Posts Tagged Prepping & Off The Grid Living
July 15, 2012
I was in the 3rd grade when I experience my first earth quake. It was October 17th, 1989 at 6:04 in the evening. Just about dinner time for my sister and I. We were enjoying a regular evening home with my mother while my father was just about to leave from his office job just about an hour away from our house.
I don’t quite remember exactly what we were doing the moment it hit but as soon as it did, my short lived 9 years of life changed forever. I remember my mother grabbing me and literally throwing me under our dining room table. She grabbed my kid sister (just 6 six years old) and did the same with her. After that, ever the cat lover, she scooped up both of our cats as if they were footballs and handed one to each of us girls and told us to hold on tight and stay. That’s when I remember actually feeling the shaking and hearing the noises of rattling glass and creaking walls. The entire house was shaking. My mother did not get under the table with us. Instead, she stood just 15 feet away holding up her prized grandfather clocked passed down from generations. I remember screaming and crying “MOM” “MOM” begging her to come under the table. It was the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced. Then the shaking stopped, just as suddenly as it had started. It was the Loma Prieta Earthquake, 6.9 on the Richter and 7.1 with surface waves. San Francisco, 1989.
July 14, 2012
July 12, 2012
I’m a lifelong camper/backpacker, hunter/fisherman, and was also a U.S. Army foot soldier. I’ve spent MORE than my fair-share of time in the field. Today I’m a travelling consultant, and spend months away from home.
We’ve lived-aboard boats (twice in our lives.) We’ve also full-time RV’ed in with a 5th-wheel in the past. So, we know a thing or two about packing, prepping, water conservation, etc., and I’m always interested in what other people suggest packing, especially for their emergency kits.
I’ve watched lots of YouTube videos and such and double-checked countless “packing lists” for bug out bags, get-home bags, 72-hour kits, ditch bags, and vehicle kits. Most of them are pretty darned close in their contents, but I also feel that all of them are, at the same time, way off base!
The first issue I have with most every video and article on the topic of emergency kits is that they all have a single-user mentality. Sure, each person should have and maintain their own bug-out bag, but there are situations where this isn’t practical or possible.
For us, my wife’s back injuries and surgery would prohibit her from carrying her full load. I’ve always considered myself a natural-born leader, and tried to have some excess gear in my pack to help others. But, this realization about my wife’s physical limitations changed my ENTIRE approach to bug out bags.
by: Gaye Levy
July 10, 2012
As I do each month, I would like to begin month ten with a little pep-talk on preparedness. As the recent power outages, wildfires, and storms have proven, a disaster can happen anywhere at anytime. Although FEMA, the Red Cross and local agencies are going to do their best to mobilize and help you, there are a lot of people out there that will need assistance. Wouldn’t it be better to rely on your own resources instead?
Being an optimist, I can only assume that if you made it this far, you are well on your way to being self-sufficient in an emergency. And based upon the emails that I have been receiving, I know positively that a number of you are following along each month. As with the previous months, month ten is not overly difficult but it will take some time and it will take some effort.
More specifically, this month we are going to take a break from purchasing gear and supplies. Instead we are going to focus on disaster readiness and, more specifically, earthquake preparedness and and an actual practice drill so you can anticipate what happens when you go off grid.
Oops . . . we are skipping the supplies and gear this month. Of course, if you simply must add to your gear this month, do an inventory to insure that you have the following items:
In addition to regular use around the house or on a camping trip, these items will help you dig your way out of a disaster and are a solid investment in your ability to cope when the big one this.
Become earthquake ready by taking steps to secure appliances, shelves, cabinets and drawers to prevent them from falling and/or opening during a tremor.
Imagine your house with no electricity. Better yet, shut off the power for 4 to 24 hours and try to live off-grid.
Steps to Prepare for an Earthquake
- Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person’s bed.
- Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs.
- Bolt bookcases, china cabinets and other tall furniture to wall studs.
- Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit.
- Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets. Large or heavy items should be closest to the floor.
- Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
- Keep and maintain an emergency supplies kit in an easy-to-access location.
Have you decided to take the Survival Mom Family Camping Challenge? If so, you might find this list interesting and helpful. How many of these skills do you already have? Which do other family members have and which will you need to learn?
Keep in mind that these skills aren’t just limited to camping. They are basic survival skills as well, which might come in handy someday if you or your children are lost or need to evacuate to a rural area.
