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Mel Tappan’s Personal Survival Letter # 13

Issue No. 13

Elements of Tactics
(For those who have never attended Uncle Sugar’s Trade School)
by Jeff Cooper

People who acquire “survival weapons” presumably feel that they may have to use them. If they contemplate their
use against people the subject is tactics- as we have defined it “the orchestration of human violence”.

It is perplexing to note the curious notions about violence that have proliferated with the press in recent years.
Suddenly we find previously sober people railing against even the depiction or discussion of violence as repulsive
in and of itself, which is about as sensible as deploring surgery- in and of itself.

Nobody wants to get cut open, but if it becomes necessary as the only alternative to something worse, we want it
done as efficiently and as quickly as possible. Likewise we fight only if we must, but if we must we do as well as
we can, and we don’t wring our hands about it.

There is, of course, an art to fighting. The operation of weapons may be a science, but the use of those weapons to
win an engagement is not. “Battle drills” are good enough practice, but when the ball opens success will go to the
artist more often than to the technician- other things being even roughly equal.

Let us, as Socrates was wont to say, define our terms.

Strategos is the Greek word for “general officer”; thus strategy is the art of the general. This is the art of making
use of an army to bring about victory over one’s enemy. It has only indirectly to do with fighting, and a poor fighter
can be a good strategist, or vice versa.

Tactics by contrast, derives from the word for touch and thus implies actually touching one’s foes in combat.
Tactics has come to mean simply the more or less systematic conduct of a fight.

Colonel Allen, my revered PMS&T at Stanford, used to put it that arranging a date, sending flowers, buying the
lady an epicurean meal, ostentatiously appreciating her catalog of charms, and finally parking comfortably
overlooking the moonlit bay- these were all strategy. From that point on it was a matter of tactics.

In general, strategy applies to large units and tactics to small, though the two disciplines do overlap somewhat.
Clearly a nation employs strategy while a squad employs tactics, but an army corps normally uses both. The
survivalist, of course, is concerned with tactics, the strategic situation having been forced upon him.

While one man alone may observe certain tactical principles (e.g. keep off the skyline, slide to the flank, hit first,
etc.) any study of tactics must deal with the cooperative efforts of fighting units, be they individuals, fire teams or
divisions. When men fight in concert they become, whether they like it or not, soldiers. Good soldiers, in or out of
uniform, stand a much better chance of winning than poor soldiers.
The essential qualities of a good soldier are five. The first two are skill-at-arms and discipline. (“Send me men who
can shoot and salute.”) The second three are valor, hardihood, and pride.

Whatever a man fights with -ax, machine gun, or spaceship- he must be good with it. He must strive to be not just
good but outstanding in his manipulation of his weapon. (“I don’t want you to die for your country. I want you to
make the other guy die for his!”). Napoleon to the contrary, this comes first.

However well a man fights, he can be taken by superior numbers, unless he cooperates skillfully, and immediately,
with others on his side. This cooperation can be spontaneously effective only in the most simple and obvious cases.
Most of the time it must be ordered, and orders must be obeyed.

If men who can use their weapons expertly are fully aware of discipline, they can accomplish a great deal. If, in
addition, they are brave, undaunted by hardship, and convinced that they are physically, intellectually, and morally
better than their enemies, they can work wonders.

They will work such wonders -of course- tactically.

The First Principle of Tactics is Speed

If fighting ever becomes necessary, delays of even split seconds can be disastrous- as recent history tells us so well.
The best fight is that which is over before the loser realizes that it has begun. No tactical plan is any good at all if its
object is given time to understand it.

Conversely even a bad plan will usually succeed if it is executed before it can be intelligently countered. Tactical
principles are simple. Their instant application, however, calls for talent.

The goal of the tactician is to ensure that the fight, when and where joined, is never “fair”. It is his business to bring
overwhelming force to bear on a particular subdivision of his adversary’s array and to dispose of it before any
re-arrangement can forestall him.

Immediately thereafter, he can engage an enemy reduced in strength by the amount he has just destroyed. This is
called “defeat in detail”. Everybody, on both sides, knows about it and tries to bring it off. The skillful succeed.

It is not easy. Your foe wants to live just as much as you do, and, while he may be stupid, you had better not count
on it. As you try to confound him, he will try to confound you. The faster of the two will win. That is where
discipline counts.

It's all very simple in theory- simpler than checkers or even tic-tac-toe. Actually doing it, however, is hard. (I know
of a few fights that worked out exactly as the victor planned. They are rare, but the great commanders brought them

Lee, Jackson, Patton, Rommel, all fought actions of this type, and Napoleon most of all. Superior numbers can be
offset by superior talent, but such talent is never commonplace.

Still, a basic understanding of principle can be very helpful.

So, whatever you decide to do, do it quickly. And no matter what total numbers are involved, arrange for your
people to outnumber their people at the time and point of contact.
It is important to note that numbers do not necessarily mean bodies. One well-situated rifleman -alert, skillful, and
determined- can be the equivalent of a dozen or more untrained, sketchily armed, and badly disciplined assailants.

In small unit contacts, sheer surprise may totally invert numerical superiority. In planning, one must think of
numbers as “units of force” rather than people, and arrange his actions accordingly.

Survival actions must be forecast as “irregular”, in the sense that they will rarely involve formally constituted
military units accustomed to practiced, disciplined, concerned action. Only coincidentally will good marksmanship
be available, and there will be no facilities for inculcating it.

It will therefore be necessary to put what can be had to the best possible use and to choose the right actor for the
specified role. A quail gun, for example will hardly suffice for a meeting engagement between two patrols, but it
will do nicely for an unexpected indoor block.

The ubiquitous .22 rimfire is not what you would choose for a roadblock but it will serve just as well as a more
powerful piece as a short-range personal threat. Nobody wants to get shot even with a .22.

It seems hardly necessary to point out that one does not place his firearms in diametric opposition, as in the cartoon
of the Polish (or Irish, or East Frisian, or whatever sort of cultural group you fancy) firing squad. Two firearms
acting against the same target normally seek a convergence angle at around 90 degrees. We can accept 135 degrees,
but more than that may be more hazardous to us than to them.

Light forces must at all costs avoid being pinned down. Once a heavier force has spotted its gadfly the latter will
have his running route selected before he hits.

Knowledge of the immediate terrain is an enormous advantage in small-unit contacts, and it is up to the survivalist
to know every foot of ground within walking distance of his retreat. Defense against an organized force is a losing
proposition, (we should never have changed the name of the War Department), but it can work against unorganized
attackers -even if they come in preponderant force- if the defender knows the ground and the attackers do not.

One rifleman alone, if he is good, can constitute a terrible problem for a dozen assailants, and a smoothly
cooperating group of three or four such -on familiar ground- can hold off anything short of a “human wave”, until
fatigue overcomes it.

If you are really serious about coping with doomsday, you will select your equipment carefully, work with it until
you are expert in its use, and study your local (or selected remote) geography until you know it in the dark. I

f you have reliable friends (really reliable), you will study these matters together. You will arrange a simple field
code of whistles, waves, and such so that you can maneuver in concert.

Then, if the evil day really does at last arrive, you will remember the watchwords- Initiative, Surprise, Speed.

You’ll have a better chance than most.

Letters from the Editor
Thanks to all of you who wrote and telephoned “Get Well” messages. I am recovering strongly, but will need to
spend less time in the saddle during the coming months. It seems I foolishly let my workload get out of hand and
I’m paying the price for it, as I should.

