Sunday, November 8, 2009

Alternatives to the home-as-fortess concept

A lone survival homestead family will be unable to protect itself against armed gangs that will inevitably form to loot and pillage one region after another following a breakdown in social order. Sniping and laying siege will eventually take its toll, allowing even the most heavily armed and fortified homes to be breached and plundered. The only way to defend against these gangs will be to build a superior army that conducts constant recons, sentry duty, and secure communications. At the same time, a much larger logistics team will be needed to grow and process food, make and maintain weapons, boots, clothing, and other equipment and supplies so if there are a dozen dedicated defenders there will need to be over 100 support positions. That size group working in 12-hour shifts would provide only a half-dozen on-duty defenders. (Of course when an alert is sounded, every able member would become a defender as well.)

A more realistic 500-man army would require 5,000 support workers, more than live in many a small town. This would allow well-manned roadblocks on a dozen roads, a half-dozen constantly roving recon patrols, the 24/7 manning of 20 or more concealed sentry posts, a constantly ready rapid-response team, and an active training operation so support workers could be cycled into defense duty.

How do you build an army? You hire them. What do you pay them with? Food.

The serious survivalist builds a team and makes sure the team is well supplied. For those who have not yet built their teams, who will you seek to include in yours? If you have not acted in time, you will have to draw on your neighbors for your team members. Your neighbors are therefore a potential resource after TSHTF. Rather than let them organize into confiscation squads, be prepared to bring them together and offer them food and training. Conduct a group interview that will seem more like a brainstorming session. Find out who has experience doing what and what resources they have and need. You may find seamstresses, machinists, ex-military tacticians, cooks, gardeners, electronics engineers or techs, ham radio operators, ER nurses, gun collectors, auto mechanics, inventors, etc.

Bulk food is still cheap if you don't insist on freeze-dried gourmet offerings. $300-worth of properly stored wheat and beans can form the core diet for one person for a year. $3,000 of food would supply a typical family for three years. This is clearly a strain for those living paycheck to paycheck but anyone in a stronger position who reads this should seriously plan to become the community leader in their neighborhood by hiring their neighbors with food, training, organizing, and arming them as needed, and leading the survival discussion so as to build a neighborhood consensus on what needs to be done. You will need enough room to store at least 15 five-gallon buckets of long-term storage food per person per year, preferably in a dry basement. 4,500 buckets at a food cost of $300,000 would provide food for 100 people for three years and require floor space for 900 buckets if stacked five-high. With a lid diameter of 12 inches this conveniently works out to 900 square feet of floor space, (30'x30' or 20'x45') and that's just for food. Weapons, ammo, tactical gear, communication equipment, seeds, implements, fuel, fortifications, and all the rest would require a small warehouse.

Few can afford this level of preparation, a million-dollar investment at minimum, more likely two or three. But the wealthy cannot expect to skate through a collapse unscathed with just a few security personnel. They will need to plan well to keep their neighbors who have less from becoming their dedicated foes and the likely source of their demise. Some will suppose they can sail away, island hopping till calm returns, not figuring on the likely world-wide explosion of piracy. Others may believe they can escape to their hunting lodge in the Yukon, never having experienced even a visit there in the winter and very likely finding their larder already raided when they arrive. They will need an army and a supportive community to make it and that will cost them a major preparedness investment.

But suppose in the end your careful planning and neighborhood organizing isn't enough. Suppose you are driven from your home and your neighborhood by a superior force or offensive measures you haven't anticipated. Everyone who is prepping should have a fallback position that allows them to escape and still have emergency provisions. The best way to ensure access is the buried cache, not just one but many.

My own caches consist of various-sized hermetically-sealed PVC pipe sections lined with heat-sealed Mylar bags and containing oxygen absorbers. (I manufacture and sell them in fact.) These can be secretly buried on accessible land that is unlikely to be bulldozed or flooded. They can contain food, shelter materials, first aid supplies, weapons and ammo, bug repellent, extra clothing and footwear, sleeping gear, etc. One good use of buried caches is stocking a BOL (bug-out-location) ahead of time so that your supplies will go undiscovered by intruders. Planting small caches along the way there also makes sense in case you have to flee there on foot.

