Mrgunsngear And Flat Tires

Is it just me, or is there a flat tire epidemic going around these days?

My girlfriend’s car and my Mom’s crossover both suffered punctures not too long ago. And then I spotted the following on the Mrgunsngear Channel (YouTube.com ) this morning. For those not familiar with Mrgunsngear:

Here on the channel I do reviews of firearms and related gear. I’ll probably throw in the occasional how-to video here and there as well.

Good information/presentation, and I tune in on a regular basis. Anyway, here’s Mrgunsngear filming his flat tire ordeal the other night, along with some advice:

“Broken Down Late Night In A Bad Neighborhood: Be Prepared!”
YouTube Video

Mrgunsngear recommended having a flashlight on hand for such an occasion. I agree.

However, I’m also a big fan of LED headlamps. I just used one of mine the other evening while inflating tires on my girlfriend’s sister’s crossover. I’ve found headlamps can be much more convenient than handheld flashlights with certain tasks.

Speaking of tire inflation, keeping a portable air compressor/tire inflator in your vehicle might be a good idea. Such a device allowed me to deal with a slowly-leaking tire until I could get to a repair shop, and inflate a more significantly-punctured tire adequately enough to drive the vehicle two blocks to my mechanic buddy’s place of work.

One last thing. How many readers out there actually know how to change a flat tire? It’s also probably a good idea to learn/practice how to perform this fix before actually needing to do it “for real.” My vehicle’s owner’s manual has detailed instructions for changing a flat, so maybe check there first.

As Mrgunsngear pointed out in the video:

It’s definitely a better feeling to be prepared and have some sort of skills and tools at your disposal to be able to handle these situations.

Happy motoring. More on the topic of vehicles later…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)


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Project Prepper, Part 46: Summer Storm Gear Check

In the last installment of the “Project Prepper” series of posts, I talked about “threat priorities” and how severe weather is a top one for me. I blogged:

From my vantage point, here are the “top 3” I’m mostly concerned about:

1. Severe Weather
2. Financial Crisis
3. Terrorism

Concerning severe weather, here in the Chicagoland area residents have to contend with spring and summer storms that can consist of high winds, torrential rain, flooding, and tornadoes. Winter can bring along with it ice storms (not too often), significant snowfall/blizzards, and brutally-cold temperatures. Consequently, structural damage, utility outages, hazardous travel conditions, and other threats to life and property accompany such events.

Case in point, prior to my girlfriend and I moving into our house in 2013, a large part of the Chicago metro area suffered significant damage from a “derecho” (widespread, long-lived wind storm) event that left many area homeowners without electricity for several days. A real nuisance for most of those affected, but potentially deadly to those with serious health issues- like my elderly father. And in case readers think I’m talking about those far-off “suburbs” of Chicago here (I remember one real estate agent referring to Rochelle- approximately 80 miles west of Chicago- as a “western suburb” during the housing boom last decade), these extended outages were taking place in near “North Shore” enclaves. I remember watching one furious Northbrook homeowner being interviewed on the local televised news, saying how he had been without power for a number of days and couldn’t understand why it hadn’t been restored yet considering the high taxes he paid to live in such a nice area. Anyway, severe weather tops the list for me. Not as “sexy”- as some would say- as preparing for the “Zombie apocalypse,” but oh well…

The other night the Chicago metropolitan area was hit by a strong summer storm in which the local news reported 15,000 residents lost power (actually somewhat of a small number compared to other recent severe weather events around these parts). The occasion served as a reminder that I should probably perform a gear check prior to the arrival of more summertime severe weather, which is the focus of today’s post.

Emergency Alerts

I checked the operation and battery backup of my ever-vigilant Midland WR-100 Weather/All Hazards Alert Radio (now discontinued by the manufacturer but replaced with a newer model- the Midland WR-120). Everything is in working order. You should have heard the racket that device was making the other night (early morning actually) prior to/during that storm. Yeah, it’s in working order all right.

