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  • The Essential Preppers' Dictionary

    The Essential Preppers' Dictionary

    Have you ever read a blog post or an article by a serious prepper and found yourself at a loss to understand some of the terms used? Preppers have their own lingo, often condensed into military or government-style acronyms. Here’s your (more or less!) definitive guide to prepper jargon and terminology.


    ABAO—“All bets are off.” Who knows what will happen next? Chaos and confusion may reign, and you will have to look out for yourself and your family. This refers to a situation roughly equivalent to TEOTWAWKI (see ‘T’) or YOYO (see ‘Y’).

    ALPHA STRATEGY—A survival strategy involving storing extra supplies for one’s own use, for bartering, or for charitable donation in case of an emergency situation. Some recommended items to store for bartering include:

    Don’t forget that you can also barter with useful skills such as carpentry, welding, farming, well-digging, sewing, ham radio operation, medicine, home schooling, hair cutting, and more.


    BIB—“Bug-in-bag.” A collection of necessary items such as emergency drinking water, food bars or MREs, essential medications, first-aid supplies, a light source, emergency blankets, ponchos, etc., for hunkering down and sheltering in place during a time of danger or emergency.

    BO—“Bug out.” A term meaning to evacuate quickly, to head for safer territory or a pre-determined safe house or hideout.

    BOB—“Bug-out-bag.” A backpack or other carrier filled with emergency food, water and water purification/filtration supplies, a map, extra clothing, meds, tools, sleeping bag, etc., meant for a time when quick evacuation from your home is necessary. Also known as a 72-hour kit, grab-and-go bag, emergency kit, etc.

    BOL—“Bug-out location.” A pre-determined destination to head to if you must evacuate. A safe haven to head for; a retreat.

    BOR—“Bug-out Route.” The route you’ve determined would be best for you to take if you had to evacuate. You might have more than one possibility.

    BOV—“Bug-out vehicle.” A car, bicycle, or other vehicle to transport you and your gear to your BOL. (See above).


    CACHE (pronounced like “cash”)—A stash of necessary items hidden in an out-of-the-way spot or buried where only the owner knows of it. May include food, water, clothing, meds, weapons, ammunition, cash, tools, or whatever the person feels he or she may need, packed in a water-tight container. Many preppers hide caches along their expected evacuation or bug-out route or at their BOL (see ‘B’).

    CARRINGTON EVENT—A natural EMP-like event caused by a large Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) (see definition below) of the sun, directed toward densely inhabited parts of the earth, so that our electrical grid and components are “fried,” or rendered useless. Named for Richard Carrington, a British amateur astronomer who in August of 1859 observed unusually bright spots on the sun. They heralded two of the most powerful geomagnetic storms in history, just days apart, which caused fire and sparks to shower from telegraph machines and colorful aurora to be visible all over the world. Such an event today would cause extensive damage to the grid, with resulting social and economic disruption for years, costing an estimated 1-2 trillion dollars to repair.

    CDC—“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. National center where medical scientists and microbiologists study viruses, bacteria, poisons, etc. that cause disease. They issue warnings of potential epidemics, pandemics, and advice on how to avoid illness or contamination. They also study health-affecting conditions such as obesity and diabetes. In addition to the headquarters, 12 other locations exist in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

    CME—“Coronal Mass Ejection.” A large, destructive solar flare that if directed toward densely populated areas of the earth, could wipe out all electronic components, including the World Wide Web, telephone service, cell phones and towers, radio stations, etc.

    COMSEC—Communications security. Difficult to achieve in our cyber society, this refers to the security of our phone calls, emails, radio and other transmissions of information.


    DH—Dehydrated, referring to a food or product from which the majority of the water has been removed by exposure to moving air and warmth, as in powdered milk, dried fruits and vegetables, jerky, etc.

    DHS—Department of Homeland Security. The arm of the government that oversees all threats to our homeland, especially from terrorists who would attack and destroy from within or without.