A fugitive lifestyle may seem unappealing but bear in mind that many homeless people live the way they do by choice and you will have more resources than them. Rather than wallow in misery and despair you can choose to adopt a homeless survival attitude and you will be fine. Think of it as an extended camping trip with on-the-job survival training.

With a buried cache system you can appear to have little worth taking, particularly if you avoid appearing to be well fed, well-groomed, etc. The look of a dirty, scruffy vagabond can be your ticket through dangerous areas. Be sure to bear a concealed firearm though in case your camouflage doesn't deter everyone.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The purpose of a BOB is to get you to your BOL

As you expected, TSHTF, panic is widespread, there is looting and violence everywhere and it's time to leave. It's spring/summer/autumn. You're trying to make it to your BOL (bug-out location) where you have buried caches of food, weapons, tools, shelter materials, first aid, etc. (In case that doesn't pan out, you'll head for your alternate BOL.) You're traveling on foot because your BOV (bug-out vehicle) can't get you there. You don't want to waste time along the way.

Do you want to have to build a shelter and a fire at each stop or would you rather spend the time getting closer to your BOL?

Pack your BOB (bug-out bag) with ready-to-eat foods. You can eat as you walk. When you need rest unfurl your lightweight Jungle Hammock, tie it between two trees screened from view, and collapse into it. No need to clear an area to pitch a tent and it'll keep the ticks, bedbugs, and skeeters from getting to you while you sleep.

Speaking of ticks, etc., your BOC (bug-out clothes) should be treated with Permethrin so arthropods of all sorts will stay off. Imagine finding that you're crawling with ticks partway to your BOL. You don't know how many have already dug into your skin where you can't see them. You don't know where you picked them up. Suddenly every tree, bush, log, patch of tall grass becomes an item of dread, forcing you into the open where you are an easy target.

You can avoid this nightmarish concern by treating your clothes with 0.5% Permethrin. You can get spray cans of the stuff at Walmart or online marketed as Permanone by Repel. Treat your outer clothes, tops of your socks, and hat and they're good for two weeks' protection, even if washed or soaked. Put your clothes on only after they are dry because Permethrin can be absorbed though the skin. Thus protected and with a dash of 100% DEET on exposed areas, you need have no fear of bloodsuckers and the diseases they carry.

Need caffeine? Pop a couple of caffeine tablets (NoDoz or other brands) and chase 'em with water. You're on the move. No time to build a fire and make coffee.

What else would slow you? Hunting, fishing, collecting wild fruits, nuts, greens, bartering. Don't engage in any of these activities till you've run out of ready-to-eat stuff. (If you get injured and can't travel, that's a different story. Then you'll need to crawl around and set some traps and lie low till you can travel again. Winter and heavy snow may also delay your progress but as long as you can travel, that's your main focus.)

One thing you might need: foot baths. You need to take care of your feet if you're putting many miles per day on them. Change socks at least every three days, more often if your feet are sweating a lot. Wash the old pair and secure them on the outside of your pack to dry. Soak your feet and scrub them well. Use fresh socks when feet are dry.

As for the rest of your body, wait till you are at or just around the corner from your BOL to bathe, the latter only if you are meeting others there. Your need to feel clean is just cultural conditioning. How often did the mountain men bathe? Or the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert? If you are deer hunting, you need to be scent-neutral but you're not deer hunting, you're fleeing to your BOL. Don't get distracted.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A few preps for nuclear events

With North Korea and Iran now poised to build nuclear arsenals, attention has turned to a nearly 60-year-old concern, what to do in event of nuclear engagement. It is fairly easy to be at least partially prepared to survive a nuclear event.

I am now the proud owner of a NukAlert, a small device that can serve as a key ring charm or a pendant that will let forth with squeals of radioactive delight when in proximity of a ticking dirty bomb, operating X-ray machine, or the hot rubble spewed by a thermonuclear blast. One squeal in a half-minute means you're 42 days from getting radiation sickness if the radiation were constant. Ten squeals means you'd better get the hell outta there 'cause in two hours you're cooked. The battery is said to last ten years under normal conditions.

