Disasters and Preparations for SHTF Events

There are a variety of serious disasters that we may face. Forethought is forearmed…

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As a prepper, my focus is upon preparations for long term, grid down possibilities, since short term disasters will not greatly disable normal emergency disaster assistance. Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and fire storms are local events and assistance at the state and national level will remain available. Preps that lessen their impact are wise but obvious enough that all that is needed is a minimal amount of discussion.

The most serious natural disasters Americans may potentially face is the Yellowstone Caldera ‘Super-Volcano’ and an “impact event”.

As a severe pandemic may or may not be ‘natural’, I do not assume it to be natural.

A sufficiently large impact event is a ‘planet killer’ and cannot be escaped. In such an event, we will all bend over and kiss our butt goodbye… Though we are close to having the technological base to place a series of defensive, semi-automatic, remote controlled stations around the earth that could lessen the potential threat of an impact event. Solar powered lasers might deflect a near earth object from a collision course with the earth. It’s a very real threat (look at the moon for confirmation), which incidentally wiped out the dinosaurs. That threat constitutes the most pragmatic of reasons for continued technological development and exploration in space.

Unless it directly impacts near you, in which case again say goodbye, a smaller impact’s main threat is a large tsunami, which can be escaped by living inland with a protective mountain barrier between your location and the ocean.

The Yellowstone super-volcano can also be prepared for by living at a distant enough location. 2.1 million years ago, the largest Yellowstone area eruption occurred and produced 2,500 times as much ash as the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption, (which destroyed all within a 25 mile radius). Scientists currently estimate it to erupt every 640,000-800,000 years and it last erupted 640,000 years ago. They give a 1 in 700,000 chance of eruption in any year. But also estimate a higher probability sometime in the next 80 years. Ash coverage would be extensive

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The Mt. St. Helen eruption devastated 235 sq. miles, a 25 mile radius. The more distant from Yellowstone and the more barriers like a mountain between you and a Yellowstone eruption, the greater the likelihood of survival.

The most likely long term, electrical ‘grid down’ SHTF events are; 1) a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) event, 2) an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack, 3) a terrorist attack that targets the nine key electrical distribution transformers with which the national electrical grid cannot operate, 4) a severe pandemic and 5) a nuclear war. To some extent, all of these threats can be prepared for and their effects minimized. 

That is not to assert that they would not affect us because any long term, grid down situation will have profound effects. A severe pandemic or nuclear war’s effects would be profound in other, obvious ways.

Severe pandemics are like a quick burning prairie fire, the higher the death rate, the quicker ‘burning’ it will be. They pass relatively quickly, typically six weeks between outbreak and ‘burning out’, due to a lack of victims with which to continue the spread of the pandemic. Thus, self-quarantining you and yours with supplies sufficient for 8 weeks should allow for probable survival. Of course in the aftermath, highly negative conditions might well apply, even up to civilizational collapse. 

The best way to lessen the effects of a nuclear war is to locate away from nuclear targets and nuclear reactors. Along with the area’s prevailing winds blowing from radiation free areas and blowing away from your location any fallout. It makes little sense to survive in a bomb shelter only to be unable to leave due to lingering high radiation levels.  In the event of a nuclear incident or nuclear attack, determining when it is safe outside requires the use of a dosimeter/Geiger counter. Here are two units; Kvarts DRSB-01 and the Ecotest TERRA-P MKS-05 that based on this review and this review seem adequate. The less expensive Kvarts can be customized to work with an iPhone to expand its usefulness. Also, in a grid down event, smartphones can be charged with a solar charger. Plus, text messages may work even when the cell phone network is overloaded with calls. Smartphone ‘apps’ (minuscule software programs) may have use during a grid down event.

There is an important difference between CME and EMP events. An EMP attack may wipe out some-to-most electronics, as well as the electrical grid. Whereas a CME event will probably only wipe out those devices connected to the electrical grid. The evidence regarding modern cars susceptibility to either one is tentative and contradictory. Pre-1985 vehicles will be unaffected, though gas or diesel will be increasingly difficult to obtain. Plus fuel additives are needed to keep fuel from deteriorating.

A terrorist attack that successfully targeted the nine key electrical distribution transformers with which the national electrical grid cannot operate, would also involve internal conflict (terrorists) and even war.

There are preparations that account for all of these disasters and those preparations start with… location, location, location! Read my first post, “Start at the Beginning” for an in-depth discussion of my rationale in locating to the area that in my judgement, provides the highest probability of survival in any SHTF event that can be survived. 

In considering various forms of long term grid down disasters, regardless of cause, a self-sufficiency that assumes little to no future assistance is only prudent. It does no good to survive an event only to later die due to a lack of forethought and preparation.

