HomePosts Tagged "grid down"

Air conditioning is a pretty modern convenience. There are still lots of countries where A/C is a luxury found only in hotels, restaurants, and the homes of the rich. Little beats retreating to a lake, basement or cellar for the afternoon, but we can look at them and back in history to the 1950s and earlier to figure out how we can make our lives a little bit more comfortable when we have outages or grid-down situations. There are a ton of ways we can help cool our bodies and little changes to activity and habits that can be incorporated for beating the heat in our homes, too, but for this article, I’m going to concentrate on the dwelling space itself.

Generate Shade

The more of our buildings that we can ring with shade of some kind, the cooler the building will stay. Even so, just shading the entrances and windows of homes, cellars, and workshops can help reduce the heat inside. Shading entrances is especially good in air-conditioned or cooled spaces. It helps reduce the sudden inversion that happens when the doors open. That can be huge for a cellar being filled with harvest.

There are three ways we can generate shade around our homes: window awnings, porches, and trees.

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Shading windows with a short but deep awning and sheer tier curtains to reduce heating from sunlight.

 

Shading with window awnings helps reduce the amount of sunlight that enters the home. Old-style window awnings are deep. They’re designed to protect starting fairly early in the morning, all the way through midday into afternoon.

However, they were typically placed so they don’t actually cover much of the window. That protects from the brutal summer sun when it’s taking a high arc, while allowing for natural light early in the morning and late in the evening as the sun is setting, and for more natural light during winter when the sun’s path is at a lower angle.

Covered porches have the same effect – creating a buffer around doors if not the whole side or house. The deeper the porch, the less light will get through. There are programs available online that can help people at various latitudes figure out exactly what depth is most ideal by the compass directions, but generally 6-8’ will reduce summertime heat while still allowing for decent winter light to enter.

Deciduous trees are ideal for the southern face of a building and are regularly used on the east and west sides as well. They shade in the summer and then allow light to pass through their empty limbs in winter.

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Image: The more shade we can generate, the cooler our interiors will stay.

Seasonal Window Dressing

Window dressing didn’t start out as the “just window dressing” that makes some of us crazy now. A lot of history is in all those fancy-do’s we drape around. While lace became vogue and sheers and tier curtains became the providence of rich folks, they started out as a way for poorer folks to gain some comfort without spending as much on fabric.

Sheers allow both light and airflow to enter the home, while the pale and white colors reflect back a lot of heat for us. Tier curtains originally protected the lower half of a window that wasn’t originally shaded by deep awnings or a shallower porch.

Today we also have light-blocking or “blackout” curtains. They’re typically a white backing that faces outward to bounce light and heat outside again, and any color at all that appeals on the inside. We can replicate them with white or pale green-sign Dollar Store/Tree shower curtains, or the real deal can be found even at Dollar General.

curtains

Blackout curtains reduce noon to daybreak, but because they also impact airflow, they’re more for our air-conditioned world with selective, judicious seasonal use in an outage or grid-down scenario.

Those light-blocking curtains with a solid surface are designed for an air-conditioned world, however. Pier 1 to Dollar General, they dampen airflow as well as light. If we’re going to be opening windows, we’d be better off hitting Goodwill/Salvation Army or a fabric store and picking up the oldest, thinnest white or pale-colored sheets or loose-weave blankets they have. Sheets have the bonus of a band at the top that makes for easy hanging, but there is iron-on fabric/sewing tape that can help even the most needle-challenged soul make some curtains.

Bonus Tip: We can get dark fabrics, sheets, blankets, towels, and shower curtains to get the reverse effect and create more passive solar heating in winter.

Elevated homes

In the time before air conditioning, a lot of homes were raised, with open airflow underneath. It’s still seen in some places, although it’s now more common in areas that flood or get damp in North America now.

 

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Even outside of flood plains and when windows were expensive, simple Southern shacks were elevated slightly to increase airflow and decrease inside temperature.

We can’t do much about getting a preexisting home up off a foundation, but if we decide to build from scratch or buy a new one, it’s worth thinking about. Trailers are elevated, but even modern trailers aren’t usually insulated to the same degree that a house can be, even retroactively. Unless it’s the only thing besides a windowless brick that fits the budget, being elevated isn’t enough of a selling point to go for a trailer.

Thick Construction

Houses used to be nice and sturdy, built thick and dense. In some cases, that can create an oven, but with some shade and some windows for airflow, dense construction can create very much a cave-like atmosphere. That functions both ways, heat and cold, working to keep the house or building a more constant temperature.

We can sometimes cheat our way to denser walls and ceilings even in a home we already own. The thicker we pack our insulation – and the higher the grade of the insulation we use – the more solid our walls become. It’s not that difficult to pop off drywall and replace insulation, or add additional layers to it, overlapping the edges and layers as often as possible, and it can make a big difference in our daily life energy costs as well as during grid-down times.

If we don’t want to do the whole house, we might consider doing it either on the south or west side where the sunlight and heat are most brutal, or we might consider re-insulating the ceiling of a basement to create a heat-relief cave. We could also consider buffing up the insulation if we have an interior washroom, an isolated kitchen, or some other space that generates a lot of heat.

Airflow

We can’t do much about lifting our ceilings or putting in more or wider windows without a lot of expense, but both contributed hugely to cooling homes pre-A/C.

Tall ceilings allow heat to rise and collect up out of the human-use space nearer the floor. The advent of fans increased this hugely. A fan blowing just down or across us from the ceiling or a stand feels pretty darn good. Switching the rotation or blades so that fans are actively drawing air upwards instead of blowing down was a big help.

Even with A/C, a floor fan tilted to blow cool air up away from the floor and into our living space helps lower our electrical power use even in modern times.

Fan

Even a small fan set to blow back up from the floor can make a huge difference in our power draws (and bills). They function similarly to the historic use of ceiling fans to draw heat up but instead, they keep cool air from settling at our ankles.

 

Fans can also be placed in windows. In cool weather, they’re set to draw air inside. In warmer weather, they get flipped to help shove hot air out – especially helpful in the kitchen, just like when we set off the smoke detector while frying chicken.

Fans in windows can be a big help anywhere, and make a ton of difference for homes with few windows, a lot of turns, and little natural airflow.

Homes were originally designed not to block airflow, with room flowing into each other, large pocket or double doors in central areas, and copious windows that were arranged for cross ventilation. If we have the chance to buy or build, or renovate, they’re something to add to the list to check for. We can also find out where the weight-bearing walls are and remove one or widen doorways into arches to improve airflow.

Fans can also be used to help direct airflow from one end of the funky corners or dead spaces we get a lot in modern construction to another, but with kids and pets, the oddball placement required usually isn’t worth that one. However, since fans run off so much less power than an A/C, it’s an idea to stick in the back of our heads for an outage.

Whole House Fans

These aren’t just an attic fan. These are a specific cookie that does a specific job, and does that job best under specific conditions.

This guy http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/fans-attic-do-they-help-or-do-they-hurt does such a good job explaining a whole-house fan and the conditions, I’m just going to thumbnail it. There’s also a comparison here http://www.airscapefans.com/learn-about/whole-house-vs-attic-fans.php.

Basically, a whole-house fan is specifically for cooling the house, not the attic. A whole-house fan gets turned on at night with all the windows open. It’s function is to suck all the hot air from the day up into and then out of the attic. The vacuum draws in the cooler nighttime air, especially early in the morning when it’s coolest. Then the windows and vents in the house all get shut, holding that cool air for as long as possible. The denser the construction, the better the insulation and tightness of windows, and the more shade in the afternoon, the better it works.

It’s not like opening the house to cool off when we’re pretty sure we’re running the A/C almost all day tomorrow, because the A/C is actually more efficient without having to pump out all the moisture we’re going to let in.

This isn’t a “today” deep-summer fix for most of us who deal with 90-100+ temperatures, although it can reduce temps by 10-15 degrees even into afternoon, which helps keep us from running our A/Cs at times when it’s more comfortable (reducing power costs). However, in an outage of any duration, a whole house fan – which is pulling a lot less energy and requires a less robust generator – dropping the house from more than 95 degrees F down to 85 or 80 is something of a gift. Even if it only lasts to midday and then we have to reopen the house and run house fans with the temperature creeping up into “totally miserable”, it gives us more time to do canning chores and it can make for much, much more comfortable sleeping.

Alternate Sleeping Quarters

When it was really brutally hot and sticky, folks used to take to their fire escapes and front porches to sleep. Hammocks and cots indoors or outside under mosquito netting or a fly film pavilion help by increasing airflow compared to a standard mattress.

Air mattresses and air beds are fabulous little creations that can help keep us indoors, but accomplish almost the same thing – a fun fact I learned very recently as furniture made it one way, the wrong way, and faced delays in a move. They need to be fairly decent, though. I’m partial to Coleman. I’m not allowing another Intex into my house. Others’ results may vary.

air-bed

Air beds aren’t just for camping. A good air bed or air mattress on top of existing box frames or mattresses can help reduce heat while sleeping, providing more relief in summer the way hammocks once offered a cool-air option on the porch for sticky southern nights and afternoon siestas.

 

I have no idea how exactly air beds/mattresses manage it, but I can guess that the big pocket of air they store acts like insulation and then becomes a cold sink. I came to this conclusion because I’ve found that air beds are cooler than air mattresses. With an air mattress, I’m comfortable a few degrees warmer than usual. With an air bed I’m sleeping like a baby and reaching for a light blanket at the temperatures where I’m normally tossing and turning on our (stupidly expensive, was-going-to-be-perfect) $1K mattress system and crazy expensive stay-cool pillows. It was significant enough a reduction while I was by myself for a month, I threw one on the guest bed and I just sleep there when I’m hot (most nights).

Cooling Homes & Selves

There are lots of ways we can cool ourselves as well as our homes. Certain animals, the elderly, young children, and people with respiratory issues (even just allergies) are more sensitive to heat and heat stresses, and it’s important to know ways to help them and have somewhere for them to retreat from the heat. That might mean rigging an Egyptian cooler so there are cool, damp cloths for wiping down, or it might mean putting together enough of a battery bank or quiet generator to keep fans going. We’ll adjust, to some degree, but if a crisis hits during summer or it’s just a temporary outage, knowing some ways to cool a house can help with the adjustment.

