingerprints scientists can see by studying ancient rocks, we know that magnetic north and south have flipped roughly every 200,000 to 300,000 years. Two events over the past 42,000 years have resulted in shift sin the magnetic field that didn’t result in complete flips. The last of these major reversals occurred about 780,000 years ago. That means we’re overdue for a shift.

The magnetic north pole is moving faster now northward than it has in the past. Scientists estimate the pole is migrating northward about 40 miles per year, as opposed to about 10 miles per year in the early 20th century. In the last decade alone, movement has increased by a third, throwing off compasses by roughly 1 degree every five years. So . . . if you took your compass class more than a few years ago, you might want to adjust for these new changes!

While there’s no consensus on when a flip will happen, when it does happen it will seriously impact the technology we’re using for aviation and navigation. Migratory animals that use the Earth’s magnetic field for navigation will be affected. We simply don’t know if these animals are capable of recalibrating their senses.

Some scientists predict that a weakening or a shift in the magnetic field will allow more solar radiation to reach Earth. This could have devastating effects on life. Some climate scientists say it’s possible that the Earth’s temperatures and climate could be greatly affected.

How will a shift or a reversal affect our society as a whole and our global civilizations? That’s another question we don’t know the answer to. The last time the Earth’s magnetic field shifted, there were no civilizations in existence to be affected.

A floating knife?! Why didn’t I think of this. Around here, where we spend half the summer in a lake or by a river, it just makes sense. This cool knife made by Morakniv recently won the Scandinavian Outdoor Award. The knife is simple, yet innovative. While it is a natural fit for those who kayak or boat, it could be used anytime as well thanks to its smart design.

The handle is bright orange surrounded by cork. It will not only be visible in water but it will float as well. The handle is designed to keep a strong grip even if it’s wet. The makers recommend the 3.7-inch stainless steel blade to cut rope and even nylon. The polymer sheath is made of the same material as the handle’s core. It also has a belt clip and smart button, allowing you to link up several knives together. The Floating Serrated Knife weighs just 3.07 ounces and will be available to U.S. customers with an MSRP of $27. This new Morakniv knife will make its U.S. debut at the Outdoor Retailer show in Denver this July 23-26 at the Industrial Revolution booth #46061-UL.

There’s nothing more irritating to me than reading an article about survival foods that focuses only on foods in the desert southwest, for instance, or woodland plants of the East Coast. I’m not in those places, and I’m not likely to be there in an emergency. Of course, it’s up to us to know the edible and useful plants of our bioregion–if you’re in the desert southwest you definitely should know what’s available around you. But it’s also helpful to know the plants that you can look for anywhere. Here are some.


Dandelion Flower Even kids know how to identify this widely available plant. The leaves are bitter but edible. Try using the youngest, tenderest leaves in a raw salad and cook the other leaves as you would spinach. The roots can be cooked and eaten or dried and made into a nutritious tea. Photo by Greg Hume


A purple bag filled with acorns

There are about a hundred varieties of oak trees in the Us and all have edible nuts. See our previous article about using acorns as a survival food.


sow thistle

Sow thistle flowers kind of looks like dandelion flowers. The leaves are edible and can be prepared in the same way as dandelions. Dandelions have only one flower per stalk while sow thistle has many flowers per stalk. ALso, dandelion leaves are only at the base while sow thistle leaves grow all the way up the stalk. Unlike dandelion leaves, which are deeply lobed, sow thistle leaves have spines on them. Photo by Alvesgaspar

Stinging Nettle

Stinging nettle

Look for this in damp, shady woodlands. It does sting unless you protect your hands when you touch the stalks. To me, it feels tingly like my hands fell asleep. For me it lasts about 12 hours, but it can vary depending on how much you touch and how sensitive you are. The feeling doesn’t really bother me but it does greatly bother some people. If you can’t protect your hands while you harvest it just know that it is not harmful and it will go away. The leaves are highly nutritious, can be eaten cooked like spinach and actually taste good. These are my favorite spring green and I go out intentionally looking for them. The eaves dry well and can make for a nutritious tea anytime. The sting is neutralized upon cooking or exposure to boiling water, as in tea. It’s best to avoid these plants once they start to flower, because the concentration of uric acid can make them taste gritty and it can irritate the urinary tract.  Photo by Franz Xaver


mustard flowersWild mustard grows all over. Here where I live, we get a mustard that tastes terrible. These plants also have very few leaves. But they usually grow in large patches where you can get something out of them. I’m told in other parts of the country is a black mustard that is enjoyable and versatile to eat. Whatever kind you get, the leaves are edible (you’ll probably want to cook them), as are the flowers and seeds. Photo by Jubair1985

If you’ve never gone into a military surplus store stop what you’re doing and find the nearest one to you. Seriously. They are so fun to spend time wandering around in. I could wander in the aisles of the one near me for hours, days even.