However, regardless of what preps you might take, to one degree or another, plans will go awry. In that event, nothing beats the ability to “improvise, adapt and overcome” (the U.S. Marine’s unofficial motto). ‘Good luck’ is the intersection where preparation meets opportunity.

All too often, ‘bad luck’ is where a lack of preparation meets one of life’s challenges.

A flat tire is one of life’s challenges. Not having a spare tire is a lack of preparation (my sister just found out that her 2013 Dodge Dart does NOT come with a spare tire(!), Dodge considers it to be an ‘optional accessory’).

Of course, bad luck does happen to all of us, as no one can prepare for everything. That’s where the value of “improvise, adapt and overcome’ proves itself.

Essential and priceless medical knowledge and supplies

 

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The number one killer in a SHTF event will be infection and disease. In a grid down, SHTF event, the entire medical support system will collapse. In the aftermath of such a collapse, medical attention through previously normal channels is highly likely to be unavailable and, may be unavailable for years… 

Every retreat needs medical supplies, first-aid training and printed reference materials.

The very first medical barrier to disease is basic hygiene. Soap and water are critical. A clean environment is a medical necessity.

Before you buy supplies, educate yourself.

Widely available, the Survival MD Program is essential information.

Supplies:

One of the most important medical supplies and nearly impossible to obtain are antibiotics. If antibiotics are available, the likelihood of surviving severe trauma will be significantly greater. Reportedly, Fish & Bird Antibiotics are a viable substitute, being essentially the same as doctor prescribed antibiotics. 

In the aftermath of a grid down event, insulin will become unavailable. A long term grid down event will be a death sentence for those on insulin. Sugar substitutes will be vital for diabetics who do not need insulin and those merely hypoglycemic. Consumption of naturally low glycemic foods will help to maintain health.

Medics First Aid Kit

Medical Kits Trauma Pack with QuikClot

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

Fully Stocked Tactical Trauma Kit First Aid Kit Bag

Minor Surgery Kit

First Aid, Israeli Battle Dressing, Compression Bandage – 4 inch

First Aid, Israeli Battle Dressing, Compression Bandage – 6 inch

The Extractor Bite & Sting Kit (First Aid) Venom Suction Insects Snakes

Box of Vinyl Gloves – Large (you can never have too many) 

A good supply of Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2), the only germicidal agent composed only of water and oxygen, will provide numerous benefits.

Information:

Excellent medical resources written for third world conditions:                                       Health Books and Resources

The NEW Where There Is No Doctor

Where There Is No Dentist

Where Women Have No Doctor: A health guide for women

A Book for Midwives: Care for pregnancy, birth, and women’s health

Basic Midwives Set, including A Book for Midwives, Birth Matters, and The Childbirth Picture Book

 Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide

 Herbal Antivirals: Preparing and Using the Most Effective Natural Antiviral Herbs 

The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way

Emergency War Surgery: The Survivalist’s Medical Desk Reference 

The Field Guide of Wilderness & Rescue Medicine 

Quick Reference First Aid Posters

 Immune system boosting ‘Silver Solution’

 Boost Your Immune System With Elderberry Syrup

 A natural blood clotting agent that works quickly is Shepherd’s Purse and, it’s a weed!

 Something as mundane as bug/mosquito repellent can be a God send. Repel and Eco Defense Bug Spray are reportedly effective natural repellents. IMO, Deet is to be avoided but it is widely available and highly effective. An effective battery powered mosquito repellent device… compliments repellent sprays. Use it in combination with your bug spray and increase the effectiveness of both.

 

SHTF Defensive Preparations

Goffatt Island - Ontario, Canada
Goffatt Island, Ontario, Canada

SHTF defensive preparations involve much more than having sufficient firepower. The best defensive strategy is avoidance. ‘Invisibility’ is the desired condition.                    If the ‘zombies’ don’t know you exist, they can’t bother you.

The ideal defense is to never have to defend yourself in the first place. Much toward that end can be done with some simple forethought.

Ideally, your retreat is in a rural area, away from cities in an area seldom traveled through. If at all possible, avoid locating near major travel corridors. The retreat should not be visible from the nearest road. Telephone and electrical service lines are a dead give away to occupation. A concealed, off-grid set-up is thus, a defensive necessity.

The greater the degree of self-sufficiency, the greater the prospects for successful avoidance of threats. So along with sufficient firepower, come other preparations;

A year round water supply, greater than your projected needs is NOT an ‘option’ but a necessity. A plentiful supply of heirloom seeds is essential. In a major SHTF event, grocery distribution WILL end. A good garden also lessens exposure by reducing the need to travel outside the retreat. Gardens also provide earthworms, the ultimate ‘bait’ when fishing for the larder, rather than for sport.

Raising domestic livestock just makes sense. Rabbits provide meat and nature’s perfect fertilizer. Chickens yield meat and eggs. Goats can provide soap, shampoo, milk and meat. Irish Decker cattle are the ideal breed for the homesteader/prepper. They need half the feed of larger cattle, are sweet tempered, remarkably trouble free while providing meat and milk.