- Cook over an open fire
- Know multiple ways to start a fire
- Know how to safely put out a fire
- Store food safely outdoors
- Cook on a camp stove
- Learn how to tie a reef knot, bowline, sheet bend, clove-hitch knot and when to use them
- Correctly sharpen a knife
- Safely use both a knife and a hatchet
- Identify edible wild plants and use them in recipes
- Take a wilderness survival course
- Learn to hunt both small and large game
- Choose the best spot for a campsite
by: Gaye Levy
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Anyone who has gone camping overnight knows that there is a certain magic involved when sitting by a campfire or camp stove, sharing fish tales and roasting marshmallows over the flickering flames. The whole idea of being off-grid for a few days is embraced as a big adventure and something to look forward to as way to disconnect from our busy lives and the digital world.
Alas, as fun as a camping trip can be, the adventure could get tiresome if not downright frightening if you were forced to camp due to either a short-term power disruption, or the longer-term side effect of a major disaster of calamitous proportions.
Think about it. We depend on power for the most mundane things. Lights, heat, cooking, laundry, basic hygiene and, of course, let us not forget about computer and internet access, are all driven by the power grid. Unless you are lucky enough to own a generator (and even then you need fuel – lots and lots of fuel), when the grid goes down, so does life as you know it.
So what is it like to go off-grid?
A couple of weeks ago Todd, the prepper guru at the Prepper Website, got a taste of the off-grid lifestyle for himself. And no surprise, things did not quite go as planned. He shared the following with me.
Lessons Learned Off-Grid
Last week, my dad and I spent three days at his property in East Texas to clean up and prepare for a future foundation for a structure that we would like to place on site. We’ve been wanting to go for a while now (when it was cooler), but we were waiting for the well to be finished up. The property is totally off-grid, with no electricity, propane and even the well needs the generator because the pump is so deep, so I knew that there would be some lessons learned as these city folk spent three days out roughin’ it!
Lesson: I over estimated my physical ability to work out in the heat. I’m not a wuss. I work hard and I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty. But most of my day, nowadays, is spent inside in the AC. The heat just drains you and I was constantly thirsty!
On the way up to the property, I was looking forward to stopping at Whataburger (only in TX I think) to have a big hamburger before getting to the property and eating “camp” food. Dad wasn’t hungry, so I told him not to bother stopping. As soon as we arrived, we started unloading the tractor, clearing a path for the truck and trailer and setting up the tent and shade cover. By the time I knew it, it was late and I had lost my appetite. I was thirsty though. It seemed like I couldn’t quench my thirst. I had water and Gatorade, but I was always thirsty. I did monitor myself and my dad. I made sure we were drinking, using the restroom, sweating, etc… So we weren’t in danger, but it was hot.
I wasn’t as sore as I thought I would be afterwards, but the heat did take a lot out of me. I weighed myself at home, even after eating a hamburger on the way back home, and I lost 5 pounds! I’m sure it was all water and I’ll gain it all back!
After the generator was started and hooked up to the well, I had all the cool water I wanted. But this situation did cause me to reflect on the fact of “what if” I had to bug-out and the water I had in my BOB ran out. You can only carry so much water. In hot climates, this needs to be really thought out!
One of the items that we both thought were invaluable were those neckties that cool you when you soak them for five minutes. I have purchased one for each member of my family off of eBay, but the two that I had with us were from Walmart. I found them in the sporting section for under $4. We used them constantly.
Lesson: I forgot some important items. I feel like I’m a pretty organized person. I also have a pretty good memory. But there was so much that I was trying to remember that I forgot some important items. I don’t usually have to make lists, but I can see how they insure that you don’t forget important items.
I forgot my camp stove, sun screen and table. The table wasn’t a big deal. Dad had one that we could take up there, although it was a lot smaller than what we needed. For the rest of the items, we stopped at Walmart. I hated to buy another camp stove, but that’s what we were using to heat up water, etc… I could have made a fire, but I’m glad that I didn’t go that route. When you’re tired and hot, spending the extra time and effort to build a fire isn’t what you want to do unless you absolutely have to.
There is always going to be items that you forget, making an effort to minimize your forgetfulness is very important.
Side note – the Sporting Goods section in small town Wal-Mart’s suck compared to those found in the “big city.” The Sporting Goods section was about 1/3 the size of the one that I’m used to.
