The Plight of the Senior Prepper

There are all sorts of prepper’s.  Some are rank beginners and others have been practicing family preparedness for twenty years or more.  Some live in urban areas and some live in the country.  And most assuredly, some are young adults in their twenties and other are in their sixties, seventies and eighties.

Given this widely variable demographic, it stands to reason that some preparedness topics will be more interesting and more useful to one group than to another.  On the other hand, the basic tenets of emergency food, emergency communications, first aid, self-defense and self-sufficiency are universal.  Furthermore, there are no boundaries and no set requirement that a person be interested in each topic equally.

We are talking about family preparedness here, not rocket science.  And while we are each unique, we are each the same as well.

Which gets me to the topic of today’s article: The Plight of the Aging Prepper.  I have a bit or a rant so please bear with me while I explain.

Senior Preppers Do It All

Being a baby boomer myself (born between 1946 and 1964), I find it a bit offensive to find that many websites refer to “senior” preppers as doddering old people with limited vision to what is happening in this world and limited ability to fend for themselves.

This stereotype is simply is not true.  Many in the over-60 crowd walk 2 to 5 miles daily, work at full-time job, and actively pursue hobbies that require strength and endurance.  Others farm their land and while living on or off grid, chop wood, feed the chickens and milk the goats or cows, day in and day out, rain or shine.  Not only that, most men of that age have served in the military and thus understand and embrace the need for teamwork, discipline and perseverance to get a job done.

References to being an older prepper who may be slow on the draw is just, well, not right and darn disrespectful.

Survival Concerns – Regardless of Age

Regardless of one’s age, the pursuit of survival does come with some concerns.  Some of the major ones are listed below:

Nutrition and diet with limited food sources

Healthcare – both treatment and prevention – when conventional medicine and medical facilities are not available

Money for supplies, services, items for barter and the basics of life

Self-defense using lethal, or non-lethal weapons (or both)

Mobility for the physically disabled and those with hearing and vision challenges

Community and companionship when if it all goes to heck

Learning from Our Parents and Grandparents

The current trend within the survival and prepping community is to look back to the experience of those that lived through the Great Depression.  Well guess what?  Many a senior prepper lived through it, if only as a child.  Now might be a good time to ask these senior preppers how they dealt with these survival concerns.  It is a forest through the trees thing: if you lived through it, you may not recognize the value of that experience to others.

I don’t want to belabor the point so let me just say this:  being old of age does not mean you are weak of mind, weak of body and weak of spirit.  Quite the contrary.  The older prepper has a lot to offer and is stronger than you might think in at least one of these areas if not all three.

The Final Word

It has been a long time since I have written one of my passionate little essays.  Clearly, something set me off and yes, it was another prepper-oriented website.

If I do nothing else today. I want to reinforce that the senior prepper has indeed woken up to what is going on in our country and our world.  They are quite capable of taking care of themselves.

On the other hand look around: there are certain able-bodied twenty and thirty something’s who, at the mention of an election, at the mention of self-reliance and at the mention of making a difference in this world look up from their texting and say “huh?”.

So you see, there are all types of people at all different ages.  We are a community of preppers and we are strong.  Let us drop the stereotype and get on with the business of preparedness.  We will remain strong as long as we stand up tall, young and old together.

By Gaye Levy

What Every Prepper Needs To Know About Hypothermia

What Every Prepper Needs to Know About Hypothermia

Unless you live in the tropics, winter is likely to bring uncertain weather, including bone-chilling temperatures, severe winds, freezing rain and significant snowfall.  Needless to say, such conditions are not much fun under the best of circumstances.  If there is no power and no heat, the effects of winter are magnified, especially for those that have failed to prepare for extreme weather events.

Being prepared for winter weather conditions is not rocket science and there is much you can do to insure the safety of your home and family during the winter storm season. Having an alternate heat source is a good start as is plenty of warm blankets and clothing.  Even with these precautions. it is still likely that the cold will get to you, especially if you have to spend time outdoors clearing debris, shoveling snow, or simply walking your dog.

