Q & A

What should I look for in a property used as a retreat?

There is really no secret to looking for a good piece of property for a retreat. In fact, we will be covering this topic in a future guide very shortly. In a nutshell, what you are looking for is the following:
– a property at least 5 miles or more from a major interstate.
– good, arable land
– abundant or at least available water
– Defensibility
– low population density

Will purchases or contact with Family Survival System possibly land me on a NSA watch list?

Sure, I suppose, but there are so many people interested in survival, preparedness, and other such topics that the NSA would have to watch a significant portion of the population in that case. Maybe they already do! Shows like Doomsday Preppers have put survivalism in the mainstream, and thus there are many people interested in the topic.

Lastly, as a policy, we don’t condone illegal activities, violent overthrow of the US government, anarchy, or any other sort of lawbreaking, nor do we show, teach, or encourage people to do those things. Therefore, the NSA can watch all they want. Perhaps they will learn something. But, they will still have to pay the membership fee just like everyone else!

Where can I find a manual on food preservation?

The 4H club puts out great a great food preservation manual and it’s 60 pages long. Google it, you’ll find it on the first page.

Is my email, text and other online computer activities being tapped by NSA?

Only those in the shadowy higher reaches of the government know if all these things are being tapped, but you must behave as if they are, plain and simple.

Whats your opinion on Bitcoin?

Bitcoin has had a lot of press over the last year and many people report it is a viable investment option. I won’t presume to tell you what I think you should do.

I will advise you to use caution, as you should with any investment, and only invest what you are willing to lose in order to discover if it is a viable vehicle for you.

How long does water stay good to drink when storing in plastic bottles?

Water stored in plastic bottles will literally last for years. Sure, at some point you run the risk of the plastic leaching chemicals into the water, but this isn’t one of those things that is lethal or anything. If there is no water to be had anywhere else, a little plastic tainted water isn’t a big deal.

For example, water that comes in survival packs that looks like juice boxes (cardboard container, foil lined) has a 5 year shelf life and I’m sure this is very conservative.

I would put the water on a 6 month or 1 year rotation, making sure I consumed that water every six months to one year. The exact timing isn’t critical. While the grid is up, you are trying to rotate the water in such a manner that you want to preserve taste. When the grid is down, you can comfortably hang onto it for longer.

How long do antibiotics last?

While I AM NOT A DOCTOR, I have been told by medical professionals that antibiotics are good up to fifteen years past their expiration date, except for tetracyclines. With Tetracycline, you need to follow the expiration. Normal antibiotics, not so much. Freezing will not prolong their shelf  life but be sure to store them in cool, dry places.

What water filter should I purchase?

I like the Katadyn Pocket Microfilter. It retails for about $369 and will last your family for years. Give it a try.

What type of gold or silver coins should I purchase?

Personally, I only buy American Gold Eagles and American Silver Eagles. The silver eagles I buy are in the 1 ounce size and the Gold Eagles are in the 1/10th, 1/2, and 1 ounce sizes depending on funds. You are correct – gold is gold, silver is silver. Any of it will do, but there are several reasons why I only buy American, and it has NOTHING to do with patriotism:

  • The coins are legal tender in the US and have a face value imprinted on them. Even though this value is far less than the value of the metal, it is still legal currency.
  • The coins are written in English, which is not the case with many coins from around the world. In tough times, you want laypeople and non skilled people to trade for your gold and silver. People who aren’t jewelers or metals traders. Language they can read on the coin helps facilitate transactions.
  • The coins will be recognizable by laypeople due to the fact that they state United States of America
  • The coins are made by the US Mint and are currently backed by the government
  • It’s harder to market fake American coins in America. This is because if someone gives you a silver American Eagle, for example, you can instantly go to any coin store, bank, or metals dealer and pick up another one and compare it to see if its real. Try that with a Mexican Gold Peso or a Chinese Gold Panda. There are lots of American Eagle fakes, but most of them are NOT in the US.

The only coin I would consider buying that is not an American coin is the South African Krugerrand. This is because it is the most prolific gold coin in the world, and it was the first 1 ounce commercially available mass marketed coin and is very well known. I do not currently own Krugerrands, but I may look into them one day.

