Sentinel Handbook

Tips for security, safety, and crime prevention volunteers

7 Reasons to Buy Bugout Gear the Pros Use

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By Becky Blanton

 I’m pretty convinced that those sweet little alcohol stoves I made out of Coke cans will be awesome when I’ve been separated from my bugout bag thanks to the zombie apocalypse. If aliens or a sinkhole that swallows the one road to my house come between me and my bag of serious survival equipment; I know where I can turn for a portable heater to make coffee or boil water for tea. After all a Coke can stove and a bottle of Heet or rubbing alcohol beats having absolutely nothing else right?

But when I do have my bugout bag and all my awesome survival goodies and the fecal matter has hit the fan what do I want? Not a Coke can stove if I can help it. I also don’t want to suck water through a sock stuffed with dry grass and sand, or an old t-shirt stuffed into a disposable water bottle. I want to be prepared with the real deal, like the stuff I’d find police using on or or a top consumer rated site like:

I want gear that is going to stand up to anything that invading zombies, aliens, government forces, and a starving Honey Boo-Boo can throw at me.  So I don’t shop the designer camping stores, or cram my bag with homemade stuff I learned to make in arts and crafts on YouTube classes. I find out what the pros (police, military, hard-core survivalists, professional outdoor guides) are wearing, using and buying.

Yes, it’s great to have a backup plan for filtering water, putting up a shelter, and fending off starving neighbors in case you become separated from your own gear.  Find all kinds of “deals” and learn to craft a tank or bunker out of common ordinary household trash on YouTube; but don’t depend on turning trash into survival treasure if you can afford the good stuff. That’s a backup plan, not your go-to plan. Here are seven reasons you need to buy the absolute best survival equipment you can afford:

  1. It will survive the apocalypse. Zombies, nuclear war, Russian Spetsnaz  (special forces) squads and even being left in the rain or stuck in the ground because you were so freaking tired you just forgot to repack or sheath it. You can drop it, hit it, pound it with rocks, drag it 20 miles down a rocky trail and the chances it will still work are extremely high.
  2. Whether it’s a tent, a sleeping bag, a stove, a frying pan or a pocketknife, it’s been designed by engineers and pros, and tested by professional outdoor guys who get paid to live in extreme environments trying to break gear year round. It’s typically not made by children in third world countries working 23-hour days. People who buy equipment that costs more than your monthly mortgage payment demand quality.
  3. When you realize that you need more guns, bullets, beef or beer and you have no money, you can barter that $400 knife for some serious supplies and gain a few weeks more of life until you can barter it back.
  4. Whatever it is, it will always work. It will always work because if it’s a knife it’s made out of stuff like carbon and molybdenum by men who live, breath and argue about the best steel composites 24/7. If it’s cookware or stoves, it will be made to withstand anything you, your kids, family and clueless bugout buddy can throw at it. It will not be cheap tin or aluminum that will dent and burn if you leave it on a hot campfire too long.
  5. It will perform like it was designed to perform. It won’t break when you’re putting too much weight, pressure, or stress on it. You won’t have to worry about it snapping in your hands or becoming shrapnel because it exploded when it got too close to a campfire.
  6. Camping at Jellystone, or the local KOA for a weekend is one thing. Surviving a nuclear war, defending your family, living in the woods for five to ten years while the planet heals is another. When the poop hits the fan that you can’t pop down to the local Wal-Mart for another frying pan, dull knife, cracked water filter, leaking shelter, the bugout bag whose straps have torn off the pack, or the minus zero sleeping bag that falls apart a week into your living off the grid.  The zombies will have already looted both Wal-Mart and any other retailers.
  7. Survival means survival of the fittest, the best equipped, the toughest, strongest and most prepared on all levels. That means knives that stay sharp, tents that repel water, water filters that function even when you step on them.

 If those aren’t good enough reasons to convince you to invest in really good equipment (at least knives, shelter, filters and bugout bags) as you can afford it, then you probably aren’t all that serious about surviving whatever life, and the apocalypse have to throw at you.


This entry is from a special guest blogger, and dear friend, Becky Blanton. Becky is a ghostwriter, TED Global speaker and a former police officer and police academy graduate. She ghost writes ebooks and books about survival prepping, camping, gear and a variety of topics. This is her second guest blog for this site.


