WHAT TO DO BEFORE THE LIGHTS GO OUT
What will you do when the lights go out and the water stops running? This is my opinion of course, that the lights will go out, I think it is inevitable given the situation our government has created, but let’s not be concerned with the cause. Why should we not just be prepared to adapt to situations that might jeopardize our families? I think we should, we buy insurance, we have locks on the doors, we follow most of the rules of the road, most of the time, why not prepare for situations where we don’t have modern conveniences?
People talk about “survival” and “prepping” and things like that, but I look at the subject in terms of a lifestyle change. Let’s face it, we’ve lost most of the really good knowledge from our grandparents, such as gardening, composting, saving seeds, canning, planning for future seasons, even harvesting water. We expect our infrastructure to deliver these things. We expect that trucks will bring food for us to buy, and that we’ll have the income to buy them, and that the water will always be running, in fact, we don’t give it a second thought, most of us anyway.
One of the key pieces in this article that I really don’t discuss, is getting your immediate neighbors involved in their own efforts to undertake their own lifestyle changes of the kind I describe here. If you are the only one who is prepared in your neighborhood, you might become a target, It’s kind of like being able to save a drowning victim, but the victim nearly drowns you while trying to save his life. It is very important to have a community, ideally of about 150 families, from which you can get and give support.
I’m going to describe some methods and name some products that I have discovered through my own research. I believe that preparing or undergoing this lifestyle change as I call it, does not require you to buy tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment. While I name some brands here, I don’t make any money if you buy any of these products, I’m just naming them because I like them and have found them to be the most useful.
Water is your most important and immediate need if the water stops flowing. You at least need some stored water, and for that, you need to know how much water you use, per person, per day, right now. Once you determine this, then you need to calculate a reduced amount based upon what you could live with, comfortably (again, not a survival mode, per se). Survivalists will tell you that people need about 3 gallons of water per day. I think we each use more than 300 per day, so make your plans based upon 30 gallons per person, per day and you should be easily able to make this adaptation.
You at least need to filter water, but you also need to store some as you filter it. You should be able to start with a few days of stored water that you have already set aside, 100 gallons for each person. A family of four should have 400 – 500 gallons already stored. The easiest way to do this is using rain barrels that are designed for this purpose. You can buy them online or have them delivered to a local retailer for purchase. A normal price is about $80 each, but I’ve seen people get them for free from companies that normally discard them, so shop around. You want food-grade barrels.
The water you store should be ready for drinking and it will help to have a way to empty out the water using a spigot or other mechanism so you avoid scooping out water by hand. The barrels should be elevated in a shaded or enclosed area, out of the sun. Obviously, there are other ways of doing this, I’m just giving you one way, you can build on it.
Of course a well may be your best way to get clean water, just be sure it can be pumped manually and by a solar PV / battery type system.
You need to be able to filter water from any source and replenish the barrels. You can use additional barrels to catch the water from the gutter system on your roof. If you don’t have one, you should get one as soon as you can.
I recommend one filter that produces 4,750 gallons of filtered water in batches of 12 liters, for $140, http://lifestraw.com/products/lifestraw-mission/
This is another way to store water, in mylar lined boxes, and you will need a way to purify the water, using non-toxic chemicals. Here is the source, https://www.buyemergencyfoods.com/collections/water-storage-and-filtration-systems
You want water purification tablets such as https://www.amazon.com/Quake-Kare-2GQK-Purification-Tablets/dp/B0007VSLK8, this is just one example of tablets.
I prefer using iodine and a brand of black mica known as Adya Clarity®, https://www.amazon.com/AC32OZ-Clarity-Ounce-Mineral-Solution/dp/B002UCWDY2. You can research online to determine which of these will work better for you. You can also use chlorine because it does evaporate, so you just have to understand how to use these to make purified drinking water.
Learn about how to create a water or rain catchment system for your home as you need a way to collect water and then filter it. That is the easy part, as you should eventually discover ways to filter “gray water” to conserve what you have. Sometimes you don’t have to be that conservative if there is enough rainfall in your area.
You may also want to build your own bio-sand filter, many of the components can be purchased at your local hardware store. The benefit of doing this is that you can filter any type of water without a pump, as this is a gravity fed filter. Here is more information: http://biosandfilters.info/
Most of us need food in order to stay alive. If the trucks stop delivering food to the stores, you will need enough stored to sustain yourself and your family for a period of time. I’m suggesting that you have a minimum of 90 days’ worth of food in storage, and that you normally use this food, in date order, and replenish it along with your groceries. In other words, don’t just buy the survival foods and keep them in the basement and forget about it. Store food that you will use such as; beans, rice, oats, flour, salt, sugar (e.g. Turbinado), olive oil, canned goods, oats, grains, dried fruits, nuts, 100% fruit juices (no “drink” juices), honey, un-sulfured black strap molasses, pure maple syrup (Grade B), coffee, tea and even some whiskey and wine, and some hard candy.
Also consider a wider range of spices, at least for nutrition, if not for taste and exchanging with your neighbors.