I also have KI pills (130 mg. Potassium Iodide) at home, in my van, and in my bug-out bag. They keep your thyroid from concentrating radionuclides of Iodine, which can kill you if the blast or the fallout radiation doesn't. The main strategy following a radiological event is to place mass and distance between you and any surfaces that would collect radioactive fallout. The level of gamma radiation attenuates rapidly so a couple days' hunkering in the most protected position before making limited indoor forays should do the trick. You'd need water and a waste bucket at a minimum. A pile of food, a mattress, and blankets would be great assets too.

If an incredibly bright, searing, and lasting flash occurs, leap for cover, away from windows and exterior doors, covering your face, eyes, and head. Do not look at the fireball as it can scorch your retinas and leave you permanently blind. A tornado-force wind gust will shatter windows and rip doors from their hinges. Race for the basement if one is present. If in the open, dive behind a solid feature such as a large rock, log, or stone wall. If none are around, look for a ditch or other depression. A pond or stream might be a great place to be. A large culvert is another great shelter. Intense thermal radiation will commence from the outset and continue as the fireball lifts over the terrain. The exterior of any building you might be in may catch fire.

Once the shock wave is past, quickly seek out the most protected area to serve as a fallout shelter. You may have only a few minutes before fallout arrives depending on blast proximity and prevailing winds. In that time, grab lots of water, food, buckets, plastic bags for waste, a battery or hand-crank radio, mattress, blankets and, barring the presence of a serious fallout shelter, make yourself a small cave, surrounding yourself with as much mass as possible. A large, sturdy table would make a good starting point. Load boxes of books, bricks, canned food, full water containers, stacks of lumber, bags of concrete mix, fertilizer, potting soil, etc.. If breezes could blow fallout into the area, nail, duct-tape, or thoroughly staple plastic, tarps, or blankets over openings to keep the fallout from entering.

Of course having a plan and materials already in place would be a big help. You might not be able to build a fully encased concrete bunker beneath your cellar stairs but you could identify the basement corner you would use and have several five-gallon containers of water, a bunch of ready-to-eat canned food, a can opener and spoon, some spare blankets and pillows in protective wraps, an air mattress, a box or two of small or tall-kitchen trash bags, a potty bucket, some toilet tissue (!), some tarps or polyethylene sheeting and duct tape for sealing off broken windows or other intrusions, and a hand-cranked radio.

You may not be home when disaster strikes. For this reason keeping a few items in your vehicle would be a good idea. Besides KI tablets for a half-dozen people I keep a full roll (10' x 100') of polyethylene, two big rolls of duct tape, a five-gallon container of water, and a week's food supply in my van. I am at least partially prepared to improvise a shelter wherever I am. I can't count on driving home first because the thermal radiation and shock wave may have destroyed my vehicle and the roads could be impassible from debris and disabled vehicles.

If you don't have a radiation measuring device, you will have to rely on your radio for news on the attenuation factor so you can know when it's safe to emerge and help in the cleanup effort. Long-lived radionuclides will still exist in low concentrations. You don't want them to lodge in your lungs where they can cause cancers so be sure to wear a close fitting particle mask during the cleanup phase. I keep a couple boxes of N-95 face masks handy (good in case of flu pandemics too).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Questions to expose your unpreparedness

I have just finished reading the novel "Patriots" by James Wesley Rawles, which portrays a possible near-term future in which an effort is made to impose a world police state amid the chaos following a massive economic collapse. While today's news provides plenty of real-life apprehension about elements of the novel's future outlook, the best lesson I gleaned from the story was the need to develop concrete plans and reliable communication rather than rely on sketchy ideas and nebulous hopes.

Toward that end I found this article from the United States Concealed Carry Association site illuminating, regardless of how you might feel toward the USCCA's advocacy of responsible armed adults:
The article discusses the need to plan and coordinate in advance of emergency situations so that you can better avoid making the wrong moves in dealing with hostile situations.