Fishing and hunting can greatly supplement the larder, while avoiding potentially hostile interaction with either the desperate or criminally minded. Hunting quietly avoids alerting other people to your presence. Snares (not just for small game), a good crossbow and a modern, .22 cal air rifle with the right ammo are all ways to hunt quietly and will greatly lessen the chance of detection.

An oversize septic tank has much to recommend it. In a major SHTF event, city water and city waste disposal systems could potentially be a fatal dependency. Domestic water supplies failing and being cut off to the retreat is a direct threat both to immediate survival and would force the risk of exposure. 

A ham radio set-up may well be invaluable, giving you a better chance of stay up to date on current events. Satellite TV / Internet while operational is undetectable. And, is an important information and communication technology. Forewarned is forearmed.

Camouflage netting suspended from trees above the cabin to prevent location of the retreat by aerial and satellite surveillance may be worthy of consideration.

In any SHTF event, ‘situational awareness’ is critical, the sooner threats are identified, the greater the defensive options available. To be effective, situational awareness needs to be developed prior to a SHTF event. It must have become habitual… 

A good pair of binoculars is a no-brainer. They can even come with night vision.

A good emergency radio is the minimum that a retreat should have ion hand.

Perimeter alert systems epitomize being forewarned and thus forearmed. A good dog(s) is one of the very best perimeter alert ‘systems’. Dogs however must IMO, be trainedFRS/GMRS Two-Way Radios, Shortwave receivers and Ham Radio transceivers have potential as an early alert system. At night, night vision equipment is arguably, essential to a perimeter alert system.

Rather than try to place perimeter alarms around the entire property, plant an impenetrable firethorn brush fence around the retreat, so that approaches to your property are funneled into narrow avenues of approach. A 12 Gauge Perimeter Alarm System is meant to send an unmistakable message to an intruder while also alerting you to intrusion.

Concealing the driveway entrance to your property increases the odds that travelers will simply pass by, ideally never realizing that someone is living nearby.  

Understand the difference between cover and concealment. “The difference between cover and concealment is a simple one. If it doesn’t stop a bullet, then it is considered to be concealment because that is all it is really doing – concealing your location. Cover is something that will not only conceal your location but stop a bullet as well.” 

The old truism that a good offense is better than a good defense… still holds true.

Identifying spots where an attacking force is likely to conduct an assault from can allow you to plan for counter responses and even lessen cover for an attacking force. Plant firethorn bushes where cover would otherwise be available but allow areas of concealment. If attacked, you want an attacker to only have concealment with no cover.  

Identifying alternate routes of egress will allow you to pre-plan to attack by surprise at the rear or flank of an attacking force. Surprise is an invaluable advantage. Aggressive attackers do not expect ‘prey’ to turn on them and make of them… prey. Some form of night vision may be critical to surprising an attacker. In the dark, aided by night vision, a modern crossbow is a deadly weapon. 

If finances permit, body armor makes sense, as only in the movies do the bad guys never shoot straight.

‘Peace through firepower’ is my recommended mantra, an update of Teddy Roosevelt’s “walk softly but carry a big stick”. A well armed retreat will have a variety of firearms for defense; long range and semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and pistols with plenty of ammo. Crossbows and knives also have their place. But homemade grenades and I.E.D.s are for experts. There is plenty of advice on the internet for the various options available in personal ordnance. As a non-fatal defensive option, I like pepper gel with a stun baton.

There’s safety in numbers and gaining nearby, like minded allies prior to a SHTF event may make the difference between surviving and being a well prepared… victim. In the aftermath of a major SHTF event, lawlessness is absolutely certain. Someone WILL try to take from you what you have…

It’s obvious that a prepper group compound can potentially offer a greater defensive advantage than a lone individual or family retreat. But… is also much less ‘stealthy’. Personally, I favor combining avoidance with the backup of a group alliance.

SHTF Shelters

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Think small and efficient. Think self-sufficiency. Think off-grid. 

In the aftermath of some potential SHTF events our lives may never resume at the level of technology that we now enjoy. That eventuality, however unlikely, must be prepared for by the prudent prepper. Technology itself is a good thing. Dependence upon technology is a bad thing and in a CME event or EMP attack, dependency may well be fatal. 

So my SHTF ‘strategy’ is to construct an off-grid, low electrical usage, self-sufficient abode. Electrical supply should be, IMO self-generated and protected as much as possible from the high energies generated by CME and EMP events. Where protection is not practicable, protected replacement parts are necessary.  Availability of financial resources are obviously an important factor. We do what we can do.

Just as important as comprehensive preparations… is an attitude of flexibility. No ‘plan’ survives contact with unforeseen reality. We cannot foresee everything but we can be prepared to “improvise, adapt, and overcome” (unofficial US Marine slogan).

