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Bug Out Bag Preparation
Are you interested in learning more about survival and prepping?
Do you want to ensure the safety of your family in the event of a disaster?
Survival Skills
Zombie Survival
Survive a Nuclear Attack
Since nuclear weapons (aka nukes, nuclear bombs, atomic bombs) were first used during WWII, the world has been asking itself how to survive a nuclear attack or nuclear war. Now, with nuclear threats popping up around the world, Google searches for how to survive a nuclear attack are on the rise.

In the past we’ve been protected from the threat of nuclear attack and nuclear war by things like the idea of mutually assured destruction (MAD). This is where countries like the US and (at the time) the Soviet Union would never attack each other because it was understood that if it would end in the complete destruction of both countries.
How to Survive a Nuclear Attack

A lot of what goes into preparing to survive a nuclear attack is the same as prepping for any other disaster.

Have a plan before a nuclear attack is likely.

Everything starts with planning ahead. If you’re already of a preparedness mindset, then you’re most likely well on your way. If you aren’t already getting prepared, it’s never too late! Taking action today could save you and your family in the event of a nuclear attack or even a full-scale nuclear war. After an attack occurs is not the time that you should first be asking how to survive a nuclear attack.

Your plan will mostly revolve around the storage of food, water, medical supplies, etc. These will allow you to spend several days indoors and sealed up away from the radiation outside. Proper pre-planning is how to survive a nuclear attack.

This plan should also include choosing a room in your house to use as a shelter in place room. This room should be the area that provides the most shielding from radiation for you and your family. It should normally be where you store your supplies as well since this will allow you to already have everything in one place in the case of a nuclear attack. Rooms below ground level, with no windows, will work the best.

The Best SHTF Vehicle
Go Bag List
The Best Bug Out Bag List

It seems like putting together the best bug out bag (or B.O.B.) checklist is one of those things that every preparedness website has to do. The thing that other sites often ignore is the fact that everyone has different needs and lives in different environments. This bug out bag is for you and your family!

This article is going to cover everything that we at Ready Lifestyle believe are bug out bag essentials. Then we’re going to give you a range of options to fill those needs. By examining each section, you’ll be able to tailor a kit to meet your needs, no matter what they are, so you have the best bug out bag list that you can put together.

We’ve decided to focus on developing a set of tool to help you put together the best bug out bag for you instead of just giving you a list of what makes the best bug out bag for us.


Who Needs a Bug Out Bag?

I always recommend bugging out only as a last resort, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be prepared to bug out. With our current political situation, both at home and worldwide, there are any number of possible scenarios that could cause us to have to bug out.

If you live in an urban environment the need for you to have a well thought-out and prepared bug out bag list is even more important. Everyone living in a city or a suburban environment is at an increased risk to experience political and civil unrest, riots and will likely feel the effects of a man-made disaster before those in less populated areas.

This doesn’t mean that those in a rural environment would never have to bug out. Many natural disasters, such as wildfires and hurricanes, could cause those in rural areas to have to bug out. Some people believe that after a disaster, those within the cities will migrate out to the rural areas. If this migration does take place, it’s one more reason for those in rural areas to be able to vacate quickly.

If you aren’t properly prepared and haven’t taken the time to put together a bug out bag, you could possibly find yourself having to evacuate your home at a moment’s notice with no food, no water, and no equipment. By having a go bag ready you ensure that you and your family will always have the minimum gear needed to survive.

We aim to provide you with a sampling of items that we feel would make a good addition to your bug out bag. As with all preparedness topics, you are the only one who knows your situation. You will have to modify the items in each category to best meet the needs of you and your family.

Guidelines for Selecting Items to Put on Your List

When putting items on this list it’s best to include items that have multiple uses. This cuts down on weight and the number of items that you have to buy and carry.

Don’t blindly select the least expensive gear out there. If you see two items that look very similar but have a large price difference, it’s probably because the less expensive item is made with lower quality materials. Of course, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes there are just items that present a very good value to the consumer.

The items on your list should be able to get you through the first 72 hours of an emergency. Some people even go so far as to call this a 72-hour bag. Try to include items that will allow you to survive past the 72-hour mark. Sustainability and reusability are important if we need to bug out.