The reason I think this is important to share is that crimes such as muggings, carjackings, and home invasions are on the rise and will undoubtledly worsen as the ranks of the unemployed grow. Should some event cause sudden public panic, civil unrest could quickly escalate to the point that it would be very risky to go anyplace -- or stay anyplace. During a panic is not the time you should be devising a plan to cope with violence. The best time is ASAP. Have it already in place. It's one matter that will be behind you as you head into a very stressful time.

There are plenty of other issues that need the same sort of attention now too. For instance what are your honest answers to the following questions?

Could a violent heavily-armed gang successfully invade your home?
Could your home be made safe?
What changes to your home would make it safe to remain in? (Think medieval castles, sieges, etc.)
Should you count on remaining in your home if a large pillaging gang is headed your way?
Is it better to plan on remaining in your home and defending it no matter what or should you plan to flee to safety if the need becomes critical?
Are you willing to leave your home and possessions to save your life?

What exactly would trigger your flight to safety?
What route would you take?
Do you have an alternate escape route? Can you evade a blocked road?
Would you travel by car?
Do you keep your vehicle ready to travel?
Who would you flee with, what would you take with you?
What if you couldn't take who you wanted, have they agreed to meet you at some safe location?
What would await you if you fled to a refuge?
Would you have what you needed when you got there?

How much should you count on taking with you if you have to flee?
How long would it take to load everything?
What if you had to leave so suddenly that you couldn't load anything?
What if the roads become impassible or your vehicle breaks down?
Could you reach your refuge on foot and if so, how long would it take?
Would you have what you need for a long trek?
What route would you take on foot?
What safety precautions would you take?

Who would be there ahead of you?
Would you have support and agreement when you got there?
How would you fit in?
Where exactly would you stay?
For how long could you count on staying?
What would you eat, how would you cook, is there sufficient room, sufficient water? What about bathroom needs?

Would your refuge be truly safe?
What if violence spreads to where you have fled?
Should you prepare to defend your refuge and if so, how?
How many people will be welcome there?
How many people would be optimum for safety?
Could that number of people reasonably stay there?
Who would be in charge?

What if you had to leave your refuge?
Should you have a plan for an alternate or secondary refuge?
What would be important features for an alternate site in terms of location, access, terrain, water, shelter, fuel?
What would trigger your fleeing to a secondary refuge and how would you get there?
Should you plan on taking what you would need when you flee or should you pre-stock a secondary refuge?
If you pre-stock, how could you make sure your stuff will be safe and waiting for you when you get there? (Hint)

Answering each of these questions honestly ("I don't know"), then working out satisfactory answers will result in a preparedness plan not only for a time of violent unrest but for coping with natural or man-made disasters should they threaten the safety of our home and neighborhood.

Yes, these questions do seem incongruous with day-to-day concerns like paying bills, attending parties, taking kids to sports and other extra-curricular events, mowing the lawn, and all the rest. But millions of citizens are now no longer certain that our future will be filled with these commonplace issues. The growing number who have lost their jobs and homes could well burden government to the point where the safety net cannot be sustained. When that happens then survival will become a very real issue for a large portion of the population. To dismiss the possibility is to indulge in a dangerous myopia.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Two BOB's in my BOV

I now have two Bug-Out Bags in my Bug-Out Vehicle. I have one BOB locked up inside a fortified compartment in my van since it contains a semi-auto pistol and lots of loaded magazines. Trouble is, it would take at least a minute under best circumstances to unlock the compartment and grab its contents. You never know when you might have to flee your vehicle in six seconds, not 60.

My backup BOB sits between the driver's and passenger's seats and consists of two parts: a medium-sized knapsack and a good-sized belt pouch, both in camo. I keep them fastened together and shielded from sight with a ratty-looking rain poncho. They are also fastened through a loop of heavy tow chain to discourage a snatch & run theft. (Since I know how it's fastened it would take me just a few seconds to undo it.)