Emergency Lighting

I gathered up the various lanterns, flashlights, and headlamps in the house set aside for emergency lighting (and day-to-day tasks as well) and checked the operation of all these devices. This included:

Coleman Twin High Performance 8D LED Lantern (580 lumens)
Rayovac “Virtually Indestructible” 3D LED Lantern (530 lumens)
Rayovac Sportsman 3D LED Lantern (240 lumens)
Maglite Heavy Duty 6D Incandescent Flashlight (136 lumens)
Rayovac “Virtually Indestructible” 2D LED Flashlight (320 lumens)
Rayovac “Virtually Indestructible” 3AAA LED Flashlight (250 lumens)
Coast HL3 3AAA LED Headlamp (60 lumens) x 2
Princeton Tec Fuel 3AAA LED Headlamp (43 lumens)

All but one passed inspection, with fresh batteries taking care of the holdout.

The Coast headlamps and Rayovac “Virtually Indestructible” lantern/flashlights are new additions to my emergency lighting stash, and have been working great when called upon to perform tasks around the house and off-site. Particularly those Rayovac products. These seem to be built really tough (rubber head/tail cap, aluminum titanium alloy body) and are incredibly bright. The free Rayovac batteries included with each device were a nice bonus as well.

Rayovac "Virtually Indestructible" LED lantern/flashlights- functional, tough, and affordable

Rayovac “Virtually Indestructible” LED lantern/flashlights- functional, tough, and affordable


I should also mention that in late spring, I lubricated threaded regions on the Maglite and Rayovac flashlights with Vaseline to protect threads and minimize “squealing.”

In addition, some time ago my girlfriend received two stained-glass, programmable 3D LED wall sconces as a gift from her family. We mounted one of them in our second floor hallway and it functions really well as a night light- and emergency light that doesn’t require power in the home to be on. To avoid burning through D-size alkaline batteries, I ordered a 6-pack of EBL 10,000mAh Ni-MH D-Cell Rechargeable Batteries from Amazon to partner with my trusty Rayovac PS3 Universal Smart Battery Charger. While one set (3 batteries) powers the wall sconce that’s been installed, the other goes to the charger. I’ve only started this rotation quite recently, but so far the EBL rechargeable batteries have been performing quite well.

Emergency Cooling

Other devices I checked over include two dual-powered (batteries or included AC adapter) O2COOL 10-inch Portable Fans. These worked just fine. The portable fans should make extended power outages on hot summer days a little bit more bearable.

All of this gear is strategically-positioned around the house for fast access in an emergency (and for daily use).

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: Items added to “Gear And Supplies” page)


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Project Prepper, Part 28: Buying My Parents Some Emergency Preps

A couple of years ago, my parents in the Chicago suburbs lost electricity for an extended period of time after severe weather pummeled the area. I heard from them the morning after the event, and they weren’t doing so well. Without power on an extremely hot and humid night, the two of them fumbled around in the dark and hardly got any sleep. My Mom informed me that it was especially brutal on my Dad, who is an octogenarian with all sorts of health issues- mobility being one of them. During that conversation, my mother told let me that I should be prepared to evacuate him if the electricity didn’t come back on that evening.

Evacuate meaning carrying him down from their fourth floor condo unit in a building without working elevators.

He’s kind of heavy (225 pounds), so I wasn’t really looking forward to this task. Thankfully, the electric company got the power restored to their building before I had to attempt this.

Shortly after this incident, I asked my parents if they wanted me to help them prepare for the next time this happened. Shockingly, they were actually receptive to this.

Alas, I wasn’t able to assist them right away. So the next time I brought the subject up, Mom and Dad weren’t interested.

I guess this is pretty common according to the emergency management pros. An emergency/disaster strikes, and those affected initially talk about being prepared for the next major crisis. But then they never follow through. And the next emergency/disaster happens.