As an example, putting 72 hours of water in your bag may seem like a good idea, but putting just two or three liters of water in your bag and adding a portable water filter will last you much longer.

Surviving Disaster
Bug Out Plan
Bug In or Bug Out? It Could Mean the Difference Between Life and Death.

When a Disaster Strikes, Should you Bug In or Bug Out?

Bug In or Bug Out?

Deciding if you are going to bug out or bug in is a personal choice. However, that choice should not be made lightly as it may the most important decision you make following a collapse.

Ultimately, your decision to bug out or bug in will be influenced by many things. Do you live in a city or do you live in a rural setting? Do you have family members that you need to meet up with? Are you part of a preparedness group? Do you have family members that cannot bug out? Do you have anywhere to bug out to? All of these questions and more will drive you toward your final decision.

I would argue that you should bug in under most circumstances. If you currently live in an area that will force you to bug out immediately after a collapse, you should move NOW. I understand that it is not always possible for any number of reasons. However, if you are serious about preparedness you should do everything in your power to get yourself out of that situation. You have already met the conditions for bugging out!

If you’re stuck living in an area that is going to immediately cause you to bug out in the event of a major disaster, then you need to prioritize building a bug out bag. Our article on putting together the perfect bug out bag list will get you thinking about what’s important for your situation and will help you choose the right gear.

When should you bug out? It really comes down to one thing…if you can no longer stay in place, you need to move. This can mean that your bug in location is under immediate threat of getting overrun by a hostile force, it can be the spread of nuclear fallout or any number of other things.

Your Location Impacts the Bug In or Bug Out Decision

Bugging in should be an easy decision for rural preppers. If you are already off on your own, you should have some more time to fully assess the situation before needing to bug out.

Living in a small town, or even a suburban area, could prove to be an ideal situation. Gardening will be easier than in the city and you are probably far enough away from the interior of the city to not suffer the drawbacks of that environment. A small town also lends itself to building a true community capable of defending itself and producing for itself.

The Length of the Event Could Force you to Bug Out

Modern cities only exist because of our current transport and agricultural capabilities. This means that as the grid-down situation progresses it will become more likely that you will need to bug out of a city.

If you prescribe to the train of thought that there will be a mass exodus of people from the cities, then that could cause the suburban and rural preppers to need to bug out. This assumes that conditions will deteriorate to the point that everyone will leave in search of food, water, and stability. Even though the people outside of the city may be unaffected to this point, the flood of people could push them out of their homes.

The Type of Disaster/Event May Impact Your Choice

A pandemic or other type of event that is exacerbated by large populations is an obvious losing situation for those bugging in inside of the city.

Man-made events (conflict, economic collapse, etc.,) will probably take on a different look. In these situations, the collapse could come on gradually as banks run out of money or other events slowly unfold. A slow collapse event could bring with it martial law or enhanced rule of law. I think the chances of martial law affecting everyone is roughly equal unless you live in a remote area.

The Advantages of Bugging Out

If your family is spread out across a state, or several states, then you could all travel to one predetermined place following a collapse.

Similarly, a group of like-minded people could all bug-out to a predetermined location. This would benefit those who cannot find other preppers in their local area.

Bugging-out is the only way to escape an event that is directly affecting your bug-in location.

The Disadvantages of Bugging Out

In my mind, the disadvantages of bugging-out far outweigh the advantages.

When you bug-out, you give up everything that you cannot take with you until you arrive at your bug-out location.

Your bug-out location needs to also be stocked or you will still only have what you brought with you.
Deciding what to take can increase the amount of time that it takes to bug-out. A solid checklist should be part of your bug-out plan.

You and your family are relatively unprotected until you arrive at your bug-out location.
Most people will try to bug-out after it is too late. If bugging out is your plan, then you should be ready to leave before a major event occurs. Trying to time this could lead to false alarms or not leaving early enough.

Roads could easily get bogged down with traffic, leaving you stuck on highways and access roads. If this happens you could end up unable to get to your bug-out location and unable to return home.
When you bug-out in a vehicle you’re reliant on fuel. Bugging out on foot is limited by your physical abilities and what can be carried.

The sick, injured, disabled and elderly may not be able to bug out.

The Advantages of Bugging In

You have all of your stores available to you.

The area is already familiar to you. This greatly increases your ability to secure your home and the area around your home. Defending from the door is not an option!