What shotgun ammunition would you recommend for home defense?

While I would not use a shotgun indoors, I do like two types of ammo:

00 Buck, otherwise known as double ought buck, which in a 2 3/4″ shell launches 9-32 caliber balls downrange, and I also like slugs, which weigh in at one ounce each.

Those are my choices. If those cannot be found, then go with 0 or 000 buck. NEVER use birdshot. Totally ineffective.

How can I cook bagged meals or anything else (canned) over a fire in our fireplace?

Cooking over a conventional home fireplace is actually pretty easy. While we will be covering how to do this in a future episode, I can tell you that all it involves is iron cookware like a skillet or even dutch oven. Essentially, you have an iron rack that goes over the fireplace and supports the pan or dutch oven so that it can sit over top the flames. Cast iron cookware is simple to use and works great over an open flame. Once the cast iron is seasoned it’s better than a teflon coated pan, and you would cook as normal.

Where is the best place to store your food, water and blankets for emergencies?

The best place to keep your survival preps is where they best fit, in a cool, dry place.

What can you suggest for large volume, long term desalination?

I personally would look into the 12 and 24 volt marine type water makers (desalinators) made by Spectra. Originally for use on boats, they are also offered in land based applications and come in capacities that can pump out up to 800 gallons per day drawing from salt and brackish water.

Here is an example of one of their models.


No affiliation, have seen these installed in numerous boats and working trouble free for years.

Can I rely on my house alarm to keep me safe?

House alarms are OK, but the point of a house alarm is to have someone respond to it like the police or a security company. If neither of those can respond, then the alarm doesn’t really do you any good. Also, there is a time gap between when the alarm goes off and when the police arrive, and this can be many minutes. My suggestion is to keep the alarm, but learn how to defend yourself until the police arrive.

What is the ratio of bleach to water to sanitize water?

The ratio for bleach is 4 drops per quart, or 16 drops per gallon. Each drop is a standard drop as comes out of an eye dropper. The water must be relatively clear to start – if it is not, it must be filtered first. Drop the bleach in, wait 30 minutes, and see what the water smells like. It should smell faintly of bleach – if it does not, repeat the process and try again after 30 minutes.

Can animal antibiotics be used for humans in an emergency situation?

Veterinary antibiotics are a great alternative and are exactly the same as human antibiotics, except you don’t need a prescription. FishMox, for example, is just basic amoxicillin. Dosing is the same as well, and I intend to cover veterinary antibiotic dosing in a future guide. Stock up on common veterinary antibiotics now!

Should I be concerned about a chemical attack?

Chemical contamination can be removed by a filter like the Katadyn, so long as the water is not too contaminated. Personally, the likelihood of a mass chemical weapons release seems pretty remote to me; a mass contamination using more mundane methods like pathogen contamination seems more likely, and the filter you have chosen is just fine for those things. Chemical weapons are mostly fleeting things; you can release quite a bit of chemical in a given environment, but if the release occurs outdoors, the wind will rapidly dissipate it to the point where it will become less lethal with time. It is incredibly difficult to wage a chemical attack on an entire city that does not kill the attackers themselves, and its unlikely such an attack would occur. I don’t mind the idea of buying gas masks, but you should be realistic as to the actual threat, and there are many more garden variety threats to plan for, other than chemical attack.

Why don’t you mention Colloidal Silver?

I am aware that Colloidal Silver purifies water, but the main reason I don’t mention it is cost – a 4 ounce bottle costs around $21 here, and to be honest, $21 buys lots and lots of bleach. From a practicality standpoint, a good filter can be used over and over again and do a far better job of filtering water over time. A filter will run for years, never need to be properly dosed, and is cost effective.

It’s not that colloidal silver is bad, it’s just that there are better, cheaper choices out there.

How do I go about buying Gold & Silver to have in my hand?

I want you to go to www.gainesvillecoins.com and shop there. I do not have an affiliation with them other than being a super satisfied customer. Check them out, and purchase AMERICAN coinage such as Gold Eagles and Silver Eagles.

Is the collapse of the U.S. dollar our next biggest threat?