Seeing that the Chicago area just wrapped up its winter of 2013-14 a couple of weeks ago (there was an unmelted snow pile still on the ground two suburbs over in early May!), and severe weather often rolls through during the transition from winter to summer, I recently purchased some basic emergency preparedness gear from Amazon.com for my parents anyway (I didn’t want them to go through another hellish night like the one they experienced a couple of years ago). This included:

Coleman Twin LED Lantern

This lantern would be their main source of emergency lighting in a blackout. From the Coleman website:

Light the night your way with the Coleman Twin LED Lantern. Extra-bright at up to 390 lumens, this lantern lets you see far and wide while four Cree LEDs, which never need to be replaced, provide effective, efficient, energy-saving light when you need it. The rotating dial offers customizable light settings from low to high. Long runtimes—299 hours on ultra-low and 85 hours on high—will have you back home before you need fresh batteries. Its weather-resistant construction delivers reliable output, even in wet and windy conditions, and its base unscrews for quick access to the battery chamber so you can change them virtually anywhere, anytime. Powered by 8 D-cell batteries, come out of the dark with the Coleman Twin LED Lantern.

The twin LED lantern costs $36.44 on Amazon.com as I type this.

Coleman 4D XPS Classic Personal Size LED Lantern

For when either of my parents go to a different room from where that twin LED lantern is situated. From Amazon.com:

The Coleman 4D XPS Classic Personal Size LED Lantern sheds 190 lumens of light, thanks to the super-bright Cree XLamp XR-E LED. The Lantern is Coleman XPS-compatible; it will run for up to 60 hours on High, 25 hours on Low, on 4 D-cell batteries — or use the optional 6V rechargeable battery pack (both sold separately). A diffuser tube provides a perfect beam pattern. The Lantern is weather-resistant to withstand the elements, so it’s great for camping and other outdoor use.

The personal LED lantern costs $19.98 on Amazon.com as I type this.

O2COOL NEW 10″ Battery Operated Fan with Adapter

I bought two of these (one for each parent). From the Chicago, Illinois-based O2COOL website:

Features Include:

• Dual Power sources: Plug-in with the AC adapter (included) or use 8 D-Cell batteries (not included).
• Powerful 2 speed 10-inch blade.
• Convenient built-in handle.
• Stable horseshoe base.
• Tilts for directional air flow.
• Compact folding design makes it great for travel; easy to carry and store.
• Perfect for camping and outdoor activities.
• Up to 40 hours of battery life.

Each portable dual power fan costs $26.85 on Amazon.com as I type this.

Yeah, I know these devices require a bunch of “D” batteries (which I already picked up and installed a couple of weeks ago). But my parents won’t use these lanterns or portable fans if they’re too “complicated” to power and operate.

I also picked up two 3.5-gallon WaterBrick water containers (discussed here) for my parents as well from a different vendor. I figured in addition to helping my parents cope with a blackout, I could help them deal with a boil-water advisory like the one that hit nearby Deerfield, Illinois, last summer.

A single WaterBrick costs $20.02 on Amazon.com as I type this.

Finally, my parents had some existing preps at their condo. Besides a variety of flashlights, I bought them a black Princeton Tec Fuel Headlamp similar to the one I own and use (discussed here, $19.38 on Amazon.com).

And while not an emergency radio, my Mom picked my Dad up a Sony ICF-S10MK2 Pocket AM/FM Radio. It’s handy and I can think of a ton of uses for it- besides getting information in an emergency. Plus, the price is definitely right ($12.97 on Amazon.com).

“Sony ICF-S10MK2 Pocket AM/FM Radio”
YouTube Video

I’ll still be sending them over a “real” emergency radio soon.

So a little bit of a detour in my “Project Prepper” series of posts. But definitely worthwhile.

Once I get back to my parents I’ll take some photos of these preps and share them with readers.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)


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Go-To Gear For When The Lights Go Out

Last Friday night, my girlfriend and I lost power at our place in the Chicago suburbs.

It’s not like there was a storm going on. Not even a breeze from what I could tell. The electricty just went sayonara without any warning.

Rather than freak out- this subdivision sure is dark without any lights (the same holds true even with light )- I did what I usually do when an event like this happens nowadays:

Bust out some emergency gear.