This is about houses, but I can’t miss the chance to plug water. In high heat, I consume a gallon and a half of just water, and another gallon of things made with water. Getting some fans, getting fixed-shut windows opened, and installing screens are important, but we also need to be budgeting for water, whether it’s storage or catchment or our backup well or spring systems. Being 10 degrees cooler isn’t going to save us from dropping due to dehydration.

The more of our buildings that we can ring with shade of some kind, the cooler the building will stay. Even so, just shading the entrances and windows of homes,

Have you ever run out of gas? Imagine running out of gas when gas stations are no longer pumping fuel or you are on route to your bug out location after some really bad stuff has gone down. You aren’t able to call AAA anymore and your buddy probably can’t come to pick you up. You thought ahead to carry some extra fuel, but long lines in traffic and multiple detours have depleted even your additional supplies.

If the situation called for it and you were desperate, would you know how to siphon gas from a car?

Many of us have tried this before with mixed results. I can remember shoving a length of garden hose in the tank of an old Ford truck I had and drawing the gas out with my mouth. In case you were wondering, a mouth full of gas is not a pleasant experience and it takes a whole lot of brushing to get that taste out.

This manual method is only slightly better with clear plastic tubing but you still run the risk of getting some amount of gas in your mouth.

Would this be acceptable in a grid down situation? Of course, if there was no other option. However, with a little planning and practice now, you can have a solution to your fuel needs in an emergency.

How to get gas out of a car

It would stand to reason that in even the most dire, apocalyptic scenarios you can imagine, there will be gas somewhere. We have gas in cars obviously, stashed in lawnmowers and in spare cans in sheds. Businesses have diesel stored in forklifts and heavy equipment. Gas at fuel stations can even be tapped into with a little know-how even if the electricity isn’t working. Gas is a vitally important resource and even if we have some global EMP, this fuel will still be valuable to the people who can obtain it but not everyone has experience with getting gas out of their car short of driving it around all day.

Cars that have been abandoned would seem to be some of the best and easiest places to acquire extra fuel to keep you going. I am not advocating stealing but should you determine that your situation requires it, siphoning gas can be a pretty simple way to get an extra few gallons in an emergency. Even 3 extra gallons could potentially get you dozens of miles away from danger or just closer to your destination.

Another good reason to keep an empty fuel tank in your car. Carol is always prepared…

Older cars didn’t have some of the anti-theft measures that more modern vehicles have now that make getting gas from a car more of a challenge. Depending on your situation, even with anti-theft devices, you can still get fuel. The process is basically the same regardless of the vehicle but the methods might need to change. You simply need to draw or drain the fuel in one tank to a container. The easiest way to do this requires gravity and a little help from a siphon. The siphon you choose can be the suction you create with your mouth (not ideal) or from a pump. There are manual hand pumps and electric pumps that I’ll discuss in a minute but it might make sense to procure one of these methods now before you find yourself needing gas and have no way to get it.

Siphon gas from an older car

A manual fuel pump could help you easily siphon gas from many cars

There are two methods I think that are brilliantly simple to siphon gas from older cars. When I say older, that is a general term because no two cars are exactly the same. In newer cars, probably from the 90’s forward, there are flaps installed on virtually all gas tanks now that would make it harder for you to remove the hose, but in older vehicles, it was pretty much a straight opening into the tank. You also have round balls in the tank hose that prevent hoses from being easily stuck down into the tank so older cars are easier to get fuel out of. If possible, an older model car would make the best targets for siphoning gas.

There are dozens of manual fuel pumps on the market like the 3 in 1 Hand Pump on Amazon. You can use this not only for siphoning gas from a car, but you could also use it to get other fuels into or out of containers. Maybe you have a 50-gallon drum of kerosene and you need to fill your lanterns and heater. This manual pump would be handy.

You can also use a modified method of manual siphoning with your mouth that I haven’t seen before but I wish I knew about a long time ago. You would insert the hose into the gas tank as you would on any siphoning method, but instead of sucking fuel up the line, another hose creates the pressure needed to push fuel into your hose. You can see a great video of the concept below.

How to siphon gas without a pump

The manual pump method works great on older cars, but what about newer vehicles? If you are desperate enough you can puncture the fuel tank with a hammer and screwdriver but this destroys the tank first of all and is riskier from the standpoint of creating a spark around fumes. Along with that, you would make more noise and have to get under the car so that might prevent you from observing the area as closely as you need to.

The Gastapper is a system that runs with an electric pump and it is supposed to get around the anti-theft devices on modern cars. The video below shows the process which is a little more involved than the manual pump method but could be a great alternative if you do have electricity. This could also be a good device for obtaining fuel from underground fuel storage tanks at a gas station.

How to siphon gas from a newer vehicle

So there are a few methods of obtaining fuel in an emergency. I think I am going to get a manual fuel pump and stash that in my vehicle EDC kit for emergencies. What is your method of choice to siphon gas from a car?

Have you ever run out of gas? Imagine running out of gas when gas stations are no longer pumping fuel or you are on route to your bug out location

If you’ve been prepping for a while, you may have used some of your provisions during short-term emergencies. Perhaps you’ve used some when a storm knocked out power for a few hours. You know you’ve prepared well, because you were able to make meals without the use of kitchen appliances, and you had alternative lighting with fresh batteries. Simple things, like a manual can-opener, are additional proof that you’ve prepared well. A short-term power failure may even be a welcome change from your daily routine, and an excuse to make dinner on the grill.

On the other hand, prepping for an event that could result in societal collapse is no longer fun and games, it’s about your survival. It’s no longer a matter of settling for canned food for dinner. If we are forced to live through a grid down scenario, it’s whether or not you’ll have any food at all. It’s about dealing with starving people, who, in their desperation, will try to forcefully take what you have. It’s this possibility that drives you to take prepping to the next level.

Before you allocate significant cash resources to weapons, supplies, and survival equipment, you probably want to know what the odds are that you’ll ever need it. What is the likelihood that an event, or chain of events, could be serious enough to cause the collapse of society? Do the odds of that happening justify the significant cost of prepping for it? If you’ve never experienced anarchy, how will you know if you’re well prepared? It’s up to you to decide.

A massive and sustained power grid failure could cause a collapse of society, and it might happen in the not-to-distant future. I arrived at that conclusion not by accident, but rather by careful consideration of facts. As an Information Technology Professional I am well aware of the daily attacks on networked computer systems, and I know that cyber-criminals are getting smarter. Cyber-attacks on retailers and financial institutions are common place, as are attacks on U.S. Government agencies. With these things in mind, a successful attack on the power grid is not just possible, it’s inevitable. It’s not a matter of “if”, but “when”. Due to the severity of the damage that is possible, and the potential for a widespread and long-lasting outage, it’s high on my list of things that could result in a collapse of society, and therefore it’s what I prepare for.

Need more evidence? Consider this: In December of 2015, a freezing day in the Western Ukraine, a lone hacker shut down electricity to 225,000 residences. Power was restored in about 6 hours, but imagine a situation where multiple attackers attack multiple locations in a coordinated attack on the U.S. power grid. If successful, the outage would be widespread, not just localized to a specific area or region. To inflict the most suffering, the attack would probably occur in the winter months. Some communities, hospitals, and other facilities would have power from emergency generators, but only until they run out of fuel.

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Cyber-attacks on retailers and financial institutions are common place, as are attacks on U.S. Government agencies.

A successful attack on the power grid need not be a cyber-attack. Just as 911 was a coordinated physical attack, coordinated physical attacks on multiple power generation or distribution sites are also a possibility. As undamaged facilities attempt to make up for the shortage created by the damaged facilities, they would become overloaded and eventually the entire power grid would shut down. Power plants that are able to isolate themselves from the grid would function for as long as they have fuel, but you and I may not be lucky enough to be in one of those areas.

Without communications, you won’t know where they are. You may recall the movie Waterworld, where Kevin Costner searched for “dry land”, not really knowing if it actually existed. For some people, searching for a stable society with electricity would be similar to that. Just like in the movie, avoiding the “bad guys” and struggling to survive, would be routine.

Terrorists hope to inflict as much suffering as they can on America. The recent attack in an Orlando nightclub appears to have been carefully planned, with escape routes blocked. As terrible as that attack was, less than 60 people lost their lives that morning. On the other hand, a coordinated attack on the U.S. power grid would cause massive suffering and death. I choose to take the threat seriously.

As disastrous as a successful coordinated physical attack on the power grid would be, an EMP event would be even worse. An EMP event could be either a deliberate attack by an enemy, or a massive solar flare. One such solar flare occurred in 2012, but barely missed the earth. Had earth been in its path, large parts of society would have been without power for months, if not years. A smaller solar eruption in 1989 knocked out power to Quebec.

In the event of a successful attack, or a large solar eruption, unprotected electronic devices would be destroyed. This includes the modules in your car. Imagine losing the use of your car, no working communication devices, no radio, no TV, no light, no refrigerator, and you could no longer cool or heat your home. It wouldn’t matter if you could make it to the grocery store, because the shelves would be empty within two days. In the event that a widespread power outage was to last for more than a few days, it’s easy to envision panic and anarchy.

It’s not just the hardship brought on by an absence of electricity, but also the confusion that results from the absence of electronic communications, that would lead to panic. Perhaps you can live without your phone, without texting, tweeting, or email, but being unable to check on loved ones might be more than some folks can handle.

Prepare for a situation such as this with the assumption that the power grid will be down for a very long time. Widespread damage to automobiles, as well as devices that contain sensitive electronic components, make up a worst-case scenario, and it would take months or perhaps years, to fully recover. A powerful EMP event would be just that bad. With these things in mind, for me, a comprehensive plan is actually two plans:

  1. A plan to implement if I can stay in my home
  2. A plan to implement if I have to bug out by all-terrain vehicle

My plan does not include an option to bug out on foot. I simply can’t carry enough with me to survive for very long, especially in the winter months. Instead of buying lightweight camping equipment, I’ve invested in weapons, ammo, and security devices for my home and property, not to mention stockpiles of food, and water purification capabilities. If I’m going down, I’ll go down fighting. Up until that time, I’ll be comfortable in my home.

