Category Archives: Plans

DIY Energy

In the spirit of Earth Day last week, I wanted to talk a little about some green energy sources. Not because I think the earth has a temperature and I feel we owe it to her to reduce our carbon footprint, but because in all the research that I’ve done, so called green energy sources are most conducive to long term personal or family energy sources. Sure anyone can buy a gas generator but it only provides energy as long as the gas holds out. Coal_transformationSince gas degrades over time, in a TEOTWAWKI world after several months gasoline will gum and drop octane, making gasoline generators a poor long term alternative energy source. Considering how 90% of modern American electricity is produced in power plants using a type of fossil fuel to create steam, which is used to turn a turbine, thus creating the electricity. Since the process takes place on such a massive scale, the burning of the fossil fuel becomes not only cost effective but actually cheaper than most other forms of electricity production.

The problem with producing electricity for your household in this manner is that due to the small amount you’re producing and the cost of the fuel and equipment, it becomes very expensive. The average American household consumes almost 11,000 kilowatt/hours per month, according to Consumer Reports there are two types of home generators, portable and fixed and they are capable of producing 2,500-20,000 watts. The problem, other than the cost, is that few of these generators are designed to provide power on a full time basis.

hydropowerIf you could replace the gas motor with another means of turning the generator, you would eliminate the cost of the fuel and the wear on the gas motor. In a perfect world it could be replaced by a fast moving stream or waterfall. Another possible replacement is wind, if you are in an area that has a perpetually strong wind.

What could we use as a generator? I’m speaking here about the device that will actually create the electricity. To generate electricity through induction all you need to do is spin a magnet or group of magnets, inside a wire coil. The amount of electricity created is affected by length of wire, strength of the magnetic field, and velocity of movement inside the magnetic field. I’m not going to get into the science behind this because that is beyond the scope of this discussion. But I will give you some ideas on where you can find some generators relatively inexpensively.

how-solar-energy-systems-operateBefore I get into suggestions on generators, let’s talk a little about power delivery. You will want a place to store your generated energy and it’s not like you can hang it on a hanger in the coat closet or put it in a box in the guest bedroom closet. A battery compartment will be required and of course the electricity you create will be stored in 12 volt batteries. Which brings us to the next part of the system you will need, a charge controller. A charge controller protects your battery,windmill how well it protects the battery depends on the quality of the charge controller and the features that it has. If you’ve read anything that I’ve previously written, you’ll know that I’m a huge believer in layering; layer your clothes, layer your plans, layer your defenses. Why would your energy grid be any different? If you’re using wind or hydro or both, you can add solar to your grid for relatively low cost. Since the batteries store DC power and your home runs on AC, you will need a sine wave inverter to convert the power from DC to AC. Unless you want to live completely off grid, in which case you could look into replacing all of your devices with a 12 volt DC equivalent. There are definite pluses to being off grid but there also pluses to being on grid. In fact some power companies will actually pay you for excess power that you produce.

Where can you get these generators? batteryWell we are charging 12 volt batteries, what else runs on 12 volt batteries? Cars and trucks use a 12 volt battery, and it is recharged by the vehicles alternator. We can use air or water to turn the alternator and use the alternator to charge our batteries and 10 batteries connected in series will be 120 volts which will power most homes.

 

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Coastal Survival

If you live near the coast, you’re in a unique position allowing you to utilize resources from both land and sea. Since there have been and will be many land survival articles, I will focus on the sea aspect in this one.

We’ll start with water. Of course you can’t drink seawater,dis_process until you take the salt out. So how do you take the salt out? There are 3 principle types of desalinization, electrical, thermal, and pressure. Electrical desalinization is a process utilizing an electrical field to remove the salt. It’s technical and papers have been written by universities about it. Due to its complexity it’s really not a helpful process for the average person. Pressure desalinization is the act of using centrifugal force to pull the salt out of the water. Thermal desalinization is the oldest and most natural form of removing salt from seawater.desalinazation So natural, that it occurs by the sun everyday around the world. The water vapor forms clouds and then is released back to earth as rain. We can simply replicate this process a couple different ways. Either using a heat source and distilling the water, or utilizing the suns radiation in a solar still to evaporate the water.