I recently realized that I’ve never really gone into detail about the items I use when the lights go out. So, I’ll talk about them this afternoon, assuming a scenario where I lose power at night.

The first item I grab in such a situation is my Princeton Tec Fuel Headlamp, Black, which I picked up from the local Cabelas a few years back. From the Princeton Tec website:

When applied well, technology should be simple. Such is the case with the innovative Fuel headlamp – designed to meet the widest range of applications while remaining small, lightweight and robust. With all of the touch points of the product being considered, the Fuel’s smart design fulfills technology’s promise of actually making our lives easier.

What could be better than a light that weighs only 78g with 70 lumens of brightness and 146 hours of burn time? A light that also has an asymmetrical single arm bracket that makes directing the light effortless and reliable; a large, easy to find push button switch and a virtually bulletproof, easy access battery door that protects the 3AAAs and its electronics. Yea.. that’s pretty much it.

Simple. Perfect. Fuel.

I never owned a headlamp until I learned how handy it was for Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre during the economic collapse in Argentina. I love it. I even bought one for my Dad and the “super” at my old apartment building before I moved ($20.16 @ Amazon.com as I type this).

As soon as I get my hands on the headlamp, I grab two more “essentials” right away- a battery-powered LED lantern and dual-power (AC/batteries) portable fan.

The Coleman Twin High Power LED Lantern was another Cabelas purchase from a couple of years ago. From the Coleman website:

Enjoy the outdoors in full, bright light with the Coleman® Twin High Performance LED Lantern. Ultra-bright at 580 lumens, this lantern lets you see far and wide while four Cree® LEDs, which never need to be replaced, provide effective, efficient, energy-saving light when you need it. With seven brightness settings that range from high to ultra-low, you’ll have just the right amount of light. A long runtime—100 hours on ultra-low and 10 hours on high—will have you back home before you need fresh batteries. Its water-resistant construction delivers reliable output, even in wet and windy conditions, and its base unscrews for quick access to the battery chamber so you can change them virtually anywhere, anytime. Powered by 8 D-cell batteries, come out of the dark with the Coleman® Twin High Performance LED Lantern.

-Eight brightness settings ranging from high to ultra-low
-580 incredibly bright lumens on high
-52-ft. (15.85 m) beam distance on high
-Up to 10 hours runtime on high setting
-Up to 100 hours runtime on low setting
-Powered by eight D-cell batteries (sold separately)
-Four lifetime Cree® LEDs never needs replacing
-Stays cool while running
-Water resistant against rain and splashing water
-5-year limited warranty

Boy is this thing bright- even on lower settings! I had it lit in the master bedroom Friday and anyone passing by might have easily thought we didn’t lose power. I’ve run this lantern several times since it was purchased for short durations, and the “D” batteries that I installed a couple of years ago are still going strong (had to check for battery leakage as soon as I typed that- I’m good). I like it so much I’m planning on buying one for my parents ($56.99 @ Amazon.com as I type this).

Blackout Gear

“Essential”:O2COOL Portable Fan and Coleman LED Lantern

The other “essential” I grab is a dual-power (AC/batteries) portable fan from Chicago-based O2COOL. The model I picked up from a local Kmart a couple of years ago (#1071) looks to be discontinued. However, its successor, O2COOL NEW 10″ Battery Operated Fan with Adapter (Model# FD10002A), certainly looks just as capable judging by Amazon.com reviews. From the O2COOL website:

Features Include:

Dual Power sources: Plug-in with the AC adapter (included) or use 6 D-Cell batteries (not included)
Powerful 2 speed 10-inch blade.
Convenient built-in handle.
Compact design makes it great for travel; easy to carry and store.
Perfect for office and home.
Up to 40 hours of battery life.

The portable fan does a great job of cooling off an individual and circulating air around a small room for its compact size. The O2COOL comes out every time the lantern does. And like the Coleman, I’ve used it several times for short durations since its purchase, with the original 4 “D” batteries I put in it still working strong. I plan on buying more O2COOL dual-power portable fans, as Chicago summers can be brutal ($20.99 @ Amazon.com as I type this).