In the event that I absolutely cannot stay in my home, I plan to bug out using my ATV vehicle. I’ve taken steps to protect that from an EMP attack. While I won’t be able to carry as much with me as I would like with that vehicle, the ability to travel off-road offers advantages over a standard automobile. In the event of an EMP attack, roads would be clogged with disabled vehicles. I can easily bypass obstructions with an ATV, and travel far from a danger zone in a relatively short time. I’ll go back for additional supplies only if I feel that I can do so safely.

I have a pre-selected bug-out location, and relatives not living with me are aware of it. Should they need to bug out, they know that they’re welcome to join me. In fact, in such a situation I would rather be with people I know and trust, instead of those I happen to meet up with.

My Provisions

My list of provisions includes most of the items you’d expect to find in anyone else’s list, so I won’t discuss those here, but I have additional items and special preparations that you don’t often see in others lists.

I own a small generator, but don’t consider it an integral part of my survival plan. Generators are impractical, primarily due to the need to store large quantities of fuel. A generator would only be good for the first few days, as you hunker down and begin to implement your survival plan. Once the stored fuel is used up, and all nearby sources of fuel exhausted, generators are useless. Additionally, the noise and smell of a generator advertises your presence to those who would harm you.

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My alternative source of electricity is an off-grid solar-electric system which I described in detail in a previous post (Living in Comfort when the SHTF) on TPJ. My preps include the ability to repair any damage that may occur as the result of an EMP attack. Spare parts and test equipment are stored in a Faraday Cage to protect them. I’ve also stored CFL and LED lights, and other portable electronic devices that contain components which could be damaged by an EMP attack. I doubt that my solar panels would be damaged by an EMP event, but I have spare blocking diodes, just in case. I also have a spare inverter and charge controller. My batteries are protected from the elements, but not shielded from an EMP attack, since an EMP attack would probably not damage them.

Like my provisions list, my bug-out kit includes items that others may not have considered. Since GPS may be down, a compass is a must.

In the event that I have to bug out by ATV, and if time permits, I’ll take the major components of my off-grid solar equipment with me. I believe I can disassemble and pack the equipment in 6 hours or less. Once I’ve arrived at my bug-out destination, I’ll set up a makeshift off-grid solar electric system.

My alternative electricity preparedness is far greater than most other preppers for a reason; it’s an important component of my survival strategy. I’ve also taken great care to protect communications equipment, and to maintain the ability to provide refrigeration, lighting, and the ability to charge portable electronic devices. Having electricity for power tools would make rebuilding after a disaster much easier. Communications equipment may provide vital information, in the event that broadcasts exist. Lights can be used to help secure an area, be it a home or camping spot, unless there is reason to believe that those lights will attract unwanted attention. I’ll share what I have, with the expectation that others in my circle will share their special skills, such as hunting, fishing, trapping, medical, food preparation, construction, security, etc. Hopefully, my group will include at least one member who has the desire, strength, stamina, and know-how to maintain a large garden. My preps include seed storage.

SolarPanelStarterKit

Solar Panel Starter Kit 400W

Should I need to bug out, it’s likely that I’ll be able to find a working refrigerator/freezer, a necessity for preserving food, and to keep medicine from spoiling. However, if an EMP attack were to damage the refrigerator’s control module, I know how to bypass that, and apply power directly to the compressor. The refrigerator/freezer could then be controlled by a mechanical timer, so that the compressor doesn’t run continuously. The modification is easy to make, and I’ve included a mechanical timer in my bug out supplies.

The alternative refrigeration device at my home is a 6 cubic foot chest freezer. It uses much less electricity than my upright refrigerator/freezer, and therefore is less of a load on my off-grid solar electric system. I can also use it to make ice, which can be used in a cooler for items that need to be kept cold, but not frozen. Because the chest freezer is a simple device, I can easily make the wiring change I described, should that become necessary.

Another prep that is currently a work in progress is the storage of important survival information. Understanding that the World Wide Web will probably be down, I’m storing as much information as I can on a Kindle Fire. Subjects include; medical information, edible plants, crop production, food processing and storage, water purification, raising animals for food, maps, and so on. I prefer the Kindle Fire over a laptop or PC because of its portability and low power consumption. It can easily be charged from the accessory socket in any automobile, or with the off-grid solar system I’ve described. I’ll store the Kindle Fire in a Faraday Cage until it is needed, or until I bug out. If I bug out, I’ll wrap the Kindle Fire in aluminum foil and store it in a waterproof bag.

Understanding that an EMP attack may be followed by additional EMP attacks, my provisions include the ability to put together a Faraday Cage once I’ve arrived at a bug-out location. When not in use, sensitive devices will be stored in that.

What is a Faraday Cage, and how do I make one?

A Faraday Cage is an enclosure of any kind which includes a layer of electrically conductive material. It can be as large as an entire room, or smaller than a deck of cards. The device(s) to be protected are wrapped in the conductive material, but insulated from it by a non-conductive material. The electrically conductive material can be metal, including aluminum foil, or a fine-mesh screen. The electrical signals will not pass through fine mesh screen, but there must be no openings larger than that. There should be no hole or gap larger than 1mm, about the thickness of a dime.

A simple Faraday Cage can be made by wrapping the device to be protected in non-conductive material, such as cloth, and then by wrapping that with three layers of aluminum foil. Make sure there are no holes or gaps through which electrical signals can pass. Put that in a cardboard box, and then wrap it with aluminum foil. This provides two layers of protection from EMP signals. That might be considered overkill, but you don’t know how strong the EMP signal (the attack or solar flare), will be.

The type of Faraday Cage described above would be well suited for bugging out, but inconvenient for frequently used devices. Instead, a metal toolbox, or metal cabinet, lined with cardboard would work well. Aluminum tape, the kind used in duct work, can be used to seal holes and gaps. Steel wool can be used to better seal gaps around the door, if needed. Wrap the devices to be protected in aluminum foil, and then place them in the metal container. This method provides two layers of protection, but easier access to frequently used items.

A larger Faraday Cage can be made by using a metal trash can, or an unused chest freezer, but you might have to seal the seams on the lid or door. A device wrapped in aluminum foil, placed in a cardboard box that is also wrapped in aluminum foil, and then placed in a sealed trash can, would provide three layers of protection, which would probably be enough to protect devices from strong EMP attacks.

EMP_over_Washington_DC_MW2

Imagine losing the use of your car, no working communication devices, no radio, no TV, no light, no refrigerator, and you could no longer cool or heat your home.

After you’ve built a Faraday Cage, test it. Place a tuned-in radio in the Faraday Cage. When the cage is closed, all electronic signals should be blocked, and you should no longer hear the radio broadcast.

Conclusion

Can you live without your phone, texting, tweeting, and email? That may seem like a silly question, but I wouldn’t rule out the psychological effect of losing those capabilities.

Survival without electricity is possible, of course, but I wonder how long most people will last without it. The winter months would be very difficult. On the other hand, the ability to process and store food until it’s needed would free you from the daily task of finding food. The ability to cook food using kitchen appliances is not just convenient; it’s more discreet than cooking over a campfire, adding to your security. The availability of lighting would allow you to extend working hours into the evening, and contribute to a level of protection from those who would steal your supplies, or harm you.

Banding together with others can dramatically increase your survival odds. Many of us already have a stockpile of food, and know how to purify water for drinking, but the greatest threat to survival may come from other humans. Having one or more group members with military or police training would reduce the likelihood of falling prey to those who would do you harm. Additionally, each member of your group will need to willingly perform a set of chores that match his/her age and abilities. A portable database of survival information will help to fill in survival skill gaps within a group. Your Christian values dictate that you take care of those who cannot care for themselves, but you’re wise to weed out those who are able, but not willing, to contribute. There is no room for those who would jeopardize the survival of the group. Survival is not just about stockpiling, it’s also about producing.

If you find yourself in need of a group to join, assess potential groups carefully. Keep your assets hidden, and don’t discuss them until you’re sure you can trust the group. If the group has a very liberal mindset, they may want to take your provisions, and distribute them among the rest of the group. Make sure you understand the “rules”, and are willing to abide by them. Assess the group leader. If he/she more closely resembles a cult leader than a resource manager, move on.

Since you don’t know how strong the EMP signal (the attack or solar flare), will be, you won’t know the extent of the damage until afterwards. It’s possible that computers, TV’s, radios, cell phones, CFL and LED lights, and portable electronic devices will be ruined. Devices that do not contain sensitive components, such as incandescent light bulbs, electric frying pans, and hot plates will probably work, but none of that will matter if you don’t have a source of electricity. Without electricity, refrigerated food will spoil.

Prepping well for a power grid failure requires an alternative source of electricity, other than a generator. That alternative source of electricity needs to be robust, to facilitate lights, refrigeration, communication devices, power tools, and kitchen appliances, as well as to contribute to home heating and cooling. While a small off-grid system will give you all of those capabilities, a larger system will allow you to do all of those things simultaneously, significantly contributing to your quality of life. Most of all, the system needs to be sustainable. A mid-size off-grid solar electric system is the best choice. It’s expensive, but one such system can serve multiple families within a survival group.


Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

Everything You Need To Know About Your Plants From The Soil Up

Vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns

Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis

How To Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps

If you’ve been prepping for a while, you may have used some of your provisions during short-term emergencies. Perhaps you’ve used some when a storm knocked out power for a

The modern medical system is built on “just in time” shipping methods. The ability to get meds, resources and people where they need to be in 24-48 hours is the main reason, we have blooming populations of human beings on this planet.

We have had glimpses of what it would look like to lose our trucking fleet because of disaster. Even a moderate natural disaster can make roads impassable for days on end. Imagine what a nationwide collapse would do to trucking and shipping of medicines.