A shelter must protect from the elements. Warm in winter, cool in summer and dry in rainy conditions make up the basics. A shelter must provide space for living, cooking, sleeping and our hygiene needs.

A prepper’s shelter must also be defensible. It must be defensible because, in the aftermath of a grid down event, lawlessness is certain and that means someone(s) will try to take from you your preps, possibly your shelter and even your life.

There are a number of efficient, low cost home building options. Rammed Earth construction, underground earth structures, dry stack concrete block construction, cob construction  (earth-straw), Earthbag house construction and adobe are all tried and true methods. Such shelters are fire proof, highly earthquake resistant and possess long lifetimes. All of these construction technologies are fire resistant, time tested, energy efficient and of very low cost compared to other methods of construction.

Rammed earth construction has been around since before the Romans and is suitable in nearly any climate. Its thick walls warm during winter and cool during summer, greatly lessening energy use in warming and cooling the shelter.

Shelters using rammed earth construction are insect proof and time tested over millenia, with potential multi-century lifetimes and are highly energy efficient. Materials are literally ‘dirt cheap’, though without powered machinery, construction is labor intensive. Rammed earth walls are bullet proof to anything short of a 50 caliber round. 

Steel doors and window shutters, along with thick earth walls would make a highly defensible shelter. In a SHTF event, lawlessness is once again, a certainty.

Properly constructed earthen or ‘cob’ floors give numerous advantages. Covered in turn with cork flooring and/or ceramic tile in high traffic areas… will yield a highly durable and very comfortable floor. Earthen floors work well with radiant floor systems.

Cost aside, a waterproofed, concrete foundation makes a lot of sense.

Metal carport roofs are one roofing option, they are very inexpensive, possess a long life and can be spec’d to handle 65 psf snow loads. An alternative roofing material is concrete roof tiles. Both are fireproof with 50+ year lifetimes.  Metal roofs must be grounded in order to be CME/EMP resistant.

Metal doors and metal window shutters, along with thick earth walls would make a highly defensible shelter. In a SHTF event, lawlessness will be a certainty.

Excavating a basement/root cellar next to the shelter with access from inside the kitchen area (enclosed pantry?) could then be easily extended with a concealed escape tunnel. A gravity fed water supply with plentiful storage of water supplies would make for a nearly siege proof shelter.

A “rocket mass heater” is an inexpensive, exceptionally efficient means of space heating & cooking. 

Wood stoves are a tried and true means of heating a home and can easily be used for cooking. Depending upon construction and materials, they can be fairly efficient.

A well insulated room can be kept moderately heated by using just Tea Lights & Flowerpots and for just $0.12 per day…

Refrigeration and freezers are of tremendous utility and very energy efficient ones are available, though they are not inexpensive. However, an inexpensive chest freezer can be easily converted to a refrigerator, and one that uses very little electrical energy.

A hand operated deep well pump installed next to your electric pump is an inexpensive emergency backup. A solar electric, battery back-up, well pump will provide indefinite water pressure for all of a household’s needs. Well water, run through a Berkey Water Filter (models for 1-12 people), will provide for all of your drinking/cooking needs.

An outdoor summer shower is easily obtained. During inclement weather, The Zodi Fire Coil can deliver hot water from just a camp fire, wood stove, etc.  While you may not need either of these, should the need arise, these inexpensive back up devices  would be invaluable.

Here’s a foot operated non-electric, self contained sink. One of these sinks in the bathroom and, another in the kitchen with a simple dish rack and proper food hygiene is easily accomplished. Here are plans for a DIY Outdoor Foot Pump Portable Sink.

Depending upon your individual circumstances, they may be an option worth consideration.

An oversize septic tank has much to recommend it.  As does a good compost toilet.  

A FLUSHABLE LOO 400 TOILET is an option that may be worth consideration.

In a long term, grid down situation, toilet paper will disappear. Fortunately, there is a viable, even superior alternative to toilet paper. A modern, inexpensive, bidet toilet attachment, supplemented when needed with a Perineal Irrigation Bottle and finished with reusable cloth wipes is a clean, comfortable substitute for toilet paper. Thousands of Americans are currently using some variation of this system.

A grid down event will bring the washing of laundry to the forefront. An off-grid shelter with limited self-generated electrical supply might consider a “Compact Portable Apartment Small Washing Machine” such as this one or this one or this one. These machines demand much less electrical supply than a traditional washer. Their limited capacity is the unavoidable downside. Combining any of these machines with a good, high speed spin dryer will greatly shorten the time needed to dry clothes.

Though very small, the Wonderwash Non-electric Portable Compact Mini Washing Machine is another  option.

All of the options listed above beat washing clothes with a washboard.

