Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Emergency Preparedness - Security

Today we are going to talk about the singular most important aspect of "prepping."  The one thing that, if forgotten, will surely spell your doom as quickly as if you'd never started. 


The first rule about prepping is that you don't talk about prepping!  Then 2nd rule of prepping is that you don't talk about prepping!  Generally speaking, you don't want the grasshoppers knowing that you, the ant, have been stockpiling food, water, fuel, etc., for a rainy day.  I say generally because there is one exception to this rule that we will touch on in a minute. 

Human beings are not born to be polite and civil creatures.  It's just simply not in our nature.  If left to our own devices in a lawless, free-for-all, environment, the "average" person would revert to base savagery in a very short period of time.  Most people who walk amongst us on a daily basis, maybe even some you know personally, are nothing more than hungry wolves who ravenously eyeball all of the sheep around them and would otherwise devoure them if it weren't for the very thin veil of civility that our modern society has cast over it. 

That veil consists of law enforcement, the courts, and basic societal niceities that tend to keep people docile when times are good.  But thrust that person into a post-SHTF scenario where food, water, and shelter are scare and police and the military are too preoccupied protecting critical infrastructure and our precious "leaders" to worry about saving actual lives, and some people WILL lose their damn minds and start giving in to those otherwise hidden desires.  And a hungry, thirsty or cold person with nothing to lose, is a very dangerous adversary. 

So as you prepare yourself for "come what may," remember your OPSEC (Operational Security).  Loose lips sink preps!  If you blab to every neighbor you've got that you have enough emergency supplies to sustain you and your family for "x-amount" of time, the first place they are coming to is your house.  Are you prepared to shoot your neighbor in the face to protect your supplies?  Food and water and medicine that you stockpiled to save YOUR family?  While Mr. Grasshopper went on vacation every other month, bought big TVs and sportcars, you were skrimping and saving every penny in order fit your supplies into your already small budget.  Are you going to allow this tool to jeopardize everything you've worked so hard for? 

I wouldn't.  I'd firmly tell Mr. Grasshopper to bug off and if he didn't, then, well... let's say my dog would have a new source of meat for a while.  No one is going to steal my supplies while I'm breathing.  No one. 

So let's avoid this moral dilema and just don't talk to anyone outside of your circle about your preps, okay? 

And this brings me to the one exception!  The only people you should be talking about your preps to is your Mutual Defense Group, Neighborhood Defense Group...whatever you want to call your group...that's the only people you should be spilling the dry beans to about your preps. 

So to review, the first rule of prepping is security.  The first rule of security is keeping your mouth shut.  Very easy to remember, right?

The next part of security is your shelter.  As I've said before, a suburban home is not built to be a bunker.  The materials the average house is made out of (wood, stucco, plywood, insulation, etc.) is not bulletproof.  I've contemplated building a mock up of a standard interior and exterior wall of a standard suburban home and then making a video of  me shooting it with regular pistol and rifle bullets to visually demonstrate this for you all.  Luckily for me, someone with far more time on his hands already did that -  Also, someone tested cinderblock....another common building material -

So if you think your home is impenetrable...think again.  There are some after market materials that are readily available to homeowners that WILL make your house resistant to small arms fire - and   However, these items are very, very expensive.  If you are a prepper on a budget, these items may be too far outside of your price range. 

So let's think low cost options, shall we?  How can you make your home as safe and secure as possible while not taking out a 2nd mortgage?  There are few methods we can explore.  They are:

Hiding in Plain Sight

The Home Depot Method

The Earth Mover Method

Now, these are completely 100% made up terms by yours truly.  To my knowledge, no one else calls these methods by these names.  But I like to simplfy here we go. 

Hiding in Plain Sight: 

This method of urban concealment relies on the principles of blending into your surroundings.  For instance, if you chose to stay in your home, condo, or apartment, you'd want to make your shelter look as uninviting as humanly possible.  How?  Well.  You can throw all your junk on the lawn, break some windows, spray paint it with a big orange "X" on the door (during times of martial law or "round ups," the search parties will mark each house as they clear it.  This "X" may lead potential looters or vilians to believe that your house has been picked clean already and they'll move onto the next one down the line), generally mess the place up a bit to create the illusion that your house is not worth the time it would take to search it.  You could even spray some black paint up the walls out of each window to make it look like the interior was gutted by fire.  I'm no Hollywood set dresser, but I'm sure I could find ways to make my house look totally jacked up if I had to. 