I usually bust out other items, like an emergency weather radio or portable DVD player- but not before that other gear.

While my girlfriend and I have managed to get by with the above, I am looking at acquiring more items for when the lights go out, such as additional emergency lighting, an emergency weather radio with more capabilities, and another portable dual-power fan. More about that in a future “Project Prepper” post though.

In the meantime, readers- care to share the “essential” gear you like to use when the lights go out?

I, for one, would love to hear what your go-to items are.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)


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Chicagoland Hit By Severe Weather

Hard-hitting storms punched through the Chicagoland area this morning. From the Chicago Tribune website a short time ago:

Powerful thunderstorms raked the Chicago area this morning, downing trees and power lines and leaving at least 183,000 Commonwealth Edison customers without electricity…

Winds of 70 mph hit Naperville about 6:15 a.m., and 61 mph gusts were recorded at Midway Airport just after 6:30 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. Chicago received more than 800 reports of downed trees throughout the city as of about 10 a.m., according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Streets and Sanitation…

As of 9 a.m., about 182,000 ComEd customers remained without power: 65,000 customers in the western region; 50,000 in the south region; 46,000 in the Chicago region; and 21,000 in the north region…

We lost power here on the Northwest side- but only briefly. Believe it or not, there actually are some advantages to living in a “concrete jungle,” where the lack of trees works in our favor during severe storms.

And I’ll tell you what. During that short time the electricity was off- it was real nice crawling out of bed (okay, that part wasn’t too fun), mozying on over to a closet, and busting out an LED camping lantern and portable dual-powered fan- followed later by an LED headlamp and multi-powered flashlight/radio- to investigate what had happened and to help my girlfriend and me carry on in the dark environment.

Not that we didn’t have any advance warning that severe weather might be headed our way. The all-hazard/weather alert radio in the master bedroom was sounding-off quite a bit for some time before the storm arrived.

Did I mention that we purchased the portable dual-powered fan only just this past weekend in anticipation of events like this?

Such minimal, inexpensive gear worked like a charm this time around, and it’s comforting to know these preps are in place for the next emergency/severe weather event.


“Thousands without power after strong storms hit.” Chicago Tribune. 24 July 2012. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-strong-storms-hit-chicago-area-downing-trees-and-knocking-out-power-20120724,0,1779965.story). 24 July 2012.


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Storm Recap

Yesterday, I talked about the severe weather that struck the Chicagoland area Tuesday evening. Here’s the latest on that event from WGN-TV’s Andrew Zuick this afternoon:

Commonwealth Edison Co. reported significant progress this morning in restoring power after Tuesday night’s violent storms but said it will be at least into Friday before everyone is back on line.

As of 12:30 p.m., 90,000 homes and businesses still were without electricity, and spokesman Bennie Currie said the utility hoped to have power back to 90 percent of its customers by midnight Friday.

“Seven hundred crews are working around the clock,” he said.

Luckily, we’ve had our power back on since 11 AM yesterday. Funny story though. Around 10:30 AM, I happened to spot a neighbor from the next building over popping the trunk of her car and removing bags of ice. Smart thinking. I decided that I, too, should get some ice at the gas station down the block in an attempt to save the perishables in our refrigerator (freezer was still okay at this point)- and before it became a scare commodity. After showering and throwing on some clothes, I started to head to the door. Just then, the electricity came back on. Perfect timing.

As I indicated yesterday, at this point I want to talk about some things I took care of beforehand that worked out well during and after this event, along with some items that needs to be addressed before another summer storm roars through.