A low electrical usage household needs to be aware that, 82% of the energy used in cleaning laundry is used by the dryer, not the washer. In a SHTF shelter with limited electrical power, keeping electrical usage low is a necessary limitation.

In warm weather, an outdoor clothes line still works well and, nothing matches the feel of freshly washed, cotton sheets dried in the sun on a breezy day. During inclement weather, a retractable clothes line can be installed inside the shelter for drying laundry.

A shelter can be furnished very inexpensively, through a variety of means. Here’s one example… an open mind and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking will stretch your resources.

A very comfortable, clean, semi-non-electric, off-grid, low cost shelter is easily possible. Of course, it will require more work to maintain our lives. Electricity is a profound convenience and makes possible labor saving devices. Solar, wind, mini-hydroelectric generators and biomass electrical generation are all viable, if limited means of generating off grid electricity. A minimal in its needs, off grid, energy independent, defensible shelter is the ideal shelter in a SHTF, grid down event.

Food and Water First

 

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In a SHTF event, those who fail to prepare will be lucky (but unlikely) to even have bread and water.

Homemade Native American Pemmican, easily sprouted seeds and beans, ‘miracle’ Moringa leaves – powder, fresh, high quality ‘beans and rice’ (a complete protein), biblical “ezekiel bread”, sourdough bread and dried fruits, along with a clean water source will keep you alive and in good health… indefinitely.

Gardening with heirloom seeds will be vital to long term survival. A mix of veggies, fruits and herbs, watered and fertilized with minerals derived from seawater, (important!) grown in the “square foot gardening system” will provide a plentiful supply of veggies and fruits. Herbs provide fresh spices. 

Rabbit manure is a superlative fertilizer. All natural and… earthworms, a garden’s best friend, love it. Domestically raised Rabbits can provide a survival source of meat.  Earthworms are the surest and quickest means to fish on the grill.

Constructing a greenhouse is a no brainer. As is a root cellar for food storage. The destroyer of both uncooked and preserved foods are oxygen, heat and light. Opaque, vacuum sealed containers in a dark, cool root cellar will greatly extend shelf life. Glass containers should be placed in light proof outer containers. Black trash bags work fine, the idea is to block light from the food.

150 years ago, a paddle wheel steamer sunk in the Missouri river and was quickly covered with river mud. Filled with goods, it was unearthed a century and a half later. Having had no exposure to  light, heat or oxygen, preserved food in recovered jars were still perfectly safe and… perfectly edible.

Stock up on coffee beans, honey, salt & pepper, peanut butter, flour‘red feather brand’ canned butter, mayonnaise, powdered cheese, powdered milk, homemade powdered coffee creamer and ‘shelf stable’ Milk are essentials for the well stocked larder. Carefully and properly handled, many staples like butter, mayonnaise and peanut butter once opened, do NOT ‘need’ to be refrigerated .

Even a few spices will greatly enhance the taste of your staples. Storing them in a deep root cellar will greatly extend their shelf life. Many non-electric methods of food storage are available to us. Popcorn is a good substitute for chips and has a very long shelf life.

Staples like beans, rice and pasta are invaluable. Growing your own tomatoes and potatoes is easy and arguably, a necessity. For morale alone, they are invaluable.

Harvesting of game and fish are essential to maximizing food stocks.

Large amounts of sugar and sugar substitutes are priceless. 

A non-electric coffee maker and manual coffee grinder, bread ingredients & storage materials along with an ice cream maker and a beer making kit will, at some point be G-d sends.

Some ‘vices’ like chocolate, good cigars and scotch are well worth accommodating. Part of the difference between just existing and relaxing contentedly.

A manual meat grinder and grain grinder are essential pieces of equipment for the self-sufficient household. Both can be driven by bicycle/exercise bikes (way better than hand grinding).

A non-electric food vacuum packing system is invaluable.

Various cooking utensils are invaluable additions.

I recommend: Cast Iron and/or stainless steel pots and pans. 

The Ringer Cast Iron Cleaner

A good ‘dutch’ oven is a necessity.

During a grid down situation, a good solar oven and solar dehydrator would be indispensable .

A ‘Big Berkey’ Water Filter, along with plenty of replacement filters is, an absolute  necessity.

Raising your own chickens for eggs and meat is another no brainer. 

Hunting with a crossbow is the quietest, stealthiest means of procuring bigger game. 

Game snares are not just for small game. Snares can easily bring down deer and wild pigs. After a grid down event, the normally illegal snaring of deer will not be a concern. Snaring deer and wild pigs is, by far the most efficient means of obtaining large amounts of meat.

A modern, powerful 22. cal air rifle loaded with Crosman ‘Destroyer’ pellets and old fashioned snares are an extremely quiet means of procuring small game animals, while also extending food stocks.