Emphatically, YES! I think the imminent collapse of the dollar is definitely going to be a trigger for something much worse. Similar to that, another scenario that has me very worried is the government’s ability to maintain social welfare and free benefits and services to the millions of Americans who use them. Should these payments stop for any reason, you will see widespread chaos. Watch out!

Where can I find the extraction tool shown in the 5 essentials for your car video?

I purchased my extraction tool from Stat Gear, you can visit their website at – http://www.statgeartools.com/

What does a person do to protect themselves and their house if you have ALOT of windows in your home?

The only thing you can do is use 3M ballistic window film. It will make the glass very durable and resistant to strikes from bricks and crowbars.

The local gun store sells out of ammo as soon as it arrives. How can I purchase ammo if it’s always sold out?

What you need to do is get a little creative. Midway USA and Cheaper Than Dirt both have ammo in stock right now, although the prices are a little higher than normal. Also, check out that gunbot.net site I mentioned in my podcast; you’ll be instantly alerted to ammo that comes in stock. The LAST place I would look for ammo right now would be in a gun store. You need to look into the big online vendors.

I am researching a Kaito Electronics shortwave radio, are you familiar with that brand, and if so, is it a good choice?

I actually have a Kaito Voyager, and for the money, I thought it was not that bad of a radio. With that little number, I have been able to receive shortwave broadcasts from Tokyo and South Africa, and this is from Southern California. I would recommend it for sure. In a future buyer’s guide, we’ll be looking at shortwave radios in depth.

I am currently doing hemodialysis three times a week to clean my blood from toxins. I’m wondering if you are aware of any survival techniques that can be used to remove toxins from the blood or body in lieu of dialysis?

Although I have quite a bit of emergency medical training, I am in no way, shape or form a doctor, and even if I was, the only doctor qualified to render an opinion on your situation is YOUR doctor. Having said all of that, you need to take a two-pronged approach to your situation:

1. Ask your doctor for natural therapies to remove toxins from your blood. If he or she is unwilling or unable to help, ask for a referral to a hematologist who specializes in remedies other than dialysis. They are out there! Ask this doctor what to do in order to reduce your dependence on dialysis.

2. Contact your nearest large hospital and speak with the Emergency Manager, and explain your situation. Find out what their emergency plans are for power outages or natural disasters. Explain your situation to them and try and make a contact with them so that you have somewhere to go if there is a disaster.

Finally, look into getting a home based hemodialysis machine if covered by your insurance, as if the machine is at home, there are numerous ways to power it via emergency power methods off the grid.

How can I make drinkable water using condensation?

I demonstrated how to do this with a tree branch on one of our videos; condensation is the wrong word, it’s really distillation that you mean. What happens is moisture in the air or soil condenses on a plastic sheet and is drinkable.

Look up how to make solar stills – there are hundreds of ways of how to make small quantities of water using distillation.

Can I store rice in wide-mouth mason jars like the ones used for canning?

You can absolutely use glass mason jars as long as the lids are tight fitting, and you put a little desiccant bag in there. Keep it in a dark, cool spot though.

I’m looking for a well thought out storm shelter. Do you have any recommendations?

The best storm shelter is very similar to a fallout shelter in that it is underground and has sufficiently thick walls and doors to withstand the high winds. There is no secret to a great storm shelter; a reinforced concrete bunker with a stout steel door and a protected entrance is the way to go. If at all possible, none of the shelter should be visible from the ground save for the staircase down to the door – or manhole cover style hatch opening, which is better.

Unfortunately, a shelter like this is expensive, which is why prefab shelters are being sold. These are not much more than metal tanks that are buried and have some rudimentary accommodations within. Some are so small that they can even be buried within your garage.

The trick is, if you’re going to put a bunch of money into a shelter, you might as well make it a bunker; steel tanks that are buried underground may work for tornadoes, but they would not work on other hazards such as conventional or nuclear explosives. Again, if you are going to dig a hole and bury something anyways, it might as well be a proper bunker / fallout shelter / panic room sort of thing.

Where is the best place to purchase American Silver eagle Coins? Economically speaking. They are labled one dollar? If used to make purchases, what are they worth ? How can you detect counterfeits?