Special thanks are owed to Bill Pier who put Issue No. 12 together from edited manuscripts and my notes. Two
items from that issue, however, require some clarification. First, in connection with the note on the HK-91, none of
us, including Bill, has any notion what a “full metal barrel” might mean. The import of the notice is this: HK-91
rifles with rifled barrels have proved far more satisfactory than those with the polygonal barrels imported into this

The reason, in this instance, is that all of the polygonal bores I have seen were significantly undersize- so much so
that they would not accept the .22LR conversion unit and could cause excessive pressures to develop, especially
when fired with hot handloads or commercial sporting ammunition in the heavier bullet weights. In some instances
the condition was so severe that primers were blown.

These rifles could not be considered satisfactory for survival use. During the past few months I have been told by
the factory that: a. only polygonal bore rifles would be imported after the end of 1979; b. that no polygonal rifles,
only rifled bores would be imported; and c. that if polygonal bores were imported their dimensions would be altered
so as to eliminate the difficulty noted.

Since all of the above obviously cannot be true and none of the above may be true, I suggest that you try to
purchase an HK-91 with the rifled bore now, if you have any intention of owning one. They are not easy to come by
presently, and I have seen them selling at considerable premiums over list at some of the gun shows; however, I
understand from one of my clients that the Marksman (920 Waukegan, Glenview, IL 60025) has thirteen of them
for sale at list.

I have had the opportunity to test the new 230-grain jacketed truncated cone bullet now being loaded commercially
by Hornady (bullets only are also available), and it is a very superior service load. The design fed flawlessly
through every .45 auto I could lay hands on (16 of them). Tests in Dux-Seal and penetration boxes indicate both
considerably more disruptive effect and increased penetration over the standard 230-grain jacketed round nose.

Accuracy was match grade and no failures of any kind were noted in 300 rounds of firing. If you haven’t already
laid in your supplies of defensive ammunition for the .45, I suggest that you consider this new Hornady round as the
optimal choice for general service use.

The excellent single point SP-241 night sight -reviewed in my June, 1979 ​Guns & Ammo column- which was
previously restricted to law enforcement purchasers is now available to PS Letter subscribers direct from the
distributors (Mark V, P.O. Box 5337, Orange, CA 92667) at a discount from the retail price. If you want to qualify
and receive the discount, be certain to mention that you subscribe to PS Letter. A brochure on the sight and test
results is available direct from the distributor for a self-addressed stamped envelope.

During the past months we have received a good deal of correspondence about military surplus goods and surplus
suppliers. Judging from those communications there are apparently a number of rip-off artists working in the field.

One of the most common complaints centers around the use of such phrases as “GI type” or “built to US military
specs”. The items so described frequently turn out to be cheaply-made import junk.
Now, not all US military surplus goods are useful to the survivalist, but most of them -if genuine- are extremely
well made and frequently represent good bargains. Work clothing, camouflage gear, cleaning patches, and
lubricants are often downright cheap from good sources. In the past, I have had generally satisfactory reports on
Revell Surplus (3037 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60657) and Danny Harris.

Recently, however, one of our PS Letter subscribers and an acquaintance of mine for several years, Mr. Bill Henry,
has opened a mail order surplus company known as “Sierra Supply”, P.0. Box 1390, Durango, CO 81301,
telephone (303) 259-1822. With very few exceptions, Bill carries only genuine US government military surplus and
in the few instances when his products are of commercial manufacture, they are clearly identified as such.

Sierra Supply may not have the largest surplus catalog I’ve ever seen, but judging from the samples I have received,
their merchandise is certainly among the cleanest and best quality I have found anywhere. They carry full lists of
spare parts for the M14/M1A, the .45 Government Model, the M16/AR-15, and the Mini-14, as well as a variety of
clothing and personal items such as canteens, insect repellents, belts, pouches, and knives.

Presently they have a handful of genuine military bipods for the M1A in new condition and at a special price to PS
Letter subscribers. Whether you have an M1A or not, one of these bipods will fetch a handsome sum at gun shows
and regardless of how many knives you may have, an all-stainless steel US pocket utility knife and a Marine Corp
combat knife will find a welcome place in your gear.

They are so inexpensive that you can afford to use them for all the things you should never use knives for.

Bill Henry strikes me as a very forthright young man and I believe that he will deal with you honestly. Also, he has
offered an across the board 15% discount on all items in his catalog to PS Letter subscribers and free catalogs are
available upon request.

I am trying to lose mine now because every time I page through it I seem to find a couple of items that I really
need- a few more spare magazines, some pouches for HK-91 mags, another dozen .45 cleaning brushes, and of
course a few more GI angle-head flashlights (at $4.95 one should be in every room of the house, right?), a dozen
P38 can openers...

During my enforced confinement I have had the opportunity to test rather thoroughly a full range of short-wave
receivers. Given the fast breaking events in the Middle East and elsewhere and the not inconsiderable possibility of
far reaching consequences growing out of them, I consider the acquisition of a quality multi-band shortwave
receiver to be very high on any survivalist’s list of preparations. To that end, I am now at work on an equipment
review that should be ready for inclusion in the next issue or so. Regards, M.T.

Passive Intrusion Deterrence

by Alexander Jason

Protecting your home from intruders is one of the most important things you can do to safeguard your life, the lives
of your family, and your property.

There are basically two ways of preventing intruders from entering your home:
1. Locks and other physical barriers and,

2. Intrusion detection/alarm systems which either scare the intruders off or which alert you (or the police) directly
so that you (or the police) can take the appropriate action.

This article will discuss the use of both physical barriers and alarm systems since the proper protection of one’s
home requires both.

Before we get into the details of home security, I think we should first deflate some very popular but invalid
misconceptions. While I was a police officer, I was called to many homes by people who had just become victims
of a burglary. Almost without exception, the primary contributing factor in the crime was the victim’s insufficient
door lock.

I would often advise the victim on what type of lock he should install to prevent another such occurrence. With a
surprising frequency, victims would just shake their heads and say, “What good will that do? If someone wants to
get in, he’ll get in!”

That is a very common view; you have probably heard it many times. It is very wrong! You must first realize that
what you know (or think you know) about crime or criminals is likely to be heavily based on TV programs. Forget
all that nonsense! What you see on TV about crime has very, very little (if any) relevance to the real world of
criminals and police. Ask any cop.

There exists a highly misleading idea that burglars are “master criminal” types who plan their crimes weeks ahead
using blueprints, computers, and tide tables. While there are a handful of these “Mission Impossible” criminals in
the world, they will be too busy hitting bank vaults and art museums to bother with your home. The truth is that
most burglars are simply common, lowlife street criminal types who commit crimes because they are unwilling or
incapable of doing anything else.

In spite of what you see on TV, the typical burglar is not an upper class, brilliant young man who gave up a career
in neurosurgery for the excitement and intrigue of crime. The typical burglar is into crime because he doesn’t like to
get up in the morning and because he’s found that stealing is an easy way to make some money.

The truth is that a burglar eyeing your home is not looking for an intellectual and analytical challenge- he just wants
some quick and easy money.

The important point in all this is to make you aware that a burglar will take the easiest route. If your home is
properly protected- if your locks and barriers are going to make things difficult for him, he will simply go on to an
easier target. There is no shortage of easy homes or apartments to burglarize.

The approach you should take is to make your home as difficult to burglarize as is reasonably possible. Yes, if
someone really wants to get in somewhere, he can: IF he has unlimited time, skill, resources, and security. In real
life, a burglar has only a limited supply of any of these things.