    DLP—Defense of life and property. A right of free people in the U.S. and most other free countries to exercise when either life or property is threatened, subject to individual laws and statutes in different places.


    EDC—“Everyday carry.” The items you carry with you on a daily basis—your wallet or bag, keys, pocketknife, weapon or other personal defense item, etc. Can include emergency items you usually have with you or in your vehicle, such as emergency food, water, meds, paracord, etc.

    EMP—“Electromagnetic pulse.” If a nuclear device were exploded high in the atmosphere, the resulting EMP would take out all electronic devices, including the power grid, cell phones, computers, appliances, cars with electronic ignition, etc. for hundreds of miles. The result would be similar to that of a Carrington Event (see ‘C’).



    FARADAY CAGE—a shielding device made of metal and anti-static materials to protect electronic equipment from an intense eruption of radiation following a destructive solar flare or an EMP attack. Can be as large as a building or smaller than a microwave oven. (See ‘E’).

    FD—Freeze dried, as in prepared just-add-water meals or individual components of meat, cheese, fruits, vegetables, etc., usually packaged to last for at least 25 years. The freeze drying process includes flash freezing, then changing the moisture to vapor before it can liquefy. This process preserves the nutrition, size, shape, color and flavor of foods better than simple dehydration.

    FEMA—“Federal Emergency Management Administration.” The government’s first line of defense when the homeland is threatened by natural or man-made catastrophe. They deal in disaster mitigation, preparedness, emergency response, recovery, education and references. They are not intended to be first responders, but after terror attacks or natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tornados, they assist in providing temporary housing, food, water, and clothing to those who are displaced. FEMA works with other agencies to determine what and how much assistance is necessary to get the affected area rehabilitated.

    FIFO—“First in, first out”—a good policy for rotating food storage.

    FOOD GRADE—A term used for plastic containers, bottles, tubes and hoses, etc. used for food and water intended for human consumption. Storage pails and buckets made of dense polyethylene plastic are considered food-grade, and containers labeled HDTP, PET or PETE, #1, or #2 are safe to contain potable liquids—water, milk, soda pop, etc.

    FUD—“Fear, uncertainty, doubt.” A triple threat that renders us less than effective in difficult situations. “Sally told Peter that FUD had overtaken him as soon as the volcano erupted—he stood rooted to his tracks.”


    GENNY—Slang for “generator,” either gas or solar-powered.

    GHB—“Get-home-bag.” A bag filled with items you’d need to keep in your car or at your workplace to aid you in getting home safely in case of a catastrophe. May include emergency food, water, meds, first-aid supplies, flashlight, tools, weapons, etc.

    GMO—“Genetically modified organism.” Not the same as “hybrid,” this refers to plants or animals in which a gene from one species is transferred to another, creating something artificial (not found in nature). Though hotly contested, many people believe that GMO foods and seeds are not safe for human consumption. Tests in mice have shown that after 2 or 3 generations of being fed GMO diets, they became sterile, and some actually grew hair in their mouths. Many preppers store non-GMO seeds to ensure the possibility of growing healthy, sustainable food supplies that don’t cause these problems.

    GOLDEN HORDE—Named for the Mongol hordes that overran and terrorized parts of the world in the 13th century, this refers to a mixed mob of desperate, lawless refugees and looters that would pour out of large metropolitan areas WTSHTF (see ‘W’).


    HAM—A type of radio or also used to refer to an amateur radio operator—an extremely useful individual in shortwave radio communications who can often receive and send messages when no other way to communicate is available.

    HEIRLOOM SEEDS—seeds that are NOT hybrid and NOT GMO (see ‘G’). They come from plants that stay “true to form” planting after planting, from which new seeds may be gathered and kept for future plantings. Pumpkin seeds will produce the same kind of pumpkin, not an inedible pumpkin-like creation, and green bean seeds will continue to grow green beans. Also known as Millennium seeds, survival seeds, sustainable seeds, or preparedness seeds.