There’s a nice one in my town. But there’s an even larger surplus store in the next biggest town a couple hours from me. So if I’m in that larger town for any amount of time I always try to hit it up. Look around in your area because the one nearest you might not be the best.

Surplus stores get the best stuff based on the relationships they have with their suppliers, and larger stores that have been in business longer definitely have better stuff and better prices. Many of the items that you see in surplus stores are the same all over though, so here’s what I want you to look for next time you’re in one.

1. Wool Blanket

Wool never wears out. These blankets are large. The one I have is 60 inches by 80 inches. That’s 5 feet by almost 7 feet. They’re warm. In my area of the Pacific Northwest, where it rains a LOT, wool is a must for hats, gloves, jackets, socks and more. If the surplus store has wool pants or wool sweaters in your size, get those too. image from midwayusa.com

2. Fuel Can

military surplus fuel can

These military fuel cans, or jerry cans, are sturdy and metal. They can take a beating. They last longer than plastic when filled with fuel. And if you have a metal can and you want hot water, set it in the sun. Obviously, save a can that you don’t put gas in for this! These cans are not cheap. Compare prices, and make sure it’s quality material. Good cans can be $80 or more for one. image from roverparts.com

3. Duffel Bags


military surplus duffel bag

Duffel bags come in handy for numerous things and like other military gear, they are sturdy and last forever. When I was in my 20s before kids and didn’t have a car, I stuffed all of my laundry in a duffel and carried it on my back on my bike to the laundromat! I’m sure I looked a site riding down the street, but man, I wish I still had that bag. You’ll have similar memories of the duffel you get. image from sportsmansguide.com

4. Ammo Cans

military surplus ammo can

Ammo cans are great for many things besides storing ammo. They are strong, sturdy, come in different sizes from small to large and are stackable (because they’re rectangular). Use them to hold tinder to keep it dry or important documents you want to keep safe. You can fill them with sand to use as support or extra weight in your shelter. Keep your first aid items in one. Of course, they work great for holding ammo too! image from majorsurplus.com

5. Field Jacket

military surplus field jacket

Military clothes are well-made of sturdy fabric, and field jackets are warm. Surplus stores nowadays are getting a lot more imitation gear because the original, old stuff is in short supply on certain things. Just check the labels to make sure you’re getting high-quality stuff.

image from armysurplusworld.com

That’s my list. There are so many things though that you can find in a surplus store, from mess kits to tarps to boots. What is your must-buy list?

We all love to cook on the grill when it’s nice out. But what if you had no electricity for your stove and you had to find some other way to cook? There are numerous different stove types and they have advantages and disadvantages.

Open fire – This assumes that you have dry fuel, fire starting material and that you know how to build a basic fire. Also, this is not the best method for cooking if it’s raining or freezing cold.

Grills – You likely have an extra bag of charcoal laying around. If not, consider getting one. Also, you can cook in a charcoal grill just like you would in a campfire if you have the dry fuel. If all you have is a propane grill, just make sure you’ve always got back-up fuel. Again, this is not the best method for cooking if it’s raining or freezing cold.

Camp Stoves – You probably have a couple of different types of cook stoves in your bug out gear. I do. I have an alcohol gas stove with some extra cans of gas. I have a Jetboil (which works great for heating up water quickly). I have a small biofuel stove that doesn’t require any fuel other than some dry tinder and a match. I also have a fuel tab stove. I also have I wish I had purchased the Biolite Stove, because it can charge up a phone or light through a USB port on the side while it heats up your food. That may be one of my next purchases. I also have my family’s old two-burner suitcase style Coleman propane stove. The problem with all of these except the biofuel stove is that you have to have gas or fuel of some sort or it is useless. That’s always the drawback.