One man who survived an entire year in a besieged city in the Balkans tells of how all the big, pretty, houses of the wealthier inhabitants were the first to be destroyed and looted.  Only those compounds that had enough armed people inside to defend them were spared.  Basically, the more destroyed a home appeared to be (or actually was in his case) the better off the people inside were.  They were not 100% safe.  They were just slightly "better off." 

The Home Depot Method:

This method abandons the principle of hiding in plain sight and skips to the principle of making your house look like too much of a hassle to try to enter.  As mentioned above, if you're going to go this route, make sure you have strength in numbers.  The more guns and people you have inside who know how to use them, the "better off" you're going to be.  The Home Depot Method employs means of fortifying your home with every day materials that you can find at any home improvement store.  From big sheets of plywood over the windows and doors, to building boxes on the inside of your doors and windows that cannot be seen from outside.  This method is so free form that you are literally only hindered by your imagination.  But remember, you're going to stick out like a sore thumb and these materials may only be good for "slowing down" your attackers long enough for you get out of dodge! 

The Earth Mover Method:

This method expands upon the fortifications started by The Home Depot Method by using earth, or dirt, as a barrier.  As little as 12-inches of regular old dirt will stop a 5.56mm x 45 round (the most common type of bullet in America) from penetrating into your shelter -
You can buy sandbags, boxes, whatever you need to use to hold the dirt.  Or, simply shovel it up against your walls to just under the windows (so you'll have something to duck under) and pack it down.  You can also use logs, timber, etc. to build your fortifications.  I know it sounds crazy, but if it's not crazy.  And I'm assuming that if you've decided to shelter in place and stick it out, you're prepared to do just about anything to survive.  If you're going to fend off multiple attacks from would be bad guys, you will want to go "all out" and fortify your shelter as much as possible! 

You can also use a combination of all three methods.  Again, it's free form, so no idea is bad.  If it stops a bullet and keeps you safe at night, then it's worth the time to do it. 

If the situation progresses from days to weeks to months, then your security measures may also evolve over that period of time. 

The best plans are made in advance.  With security there is definitely strength in numbers and any time you have to fight it's always best to have the home field advantage!  My advice right now would be to start a Neighborhood Defense Group.  Enlist as many of your neighbors as you can.  All of you begin prepping together.  Share the load.  Divide the responsibilites.  Get everyone going at the same speed. 

That way, when S does HTF, you've got a major leg up on the Grasshoppers!  I take great comfort knowing that my rifle is sighted in for 300 meters and I have a nice unobstructed view up my street from my upstairs windows.  Any looters coming for me and my neighbors better be fast and well protected. 

Well, that's all for now.  Please feel free to leave any questions, comments, critiques, etc. in the comments section!  Remember, no one has ALL of the answers.  My goal is to simply plant the seeds and let you water them. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Emergency Prepardeness - Getting Started

A great question was posed to me by a friend who I sent a quick emergency supply "check list" to the other day. 

"Where do I put everything?!"

Space for your supplies is a very important consideration!  You can only stockpile what you've got room for, right?  I mean, none of us have a 3,000 square foot underground bunker, do we?  In California, most of us don't even have a basement or an attic.  Keeping your supplies in an off-site public storage place is not realistic. 

So what do we do to make room?

I've seen people get pretty creative with ways of finding storage space for their supplies.  From making "secret" compartments under their floor boards to buying a steel shed for the back yard, the possibilites are endless. 

I've installed cabinets in my garage and overhead hanging storage racks.  The storage racks are readily available at Lowe's or Home Depot, cost between thirty and a few hundred dollars, and are pretty easy to install yourself with a stud finder and a drill driver.  The best thing about these racks is that they create space where none was before.  And they can hold from a couple hundred pounds on up!  See link

Granted, in an earthquake they may fall down, but yet the whole house may fall down, so why let that stop you?  Store items overhead that are relatively bulky but unbreakable and you should be okay.

Aside from creating storage out of thin air, consider you supplies in general  For instance, if storing 300 gallons of water in 1-gallon jugs is not possible, try a 300-gallon tank instead.  Its foot print is much smaller than 50 cases of water!  If you can't fit a 300-gallon tank in your garage, try the Water Bob.  The Water Bob is a 100-gallon, food grade, plastic reservoir that you can keep under your bathroom sink and fill up in case of an emergency.  You can buy direct from the manufacturer or any online store such as Amazon.  See link;jsessionid=A5966BCE451BB93834E3C32606EDD99A

Perhaps you don't have a bathtub.  Maybe you live in a small condo with just a shower stall.  You can always buy a ceramic filter kit and a couple 5-gallon buckets and use those to filter water as you need it!  In an emergency, you can use your condo complex's swimming pool(s) and filter that water!  See link for an example

Almost all every day items can be found in small or compact sizes.  And remember, packaging takes up a ton of space as well.  Remove items from their bulky boxes can containers.  I'm sure if you look hard enough you can find some pretty ingenius ways to store your supplies. 