You know someone, right now, who would find themselves on deaths door without medications for 72 hours. We all know at least one person. Whether that be something like insulin, dialysis or even a simple blood pressure medication.  

Grid Down Medicine Shortage

In something like a grid down collapse, brought on by terrorists attacking our power grid, the disruptions would be cataclysmic and in a matter of days you would find yourself looking for medicine, food and likely water. Medicine and food would be affected by the lack of shipping. As store shelves go dry there would be no more shipments to refill them. The water system and water processing facilities would also be offline without electricity.

You might have access to water, but you might not want to risk drinking it for fear of serious contamination. A simple infection from a waterborne pathogen could result in death without access to a doctors or modern antibiotics.

Disease and Death Will Return

Everything changes and without preparations you and your loved ones will be at extreme risk. Without our modern shipping and medical system, people will get sick and die on a regular basis. Things like the flu and other viruses will kill people, when they used to be cured by a quick trip to the doctors.

Doctors will be gone.

We have seen similar situations like this play out in warzones all over the world. In Syria, today, people are facing these situations as the embattled nation has been reduced to near rubble. This from Doctorsoftheworld.org:

According to the U.N., one-third of Syrian hospitals have been shuttered since the conflict began and a staggering two-thirds of medical personnel have either fled or been unable to continue working. The repercussions of this breakdown on the health of the population are impossible to overestimate, and cannot be dealt with effectively until safe access for medical and public health personnel can be assured.
https://doctorsoftheworld.org/blog/op-ed-by-board-president-dr-ron-waldman-healthcare-in-syria/


Medical Prepping is Essential

While things like food, water and security through firearms often take the highest tiers in prepping, its clear medical prepping deserves its day in the sun. Its hard to understand how preppers can put such an emphasis on high powered rifles for gunfights but not consider the aftermath of a gunfight. Things like trauma kits and tourniquets are how people will keep from bleeding to death in these scenarios.

Of course, we are not even talking about post combat infections

DO YOU KNOW WHAT STEPS YOU NEED TO TAKE TO GET YOUR FAMILY PREPARED FOR A TIME WHEN DOCTORS HAVE GONE INTO HIDING?

Top Medical Prepping Mistakes to Avoid

With food storage you can put up calories and as long as your family likes the food you are storing you will have some answers for hunger. With medical preps its very different. There are particular things that need to be stored and many of them you have NEVER used before!

WHAT ABOUT FIRST AID SKILLS?

Without the right training and resources to turn to, you will never know the full extent of what you might need in a collapse of the medical system. Retailers offer us very basic first aid solutions that address limited situations.

Here are some of the most common medical prepping mistakes to avoid.

  • Depending on a store bought first aid kit
  • Stockpiling medications, you don’t know how to dose safely
  • Not training skills to compliment your medical preps
  • Assuming there is someone out there who can help you
  • Not training family, as well (who will treat you?)

These mistakes are very common and mostly come from a place of ignorance. With so much information out there its hard to know where to look and what to learn first. When it comes to medical prepping its much easier to have a manual to turn to.

The breadth of knowledge is so vast its nearly impossible to commit much of it to memory. Having a reliable resource that you can turn to in these times of collapse and disaster will make all the difference.

DO YOU KNOW THE RESOURCES YOU NEED WHEN MEDICINE AND MEDICAL HELP ARE NO LONGER AN OPTIONS?

Conclusion

More and more people are realizing that our society and our civility are hardly as stable as we once thought. The foundations are cracked and in many places on our planet, full scale collapse has already taken hold.

You need only look to Syria and Venezuela to see the most news worthy cases of this. They are just the beginning.

Whether it come from despotic governments, mother nature, the heavens or something we haven’t considered, we will be tested, and this age of excess will come to an end.

In that time, you are going to want to have a resource at your side. You are going to want a manual for preparing for these dark times. The Doomsday Book Of Medicine is our answer to those looking for such a resource.

This is not a fly by night 20-page eBook on prepping. The Doomsday Book Of Medicine is a 800+ page guide to preparing for disaster and addressing situations during a collapse or a simple blackout. Having a tangible resource that you can hold, feel and use on demand is going to make all the difference in the future.

We all feel vulnerable and limited by budgets and commitments. Preparing for disaster seems like an impossible task but the right resources can help. Now is the time to move prepping to the forefront.

The darkness is coming, and it will take each of us to shine a little light if we are going to survive it.

In something like a grid down collapse, or a simple local blackout, the disruptions would be cataclysmic and in a matter of days you would find yourself looking for medicine,

The modern medical system is built on “just in time” shipping methods. The ability to get meds, resources, and people where they need to be in 24-48 hours is the main reason we have blooming populations of human beings on this planet.

We have had glimpses of what it would look like to lose our trucking fleet because of disaster. Even a moderate natural disaster can make roads impassable for days on end. Imagine what a nationwide collapse would do to trucking and shipping of medicines.

You know someone, right now, who would find themselves on death’s door without medications for 72 hours. We all know at least one person. Whether that be something like insulin, dialysis or even a simple blood pressure medication.

Grid Down Medicine Shortage

In something like a grid-down collapse, brought on by terrorists attacking our power grid, the disruptions would be cataclysmic and in a matter of days, you would find yourself looking for medicine, food and likely water. Medicine and food would be affected by the lack of shipping. As store shelves go dry there would be no more shipments to refill them. The water system and water processing facilities would also be offline without electricity.

You might have access to water, but you might not want to risk drinking it for fear of serious contamination. A simple infection from a waterborne pathogen could result in death without access to doctors or modern antibiotics.

Disease and Death Will Return

Everything changes and without preparations you and your loved ones will be at extreme risk. Without our modern shipping and medical system, people will get sick and die on a regular basis. Things like the flu and other viruses will kill people when they used to be cured by a quick trip to the doctors.

Doctors will be gone.

We have seen similar situations like this play out in war-zones all over the world. In Syria, today, people are facing these situations as the embattled nation has been reduced to near rubble. This from Doctorsoftheworld.org:

According to the U.N., one-third of Syrian hospitals have been shuttered since the conflict began and a staggering two-thirds of medical personnel have either fled or been unable to continue working. The repercussions of this breakdown on the health of the population are impossible to overestimate, and cannot be dealt with effectively until safe access for medical and public health personnel can be assured. https://doctorsoftheworld.org/blog/op-ed-by-board-president-dr-ron-waldman-healthcare-in-syria/


Medical Prepping is Essential

While things like food, water, and security through firearms often take the highest tiers in prepping, its clear medical prepping deserves its day in the sun. It’s hard to understand how preppers can put such an emphasis on high powered rifles for gunfights but not consider the aftermath of a gunfight. Things like trauma kits and tourniquets are how people will keep from bleeding to death in these scenarios.

Of course, we are not even talking about post-combat infections

DO YOU KNOW WHAT STEPS YOU NEED TO TAKE TO GET YOUR FAMILY PREPARED FOR A TIME WHEN DOCTORS HAVE GONE INTO HIDING?

Top Medical Prepping Mistakes to Avoid

With food storage you can put up calories and as long as your family likes the food you are storing you will have some answers for hunger. With medical preps it’s very different. There are particular things that need to be stored and many of them you have NEVER used before!

WHAT ABOUT FIRST AID SKILLS?

Without the right training and resources to turn to, you will never know the full extent of what you might need in a collapse of the medical system. Retailers offer us very basic first aid solutions that address limited situations.

Here are some of the most common medical prepping mistakes to avoid.

  • Depending on a store bought first aid kit
  • Stockpiling medications, you don’t know how to dose safely
  • Not training skills to complement your medical preps
  • Assuming there is someone out there who can help you
  • Not training family, as well (who will treat you?)

These mistakes are very common and mostly come from a place of ignorance. With so much information out there it’s hard to know where to look and what to learn first. When it comes to medical prepping it’s much easier to have a manual to turn to.

The breadth of knowledge is so vast its nearly impossible to commit much of it to memory. Having a reliable resource that you can turn to in these times of collapse and disaster will make all the difference.

DO YOU KNOW THE RESOURCES YOU NEED WHEN MEDICINE AND MEDICAL HELP ARE NO LONGER AN OPTIONS?

Conclusion

More and more people are realizing that our society and our civility are hardly as stable as we once thought. The foundations are cracked and in many places on our planet, full-scale collapse has already taken hold.

You need only look to Syria and Venezuela to see the most newsworthy cases of this. They are just the beginning.

Whether it comes from despotic governments, mother nature, the heavens or something we haven’t considered, we will be tested, and this age of excess will come to an end.

In that time, you are going to want to have a resource at your side. You are going to want a manual for preparing for these dark times. The Lost Book Of Remedies is our answer to those looking for such a resource.

This is not a fly by night 20-page eBook on prepping. The Lost Book Of Remedies is a complete guide to preparing for disaster and addressing situations during a collapse. Having a tangible resource that you can hold, feel and use on demand is going to make all the difference in the future.

We all feel vulnerable and limited by budgets and commitments. Prepping seems like an impossible task sometimes but the right resources can help. Now is the time to move prepping to the forefront.

The darkness is coming, and it will take each of us to shine a little light if we are going to survive it.

The Lost Book Of Remedies is the light at the end of the tunnel.

Even a moderate natural disaster can make roads impassable for days on end. Imagine what a nationwide collapse would do to trucking and shipping of medicines.

 

I have three decades experience in trauma ICU care at a level three trauma center (used to be level one was the worst category. That was flipped a few years ago) and recently saw yet another YouTube video where the Israeli bandage was being waved around like it is the savior for all SHTF issues. Quick clot and compression bandages will certainly save lives if applied and monitored correctly. As ever get training for health care needs before you need them and try to get real life training not just videos and books.

However I got to thinking about what I would do with 32 years nursing experience and most of that in trauma if I had a person laid up in bed and was faced with providing hospital care in SHTF and why. It seemed to me the knowledge is not that widely available or known but please, as ever, correct me in the comments below. As ever Doctors are really smart and any advice I give here is intended only for my own use and you should not use any of the advice given unless you have had a smart Doctor agree with it.