The preparations that worked out well included:

Communications- Thank God for all-hazard public alert radios. While the local television stations warned of the incoming storm- my girlfriend happened to be watching TV right before the event while I was plugging away at the computer- the TV isn’t always on in our pad. The Midland weather radio starting chirping away some time before the storm, and alerts intensified as the nasty stuff beared down on us. Acting on information provided by the radio, I phoned my parents (who were also in the storm’s path- they were unharmed) and took care of some last-minute business on my end (secured balcony items, powered down this computer, went to the bathroom- very important, etcetera) before things got real bad. On the topic of phones, once the power went out, so did our cordless phone system. Thankfully, my girlfriend and I have a corded phone in our kitchen, which we had installed for exactly this type of situation. With it, we were able to use the phone in the hours after the storm and contact the electric company concerning our loss of service/status of repairs. While both of us have mobile phones, there’s always the chance that the batteries in one or in both phones might be low/dead and/or reception unavailable due to damaged cell towers or other causes. I’m a big believer in redundancy.

Once the power died, I busted out a Sharper Image all-in-one flashlight clock radio my girlfriend bought for me some time ago. Instead of using the light, we relied on the integrated AM/FM radio for the latest news on the severe weather.

Lighting- I’ve accumulated a number of emergency preparedness items over the last couple of years, including a variety of light sources. As I mentioned yesterday, due to the strength of the wind gusts (70-80 mph was not uncommon) and the amount and speed of the flying debris, I figured it was only a matter of time before we lost power. And when the lights went out, my Princeton Tec headlamp came on. My girlfriend donned her L.L. Bean headlamp, which I picked up for her some time back. Throughout the night, a number of tactical flashlights also came into play, including an el cheapo 9-LED light I picked up from an auto supply store, a 130-lumen Ruger tactical light, and an 80-lumen Surefire tac light. You can never have enough flashlights, I always say (while growing up, there were always plenty of flashlights around- but none ever seemed to work!). Per my girlfriend’s suggestion, I shined these tactical lights at our white ceilings to illuminate the room better.

Which brings me to those things I need to address before another storm like this decides to pay us a visit:

Alternative Power- Back when I was working in the fire service I helped a member of our fire prevention bureau research portable power systems which might be used by fire investigators inside a structure (gas-powered generators not really a good idea here). Problem is, the ones out on the market at that time seemed to have reliability issues. As a generator won’t really work for me considering my present living arrangements, I’ll be taking another look at portable power systems while hoping they’re more dependable these days.

Batteries- A long time ago I learned that storing alkaline batteries in a refrigerator may extend their shelf life. So I’ve been doing this ever since. However, when the power went out Tuesday night, I wasn’t able to access the refrigerator to bust out some batteries for a few useful items out of fear that I’d be endangering the perishable food (I had an idea the electric company probably wouldn’t have us back online anytime soon). I plan on setting aside some commonly-used alkaline batteries outside the fridge from now on.

Entertainment- Later in the evening, I decided to watch a DVD, first on my laptop computer, and then on my girlfriend’s portable DVD player. The reason for this? My laptop’s battery died. If the DVD player’s battery had gone kaput as well, I could have turned to that Princeton Tec headlamp and used it for reading. However, now that the old analog portable TV’s have been replaced by the digital ones, I’d like to acquire one to expand my entertainment choices (the local news radio got old real quick once it started repeating segments).

Environment- Prior to the violent storm, it was hot and sticky outside. After the storm, it was much cooler- but still sticky. Due to this, I found it extremely hard to fall asleep that night. Good-sized battery-powered fans are now on my wish list.

Lighting- Ironically, this Monday I happened to be reviewing records of my emergency preparedness supplies and put together my latest “want list.” One item that was near the top of the list was a campsite lantern. While the light sources my girlfriend and I had at our disposal proved to be adequate, a couple-hundred lumen lantern or two would have been real nice to have.

One last thing. Next time I hear one of these violent late spring/early summer storms is headed this way, I’ll be sure to plug in my laptop, DVD player, and other items that might be useful in a power outage in an attempt to charge them as much as possible before the weather deteriorates. Let’s just hope I remember to unplug them should lightning start to fly.


Zuick, Andrew. “Power outlook: At least Friday for full restoration.” Chicago Tribune. 23 June 2011. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-power-outlook-at-least-saturday-for-full-restoration-20110623,0,4773954.story). 23 June 2011.


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