Lesson: Things broke and didn’t work. My sunglasses, bic lighter and generator broke or didn’t work as I thought. I’m bad with sunglasses. Actually, I never take my sunglasses out of my truck. They stay clipped to my visor when I’m not driving.
But the sun was so bright that I thought I should wear them. I don’t know how it happened, but somewhere along the line they broke. I can still wear them, but nevertheless, sunglasses are important for eye protection and eventually, the small crack that developed will give way and I won’t be able to use them.
The thing that freaked me out was the lighter that was fairly brand new, didn’t work. The wheel was bent and wouldn’t strike the flint. Thank goodness I had backups.
I lit the stove with my Primus Fire Steel. If that didn’t work, I had the fire steel on my Gerber fixed blade sheath and also the fire steel on my paracord bracelet. I could have ultimately used the flint in the lighter and the car lighter too.
Lastly, the generator didn’t work just as I thought. This is my first generator. Weneed it to run the pump on the well. I don’t like this, so I’m working on a way to make sure we can have water, even if we don’t have gasoline. But I digress… I purchased the generator the week before and left it in the box. I assembled it on site (wheels and handles) and started it. It wouldn’t stay on! I pulled the string, checked all that I knew, but it still wouldn’t stay on. I breezed through the manual, looked at the troubleshooting section and still no luck. After about an hour, I figured it out. Basically, it was not enough oil. The automatic shut-off was not allowing the generator to get going due to the lack of it. At the store, the salesman sold me a bottle with enough oil for two changes. So, with that information, I put in half of the bottle, right? It wasn’t enough! After putting in more, it was fine.
I should have assembled the generator at home and gave it a test run first before I really needed it. If the generator wouldn’t have run, we would have had a rough time.
The equipment not working didn’t lead us to tragedies or anything, but it still speaks to the need for redundancy and to the fact of making sure your equipment is in working order BEFORE you need it!
Lesson: The items that I counted on the most. I had multiple knives with me. However, my Kershaw Shallot knife was the only one that I used…and did I use it. I love that knife.
The other thing that we used a lot and could have used more was rope. We used a lot to put up our big shade cover. Because we only had a limited supply, we couldn’t string the cover all the way to the next tree like we wanted to. It still worked for us. But the lesson is that you can never have enough cordage!
In conclusion, I love it out in the country! We are already planning to go back up there again in the next week or two. I will take all these lessons into consideration as I start planning the next trip. But I’m sure that the next trip will have more lessons to learn. And that’s the beauty of it all, learning and growing and making adjustments as we move forward.
Never say never when it comes to being prepared.
Now I know what you are saying. “I already know that stuff . . . that would never happen to me.” Well think again. In Todd’s case, he had time to do advance planning. He is an experienced prepper and a smart guy. Yet in this – what turned out to be a good practice run – he learned that he had some shortcomings.
Unlike Todd’s recent experience, in the case of a real emergency, you would have no time to plan while in the moment. Instead, you will be in a “what you see is what you get” situation. To help mitigate the lessons you will learn in the field, I would like to summarize six things you can do to prepare for going off-grid.
Six Ways to Prepare for Going Off-Grid
1. Stay in good physical shape. Life in the rough is more difficult that life on the sofa. You will more likely than not be walking with a pack, carrying water, chopping wood and performing other strenuous activities. The best way to prepare for this is to get in shape now.
2. Plan on water for drinking – and lots of it. Make sure that you acquire some way to purify water in the field plus make sure you have some way to carry the water whether it be it bottle or aportable bladder. Heat will be your enemy in this regard, so be prepared or you will go down like a flash from dehydration.
3. Think about the gear you will need and start acquiring it now. There will be no Santa Claus to deliver gear to you when the grid goes down, and if there are stores open (unlikely) they may not have what you need. And just as important, keep your gear together in a central location – you are less likely to forget about it if it is all located in one place.
4. Redundancy is your friend. Sure, it is great to use a lighter or matches to start a fire. But also have a flint and steel as well. The same thing applies to lighting (candles, lanterns and chemical lighting), knives and other items.
5. Practice in advance. Go camping and enjoy a family weekend in the wilderness. Learn how to use your stuff before your life depends upon it.
