Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Prepare: Traveler Hurricane Preparedness

This post will be dated soon, but the information will always be relevant.

Hurricane Earl is barreling down on the east coast of the United States. We might see landfall anywhere between the Carolinas to Maine.

This comes as we "celebrate" the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina - the big one which desimated the Gulf Coast and cost billions of dollars. Remember what happened then? Remember the stranded people, the floods, the looting, the deaths? Good, time to get ready for Earl and the next hurricane which will most certainly come afterwards.

I heard today that there were several late summer vacationers on the Carolina coasts. Many came from the MidWest. Not many hurricanes make it out there, so you folks had better get ready. There is also a number of business travelers up and down the coast as well.

While the weather outside may be nice now, it will change later this week. When the storm is approaching, the local .gov may call for voluntary evacuations. Residents in the area are already doing what they have known to do for years; they are stocking up at the local grocery stores and gas stations.

What should you - tourist, newcomer, or visitor - be doing now with a hurricane approaching?

Fuel - If you are driving, go fill the car up now. Don't let it fall below three quarters of a tank for the rest of the week. Not only will you have evacuation insurance, you will save money. The gas prices will be going up in the next 24-48 hours. At landfall, the gas stations will be closed.

Go buy at least one five gallon gas container at the hardware store now. I won't tell you to fill it up and stick it in the trunk (that's dangerous and dumb), but I will tell you to keep it handy when the evacuation does happen. Gulf coast residents were running on fumes in multi mile long evacuation routes and forced to pay $20 per gallon for gas. Get a backup!

Money - Hurricanes mean big winds/flooding/storms which equal power outages. Credit and ATM cards won't work. So go thee now to an ATM and get a couple of hundred bucks. Cash is accepted everywhere American Express and Visa are, so you have nothing to lose. Imagine having the ability to purchase bottled water and gas fifteen miles inland as you evacuate during the storm. Priceless.

Water - The last segment made me thirsty. Storms mean no running water. Go get at least one case (24 bottles) of water. If you have an ice chest, fill it with the post-hurricane coin of the realm, ice, and load it up with the case of bottled water. You are now ahead of the crisis curve.  Hotels and motels have ice machines available, by the way.

Food - Nobody wants to haul around a bunch of perishable groceries, but it cannot hurt to get 1-3 days worth of long lasting emergency snack foods. Suppose you get trapped at the hotel unable to evacuate? The cook is not going to show up and make you a club sandwich and the mini mart down the street will have the bars down and windows boarded over. What are you going to eat then?

Pick up the following victuals -

Nuts, crackers, canned tuna fish, jerky, hard candy, gum, protein bars, instant coffee or tea, peanut butter. Also grab a small bottle of bleach for water purification if available.

Lighting - If you have a flashlight in the car or perhaps a small one in your bag, get some extra batteries. If you don't have a flashlight, of course get one with batteries. It might be smart to pick up a candle or two from the hotel bar (along with matches), but only if you have a safe place to keep and use an open flame - somewhere with little chance of an open flame starting a fire, with no gas leaks and with fire fighting apparatus (extinguishers) nearby.

If you have to evacuate, get a local map and soft sided atlas. Multiple routes for escape are always good.

If you find yourself trapped, move to a secure shelter. The biggest threat is falling debris, unsafe shelters (like flimsy trailers or boats) and flooding. I read a great story once about a fellow who rode out Katrina in downtown New Orlenas by checking into the nicest hotel in town and getting an upstairs, center of the building, room.

High rise hotels are above flood waters and since they are hotels, they have stuff, like food and water. Yes, the power may go out, but at least the building should be reasonable secure.

Regarding the man in Katrina, he stayed at the nice hotel for another reason. The nicest hotel had the best paid staff who, incidentally, stayed at their post and looked after the welfare of their guests. The budget hotels abandoned ship and left their guests to the mercy of the city. 

Take important papers, such as drivers license, and make sure they are with you at all times and kept dry. It makes sense to get ahold of a large, resealable plastic bag and put one outfit, with shoes, in it. Dry clothes are a life saver.

If you flew and have no car, contact the airlines now about alternate arrangements to get home. Find out their schedule and what they will do in the event the airport is closed. That same fellow in New Orleans five years ago ended up getting a first class ticket on the first available flight out because he called ahead.

Speaking of contact, keep the cell phone charged. They have backup power chargers for most cell phones which run on common batteries. It makes sense to get one. Also, do you have a transistor radio?