Shelter on the ocean is a serious problem. If you’re in the ocean, you have two serious concerns hypothermia and shark attack. Hypothermia is when the bodies core temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. hypothermiaDue to water being an excellent conductor of heat, it can pull the heat out of a body, and since we lose like 80% of our body heat through our head and neck, keep them out of the water. Also don’t shed clothes, they will act as a barrier and your body will heat the water between your skin and your clothes acting as an insulation layer between you and the outside water. On a long enough timeline everyone’s survival rate drops to zero. If the water temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit the danger for shark attack is elevated. The lower the water temperature, the greater the risk of hypothermia due to prolonged exposure, when exposed to cold water the Coast Guard’s 1-10-1 rule applies. The first stage in cold water exposure is Cold Water Shock, you have one minute to control your panic. Studies show that 20 percent of people exposed to cold water die in the first minute; they panic when they are first immersed, breathe in cold water and drowned. The next phase is Cold Water Incapacitation, over approximately 10 minutes you will lose effective control of your body, fingers, hands, legs and arms. You need to deal with self rescue during this brief phase because your ability to swim will become greatly reduced as time passes, if you aren’t  wearing a life jacket at this point and are unable to get out of the water, the odds are pretty good you’re going to drown. The last phase is Hypothermia, you have approximately 1 hour, depending on water temperature, and physical condition until your body shuts down, you lose consciousness and die.fishTrap

Another thing the ocean has in abundance is food; in the form of fish, shellfish and water fowl. Since this isn’t a hunting or fishing article, I won’t get in depth into gathering food but will touch on a few gathering techniques. You can of course always fish with a hook, line and pole. But there are several ways to harvest fish without a line and hook. There are several different types of commercial fish trap available for purchase, but you can also make one from sticks and twine, or using sticks in the sand you can make a tidal fish trap.fishspear16 Making a fishing spear is also an option, it’s a little more complicated than just sharpening a stick, but still not very technical.

When you live near the ocean, like coastal dwelling people throughout history, you must master the sea and to do so you’re going to need a boat. I’m going to talk about boat building next week, but will talk this week a little about some aspects of their use.

When you’re standing on the beach and looking out to sea, due to the curvature of the earth, the horizon is only 8 miles away. You can see larger objects such as cruise ships or aircraft carriers out to 10-12 miles depending on their height but a small motor boat or row boat, you would be lucky to see at 8 miles. If you were sitting in a canoe or kayak out in the water your horizon would be down to perhaps 5-6 miles. This comes into play when we start talking about navigation.N-chart_11451-9

Whether you’re navigating on land or on sea, before you can plan where you’re going; first you must know where you are. To know where you are, you need a map or chart, a compass, and a straight edge. There are a few different grades of certainty that I want to talk about. If you look on your map and find a tower, an antenna, or even a notable landmark or pier that you can see from your location; take a bearing to the object and lay it out on your map with your straight edge, what you have now is a line of bearing. Find another object that is like 50-60 degrees off from the last, and lay it out on your map, you now have an estimated position. Repeating the process and at the point where the 3 lines meet is a fix, for most of what we’re doing here an estimated position will work for what we need, if you’re navigating a deep draft ship in close proximity to shoal water, knowing your exact location is crucial, however if you’re in a row boat, and you know where you are within 100 or 200 yards, you will be fine because from there you can visually navigate to where you want to go.