The fact is that you CAN make your home safe from burglary with a few precautions. The expenditure of time and
money you make to protect your home, your family, and your property will be well worth the effort- even if the
only reward is peace of mind.
The first step in establishing a secure home is to insure that all entry points -doors and windows- will effectively
keep out intruders. The most obvious and important of these are your doors.

In over 85% of all burglaries, the criminal enters through the victim’s door. Your doors MUST be made secure! It is
important to be aware of the fact that all doors do not provide equal protection. Many doors are really nothing more
than wind barriers. If you are serious about your security, you must install a steel door with a steel frame.

This is expensive (about $300 with installation), but a steel door alone will very significantly reduce the chance that
you will be the victim of an intruder. Most burglars gain entry by doing varying degrees of damage to a home’s
wooden door or frame. They usually use crude tools like screwdrivers and pry bars to cut through, bend, or gouge
out enough wood to defeat the lock. This can often be done in less than one minute. Especially vulnerable are old,
spongy frames and the worst of all are hollow core doors.

Another favored entry technique for opening locked wooden doors very quickly and easily is simple force delivered
by means of a kick or a shoulder-shove. During my days as a cop, I think I kicked or shoved my way through about
three dozen doors. I was amazed to find that almost all of them would snap open on my first try! Locks -even very
good locks- are of little value on a wooden door as the lock can only be as strong as the wood which supports it.

Now a steel door is a different animal. I still remember very well the time I put my shoulder to my first steel door
and frame. The door did not give a centimeter. It was a painful, although educational, experience.

For those concerned beyond protection from burglars, I can tell you that a steel door (with a properly-anchored steel
frame) can withstand tremendous force. I once watched a 30-minute unsuccessful attempt to force a door by six
policemen using a specially-designed battering ram! You can feel quite safe behind a properly-locked steel door.

To get one installed, you can use your yellow pages. First call a few locksmiths and ask them if they do that sort of
work (some do not). If you can’t find one who installs steel doors, look under “Doors” and you will probably find
several listings of manufacturers and distributors. They will either do the work or refer you to someone who will.
You can pick up the door and install it yourself but it’s quite a job and you’ll definitely need some help as the door
and frame are very heavy. I recommend you let the pro’s do it.

If, for some reason, you don’t wish to go all the way with a steel door and frame, the next best way to secure your
exterior wooden doors is to reinforce them with steel sheets. A full-size steel panel (13 to 16 gauge) should be
bolted and glued to the outside of the door. If you are reasonably competent with tools, this is a job you can do

The steel sheets can be obtained from a large hardware or metal shop- again check your phone book. If you install
the sheeting yourself, be sure to use smooth-head bolts on the outside so they can only be removed from the inside.
A locksmith can also do this job if you prefer.

Another good measure for a solid wood door is to drill several ¼” holes about 10 inches into the edge of the door.
The holes should be about 2” apart above and below the lock. Fill the holes with ¼” steel rods (using a hammer)
and this will prevent a burglar from cutting through or gouging out enough of the door to defeat the lock.

The very least you should do to your wooden doors is to install a small steel faceplate which protects the area
around the lock from gouging. This plate is of particular value to apartment dwellers. The plate wraps around the
door and it is easily installed. Recommended is the MAG company’s “Install-A-Lock”. This is a low-cost item
(about $15.00). You can do-it-yourself or order one of these from the locksmith when you have him install a good
lock on your door.
If your exterior doors have windows in them, you cannot rely on them to keep intruders from getting in. I strongly
suggest that you replace such doors with a metal or solid wood door- this is an absolute must if you live in a high
crime area. These types of doors are (for some reason) often used as back doors on many homes. If you have a
glass-paneled door at the rear of your house, you are asking to be burgled.

A burglar likes these doors because they first allow him to look inside to be sure that there isn’t an attack dog or
baseball bat wielding homeowner waiting for him and it is a very simple thing to just break the glass, reach inside,
and unlock the door. If for some aesthetic or other silly reason you simply can’t bear to get rid of that windowed
door, then there are two things to do: First, install a double-cylinder deadbolt lock.

Locks are discussed in detail later but a double-cylinder lock is one which can only be opened by a key from both
the inside and the outside. On this type of lock there is no knob or lever on the inside to operate the lock; you must
use a key- just like on the outside. Use of a double-cylinder lock will prevent anyone from being able to unlock the
door once he’s broken the glass.

The other thing to do is to prevent a burglar from climbing through the broken window (even if the windows in
your door are small, it’s an easy thing to break out all those little windows, break the thin frames, and then climb
through). You need a heavy-duty wire mesh screen mounted on the inside of the door. If you put a screen on the
outside, you make it much easier for the screen to be pried or pulled off.

If you’re concerned about appearances, the screen can be concealed by a curtain. A set of bars will also do the job.
You can usually buy heavy mesh screen or window bars at a large hardware store. Look under “Iron-Ornamental
Works” in the Yellow Pages or ask your locksmith.

Your doors are your first line of defense. They must do more than close and look pretty. If you have a hollow-core
door, you must realize that you really have no substantial security. Anybody who wants to get in can do so without
much effort. If you have a door with recessed panels, they are pretty much in the same category as hollow-core

The panels can be kicked in easily. A solid wood door is much better but even a reinforced solid wood door offers
nowhere near the security of a steel door and frame. Think about this when you hear that noise late at night and
when you leave your empty house for a weekend.


If your outside doors can lock “themselves” by just closing- you have an insufficient door lock. To properly secure
a door, you must have a deadbolt lock!

There are two types of effective deadbolts, and while both are good, I recommend the vertical deadbolt (also known
as the “jimmy proof”) type. This lock is mounted on the inside surface of the door and it is quite easy to install.
Recommended locks of this type are the Yale Model 197 ¼, the Ideal Model DB-9295 (both about $25.00), and the
excellent Emhart “Intergrip” Model CO WLl7 ½ (about $50).

The other type of deadbolt lock is called a “mortise”. This type is installed inside the door. (It’s best to have a
locksmith install this type of lock because he’s got the special tools). Any good deadbolt lock will have a bolt (the
steel bar which moves back and forth into the frame each time you turn the key) at least one inch long.
There are several good ones on the market; the Yale Model YA-314 ¼, and the highly recommended MAG
company’s Ultra 700, or 800 (all about $50).

If you already have a good, one-inch plus deadbolt lock and you want the tops in security, have a locksmith change
the cylinders (the round piece into which the key is inserted) on all your locks to Medeco cylinders. This will cost
you about $25.00 per lock but it will make your locks virtually pick proof.

Medeco cylinders are used by several government agencies for top-security facilities. While criminals very rarely
pick locks, intelligence agencies, some law enforcement personnel, and a few private investigators do. (One of the
Watergate burglars was a professional locksmith.)

I have previously recommended the use of double-cylinder locks on doors with glass windows. I also want to
recommend the use of this type of lock on all exterior doors* for this reason: If a burglar breaks his way into your
home by crawling through a window, he will usually go through the house picking up the choice items and stacking
them by the front door. If he’s got a large haul, he will often back his car up to the front and load up.

But if you have double-cylinder locks on all your doors, he won’t be able to open them without a key even though
he’s inside. This means he’ll have to carry everything out a window. It’s much more difficult this way and he is
very aware that anybody seeing him climbing out a window with a color TV is likely to call the police. A
double-cylinder lock will definitely slow a burglar down and it may save a good portion of your possessions.

Another type of lock which provides a very high level of security is the bar lock. While this is not really necessary
on a steel door with a good lock, I do recommend bar locks for wood doors in high-risk areas where a door may be
subject to a prolonged assault.