Bed Rest

Back in the dawn of time a lot of my surgical and medical patients used to experience sudden cardiac arrest. I was around for as medical science figured out why and how to treat this reasonably common (in the 1970s) complication of bed rest. Deep Vein Thrombosis leading to Pulmonary Embolism (same thing that kills discount airline passengers. Always fly business class!).

Bed rest is an easy prescription especially if the injury is severe. Bed rest is what I love to do when sick and getting me out of bed is hard. However with eight hours of lying around the venous blood flow through the large veins of the legs and calf slows. Pain, fear and lower levels of consciousness will make this worse. Dehydration also encourages the venous blood to slow and thicken deep within the person’s legs and calves.

However many injuries in SHTF might well need bed rest so what can you do?

Low Molecular Heparin injections are really good but you likely will not have any. T.E.D. ™ anti-embolism stockings are a good thing to have in your trauma kit. Reasonably cheap and come in a variety of sizes. You can also use tight bandages wrapped around the legs but honestly they are more likely to cause venous congestion than minimize it. Here is what you should do if you have appropriate stockings or not. Move the legs and the joints carefully trough a range of motion (depends on the injury of course) every one to two hours throughout the stay in bed. Get them up into a chair and make them walk as soon as practical. In the 1960s you got to lie in bed for a week being hand fed if you had a heart attack to minimize cardiac stress. This caused a lot of deaths from embolism! This is also why new mothers get booted out of hospital in hours as well. Beds are very dangerous places if you lie in them for ages. Give a bit of daily Aspirin but read the next section carefully first.

Start gentle laxatives as early as possible and encourage high protein foods and drinks. Monitor their temperature twice a day at the same time of day and consider gram negative antibiotics if they develop even a slight temperature.

Aspirin

Most people are familiar with aspirin. If the person is a child or a baby do not give ever. Rarely it can kill the child. However if you are taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) you should also never take aspirin. Advil, Motrin, Aleve are common pain killers but never, ever take them and aspirin. Take one or the other, never both. If you have asthma try to avoid taking aspirin. The reason is that a severe asthma attack can be triggered by aspirin especially if you have asthma and/or are also taking an NSAID (this is arguable). The aspirin also makes the NSAID ineffective (this is true). Now I know some people are going to be saying “but I have asthma or I took Advil and aspirin and I am fine”. You were lucky and most times you will be lucky but you might not always be lucky. These are rare but fatal complications.

If you are bleeding actively (gushing or oozing blood or bruising under the back- check frequently when you turn the person on bed rest who has had a trauma) never give aspirin. It is an excellent blood thinner which is why small doses if safe should be consider if your person on bed rest can safely swallow. I also have aspirin that absorbs via the mouth for those too ill to swallow liquids safely. Pulmonary embolism is a proven killer of people on bed rest who do not have access to regular injections of low molecular heparin. If you have ulcers, gout, kidney, or liver diseases do not take aspirin. It is to be avoided in hypertension but frankly I consider it too valuable to avoid if primary hypertension unrelated to kidney disease.

Read More: Medicine to Stock up on for When There Is No Doctor

Broken bones should also avoid aspirin for at least three days. A bad femur fracture can cause several liters of blood loss into the tissues. A bad pelvic fracture can easily bleed so much internally they die. If you can use transfusion but battle field transfusion without cross and typing has many risks and is unlikely to be available in SHTF. Even if you have the same blood type there can easily be dramatic and deadly effects from a blood transfusion as incompatibility is not just the blood type. For me if you need a blood transfusion to survive in SHTF you are a gonna anyhow so why bother?

In the third trimester of pregnancy do not take aspirin as both the mom and the baby may well bleed to death during the delivery. Do not use it is you are breast feeding (breast is best and possibly the only option in shtf) as the baby will get dosed and it really is not a good thing. If the aspirin bottle smells strongly of vinegar it may no longer be effective but if it is all you have then take it anyway. Consider researching Willow Tree Bark (and the leaves to some degree). Natural analogue for aspirin and an okay pain killer (beats nothing).

Many people use “baby aspirin” to avoid strokes and heart attacks. This low dose aspirin is expensive, Buy normal aspirin and take half a tablet.

Real Trauma Kits

Elite First Aid Fully Stocked GI Issue Medic Kit Bag, Large

You can buy good trauma kits and Israeli bandages and I would encourage everyone who is trained to use one to have one and plenty of extra supplies but then what? Your friend stopped a bullet in her right leg and it seems the bone is broke judging by the screams when she moves and the bits of hard white stuff sticking out. Step one is to control the bleeding and step two to avoid infection. You slap on the Israeli bandage (likely your will need more than one), use the splint to immobilize the leg, and start her on fish antibiotics.

Then what? She’s going to be laid up for weeks and will take a lot to get her back on her feet. Do you have a bedpan (urinal for the males too slow to dodge bullets) to make washroom times less messy? Do you know how to remake a bed with a person lying in it and to wash them? Back in the 1980s as a student nurse we did these things on each other. These days they do not and their skills show it. Have a night where you try this on a loved one after reading up on how to do it. It is honestly a lot of fun. Can you make and use skin traction to get the bones in a better alignment? Again it is not hard and is easy to do but you need to know how to do it right to avoid crippling them. Do you have electrolyte drinks in large quantities and understand that urine needs to be clear or they are dehydrated? Real trauma kits will let you start intravenous infusions, pick out the bone bits, and suture internally and externally. The focus is on the first hour in prepping but rarely do people think about care the next day, the next week, the next month. Pool shock used to make strong bleach is a great thing to wash the bed sheets and to swab the area around the person who is stuck in bed. Can you make a frame and a hand hoist to let them sit upright frequently and relieve pressure on their bum and back? Pressure ulceration is not fun. Again look up basic nursing and at least have a text book available if you have avoided actual practice.

The one of the best things to get is an Emergency RN and keep him or her in your ‘kit’. An medical Doctor is helpful but they rarely have to do the thinking and creating that the RN has to do and RN who has worked in ED for a couple of decades knows much more than more a ED Fellow.

Fish Antibiotic

These are achieving a fair degree of popularity amongst preppers and for good reason but are you treating a Gram negative or gram positive infection? Generally speaking gram negative infections are more harmful than gram positive ones and tend to be more resistant to antibiotic use. Use penicillin and sulfonamide for gram positive and use streptomycin, chloramphenicol, and tetracycline for gram negatives. Use ONE for one week or two weeks (look up treatment regimens). Use another if the person is getting worse or is unimproved at the end of the full course of the initial drug.

Other than using gram staining (yes you can but I’d not bother) you need to assume it is a gram negative bacterial infection. These tend to kill more than the positive ones and are more common. If there is zero improvement then consider using a gram positive antibiotic. Gram negative is your go to antibiotic first off except if the bowels and/or stomach has been opened but frankly the person will likely die of sepsis in this case no matter what you do in SHTF. Try gram positive but give nothing by mouth if the bowels and or the stomach have been hit. Can you use a stethoscope and assess bowel sounds? A basic and a useful skill but can you give intravenous fluids and use a nasogastric tube? It gets complex very fast in trauma and stopping the bleeding is vital but there is more than this to ongoing treatment.

If you are thinking of using antibiotics at least take a look at this and realize many fish antibiotics are really not used much in humans anymore as they can cause issues. Still if nothing else then I’d use them. Prepper Princess mentioned she is worried about cholera in SHTF. This is a reasonable worry in SHTF and is likely if you fail to treat all water and food sources as possibly infectious. A quick search uncovered this so fish antibiotics used wisely would be useful. However I would go with doxycycline as a first use in cholera and the other advice on treatment here is highly appropriate to most infections in SHTF. You can and should do this for all infections you think are likely in SHTF and that you wish to treat. A standard drug book is too detailed and confusing for most people.

Within one month of a specific antibiotic not being used the rates of its efficiency start to rise. Store lots of antibiotics especially the gram negative ones as they will work very well after a year or two. Penicillin will again be great for sexually transmitted diseases which will also dramatically return in SHTF. Of course abstinence is the best practice but what else are you going to have to do in the bunker?

Babies

They will come along in SHTF as they have since humans first appeared on the Earth. Do you have contraception and/or methods to avoid unwanted pregnancies? Returning to the 1800s and each fertile woman popping out 10-16 children would happen fast. This Wikipedia article, (I know but it is reasonable) shows that death three to five days after birthing for women will be very common in SHTF. What the article fails to say is death rates were 40-60% for women having their delivery from a Doctor and 5-10% (or lower) from the Midwife in the same maternity ward. The lesson here then and now is wash your hands and forearms in bleach before and after every examination, do not use long sleeves (of note this applies now in health care), have lots of soap and clean water. Scrub clean beds between uses. Basic stuff but easily overlooked.

Babies get sick and die. Always have and always will but most infectious diseases had very little mortality (death rates) prior to antibiotics and vaccines (maternal deaths are the exception here). Chlorinated water, sleeping one person to a bed, quarantine of infectious people, hand washing, and good old fashioned nursing are absolutely critical in SHTF and now to avoid dying for infections. Sure antibiotics have saved millions but we are in the billions.

Hope all of this gives you some food for thought.

  I have three decades experience in trauma ICU care at a level three trauma center (used to be level one was the worst category. That was flipped a few years

Welcome back to our series on the 5 things you need to go off grid now, where we began with the premise that going “off grid” might not be something that as Preppers you elect to do for the sake of your family in hopes of greater harmony with Mother Nature. The “Grid” might simply take the kids and leave you in the middle of the night like Katie Holmes did to Tom. You wake up and something is wrong but it takes you a few minutes to realize your world has changed – in a big way.

To prevent something like this from taking you completely by surprise, or rendering you helpless when you least expect it; we can make plans now to prevent a loss of the grid from being as awful. It could save your marriage too. Well, maybe. I made that last one up, but if making your spouse’s life better and providing for their survival earns you points, this is something to consider.