You can purchase American Silver Eagles at any reputable dealer. How can you tell it’s reputable? look around for testimonials. If it’s a physical store, make sure it’s a medium to high end coin dealer. If it’s an online store, look for a track record. See what people are saying.

I have no affiliation with them other than being a happy customer, but I buy all my silver from Gainesville Coins http://www.gainesvillecoins.com .They are a massive dealer online – do a Google search. Their prices are fairly low, and I like how when they ship the silver, it comes in a box usually marked “Mike and Joe’s Plumbing Supply”. Operational security like that is really important. Give them a try.

While the coins ARE legal tender, I am not sure why you would use them as such since a one ounce Eagle is still worth over $20. I mentioned in my podcast that this was “nice to have” but not so that I could spend them on the open market as if they were currency. What they are “worth” is exactly one dollar from a currency standpoint. What you can sell them for is a different story…..

The best way to detect counterfeits is NOT to buy them from a fly by night dealer in the first place. If your dealer is questionable, so will the coins be. I always make a point of paying a hair more and buy from a quality dealer. I already told you about the online one, but in my town, there is a high end gold and silver dealer within a jewelry store. They have been in business for like 30 years, and I trust them as well. The point is, you CANNOT easily spot a counterfeit unless you are skilled at doing so – that’s the whole point of counterfeits. Therefore, trust a good dealer. If you don’t have access to one, here’s what I would do:

  1. Purchase a real Eagle directly from the Mint or some other unimpeachable source. Yes, you will pay more.
  2. Use that Eagle to compare to others you are looking at.
  3. Buy a scale that’s meant for coinage. Weigh each Eagle. Should be exactly ONE OUNCE (for the one ounce coins that is). It’s very hard for fakes to weigh exactly one ounce since they are made of different metals. Usually, they are bigger in diameter. That’s why you have your test coins!

Even though people have reported good deals, I would personally NEVER buy from:

  • Craigslist
  • ebay
  • Pawn shops
  • Flea markets

Stay away. Buy from a reputable dealer!

I want to store some halazone tablets, but I can’t find them on the web anywhere. Do you have access to any?

First of all, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE. Sounds like a Vietnam era veteran! The reason Halazone has more or less fallen out of favor is the fact that it only has a three day shelf life when the bottle is opened. Don’t get me wrong, chlorine based water purification works well, and Halazone tablets are chlorine based. Modern water purification tablets are mostly made of iodine now, and those have a shelf life of three months when opened, and have more or less eliminated the need for Halazone. My favorites are the ones marketed under the brand “Potable Aqua”.

Remember, you can use ordinary unscented house bleach to do the same thing as Halazone, and there is a lot more of it around.

Can I use 2 liter bottles to store beans and rice? If this is okay, can you use Arizona Tea jugs as well?

One would think that since “food”, or something otherwise edible was stored inside these containers at one point, that they would be perfectly good to store food in again. The only circumstances under which I would use 2 liter bottles and tea jugs is if I absolutely, positively had nothing else to store them in. Here’s why:

  • The lids will never make as good a seal as say, a gamma seal lid on a food grade bucket.
  • The openings are small which makes filling them a chore – remember, you still need to stick a pack of desiccant in there.
  • Most of these containers are clear or translucent. You don’t want food containers to be clear; any sunlight that hits them might cause the food inside to sweat and therefore rot
  • It will be virtually impossible to ensure that the jugs are totally free of any soda or iced tea residue, and are perfectly dry.

The last one is the clincher – the slightest amount of residue will cause the food to rot. This is why you never use milk jugs; it’s impossible to get all the milk out, mainly because the openings are so small you can’t wash in all the crevices. You can get food grade buckets with proper seals for pretty cheap, and there’s no reason to recycle plastic in that manner.

We live in the Florida panhandle on a large saltwater bay (actually a cove off the bay) and we have no fresh water stream any where near us. What type of water filtration system do you recommend in my situation?