If you have networked with your neighbors, then you can use those relationships to your advantage.
For the sick, injured, disabled and elderly this may be the only option.

The Disadvantages of Bugging In

If your home or neighborhood is directly affected by the event then staying in the area may not be the best idea. Of course, this will vary depending on the type of event.

Staying in place will be a bad idea if you live in a high crime neighborhood. With limited police presence, crime will most likely skyrocket.

Bugging in can make you, your family and your stores an easy target if you don’t have a solid security plan. Trying to simply hide in your home without finding out what is happening outside could be a death sentence.

There is a lot more to surviving a catastrophic event than simply bugging in or bugging out. Check out all of our articles about surviving a collapse of society here and if you’re interested in looking into a survival axe, be sure to read our in-depth look at their benefits.

Preparing for SHTF
Emergency Preparedness
How to Prepare for a Flood

Preparing for a flood is extremely important. Flooding is one of the most common natural disasters in the United States (and in many other parts of the world). It occurs across the country, but those that live in areas that are lower in elevation than a nearby body of water (streams, lakes, oceans, etc.) are especially at risk. Knowing how to prepare for a flood can save you and your family.
In fact, flooding can be so dangerous, that it is one of the few disasters that I suggest bugging out for.

Floods kill more people in the United States every year than lightning, hurricanes or tornadoes. They also cause roughly $5 billion a year in damages. This is due, in part, to complacency by those in flood areas. Water is just not all that intimidating compared to other types of disasters.

Flooding can occur in a number of ways. The most common ways are when the ground in an area cannot absorb rain or melting snow, strong winds push seawater inland during a storm, when a waterway is blocked by ice and debris or when a man-made structure like a dam or sewer breaks.

Types of Floods

Inland Floods

Inland flooding normally occurs during periods of extended rainfall or when dams and levees fail. The ground cannot absorb the water fast enough resulting in flooding.

Flash Floods

Flash floods are the most dangerous type of flood and can occur with no warning at all. They are the number one cause of weather-related deaths. They occur when water quickly fills normally dry streams and river beds or when storm drains become overwhelmed.

Areas affected by wildfires can contribute to flash flooding. Once the vegetation is burned off of an area, rainwater can flow quickly downhill sides and mountains into areas of lower elevation.
Flash flooding in canyons is another possibility. Heavy rainfall can quickly fill the canyon floor causing what can only be described as rapids for miles down the canyon.

Urban areas struck by flash flooding are especially at risk as they are normally covered in either concrete or asphalt, preventing flood waters from being absorbed. Runoff from buildings only compounds the effect. This channels the water over roadways and sidewalks and into low areas like underpasses, subway tunnels, parking structures and basements.

If you are in an urban area that can experience flash flooding, DO NOT seek shelter in these areas. You could easily become trapped and drown.

River Floods

River flooding normally accompanies long periods of heavy rainfall causing water levels to rise over the top of the river bank. Severe tropical storms can cause river flooding in a relatively short period of time. Melting snow and ice can increase the chances of a river flood.

Coastal Floods

Floods along the coast are caused by a combination of storm surge (rising water levels caused by high winds) and heavy rainfall. If these are combined with a high tide, water levels can get especially high. Look at the pictures of the after effects of Hurricane Katrina for an example of the possible destructive power of storm surge.

As we saw with hurricane Irma, the storm surge can be the most disastrous potion of many major storms.

This video from FEMA explains storm surge in more detail.

Am I at risk of flooding?

For those in the United States, FEMA has a website at FloodSmart.gov that is designed to help you evaluate your overall flood risk. Unfortunately, it is currently down and redirects you to the national flood insurance program page.

Once FloodSmart.gov is back up, it should provide better info than what is currently provided on the flood insurance page.

For the time being, you can use their interactive flood map. It allows you to see the number of occurrences of floods by state and further breaks it down by county.

There is also a printable flood map available. It allows you to type in your address or Lat/Long coordinates to get a printable flood map of your area. This would be good to have pre-printed and stored along with any other plans you may have.

Say what you want about FEMA, but their site has a ton of useful prepping information on it if you’re willing to dig far enough.

Even if you are not at risk of flooding where you are now, make sure you take the threat of flooding into account for any bug out location you may have planned as well as along the route you will likely have to take to get there.
Floods can wash out roads and cause mudslides.