Hypothermia can be deadly so the more we know about it the better.  Of course educating yourself regarding the effects of extremely cold weather on the human body is an important step to take before the icy cold weather sets in. That said, it is never to late to become informed, even if you are currently in the midst of a snow storm of blizzard.

Today it is my pleasure to share an article written by Joe Alton, M.D., who, with his wife Amy, share their extensive medical knowledge at their Doom and Bloom website.  As licensed health care practitioners, when they have something to say about survival medicine, I listen.

I Live in a Warm Climate – Why Do I Need to Learn This Stuff?

If you think that hypothermia and cold weather preparedness is someone else’s problem, think again.  I asked Joe the following question:

Gaye:  I understand the dangers of hypothermia for those that live in colder climates.  But what about everyone else?  Why should they pay attention and be concerned as well?

Joe:  Few people realize that they are in danger of becoming hypothermic anytime a large percentage of their body’s surface area comes in contact with temperatures lower than the body core.  If you fell off a boat in the Bahamas into 82 degree F water, you would eventually succumb to hypothermia if not rescued.  You only have to drop to 95 degrees F to feel the effects of hypothermia.

Cold Weather Preparedness

It looks like another harsh winter, with ice storms and blizzards already carpeting much of the Midwest, Northeast and Canada, and cold weather preparedness is a must for survival. Failure to use precautions will lead to a condition called hypothermia.  Hypothermia is a condition where the core body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.  The normal body core temperature is defined as between 97.5-99.5 degrees Fahrenheit (36.0-37.5 degrees Celsius).

In your efforts to be medically self-reliant, one of the major factors that must be taken into consideration is your environment.  If you haven’t prepared for the weather, you have made your environment your enemy, and it is a formidable one. The last ice storm caused 27 deaths, some of which were avoidable.  Therefore, it’s important to be prepared to prevent death from exposure and to know how to treat someone who is hypothermic.

How Your Body Loses Heat

Your body has various methods it uses to control its internal “core” temperature, either raising it or lowering it to appropriate levels.  The body “core“ refers to the major internal organ systems that are necessary to maintain life, such as your brain, heart, liver, and others.

In cold weather, your blood vessels constrict to conserve heat. Muscles “shiver” as a method of heat production. You can voluntarily increase heat by exertion; it is recommended to “keep moving” in cold environments for this reason. Part of the healthcare provider’s role is to educate each and every member of their family or group on proper planning for outdoor activities. Monitor weather conditions as well as the people you’re sending out in the heat or cold.

how the body loses heat

The body loses heat in various ways:

Evaporation – the body perspires (sweats), which releases heat from the core.

Radiation – the body loses heat to the environment anytime that the ambient (surrounding) temperature is below the core temperature (say, 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit).  For example, you lose more heat if exposed to an outside temperature of 20 degrees F than if exposed to 80 degrees F.

Conduction – The body loses heat when its surface is in direct contact with cold temperatures, as in the case of someone falling from a boat into frigid water. Water, being denser than air, removes heat from the body much faster.

Convection – Heat loss where, for instance, a cooler object is in motion against the body core.  The air next to the skin is heated and then removed, which requires the body to use energy to re-heat. Wind Chill is one example of air convection: If the ambient temperature is 32 degrees F but the wind chill factor is at 5 degrees F, you lose heat from your body as if it were actually 5 degrees F.

Most heat is lost from the head area, due to its large surface area and tendency to be uncovered.  Direct contact with anything cold, especially over a large area of your body, will cause rapid cooling of your body core temperature.  The classic example of this would be a fall into cold water.  In the Titanic sinking of 1912, hundreds of people fell into near-freezing water.  Within 15 minutes, they were probably beyond medical help.

Physical Effects of Hypothermia

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

To prevent hypothermia, you must anticipate the climate that you will be traveling through, including wind conditions and wet weather. Condition yourself physically to be fit for the challenge. Travel with a partner if at all possible, and have enough food and water available for the entire trip.