In the first article in the series we talked about the importance of not only having water stored, but developing a renewable source of water for your family’s needs. If the grid down emergency lasts longer than the amount of water you have stored for emergencies, you will need to collect and filter water; possibly in significant amounts.

After water, we discussed planning for food that will feed your family which would not only take care of short-term emergencies but also allowed you to sustain yourself and your family for longer durations. Long term food storage, gardens and even raising livestock were discussed as part of a balanced plan of food preparedness that can benefit you now as well as if the grid went down.

So you have food and water taken care of or at least an idea on how to start prepping for these essentials in your family plan. What next?

Sanitation and Hygiene

Sometimes the throne is a little less regal, but just as practical.


What goes in must come out. Yes, I know this concept isn’t the sexiest out there, but everybody has to go, sooner or later and we have to have a plan for dealing with “the poop” when it hits the fan. What about electricity or transportation or something else like that? We will get to other items, but sanitation and hygiene are so much more important to the overall health of your family that I chose to deal with them first. Not having electricity won’t kill you, unless you rely on it to live as in life support or breathing machines. Getting sick from germs can kill and frequently does kill in disaster scenarios.

In January of 2010 you may remember the earthquake in Haiti that caused tremendous loss of life, but even after the direct effects of the earthquake stopped, the risk of death from disease only became worse. Ten months after the earthquake, cases of Cholera began to spring up. Cholera is an acute intestinal infection causing profuse diarrhea, vomiting, circulatory collapse and shock. If left untreated, 25-50% of severe cases of Cholera can be fatal.

How do people get Cholera? They get Cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated with the cholera bacterium – which usually comes from fecal contamination of water or foods. How does food and water get fecally contaminated? Poor or non-existent Sanitation and Hygiene. In Haiti alone from that earthquake they estimate that over 470,000 cases of cholera have been reported. But cholera isn’t the only disease you have to worry about. Poor sanitation can cause Intestinal worms, Schistosomiasis, Trachoma and a whole host of others. We want to have a plan for keeping these germs away from your family so that illness like cholera, which can be prevented doesn’t show up on your door.

Waste Removal

It doesn’t have to be pretty, but you need to have a plan.

So the grid goes down and you need to go to the bathroom. Can’t you simply go in the toilet or just find a good spot in the yard and let her rip? It really depends on what infrastructure is in place and what services are functioning. If the septic or sewer systems are still functioning, you can use the toilet in your home. The only thing you need is water to flush the waste down and out of your home. If this isn’t possible you have to make other accommodations and since we are talking about the grid going down we have to assume that water isn’t flowing.

Waste needs to be eliminated and you have to do this in a way that does not contaminate water supplies and can be covered to prevent flies and other insects from spreading disease. Human waste should be kept at least 150 away from the nearest water source and you can create grid-down bathroom facilities in a number of ways. Five gallon buckets with modified lids make a simple option that will allow you to do your business inside and carry the waste, usually in a plastic garbage bag outside for disposal. Keeping a supply of lime to cover the waste is a good idea also and will keep odors down, dirt works in a pinch too.

You can also dig cat holes or slit trenches and get fancy if the need to sanitation lasts for a long time. If the grid actually goes down for more than a few days, you will need to look at a more permanent solution for waste disposal.

Hygiene

The basics of keeping your cooking utensils clean and germ free.

Eventually, you may need to make your own soap.

Even with waste being kept far away from humans and the water supply, you will still need to practice hygiene to keep surfaces clean that will come in contact with your body or the food you put into your body. Hand washing is an obvious one and you will need to wash your hands to reduce infection. Some people simply plan on stocking up on giant containers of hand-sanitizer but I prefer good old soap and water. Plus you will want to shower occasionally or bathe I am pretty sure. As part of your prepping supplies, you can learn how to make your own soap, or just buy a couple of dozen bars of cheap soap. It won’t go bad and doesn’t need refrigeration.

Along with your hands and body, you will need to keep cooking surfaces clean. You can stock up on paper plates and plastic cutlery but like anything else, that will eventually run out. Plastic spoons can be washed, but you can’t really do that with paper plates so at some point you will need to consider a wash station. This can be as simple as two plastic bins. One with clean, soapy water and the other for rinsing. Keeping your cooking utensils will eliminate the risk of disease and give the slacker in your group something to do if they don’t want to dig another latrine hole.

Tomorrow we will continue on the journey of planning for off grid living in a disaster. I hope you will join us again.

Welcome back to our series on the 5 things you need to go off grid now, where we began with the premise that going “off grid” might not be something

Quick: what do you do if you’re in the city, the grid is down, and the toilet won’t flush? Break out the cat litter, contractor bags, and a trusty 5 gallon bucket, of course!

But how long is that single tub of cat litter in the back of the garage going to last your family? Is your pallet of fifty pound bags actually a year’s supply? We know “one gallon of water per person per day,” but how much litter is needed to clump it all up afterwards?

The role of cat litter in sanitation is to bind up the moisture in the gloppy mess of sewage making it easier to handle, inhibiting bacterial growth, and thus reducing odor. We need enough to bind the moisture and cut the smell to acceptable levels. As you cannot measure smell, this estimation will be based on the amount of water we need to bind.

Why do you need cat litter?

The average human produces about 4.5oz of solid waste per day of which 3.5oz is water [1]. We also produce about 1.5 quarts (3lbs) of liquid waste per day [2]. In total, there is about 3.25lbs of water in our waste per person per day.

There are several kinds of cat litter on the market: clay, clumping clay, silica crystal, and natural litters like pine and paper. What we’re concerned with is how much water an amount of litter can absorb per pound.

Silica-crystal based litters can absorb about 40 times their weight in water [3]. Sodium bentonite clay (‘clumping’ litter) is good for 10-15 times its weight [4], and other clay (non-clumping) is good for half of that – about 6 times its weight [4]. Pine litter can absorb 3 times its weight [5] and cellulose (paper) litter can handle 1.5 times its weight [6].

Read More: Importance of Sanitation after SHTF

Note that a lot of manufacturers give “x times more absorbent than clay” ratings, but don’t tell which clay, per volume or per weight, and so on, so I stuck to claims of “absorbs x times its weight in water” to have a better common point of reference. This could also vary by manufacturer, so read up on your litter of choice to get the most accurate estimate.

These are maximum ratings reported by the sellers, so they are likely spruced up. We have to keep surface area in mind as well: even if you can technically dry your daily solid waste with 0.1oz of silica litter, if that’s not enough to cover the leavings, the litter is not going reach everything without stirring. Gross!

Reliance Products Luggable Loo Portable 5 Gallon Toilet

In a stressful emergency situation, no one is going to have the patience to scientifically ration the litter by weight, either. Litter absorbs by the pound, but you will use it by the scoop. Even if you get a scoop sized to your litter’s absorbency (you do have your custom titanium grid-down scoop, right?), you might scoop a level scoop while junior uses heaping scoops.

All this suggests we should build in some wiggle room. Silica is powerful, but also likely to be surface-area restricted. I would estimate silica litter can easily handle 20x of its weight in water, clumping clay litters 10x, clay 3x, pine 2x, and paper 1x. Given that in a sanitation emergency you will need to account for drinking extra water if it is hot or you get sick, we should also round-up the amount of liquids to 4lbs to be safe.

Thus, a fast and loose estimate of the amount of litter you need per person per day is going to be 4lbs divided by the absorbency number above. For instance, silica litter is 20x, so 4lbs divided by 20 is going to be 0.2lbs per person per day. A standard clay litter is 3x. 4lbs divided by 3 is 1.33lbs of clay litter per person per day, or a family of four using a whole 20lb bag of litter in 4 days!

If you’re in a hi-rise where the grid going down will take the sewer pumps with it, it might not be unreasonable to have a week supply of litter, so that family of 4 will need close to 40lbs of standard clay litter! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to drag that much cat litter up the stairs or find a place to store it. Thankfully, with a bit of planning we can reduce this number by a factor of 8.

Liquid waste is the bigger problem – 3lbs vs 0.25lb of solid. Liquid waste is also sterile, and an airtight lid keeps the smell down, so you could separate solid from liquid and use litter on the solids only without creating too much of a health risk. Even doubling for wiggle room would leave us with 0.5lbs of water in solid waste per person per day. That 20lb bag now lasts a family of four for a whole month!

In practice, this means putting an airtight jar or jug next to your waste receptacle to be emptied into an airtight bucket away from the living space such as in the far corner of your balcony or just outside your door. Keep in mind small children may need instruction and prompting to make sure they’re with the program. The ladies may also appreciate certain accommodations. Talk to them for ideas.

What to do with all that mess?

But what do you do with a full bucket? Depending on fluid intake, you might be dealing with around 1.5 quarts of liquid waste per person per day or 1.5 gallons for four people.

Though liquid waste is sterile, I would not recommend dumping. Venturing outside your apartment in a densely populated area sans utilities is a bad idea to start with, and would you just let someone dump 5 gallons of waste on your lawn? The city might fine you when order is restored as well. You have to do what you have to do, but don’t plan on being that guy!

Eliminate the worry of #2 with this simple makeshift toilet.

I would also avoid depending on your garden, especially a container garden which has no subsoil for the waste to leach into. Liquid waste has high concentrations of salt and nitrates, which most plants can’t handle without dilution. This requires water, which is precious in a grid-down situation. It also risks exposing your food supply to any medications or supplements you’re taking, and if you’re eating heavily preserved foods like MREs, all those chemicals are going into your plants too. Yuck!

Buckets are cheap and stack-able, so it is feasible to maintain 1.5 quarts of bucket per person per day, or 9-10 five gallon buckets per month for a family of four. 15 three gallon buckets would also work if you would rather lug 24lbs at a time rather than 40lbs. Figure out a place to store full buckets and you’ll be all set.

Remember kitty litter and buckets will run out. A week’s supply is a good idea, and a two-week supply will probably be enough for most circumstances. If you’re planning for a month, you would be better off figuring out the logistics for a longer term solution such as a latrine or leach well dug deep into a nearby flower bed.