When is flooding likely to occur?

Trying to predict floods is difficult unless you understand the risks associated with your area.
For the United States, June to November are considered hurricane season. This puts the coasts at higher risk during those times. Heavy rain puts the Midwest at risk in the summer, and the Southwest is at risk during the later summer. The Northeast and Northwest are at a higher risk in the spring when melting snow will add to any rainfall.

How long will flood waters stay around?

The length of time that flood waters will stay in an area will vary depending on the severity of the flood and the environmental conditions.

FEMA quotes times from 4-8 hours with longer times being common. In the end, it’s all going to come down to the severity of the flooding. Flooding following Katrina lasted for weeks.

Flood Watches and Flood Warnings

A flood watch occurs when the conditions are right for a flood to occur. A flood warning is issued when flooding is occurring or it’s about to start.

How to Prepare for a Flood

I’m going to cover preparing for a flood in a modern “grid-up” environment. If you were preparing for a flood in a grid-down situation, many of these steps would be the same. The ones that wouldn’t apply, like getting insurance, will be pretty obvious.

If you are in a flood-prone area, I’d suggest getting flood insurance policy. You probably have to have it anyway, and on the off chance that your home gets damaged by a flood you’re going to want it. Think of insurance as just another prep. You have food and water just in case something bad happens…you get insurance for the same reason.

It takes about 30 days for flood insurance to kick in. Plan accordingly!

The best way to protect yourself from a flood is to leave the area if it’s at all possible. Before you go anywhere, make sure you prepare your house by doing the following:

Let local authorities know that you are moving to a safer place if you have time. This will prevent them from searching for you if there is a need for recovery operations following the flood.
Move valuable items and electronics to higher areas. Put them on the second floor, beds, countertops, etc.
Use a waterproof container or bag to store any vital documents and medical supplies.
Take your animals with you. If you can’t, then you need to make sure they have food and water and are in the safest place that you can put them.
Leave the doors to your refrigerators and freezers open. This will help to prevent them from floating around and causing damage to your house.
Turn off electricity, water, and gas to your home.
Put sandbags in your toilets and over and drains in the laundry room or bathroom. This will keep sewage from backing up into your home. (Do this even if you plan on staying during the flood.)

Using Sandbags to Redirect and Divert Flood Water

I’m not going to insult anyone’s intelligence by going super in depth about sandbags. These are just some tips and best practices for flood water and general sandbag use.

Use bags around 14-18” wide and about 30-36” deep. Any purpose made sandbag will be around this size.

Fill them roughly ½ way. This makes them easy to move and set into place. It also makes them moldable enough to get a tight seal.

Don’t bother tying the bags unless you plan on storing them. It’s best to set up close to the area you’re trying to protect. Fill a bag then just lay it in place with the opening folded under itself to keep the flap closed.

Interlock the sandbags as you stack them and place the flap in the direction you think the water will be coming from. This will help to keep the bags closed in the water flow.

You can improvise a sandbag filling station with a couple 2x4s and a traffic cone or even a ladder as you can see in the picture below. There is no need for expensive, single-purpose sandbag filling contraptions.

(and I did it anyway…200 words about sandbags…)

Precautions to Take During the Flood

Only walk or drive through flood waters as a last resort. Six inches of moving water can knock a person over and one foot of moving water is enough to sweep away a vehicle.

Flood water is often contaminated with sewage and can spread diseases. You can read more about waterborne diseases in this article. Try to keep anything that touches flood water away from your mouth, nose, and eyes. Coming in contact with feces-contaminated water is one of the main ways that waterborne pathogens are spread.

Even if you have a jacked up pick-up or SUV, it’s recommended not to drive into the water. You have no idea what is under the surface and moving water can quickly erode walkways and roads.
There is a possibility that live underground or downed power lines are in standing water.

If flood water rises around your vehicle but is not moving, you should attempt to get to safety. You should not try to escape into running water.

Lessons Learned From Hurricane Katrina and Sandy

Hurricane Katrina and Sandy were not simply floods, they obviously had high winds associated with the damage they caused, but a vast amount of damage was caused by the flooding that accompanied them. This allows us to look at them and take away some lessons learned. We should always strive to learn from disasters.