Written by Silver Sentinel

March 9, 2014 at 12:11 pm

8 Things to Look For When Buying a Medical Kit

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By Becky Blanton

Your average medical emergency, whether you’re hunting, fishing, hiking or living off-grid, is going to require more than that  $12 first aid kit you bought at your local pharmacy. Real medical emergencies typically involve amputations, serious gashes and cuts that are going to require surgery, or at least more stitches than you have fingers.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a law enforcement officer, a prepper, a mom, an EMT in training or a doctor, your medical bag and equipment could one day be the only thing standing in between you and dying.  Police and federal agencies buy medical kits from police supply sites like  or They buy high-end medical kits because they’re more likely to be tending to shootings, stabbings and traumatic amputations.

Soccer moms buy first aid kits at places like CVS or Wal-Mart. They consist primarily of Band-Aids, wound seal and gauze, but nothing for serious injuries.

Hunters, campers, day hikers and fishermen go to places like Cabella’s Or Bass Pro for a little more advanced, but still not basic life support supplies. Take your time and surf the web to see the wide range of medical kits out there. Prices will range from $9.99 at big box retail stores, to $500 or even $1,500 and up for professional kits made for EMTs, police and military medics.

No matter who you are or what you’re buying for, here are eight things to look for when you’re buying a medical kit. It will be worth ten times its weight in gold when you really need it if you buy the right kit. If you have several jobs, hobbies or places you’ll need medical care, then buy several kits if you have to. But buy smart. Look for:

  1. Waterproof or water-resistant bags or kits. Medical kits get thrown in car trunks, backpacks and tossed into tents and boats. A lot of the equipment inside is useless if it gets wet or even damp. Tape won’t stick, pads won’t absorb and all kinds of things will rust, mold or become unsterile. Look for a back with a waterproof bottom or boot, and that has a waterproof or water resistant zipper.
  2. Lots of pockets, preferably ones that open and close with Velcro or big sturdy zippers. Since the tendency most of us have is to pick up an open bag in a medical emergency and move it to a better spot, bags with open pockets will spill all those sterile supplies right onto the ground. Make sure that any bag you get has some means of securing (elastic bands, ties, mesh bags, zippers or Velcro, pockets etc.) your gear when the bag is open and picked up by one end.
  3. Make sure the pockets are large enough to fit the supplies you’ll be using. Not all medical supplies are the size of a golf ball or pack of matches. There are pads, scissors, suture kits, flashlights, splints, tape, bandages and things that just won’t fit into tiny pouches. Determine what supplies you’ll be carrying and then pick a medical kit based on whether those supplies will fit snuggly and safely and without being crushed in the pockets and pouches the kit has.
  4. MOLLE systems rule. MOLLE stands for Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment. It’s a system derived from PALS (Pouch Attachment Ladder System), which consists of webbing stitched into rows of heavy-duty nylon on vests, packs and bags. The system allows users to attach various sizes and configurations of various MOLLE-compatible pouches and accessories. It makes whatever kit you have more versatile.
  5. Get a color consistent with what you’ll be using it for. If you’re a doomsday prepper who wants to blend into the woods, then camouflage is a good color for you. If you’re a snow patrol member, or hunter, maybe bright orange is a better choice. If you’re a member of law enforcement, brown, black or navy blue or red or orange is a good choice. Color is important because it will help you identify the medical kit quickly, which can save lives.
  6. Pick a medical bag or kit for your specific medical needs. If you’re a soccer mom and the worst thing you’ll be dealing with are skinned knees and elbows and maybe a broken or sprained ankle or two, your needs are different than a hunter who plans on being in the back country around a lot of people with hunting rifles and large angry animals. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my, can do a lot of damage and require hard-core medical kits to repair or stabilize a medical emergency.
  7. Consider your group size. Everyone should carry a personal medical kit unique to their own needs — insulin needles, aspirin, Band-Aids for scrapes, lip balm, asthma inhalers, diabetes supplies etc. but if you’re going to be using the kit with a group, get one specific enough to treat everyone’s potential needs. Make sure it will last for as long as you’ll need it. Is this a home medical kit for a family of four, or a medical kit for a Scout troop of 10 to 15 boys and four adult leaders? Make sure you take into account the amount of supplies you’ll need to pack and for how long you’ll need them.  Most kits come prepacked with supplies for a specific number of days and people so it’s not too hard to figure out.
  8. Know how to use the supplies that come with the kit. If you plan to carry it, you should know how to use it. Many people create or buy excellent medical kits, but have absolutely no idea how to use the supplies inside. When buying a medical kit make sure you know what all those supplies are, and how and when to use them. Better yet, take some First Aid classes and learn how to actually perform basic to advanced first aid and then buy a kit based on your skill set and ability to use the items in the kit.