Fishing is of course, an excellent means of procuring needed protein and, adds variety, an important if not critical consideration. During a grid down SHTF event, sport fishing must yield to other harvesting methods. A small solar cell/battery system powering an underwater green dock light will attract fish like crazy. Add a cast net to harvest.   

Cooking methods: 

Normally, indoor cooking uses either electricity or natural gas. Both may be available in a SHTF event but the prudent prepper will avoid dependency upon those technologies. Outdoor non-electric options are plentiful. Indoor non-electric options are limited.

A small solar cell system, wind, hydro or gas/diesel/propane generator may provide the electrical power needed to power an inductive cooktop and refrigeration. A chest freezer can be easily converted into a refrigerator whose energy usage is dramatically less than an ordinary refrigerator.

Solar and wind cannot provide electrical power 24/7. Few locations allow for hydro electrical generation. Gas/diesel/propane electrical generation, in a grid down situation is limited by a predictable, difficult to impossible resupply of fuel. Combining these technologies can partially compensate for their limitations but many cannot afford the expense.

In a long term, ‘grid down’ event, long term viability of the cooking method(s) becomes paramount. Thus, my focus in preparing for a possible worst case SHTF event is on non-electric methods for cooking.

A Solar Oven, while limited to sunny/overcast days is nevertheless, priceless. No fuel issues, ever. Solar ovens can reach 350-550 degrees, more than sufficient. They can even be used indoors, when placed before a sunny, south facing window. 

Sterno fuel style stoves are safe indoors but limited in heating ability. Somewhat expensive, old time wood cook stoves are available. Rocket mass heater/stoves however, that use wood, charcoal or coal are an inexpensive, highly efficient means of both cooking food indoors and heating the shelter. During warm weather, when using  mass heaters is uncomfortable, cooking outdoors is then viable.

I favor natural hardwood charcoal for its very low cost and long term storage potential. Years worth of charcoal can be stored in very little space and, with the right equipment, very few briquettes are needed.

I like the Cobb Premier Grill  (8-10 briquettes!) in combination with the Volcano 3 Collapsible Stove used with a Dutch Oven. A unique, outstandingly innovative dutch oven is the CampMaid brand. I can personally testify to its quality and cleverness. Together, these items provide for every cooking method; frying, roasting, baking, steaming etc. is available and more than one dish can be simultaneously prepared. Examples; casserole + bread. Meat Spaghetti sauce + pasta. BBQ + baked potato + veggie… 

The French “sous vide” cooking method has much to recommend it. A relatively unknown but well established method that is used by top chefs. Get this: Hot water (140-160), an instant read thermometer and a good ice cooler are ALL that is needed. Get a 36qt or larger cooler, with a lid that latches. However the water is heated, the cooler can be used indoors, making it suitable for use even in harsh conditions. I recommend searing steaks over a grill first, then using this method for possibly the best steak you’ve ever had.

The ‘Wonderbag’ is a non-electric ‘crockpot style’, casserole cooking method, suitable for indoors. It requires bringing water to a boil, adding recipe ingredients to the water, placing the pot into the Wonderbag and then simply leaving it for 6-8 hours. Voila! A cooked meal will await.

The mid-western traditional  2 1/2 Gallon Cream Can Supper Can is an innovative means of cooking for a crowd.  The Orion convection BBQ smoker is innovative and recommended.

Before all else comes food and water.                                                           You can live in a tent, run away from danger.                                           But without food and water, all else is meaningless.

Start at the beginning

Your Bug Out/Bug In Plan – Location, location, location…

down_the_rabbit_hole_by_lady_adonia

A bug-out / bug-in plan should presume the worst. Normally, a hurricane, earthquake or tornado assumes a swift return to normality. A SHTF event presumes the need for a bug out or in plan because civilizational necessities (food, water, electrical supply, law and order) are absent with no reliable expectation of when they might return.

It seems obvious that, prior to a SHTF event, the soundest strategy is to be already living at your rural retreat location. To be able to bug ‘in’ rather than need to bug ‘out’. And of course, from the standpoint of financial considerations, funding just one location is eminently sensible. I strongly recommend that anyone who lives in either a city or in a city’s suburb, immediately start planning to move ASAP to a rural location. As in a grid down situation, cities and suburbs will quickly become death traps.

Of course, practical considerations can make that impracticable. The second best strategy and arguably, potentially essential to survival is to live nearby one’s bug out retreat. Preparation for a SHTF event does little good if hesitancy in deciding to leave quickly, results in an inability to reach a retreat. Decisiveness will be critical to survival. Waiting will not be an option.

It’s a given that in a true SHTF event, traveling long distances will be, at the least difficult and at worst, impossible. Lawlessness will be rampant, chaos and blocked roads certain and fuel with which to refill vehicles may be difficult to obtain. Also, the possibility of nuclear fallout cannot be ignored by the prudent prepper.