A door on an isolated vacation or survival home is a good example or a residential or commercial back door where
a burglar can work hidden from view. Bar locks are installed either across the inside of the door at mid-level or
along the edge of the door near the knob. When locked, a bar lock will extend extra heavy bolts into the frame at
several points.

There are two excellent bar locks: the “Vertibar” made by the Fichet Company and the "Fox Police Lock" made by
the Fox Lock Company. The Vertibar costs about $300 and the Fox about $185. Yes, they are expensive but well
worth the price- especially if you cannot install a steel door. The Vertibar is composed of two vertical steel bars,
flush mounted along the edge of the door and the edge of the frame.

The Vertibar has five locking bolts which are all driven by the turn of one key. The lock cylinder is as pick proof as
any lock can be- it uses a special four-sided key which can only be duplicated by a special machine.

The Fox Police lock is a bit more simple. Turning the key throws two very heavy steel bolts into special brackets. If
you order a Fox lock, be sure to get the double-cylinder model with the Medeco cylinders. You could install these
yourself, but it has to be done properly- if you’re not sure about your ability, have the locksmith do it.

One thing to check, regardless of the type of door you have, is where the hinges are located. If your hinges are on
the outside, then a crafty burglar can defeat your lock by simply removing the hinge pins and letting the door fall
You can solve this problem very easily by removing one screw from each opposite side of a hinge. Then you
hammer in one 20-penny nail into the vacant screw hole on the jamb side. Leave about ½” sticking out and saw off
the nail head with a hacksaw. Now when the door closes, the protruding nail will go into the opposite screw hole
and prevent the door from opening even when the hinge pins are removed. Do this to at least two of the hinges.

Another thing every outside door should have is a viewer. A wide-angle viewer enables you to see out without
opening the door. I want to warn you against relying on chain locks which are supposed to allow you to open your
door safely a few inches. The chain locks are worthless! Even worse than that, they are dangerous! A good shove or
kick will almost always snap the chain or just rip the bracket off the door.

If you have one of these things on your door, remove it! This worthless junk will only give you or your family a
false sense of security. The best way to prevent someone from entering is to stay behind your locked door and keep
it closed and locked.

This is especially true for women living alone, children, and the elderly. It often happens that by opening your door
(with or without a chain) to a robber searching for an easy victim, you allow him to see you and evaluate your
vulnerability. He can also see if you’re alone.

There are many urban muggers who use the technique of knocking on apartment doors with some pretext (“Does a
Mr. Johnson still live here?” or “I thought my cat ran in here.”). When they find an easy victim, they can just push
their way in- and a chain won’t stop them.

A good wide-angle viewer will cost less than five dollars and you can install it yourself quite easily. Then just
follow the rule of keeping the door closed and locked if you have any doubts about your visitor’s intentions.

Sliding glass doors are very popular and most suburban houses have at least one. Unfortunately, they are also very
popular with burglars because they are often in the rear of the house, secluded from view, and they are almost
always easy to force open. And if the crook forgets to bring his screwdriver or pry bar, he can always smash the
glass with a rock or even his foot.

The burglar’s favorite method of opening locked sliding glass doors is to use a screwdriver or pry bar to bend or
peel away the soft aluminum frame from the locking latch or to simply use a tool to lift the door up and out of its

There are easy, effective, and inexpensive ways to prevent these types of attacks from being successful. The first
step in securing a sliding glass door is to install an auxiliary lock. Do not rely on the lock built into the door- it is
almost always insufficient. Another lock must be installed.

I recommend the “Lok-Safe” LS-50 series, as this lock puts a rod through both the inner and outer frames. The door
is prevented from moving upwards or sideways. This lock is widely available at hardware stores (about $5.00) and
you should be able to install it yourself.

It is important to note that while many people put broomsticks or rods into the track to secure their door, it will not
prevent the door from being lifted off of its track. You have to install a real lock like the one described.

Of course the sliding glass door’s most obvious weakness is its glass. While most burglars are very reluctant to
break glass, you cannot depend on a pane of glass to keep people out. If you are in a high-crime area or if you are
really serious about your security, then I suggest that you install a folding (scissor) gate on the inside of your sliding
glass door. A folding gate can be kept unseen behind the drapes during the day and it can be pulled across the
doorway quickly and easily whenever needed.
A folding gate for an average sliding glass door will cost about $300 with installation. The phone book usually lists
several local companies which sell and install them (look under “Gates”). Be sure to have the gate installed on the
inside of the house as this will make a burglar’s attempt to force it open much more difficult than if it were outside
and accessible.

If you are a serious survivalist, you should consider fabricating removable steel or steel-covered plywood shutters
for your glass doors and all your large windows. These can be kept in the garage and then quickly put up when
needed. Shutters such as these are especially valuable for unoccupied homes in isolated areas.


There are several types of windows, perhaps the most common of which are the double-hung type which open up
and which are usually locked closed with a semi-circular thumb-operated latch. This type of “lock” is worthless! It
will not stand up to the pressure of a strong pry bar against the bottom of the window because the short screws
holding the latch will pull right out of the wood.

There are burglars who specialize in opening double-hung windows and they can pop a common window latch in
seconds. Another method is to insert a flat piece of metal (like a knife blade) between the two windows and rotate
the latch open.

There are two methods of securing your wooden double hung windows and both are easy and cheap. You can drill a
5/16-inch hole through both window frames where they overlap and insert a 5/16 eye bolt through both holes to
lock the window. Do not use nails as they will bend quite easily. Use the thick, threaded 5/16 eye bolt which is
available at a hardware store.

I recommend that you use a very effective commercial window lock, the “Lok-Safe” LS-30 series, which is widely
available. I only recommend the LS-30 and not others which appear to be similar- I have not found any other
window lock to be effective. The LS-30 puts a ¼” tempered metal rod through both window frames and it will work
as well as the eyebolt. The LS-30 allows you to lock the window closed with a key while you are away.

If you purchase these locks through a locksmith, you can have all your windows operated by just one key. The
advantage of a lock which cannot be opened from the inside without a key is that it will deny a great deal of
flexibility to a burglar who manages to get in- he has to go out the way he got in and not through the most
convenient window.

Once again, if you live in a high-crime area or if you are serious about your security, you must protect your
windows from being broken and entered. Burglars do not like to break glass because the sound will often alert
neighbors and if he is confronted while standing next to a broken window with a brick in his hand, he can’t claim to
be “looking for my dog”, or “just seeing if my friends are home”.

But burglars do break glass and the more skilled ones will put heavy tape over a window before breaking it to
muffle the sound. (Forget about the glass cutter nonsense you see on TV; glass must be cut on one side and then
tapped on the opposite side to make a clean cut). So, as unfortunate as it is, to really secure your home you must put
heavy wire screens or bars on the inside of each window accessible from the ground.
You can purchase these or have them installed. I recommend that you install the type of bars or screens which are
on a hinge allowing them to be opened. Although they should be kept locked (usually with a padlock), you should
not keep them locked while there are people in the house, as you need your windows for emergency fire exits. It’s a
good idea to purchase your padlocks through a locksmith and have all the locks operate off the same key.

*This is a controversial point, since use of all double-cylinder locks may trap occupants in case of a fire. The
decision is yours.

Editor’s note: Alexander Jason is a professional security consultant living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jason
has just completed ​the design of a $6.5 million security system for a foreign country. He is now working on a
residential security book for Random House to be published in 1980. Serious inquiries can be addressed to him at
P.O. Box 375, Pinole, CA 94564. M. T.

Survival Wheels
by Rick L. Fines

By the time most of you read this, the “new” 1980 cars and trucks will be in the showrooms, astounding you with
their most prominent features- their price tags.