Medical kits can be expensive. And the truth is, they may never be used. Err on the side of being prepared rather than not. The life that kit saves may be yours.


This month’s entry is from a special guest blogger, and dear friend, Becky Blanton. Becky is a ghostwriter, TED Global speaker and a former police officer and police academy graduate. She ghost writes ebooks and books about survival prepping, camping, gear and a variety of topics. This is her first guest blog for this site.

Written by Silver Sentinel

March 5, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The Importance of Batteries On Patrol

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A recent incident at work made a simple problem into a huge headache. A set of cold AA batteries in a flashlight, as well as a cold cellphone battery, left one of my co-workers stranded in the dark and out of communications range. Both problems could have been avoided with a little knowledge and foresight. Cold batteries do not die in cold weather, rather the chemical reactions inside of them necessary for discharging power are inhibited.

One solution is to take the batteries out and warm them using body heat, or other low heat non-flame source. Never use a direct high temperature heat source, or flames, to warm batteries as this can damage the batteries and make them unsafe. Do not replace cold batteries with fresh (and equally cold) new batteries. If you need to keep your battery operated devices warm, you can slip one or two hand warmers into a pocket, or into a small insulated cooler/lunch pail.

If you have gear that needs to be kept warm, but isn’t regularly carried, or worn, keep the gear in an insulated Go-Bag, and leave the bag in your office or vehicle. Remember to take your Go-Bag home with you at the end of shift so your equipment isn’t left unused in freezing temperatures.

For convenience, try to get all of your equipment to use only AA batteries. This makes it easier for you rather than carrying two or three different sized sets of batteries. It also allows you to swap out batteries between pieces of equipment if needed. There are cellphone chargers that use AA batteries, allowing you to still use your phone should its battery stop working.

Written by Silver Sentinel

January 12, 2014 at 5:52 pm

What To Watch For: Illegal Drug Sales

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Depending on if you are doing a neighborhood watch and safety patrol, or posted on site by your employer, you may witness suspicious activities in your area.  This is not always an indication of wrong doing, but should be noted nevertheless. Some of the activities listed below, especially happening alone, may have a reasonable explanation. For example, frequent visits to a house might simply mean that a large and sociable family lives there. However, in combination, the activities below could mean that you are seeing illegal drug activity. Sometimes sales and manufacturing happen in the same location, and sometimes not.

Are you witnessing drug sales? Drug sales may happen at a home, a business, or in a public place, such as a street or a park.

Possible signs of drug sales:

  • Numerous short visits to the location by people in vehicles, on bicycles, and/or on foot
  • Money or small packages being exchanged
  • Cars frequently drive slowly by the location
  • Visitors often bring personal property and leave without it
  • People who appear to be acting as lookouts
  • Activity at the location happens at odd hours such as in the middle ofthe night or early in the morning
  • Occupants seem paranoid, unfriendly, or secretive
  • Shades or blinds are constantly drawn, even though a house is occupied
  • Unusually extensive security measures around a house
  • Inconsistent displays of financial status, such as a very expensive car belonging to someone living in a very modest, run-down home
  • Drug paraphernalia at or near the location, such as: very small ziplock plastic baggies; small bundled or twisted pieces of cellophane; small pieces of balloon; hypodermic needles and needle caps; broken automobile antennae; small glass vials or pipes; or small pieces of brillo pads
  • Elevated levels of crime in the surrounding area, such as burglaries,car prowls, and identity theft

(Information courtesy of Portland Police. Thank you.)

Written by Silver Sentinel

October 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Proper Foot Care Is Important

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One of your most important tools, whether you’re working security or walking a neighborhood safety patrol, is your feet. Poor footwear and lack of proper foot care can not only be uncomfortable, but even painful. Standing watch, or walking a beat will often keep you on your feet longer than most, usually on concrete and in all weather conditions. Take care of your feet and the extra effort will pay off.