Biofuel Stoves – I recommend that everyone have at least a small version of a biofuel stove. These burn nothing but pinecones, twigs and small sticks and such. As long as you have a match of some sort, there’s no need for fuel tabs or gas cans. I go around my house in the summer and gather up fuel and put it in a small container, so I know I always have dry kindling. My stove is small and can’t cook much more than a couple cups at a time, but it will work and it will provide food and keep me alive. If you really want to make an investment there are huge biofuel stoves than can hold a paella pan and even transfer the heat to heat your house! Maybe someday I’ll have something like that.

Fuel Tab Stoves – These are typically small, lightweight stoves that burn a fuel tablet. Often, the stove frames fold up. One tablet will bring up 16 ounces of water to a boil and they burn pretty hot and clean. If you have the fuel tabs but not the stove itself, other small cans or containers can be used to transmit the heat. these also need more of a heat source to get burning than what you might get from a striker rod . . . they’re just harder to catch.

Alcohol Stoves – I’ve never used an alcohol stove, but I hear they are a little harder to get going than these other types. What say you who are more experienced?

Solar Oven – While I’d love to go this route for myself, I live where the sun shines only 3 or 4 months out of the year! I’d never be able to survive if I had to rely on a solar cooker during the winter in the Pacific Northwest.

So with that outline, what do you think is the best stove type for a SHTF situation? Why?

The kukri (pronounced koo-kree) is an intimidating curved blade knife/weapon that originates in Nepal.

Shown below is a photo of a a traditional kukri, along with a secondary knife commonly carried along with the kukri, and a sharpening tool. The kukri’s main feature is the curved blade that resembles a machete. It also has a notch in the bottom of a blade, which helps blood, or whatever, drip off the blade rather than run down and make the handle slick. If the kukri is used as a weapon, it can catch another blade on that spot. The notch also is said to have some symbolic meaning in that it resembles a cow’s foot.

Kukri knife from the author's collection. Nóż kukri z kolekcji autora.
A Kukri (top) with the traditional Karda (middle) and Chakmak (bottom). The Karda is used as a utility knife and the Chakmak is a sharpening tool.

The blade of a kukri is typically 10 to 15 inches long. It hacks like a machete, is lightweight, and the bottom of the handle, because it’s typically flared out and wide, can be used as a hammer.

Modern kukris are, of course, similar but different.

Khold Khukri
Khold Khukri from 511Tactical.com

The knife shown above, with the green handle, has a 17-inch length with a 10.86 blade, so it’s right in line with the traditional knife. But as you can see, it’s quite different. The handle, rather than being wood, is fiberglass reinforced nylon. It doesn’t have that flared base, so this would likely not be an appropriate knife to use in the event that you needed to hammer in a nail.

If you drop this bright green knife in the grass, chances are you’ll be able to find it more easily than the traditional wooden handle. It still chops and is lightweight (this one weighs 1.54 pounds).

A kukri is originally designed to both be a well-balanced weapon but also to clear heavy brush. If that’s what you want one for, maybe you should get the traditional model.

The Canadian government took a survey of personal preparedness and released it on February 9, 2018. According to the survey results, only 13% of people in Vancouver, BC have what they consider a “fully completed plan” for earthquake, wildfire or flood resiliency.

We know that a major earthquake is going to hit the Northwest at some point. The predictions all say that sooner than later, a “big one” will hit the Northwest. The University of Washington simulated earthquake scenarios and found 50 different ways that a magnitude 9.0 earthquake could unfold in the Cascadia subduction zone.

According to this survey, 54% of people polled say they’ve started working on their plan, but haven’t completed it. “Personal laziness” was a top reason given as to why they hadn’t done more. Other reasons were “lack of knowledge” and “lack of time.” “Personal apathy” was also a given response. And yet, 80% of the people poled say that an earthquake is the most concerning hazard to them.

86% said that they have emergency food for three days. But only 60% also had emergency water for three days.

According the the poll, four in 10 British Columbians report they have an emergency kit in their car, while only three in 10 have a kit at work or a “grab and go” bag at home.

We know that young people, low income people, and people who are renting, and in particular city dwellers, are among the least prepared. What’s your excuse?