Between the machinations of bankers and bureaucrats, the price of any sort of respectable wheeled-vehicle now
equals or exceeds the average yearly take-home pay that the American worker manages to sneak past the
government (just over $10,000).

The point of this discussion is that a concept we started talking about many months ago has been discovered by the
popular press. They have termed it “restovation”, or a cross between renovation and restoration of existing vehicles.
While the folk who coined the word do not deal with survival concepts, their observations are of interest. Their
conclusion is that, unless you want to buy an econobox, choices are limited in today’s absurdly expensive market.

A few years ago, it was common to trade off a not-so-old machine in need of a few hundred dollars worth of repairs
to gain the prestige, pleasure, or utility of a new machine. Since the new boxes all look about as much alike as a
group of dark-suited Asian businessmen fresh off the plane at LA, prestige hardly enters the picture.

Utility, or the ability to suit a machine to your exact needs, is even less likely to be an impressive reason to spend
your money. With the state of regulation as it is, chances are that the particular combination of engine,
transmission, wheelbase, body type, and factory pieces most suited to your application are “not available” from the

I hope by considering these facts that more of our readers will elect to pursue the best approach and avoid the
legion of folk in double knits and white shoes who have the deal for you.

Buying a machine built between 1955 and 1967 and “zero-timing” it, with your choice of components, is the safest,
best, and least expensive way to get the job done. We do, however, recognize the fact that most of our readers do
not have the time, space, or perhaps skill to go about the task themselves. Since competent mechanics are about as
rare as heterosexuals in San Francisco, a good many of us must buy new whether we like it or not.
One of the most unfortunate aspects of new cars is that they all look good, shine prettily, and smell good. Since it’s
hard to tell most of them apart without looking at the sign over the showroom, the job of picking the best machines
in some categories is difficult.

In each category of survival machinery, we are going to evaluate the current new choices in the marketplace, as
well as make suggestions relating to the best type of “old” equipment to buy and zero-time.

Basic Transport

The first category to consider is the basic transportation machine which may be used to reach an established retreat
site. Obviously, this machine is not intended to carry great amounts of cargo. Off-road ability is limited.

The choice in new equipment is the gasoline-powered Volkswagen Rabbit. I must emphasize that the current Rabbit
is a much poorer choice than an old standard VW Beetle. As a reader from Utah recently pointed out, the fuel
injection system is troublesome in any but ideal conditions, and ground clearance is limited in comparison with the
Beetle. The Rabbit is also saddled with a number of “Black box” controls and sensors governing engine operation
which are impossible to service in the field, and are very expensive to replace.

In fairness to the VW, it is not burdened with black boxes to any greater extent than most modern equipment. Parts,
though expensive, are in better supply for the VW than for any of its look-alike competitors. The basic engine
design, after it went through its initial teething period of a few years past, has proven to be an excellent one.

As an example of what needless mechanical meddling can do to a nearly perfect basic design, the old VW
air-cooled engine should be considered. From the late 1930’s until the late 60’s, the VW engine evolved neatly into
a powerful, smooth unit of unquestioned reliability and long life.

The last of the excellent VW air-cooled engines were the single and dual-port carbureted 1600cc versions that
powered the Type 181 (Thing), some transporters, and the last of the standard Beetle sedans. The very last Beetle
engine was an unfortunate hybrid equipped with black-box controlled fuel injection, air injection, and enough hoses
and baffles and gadgets to build a heating system in a fair-sized office building.

The reader from Utah reported that he has, to date, poured some $500 and many dealer visits into his ‘77 VW
convertible’s injected engine in an attempt to get the thing to run. Not run well, mind you; just get it to run at all.
By comparison, the same engine in the 1974 Type 181 is equipped with a single-barrel Solex carburetor. Even with
the US-mandated smog impedimenta, things are still reasonably simple.

If that Solex decides to be a problem, it’s possible to detail strip it in less than an hour with no more than a few
dollars worth of tools. A rebuild kit is worth no more than another ten dollar bill, and the time to put the whole
thing together again should amount to no more than a half-hour. It’s possible to carry the process to completion in
the dirt, or, if necessary, by flashlight.

While it’s not possible to do much of anything other than learn multilingual cursing when an injected VW does not
run, there is at least hope. Beck Enterprises of LA markets the hardware to convert the injected model to
carburetion. A trip to a wrecking yard may also produce the components to allow those people with the curse of
injection to do without its benefits.
I’m sure by now that you have gathered that our suggestion for an old machine to rebuild into a basic transport
machine is a VW Beetle of most any year up to the demise of the Standard Beetle. Avoid the Super Beetle, which
may be distinguished by a curved windshield, and which is additionally blessed with needlessly complex and
expensive McPherson-strut front suspension. The Thing is also highly recommended in that it has all the
advantages of the Beetle, and is also a fair truck with the top down.

Another idea you might consider concerns those of you who feel you must tow a trailer of some sort behind a larger
survival machine. An older (pre-‘67) VW bus carries a great deal of cargo, tows very well, and offers the added
utility of acting as at least a sort of lifeboat in the event the primary vehicle quits. The Beetle tows equally well, and
carries a surprising bulk with one of the front seats, and the rear seat backrest removed.

I must caution you that a trailer of any sort is better than a Danforth anchor in terms of miring you in adverse
terrain. If you can get by without one, do so. Using a VW as a trailer at least gives you the option of unhitching and
taking the machines through the rough spots one at a time.

For those who are sold on another machine which offers supposedly superior features in one or more areas, you are
very probably correct. The reasons for sticking with both old and new VW’s boil down to parts availability and
parts commonality. Your chances for finding a part for a broken VW of any vintage are quite good under any
foreseeable circumstances.

Standard Light Trucks

The choice for an old machine to build up is a Chevrolet made from about 1955 to 1967. I have no particular
relationship with GM, but the engines Ford used in the same period are best consigned to the landfill, while those
used by some of the other makers are nearly extinct. The Chevrolet small V8’s and sixes are not only available, but
are about the closest thing to perfection we are ever likely to see.

Whatever year –or make- you elect to buy, be certain to buy a ¾-ton machine rather than the more common ½-ton.
(If you are not certain which you are considering, the rear axle bearing housing on the ¾-ton projects considerably
from the wheel hub and is capped with a series of bolts which retain the axle. The ½-ton rear axle looks exactly like
a passenger car unit.)

Both sizes may be overloaded until the front wheels nearly leave the ground, but the ½-ton machines tend to break
with far more serious results when overburdened. A broken rear axle on a ½-ton means that the axle shaft, complete
with tire, wheel and brake drum will come adrift and leave the truck sitting in the dirt with one corner dragging. A
broken axle on a ¾-ton truck means that the machine will go nowhere in a hurry, but it will at least stay up on all
four legs while you figure out what has happened.

When you fix the broken axle on the ¾-ton, the axle is probably the only part you will have to replace. To cure the
broken ½-ton, you will also find that the brake drum, some of the brake parts, and possibly the backing plate and
axle housing were badly damaged when things came apart. Since axles generally break when the machine is in
motion, accidents are likely to happen when a ½-ton pickup suddenly becomes a tricycle.

Suggestions for new equipment come closer to telling you what not to buy, rather than getting excited over what is
For reasons we have discussed in the past, International Harvester vehicles of all sorts are to be avoided. The trucks
themselves are perfectly good, and the V8 engines built by I-H are probably the best in the industry for light truck
use. Unfortunately, parts for Internationals are generally available from authorized dealers only.