Generally, salt water doesn’t contain near the amount of pathogens that fresh water does, and seldom does anyone succumb to illness from ingesting saltwater unless they happen to be doing so on a known polluted beach. Still, you obviously can’t drink salt water, and thus you face the problem that mariners have faced for centuries – water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

Besides distillation, which is fuel intensive, slow, and cumbersome, the only solution you’re left with is the one you mentioned – a reverse osmosis type system. Normal filters won’t work on salt water, and filters like Berkeys will quickly become clogged and useless. The size of the salt particles are just too big.

I would take a different tack if I lived near an abundance of salt water – I would purchase either a manually operated marine type watermaker such as:


That unit is a hand pump unit and thus requires no power. If I wanted something larger, I would go for a marine type 12 volt watermaker rather than a 110v RO unit in my home. The reason for this is because I can run the unit with car batteries, then charge the car batteries with solar power. For $5000 I can have a complete, self contained watermaker and charging system and virtually never run out of water. Note that when applied to units designed for boats and yachts, the machine is called a “watermaker” rather than an RO system, but they are most certainly RO systems.

Watermakers do have maintenance associated with them, and they do periodically require new membranes and flushing, but still, if you live near salt water, they are the way to go.

How can I drill a well 100 feet down without my neighbors knowing or the government?

I’m assuming you mean a water well, and in most localities, that’s going to require a permit. Also, you may not even hit water since not all land has an aquifer underneath. If you were convinced that there was water under your property (for example, your neighbors all had wells) but you wanted to drill one undercover, I would suggest the following:

1. Purchase a garden shed of decent size, one made of sheet aluminum so as to be light.

2. Set it up over the spot you want to drill the well.

3. Insulate the shed with Styrofoam insulation to keep the noise down.

4. Bring the drilling equipment in by night.

5. Drill during the day when things are naturally at their loudest and people are at work.

6. Setup the wellhead and equipment.

7. Build a protective box enclosure around the wellhead.

8. Deconstruct the shed, or move it somewhere else.

Voila, there’s the wellhead, looking quite natural, as if it was always there.

What are the impending signs of chaos?

The signs of impending chaos are similar no matter what the disaster; we just haven’t seen these signs on a national scale yet. Some of the signs of an impending societal collapse are:

  • civil disturbance – riots, angry demonstrations, mass arrests and non peaceful protests
  • Road closures and roadblock checkpoints by Military Police
  • Military vehicles being transported on flatbed trailers or railway cars en masse.
  • Fuel lines and/ or shortages
  • Fuel rations
  • bank failures, bank closures, and bank runs – people go to banks and find they have no money to withdraw and ATMs are closed
  • Banks introducing withdrawal limits
  • Banks freezing funds “temporarily”.
  • Banks taking unscheduled “holidays” or otherwise closed when they would normally be opened.
  • Food rations
  • Low volumes on store shelves
  • mass panic / buying and depletion of store goods
  • Increased police presence in normally peaceful areas
  • militarization of police to include full riot gear and armored vehicles

How many days worth of medicine should we have on hand?

As for medicine, I’m assuming you mean prescription medicine. In that case, you should have a MINIMUM of 30 days medication on hand, and preferably 60+ days of medication, depending on how scarce your medication is to come by. Consult with your doctor, tell him that you are worried about the potential of disasters to disrupt the supply chain of your prescriptions, and that you want to stock up. He should be able to write you a prescription for an extended amount based on that. Also, talk to your doctor about using other methods of treatment to reduce or eliminate your need for medication to begin with. For example, high blood pressure can be controlled with diet, excercise, and lifestyle changes as well as with medication, but ALWAYS in consultation with your doctor!

What type of emergency radio or communications equipment do we need?

We will be covering communications gear in depth in the coming months in our Family Survival Society membership website, but for now I can tell you that the top two communications abilities – and devices – you need to have/own are:

1. HAM Radio – an invaluable tool for long range communications with other preppers and access to news sources, happenings, as well as a reliable and disaster proof communications medium. Requires a license and some education to use, which you should seek NOW.

2. Shortwave radio: Shortwave is excellent for getting news broadcasts from far away, potentially even outside the range of the disaster you may be facing. Shortwave radios are inexpensive, require no license, and are easily capable of intercontinental 1 way transmissions right out of the box.