If it were me, I would be leaving the east coast NOW and heading for home and calm skies. But if you have to stay, at least make some preparations now and avoid becoming a victim.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Prepare: American Economic Meltdown

"That headline will grab reader's attention", I think to myself as I pen today's post.

Well, if you read the headlines today ("Economic growth actually lower in 2nd quarter"), then it sure seems that way. Skim through the content of the news, the reactions of one or two economic whiz kids and then read the comments. Americans are hurting.

The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse

1 in 10, officially, working age Americans are unemployed. That number, for all intents and purposes, it lower than the actual number of unemployed as it does not take into account those who are working part time jobs, contract jobs, have stopped looking for work and those who are no longer on the unemployment rolls. A number of smart people have suggested the unemployment index is actually closer to 18%.

1 in 10 homes may go into foreclosure before the end of this year. Home sales are down and banks consider foreclosed homes to be a toxic asset which sells at a far lower rate and for less money than normal houses on the market. Answer? More empty homes and more homeless (even if they are sleeping at Grandma's or friend's houses).

So what are the answers to these problems?

HOMEWARD surviving the global economic collapse

I have my opinions, but that is not the nature of this blog. My business is presenting solutions to Americans who want to survive now and afterwards if this situation gets worse.

First, if you have a job, great! Keep it. Don't get yourself fired right now as there are few jobs to replace what you have.

If you don't have a job, stop waiting for the right one or for one to magically appear. I had to create my own line of work when this mess started. My income is one fourth what it was just two years ago, but we manage. The secret is to be open and willing to do anything to make a living.

Debt - debt is bad. In our household, we are agressively paying off anything we can while maintaining the bills. To do it, we cut out every extra we could find, we sold off junk we did not need and we cut spending where we could. We clip coupons, cook each meal from scratch, pack lunches, water and coffee (so we don't buy them out) and recycle and reuse everything. Each debt you pay off frees money for other debt and lowers your monthly outlay.

Stock up - we don't go to the boutique store and buy a 6 oz of olive oil. Rather, we buy 5 gallons at a time. Same with bulk rice, flour, sugar, etc. Buy big, store it right and you have a supply of foods to cook with daily. We also do the same thing with toilet paper, light bulbs, etc.

If this get's worse...

Don't go into "hunker down mode". That's what rabbits do when a car is about to run them over. You must live in "adapt or die" mode. If things are worse economically where you are, be prepared to abandon ship for greener fields. In times like these, there is value in being able to leave home with most possessions in one or two bags.

Think about your ancestors who came to this country or who migrated centuries ago. They piled what they had on their back and left. We may be in the same circumstances soon.

One note, know where you are going, how you are going to get there and where you will stay once you arrive. A pitiful refugee one day is a locust and pest the next day.

Will there be a complete economic breakdown? I hope not. My kids go to school, I go to the grocery store, I have customers I talk with daily and visit - I would hate for all of that to crumble and vanish. I like normal, normal is good.

But if there is, get ready. Those who are ready and who adapt will survive. Some will thrive.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Prepare: The Random Survivalist

Here are the bits floating around today for your prepping thoughts...


Lights Out - One of the best survival/SHTF fiction pieces out there. Penned and published online over a two year period. fans love this work.

The good news is the author of Light's Out - Halffast - may have this tome going to a big time publisher and is being shopped in Hollywood. However, this also means that free access to this great story is sadly over. As posted online, fair use applies..

Posted by Halffast

Before I start this, let me first say that I am very thankful to all of you who have read, critiqued, help, talked about, and pimped LO over the years. Without you all, the book would not be the success it has become. Thanks a million.

I have been thinking about this post for a couple of days. I really don't want to have to post this, because I'm not smart enough to figure out how to do it without sounding like a dick. No matter how I word it, someone is going to take it wrong. This is the best I can come up with and I hope it doesn't offend anyone. If it does, I am truly sorry.

There are thousands and thousands of hours of work in LO. It has been on the net for free since I began writing it in 2002. I now have a chance to make a few bucks off of it. I pulled it off the net because I no longer want to give it away. No one is authorized to post, email, or share the story with out my permission. That is what "copyrighted" means. Now, I am not so naive as to think this won't happen some. However, doing so is stealing from me. If you are fine with that, there is probably little I can do about it. All I can ask is that you respect my wishes. I hope, by early this summer, to have copies for sale that have many of the problems with the story fixed and even a few new chapters. Thanks.