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Urban Survival

In the United States, 80.7 percent of the population lives in an urban area, according to the 2010 census which is the latest census data available. Many of us would love to live on our own plot of a thousand acres, off grid and self sufficient or our own private island, but for most of us it’s just not a reality. When life gives you lemons, you can just be sour, or you can look at the bright side, take stock of your resources and make lemonade. If you are like me and although you would truly prefer to live on a mountaintop somewhere, but due to the circumstances you find yourself in, created by the choices you’ve made over your life thus far; your preference has to take a backseat to the realities and responsibilities of the life that you have created. Just because you work and live in an urban area, doesn’t mean you’re any more or less vulnerable than the person that lives on the mountain. highway

In the city you don’t normally have to worry about wolves or bears, but there is the potential of human predators that can cross your path. When living in the city there are two different times of concern: everyday life and life after TEOTWAWKI. Generally speaking in everyday life, minimizing your chance of becoming a victim can be done through situational awareness, attitude, and body language. One thing about living in or near the city; if you want to protect your family and prepare for any emergency, embracing technology is a necessity.

One night last May the wife and I were sitting in an upstairs room of our house that overlooks our driveway, watching a movie. The following morning, my wife got in her car to find out it had been burglarized! They didn’t take a whole lot, just a few CD’s, a box of .380 ammo and her garage door remote.home-security-cameras-480pix I zeroed out all the garage door codes and paired new remotes and installed a day/night vision HD security camera system. Lesson learned, no matter how nice the neighborhood, there is always the potential for theft. Another thing that I am in the process of doing is converting my home to a smart home system, utilizing the z-wave and zigby technologies as well as wifi. I have a hardwired security system but want the added flexibility of a wireless system.

Other basic steps for hardening your home against intruders:

Doors, make sure all your exterior doors are solid core and deadbolts go without saying. Take the screws out of the existing plates in your door jams and replace them with 3 inch screws, do the same with the hinges. The longer screws will go through the door jam and into the double studs inside the wall on each side of the door. If the hinges face outside replace them with hinges that the hinge pins are not removable. Consider installing a separate steel security door in addition to other external doors.

Windows, during normal life there isn’t much you can do except lock them and have window sensors and breaking glass detectors, unless you wantwindowBars to live with bars on your windows. However, you can precut plywood for each of your windows. In the event of a storm or an SHTF event you will have the plywood sheets cut and labeled; use 3-3 ½” hex head lag bolts with washers to bolt them to the studs and plates inside the wall around the window opening.

Security lights and motion sensors are a big deterrent for criminal activity. Turn on the lights floodlightsand the cockroaches run for cover. Inexpensive exterior lights can be purchased with motion sensors attached from most hardware stores.

Monitored security systems and their signs are also a huge deterrent. Actually it’s the signs that scare off the bad guys. Actually the average response time of police to a 911 call in the U.S. is 10 minutes, if they come at all to a house alarm. In cities like Los Angeles or Salt Lake police won’t respond to home alarms unless they have an eye witness like a private security company.

In an SHTF event, more often than not the best course of action is to shelter in place, unless like in the case of a storm or other emergency where burglarcompetent governmental agencies have called for an evacuation. If after such an event, a real and legitimate government has not been reestablished in the area, you may need to defend borders until such time as it has been reestablished. In that case, what you have or more accurately what people think you have can make you a target. In an urban area your greatest threat is the rest of the starving, sick and scared population.

Another thing about an urban area is the plethora of resources in a post TEOTWAWKI event. While there is game to hunt in the country, in the city and surrounding area there are rail yards, steel plants, lumber yards, warehouses, cold storage, dry storage and many other places, even national guard armories in a post apocalyptic world.

 

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Stockpiling Water

Every day we go about our lives, we get up take our showers, wash our clothes and dishes, every time we turn on a faucet, water comes out. If you’re anything like me there have been times that you turn that faucet and water hasn’t come out. It’s inconvenient and maddening, but what if it was the new normal. If you woke up one morning and the shower didn’t work and neither did the lights. You groan in frustration and pick up your cell phone, the screen is blank and won’t turn on. Whatever the circumstances, the point is that we need on average between 2 and 3 liters of water per day. If you’re not lucky enough to have your own well, where is it going to come from if the water stops flowing? Even discounting the run on the grocery stores to buy every last drop, what happens when that’s gone?