The backup BOB contains a lot less preparedness than the one that's locked up but it does contain a few first aid supplies, several days' food, a one-person tent and ground cloth, warm under-layers, insulated mittens, 2 pair socks, rain poncho, a map, cash, two LED head lamps, space blanket, fire-starter, waterproof matches, lots of 100% DEET, a knife, camo cord, knit wool cap and wide-brim cotton hat, water, and other stuff I'm not recalling just now. Oh yes, I have a couple of spray cans of 0.5% permethrin for clothing so I'm not bitten by ticks while barging through the underbrush. My #2 BOB contents will certainly change over time but it's not bad for something quickly assembled.

If it is cold weather, I presume I would have appropriate outer wear in the van to augment what's in the alternate BOB. Also, after I complete two pistol courses, I expect to begin making use of my concealed carry permit so I would be already armed if I have to flee suddenly.

I used to not worry about locking my van unless I was going into a store or otherwise leaving it unattended. Now I lock all doors while I am driving. It's not that I'm so worried now, I am simply forming good habits for later when thieves get bolder and more desperate. I can easily imagine pulling up to a stop sign, having someone yank open my rear door, grab something, and take off running. By the time I pulled out of traffic and parked they would be long gone. Worse yet would be someone yanking me out of the driver's side door and driving off with the van (unlikely because I'm good-sized, but possible certainly). I lock that door with my elbow now as soon as I shut the door. Then I unlock The Club from my steering wheel. I put this anti-theft device on the back side of the steering wheel so the key slot faces the dashboard. That way someone equipped with lock-picking or tumbler-yanking tools will have a tougher time of it.

Next: a BOB for the house. I could otherwise be awakened by the screeching tires of my own van being stolen from my driveway and be suddenly BOB-less. Of course I could find myself cut off from both van and house and have to rely on my buried caches:

Monday, April 13, 2009

You can afford more survival perparations

Let's say you have little money but you anticipate a modest tax return, maybe $500, and you want to know how to spend it for survival purposes. Some will recommended a bulk food buy, others a small solar charger system, and several will insist that a gun and ammunition are the only logical choice assuming you have none of these items already.

I tend to agree with the gun advocates because you'll have a rare chunk of money that could be spent on a relatively big-ticket item. Many of your other needs can be filled with smaller purchases and we'll work on making money available for them.

Before you buy a gun check local ammunition availability. There has been a serious ammo shortage for months now and it does you no good to buy "the best gun for defense" if you can't get ammo for it. Once you select the gun you want, get as much ammo as you can afford right away so you know you've got it. Find someone who can help you learn to use your gun if you've never had one before. Firearms training courses are highly recommended.

Next is water and food storage. The water won't be difficult or costly but don't risk putting it off. For an entry-level goal, figure out what you would eat and drink in two months vs. what you have on hand, then work at making up the difference.

You may think your budget is too tight to do much but let's see if we can shake loose $20 or $50 a week. There are many ways of saving money if you put your mind to it:

Combine trips. Shop on the way home from work.

Question the necessity of every item you put in the shopping cart.

Look for store brands and other bargains.

No more Saturday/Sunday shopping trips.
The less time you have to spend money the better.

Eat a low-budget breakfast. Oatmeal is really cheap and healthy.

Make your own coffee for the day. Instant works.
(Or go off of coffee. It's a drug dependency.)

Plan dinner. Thaw, soak, pre-boil, throw in crock pot, etc. in the morning.
(No excuse for takeout or eating out later.)

Don't buy anything but gas at the gas station. Nothing!

Skip your mid-morning snack or eat an apple you brought from home.

Eat a simple lunch you made at home. No chips, no desserts.

Skip your mid-afternoon snack.

Cancel your magazine subscriptions and your cable TV.
(Get a part-time/volunteer evening job if your life seems suddenly empty.)

Lower you phone bill. Call when it's free. Don't call when it's not.

