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WTTNSHTFK is this?

11. 3.2010
WTTNSHTF KitDo you have a magic tool box to help you weather the apocalypse? What about your nearest neighbor? Are they ready for TEOTWAWKI?

I am not an expert survivalist, I am a student as much as I am a practitioner. My ideas and skills benefit from the collective experience and shared knowledge of my predecessors and I am grateful for their generosity.

One of the next steps in the evolution of this project is the creation and dissemination of "WTTNSHTFK's" or Welcome-to-the-Neighborhood-SHTF-Kits.

The idea is simple: I plan to design a simple and inexpensive preparedness kit and distribute one to each of the houses on my block. The items contained in the kit would aid the neighbor(s) in a short-term crisis, and help the neighborhood band together and endure a long-haul crisis. In a perfect world, the neighbor might bury the kit in the garage and never think about it again. If a crisis arose...the distributed kits would be ready, and my most local community would be stronger as a result. The action of gifting this resource and knowledge may also lead some neighbors to explore self-reliance and preparedness independently.

Ideally each kit would be $25-50, and the shelf life is indefinite. Items in this kit may be intended for combination with common household items, or they may be rare items that will quickly become scarce following a societal collapse.

Here is a short list of items I am considering for the WTTNSHTFK:

  • a solar or kinetic flashlight
  • inexpensive water filtration device
  • signal mirror
  • flint
  • waterproof matches
  • a propane tank valve adapter
  • a neighborhood resource map
  • a single 2 way radio tuned to a neighborhood band with extra batteries
  • seeds for climate appropriate vegetables
  • a slingshot

For the first time since I launched RECESS, I am asking for your direct comments*. Please consider posting your suggestions for the WTTNSHTFK. What would you include in the kit? What's a reasonable financial investment to make (per kit or total)? How would break the ice with your neighbors?

Comments will remain open on this post indefinitely.
*Please post respectfully. I will delete bigotry, irrelevant remarks, and anything meant to bring harms to others.

Automated sentry with improvised shotgunSelf-reliance is an admirable practice, but at times we all need a back-up. Using some commonly available electronics, open-source software, and spare parts from your garage you can build your own robotic sentry gun. An automated sentry uses a live camera feed in conjunction with a number of servos to acquire, aim, and fire on potentially hostile targets.

The sentry I developed for RECESS uses an improvised shot gun as the "dispenser." The single shot may be considered a limitation, but so as to act as an intelligent booby-trap. You can add other "dispensers" to your own sentry for varied defense strategies.


The software in my sentry is based on this open-source project, and many hours put in with my good friend James (who is WAY faster than I am on a road bike).






here is a short video demo:




Notes for optimal use:

Save Energy - Once the sentry is calibrated and set to guard your bunker door, use a timer to boot the sentry into operational status automatically -  at the times you need it most.

Take Control - I recommend using a VPN, so you can remote in to the controller computer from your network or the Internet. This allows you to see through the Sentry's "eyes" in real-time, and/or strike the FIRE button manually.



Prefab Bucket Toilet Lid

I've got a DIY for a simple bucket toilet listed elsewhere on this site, but don't underestimate the power of comfort in a time of crisis or need.

The Luggable Loo bucket toilet lid is perhaps one of the best $12 bills you may spend while prepping.

Anyone who has been on an extended camping or backpacking trip can appreciate the simple joy of returning from the woods to a comfy commode.

Sadly, when the shit goes down, so will your shitter. Picking up a pre-fab seat for your bucket toilet will make the daily act of bagging into the bucket a bit more bearable. Additionally, it's easier to clean and sanitize a plastic seat than one that's been improvised from 2 x 4's.

Human feces can carry and foster all manners of pathogens, including e. coli, cryptosporidium, and salmonella. Lacking the ease of care and availability of antibiotics, these and other diseases will be reinvigorated and begin claiming lives.

Keeping a lid on sanitation in your personal RECESS is the first step to protecting yourself and your loved ones from the threat.


Lightweight emergency heat blankets are a great asset to any kit or pack. Often called space blankets, these inexpensive Mylar sheets can be used as insulation, a wind break, a groundsheet, fire reflector, or an emergency rain poncho.