I’m a member of my local neighborhood watch group and we have meetings every 2 to 3 months. I went to one on Sunday with my 10-year-old son and it was eye-opening, for both of us. The sheriff assigned to our area gave a presentation that was a shortened form of the 4-hour ALICE training the sheriff’s department gives to schools and businesses. ALICE is an acronym or a set of tools to allow someone to respond to an active shooter situation.

The sheriff (a woman) “rounded the corners” because my son was there and there were two other kids there about his same age. She walked through scenarios and people asked questions about how the shooter situation at the Parkland, Florida, school compared to other high-profile events. It was scary as well as informative.

ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown/Barricade, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. She walked through each of the letters and explained the responses for each. The part that my son was most interested in was Counter. For that, she told a story she told about a school in Washington that gave each student a can of Progresso soup to keep in their desks. The idea was that if a threatening person came into their classroom the students would through their soup at them. This would disrupt the shooter’s thinking, possibly make them fall, be hurt, drop their weapon, etc, and the students would be able to escape or neutralize the threat.

After that, when we were walking home, my son said he would keep a rock in his backpack in case anything like that ever happened. He picked up a rock and called it his “safety rock” and put it in his pocket. If there’s an incident, will my son’s “safety rock” help him? The sheriff said that ALICE training is scheduled for my son’s school in the fall. Will anyone else know what to do in the case of an active shooter before they get the training?

The whole point of ALICE is to provide additional responses other than evacuate, which is what has been drilled into kids through fire drills from the time they’re kindergartners, and lockdowns, which puts a classroom of students in grave danger if a shooter does enter the room.

Since this site is about survival, let’s give our kids the tools they need to survive. I don’t think I would have talked with my son about ALICE had the situation not come up in this neighborhood watch meeting. Ask your kids if they’ve had ALICE training at their schools. If not, learn more yourself at ALICETraining.com and talk to them about it yourself. If you have the means or the time, consider setting up an ALICE training session in your community.

If there’s an incident at my son’s school, his “safety rock” might not help him. But it might. And it’s better than nothing. And, it means he’s thought some things through, and that will give him the highest chances of survival.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we just had a few days of very springlike weather. The fruit trees started blooming, daffodils poked their heads up and friends and coworkers started gushing about how they could wear t-shirts. And today? Snow. Yeah. The weather does strange things.

We didn’t get a lot of snow, but the temperatures are expected to plummet tonight and possibly coincide with wet roads, leading to black ice. If you’re ever stuck somewhere, like in a broken down car or on a hiking trail, when weather you’re not expecting comes down on you, here are some tips for how to avoid a cold-weather casualty.

Be Prepared
The first tip, and the most important one, is to never underestimate the weather. Don’t go out in just a t-shirt. Pack some extra garb and a blanket in your car. Carry a windbreaker pr jacket with you, no matter how warm you believe it will be.

Gear Up Your Car
My car’s trunk has a military wool blanket in it, a tarp, a folding shovel, a jug of water, and my survival bag. Inside that bag is the following (among others):

  • whistle
  • poncho
  • food
  • fire starting material
  • knife
  • socks
  • hand warmer packets

These are all basic gear that will keep you alive in a snowstorm. Hand warmer packers are .99c or less, so stock up on those and keep them in all of your bags, just so you always have some.

If you live in a snowy place, keep these items on hand:

  • sunglasses (to provide visibility without being snowblinded) – I learned that this is a real thing when I took a trip to Alaska one February a few years ago and did’t take my sunglasses. I didn’t think I’d need them! But I regretted not having them as we drove many miles along highways covered with snow.
  • chapstick – if you’re dehydrated, this will help you avoid dry, cracking lips
  • hat, gloves, scarf, extra pair of wool socks- just keep some backups in your car or bag
  • sunscreen – not what you think of in the snow, but it’s similar to snowblindness in that you actually can get sunburn from too much reflecting UV rays on bright white snow.

Avoid These

Cotton kills! Cotton is not a good choice for clothing of any layer during the winter months. It absorbs moisture and holds on to it, so you can’t dry out or warm up. It also does not hold in heat well, particularly when it is wet. don’t wear flannel, jeans or your Carhartt pants or jackets in the snow.

Avoid exposing your skin. Keep your heat in by covering up your head, hands and feet. Frostbite can happen more quickly than you think when your skin is exposed.