So that means if you have a copy of Lights Out, don't share it.
If you have not read Lights Out, you won't be able to get a free copy online any longer.
If you liked Lights Out, you might soon get a chance to thank Halffast by buying a copy from a real publisher and possibly get to see it on the big screen.


LTS Food - I posted a long post about LTS food suppliers online the other day. I forgot to mention this company which is also one of my favorites as well - AAOOB Foods.

One solution for a successful renewable energy industry in the US -  
There is constant buzz in the media about renewable energy i.e. solar, wind, hydro, etc.
Writers point out how the government is funding (with non-renewable tax dollars!) some companies who are in the renewable energy industry.
They also point out how some private investment companies are underwriting private companies in the space as well.
What renewable energy advocates fail to point out is the single driving force which makes renewable energy technologies and thus the companies that produce them viable - demand.
Right now, demand is not there for some renewable energy technologies and therefore the cost cannot be justified. Enabling a non-demand industry with subsidies is not the answer. Rather, the answer is found by organically increasing demand.
Most people into preparedness would love to have solar panels on the roof or a windmill in the yard. And enviromentalists would be happy to see it as would companies who manufacture the hardware.
The problem is government zoning and home owners associations routinely block any such deployment by many homeowners across the country. 
A single piece of legislation by Congress could fix this overnight. Basically, such legislation would say that any homeowner could put solar panels on his roof or an energy producing windmill in his yard as long as it does not pose a safety hazard to others. Aesthetics and pencil heads be darned. And implementing this new overide would not add a dime to the deficit.
That one simple move could spur natural demand from real customers and start moving those subsidized solar panel, windmill, inverter and battery companies to true independence. 
It's a thought. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Prepare: Long Term Food Storage Suppliers

There are several great vendors online for Long Term Storage (LTS) food. We know about Honeyville and Emergency Essentials, but there are more coming online every month. I can guess what that is happening; the economy is the driving factor as well as the possibility of disaster or war. Stocking up on food makes sense.

LTS food companies offer something better than the selection of canned goods at your local grocer - food which is packaged and designed to stay edible (key point) for 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years. (If the value of this concept is lost on you, read the book "The Road" and get back to me).

Long term storage food comes from vendors in different ways. Let's examine first what this means.

Freeze dried - food is freeze dried in its present state and packed into vacuum sealed bags or cans. The food is roughly the same size and shape it would be with water so it is a bit larger than dehydrated food. To prepare, hot water is added to the container or with the food in a pot.

Dehydrated food - moisture content is removed making the overall size of the food smaller and weighing less. Food can be rehydrated with room temperature or hot water.

Standard - Without having an official term, standard designates food which is stored and shipped in its standard format. For instance, sugar, powdered milk, honey, and cooking oils are packaged in sealed cans and shipped. No preparation is needed to bring standard food ready for use.

Long term storage food companies typical sell their wares in standard configurations:

Short term supply - a weekend or three day supply of food designed with backpackers or bug out bag use in mind. Cooking staples like sugar or wheat are not part of the configuration, but 3 meals, either freeze dried or dehydrated, consisting of soup, stew and snacks make up the order.

One month supply - Generally, this will be a combination of large cans called "number ten" cans containing dehydrated foods and a few staples like powdered milk and eggs. The order is shipped with a fixed number of meals in mind equaling 3 meals a day for 30 days plus some extra for snacks.

Six month - one year supply - these are heavy orders consisting of mulitple cans of pre-mixed meals (like soup, stew, etc) in their dehydrated or freeze dried format, along with buckets of wheat, powdered milk, honey, sugar, cooking oil, drink mixes and dried fruits and vegetables.

Remember! Most products advertised as one month/year supply are for ONE PERSON. If there are multiple people in the household, it is advised to order more than one of each product.

Also, many of the same supplies are designed for ONE ADULT. Some orders are enough for two children for instance.

Finally, watch some LTS suppliers as a multi month food supply will often contain an inordinate amount of sugar or wheat. If this is what you want, then great, but first time buyers will do best to examine what is being shipped carefully.

For awhile, I have been advertising Mountain House Food here on the blog. It is the "grand daddy" of stored food and is sold in popular retail outlets like Walmart, albeit it, in much smaller quantities.