Try to go to your local parts house and buy radiator hoses, gasket sets, fuel pumps, or any other service parts for a
recent I-H product. If that wasn’t enough fun, try the same thing for an older International. If you have any success,
you will have done a lot better than I was able to do in LA when I last owned an I-H truck.

If you elect to buy a Ford truck, try to specify the 6-cylinder truck engine. The Ford six is a seven main bearing
engine of excellent design that was engineered especially for truck service. Coupled to a four-speed transmission,
it’s as good a power package as could go into any small truck.

One of the problems of late has been to actually buy the combination of engine, transmission, GVW equipment, and
other options that we would like to have. Sometimes it seems that we can buy certain combinations, and at others
we are told that the factory will not build that combination for sale in certain states. Considering the so-called
energy crisis, it’s curious that the drivetrain combinations involving the biggest engines and auto transmissions
always seem to be available.

If you decide your needs may be best served with a new mini-pickup, the Ford Courier seems to be the best
machine available. None of the mini-trucks is the best choice in a survival context. None of them accomplishes
anything quite as well as an old Chevrolet, and most are burdened with overheating problems of one sort or another.
(Probably the worst in that regard is the Chevrolet LUV.) Some of the more obscure mini-trucks must be ruled out
based on parts problems, even though there is little to choose from and little difference between any of them.

As a comment from what I hope is a reasonably informed point of view, I’m astounded that there are no domestic
producers of small pickups in this country. The small truck has been a factor in the American marketplace for some
21 years; the first mini-truck was a very ugly ‘59 Datsun. Datsun has now been joined by a host of other nearly
identical machines marketed by American and Japanese manufacturers.

Considering that the technology to produce such a machine is about state-of-the-art 1950, and the American auto
industry seems willing to produce models for market segments that do not even exist, it would seem that a small
truck might be within our capabilities. It’s even more a shame when you consider the excellent, small industrial
engines produced by GM and Ford, which are vastly superior to anything the Japanese send over, and which would
form excellent power plants for small trucks.

Another gift our bureaucrats have bestowed on us is to rule out of the US market a very interesting class of
machines which would make excellent basic survival vehicles. Referred to in one way or another as “utility”
vehicles, these units are produced by most every major automaker in the world, including overseas divisions of US
companies. The closest recent example we had here was the VW Thing, although Citroen briefly marketed their
Mehari, and the BMC Mini-Moke was around in limited numbers some years ago.

Body work on these machines is little more than a metal box, or Cycolac plastic in the case of the Citroen, with
lights and other necessities bolted on. The idea is that most any body part can be fabricated from flat sheet metal,
and the machine may be serviced by people with little training. Most of the cars and trucks currently built to this
concept sell for about half what a “regular” car is supposedly worth.
Because of the experts in Washington minding our business, these machines have been deemed unsafe and/or too
polluting for our use. I often wonder how the rest of the world manages to get by without the sage leadership of the
US Department of Transportation.

If you decide to stay with Chevrolet for your new full-size pickup, you will be making no mistake in that the
standard Chevrolet engines are about as good as engines can be made. Stay with a ¾-ton machine with a four-speed
manual transmission, if at all possible.

I would not suggest that you consider a Dodge pickup or light truck for a variety of reasons. The basic engines, at
least the small-blocks, are fine. At this writing, there seems to be some question as to whether Dodge will continue
in the truck business at all. If they elect to drop out, an already less than cheerful parts situation will be aggravated.

Another very serious complaint with Dodge trucks of all vintages concerns the factory habit of making “running”
changes. While all manufacturers do so from time to time, Dodge seems to take delight in the practice. One of the
most irritating experiences in owning a Dodge truck is to go to a Dodge parts counter, ask for a particular part, and
be asked, “Was it made before or after (pick a month)?” After you run home and ferret out as many numbers as you
can find, the parts man will reward you. He will most likely supply the wrong damned part so you can start the
whole silly business over again.

To Be Continued In Issue No. 14

Rabies: The Next Great Plague?

by Mel Tappan & “Doc”

Editor’s note: In the coming months we plan to bring you a series of articles on preventive medicine in the survival
situation. This particular form of preventive medicine differs from that topic as usually understood in one
important respect. Under ordinary circumstances one assumes that professional medical care will be available.
Survival medicine presupposes that no such care will be forthcoming within a reasonable time period.

Consequently, in this series, we will consider procedures that should never be attempted by a layman when
professional care is available but which may be necessary under the circumstances contemplated here. We trust
that you will not be tempted to use the information given here as a substitute for consulting your family doctor when
the need arises.

Malpractice suits being as common and as frequently without merit as they are presently, physicians are
understandably concerned about signing their names to articles on medical treatment intended for laymen.
Consequently, most of the articles in this series will be written by me after consulting qualified physicians. I
suggest, therefore, that you ask your own physician to read the articles and make whatever modifications he thinks
are prudent, particularly with respect to your individual medical needs.
The preventive medicine consultant for this article has an M.D. degree and a Master of Public Health Degree in
epidemiology. He has worked for the US Center for Disease Control, and has been in charge of disease control
activities for public health departments on the state and local level. He also has an extensive background in
internal medicine and emergency medicine. He is available for consultation on preventive medicine in the survival
situation, including the subject of safe water supplies and safe waste disposal. You may reach him by writing to PS
Letter, P.0. Box 598, Rogue River, Oregon 97537. M.T.

Throughout the ages, rabies has been one of the most feared diseases mankind has known. Today, while modern
medical science has developed an effective treatment for most of the communicable diseases which traditionally
have taken the largest toll of lives, rabies remains essentially the only disease with 100% fatality, once the
symptoms of the disease develop.

In the entire annals of medical history there is documented evidence of only two persons having survived rabies.
Not only does rabies have a high case fatality rate, but also the illness which rabies causes makes it one of the most
horrible deaths that one can experience. In addition to confusion, delirium, hallucinations, and paralysis, many
patients with rabies have swelling of their tongues and spasms of the neck and throat muscles followed by
generalized convulsions, precipitated by an attempt to drink water.

Indeed, in some patients the mere sight of water is enough to precipitate these spasms. This phenomenon has given
rise to one of the common names of rabies: hydrophobia. An additional factor contributing to the fear of rabies is
the manner in which the disease is acquired. Rabies is almost always caused by the bite of a crazed, rabid animal;
historically, most often a dog.

Descriptions of illnesses which are almost certainly rabies appear in ancient literature as far back as 2300 BC. In
335 BC Aristotle noted that rabies was spread by the bites of rabid dogs. In 1804 it was discovered that the saliva of
rabid animals was capable of transmitting the infection. In 1885 Louis Pasteur invented the first rabies vaccine, thus
forming the basis of our modern methods for prevention of rabies.

Rabies is caused by a virus present in the saliva of rabid animals. After the bite of a rabid animal, the virus enters
the nerves in the area of the bite. During an incubation period, which is usually between 20 and 90 days after
exposure, but has been documented to be as short as 10 days or as long as one year after exposure, the virus
multiplies and progresses up the nervous system to the spinal cord and the brain.

Once the infection has entered the nervous system, no treatment can prevent the eventual development of rabies and
death. Effective preventive therapy for rabies relies on attacking the virus while it is still in the tissues surrounding
the site of the bite and before it enters the nervous system.

Rabies is described epidemiologically as a zoonosis: that is, a disease which usually circulates among animals and
only occasionally infects man. In the absence of effective animal control programs, the disease may be prevalent in
dogs and may not only be transmitted from wild animals to dogs but also from dog to dog by bite exposure.