The reason I suggest 90 days as a minimum is because that is about how long it takes to grow potatoes and most other vegetables. You will need the ability to grow at least half of the food you need to eat on a regular basis, but I suggest that your objective should be to grow 80% of what you eat.
There are of course a million ways to do this, but I’m only going to share one with you. You might need a green house, or several where you live, or you might need an indoor growing tent, but for most of us, we can use an outdoor “square foot garden”. This is where you build a 4′ x 4′ garden with 1′ high borders and fill it with mulched and composted soil and plant four different types of vegetables. You might plant radishes in ¼, then tomatoes in another, and lettuce in another ¼ and then peppers in another. Research this subject to determine a gardening style that works for you.
If you’re planting from seeds, be sure you use organic, heirloom, non-hybrid seeds. These are so easy to find, you can get a whole bucket of them from www.infowars.com and it will last you the rest of this century if you save your seeds and re-plant each season.
Once you begin using your harvests, you may end up having to store some of what you do not eat or trade/share with others. For this you will need canning equipment. I’m not going to give you too much detail here, but use this website as your launching pad into the world of canning your own fruits and vegetables,
You will also want to begin planting fruit trees that are suitable for your zone. Many fruit trees can begin producing fruit to eat in about 9 months, so do some research and include these with your gardening.
You need first aid supplies and the knowledge of how and when to use them. Many, very adequate first aid kits can be purchased from your local Costco, Sam’s Club or BJ’s, or online; here are some you can visit: www.uline.com or www.rei.com.
CamphoPhenique® is also a great medicine to have in stock, along with NeoSporin®.
Most of us do not have fire proof kitchen cook ware, but many of us have gas or wood grills. You should consider getting a variety of cast iron skillets in case you have to cook or boil water over a fire. Okay, that just opened a nice big fat can of worms, so let me narrow this down for you a bit. This is kind of like augmenting your patio grill with some camping gear, if you don’t already have some. This is just one place to review what is available, http://www.lodgemfg.com/prodcat/camp-ovens-and-grills.asp. I like the pre-seasoned skilets, and I have several sizes. Here is another source, http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/3030413/
I also prefer cooking over a gasification stove, it requires no fuel to buy from the store or a supplier, I just have to go out and collect dried wood and it is 3 times as efficient as a grill or traditional campfire. You can find a really good gasification stove from www.solostove.com, I actually have one and have used it to make tea and eggs.
I recommend three ways to light the stove, or whatever you are using, a flint lighter, a gas lighter or a magnifying glass / Fresnel lens. I mention Fresnel lens because we all have one and don’t know it, and it’s among the best sources for producing heat and fire. If you remove the frame from the front of a television, you can pop out the Fresnel lens. If you see a discarded television placed for trash pick-up, you might want to retrieve the lens. There are videos on youtube that describe how to do this.
Get yourself a package of these “SE FS374 All-Weather Emergency 2-IN-1 Fire Starter & Magnesium Fuel Bar (Everything you need to start a fire!)”. You’re also going to want a large magnifying glass, I’d get a dozen of them, to start a fire during the day. You can also use a 6” x 6” Fresnel lens or something close to this size, very small. The easiest way though is just to use a gas lighter, the kind you use for lighting grills.
Money will be helpful, but you can use what you don’t need to trade with others, especially from gardening and canning. But you should really have cash on hand, preferably in a mechanical safe, and then you’re going to want some gold and silver. The kind of gold and silver you want is American Eagles and grams, and you don’t need much, I’d say about $1,000 worth of fiat cash and $1,000 worth of gold & silver. At the time of this writing, you can get a gram or even a half gram of gold for under $50 and silver for under $1. The American Silver Eagles are about $20. Where did I come up with the amount you will need? I just made it up, think about how much money you had when you left home, it was probably less than $2,000, well it was for most people, so you’ll be just fine.
If you stored up small bottles of whiskey, it can also be used for money, and so can salt and sugar. Just think it through.
You can and should stock up on paper supplies such as toilet paper and feminine napkins, along with kitchen paper products, including paper towels. I would get only paper towels and not napkins, as the paper towels can be used for everything. These need to be stored in a cool and dry place and you should probably store them with a desiccant, something that will absorb moisture. Remember that desiccants can be toxic, but you might be able to use chalk or baking soda as a substitute.
There are many videos online that explain how to store toilet paper and paper goods for the long term.
SOAP, CLEANING METHODS AND SUPPLIES
Personal hygiene is important for many reasons, but your health probably the most. I would suggest preparing to stop using shampoo and softener type products and clean yourself with an anti-bacterial bar soap, and yes, use that to clean your hair. It should be made with honey, lavender, or olive oil, anything that is anti-bacterial.
It is so much easier to buy this in bulk than make it yourself. I have bought bulk soap in loaves, but if you want to go big, buy it at a discount in blocks and get your own soap cutter to cut it into loaves and then usable bars. You want organic bar soap, made without animal fats, such as https://www.oregonsoapcompany.com/wholesale/bulk-bar-soap and http://vermontsoap.com/private-label-and-bulk-organic-soap/handmade-bar-soaps-and-soap-bricks/.