In an emergency situation, you can dig a hole in the ground, put a cup in the bottom and cover the hole with black plastic and put a small pebble or weight on the plastic above the cup and condensation will roll down the plastic and collect in the cup, but that won’t produce 3 liters per day.waterCup

I’m lucky enough to have multiple fresh bodies of water near my home. All I need is a filtering system and I’m golden! Let’s talk about some filtering systems.

There are hundreds if not thousands of commercially available water filtration systems, but over time filters lose their effectiveness and must be replaced or replicated.

The 5 steps of water filtration are:

Screening, Water is passed through a screen which removes large debris. Water pulled from a ground source may not need this step.

Coagulation, alum and other chemicals are added to the water which cause Floc or sticky particles that attract dirt and contaminants, which sink to the bottom of a storage tank.

Sedimentation, water and floc flow into a sedimentation tank where the floc falls to the bottom

Filtration, the water is then passed through gravel, sand and perhaps charcoal.

Disinfection, chlorine or other disinfecting chemical is used to kill micro organisms and keep the water safe to drink. If using ground water this maybe to only step needed.

In a SHTF or emergency situation CPVC marked NSF-61 or NSF-PW has been tested to be safe for drinking water,filter use a piece about 4 inches in diameter and about 4 feet long. Put a rounded cap on one end with a hole drilled in the middle. Put about 2 feet of sand in the bottom and 1 ½ feet of gravel on top of that, leaving about a foot of room on the top to pour water in, and poof instant water filter.

Use 8-16 drops or ¼ teaspoon of chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water for the disinfection of filtered water, or 2% tincture of iodine at 5 drops per 1 quart of filtered water. In the absence of these chemicals boil water at a full rolling boil for 1 minute.

Here is a great article on drilling your own well.

 

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What’s the plan?

How-to-Develop-a-Business-Plan-in-Six-Easy-Steps

So if you’ve read any of the other posts on this blog, you know that I’m a big advocate of planning. For example, last week we talked about situational awareness and the OODA Loop. I won’t rehash the OODA Loop but the general premise is, whoever completes the loop first has tactical advantage of the situation. In New Year, Fresh Look, I talk about having a plan, a backup plan, a contingency plan, and an emergency plan. Through planning we set ourselves up to have a head start in the OODA Loop, through plan redundancy we minimize the risk that when we do get hit, we’re caught flat footed, and then we have a plan for that too.

“Well where do I start?” you may ask. First, let’s start with developing your own personal threat matrix. riskSignBasically, what do you see as the primary threats to your/your family’s safety and security? Earthquake? Tornado? Martial law? Alien invasion? Zombie apocalypse?  Joking aside, only you can establish your realistic threat priorities. Your planning is only as good as your imagination and your ability to foresee your true threat priorities. If you set your priority on planning for an event that although, if it occurred would be devastating, the odds of occurrence are astronomical, then you’re setting yourself up to take that hit. So, if you live in California and spend more time planning for alien invasion, than for earthquake, maybe your threat matrix isn’t… realistic. Look honestly, do I think you should prepare for an alien invasion and a zombie apocalypse? Why not? The US Government and CDC have plans in place; I just don’t think they should be a priority.

“How do I prioritize my threat matrix?” In my opinion, you should have the most detailed plans on the threats that are the most imminent. If you are a 5 foot tall, female emergency trauma nurse that commutes alone on the subway in New York City at 3 am, six days each week, maybe a can of pepper spray and a Krav Maga class should be in your future, more so than the plans for a nuclear fallout shelter.preparedsmallsmall There is nothing wrong with planning for a nuclear strike, little green men, or a virus that reanimates the dead, but develop those plans after you are sufficiently prepared for all the threats that impact you daily.