6. Make a list and check it twice or even three times. Put a checklist in your bug-out-bag and use it. I personally keep a list on the inside of my closet door – front and center where it can’t be missed.
The Final Word
Even the best of preppers can learn from real-time experience. Of the six ways to prepare for going off-grid, perhaps the most important is taking the time to drill and to practice in advance. Hone your craft and have fun doing it. And as always, hope you never have to use your off-grid skills for more than just a day or two.
Read other articles by Gaye Levy here.
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by: Michael Snyder
July 3, 2012
Sometimes we all get a little reminder of just how completely and totally dependent we are on the power grid. Massive thunderstorms that ripped through Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia left millions without power over the weekend. At this point it is being projected that some people may not get power back until the end of the week.
The “super derecho” storm that pounded the Washington D.C. area on Friday night with hurricane-force winds is being called unprecedented.
But the truth is that there are other events that could happen that would be far more damaging to our power grid. For example, a substantial EMP burst over a major U.S. city would fry virtually all of the electronics in the city and take the power grid in the area down indefinitely. A gigantic EMP burst over the entire country (caused by a massive solar storm or a very large nuclear explosion high in the atmosphere) could theoretically take down the entire national power grid.
Just try to imagine a world where nobody has any electricity, nobody can pump gas, nobody can use their credit cards or get any more money, where most vehicles won’t start, where nobody has the Internet, where all cell phones are dead and where nobody can heat or cool their homes. That is how serious an EMP burst could potentially be. We are talking about an event that could be millions of times worse than 9/11.
Let’s review some of the damage that this “super derecho” storm caused to the D.C. area….
- Thousands of businesses have been forced to close temporarily because they cannot operate without electricity.
- Many federal agencies were closed on Monday because there was no power.
- Many 911 call centers throughout Northern Virginia were down over the weekend and could not respond to emergencies.
- Without electricity, many families have not been able to cook warm meals.
- Without warm water, many families have not been able to take hot showers.
- A “boil water advisory” was put into effect for several areas of northern Virginia.
- Many families that still do not have power are in danger of losing much of thefood in their refrigerators and freezers.
- Many gas stations were not able to operate because of a lack of electricity and so this has made filling up the gas tank a major hassle for many families.
- Hundreds of traffic lights are still out and this is making commuting a major problem in some areas.
- Without air conditioning many families are absolutely sweltering as high temperatures remain well above 90 degrees.
- During the power outage some people have been without cell phone service because many cell phone towers were inoperable.
- Without electricity, thousands upon thousands of people have not been able to use their computers for several days and this is causing a lot of frustration.
- Several major websites were totally knocked offline by the storms as Robert McMillan of Wired Magazine explained….
Hurricane-like storms knocked an Amazon data center in Ashburn, Virginia, offline last night, and a chunk of the internet felt it. The six-hour incident temporarily cut off a number of popular internet services, including Netflix, Pinterest, Heroku, and Instagram.
by: George Ure and Gaye Levy
July 1st, 2012
Both George and Gaye get a lot of email from people who seem to understand that one of the downsides to prepping is that you can become a target for all kinds of problems if – or when – times get bad. Recently, George wrote a column based on some reader comments which were very much on point. We thought it would be worth your time to review.
Today George shares his thoughts on caching your stuff – and avoiding becoming a target.
Readers frequently ask – in these periods of “calm before the storm” things like “Where should I hide my food, money, or medicines in order to ensure that I will not be ‘caught out’ (to use a sailing term) should the winds of change suddenly blow up?”
I have been preparing for a financial crisis for sometime now (not very well, sometimes) and have some ideas I thought I would share for hiding cash and that one gold coin of yours at home.
I am in the process of making more room in the bedroom and decided to build a couple of bookcases between the studs along one wall. The bottom shelf looks solid but is actually sitting on two blocks of wood screwed to the studs. In between is plenty of room for cash and coins. Also, I have an unfinished (as yet) basement, and will be taking a length of PVC pipe and some fittings and attaching them under the main floor to look as if they are part of the plumbing system.
Sunday, July 01, 2012
by Mike Adams
Editor of NaturalNews.com
[NaturalNews] In the wake of violent storms, the power remains out today for millions of Americans across several U.S. states. Governors of Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio have declared a state of emergency. Over a dozen people are now confirmed dead, and millions are sweltering in blistering temperatures while having no air conditioning or refrigeration. As their frozen foods melt into processed goo, they’re waking up to a few lessons that we would all be wise to remember.