    INCH—“I’m not (or never) coming home.” Coded message for family or housemates letting them know not to wait around for you, because you’ve “bugged out.”

    ISOLATED RETREAT—Another name for your BOL (see ‘B’). A privately-owned spot where a person could be almost completely self-sufficient in times of social lawlessness and trouble.


    JIC—“Just in case.”


    LARDER—A cool place to store food. Early American homesteaders had their larders in the coolest, shadiest part of the house. Preppers often have hidden or divided larders so that all of their store is not immediately obvious to potential intruders.

    LRP—“Long-Range Patrol.” A military term for an excursion in which the soldier is away from base camp for an extended period and must take food along. Ready to eat LRP rations are similar to MREs (see ‘M’). Many hikers, backpackers, and those who are prepping for possible evacuation purchase these. People who want a no-cook, ready to eat supply of food at home also purchase LRPs.


    MAG—“Mutual aid (or assistance) group.” Individuals in a specific geographical location who meet for the purpose of sharing preparation ideas and planning for emergencies.

    MRE—“Meal Ready to Eat”. Military-style packaged entrees, side dishes, crackers or bread, desserts, etc. Popular as take-alongs for bug-out situations, hiking, camping, backpacking, or shelter-in-place food options. No cooking or water required.


    OPSEC—Operational Security. The practice of keeping enemies from discovering your tactical plans. Sayings: “OPSEC is everyone’s responsibility.” and “Loose lips sink ships.”

    ORGANIC—Grown without benefit (or harm) of chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

    OTG—“Off the grid.” Self-sufficient, able to survive and thrive without participating in any community utilities or services such as water, sewer, electricity, or gas.


    PEAK OIL—The point in time when the world’s oil supplies go into an irreversible decline, and people are forced to find other sources of energy.

    POLLYANNA—A person who is in denial about potential dangers of catastrophe, and always optimistic that nothing bad will happen to them. (Named for the title character of a popular children’s book series and movie, who always tried to find something positive in any situation.)

    PREP—Slang for “prepare.”

    PREPPER—One who prepares for any eventuality as best he can; a survivalist.


    PSK—“Personal Survival Kit,” aka PEK (Personal Emergency Kit).

    PTB—“The powers that be”—those in charge in any group, country, or community, including government and law enforcement.


    SAFE ROOM—A fortified room or closet built into your home, preferably hidden, to which you and family members can run in case of intruders. It should be bullet-proof, have a good lock, an air source, a communications source, a flashlight, a store of emergency food and water, and comfort items as desired.

    SERE—Acronym for “Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape.”

    SHEEPLE—People who allow themselves to be herded like sheep by the PTB (see ‘p’), who never question authority or prep for the future, believing that the government will always take care of them

    SIP—“Shelter in place,” bug-in, stay where you are when an emergency strikes

    SOLAR FLARE—A Coronal Mass Ejection or CME (see ‘C’). The danger would be in a massive solar flare directed at an inhabited part of the earth, where it would knock out the electrical grid and destroy all electronics.


    TEOTWAWKI—“The End of the World as We Know It”—a time when all around us changes dramatically, including our way of life. The extreme situation for which all preppers try to be ready. This term was coined by James W. Rawls, who wrote a popular book called How to Survive the End of the World as we Know It—Tactics, Techniques, and Technology for Uncertain Times.


    WROL—“Without rule of law.” A potentially lawless state of society.

    WTSHTF—“When the “stuff” or “expletive” hits the fan.” This refers to a time of extreme societal disturbance caused by widespread natural or man-made disaster, war, or famine. Panic, chaos, and looting will be prevalent.


    YOYO—“You’re on your own.” A situation in which the government, at all levels, ceases to provide essential services such as water, utilities, fire and police protection, and phone service


    ZOMBIES—the unfortunate people who did not plan or prepare for disrupted conditions WTSHTF (see ‘W’). They would be a direct threat to preppers because they’d be desperate and willing to attack for food, water, and shelter. They may appear famished and have sores and scabs from injuries or malnutrition, hence the name. Also a term in fictional novels, movies, and TV shows for dead people who come back to life and exist in a half-living/half-dead state.