Let’s start with lifestyle… Identify the risks you face every day. Develop a plan to mitigate those risks, and then look for weak points in your primary plan, things that could go wrong and develop a backup plan. Now come up with contingencies for your backup and finally if sh!t goes south and everything goes wrong, have an emergency plan! Do this for all the risks you can identify based on what you do, where you go, frequent and infrequent activities and the people that go along with them.storm2_2865528b In addition to lifestyle, identify the risks you face geographically. How common are storms, earthquakes, volcanic activity? What is the local population and will the geography support them in a catastrophic event?

As we peel back the layers of this onion and consider all the different possible scenarios, it’s easy to see how mind boggling the planning can be. When planning use the KISS principle, Keep It Simple Stupid! The more complex the plan, the more that can go wrong, so keep it simple! Even with all of our planning, there will be events that we don’t foresee. That is why situational awareness is so important.

Be your own boss, you are responsible for you. The chances are that if you’re reading this, you read other survival material as well and you are accumulating knowledge, so trust your instincts. During the 9/11 tragedy many lives were lost that could have been prevented, because people were told “the building is fine” and “stay put unless authorities tell you to leave”. sheepYou are responsible for yourself and your family; use your common sense, listen to your gut and take the appropriate action. Whatever you do, don’t follow the crowd! People are like water, they take the path of least resistance, usually that is the wrong path to take. According to psychcentral, there is a new study that shows it only takes a minority of 5% to influence the crowd, 95% will follow without even realizing it. The study was conducted by scientists at the University of Leeds and shows humans flock like birds or sheep while in a crowd. If you’re in a crowd during an emergency think of the acronym STOP:

go to link Stop, don’t get caught up. Distance yourself.
http://drawntowhitetails.com/drawn-to-christ/ Think, develop a plan.
click Orient, take stock of your surroundings.
Perform, take deliberate action.

Good luck with your plans! See you next week…

Other resources:

CDC Emergency Action Plan Template
OSHA EAP Checklist
National Fire Prevention Association EAP Guidelines
Ready.gov

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Bugging Out… Where?

kit

One of the most controversial subjects in this community is the contents of your BOB (Bug Out Bag)! I don’t want to get into a big heated debate in the comments section, because yes, I read all of them and respond to as many as I can, so as a disclaimer, this is MY list and it is centered around my needs and my abilities! Yours could vary considerably depending on your knowledge base, climate and bug out destination, which brings me to my next disclaimer! Bugging out is a last resort scenario! You are almost always better off staying put, hunkering down and sheltering in place. Your house/apartment is the largest version of your stuff and has way more resources than you can carry with you! So to reiterate, bugging out is a last resort and should only be done if remaining in place will put your life or the lives of your family in danger.

Where are you bugging out to? How are you getting there? Here’s the deal folks; we plan everything! If you leave your home and all of your stuff on foot with a backpack full of stuff that someone on the internet said you were going to need, bound for God knows where; odds are the vast majority would be dead in a week! If you have to leave your home, have a specific destination and a plan to get you there! That being said, your Bug Out Bag is the gear that you will need to get you from your original location to your planned destination, that’s it! There’s none of this, “well, I might need to kill and cook a deer on the way” B.S. If you’re bugging out and God forbid having to do so on foot, a whole lot has gone bad and this should be treated like a SERE scenario!evade