See some shocking photos of recent weather events, including a trampoline strung over power lines at:
Here are 10 hard lessons we’re all learning (or re-learning, as the case may be) as we watch this situation unfold:
#1) The power grid is ridiculously vulnerable to disruptions and failure
All it takes is Mother Nature unleashing a little wind storm, and entire human cities are cut off from their power grid. Wind and trees, in other words, can destroy in seconds what takes humans years to construct.
#2) Without electricity, acquiring food and water in a major U.S. city can become a difficult task
Right now, masses of people across the Eastern U.S. are scrambling to try to find food and water. Fortunately for them, malls and gas stations are open, providing (processed) food, water and air conditioning. That’s because the power outages are fragmented, affecting some neighborhoods but not others.
In a total grid down scenario, food and water supplies in a given U.S. city will disappear almost overnight. It’s much the same for gasoline, batteries and even ammunition. All these supplies (and many more) will simply be stripped from the shelves.
#3) Most people are simply not prepared and therefore worsen any crisis
The average American citizen practices zero preparedness. They are 100% dependent on the power grid, the city water supply, and long-distance food deliveries to their grocery store. They have no backup plans, no stored food, no emergency mindset and no hope of surviving a real crisis. All they know to do is call 911 when something goes wrong… and 911 simply won’t be there.
As a result, their lack of preparedness worsens any crisis. Instead of being part of the solution, these people become a burden on all the emergency services and supplies desperately needed across the region.
Hilariously, today’s city goers actually consider malls and movie theaters to be places of refuge. As Fox News reported today, “On Saturday, many people flocked to places like malls and movie theaters in the hope the lights would be on again when they returned home.” (http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/07/01/millions-without-power-brace-for…)
#4) Cell phones are a fragile technology that can’t be counted on in an emergency
One of the more interesting observations about the current crisis is that many cell phone towers are out of service. That’s because they have no electricity and / or they have been damaged by wind or debris.
As a result, people who depend on cell phones for their lifeline to friends, relatives and 911 emergency services were suddenly left with non-functioning devices. Even in areas where cell phone towers were still operating, many people had no place to charge their phones because their own homes were cut off from electricity.
When the grid is up, and there are no storms, solar flares or disruptions, cell phones are truly amazing devices, but they are vulnerable to even small-scale natural events, and they therefore cannot be relied on when you need them most.
#5) The internet is wildly vulnerable to natural disasters
According to news reports, these storms took down a portion of the Amazon Cloud, and this in turn shut down Netflix, Pinterest and Instagram. Those services have now been restored, but they were offline for several hours during which many of their users no doubt thought the world was coming to an end.
#6) The government uses every crisis to try to tell everybody what to do
Consider this quote about the CDC telling people what to do:
“The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention was among many government agencies trying to keep people informed — from knowing when the food in your suddenly inoperable freezer can’t be eaten to taking a cool bath if you don’t have AC.” (http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/30/us/extreme-heat/index.html)
Seriously? Does the government have to tell people to take a cool bath in order to avoid overheating? Do people not know when food has spoiled? And even more strangely, is it now the role of the U.S. government to tell everybody what to do in every emergency?
Whatever happened to common sense? I can tell you what: It moved out to the country.
Out in the country of Texas, Georgia, Kentucky and just about everywhere else, ranchers and farmers still have common sense. They know about backup water supplies, and they can figure things out for themselves. It seems to be city people who need the most instructions from Washington D.C. because many of them have forgotten the fundamental skills of human survival. Their lives depend entirely on the grid.
#7) 911 and other emergency services are quickly overwhelmed
According to MSNBC:
In Washington’s northern Virginia suburbs, emergency 911 call centers were out of service; residents were told to call local police and fire departments. Huge trees toppled across streets in the nation’s capital, crumpling cars. Cellphone and Internet service was spotty, gas stations shut down and residents were urged to conserve water.
Fortunately, there have so far been no reports of outbreaks of violence or social unrest. But that’s a timing issue: If the power stays off for another few days, and food and water remain hard to come by, the “politeness” of society quickly erodes and you end up with desperate people doing desperate things. Calling 911 is, of course, completely useless. This is a scenario where home defense and self defense skills can truly be lifesaving.