Mountain House is great because it comes in courses and meals most people are familiar with; spaghetti, beef stew, etc. as well as sides like rice, potatoes, vegetables, fruit and tasty desserts. The One Year Ultimate Pak is enough food for ONE ADULT PERSON for one year or a FAMILY OF FOUR for three months.

eFoodsDirect is a brand new company I am excited about. They have a very well laid out and informative website and great prices on dehydrated foods.

Their Freedom and Liberty one year food supply lines are very affordable for a one year supply of food and offer a great selection of staples and meals for long term storage. The products are divided into staples such as wheat, fruit, protein and vegetables as well as quick meals like soups and stews. This provides a great selection to avoid appetite fatigue experts warn many may face with a constant diet of oil, wheat, powdered milk and honey.

Like Nitro Pak, eFoodsdirect has long term supplies are well as short term kits for a weekend or week - perfect for the bug out bag or vehicle.

I saw Wise Foods at a recent gun show and had the opportunity to sample some of their products - Yummo! Wise Foods are designed for a 25 year shelf life and their packaging is unique as well.

Most LTS foods come in number ten (5/6 gallon) sealed cans similar to the ones found in restaurants with salsa or cheese sauce. While this is an excellent way to store LTS foods, the drawback is when the big can of freeze dried beef stew is opened, it is best to keep preparing beef stew until the can is finished. That way there will be no waste.

Wise instead packs their food into four adult servings in vacuum packed bags. Further, they pack these meal portions into square buckets which they claim store easier and take less room that cardboard boxes of number ten cans.

Wise offers their foods in multiple month (one month, two and so on up to one year) and says that each order will be enough to feed a family of four adults OR two adults and two to four children depending upon the size ordered and age of children.

I recommend that anyone interested in these companies first order a three day sample and see if they work for you and your family before dropping a couple of grand on a one year supply.

There are other options out there as well. If on a budget, use an online food calculator and determine how much wheat, dairy, produce and protein your family will need and start obtaining it piecemeal. Store your purchases in five gallon buckets which can be obtained from a local source, sometimes for free.

For instance, I purchased at the beginning of this year, 400lbs of rice, 100lbs of dried beans and 100lbs of pasta. I put all of these in five gallon buckets and placed them in the pantry. Next, I purchased several cases of canned fruit, vegetables and meats like tuna, chicken and soups. It is a basic system, but it is better than nothing.


- there are many Long Term Storage food suppliers out there and more coming onling regularly.
- before ordering, understand how much food comes in a supply and how many people, adults AND/OR children it will feed.
- watch out for suppliers which overload an order with wheat, sugar and other staples which may lead to appetite fatigue and limited cooking options.

Missed something? Feel free to leave a comment!

Monday, August 16, 2010

SHTF: Some hard facts

Let's take a Katrina situation times 100. 100 major US cities facing the same scenario as Katrina but due to a variety of causes.

Weather event, terrorisim, global war, cataclysmic event like EMP and so on.

FACT NUMBER ONE - The government will be slow to respond, (if at all) and states, cities and communities will be on their own indefinately.

It took the Federal government five days to respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. (The state of LA did viritually nothing). Surrounding states (Arkansas and Texas) sent help, but that was because they had no problems where they were.

Help came to New Orleans from the US and other countries because it was the only disaster that day.

Now, imagine the problem was in 100 cities across the nation. There will be no federal help for weeks; no FEMA, no MRE handouts, no regular military backing up police. Nothing. Some cities will get preferred help because their homestate politician is further up the food chain than others and thus they will go to the head of the line. Soldiers and resources (food, generators, fuel, etc) will be ordered to leave location X and depart for location A because politician in DC said so.

Also, no states will be able to send help to their neighbors as they will have problems of their own. State 17 will keep his resources for his own people rather than cross the border into State 19 to help the afflicted there.

And smaller towns and communities can expect nothing from any organized relief effort other than what they put together on their own. No Guard units will roll in with water purification or meals; those resources will go to the top dogs first - if they are ever deployed.

FACT NUMBER TWO - The healthy will be in better shape than the infirm, elderly or sick.

Sounds right on paper, but consider what this means. The residents of nursing homes the night Katrina hit landfall were in many cases, left on their own. The chronically ill in hospitals were made as comfortable as possible, but many passed away without power, medical help or aid. Those unable to leave the home due to medical reasons, were sometimes left behind.