  1. Avoid human contact. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you! If you want to be a Christian charity when you’re at home or again in your bug out location, fine but on the road avoid people. You have no idea how desperate people are, what their circumstances are or what they’re capable of. Anything you can do that will attract attention, don’t! To name a few items: this includes fires, cooking, hunting and discharging a firearm (unless YOUR life depends on it). It’s definitely not an all inclusive list, but you get my meaning.
  2. Plan for shelter first. Next to not having air, not having shelter will kill you first. You should have 2-3 changes of underclothes and wool socks and some good, comfortable, insulated, over the ankle hiking boots. The type of clothing is dependent on climate, season and altitude, however layer your clothing so you can shed layers when hot and add layers when cold. You should have 2-3 different ways to stay dry. A rain suit and a military type poncho is what I recommend. The poncho has grommets and can be used as a shelter as well. If traveling with my family I might include a small tent but you have to weigh the threat of being seen.shelter I depend mainly on my surroundings to provide the items for my shelter because with the tools in my pack I can build several different kinds. But you can really hedge your bets with a 6’X8’ tarp, it will always come in handy. A bedroll, preferably a good lightweight sleeping bag.
  3. Next worry about water. In a pinch you can go a couple days without but it will have an effect so plan for about 1 liter per day per person. You will be walking and exerting your body and you will sweat even if it’s cold, so to avoid dehydration and cramping drink your water. water-bottle-120120Many packs have a hydration system built into them, I just use 2 canteens. Life Straw filters like 1000 liters of water and is a great back up. Water purification tablets are light weight but generally purify more water than you will drink and can be harmful when trying to use small doses. If you use them purify the recommended amount of water, fill your containers and leave the rest for someone else.
  4. The next thing to plan for is accidents. I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about a first aid kit because I couldn’t do it justice here; it deserves and will have its own edition. There are a couple things I will say, first I recommend you build your own, so you have firsthand knowledge of everything in your kit and you don’t have a lot of what you are unlikely to need but not enough of what you are more likely to need. Also, if you live anywhere that you could run into poisonous snakes have a snake bite kit.
  5. Food is down the list a bit for me. Since this kit is for 48-72 hours, food should be minimal. I won’t spend a lot of time on it since it should consist of energy bars and trail food, maybe MRE’s that don’t need to be cooked. All you want is calories to give you energy to get you where you’re going, although avoid candy bars since they will give you a sugar rush that will be over as quickly as it began.
  6. Tools are an important part of the kit. A good multi tool, I prefer Leatherman, will do so many things for you. A shovel type tool can do far more than just dig, the M48 can be used as an ax, as a machete, it has a serrated edge and would be a wicked weapon in a hand to hand situation.m48Shovel A wire saw can be used to cut poles for shelters as well as firewood. One of the other hotly debated topics in this field is: what is the best survival knife? Since I’m going to do a whole article on it, let’s just say have a good survival knife that is comfortable for you.
  7. Miscellaneous items, that I couldn’t categorize elsewhere. A solar/hand crank AM/FM radio to keep appraised of emergency news. A good flashlight and a head light preferably with red lenses with extra batteries for each. Although I recommend only using them inside a structure where there is no light, to avoid detection. 2- 50 gallon black plastic trash bags, can be used to collect water and as ponchos. Cell phone with power bank for recharging, this isn’t to play candy crush on the trail but for emergency communication if there is reception. There are also plenty of useful apps that can be used even if they aren’t (like my spotting and bullet trajectory app). A pencil and small note pad for making notes, writing coordinates, bearings and anything else you may need to remember. A couple bandanas can be used for 100 things. 100 ft of 550 cord (paracord), 50 ft of climbing type rope something in the 10mm range also some military surplus trip/snare wire 50 ft or so. Don’t forget maps of the area and a compass. Duct tape, binoculars, 3 different ways to start a fire (for emergencies and distraction), bug spray and sunscreen round out the list.
  8. Personal protection items, is again a much debated topic. Many cannot legally carry a firearm due to their local laws, however since this is my blog and I live in Texas and was fairly clear at the beginning that this is about MY equipment, I am always carrying both a handgun with spare magazine and a assisted opening locking blade type knife.ar15_m4_xhc_by_hellion You can be sure if I’m bugging out I will also have a tactical carbine rifle also with several spare magazines.
  9. Personal hygiene items. A toothbrush and toothpaste will make you feel a whole lot better than if your teeth are wearing sweaters while you walk. Also since you are only going to be out 48-72 hours, handiwipes to clean the sensitive areas will help prevent chaffing and a roll of toilet paper in a plastic ziplock bag.

This list is not all inclusive, and mine changes by season and is modified periodically based on my needs and desires but it will give you somewhere to start.

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