There are many things in your life I have no clue about so you need to do a faithful budget and look at each dollar you spend during a typical week or month. Do you wear clothes only once before washing? Do you take showers whether you need them or not? Do you do dry-cleaning more than twice a year? Do you have a bowling night, card night, give money to bums, kids, grand kids, did I say bums? Do you put money in the collection plate because your pastor said God demands it of you?

Do you spend money on a hobby? Is your hobby emergency preparedness? How about switching hobbies.

What do you NOT need to buy for your car? Don't buy it then. And don't wash it so often. Do you own your house? Do you hire people to do maintenance that you could do yourself? Do you spend gobs on your lawn? Look ahead to when the utilities quit working and the trash man hasn't come for three months. Is your great-looking lawn really so important to maintain? Let the lawn suffer now so you don't have to later.

Bottom line, set new priorities. Set a one-month savings goal and see if you can beat it.

Or maybe this survival thing isn't for you. I know, tough choice...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Getting past the paralysis

Let me implore some of you people once again to get the f#@k prepared!

If you think the president has patched things up and all will be fine now, I suppose there's no reaching you. It will be, "Boy, McClarin seems to be losing touch with the real world more and more lately, all caught up in this doomsday horseshit." Yup, you'd be right too.

But please consider: The jobless numbers keep going up, the Baltic Dry (shipping) Index keeps swirling in the toilet, local governments are beginning to close schools and lay off policemen as they see huge tax shortfalls, the commercial ARM's are set to collapse in just a few months, and the Fed has become the chief buyer of treasury notes. Dubai and the Saudis, Iran and the Russians, are all overextended from the days of $150/barrel oil and rioting is breaking out in more and more countries as the meltdown spreads. The devastation in Iceland will visit your neighborhood very soon.

It certainly doesn't help that we have an impostor in the White House that wants to see America punished and whose first military adventure (Afghanistan doesn't count, that was Bush's war) is likely to be the subjugation of our own country. But what can you do other than complain about it?

I do know one thing you can do, prepare for TEOTWAWKI. You don't need to thank me later, just do it. Find a place to tuck away some canned food. Keep adding to it. Get some water storage happening for when the grid goes down and the pumps quit working. Aim for the ability to barricade yourself indoors for two months (envision bird flu or other lethal pandemic, no human contact!).

OK, forget it. I can just see the authority figure coming up behind you as you adoringly squeeze the last can of Spaghetti-O's into place:

"What in the hell are you doing, hoarding? HOARDING!!?

"When on earth did this start? What the hell's gotten into you?

"All of a sudden you've turned into a creepy, stingy survival nut! I don't even know you! You should be ashamed of yourself sneaking around, hiding food just like a goddamned squirrel! That's not who we are!

"Have you got an assault rifle hidden under the bed too? God, please don't let me be living with a psycho gun nut who's planning on shooting the neighbors to protect his stash of Fritos and bean dip!

"Look, if you need help, we'll get help. The doctors can do amazing things these days with prescription drugs. Please let's get you some help and just stop this craziness! "

In other words, a true scrotum-shrinking moment. Better to risk death and starvation than face the certainty of annoyance, ridicule, or pity. And don't forget, we'll all look back on this period and laugh uproariously at how paranoid *some people* were, actually acting out their nutty survival fantasies while those of us more stable sagely held our course unruffled through the market correction and came out in fine shape. Yeah.

See, I think that's where the real sickness lies, the fear of others' reactions if we do something the least bit quirky. We run these parental or spousal tongue-lashing dialogues in our heads and are paralyzed into inaction. Then we tell ourselves we're wise to heed them.

Let me attest that preparedness action is actually psychologically rewarding because it addresses a real apprehension we have about the future, an apprehension that's been weighing on us because of our own inaction. This has an effect at once both liberating and empowering. You feel as if you own your future once more.

So get your canned food cache started: yummy yams, spiffy Spam, succulent soups, choice chilis. Let your palate be your guide. I know, it's not what the food storage experts recommend, but it's a start and it feels good.

And go at least visit a gun store so you can simper at the knuckle-dragger customers while you drink in the flavors of a bygone era when all men had testicles and guns. You'll be glad you did.