So there you have it – a “gallon per day” rule of thumb for a cat litter sanitation solution:

First check what type of litter you are buying to figure out its absorbency. Silica crystals: 20x, sodium bentonite clay: 10x. Other clay: 3x. Pine: 2x. Cellulose: 1x.

Divide 4lbs of waste per person per day by the absorbency number above to get a ballpark estimate of how much litter you need. Just like with water, multiply by 2 or 3 if you want to be cautious.

If you have a plan to deal with liquid waste separately, you can get away with replacing the 4lbs above with 0.5lbs, but remember to add extra in case of illness.

Remember that people won’t weigh litter scientifically each time they need to go, so get a grid-down scoop sized for your litter at the dollar store and make sure everyone in your household understands your litter strategy. And don’t forget the needs of your actual cats!

References:

[1] Average human solid waste production:
[2] Average human liquid waste production:
[3] Silica litter absorbency:
[4] Clumping and non-clumping litter absorbency:
[5] Pine cat litter absorbency:
[6] Paper cat litter absorbency:

Quick: what do you do if you’re in the city, the grid is down, and the toilet won’t flush? Break out the cat litter, contractor bags, and a trusty 5

Get a few preppers together, and you can pretty much guarantee that at some point bug out bags and bartering will come up. My personal take is that it’s a little bit foolish to stock something solely to barter – especially stuff that relates to addictions, because people with addictions can be a little bit crazy about their vices. Stocking things that can get used by the household means there’s little regret about expenditures in 2-10 years, whether a disaster occurs or not.

There have been other bartering articles on FP, and they’re totally worth looking at. I have zero arguments with the gear, meds, candles, batteries, foods and feel-goods that show up on those lists and are so very common when it comes up on forums. Still, there are some things that are very, very useful, readily affordable, readily portable in a bag or loaded into a game cart to take to Bartertown, and that I see very few people talk about – period, but almost never in the “barter” conversations and posts.

So those are where I’m focusing today.

In many cases, they’re not going to be the first things to run off shelves. Know your area and know what disappears – and when seasonally it tends to disappear even without a disaster. I tend to focus my own efforts on those things I don’t expect to find 3-9 months after a major crisis. I’m also cognizant that some things are never in much bulk – or enough bulk – and that even beyond looters and municipal groups that stand up to try to save their communities and go salvaging, there’s the risk of fires spreading and taking out stores.

With that in mind, here’s my list of 8 barter items that end up ignored as barter items and that aren’t without merit as backups for our own stockpiles.

Canning Jars – Especially Lids

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Tattler Reusable Canning Lids & Rubber Rings

It’s pretty rare to find stores with nothing but canning jars on the aisles these days. In most cases, a store at its max display capacity has fewer jars than a single family would need to can only a veggie supplement for 6-9 months, and sometimes even fewer spare lids.

That makes lids and jars pretty much number one on my stock-up list, both for home use and to trade with neighbors and locals.

You’re not going to stick more than a box or two of spare lids in a bag, so this is one of the cases where if you’re on foot, you might want to go ahead and stick with some of those things like batteries, candles, an airgun and pellets, meds, and other lightweight items that will go pretty quick and that people 5 days, 50 days, 5 months and maybe even 50 months into a disaster will still be interested in taking off your hands.

Sevin Dust

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If you’re big on health, go with dish soap, vinegar and water as a spray, and just skip on down to the next one. I’m pretty much required to turn in my greenie card for promoting Sevin Dust.

But, see, Sevin is pretty darn handy. Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, my father used to coat pretty much anything alive in the stuff – ducks, horses, goats, veggies, trees, wasp houses. He used it as flea and tick control as well as on garden pests.

We now have health concerns and concerns about wiping out beneficial bugs and microbes, but if your garden’s getting eaten by eight different things, if you absolutely have to have it to have anything but beans and wheat – or if your beans are being eaten by three different things – you’re going to be willing to think seriously about pretty much anything on the table to get your hands on an easy-to-apply dust that will kill almost any of them, something you can spot treat by hand or hook up to a backpack blower.

I specify the dust because it’s more compact, stores easily, and comes in both big bulk bags and small-container three packs that make it a viable option to cart to the church or community potluck, market or specific neighbors. It also has some of the shortest interval-to-harvest periods of a commercial pesticide.

Liquid Sevin doesn’t store as long, but it does kill extra things and it’s easier to get on the underside of leaves than powder.

Diatomaceous Earth

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First, an apology to our Canadians. I have gathered the impression that this stuff can be tough for you guys to get ahold of, especially in bulk, and it’s not especially cheap there. Here we can just swing by on a whim and get it in packaging from the size of a deck of cards, by the gallon, or even by the 55-gal barrel.

There aren’t as many uses for Diatomaceous Earth as there are for baking soda and Epsom salt, but, man, it’s pretty handy.

It’s the active ingredient in SMITE for poultry, it clears up everything from bed bugs to livestock and pet ear mites, ants to roaches. It can form protective barriers around plants or be spread over them as a powdered insecticide. It’s natural, physical as opposed to chemical, has a nearly endless shelf life because it’s really just ancient plankton shells, can help protect stored foods – especially those we’re harvesting and our next-year seeds – and it has at least a dozen health and beauty uses.

The more uses something has, the less variety we have to store and the better the chances that when somebody has a problem, we have a valuable solution. DE checks those boxes in a big way.

Baking Soda & Baking Powder

baking-soda-baking-powder
It’s hard to bake without leavening of some sort, and baking soda has about a million uses outside baking – and about a million more totally outside the kitchen. Both have long expirations and easily extend beyond their best-by dates even at room temperature and with fluctuations from 60 to 80 degrees. They’re sensitive to moisture in their smallest packaging forms, but it’s easy to get several or a whole handful in a gallon bag to keep in buckets and pull out as needed.

I don’t expect them to simply run off the shelves as soon as a disaster is announced, but they’re inexpensive, cheaper yet to buy in bulk bags, and it’s worth having some baking soda stocked because it’s one of those that when you want it, there’s not a lot of substitution.

Epsom Salts

epsom

First, sorry, Australian readers (and maybe Brits). I know this stuff is expensive and controlled to a ridiculous degree for you guys. It’s cheap and plentiful in the U.S.

Epsom Salts is what I consider an absolute, 100%, no-arguments prepper must-have. If there’s not already a reminder of how awesome Epsom salt is on an annual basis, there should be. Epsom salt is another one like baking soda, with fifty million uses for human health and hygiene, cleaning, livestock, and gardens. There are so many uses, it truly deserves its own article just as a primer on how useful Epsom salt is.

I’ll take just a moment here to point out that Epsom salt is far, far different from table salts. Epsom is magnesium sulfate, not sodium chloride.

When you want to burn it down and salt the earth so nothing grows (or clean a cutting board and preserve food), use table salt, kosher salt and sea salt.

When you want to encourage flowers, reduce soil deficiencies so plants can uptake their macronutrients properly and produce healthy, bountiful yields, fix an ear infection, reduce swelling, pamper your feet and skin, create barriers for certain types of pests in the home and garden, clean a wound, clear up skin conditions in humans, poultry and hoof stock, that’s what Epsom salt does.

And more.

As with everything else mentioned here, it can be purchased in bulk, or it’s available in small, moisture-resistant containers that make it very viable for trade when somebody’s struggling with any of a multitude of issues.

Rat Traps

rattrap

Rat traps have a ton of uses, but number one is their actual pest-control job. Eventually I think the rat population will level out one way or another, but between death and waste-removal shutdowns, I think they’ll boom for a while first. There have also been some historic accounts from Rome, London and other sites of major fires, where rats flee the cities and end up a plague on outlying areas in waves – and I anticipate fires since they happen daily even now.

Rat traps also have applications as squirrel and songbird traps for feeding families and pets, protecting gardens from small raiders, and combining with fishing line and various magnetic strip alarms or things like chem lights to create visual and audio alerts for home and property alarms. They can also be rigged with bells on a line to alert a barrier run of pigs that something has tripped the wire, and with some training the pigs will rush in to remove threats to chickens and gardens.

They’re small, light, and typically pretty cheap.

For smaller rodent controls, there are several ways (at least) to turn cans and buckets or rubber bands and 2L bottles into pretty effective rodent traps, and some additional ways to use PVC for squirrels and rats. They’re reusable and potentially can be made out of scavenged refuse or scrap, so it’s worth looking up those, too.

After all, sometimes know-how is as valuable a barter object as a physical item.

Water Catchment Faucets, Spigots, & Overflow Fittings

catchment-bucket-spigot

We’re almost guaranteed to see increased attempts to catch and store rain if a disaster ever occurs. Drought and periodic no-boil orders already make water a valuable – and expensive – resource right here in North America.

Having extra fittings for turning our emptied and scavenged buckets, totes, barrels, and tubs into more effective catchment systems has the potential to make not only our lives easier, but convince somebody to share a tool or pasture they’d rather not, or sweeten a deal over somebody else’s offer.

I doubt hardware stores will empty of plumbing fittings super early, but there’s always a chance, since few areas have enough in to truly impact catchment for every farmer and rooftop in the area. There’s also the risk of fire.

The washers and faucets for making the simplest conversions are lightweight, and at most should cost a few bucks. They have the potential of appeal to a much larger community than just smokers, drinkers and tokers, and will appeal to those as well. That makes them a pretty easy item to keep in even an INCH bag and definitely worth throwing in a cargo pocket when we patrol or go to a neighbor – you never know when the opportunity for new boots, tampons, or better bullets will appear.

Various silicone tubes and thread tape have value even outside the rain barrel creations. Some of our local stores and contractors are pretty happy to let us have odds and ends of PVC from jobs for free. The faucets or spigots valves and washers are the more pocketable pieces, but some short runs of PVC and small tubes of aquarium repair silicone can sweeten a deal even more when suggesting or building a system for somebody.

Portable Solar Chargers

solarcharger

Small, portable battery and device solar chargers abound on the market today, from $5-50. The battery chargers are useless without fresh batteries to charge, but having access to downloaded music, movies, games and pictures may mean a great deal to some folks.