Large-scale flooding that took place during Katrina and Sandy leaves TONS (as in weight) of debris behind. That needs to be taken into consideration when you finally come home or as you recover from home.

A sump-pump, or another way to remove the standing water in your home, may be needed when you finally make your way back home to begin recovering.

Communication channels cannot handle the sheer volume of people all trying to communicate at once when a large-scale disaster happens in a densely populated area. Other means of communication become important. Twitter was used extensively by survivors of Sandy. Be creative and think outside of the box when it comes to making contact with loved ones.

Even when the government is in power and able to direct recovery operations following an event, they can still easily be overwhelmed.

You need to be prepared for martial law or some other kind of enhanced rule of law following large-scale natural disasters.

Fuel and just in time food delivery could be interrupted for weeks. The same goes for disruptions to electrical and water services. To better prepare for long-term flooding, you can stock clean water and non-perishable food items beforehand. This can be as simple as having several days worth of bottled water and canned food stored in the back of a closet.

Evacuating to a government-run camp is a “use at your own risk” proposition. Just read this one story following Hurricane Katrina.

There are far more reasons to be prepared than people like to admit.

Our other Emergency Preparedness articles look at a wide range of disaster prepping scenarios. Go check them out.

Best Bug Out Bag Hatchet
Survival Tools
The Survival Axe

A survival axe is often much more efficient than a knife in a survival situation. They allow you to gather and split firewood more efficiently, can speed up the processing of game and they’re also useful in the creation of shelters.
When you bring an axe with you, you have a hammer, a weapon, a survival knife, a way to prepare game, and more all rolled into one. As people concerned with preparedness and survivalism, it makes sense consider adding a survival axe to our bug out bag list.

Survival Axes – The Three Basic Types

Axe

The traditional axe is the largest of the three. An axe’s handle is normally two to three feet long and the head is the heaviest of the three. Axes are best for chopping large trees thanks to the leverage you gain from their longer handle and larger head. This gives them much more cutting power than a hatchet or tomahawk.

Hatchet

The handles of hatchets are usually 10 to 13 inches long with a head between 1 and 2 lbs. Hatchets are traditionally used for outdoor activities and camping. They have shorter handles and lighter heads compared to a normal axe, this means that they cannot chop as efficiently but they’re much easier to pack around than their larger cousins.

Tomahawk

The tomahawk is roughly the same size as a hatchet, but typically has the lightest head and smallest cutting edge of the three. Unlike the hatchet, the traditional tomahawk is designed primarily as a weapon and a tool second. The size and shape of the head makes it more suited to fighting than it does chopping. This doesn’t mean that tomahawks cannot be used for cutting or chopping, it simply means that they will not be as efficient as most hatchets or axes.

What to Look for in a Survival Axe

The Head

Much of what makes each axe different is the head. The shape of the blade is going to determine what the axe is designed for and what tasks it is best suited for.
Axe heads with long flat heads and curved blades are made for cutting.
Axes that have a flat blade are better at carving than those with a curved blade but they aren’t as good at chopping.
An axe head that is shorter and thicker will split wood better than one that is long and flat, but it will have a harder time cutting than an axe that has a long thin head.
I think that you and I would be best served by an axe or hatchet that has a curved cutting edge. They’re stronger than a blade with a flat cutting edge and enhance the chopping power produced.

The Handle

Axe handles these days are normally made of metal, wood or synthetic materials.
Metal handled axes are obviously the strongest of the three. An axe with this type of handle is best suited for heavy work like demolition and rescue work. You won’t normally want a metal handled axe in a bug out bag, but I could see it being useful in an urban environment for use as a prybar.
Wooden handles are very good all around and offer a good strength to weight ratio. When selecting a wooden handled axe you should try to make sure that the grain of the wood travels from the read of the handle to the front (parallel to the axe head). A handle with the grain going from left to right will not be as strong.
Synthetic handles are popular in modern axes. They’re light and can be stronger than some wooden handles.
In my opinion, wooden handles are the way to go since they can usually be replaced with relative ease if they happen to break.

Overall Feel

The overall feel of the axe should be good when it’s in hand. The weight should be centered just below the head of the axe to aid in chopping and carving. The handle should be comfortable and not feel slick. Ideally, there will be a swell at the end of the handle to help prevent the axe from accidentally slipping out of your hands.
This really comes down to personal preference. You may prefer a rougher handle to prevent it from slipping, while others prefer a smoother handle that feels more comfortable to them.