People on ventilators, or carrying portable oxygen or riding around in a scooter are going to be in trouble. So will the type one diabetic and the premature infant.

The victims will be fathers, mothers, grandparents, children and friends. If you are in good health, stay that way. If you have children, feed them right and make them excersize. If you have habits which can lead to poor health, stop now. If you care for another family member with health issues, take steps to provide for them as long as possible after an event.

FACT NUMBER THREE - Communications will be sporadic, information will be incorrect and often, will be dishonest.

If the US had 100 cities basically stop functioning, modern communiciations would come to a standstill. Cell phones, landline service, cable tv, and satellite would cease to function or would have limited availability.

Other communications channels such as private radio, CB, pagers and shortwave are used by only a small percentage of the population. Most people will either have no reliable means for communications outside of their immediate area and will know nothing.

Much of the information shared by both official and unofficial sources will be second guessing, wild speculation and conjecture.

And finally, those in charge will possibly cover up the scale, magnitude and severity of the situation to avoid greater panic and destruction. In a nutshell, our public servants may lie to us just to keep the lid on things for a few extra days.

FACT NUMBER FOUR - There won't be enough to eat and it will get worse.

Americans love their food and love to eat. Three or more meals a day, snacks and soft drinks are part of our daily ritual.
The US produces a huge amount of the world's food. It requires massive amounts of fuel, labor and technology. And a complex web of supply chain management to get it from the "farm to the fork".

When the pieces break, the rest of the system breaks down as well. The stores and restaurants will run dry. The military will run out of emergency food (Meals Ready To Eat) eventually. Seizing stored food from warehouses and restaurants will only make a small dent in the need as will taking food from individuals and redistributing it. Unless production is maintained, the food will be consumed and run out.

Then what? Unless some unaffected, generous and transport rich magical land steps in, the citizens of the US will go hungry and quickly. It is no surprise that there is no nation on earth which can produce and ship (key word) to the US the amount of food needed to sustain the population. There will be starvation.

FACT NUMBER FIVE - Large is bad and small is good post-SHTF.

A central government making demands and issuing orders to all corners of the country will be ineffective at solving problems, only at causing unrest and confusion.

It amazes me that when there is a problem, the solution for so many is to create a larger organization with further reaching territory to address it. That model rarely works.

A small community, banded together by common goals (and sometimes by force), will survive. But only if they have the resources and where with all to provide for themselves. Arid land, irregular water supply, lack of able bodies and short term goals will only hasten their imminent demise. So better to be in a place with usuable resources and population able to provide physical labor.

Like Joe Friday said, "Just the facts ma'am". That's what we have to deal with now. The facts. Anything else is pretending and pretend is a game for children. Time to get ready.

This post brought to you by Carla Emery's timeless classic...

The Encyclopedia of Country Living

Friday, August 13, 2010

Prepare: Stay In Place

One of the big survivalist discussions that goes back in forth is:

Stay in Place vs Bug Out

Which naturally spawns a discussion:

Stay in Place in city/suburbs vs "heading for the hills/country"

Which eventually deteriorates into:

"All of you people in the city/surburbs/exoburbs are gonna die".

Now that we have that out of the way, let's get back to "Staying in Place" and the strategy behind it.

Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It's Too Late

First, to "stay in place" means to stay where you currently live full time be it your home in the city, surburbs or rural location in the event of a SHTF event. Most scenarios and locations lend themselves to staying in place. Even in a city, with proper preparations, one can make themselves nearly invisible.

However, having a location that is somewhat remote is probably better in the long run.

The first concern with staying in place is security. And being invisible is far better than having a huge force of armed guards and watches. A big presence means you have something worth having and it is matter of time before someone shows up with more bad guys and guns to take it. Living under the radar post SHTF is paramount.

The Secure Home
Next is knowing your surroundings. Hunkering down and hoping nobody finds you is foolish. Know the roads and ways to get to your location. Keep tabs on any other persons in your area of operation. Know the status on nearby centers of population be they a town or another group of survivors. Knowing what is going around you involves communications (monitoring radio and CB frequencies), line of sight (seeing what others are doing) and remote monitoring of the perimeter (remote cameras or basic trip wire alerts if need be).

Next is supply with water coming first. A home in the suburbs or in the city makes it hard to have a constant water supply. Even water catchment systems are limited by rainfall. Having a creek or river nearby is nice, but what happens if someone pollutes it upstream? A safe and secure water source such as a well, (or more than one) is required.