    Posted In: Additional Reading, Disaster Scenarios, Insight, Planning, Uncategorized Tagged With: preparedness

  • Who Couldn't Use a Faraday Cage? (Plus How to Make One)

    |20 COMMENT(S)

    What It is

    A Faraday cage, also known as a Faraday shield, Radio Frequency Cage, or EMF (Electromotive Force) Cage, is simply an enclosure built to protect electronic devices from electromagnetic radiation and electrostatic discharges. It can be anything from a small box to a large room, covered with conductive metal or wire mesh, which prevents surges from damaging the equipment inside.

    The sources of these surges can be powerful lightning strikes, destructive solar flares (CMEs, or Coronal Mass Ejections) directed toward earth, or the effects of an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) from a nuclear bomb detonation high in the atmosphere.

    The device is named for Michael Faraday, who observed in 1836 that the excess charge from a conductor remained on the outside of a container and had no effect on the interior contents. He experimented by building a room coated with metal foil and allowed high-voltage discharges from a generator to strike the outside of it. He used an electroscope to show that there was no electric charge present on the inside of the room’s walls. Though the device bears Faraday’s name, Benjamin Franklin is believed to have been the first to discover the principle.

    Faraday cages, or shields, are used all throughout our society. Some are used in the scan-rooms of MRI machines, in which the “cage” effect prevents radio frequency signals from being added to the data from the patient’s image. Some electrical linemen wear “Faraday suits” when working on live, high-voltage power lines to prevent accidental electrocution. Military planners and politicians who have reason to keep their communications private often meet in Faraday-protected rooms that are impervious to electronic “eavesdropping.” In 2013, the Vatican even used the technology to shield the Sistine Chapel from curious listeners during the deliberations to select the new Pope.

    Many people buy Faraday bags to protect their cell phones and laptops both from electrical surges and from unwanted surveillance or tracking.

    According to the National Weather Service, an automobile is essentially a Faraday cage, and it’s the metal surrounding you, not the rubber tires, that protects you from lightning (as long as you’re not touching metal inside the car).[i] A smaller example is a microwave oven, which is a Faraday cage in reverse, trapping the waves inside the device instead of keeping them out. In fact, an old microwave oven makes a good Faraday cage for small electronics!

    Typical items that can be stored in a Faraday cage include

    • Laptop or notebook computers
    • Thumb drives or external hard drives
    • Cell phones
    • Ipads, iPods, and e-readers
    • Portable AM/Shortwave radios, ham radio equipment, and walkie-talkies
    • DC/AC inverters
    • Battery-powered radios


    Why You Might Need One

    Why, you may ask, would it do any good for you to have working electronics when everyone else’s would be down or destroyed? First of all, you might still be able to communicate with people outside the affected area (and it may be very difficult at first to determine how large that affected area is).

    Second, you won’t be the only “techie” who thought to protect valuable electronics in a Faraday cage. Some preppers do this as a matter of course, and eventually you would probably be able to communicate with them. (Cell towers, however, would likely be “fried” and need to be rebuilt).

    Communication at such a time would be extremely valuable. Unless there had been well-publicized warnings of impending CMEs in the days before the event, many people would have no idea what had happened to our world. Ham radio operators, who could communicate with other Hams around the globe, might become the new heroes of the day.

    Many AM/FM and shortwave radio stations believe that they’ll still be able to broadcast after an EMP or CME event, and without all the usual “noise” of our plugged-in society, their waves may be able to travel farther than they do now. Hopefully there would be Faraday-protected radios out there to receive their signals! There is, however, a likelihood that the earth’s electromagnetic field would be seriously disrupted by such an event, and it might take quite a while for things to settle down and not cause static on the airwaves.