The closer you are to your retreat, the more likely you are to reach its refuge.

In a paradigm changing disaster with long term, civilizational disruption, a bug out/in plan offers the best prospects for long term survival. Meeting certain preconditions will considerably enhance chances for success, as we cannot know in advance what type of disaster we might face or for how long. Self-sufficiency must be our goal and mantra. 

The very first precondition is internal; your mental attitude, which IMO must combine common sense with situational awareness. There is no substitute for common sense nor, in a SHTF event, can there be a reasonable expectation of long term survival without having long made a habit of situational awareness. 

The second precondition is external and at its most basic, geographical; i.e. living in a mild, temperate climate in a nuclear free zone. In the age of terrorism, a nuclear attack is a real possibility and a grid down situation could result in nuclear reactor meltdowns.

Here’s a map of nuclear reactors across the US and one of likely nuclear targets;

nuclear_powerplants_USA_mapZ4BMOVC

 The third  precondition is to live in an area free from the threats of periodic natural disasters like earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, fire storms and tsunamis.

There are two unique, potential disasters that are only a threat to high technology civilizations. They are a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) Solar event and an EMP attack. CME events appear to occur about every 100-150 years. We narrowly avoided one in 2012. However, that estimate of time between events is decidedly uncertain.

An EMP attack is an artificial, man made CME event. Both have the potential to bring down our electrical grid, possibly for a very long time. 

Unprepared, such an event would be disastrous. Death estimates in the aftermath* are very high and the potential threat is very real. Prominent scientists have testified before Congress about this threat. We could do much to protect our electrical grid and infrastructure from these but the Federal government and the electrical generation industry is doing nothing to prepare for such an event. 

*the government’s estimates are grossly underrated. They purposely underestimate the number that might be without power and ignore the predictable death tolls from disrupted power over an at the least, months long time frame. Which begs the question, if the Feds couldn’t handle hurricane Katrina… how are they going to handle a SHTF event?

Nor is a CME event or EMP attack the only means to create a semi-permanent grid down event; “a white-hot study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was leaked to the Wall Street Journal. The government study concluded that coordinated attacks on only nine electrical transmission substations in the United States could bring down the entire trinity of grids (called interconnections) that supply electricity to America. Terrorists would have to physically destroy only four in the East, three the West and two in Texas, plus one large transformer production plant, and “the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer,” said the memo.”

There are limited preparations that the individual can take to protect their energy preps from destruction and/or interruption. Besides those preparations, IMO the most prudent preparation is to acquire the resources needed, such that dependency on electricity can be transformed from a profound need to a mere convenience. Self-sufficiency does NOT require electricity. A comfortable, self-sufficient, agrarian lifestyle is achievable.

An EMP attack could occur at any time and is essentially indefensible when prior preventative measures haven’t been implemented,  as the only defense against an aggressor nation is deterrence. Against hostile but not ideologically fanatical nations, the certainty of nuclear retaliation is sufficient deterrence. But…there is no deterrence against a terrorist organization like ISIS. Launching an EMP attack from a commercial container ship(s) off our coasts could be easily accomplished.

Which IMO raises such a terrorist attack from a possibility to a probability. Iran has conducted missile launches from ships and then detonated the launched missiles at the optimum altitude for an EMP attack. North Korea is said to be developing a ‘super’ EMP nuke and has a limited number of missiles potentially capable of delivering nukes to any part of the US.

The fourth precondition is to acquire the needed resources to weather any storm and any SHTF event. 

Of course, septic infection, botulism or simply a coconut… falling on your head are always possible in life. There is no 100% ‘safe zone’. All we can do is reduce the chances of personal disaster but if it’s truly your time, well… we’re all going to die, the only question is how and when.

There are five categories of preparedness that must be met to survive and three others that may be essential to survival. In order of importance, they are: 

Indispensable categories: 

#1 is enough Food & Clean Water to survive. Which, given the uncertainties means renewable food supplies, i.e. gardening, domestic livestock, hunting and fishing. A clean, nearby, year round water source is also a necessity.

Shelter is #2  – when it comes to shelter, before all else, location, location, location! 

Defense is # 3– Is your retreat defensible? It is almost certain that someone IS going to try to take it from you. There are three subcategories in defense: first is avoidance, second are perimeter alert(s) systems and third is the means to defend you and yours; i.e. various rifles, pistols, crossbows, knives. (RPGs & IEDs?) Peace through firepower…

Hygiene (Cleanliness is not only ‘next to Godliness’ but the first barrier to infectious disease) Solar showers can, in inclement weather be used indoors and are cheap, as is soap. Proper hygiene is absolutely critical in a grid down situation.

Medical supplies –  though there is no substitute for access to a doctor and/or trauma/maternity nurse, first aid training and medical info at hand is the minimum.

Possibly essential to survival:

Energy generation (animal power is the least ‘energy dense’ form of energy assist) a number of ways to generate electrical energy exist.

Transportation – grid down doesn’t have to mean walking.  Think outside the box; bicycles in various configurations, steam is a viable power source, believe it or not, you can literally drive on wood and, there are always horses.

Communications – Ham radio is the ‘fallback’ for a technological civilization.

Within these broad categories are subcategories such as clothing (shelter) cooking gear (food & water) etc, etc. Each of these categories & subcategories deserves and requires its own space.

In this, the first article expounding upon my current thinking (learning and growth never stop), I explore the preconditions upon which all our preps logically rest. 

It is a fact that Colorado, Idaho and Montana’s harsh winter climate make them poor for gardening, IMO a critical consideration for long term, grid down preparation. Generally, Western Oregon is not considered part of the “American redoubt“.  I believe south central/western Oregon to be an overlooked region, one that should be included and one well worth consideration. In fact, I’ve concluded that overall, the inland region of southwestern Oregon is closest to my ideal bug out/in location. 

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Particularly attractive is the Rogue River region in southern Oregon, residing between Oregon’s Coastal and Cascade mountain ranges. Those mountain ranges provide abundant water resources and yield a mild four season climate.

“The Rogue Valley is a farming and timber-producing region in southwestern Oregon in the United States. located along the middle Rogue River and its tributaries in Josephine and Jackson counties, the valley forms the cultural and economic heart of southern Oregon near the California border. The largest communities in the Rogue Valley include Medford (78k), Ashland (21k), and Grants Pass (35k).” 

South Central/West Oregon’s three small cities rest within a rural area, one that possesses a mild climate with plentiful rainfall, a ‘Mediterranean climate’, ideal for gardening. Gardening IMO is critical to the prepper. Food supplies will be used up and hunting and fishing, while of great value are time consuming and “catch, as catch can”.

The areas prevailing winds would also blow away any potential fallout, with the nearest nuclear reactor more than two hundred miles away in Corvallis. There are no commercial nuclear reactors in Oregon but there is a research facility that houses a nuclear reactor at Oregon State University (OSU) in Corvallis, Oregon.

The Pacific Ocean’s “ring of fire” earthquake zone must be considered in evaluating Oregon’s potential. Fortunately, starting in northern California it moves away from the continental US. That greatly reduces earthquake intensity in Oregon.  

Oregon’s Coastal mountain range offers protection from tsunamis.

In regard to the danger of volcanic eruptions, the very powerful 1980 Mount St. Helen eruption devastated up to 25 miles from the center. The Grants Pass area is 60+ miles from Mt. McLoughlin, the nearest volcano in the Cascade range.  Medford is about 37 miles away.

Oregon’s fire danger is mild and rare due to its plentiful rainfall. Fire danger, never to be completely ignored,  can be also be addressed with inexpensive, fire-proof shelters.

There is superb hunting and fishing in the area.

Thus, a retreat or retreat compound* located between the Coastal and Cascade mountain ranges in southwest Oregon provides ideal conditions in every category of consideration for the prudent prepper. It meets all of the requisites for a successful retreat. 

*the old truism that, “there is safety in numbers” will, in a SHTF event, be even more true. There is no substitute for shared resources, work and protection.

Below are some images collected off the internet that illustrate south central Oregon’s appeal for the common sense prepper.

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nuclear-war-survival-map-usa

Here’s a link to a Way cool real time USA wind map (you can zoom in for a much closer look)

wind-map-6-19-2014-658amEST-e1403178610888

The human element is of course another critical consideration but that is an issue regardless of location. There is no substitute for intelligence married to common sense.

Which leads to Oregon’s only real negative. Its progressive/leftist/liberalism. Fortunately, that is primarily confined to northern Portland, which of course as the most vulnerable, will be the first to go. Reality will eventually deal with “useful idiot” liberals.

Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can’t help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime: the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.” Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough For Love

In the aftermath of a SHTF event, the “true believer” Trotskyite leftists will once again be surprised when the “all about power and control” Stalinists show up. And, they will show up, as every generation produces its own crop of ruthless malcontents. It’s therefore predictable that, in any semi-permanent grid down situation, sooner or later, fighting the “bad guys” will be necessary.

The degree of patriot blood that must be shed to secure liberty is always directly proportional to the degree of civilizational rot that resides in a society. As long as human nature’s ‘dark side’ remains, Jefferson’s truism will remain, with occasional watering of the “Tree of Liberty” inescapable.

Fortunately, southern Oregon is conservative, lightly populated and racially homogeneous. Given the racial turmoil that the left has and will continue to foment in America, racial homogeneity is sadly, now beneficial and arguably, necessary.

These are the reasons why IMO, southern Oregon, between its Coastal and Cascade mountain ranges,  provides nearly ideal conditions for preppers.