Five Acres and Independence: A Handbook for Small Farm Management
Food. Stored food will only be available so long. You will need more food than you think so plan on having the ability to grow and produce more and count on failure.

Medical. Not a doctor or trained in medicine? Find someone who is or expect that you and yours will have a short and possibly brutal ending lifespan. Manual labor, defense and salvage put the average person at risk for injury or death a hundred ways. Don't count on a medical book and some downloaded how to pages as your only medical plan.

Where There is No Doctor
Energy. This one is overlooked in so many ways. Sure, a hydro electric, wind or solar power system are nice, but energy comes in so many other forms and is mandatory for life. Energy includes having a large supply of firewood (fuel) and the safe means to burn it for warmth and cooking.

Finally, a way out. Staying in place can work, but there is a margin of error even if you have a million dollar survivalist retreat with all the comforts of home. No prepper can prevent or avoid an earthquake, wild fire, flood or tornado which wipes out their home. Be prepared for relocation without becoming a refugee.

Staying in place is perhaps the smartest move a prepper can make. You know your surroundings, might have years of supplies in place and possibly may know where to get more. However, a plan must be decided upon before the SHTF.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Prepare: Money for Preps, Earning Money

Money makes the world go around, right? Prepping is a cost normal, unprepared people do not have to deal with. They go to the store, buy one loaf of bread, a gallon of milk and some lettuce and call it a day. Folks who like to prepare for the SHTF buy one loaf of bread (and 10lbs of flour to make more), one gallon of milk (and 10lbs of dry to store), a head of lettuce (and five packets of vegetable seeds), 50lbs of rice and 24 rolls of toilet paper.

Preppers spend more at the grocery store. And other places, like the gas station, hardware store, and so on. That takes more money. Many preppers are frugal and live off less than they make so they have the extra cash. In today's economy, that may not be as easy as it was before. It sure feels like the end of the world some days.
How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times

For the financially strapped prepper,  the best strategy is to find some extra money each month specifically for preps. That can be an extra $20 at pay day. Or maybe from savings such as getting rid of a "want" like those additional cable channels (or cable entirely). Whatever the source, take the money and make some extra purchases such as 20lbs of rice and dried beans each month for instance.

The other solution, is to simply make some extra money and use that money to either a) pay off  a certain debt (to free up expenses) or b) use specifically for preps.

Most of us work 8 hour a day jobs and generally between the hours of 9 - 5. What do you do with the rest of the day? Watch TV? Sleep? Spend time with friends?

The End of the World: Stories of the Apocalypse

That time can be used to make more money. In today's economy, that may not be easy what with other people competing for the few jobs that are out there, but here are some suggestions. Deliver pizzas. Deliver the news paper. Mow lawns and yardwork. Clean homes, garages or offices.  Most of these jobs can be done for cash.

Much of this work can be done for neighbors, family or friends. Don't be ashamed. Take out an ad in the church bulletin or put up a flyer at the grocery store.

For one time money makers, clean out the house and have a garage sale. Put the proceeds immediately into paying off something or preps. If you are successful at holding your own garage sale, ask neighbors if they want you to run one for them. Sit in their garage all day Saturday, sell their stuff and take a 25% cut of the sales. Most busy people will jump at the chance to get rid of their junk without having to waste a day or two doing it.

When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes

Most prep sites tell you to cut back on expenses and make casseroles out of carpet samples. But the reality is to prep effectively, you need to cut back on long term debt and find ways to increase your income.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Prepare: SHTF Summer Reading

The economy stinks but I like to read. I can't afford to set foot in a bookstore and leave with something, so I do most of my reading online or at the library. If you enjoy good SHTF fiction online, here are some neat sites and particular stories to check out!

All Roads Lead Somewhere
On Frugal Squirrels Forum
Synopsis: Father takes son and daughter to old family farm as the infrastructure of the US tears itself apart due to terrorist attacks. As the world falls apart, headstrong and independent minded daughter has to lead extended family as they deal with the collapse of society.
Yes, FS requires registration, but it is one of the oldest prep communities online and worth the free membership.

Honey Grove
On Frugal Squirrels Forum
Synopsis: Frugal family in rural area of Michigan deals with consequences of crippling EMP strike. While this story line is familiar, the family and their lifestyle is noticiably different than characters in other stories. The story is not completed, but regular installments have been coming. Well written and lots of good information without going overboard on details and instructions.