They’re small enough even for folks who aren’t ready for $100-3,000 systems to keep phones, iPods, walkies, and headlamps going, and their value will go up further in protracted crises or a situation with regular brownouts. They’re already something you see folks gouge prices on and hit the streets with during “normal” natural disasters.

I wouldn’t fill up buckets with this one, but having a few for us, a few as backups, and a few I’m willing to part with for the little pocket versions and maybe a couple of the larger laptop-tablet or C-9V or combo chargers and rechargeable batteries for them is worth it to me. I also keep Nokeros and some of the little flat flashlights in my windows, though (and use them nearly daily instead of a bedside lamp or regular flashlight).

Backups and Bartering Alternatives

Like I said, I tend to think folks should focus on things they’ll use in a disaster or daily life over something they never have and plan to never want. I also really like the items that can sit on a shelf for years even before best-by dates expire, especially the ones that don’t need additional packaging.

I have no problem with the lists of the common items like meds, batteries, and knife sharpeners. There are always going to be others, from things like clip-on book and cap lights to the ammo that leads to so much back-and-forth and conditional settings. This is just a list of options that I rarely see discussed as storage items, and almost never see on the bartering lists – even though they can be had compactly and they offer so much in so many ways for the most part, that really don’t have replacements, or are rare to find on shelves even now.

Get a few preppers together, and you can pretty much guarantee that at some point bug out bags and bartering will come up. My personal take is that it’s a

Under normal circumstances, home security systems such as ADT home security can be an excellent step towards achieving peace of mind. But these systems are far from a cure-all for your home security needs – especially in a grid-down scenario where your system is left unplugged. Even alternative power sources run dry eventually, meaning that relying on a home security system solely for your home defense needs is careless. These can also become impractical when an emergency drives a family from their home, leaving remains open to looters and thieves.

Often during emergencies, homeowners are taken advantage of while away at an emergency shelter or searching for supplies, making sustainability an important safety feature. Your household should also be prepared to handle intense heat, cold, and grid-down scenarios for as close to indefinitely as possible. While a home security system can be an immensely effective tool in warding off potential crooks when everything is running as it should, there are certain aspects of home security that homeowners should consider when preparing their home in order to take whatever the world throws at us in stride.

Weatherize your home

When your power runs out, one of the most noticeable conveniences you’ll sorely miss is indoor climate control. Even with an alternative power source, heating and air conditioning are not practical uses for power when it becomes scarce. Weatherizing your home both improves your family’s health and comfort while allowing your family to stay within shelter without needlessly searching for fuel sources or outside aid. It also protects your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide that many basic fuel sources create. Finally, a well-sealed home is also more likely to avoid the complications of flood damage. To prevent extreme weather conditions affecting protection against home invasion or personal injury, there are several steps to consider in preparing your home.

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Weatherize your home.

First, it’s crucial to have an energy audit performed in your home. Professionals often offer energy auditing services, though a DIY approach to this task can be fruitful. Put simply, this audit is about checking your home’s insulation, looking for air gaps, and sealing your home as tightly as possible inside and out. For more information and advice on energy audits, see Energy.gov.

Some other crucial steps of weatherizing include protecting your pipes from freezing or corrosion. Should your water remain potable throughout a natural disaster or emergency, it would be important to keep your water source as well-maintained as possible to withstand the hardiest conditions. (However, water frequently becomes not fit to drink for a while after the grid goes down when filtration systems lose power; see the following section for advice on water sources.)

Besides sealing your home well, consider some simple modifications to weatherize your windows and lower the chances of your home becoming damaged, especially during storm or blizzard conditions. Shatter-proof panes, shutters, and storm windows are excellent affordable options in making sure your windows won’t shatter, which makes home invasion and personal injury from debris all the more unlikely.

Prepare food and water sources

Keeping your family unexposed to the elements outdoors and looters is the only sure way to defend them, so unless there is an emergency shelter accessible it is prudent to become as sustainable as possible in your home. As a bare minimum, the FDA recommends creating a supplies kit that would last your household at least 72 hours. A household able to function without requiring travel or delivery for resources is ideal, though only possible through meticulous planning.

A steady supply of preserved, dehydrated, or garden-grown foods is your first concern. Your food supply should be non-perishable; but this can make avoiding salty, dehydrating foods difficult. Seek out salt-free or low sodium versions of foods that your family enjoys. Dry mixes and dehydrated foods are a popular choice amongst preppers for their healthiness and shelf-life. Canned foods are feasible, though usually come steeped in salt and other preservatives. Generally, any food which requires neither cooking nor refrigeration is best.

Keeping a potable water supply besides your water system is another essential part of a good survival plan in your family. Some types of water contamination can be boiled away, though this form of sanitation can be inconsistent and requires a fuel source. Bottled water can be helpful, though scarcity and expiration dates definitely limits their use. For in-depth advice on properly sanitizing different outdoor and indoor water sources, see this pamphlet by the Red Cross. The popular rule of thumb is that you should have a gallon of water per individual to cover both their hydration and sanitary needs. If your emergency situation is in a particularly hot climate, you may need to double or even triple this standard.

Have a family plan

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You can’t say you didn’t warn them.

Preparation is the biggest factors playing in your odds for survival in any emergency – and natural disasters are no exception. In order for your family’s emergency plan to be successful in survival and to keep your home secure, mutual planning is necessary. Each of your family should be aware of meeting areas for circumstances when family members need to leave or when a home invasion occurs. Share common emergency contact information and know precisely where to go when a member becomes separated.

Your plan should incorporate some basic kits of medical supplies, batteries, alternative power supplies, light sources, and anything else to cover the special needs of your family. If possible, stocking on medications that your family might require in advance is a good precaution. Make sure you have adequate tools that run independently of power, such as auxiliary locks for entrances with electronic locks and manual cooking appliances. Your primary concern for backup generators and other power sources should be for lighting and communications devices.

To enhance your home defense during power-down scenarios, there are a few modifications you can make. Equipping the front of your home with motion sensing lights can ward off potential looters. Alternatively, sealing main entrances with signage warning off looters can make your home less of a target – especially if leaving your home is necessary when resources run dry. Maintaining your presence known can be a powerful deterrent to burglars, but avoid making your resources or power obvious to outside observers.

What other tips would you recommend to families faced with a natural disaster to keep their family members and home safe?

Under normal circumstances, home security systems such as ADT home security can be an excellent step towards achieving peace of mind. But these systems are far from a cure-all for

A Final Prepper reader, Andrew asked the following question on our Contact form the other day:

I’m wondering if you guys could do a write up of the pros and cons of a fenced property as well as a gated driveway. It is something I have considered for some time but would be very much interested in what people more in the know think of these security options.

If anyone else has any questions, please send them in, or comment on any post. Your conversations help everyone in the Prepper community learn and if anyone has additional feedback to what I write here, please add that below.

A fence for home protection

When it comes to keeping people out or keeping them in, a fence is one of the first things considered. Naturally any secure area or building has a fence around it –  sometimes several fences. The most secure fences would additionally have a roll of razor wire at the top to detract would-be climbers from making it over unscathed or be electrified; possibly both.

In residential areas you are usually more limited in what you would even consider putting around your property. In my case, I wouldn’t be able to add that big prison fence to the sides of my yard because my wife wouldn’t allow it. Now before I get comments like I need to grow a pair, I will add that I wouldn’t want a large fence either. It isn’t like a large fence would help my falling property value and unless I am in a fortress it just doesn’t go with my landscaping.

When we first brought our survival dog home we talked about a fence to keep her enclosed in our yard. We priced out a traditional chain-link fence for our yard that would have given us some peace of mind if we ever wanted to let her go unattended. The over $5000 price list made me throw that idea out the window. I know that I could have installed a chain link fence myself, but I didn’t want to tackle that project on my own. Assuming money was no object, the question was, is a fence a good idea when the grid goes down? Will a fence protect you or keep the bad guys away? Are there any yard security measures you could take that would make a difference in a grid down world?

The Pros and Cons

Items like a chain link fence can improve your property’s value if done in a way that doesn’t detract from the appearance of your yard in most cases. Fences can keep children and pets in while keeping smaller children and pets out of your yard. There is usually a state law to have a fence if you have a pool to prevent anyone from stumbling into the water and drowning. Fences create a nice boundary line and frame your property in a way that for some is more pleasing than the openness of yards without borders. Aside from the aesthetic reasons and the property value implications (of which I really am not qualified to speak to) are fences good at realistic protection?

Assuming we are talking about traditional residential fences here, I don’t believe they offer anything on their own in the way of serious protection. Could they slow someone down? Yes, but for how long? Even the White House fence proved no match for a determined man. Fences can easily be cut with a plain pair of bolt cutters (which I recommend everyone have as part of a complete prepper supply list of items), or run over with just about any car and then the illusion of protection would be shattered pretty quickly. If you are planning on buying and installing a fence, I wouldn’t expect this alone would keep you safe from anything more than those small children and pets. They might be a better deterrent while there is no crisis going on, but if the grid goes down, do you really expect a fence to keep anyone out for long?

gate-8

Security gates may slow down vehicles, but what about people on foot?

What about a big security gate on your driveway? These are frequently more substantial than a fence, but they have their weaknesses too. Even with a gate, you are probably only going to slow down vehicles, but people can walk in or around those gates. I look at these like expensive locks on my shed. They are there to keep honest people out, not the criminals who will find a way to get around these basic security measures in a truly violent reality if they are motivated.

So should you do nothing?

I think in some situations, fences and gates can slow people down but they won’t stop anyone who is really determined for long. You can use these as your early warning system though and deploy perimeter alarms at the gates and on the fences to alert you when these obstacles have been breached. In a home invasion scenario this could give you precious seconds of advance warning to either make it to your home defense weapon or safe room and possibly call 911.

Those are my thoughts, what do you think?

A Final Prepper reader, Andrew asked the following question on our Contact form the other day: I’m wondering if you guys could do a write up of the pros and cons of