Geographic isolation, strict animal control, and strict quarantine on the importation of animals have enabled certain
parts of the world, including England, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and Hawaii to report being free of rabies. At
the other extreme, many countries, particularly third world countries, still have high levels of rabies endemic to
their dog population.
In the continental United States, Canada, and Alaska, rabies control programs centering on the immunization of
dogs, cats, and some livestock have set up a barrier of protection between rabies circulating in wild animals and the
human population. Although most mammals are susceptible to rabies, the disease is known to be prevalent naturally
in only a few species of wild animals.

In the United States these animals include skunks, foxes, raccoons, and, most recently, bats. Rodents such as rats,
mice, and squirrels usually do not transmit rabies and rodent bites are generally not considered to be an exposure to
the disease. As we discuss later, the increased prevalence of rabies in bats adds a new fear to the threat of rabies and
extreme new difficulties in the control of the disease. Some areas of the United States have not experienced rabies
in terrestrial animals for several years.

However, no area of the United States, except Hawaii, is considered to be free of rabies. Any bat bite or any bite
believed to have been caused by a bat should be considered as a serious exposure to rabies and should be treated as
such unless the bat has been captured and proven not to be rabid by laboratory examination of the brain.

Prevention of Rabies Now

Modern rabies control programs consist of immunizing domestic animals, mainly dogs and cats, and controlling
stray or abandoned animals by confinement or euthanasia. The cornerstone of rabies control in the United States is
immunization of all domestic pets and some livestock. All domestic pets, particularly dogs and cats, should receive
adequate rabies immunization annually from a licensed veterinarian. Most jurisdictions require that all domestic
pets have a certificate of rabies immunization or tag indicating the date of vaccination and type of vaccine used.

The keeping of exotic animals as domestic pets should be discouraged. Aside from other dangers associated with
exotic pets, many of them are capable of transmitting rabies and some species may undergo an incubation period
for rabies of several years. No rabies vaccines are available for many exotic species.

Skunks are particularly dangerous to keep as pets, especially in areas of high rabies activity. Even where rabies
activity is low, one is never sure of the origin of a skunk purchased from a pet store. There is no known vaccine
capable of preventing rabies in a skunk. Furthermore, rabid skunks develop a particularly high concentration of
rabies in their saliva, thus making the bite of a rabid skunk particularly dangerous.

In many areas it would be advisable to immunize valuable livestock against rabies. In areas of high incidence of
animal rabies one might consider immunizing all livestock. Fortunately many farm animals, such as horses and
cattle, often do not become aggressive when they develop rabies.

This may be fortunate in preventing some bites; however, many a farmer has been exposed to rabies when
examining a cow or horse for a possible foreign body in the mouth or throat, only to discover later that the animal
was rabid and was choking as a result of the rabies and not a foreign body.

A word of caution is in order about vaccines available to immunize animals against rabies. Different species of
animals have different degrees and types of susceptibility to rabies. Many rabies vaccines are made by modifying
live rabies virus in such a way that it does not cause clinical rabies in the species for which it is intended but still
generates adequate immunity in the animal.

Use of a rabies vaccine in a species for which it is not intended may not adequately immunize the animal, and
worse, might even cause rabies when administered to a species which is susceptible to the particular modification of
the virus.
When administering rabies immunization to animals, be sure that the label or package insert indicates safety and
efficacy in the species which is to be inoculated. In many cases, several different types of rabies vaccine may have
to be purchased in order to inoculate the various species on a homestead. Never use a rabies vaccine intended for
animals on humans. Severe and possibly fatal reactions could result.

Remember that no rabies vaccine is 100% effective. Large doses of rabies virus caused by bites from highly
infectious animals can easily overwhelm the body defenses of the animal even if it has been previously immunized.
Therefore, especially in areas of high incidence of rabies, consider the possibility of rabies in any sick animal and
be cautious when performing an examination.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis

Persons with a high risk of being exposed to rabies such as veterinarians or humane society workers should receive
immunization with rabies vaccine. The only rabies vaccine currently available for humans in the United States is
manufactured by growing rabies virus in duck eggs, and is known as duck embryo vaccine or DEV. Duck embryo
vaccine does not have as many serious side effects as previously used rabies vaccines.

Even so, 30% of those receiving six doses of duck embryo vaccine have severe and painful reactions at the injection
site. There are no known incidents of fatal reactions to duck embryo vaccine; however, a small number (less than
1%) of recipients react by going into anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening reaction. Therefore, duck embryo
vaccine should only be administered under the careful supervision of a physician.

Several different dosage regimens have proven to be successful in the pre-exposure prophylaxis. One such regimen
consists of three individual doses of vaccine given at one-week intervals and a booster dose at three months. A
slower alternative schedule of one dose a month for two months followed by a booster at six months is also
acceptable. Such regimens will produce protective antibodies against rabies in 80 to 90% of the recipients.

Since it is impossible to tell which individuals will fail to develop protection, it is recommended that a blood
specimen be taken two to four weeks after the booster dose and tested for the presence of rabies antibodies. If
antibodies are absent, additional boosters can be given until a response is obtained. Persons at continued risk should
receive single booster doses at least every three years.

A person who has had adequate immunization against rabies and demonstrated antibodies in his blood need only
receive a short series of five daily injections of duck embryo vaccine plus a booster twenty days later if exposed to
rabies. This combination of pre-exposure immunization and a short series of boosters after exposure gives far better
protection and causes far fewer reactions than the twenty-three dose series necessary after exposure of an
un-immunized individual.

Except in areas with a high incidence of rabies, most physicians do not encounter exposures to rabies often enough
to be familiar with rabies prophylaxis. Even fewer are familiar with the regimens used for pre-exposure
prophylaxis. Physicians desiring information on pre-exposure prophylaxis against rabies can usually obtain
assistance from their local or state health departments.
Post-exposure prophylaxis

If an individual who has not received pre-exposure prophylaxis for rabies is bitten by an animal, a determination
must be made as to whether or not a rabies exposure has occurred. If bitten by a wild animal, an effort should be
made to capture or kill the animal, without damaging its brain, if this can be done without further danger to the
victim or any other person. The brain should then be sent to your state health department for rabies examination.

If the animal cannot be captured or killed, a determination must be made on the basis of the factors surrounding the
exposure: whether or not the skin is broken, the species of animal, the degree of animal rabies in the area, and other
considerations. The individual concerned should consult a physician immediately, and the physician can seek
assistance from the local or state health department in evaluating the factors surrounding the exposure.

If the biting animal is a dog or cat, the bite should be reported to appropriate local authorities immediately. Local
and state ordinances governing the handling of dog or cat bite situations vary from state to state. If the dog or cat
can be identified or captured, one common procedure is to have a veterinarian determine whether or not the dog or
cat is ill at the time of exposure and review records of rabies immunization for the animal.

If the dog or cat is vaccinated and is not ill at the time of bite, it is usually quarantined and observed for a period of
10 days. If the animal is unvaccinated or it becomes ill during the quarantine period, it is usually sacrificed and the
brain examined at the state health department laboratory to determine whether it is rabid.

If state or local ordinances do not require the sacrificing of the animal and the owner is uncooperative, it is
sometimes advisable to begin post-exposure rabies prophylaxis pending a 10-day observation period of the dog or
cat. If the animal is found not to have rabies, treatment can be discontinued.