Life As We Knew It
On WhenSHTF forum
Synopsis: Mega earthquake and subsequent eruption of Yellowstone caldera disrupt life in the US and around the world. Construction inspector takes his mother home to Oregon and ends up having to deal with an end of the world messianic preacher and the fall of the US. Very different point of view in SHTF fiction. This is a completed story so read the whole thing. Note: there are a few chapters which have little content other than the author's opinion on politics, religion, etc. but still a very good read.

On WhenSHTF forum
Synopsis: Isolationist US president sets in motion the collapse of the US economy and thus the rest of the world. A family who had been in the process of relocating to a rural home is caught in the middle with a group of friends and neighbors. This story has some chapters which are extremely detailed (grocery lists, inventories, etc) but is a good read. The story is continuing but there are several hours of completed work available.

The Fall of Europe (and the sequel Fall From Glory)
On SHTEconomy Blog
Synopsis: Very interesting take on the SHTF story which follows a young American IT consultant as he gets stranded in Europe after a natural disaster and collapse of several EU governments. Follow the tale as he fights his way from one location to the next in his bid to return home to Idaho. Fall of Europe is part one and Fall From Glory is part two and in process.

Preparedness Society
Check out the fiction section. Most of the stories come from Jerry D Young, but there are two complete stories from "Gypsy Sue" which are very good.

The above should provide hours of late night computer reading for SHTF fiction fans out there. Enjoy and let me know what you thought.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Prepare: When is it time to leave the shelter?

Most of us prep so we do not end up at the mercy of others for food and shelter. However, there are scenarios where we may end up in a public shelter of some sort or another. For planning purposes, when is it best to get out of the shelter once one is inside?

We all remember the scenes from New Orleans during Hurrican Katrina. The thousands pressed into the convention center without food, facilities or medical aid. The trash, waste and despair. All of us said silently, yet in unison, "That will never happen to me..".

Sadly, there are some scenarios where any of us could end up in a public shelter. For instance..

- You and others, (co-workers, family, etc) are away from home in a strange city and a natural or man made disater happens. Without a permanent address, travelers, such as yourself, are being relocated to a central facility.

- Your neighborhood or home is in the path of the disaster and you and family are forced to flee. Homeless, you are relocated to a shelter or camp.

- You are picking up children or loved ones from a school, hospital or place of employment and the authorities force you to shelter in place rather than return home.

The best plans of mice and men can go up in smoke in almost any disaster.

If in a public shelter, make the best of the situation. Do everything possible to stay together as a group. Volunteer to help out as those who cooperate often end up with better living conditions and may be able to make requests of the authorities such as permission to leave first. Be aware of security and band up with others who have the same mindset as there is safety in numbers.

However, unless things get better, than the shelter situation will deteriorate. Here are some warning signs to look for.

- Supplies start to run low and resupply is sporadic.
- Utilities, (water, electricity, etc) fluctuate.
- Uniformed and trained aid workers start diminishing their presence.
- Self management by shelter residents is encouraged or implemented. This means the authority figures are about to pull out; Anarchy is around the corner.
- There are signs that segregation is coming; families are to be separated, children from parents, etc.
- Mandatory work duties are imposed (i.e. draft or indentured servitude).

When any of the above starts to rear their heads, it's time to get out of Dodge.

- Start self rationing meals and water as you will need food and water once you leave the shelter.
- Locate maps and exit routes from the shelter and surrounding areas.
- Band up with others who are willing to leave the shelter as well. Make a plan and have alternate plans in case the authorities try to stop you from leaving.
 - Know where you are going to go, how you will get there and how to avoid being detained and returned to the shelter.
- Accept that most likely the situation outside of the shelter is going to be worse, but there is a chance that once away from the disaster area you stand a better chance.

Some advice from my own experiences..

Whenever I travel for business or vacations, I make a list of anyone I may know in the area.  A friend's or relative's home is far better than a public shelter.

Have alternate transportation. Taking a plane to another city and depending upon public transport leaves fewer options. Consider having a rental car or other means of transportation no matter where one goes as it means a way out.

Always, always, always know the lay of the land wherever you go, how to get home and alternate routes.

Always have a fall back location in the event your home is uninhabitable.

Sometimes a public shelter is inevetiable, but make a plan to get out when things go south.

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