Prevention Strategies for Hypothermia

In your efforts to be medically self-reliant, one of the major factors that must be taken into consideration is your environment.  If you haven’t prepared for the weather, you have made your environment your enemy, and it is a formidable one.

Remember the simple acronym C.O.L.D. This stands for:  Cover, Overexertion, Layering, and Dry:

Cover. Protect your head by wearing a hat. This will prevent body heat from escaping from your head. Instead of using gloves to cover your hands, use mittens. Mittens are more helpful than gloves because they keep your fingers in contact with one another.  This conserves heat.

Overexertion. Avoid activities that cause you to sweat a lot.  Cold weather causes you to lose body heat quickly, and wet, sweaty clothing accelerates the process. Rest when necessary; use rest periods to self-assess for cold-related changes. Pay careful attention to the status of your elderly or juvenile group members.

Layering. Loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in layers insulate you well. Use clothing made of tightly woven, water-repellent material for protection against the wind. Wool or silk inner layers hold body heat better than cotton does. Some synthetic materials work well, also. Especially cover the head, neck, hands and feet.

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

Any unconscious person that you encounter in a cold environment is hypothermic until proven otherwise. Immediate action must be taken to reverse the ill effects.

Treatment of Hypothermia

A person who is hypothermic is in danger of losing their life without your help. Important measures to take are:

Get the person out of the cold and into a warm, dry location. If you’re unable to move the person out of the cold, shield him or her from the cold and wind as much as possible.

1. Take off wet clothing. If the person is wearing wet clothing, remove them gently.   Cover them with layers of dry blankets, including the head (leave the face clear).   If you are outside, cover the ground to eliminate exposure to the cold surface.

2. Monitor breathing. A person with severe hypothermia may be unconscious.  Verify that the patient is breathing and check for a pulse.  Begin CPR if necessary.

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

4. Give warm oral fluids. If the affected person is alert and able to swallow, provide a warm, nonalcoholic, non-caffeinated beverage to help warm the body.  Remember, alcohol does not warm you up!


Use warm, dry compresses. Use a first-aid warm compress (a fluid-filled bag that warms up when squeezed), or a makeshift compress of warm (not hot) water in a plastic bottle. Apply a compress only to the neck, chest wall or groin.  These areas will spread the heat much better than putting warm compresses on the extremities, which sometimes worsens the condition.

Avoid applying direct heat. Don’t use hot water, a heating pad or a heating lamp to warm the person. The extreme heat can damage the skin, cause strain on the heart or even lead to cardiac arrest.  Don’t rub on extremities that may be frostbitten, as the skin is already traumatized and the condition may be worsened.

Don’t give alcohol. You have all seen photos of St. Bernard’s with casks of brandy around their necks for lost alpine travelers.  Alcohol may give you a warm and fuzzy feeling, but it also expands blood vessels, which causes heat loss!


No Alcohol for Hypothermia! Bad Dog!

If left untreated, hypothermia leads to complete failure of various organ systems and to death.  Make sure your people are well clothed for the temperature, and monitor them closely if they are outside for extended periods of time in cold weather.


Joe and Amy Alton are the authors of the #1 Amazon Bestseller “The Survival Medicine Handbook“.  For over 400 articles on medical preparedness, go to their website at  You may follow them on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and the Survival Medicine Hour Podcast.

The Final Word

Bug out strategies, survival gear, emergency food storage and water purification are the bread and butter staples of prepper-oriented websites.  But being prepared involves so much more. Sometimes we have to move beyond the fluff and the easy stuff.  We need to stay educated about the hazards of daily life; hazards that will be magnified 100-fold following a disaster or other emergency.

I would like to thank Joe and Amy for allowing me to share their article and especially for the outlining strategies to treat a suspected case of hypothermia.  Having this knowledge could save a life.