    How to Make a Faraday Cage

    To be effective, a Faraday cage must:

    • Be covered with conductive metal or mesh. Copper is the most conductive metal, followed by aluminum. (Well--gold and silver are better, but we assume you won’t be covering your cage with those!)
    • Be properly grounded (according to some experts, to prevent shocks when touched)
    • Adequately surround whatever it’s protecting.

    In addition, whatever is inside should be adequately insulated from the cage itself, such as being placed on wood, in a cardboard box, or on a rubber mat so that it doesn’t touch any metal.

    Faraday Box # 1—The Galvanized Trash Can

    A Galvanized Trash Can can act like a Faraday Cage

    You will need

    • A galvanized metal trash can with a tight-fitting lid
    • Several boxes of heavy-duty aluminum foil
    • Enough metal screening or mesh to wrap around the top of the can and fit over the lip
    • Cardboard boxes of assorted sizes that fit inside the can
    • Plastic garbage bags or plastic wrap
    • Cloth pieces to wrap items

    Wrap the items you wish to protect first in cloth, then plastic, then 3-4 layers of heavy-duty foil, being sure that the foil is molded to the shape of the item and that each layer completely covers the previous one, with no tears or holes.

    Place your wrapped items in cardboard boxes. Tape shut, then wrap the entire box with 2 layers of foil.

    Line the trash can with cardboard, including the bottom, making sure there are no gaps. The foil-wrapped boxes must not touch the metal of the can. Set the can on wood or cardboard, not touching any other metal.

    Several experts say that simply putting the lid on the can, even if it fits tightly, is an insufficient seal. They suggest folding a sheet of metal screening around the top of the can and over the top lid and then forcing the lid over that to maintain a constant, tight-fitting metallic connection.

    Remember, this is for long-term storage of the appliances inside, not something that you can take your appliances out of to use and then return to the container without a great deal of trouble. A good idea is to look around for good deals on duplicates of things you use every day. Another important thing to remember is that you will need some type of charger—hand-cranked or solar-powered—to power up your devices once a crisis has passed. If you can wrap and store one of these in a protected Faraday container, you’ll be glad to have it. 

    Faraday Cage # 2—A Metal-Clad Box

    Any box made of non-conductive material such as plywood, and then totally covered with metal, metal mesh, or metal screening can serve as a Faraday cage. The metal must touch at all the corners and over and all around any opening for the protection to be complete, as an electrical charge will find its way through any gaps or crevices in the construction. The smaller the holes in the mesh or screen, the better the protection—but either mesh or screen is believed to work better than solid metal. The metal can be attached to the wood with staples or screws, whichever seems to work best for you. You might consider applying the metal mesh so that it folds around the corners. Then let the next piece overlap the edge of the first, securely fastened together and to the wood so that there is no break in the conductive shield.

    Updated: Living Off the Grid

    For those who don’t rely as heavily on electronic equipment for day-to-day life, the idea of Living Off the Grid is more realistic. Those who live off the grid don’t need to worry quite as much about EMP’s or CME’s causing havoc and chaos to their daily routine because they have already given up a lot of the equipment that would be affected by those electromagnetic pulses.

    However, living off the grid doesn't always mean going completely electronics-free.  In this case, living off the grid may not protect you from the aftermath of EMP’s or CME’s even if you produce your own electricity from an alternate source.  Faraday cages can benefit a variety of lifestyles to protect you and your electronics.

    There are many uncertainties about exactly what would happen in the case of an enormous release of electromagnetic energy in our civilized, plugged-in world. We can hope that nothing will happen to damage our electronics, but in case our hopes are vain, we’ll be happy for every measure we've taken to prepare!

    For more DIY projects, check out the articles below:

    DIY Tent Lamp

    Guest Post: Make a Paracord Bracelet

    Baby Steps: DIY Felted Wool Dryer Balls

    Emergency Essentials' DIY Laundry Detergent





    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Faraday Cage, disaster preparedness, DIY, emergency preparedness, preparedness, disaster, skills, emergency power

  • We're on Pinterest!