Unlike, traditional insulation, the space blanket has no loft to serve as an air trap. Instead, this thin polyester film very efficiently reflects heat back toward your body.

Unpack it and wrap it around yourself in an emergency. It will immediately begin to reflect your body heat. The Mylar won't breathe, so any sweat or condensation created between your body and the blanket will be trapped. This can be dangerous in the winter, so be very careful not to overheat.

If used in conjunction with an open fire, the space blanket will reflect heat from fire back toward you. Mylar melts easily, so take care to keep the space blanket at a safe distance.

Pack a few, they're cheap and infinitely versatile.


Exposure is one of your greatest enemies in the wild. Long term exposure to cold can cause discomfort, frostbite, necrotic tissue, delirium, and worse. You will burn precious calories and fat stores, threatening your long-term survival.

The greatest risk of exposure is hypothermia, a condition where the body's core temperature drops below normal levels. Extreme hypothermia causes muscle mis-coordination, difficulty speaking, difficulty thinking, amnesia, organ failure and eventually death.

The most dangerous aspect of hypothermia is that is can easily sneak up on you. Once your core temperature drops too far, it can be impossible to reverse. This is especially true in a world with limited or no utilities.

They may seem small, but a few carefully placed chemical hand and foot warmers may save your life if you are at risk to exposure. For the relatively low cost, they make a nice insurance policy. Keep a good sized stash on hand in your RECESS, and throw a handful in your raiding pack.


A firesteel is one of the most tried and true tools of human civilization. Flint or flintstone is a naturally occurring type of sedimentary quartz that when struck with a sharp edge (especially steel) will produce a burning ember.

The hard flint edge shaves off a particle of the steel that, heated by the friction, reacts with with the oxygen in the atmosphere and will ignite your fire

Striking sparks with flint and steel is not a particularly easy or convenient method to start a fire. But I wear a flint around my neck every day - comforted by its potential. Firesteel is one of the most reliable and trustworthy tools in my survival arsenal. In a long term crisis, fire becomes essential for cooking, sterilization, defense, and communication. A flint will start hundreds of fires, long after the supply of butane in your emergency kit is exhausted.

 As with most skills, practice improves results.

speed hacksaw

01.17.2010
Easy to carry, easy to pack, ergonomic and deceptively agile; this is the perfect saw for your raiding satchel.

You may want to get two of these,  and keep a quiver of extra blades stashed away for the future. Before you store: a mist of light duty oil will stave off rust for decades.

Don't pay any attention to brand - look for a solid build with a lot of metal.


Shelter, secrecy, security, and sanctity are essential functions of your RECESS. Above all else, the most important use of your space is long-term water storage. A safe and and adequate supply of potable water is your families' greatest insurance policy in the event of a resource catastrophe.

How you store that water is a question of function and comfort. Some survivalists recommend using any food safe storage container you have available (glass jars, recycled juice containers, milk jugs, etc). My preference and recommendation is to use a number of large storage containers supplemented by a group of jugs small enough to be handled and to move in an emergency.

For that reason, I shelve a handful of Aqua-tainer 7 gallon jugs in my RECESS. 7 gallons weighs about 60 lbs. The square format of the aqua-tainer makes it stackable, it has an integrated spigot, and they are now BPA free. Add about 3/4 tsp of bleach to each container and keep them in relative darkness and your water cache will keep safe for years.

Improvised shotgun

01.12.2010

In the last few weeks, I have been making and testing improvised shotguns.
*Update: watch a step-by-step DIY video showing you how to build your own shotgun here.
In my "normal" day to day, I rarely use knives. In the wilderness, or in a RECESS situation, a trusty sharp edge is your single most versatile tool.
Knives help you strike fire, forage, make tools, repair gear, hunt, and defend. There is no end to their utility.
Stash them everywhere: in the car, around your home, strapped to every bag, in your kit, and on your person. Non-reflective blades are discrete; and I prefer a combo edge. You don't need to spend a lot, just look for a solid build.

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