Be well and be safe everyone.

By Gaye Levy

26 Five Minute Prepping Projects

26 Five Minute Prepping Projects

One of the excuses used for not prepping is that it takes a lot of time. True enough. Anything that you pursue with passion and intensity is going to take some time. On the other hand, there are plenty of prepping activities that can be undertaken in just five minutes.

Come on. I said just five minutes. And five minutes a day over the course of a year? That 30 hours with a whole lot of prepping going on. Today I am sharing some preparedness projects that can be accomplished in just five minutes. So if you think you don’t have time to prep, think again.

Shall we start? Here are some 5 minute projects, listed in no particular order.


1. Purchase a prepping notebook or binder where you can accumulate information you need in the event of an emergency.

2. Wash out empty juice jugs, swish with a bit of bleach and fill them with water for an emergency. Be sure to date them so that you that you can rotate them on an annual basis.

3. Place a pair of shoes, socks, work gloves, a whistle, and a light stick or flashlight with batteries under your bed for use during or after an emergency.

4. Talk to family members about how you will re-unite with each other following a disaster.

5. Choose an out-of-state contact person that is willing to be a relay point for information after-the-fact to your other family members and loved ones. (Following a disaster, telephone lines to an out-of-state location may work when local calls do not.)

6. Introduce yourself to a neighbor you have not met. Exchange emergency telephone numbers.

7. Purchase a manual can opener on your next visit to the store.

8. Fill empty milk jugs or other plastic containers with water and store them in your freezer. The frozen jugs will keep your food colder for longer in the event of a power outage. The water can also serve as a backup source for cleaning or sanitation purposes.

9. Read 11 Tips for Keeping Food Safe When the Power Goes Out and print out the food safety charts at the at the website. Attach them to the inside of a cupboard door so you have them handy after a power outage or disaster.

10. Mark your calendar with a date one year from now so that you remember to rotate your canned goods out of storage.

11. Purchase extra canned goods each time you visit the grocery store.

12. Locate your utility shutoff valves and review the instructions for turning them off. Place a shut-off tool by the door nearest to them

13. Test your smoke alarms.

14. Make a list of all of your prescription drugs along with dosages and keep the list in your emergency kit.

15. Take digital photos of each room in your house. Take five minutes for each room and do you best to capture as much as you can. This will facilitate any after the fact insurance claims.

16. Write down your insurance policy numbers and your agent’s phone number, and put them in your wallet and in your emergency kit.

17. Add $5 a week to your emergency cash fund. If you can afford it, add $20 per week (or more) to the fund.

18. Make digital copies of your important documents and store them on a flash drive.

19. Make a backup copy of the data on your computer hard drive and give it to a friend or relative to store for you. In computer terms, this is called “off site backup”.

20. Locate a source of water outside of your home such as a lake, pond or stream.

21. Learn to cook a pot of rice.

22. Download free prepping, survival and homesteading for e-books from Amazon as they become available. Check the Backdoor Survival Facebook page for almost daily announcements of books that are currently available – often for just a day or two.

23. Download the FEMA Are You Ready Guide to Preparedness. You can also call ( 800-480-2520 ) or email FEMA ( to order a free copy in print. For more information about this publication, see this Free Are You Ready Guide.

24. Practice (safely!) starting a fire using a bit of dryer lint, a cotton ball soaked in petroleum jelly or a flint and steel.

25. Sow some seeds (fruits and veggies).

26. Visit one of the websites in the article Special Report: The 50 Best Prepper Websites.

So there you go, 26 prepping projects that will take only five minutes each. Have some ideas of your own? I would love to have you share them in the comments below.


Preparing for a disaster or crisis or even an economic collapse does not have to be an insurmountable task. Breaking tasks down in to manageable chunks will make the job less chore-like and less of a burden. As a bonus, when you are done, you will feel the sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing that you have done something to secure your safety and well-being if it all goes to heck.

One thing for sure, you need to make every day a prepping day!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy

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