You need a way to clean surfaces without relying on store-bought or caustic chemicals. The traditional ones that people used before the eighties are the best still today. We have Murphy’s Oil Soap®, vinegar, baking soda, isopropyl alcohol, Witch Hazel®, lavender, mint, and hydrogen peroxide. We can include bleach as well.
You will also need brushes and sponges and rags.
You will need to store a few tooth brushes for each person along with razor blades and the handles needed to use them. You won’t need shaving cream, bar soap works just fine, but who am I to tell you this, you can store what you want.
You will want the widest variety of knives, but don’t start buying up everything, first look around your house and determine what you already have, you probably already have enough to be sufficient. You might need a better knife sharpener or a sharpening stone.
One of the more useful tools is binding material, such as duct tape and twine. You may want a case of duct tape and a few cases of twine and rope. Include scissors in this list, a variety of them, even shears, but scissors will also be useful in cutting twine and grooming or cutting hair.
You will also want to have a variety of and duplicates of flashlights or battery powered lighting.
You will need shovels, axes, hatchets and sharpeners for each, or at least a sharpening stone.
You will want candles, I’m recommending several cases of the 6” pillar, unscented, something like this, http://www.dlightonline.com/2×6-pillar-candles-white-36pcs-per-case-bulk-wholesale/, shop for price. You can make the use of candles around the house safer by placing them in an oil lamp fixture, or something like this.
You will want bottles, such as Mason jars (assortment of vessels) buckets and bins, a large variety and made from both non-food-grade and food-grade, including materials from metal, glass and plastic, along with lids or ways to seal them.
You’re going to need a tub or two so that you can wash clothing.
WEAPONS & AMMUNITION
I think about this with three premises, 1) plan to avoid having to use weapons for personal security and defense, 2) only have weapons that I am very familiar with using and cannot be used to harm myself very easily and 3) having to use a weapon in a confrontation with another person or group involves the other person usually bringing weapons to the scene, that I can use. I just have to take them away.
The types of weapons that should easily be available and fairly easy to achieve a decent level of skill in using include, knives, swords, nun-chucks, staff, bow & arrow, sling shots, hand guns, rifles, mace, pepper spray, brass knuckles, poison, fire and shotguns. It is important to first note which weapons are best used for close proximity and which ones can be used at a distance. I prefer those situations and those weapons that can be used at a distance.
I’m not going to recommend any brands here, there is plenty of information and training if you look for it. Just be sure you get the right ammunition and store it properly.
As a general rule, I’d recommend not storing liquid fuel, except for maybe a small amount or what you want for a generator (a generator is one of the least important things to have when the lights go out, at least if your plan is to use it for the long term). Fuel could be wood or coal, and if stored safely, I see no problem with this. I just think that storing kerosene, gasoline, methanol or other liquid fuels is very dangerous and unnecessary.
You’re going to need to make notes and send messages, so you’ll need a variety of paper and pens. You won’t need pencils unless you are home schooling because they require a pencil sharpener and erases usually. These are not necessary, and it would help to have a solar powered, or even battery powered calculator.
You’ll also need a solar powered or hand crank powered radio in case you are able to get a weather report or hear other important news. Amazon.com has some very good ones, https://www.amazon.com/Epica-Emergency-Flashlight-Smartphone-Certified/dp/B00CZDT30S and here is another source, http://www.ambientweather.com/emra.html.
TOYS, GAMES AND BICYCLES
We need recreation and entertainment, it’s part of what keeps us healthy. If the power is down, it will be useful to have several decks of cards, board games, crayons and coloring books, game pieces such as dice, Rubik’s Cube, and dominoes, etc.
Be sure each person in your family has a properly working bicycle along with the ability to repair or replace flat tires, and a repair kit (or several) with tire pump. These may be your only reliable form of transportation for a while.
It’s also a good idea to have sporting equipment, such as soccer balls, baseball, basketball, football, kick-balls, tennis balls and rackets, skateboard, frisbees, volley ball, and really good running or walking shoes. I don’t recommend all of the other equipment that usually goes along with the sports, but just the basics to stay in shape and have some recreational time.
CLOTHING & LAUNDRY
You will want a modest collection of cotton t-shirts, jeans, good walking shoes and under clothing, for men and women and children. These should be durable and easy to wash and easy to mend by hand or with a sewing machine. This leads me into the next subject, laundry.
It’s really simple, we have to wash our clothing. We have always used a tub of water with soap, that’s all you really need. You can buy manual washing machines or make your own, that’s up to you, but it really is as simple as using clean water, adding soap, oscillating and then rinsing. After your clothes are washed, hang them out to dry.
Notice how I listed this last. It is the least important aspect of these lifestyle changes, but it is important. The power grid may be working just fine, and with no interruptions, even if it is interrupted at some point, it may be restored quickly. Either way, you may want to explore the idea of producing your own energy, something like a hobby. I recommend this video by Tin Hat Ranch for starting:
Finally, you may want to practice now by having a “no power” day, at least once a month, or weekly. This is when you don’t use any electricity or running water in your home for one day, but try to live the same way you always do using the “alternate” methods.