The Different Uses for a Survival Axe

A good axe will fill many roles in your survival kit.

Chopping

Chopping is one of the most obvious uses for an axe. You should try to strike the wood at a 45-degree angle to be the most effective in your cuts. A full sized axe will allow you to tackle larger trees. If you have a hatchet or tomahawk you’ll be best served by going after smaller dead standing trees.
Limbing is the act of removing the limbs from a fallen tree. Tomahawks and hatchets are great at limbing larger trees that have already fallen. Start at the base of tree working toward the top, striking the limbs parallel to the trunk.
The US Forestry Service has a great guide covering everything you could want to know about cutting with axes.

Splitting

Axes with a short blade that are more wedge-like will split wood better than those that have a longer blade. Splitting will make getting a fire going much easier.

Firemaking

This video by IA Woodsman does a great job of demonstrating one way to process wood and get a fire going using a hatchet and ferrocerium rod. There are a ton of different methods for fire making out there but this video gives a great overview of the basic concept.

Defense

Any axe is going to be capable of creating devastating wounds if you have to use it as a weapon. A firearm should be your primary means of defense unless you live in a country that doesn’t allow you to own one.
If defense is one of the roles you need to fill with your axe, then a tomahawk will slightly edge out other forms of axes.

Prying

Prying isn’t something that most survival axes are designed for, but that doesn’t mean that you may not want to use it as a prying device. For urban environments, this will probably be more of an advantage than in rural environments.
Choosing an axe with a metal handle will make it so you’re less likely to damage the axe if prying is something you intend to use it for.
If you want to use your axe as a rescue tool in case of an emergency, like a flood, then prioritizing its prying abilities makes sense.

Choosing a Survival Axe That’s Right for You

Everything really comes down to selecting the axe that is going to work best for you in your particular situation. You have to weigh the pros and cons of each and decide what makes the most sense for you.

Axe

A full-size axe gives you the most chopping power that you’re likely to get in a survival situation. If you plan on processing thick trees at some point then you may want to consider a full sized axe.
In an urban environment, selecting a multi-use full-size axe could be a good idea. Having a large prybar and rescue tool as an integral part of your axe could actually save you some weight in the long run if you were thinking about added all of them to your bug out bag.
A full-size axe has two distinct disadvantages when used in a survival situation. They weigh more and take up more space, and they’re not really suited to finer work that you would normally associate with fire building and carving tasks.

Hatchet

If you’re worried about size and weight, and you’re not planning on chopping down full-size trees, then the hatchet probably fits what you’re looking for in an axe.
Hatchets are uniquely suited to chopping small dead standing trees, limbing trees and preparing a fire. They also make splitting wood much easier than if you were stuck batoning with a survival knife.
The main disadvantage is that you cannot easily chop down large trees or process large logs for a fire.
If you’re building a bug out bag for a wooded environment then I would strongly consider the hatchet as your axe of choice.

Tomahawk

The tomahawk has the same size and weight advantages that the hatchet possesses.
Many tomahawks have straight cutting edges which allow them to carve easier than rounded blades. The traditional hammer or spiked end opposite of the blade makes them a fearsome weapon and sometimes give them added utility over an axe or hatchet.
The disadvantages of the hatchet are magnified in a lot of tomahawk blade designs.
In my mind, a tomahawk really shines in an urban environment. The added utility of a spike for prying open doors or other objects immediately stands out to me.

Axe Maintenance

Keeping your survival axe well maintained will make it last much longer. Make sure it’s dry and oiled before putting it away to prevent rusting and always keep your blade sharp if at all possible. In survival situations, maintenance of tools may seem like an afterthought, but these tools may be all that are keeping you alive. Treat them accordingly.
Schrade has a pretty good video showing how to use an axe stone to keep the cutting edge of the blade nice and sharp.

Conclusion

Hatchets and tomahawks will probably provide you the most versatility in a survival situation. We prefer the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet, but in the end, your individual needs will drive the survival axe that you end up buying.
If you’re interested in discovering 40 great prepping tips, check out this article.
Please leave a comment if you found this helpful and check out our other preparedness articles.

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