  • Keep them clean, keep them dry – especially dry between the toes. Inspect feet for dry cracked skin, or signs of athlete’s foot.
  • Do not put nail polish over "ugly nails" – Dry, cracked nails may be a sign of a fungal infection that nail polish could make worse.
  • Trim toenails properly – Cutting too close to the skin, or rounding nails off too much can contribute to painful ingrown toenails.
  • Head off foot sweat – Sweaty feet breed bacteria, so stop the funk before it starts. Synthetic materials wick moisture from the skin better than cotton or wool. Tip: Wearing a pair of "dress socks" under your heavier socks will help keep your feet drier. Corn starch or foot powder will also help to keep foot cool and dry.
  • Wear proper footwear – Make sure that your footwear is properly sized for your feet. Too large or too tight, can cause long-term foot problems. Tip: Shop for shoes at the end of the day when your feet are swollen, wearing the type of socks you’ll normally be wearing them with. You’ll want a stable base to stand on, plus room for your toes to move. Avoid elevated heals, and pointed toes.
  • Breathable Footwear – Leather or specially designed mesh fabrics, will allow your feet to "breathe", keeping them dry.
  • Moisturize your feet – Moisturizing your feet before you go to bed will help "seal" the skin and reduce drying, cracking, sores, and blisters. Tip: Use something meant for dry feet. Regular moisturizers can leave your feet feeling slippery.

Another consideration when purchasing footwear is your employer, or organization, may have a dress code that might dictate the footwear you have to wear while on duty. If you suffer from Diabetes, please consult with your doctor about special foot care.

Written by Silver Sentinel

September 5, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Downed Power Lines

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Downed power lines happen for many reasons, and though they are designed to de-energize when they come down, that very often isn’t the case. Consider all wires ENERGIZED and dangerous!

Even lines that are de-energized may suddenly and unexpectedly become energized!
What to do when you find downed power lines:

  • Immediately call 911. If safe to do so, approach the nearest pole and give the operator the Pole Number posted on it.
  • Stay at least 10 feet away from wires and poles.
  • Electricity can travel through the ground, and harm you even if you’re not standing close.
  • Electricity can travel through tree limbs and other objects, so do not touch or attempt to clear anything touching wires.
  • Never use any object to move a downed wire.
  • Rubber and insulated gloves offer no protection from high voltage electricity.
  • Rubber-soled, or insulated boots do not offer any protection.
  • If someone makes contact with a downed power line, don’t try to rescue them because you risk becoming a victim yourself. Again call 911!

If a broken power line should fall on your vehicle:

  • Stay inside the vehicle until help arrives, as your car may be energized.
  • Warn others not to touch the vehicle and have them call for help.
  • If you must leave the vehicle, jump as far away as possible with both feet landing on the ground at the same time. DO NOT touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time.

I know, it can be very frustrating and difficult when you come across a situation where people are trapped and in danger, but you must not become a victim yourself. Stay calm, keep trapped victims and other bystanders safe by encouraging them to stay put and out of harm’s way.

Written by Silver Sentinel

July 7, 2013 at 3:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Carry A Cellphone On Duty

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One piece of invaluable equipment that everyone should have with them, on duty or on patrol, is a cellphone. Used responsibly, a cellphone will make your job much easier and replace several pieces of equipment at the same time. Most basic functions of a cellphone do not require an active calling plan to allow the phone to operate. Making emergency calls to 9-1-1 is free anywhere within the U.S. as long as you have signal.

Basic Phones: (Most functions do not require active Minutes/Phone Plan)

  • Camera
  • Video
  • Audio recorder
  • Store emergency numbers
  • PDA, Personal Data Assistant, for making notes and memos
  • Text
  • Basic Call Plan (May dial 9-1-1 without active minutes or phone plan anywhere in the U.S.)

Smartphones: (Most functions require active Minutes/Phone Plan)

  • Information Apps, such as Emergency Responders Handbook, Basic First Aid Manual
  • Apps, such as a scanner for EMS, fire, and police
  • GPS
  • Data Transfer
  • Maps / Navigation

When on duty, I prefer to use the audio recording function when taking notes, or doing an interview. Doing so only uses one hand, allows for taking notes faster, can be referred to again later for clarification, and allows you to maintain awareness of your surroundings instead of focusing on a notepad.

The camera and video capabilities are great for capturing images for evidence. Recording suspicious activities for later playback to police when they arrive is a huge plus. Data stored on the SD card can be given over to officers as evidence if required.

Texting allows officers and supervisors to send instructions and important message, which are stored and time stamped. Many places do not allow the use of cellphones, even with hands-free capabilities, while operating a vehicle. Sending a text allows a message to be received that can then be accessed when no longer driving.

Often there are conversations that are best not aired over radio channels. Sensitive information that needs to be relayed privately and securely can be done by cellphone if a land line is not immediately available.

Things To Avoid:

  • Non-essential texting – maintain awareness of your surroundings
  • Non-duty related calls
  • Playing games and other distractions
  • Updating Facebook and other social media as this reveals your location and activities that can be tracked by employers, or criminals casing your patrol route to see where you are.

Written by Silver Sentinel

May 15, 2013 at 9:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized