Monday, March 31, 2008

How long could you last at home?

Here is a neat quiz you might want to try today.

How Long Could You Survive Trapped In Your Own Home?

With the food I have on hand, I could live for over 200 days in my home. Funny, they did not ask about water or the ability to make more fresh drinking water. No water, you no live.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Prepare! Doomsday in 24 Hours - A test of survival

This post is a drill. I repeat this is a drill.

Actually, I came up with this idea the other day at home. My wife and I were short on time and had a busy schedule for the weekend. We quickly brainstormed in the kitchen and assigned various tasks and jobs, i.e. "You drive here and get this. I will drop off so and so here.." etc.

It dawned on me, "What would I do to prepare if I only had 24 hours before an impending doom event took place?" So I came up with this scenario. Read through it and consider your answers to the questions.

Thursday evening, around 7PM, your phone rings. On the other end is an old friend you grew up with who now lives in Virginia and works for a well-known U.S. government agency.

Your friend informs you that in 24 hours the United States will come under nuclear attack. Several cities and key locations have been targeted and will be struck by nuclear weapons.

The largest city nearest to you is one of those targeted. Your friend is calling to let you know because he cares about you and your family. (Further, it is payback for saving his life during a horrible tree house accident when you were both 13). Regardless, your friend has already sent his family to safety and would like to provide you that same chance.

Because he knows you most likely will doubt the veracity of his statements, he asks that you check your email. Attached to an email from him, is an irrefutable document from the same agency he works for which attests to the facts he has presented.

There is one caveat.

The document in question ties directly back to your friend. If it gets back to his agency and the government he will be executed on the spot without question or trial. Therefore he asks that you only show it those you most trust and not to release it to the general public.

Good luck your friend wishes you. You have 24 hours to prepare. The line goes dead.

Here is your situation:

You and your family (wife, two kids, dog) live in a standard suburban home - single story, 3 bedrooms, 2 and a half baths, attic, basement and two car garage.
Your home is on city water, gas and electricity. You have several neighbors some of whom you and your family have known for years.

Your subdivision is located in a small bedroom community about 30 miles northwest of a medium to large sized city. Your town has a variety of standard big box retailers, stores and businesses.

You think you might want to weather the attacks at home.

- For instance, you generally have a good stock of food and other supplies on hand, probably more than most other people you know, but still inadequate for a major catastrophe like a nuclear war.
- In the backyard you have a 30x30 garden space which you plant each spring with a variety of fruits and vegetables.
- Your home has plenty of good storage space including a two car enclosed garage.

So, do you stay or go?
Should you batten down the hatches or take to the open road and try to reach someplace untouched by war?

Remember, this is only make believe and in no way real.

If you decide to stay..

First, print out the document your friend emailed. Then take it to your spouse. You will need an their support and cooperation to get through the next 24 hours and the many more afterwards; they must know what together you are up against.

Once your spouse understands the implications, the two of you must decide which friends and family members you can trust with this information. Further, you need to determine who you will be riding out the storm with during and after the attack is over. Your shelter will comfortably house your immediate family and could probably squeeze in another like sized family or two.

Who would you invite?
Would you tell all of your neighbors or just a few?
Would you phone distant relatives and possibly create a panic (and potentially the death of your childhood friend)?

Once that is decided, you take your list and you wife hers and you start to make contact. You and your wife agree to only tell the others parties once and leave it to them whether or not they trust and believe you and your wife.

Next, there is no time for grocery lists. You take the family car and head out the door. The first stop is to the bank. The bank is closed according to the hour, so hit the ATM for the largest amount you can get with your card.

Next your check your credit card and balance and make a note what type of funds you have to work with.

Would you empty out your bank accounts?
Would you max out your credit card?
Or would you take only a budgeted amount of cash out for supplies and hope your friend was wrong?

Next, head for the closest warehouse food store if the are still open i.e. Sams, Costco, etc. Many are open to 9 or 10 in some areas so you might be okay.

Once there, grab a flat handcart and load it with staple foods; flour, sugar, salt, powdered milk, honey, cocoa, etc. You then top off the hand truck with several of the largest packages of toilet paper, feminine products, trash bags, paper towels, cleaning supplies and batteries.

After you pay and load, you take your first shipment home and working in tandem with your wife put everything down in the basement.

Next head out to the corner supermarket. Many are open until midnight or all night. Fill your cart with over the counter (OTC) medications including stomach, cold, and other medication. Also load up on aspirin, tooth paste, tooth brushes, and other daily usage personal care products.

At this point, is this considered hoarding?
Are you taking more than your fair share of supplies that others may need and want to obtain in the minutes after the pending attack takes place?
Or are you being prudent and stocking up while there is plenty and others are oblivious to what is coming?
Are you only concerned about taking care of your family and friends?

Come home and unload your purchases. While you are shopping, make sure your wife runs all of the dirty clothes through the wash. While they are washing, have her start collecting everything you will need in the shelter and start carrying it down to the basement. Start with clothes, housewares, food from the pantry and most important - water. Have her fill every container available in the house.

Your next stop is the all night Wal Mart. Once there, hit the hardware section. Get more water containers, gasoline containers, duct tape, plastic sheeting, flashlights, fruit and vegetable seeds (hybrids are okay considering the circumstances), camp stove fuel cylinders, water filters, and air filters.

Head home and unload again. Even though the hour is late, get to work on the shelter.

An improvised fallout shelter can be built in a basement using simple materials (see here).

Using this guide, make sure all of the framework is in place. Check the ventilation and access points to the basement and shelter. Increase shielding in the basement as much as possible and as needed. Also check outside for further additions like soil or other material on the walls to block radiation.

Do you think you could adequately shield an area of your home to survive fallout and radiation from an atomic attack?
Do you think it is possible to shelter in place and survive?
Do you think you could prepare your home in time?

Take a nap. If you can. You might feel like heading out for more supplies. Hitting an all night gas station might be wise. Fill up your car and a few of the gasoline cans you own or have just purchased. While you are at it, do you have a generator? A portable one will work fine for temporary life in the shelter, but it might be loud. You might want to consider getting some deep storage batteries from the auto parts store in the morning. Charge those with the generator and live off the stored power.

When the new day starts, your first destination is the grocery store or warehouse store. This time, stock up on canned and packaged foods. Remember to get things you can eat, if needed, without cooking. Get as much as you can load into the car. Plan on making two trips if there is time.

Run home and unload in the house quickly. Now head to the hardware store. You need sandbags, cinder blocks, plywood and plastic sheeting. (A good substitute for sandbags which work just as well and have a dual purpose are bags on potting soil. They will act as shielding first and then later can be used to grow food in pots outside once it is clear).

If you have time before hand, measure your homes windows and doors on the ground floor. Call the hardware store contractors' desk and have those measurements cut to order with plywood. Pick up this order and your other needs and head home.

Once back at home, board up the doors and windows at the ground level. Put plastic sheeting on the inside of the windows and doors to keep dust out.

By now, your invited friends and neighbors should be on the scene are on the way. Have them help with covering the windows, getting water and putting away supplies. Remember water is the most important resource to have on hand. If you have a faucet or sink in the basement, good for you. As long as the power is on you will have water. A large container for water storage would also be ideal.

Do you think your invited friends and family would show up?
Would they doubt you or your friend's credibility?
If they did show up, would they help?
Would there be trouble?
What would you tell your neighbors who might see what you are doing?
Would you let them pitch in and stay in your shelter?

Put plastic sheeting over your garden area and as much of your yard as possible. It will make fallout cleanup much easier.

Now take some time to head to the sporting goods store to pick up camping supplies like lanterns, camp fuel, freeze dried food, sleeping bags, air mattresses or cots. If you have firearms, you may want to get more ammunition. If you do not have a gun and think you might need one, you might be in trouble. Some states will not allow you to purchase firearms on short notice, not even a long gun. But if you have the funds and your state allows it, you might want to pick up an all-purpose firearm like a shotgun if available. Take the ammo home and store it quickly but carefully.

Should you purchase a gun or ammunition in this circumstance?
Do you think you need it?
Would you be willing to use it?

Once home, check your shelter again. Do you have more than one point of entry into and out of the shelter? Do you have firefighting supplies? Tools in case you have to dig your way out? Adequate ventilation? Secure locks on your home and shelter to keep out evil doers?

Depending upon the time, consider any other supplies you might need and are available. For instance, another run to the grocery store might be worthwhile.

Would this be hoarding and selfish?

As the clock reaches the limit of your 24 hours, put your car or cars in the garage and lock it. Lock your home and board up the front door. Place furniture in front of doors and windows along with other heavy objects.

Go down the basement and lock the door. Check your water supplies once more. Check your other supplies and plan on using them as shielding too. Enter the shelter and say a word of prayer. You and your family may make it.

What if the bombs go off and your neighbors or friends show up?
What if they have small children?
Would you let them in?
Would you threaten them with violence if you did not want to let them in?
What if they threatened to break in the house or your shelter?
What if you simply do not have enough room for the people you already have?

In today's scenario, it is safe to say that most of us would have a hard time determining what we would do. This might be a moral dilemmas which we should consider now in peacetime rather than in haste during times of conflict. Regardless, as we live in interesting times, this might be worth thinking about.

What would you do?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Prepare! Water storage and plans to produce more


Without water we die, our animals die and our plants die. No water means no life. Thus the relation between water and life since the beginning of time.

Most survivalist sites direct readers to a) move to the country and b) get a house with a well. Sound advice if it applies, but most of us have to stay in the big evil city if we want to make a living.

If that is your particular situation, what ways can you build and maintain a water supply?

First, unlike most foods and manufactured goods, the means to get water is at your fingertips. Water service is a few steps away at the kitchen sink. So the fastest way to build up a water supply is to get some containers and start filling them from the tap.

For many, that can mean a tupperware or pitcher filled and placed in the fridge. Great, but what about when that is empty?

Fill those pop bottles

Many survivalists recommend storing water in empty plastic "pop" bottles (we call it soda down here, but to each his own). The drawback with this is it requires the survivalist to incur an additional cost for the two-liter bottles of unhealthy soda at 1-2.00 a pop. Also, the bottles have to be stored and with their design, that is not always the easiest to do.

But, if you do have soda bottles, please use them. For water storage, the suggestion from experts is that you wash the bottle out thoroughly with soap and hot water. Fill the clean bottles nearly to the top and add a couple of drops of unscented bleach. Store the bottles in a cool dark place. The water should remain fresh for about a year, although some rotate (pour on plants or in toilet) every six months.

Larger water containers

For larger water storage containers, you might want to take a look at 5 gallon water containers available at big box retailers and sporting goods stores. I have seen these at a major sporting goods store for less than ten dollars and they are fairly durable.

Even larger, 15, 30 and 55-gallon drums can be obtained from specialty retailers online or in the yellow pages.

Have even more room for water storage? How about a multi-thousand gallon agriculture storage tank? They are available at farm and ranch stores. I saw several for sale recently at the farm and ranch store north of where I live. They can cost several hundred dollars but are designed for outdoor usage so they are quite durable.

How about rain barrels? Hundreds of gallons of water roll off your roof when it rains and all of that water can be collected and reused.

Dig your own well?

How about a well? Doesn't that mean a lot of money and/or a great deal of work and expensive machinery? Well, yes and no. Not many are familiar with the sand point well. A simple screened drill point which is hammered into the ground and connected above with lengths of pipe. Once the water table is reached, the water can be pumped out using a manual pump (if not too deep) or a motorized pump.

If you are a city dweller, check with your local municipality and make sure that drilling a well in your yard is permitted. Many cities allow small wells like a sand point well for agriculture (read: watering yard and garden) use.

Water storage supplies to have on hand.

Make sure you have the following water supplies on hand:

A high quality water filtration system and extra filters. For daily use, a Brita filter will do for city or treated water.

For questionable water, check out Katydyn for small and medium size filter systems.

For larger quantities and home use, you might want to look at the Berkey Systems filters.

Finally, bleach.

Bleach kills almost any bugs found in water. When boiling + filter + bleach
are used, nearly any water source can be made safe to drink. Stock up on inexpensive, fragrance-free bleach today.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Prepare! Dealing with starving hoardes

In every survivalist, end or the world, fiction story, we have our hero holding out in a remote location. Our hero is protecting his family, friends, and stockpile of carefully stored food and supplies from wandering gangs of stereotypical convicts, inner city thugs and "veneer of civilization rapidly removed" desperate former friends and neighbors.

All are of these marauding bands are "starving" and have resorted to any means necessary to feed themselves and their followers. Our hero grimly surveys the changing landscape and spends countless hours fighting off hoards determined to steal his hoard of Mountain House entrees.

There lies the problem. If these writers knew anything, they would have noticed that "starving masses" rarely wander the country side (or many other places) in search of food or water. Rather, they have a tendency to stay right where they are at. [Case in point; all of us of a certain age remember the images from the 60's and 70's of millions of starving third world people sitting in huge refugee camps holding out empty metal bowls and pans to passerby.]

You see, when people are hungry, their activity begins to drop off, not increase. Thus the concept of roaming bands and mobs of starving people walking miles into the country side in search of a meal is less likely than fiction writers would have us believe.

A more realistic scenario which might happen in the post-apocalyptic world is what we have witnessed during past wars and national catastrophes. Hungry citizens combing through ruins for leftover canned food or moldy bread, rummaging through trash cans and dining on stray pets, pigeons and squirrels.

In the end, most urban survivors would be trapped in their cities or far too unprepared to wander out into the open countryside or even the suburbs searching for supplies.

However, there is a possibility that scavengers, strong enough and mobile enough to move from one location to another might come across your hidden retreat. Not likely, but possible. If you are far enough off the beaten path and well disguised, you will probably avoid all raids by strangers.

But, if you have friends, neighbors or co-workers who know about your retreat and strategic relocation plans, then you must prepare for this eventuality.

In fiction, the hero turns his back on the nosy neighbor, the friend with whom he bears a grudge or the classic "rich person who did not get it". All good fun in the sense of getting back at the people who caused so much frustration in the hero's former life.

In the real world, though, not many of us would turn any friend or acquaintance away when they arrive at our retreat or farm with small hungry children. Only the cold hearted would shut the door or run them off at gun barrel. Because of this, our best bet is to make arrangements for any who "might" know about our retreat. That includes addtional food, water, bedding, clothes and medical supplies, (not too mention work plans for newcomers!).

In my family, we have purchased additional, "no frills" long term storage foods for family and neighbors who might be in need. The rules are simple; this is for you only, don't complain, be willing to help when asked and don't bring others. Sure, we run the risks of trouble, but I would rather help my friends and neighbors and unite us in the face of danger than divide us over a can of tuna.

Prepare! Ultimate Surburban Shelter

Check out this place!

Ultimate Home Shelter!

1600 Square Feet underneath a neat, suburban home located in Washington State. Yes, this whole place was built by hand over a TWENTY YEAR period. Incredible.

And it is for sale. Only 575K with creative financing available.

Before you run out and mortgage your home, life and internal organs, be aware of the following:

A - You want this house for a daily dwelling and survival location for bugging in.
B - The house has been at this location for several years so the neighbors know well about it and the shelter.
C - The current owners have publicized the heck out of the property so everyone else in the world now knows about it.
D - When the poop hits the fan, expect a mob run on your property and that mob knows where all five entrances are.

Prepare! Fallout Shelter 353 changes

The new link is (The Preparedness and Survival something or other). One of the forum members has taken over the old site, has revamped it slightly, (more of a blog feel) and hidden everything else. Look carefully for the Discussion Forums link on the right and find the old entries.

Jerry D Young has two new stories; QHT is really good. Jerry's writing and story lines just keep getting better with each entry. I don't know how he does it, but it says a lot about getting better at something from practice. I hope he is realizing some sort of revenue off of his passion.

Prepare! Eating in a crisis

Like most of us, I eat all sorts of things daily. Yesterday, I had eggs and biscuits as part of a Sunday morning feast. We picked up hamburgers after church and dinner last night was meatloaf, scalloped potatoes and broccoli.

Here on survivalist, we only discuss ways to be prepared in the post-TEOTWAWKI, post-apocalyptic, end times world we think is coming. Most of what was on my menu this past Sunday would either not be available (hamburgers) or hard to get (broccoli) or rare (eggs) in the survivalist' bomb shelter.

With that thought in mind, how can we better prepare for the end of the world with practice? You can, by trying a little experiment.