    Mom and daughter on Pinterest on laptop

    Did you know we’re on Pinterest? Oh, yeah, we’re hip like that. We even have pins of cute puppies and some ecards, just like everybody else. But you know what else we’re pinning? You don’t? Well, that’s because you haven’t checked us out yet. So, howzabout a little tour?

    For starters, our official Pinterest page can be found here:

    For those who don't know, Pinterest is a social media network that allows you to post pictures of products, crafts, or other neat ideas that you can test out at home. You post pictures on "boards" (see the pictures below) so that your followers can see what you're posting. At the moment we have 33 boards (we’ve got a lot on our mind) and more than a thousand followers. And we’re following some of you preparedness enthusiasts, which is really exciting. Here are a few highlights, but we’d love it if you jumped on Pinterest and looked around for yourself.


    Our favorite boards

    • Food Storage Recipes – Salmon burgers and fruit salsa? Egg drop soup and Superbowl party treats? Would you believe we can do all that with our food storage? From freeze dried goodies to solar cooking, this board will make rotation a pleasure and emergency eating a treat.

    Pinterest Food Storage Recipes board

    • Tutorials, Ideas and Plans – Our tireless researchers have scoured the Internet for instructions on just about everything you’d need to do, um, ever. Moldy tent? has a step-by-step tutorial. Drowning buddy? has an infographic. We’ve even pinned a youtube video on how to make a woven half-hitch paracord pouch. I know, right?!
    • Pet Preparedness – We always think about ourselves and children in our preparations, but what about Fido and Fluffy? Check here for tips, resources, and products to keep furry friends happy and healthy in case of an emergency.

    Pinterest Pet Preparedness board

    • No Room for Supplies?  – We’re particularly proud of this board. Do you have, or have you found, a creative idea for home storage? You know, like furniture with hidden compartments, rooms with false walls? Send us a link and it may show up here.
    • Do It Yourself Preparedness – You know we’re a sucker for DIY. Look here for ideas on how to make essentials like laundry soap, or fun kitchen organizers, like this one


    Why you should follow us

    • Preparedness Pantry Blog – Don’t get a chance to check our blog as often as you’d like? Most of our blog posts get pinned to this board. Follow us, and you’ll always know when there’s something new to check out.
    • My Emergency Binder – This board is a hidden treasure. Printables and downloads from our site are available here, along with good ideas for how to organize and store an emergency binder.

    Pinterest Emergency Binder Board

    • Giveaways and Contests  – Best board ever. Follow us on Pinterest, and opportunities to win freebies will pop up magically in your feed. It’s kind of like Christmas. And speaking of…



    (Pardon the all caps, but we’re really, really excited. In fact, we’re so excited that we’ve got five pinboards dedicated to Christmas shopping. It’s never too early, right?)

    • Gifts under $5 , 10 , 25, 50 – Just what they sound like, these boards provide lots of good ideas for Christmas gifts across a range of price points.
    • Stocking stuffers and small gifts – We really like the idea of loading up on little things. These would be perfect for kids’ stockings, a company or church gift exchange, or to have wrapped and on hand for last minute Christmas guests.

    Pinterest Stocking Stuffers board

    • Customer favorites – Still can’t think of anything to buy your family and friends for Christmas? Browse the 100+ plus pins on this board to see what our regulars buy on a usual basis.. There’s bound to be something to please that hard-to-buy-for type here.

    Doesn’t this get you all excited? And here’s one more super-cool thing you can do. Of course, you can repin any of the fun stuff you find on our pinboards. Or you can pin straight from our website! Yeah, you heard that right. Browse the good ol’, find something fantastic, and hit the ‘pin’ button right on the page.

    Anything else we can do to make your life wonderful?

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: pinterest, emergency preparedness, pet preparedness, preparedness, gifts, skills, recipes

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