Post-exposure treatment of persons who have been determined to have a significant rabies exposure, and who have
not had pre-exposure prophylaxis consists of a twofold approach. Treatment is aimed at developing antibody to
rabies virus to attack and destroy the virus in the individual’s tissues at the bite site before it enters the nervous
system. Duck embryo vaccine is given in a series of twenty-three doses, the first twenty-one being given over a
period of 14 to 21 days with two additional boosters given at ten and twenty days after completion of the
twenty-one day series.

Since it takes several days to develop antibodies against rabies, additional protection is needed during the first
several days after exposure. This is provided by injection of human rabies immune globulin (HRIG), made from the
blood of persons immunized against rabies. It contains a high concentration of antibodies against rabies and is
injected intramuscularly to the exposed individual as soon as possible after exposure. HRIG and the first dose of
duck embryo vaccine may be given simultaneously to the individual at different sites.

HRIG has few, if any, side effects and is a much safer preparation than the previously available anti-rabies serum
which was made from horse or goat blood. It is strongly suggested that at the time of the twenty-third dose of duck
embryo vaccine, blood be drawn from the individual and sent for determination of the level of rabies antibody.

If the individual has not developed an antibody by this time, it may be possible to make arrangements through the
state health department and the US Center for Disease Control for administration of a new experimental rabies
vaccine which rapidly develops protective antibodies in most individuals.
It is far better to avoid exposure to rabies, or to undergo pre-exposure prophylaxis if one must continue to expose
oneself to a high risk of acquiring rabies, than it is to undergo the painful and dangerous post-exposure prophylaxis
regimen. Because of the complexity of the decision that needs to be made and the risk of the treatment,
post-exposure prophylaxis should only be administered under the careful supervision of a qualified physician.

Prevention of Rabies in a Survival Condition

In a crisis situation with the breakdown of rabies control programs, the danger of rabies will be markedly increased
in all portions of the country. Many rural areas of the country are already plagued with packs of abandoned dogs
that roam wild and hungry in the woods.

These dogs are dangerous enough in the present situation but with the addition of rabies and the increased numbers
that would accompany a crisis situation, these dogs and other wild animals will present a severe danger to both
humans and livestock. In addition, the ubiquitous nature of bat rabies will facilitate the rapid spread of the disease
in terrestrial animals in all parts of the country.

The first order of protection against rabies in a survival situation should be based on developing a barrier of
immunized animals between the wild potentially rabid animals and the human population. All domestic animals and
livestock should be immunized against rabies and their immunization kept current on a yearly basis. Any wild dogs
which appear on the property should be immediately destroyed, as should any abnormally behaving wild animals.

One should do whatever possible to eliminate bat habitats within one’s property. This of course is extremely
difficult in rural situations since barns and other outbuildings tend to attract bats. Keeping doors tightly closed and
covering all openings with heavy steel hardware cloth may prevent the entry of bats and reduce their numbers.

Duck embryo vaccine does not store for long periods of time and human rabies immune globulin has an extremely
short storage period. Both require refrigeration for storage. In addition, the vaccine, and especially the globulin, are
extremely expensive with the total combined price on the order of $300 per person treated. Considering the severe
side effects of duck embryo vaccine, I would hesitate to recommend pre-exposure prophylaxis with duck embryo
vaccine as preparation for the survival situation at this time.

A new, more potent vaccine which has fewer side effects has been used in other countries for several years. This
vaccine is currently undergoing licensure testing in the United States and hopefully will be available commercially
within the next year. With the availability of this vaccine, the number of doses necessary to achieve immunity and
the danger of side effects will be reduced.

At that time, one might give serious consideration to obtaining pre-exposure prophylaxis using the new vaccine for
all members of a survival group. A small number of doses of duck embryo vaccine or the new vaccine could be
stored and rotated for use as booster doses should anyone be bitten.

In a survival situation, if anyone is bitten by a wild animal, the animal should be killed and buried as soon as
possible. Caution should be observed in handling the carcasses of wild animals because rabies virus will be present
in the skin and all bodily secretions. When attempting to skin any wild animal, whether or not rabid, one should
always wear gloves.

Many trappers have had serious exposure to rabies while skinning raccoons which they had trapped and which were
later proven to be rabid. Not only can rabies be transmitted by skinning animals, but other diseases such as plague
and tularemia can also be acquired in this manner.
If there is any medical care available, such care should be sought immediately. The risks in this situation are
extremely high and one should not self-treat if there is any possibility of obtaining professional care. While
awaiting medical care, the bite wound should be scrubbed with soap and water and rinsed thoroughly, followed by
thorough scrubbing with a solution of 1:750 or 1:100 benzalkonium chloride (brand name Zephiran and others).

This is a germicidal solution which has a good killing effect upon rabies virus. One should be cautioned, however,
that this solution is a poor germicide for other applications and is easily contaminated. I would advise purchasing
several small bottles of this solution to be stored unopened until needed.

It is recommended that this solution be used only for animal bites when the possibility of rabies is suspected. Better
germicidal solutions are available for cleansing wounds for purposes of preventing infection other than rabies.
Because the benzalkonium chloride solution is easily contaminated and can support the growth of some pathogenic
bacteria, the solution should be maintained unopened until used and any leftover solution discarded.

Therefore, the use of multiple small bottles obtained commercially and stored unopened is recommended instead of
taking the risk of contaminating one large bottle, even though this may be less expensive. If the individual has
previously undergone pre-exposure prophylaxis for rabies, a booster series of duck embryo vaccine may be given as
described previously. When the new vaccine is available, the booster dose may be administered using the new
vaccine, which will require only one or two booster doses.

If the individual has not undergone pre-exposure prophylaxis and human rabies immune globulin is not available
(as would most likely be the case since its storage life is so short), the full series of duck embryo vaccine may be
administered if there is a risk of rabies. This series of duck embryo vaccine does offer a great degree of protection
against acquiring rabies even when the human rabies immune globulin is not available.

The risks of using duck embryo vaccine should be balanced with the probability of rabies exposure. Again, if the
new vaccine is available, the risk will be considerably reduced and the number of injections necessary will be

If rabies vaccine is unavailable and the individual has not undergone pre-exposure prophylaxis one may give some
consideration to the method used in preventing rabies prior to the invention of rabies vaccine by Pasteur in 1885. As
with most viruses, rabies virus is susceptible to heat and cauterization of the wound will kill the rabies virus and in
all probability prevent the development of clinical rabies.

Unfortunately, cauterization is extremely painful and does considerable tissue damage. This method will leave the
victim extremely debilitated and impair the function of the portion of the body (most often an arm or leg) which has
been treated. Therefore, this form of treatment should be undertaken only in extreme situations where the risk of
rabies is extremely high and there is no possibility of obtaining proper treatment.

Under these circumstances, cauterization should be carried out using a red hot metal rod in a manner similar to a
branding iron. The tissue in and about the wound should be heated until it is charred. It is hardly necessary to say
this is extremely painful and will cause permanent damage. This method should be reserved for only the most
extreme emergency situations where proper medical treatment can not be obtained within 10 days after the bite.
The decision to use cauterization must take place the first few hours after the bite. After this time, the virus may
have migrated beyond the wound site, rendering cauterization useless. In persons who have undergone pre-exposure
prophylaxis, the risk of cauterization is probably greater than the risk of rabies, so that cauterization probably
should not be used in this situation. Neither method is foolproof and there are considerable risks in both cases.

Obviously, the best way to prevent having to go to this extreme is to protect yourself from rabies by keeping one's
pets and livestock immunized and preventing the entry of wild animals, particularly bats, to the area of your
homestead. Serious consideration should be given to pre-exposure prophylaxis with the new rabies vaccine when it
is available. With rabies, even more than with other diseases, prevention is far better than treatment after the fact.