Take a fixed amount of time on the calendar. Say one week or a month, whatever. For that time, only eat the foods you have stored for "just in case". For instance, oatmeal for breakfast, rice and beans for lunch and dinner and once or twice a week, a "treat" or something extravagant like a can of tuna, beef stew or a chocolate bar. The rest of your diet would include a single servicing of instant coffee or tea once a day, multi-vitamins and water.

Could you do it?

With the Lenten season coming to an end, I thought it might have been a good experiment to try before Easter. Unfortunately, I thought it up just a few days ago and Easter is next week. Maybe next year?

Regardless, it would be a good test of my will, preparedness and personal survivability.

In my own opinion, I don't think most could survive this sort of experiment. I think most armchair survivalists believe they will make the changeover in diet and living conditions without a bleep. That should be interesting to see!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Prepare! Realistic defense post-SHTF

I read a great deal of survival, end of the world fiction. Most includes this type of scenario:

Ted carefully approached the now defeated raiders vehicle. Checking the bed of the pickup, Ted saw several pelican cases stacked haphazardly. Curious, Ted took the two largest and carefully opened them both. His eyes nearly popped out of his skull when he saw the contents. Not one, but two fully operational Barrett BMG .50 caliber rifles with all the needed accessories...

If you read survival fiction, you would think that Barret .50 caliber rifles grew on trees. The protagonist is always finding one, or purchasing a couple for his retreat or whatever.

Realistically, unless you win the lottery or have an enormous sum of unallocated money, a Barret and most other high end firearms are out of your preparedness budget. Face it, while preparing for TEOTWAWKI, we also have to pay bills, buy clothes, food, etc. and a three thousand dollar rifle and five buck a pop ammunition is not going to happen.

Self defense and firearms are part of your complete preparedness planning. Keep your plan simple and arm accordingly. Experts generally recommend a few core pieces such as a pump shotgun, a center fire rifle and a revolver. Once obtained, along with an appropriate amount of ammunition, magazines and cleaning equipment, a rim fire rifle might also be useful to have in your basic armory.

Having the firearms is not enough. Ammunition is required and not a single box. Plan on a few hundred rounds minimum for monthly practice and another few thousand rounds for each weapon for use.

Next, practice, practice, practice is required. Regularly and with appropriate training and coaching. Select a range near home or work and visit often.

The defensive plan and strategy

Randy examined his work. He used the backhoe to dig a eight foot deep defensive moat around his forty acres. He filled the trench with a combination of claymores, napalm and pointed sticks. This was the first ring of defense. His three story retreat was made of impenetrable rock reinforced with rebar steel and featured another redoubt wall eight feet high with the top covered with concertina wire, high voltage strands and broken glass embedded along the flat surface. A dozen starving dobermans and rottweilers patrolled the inner wall twenty four by seven, yet Randy still slept with a Cold Steel fourteen inch fighting knife between his teeth and kept a loaded .45 tied to each hand...

Again, survival fiction. In the real post-apocalyptic world, you will be defending your suburban home, country retreat or possibly car or truck on some remote highway. Most likely, you will have a limited armory to choose from and a fixed number of people to assist in the defense.

Rather than invite a large scale attack, it is far better to maintain a "low profile" and to make your location as uninviting as possible.

For the suburban home, that would mean boarding up the windows and doors, hiding vehicles or leaving one out front on jacks, partial vandalized. A foreclosure sign on the front lawn and little activity could make your home appear abandoned and less of an opportunity for thieves and looters.

The rural home owner would close off the road to his retreat or hide the access road inbound with bushes and debris. Trips outside of the retreat would be done cross country, under the cover of darkness or in a round about, hard to follow pattern.

A round the clock guard, watching from higher ground nearby is necessary as is at least one other person watching the primary home from inside. Good communications are needed as well which can be as simple as a wired handset or a pair of walkie talkies.

Most important is to not attract attention to you or your home. Too many survivalists plan on making as much noise in the post-SHTF world as they would today. Don't plan on running loud generators or other equipment until you know full well that others with less than honorable intentions are not nearby.

Yes, in the fictional world, we all have military style weapons collections, dozens of trained helpers and a nearly impenetrable defensive location. In the real world, however, we have only ourselves, a few resources and our intelligence to protect ourselves and those around us.

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