There are organizers that hang off the backs of your closet or bedroom doors that you can use to hang canned goods.  How much space is wasted under your beds with junk only the dust bunnies ever use?  Do you have a small crawl space in your attic?  Maybe you can throw down some plywood over the rafters and use that space as storage?  Even things like MRE's can be broken down (we called it "field stripping" in the Marines) by opening each pouch, removing the stiff cardboard packaging, and folding the soft pouches in half.  You can put double the amount of MRE's in the box that 12 initially came in. 

If you have a pretty decent sized backyard you can put a shed outside to store your cooking gear and other bulky items.  Voids under stairs and "junk drawers" are easily repurposed for storing more essential items than old bills and throw pillows. 

The point is, I'm sure if you really start to look, you'll identify many wasted square feet in your humble abode that can be cleared out and used to store your life saving emergency supplies.  Consider cleaning out the boxes of old DVDs, books, TV sets, winter clothes, old shoes, and all the other stuff we tend to hang onto without realizing it and put THAT stuff into a small public storage unit.  If an earthquake hits, you're not going to miss your DVD box sets, snow boots, childhood little league trophies, etc. 

Once you clear out and set up your storage areas you can begin filling them up again with food, water, and other essential supplies and equipment! 

I hope this was helpful to all of you who previously thought you had no room for prepping! 

Please feel free to leave all questions or comments in the comments section below!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Emergency Preparedness 101

The content of my blog is going to change from nothing… to giving advice about how to prepare yourself and your family to survive a natural or man-made disaster.   I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from my Facebook posts about common sense ways to be prepared for earthquakes, power outages, food shortages, etc.  After much consideration I've decided to listen to those voices and expand those quick posts into something more comprehensive. 

I’m compelled to do this because I read many expert opinions on the subject and they all have the same three pieces of advice. 

1.)    Leave your house and go to the woods or mountains.

2.)    Create a massive secret cache of supplies in said woods or mountains.

3.)    Build a nuclear bomb proof shelter buried deep under said woods or mountains.

This “advice” is good only to those who can afford to build a massive underground bunker complex, stockpile 25-30 year’s worth of food and water, and who already live in the woods or mountains.  For us regular people, this is just not practical or realistic. 

I’ve been told many times that I am going to die if a serious event occurs because I live in the suburbs.  Well.  Many of us do.  In California especially, the wilderness is an hour or two away by car.  If roads are shut down due to accidents or checkpoints, then no one is driving anywhere.  Your only way of getting to the woods or mountains is on foot.  And you’re left with only those supplies you can carry on your back.  Walking for four days to the spot you’re going to starve to death at just seems counterproductive to me. 

So the advice and recommendations I give will be primarily for people who live in the suburbs or cities of California.  I will take into account that you have small children.  I will take into account that your mobility may be hampered (either by ailment or just not being able to drive anywhere).  And I will take into account the fact that you will likely have to stay in your home, condo, or apartment. 

I will not be speaking of an end of days scenario.  I will not attempt to predict Marshall Law or anything like that.  What I will speak of is earthquakes, economic collapse, and water, fuel and food shortages which will likely occur in the event that a terrorist or cyber-terrorist group attacks the United State’s power grid, banking system, etc. 

I know many “experts” predict that everything is hunky-dory, a-okay, and that these things will never happen.  But keep in mind that in 2006, I attended a conference given by “experts” who predicted that the housing boom in the US would continue unabated for years because “poor people with bad credit are always going to want to buy houses.”    

And we know how that turned out.

Experts are wrong more than they are right.  Their jobs are to placate the masses using “best-case” scenarios.  Look at gold prices.  The experts told everyone to buy gold because it was going to be over $2,000 an ounce. It was a “sure thing” they said.  The safest place to put your money.  Well.  It never got to $2,000 an ounce.  Now it’s barely hovering above $1,200 an ounce.    

So I’m going to give you practical tips and tricks to help your family survive ten, 15, 30, 60 or even 90 days without electricity, water, and sanitation. 

If things are not restored after 90 days, we are facing a whole new world.  And I don’t think anyone can realistically prepare for that. 

And please, if you have a topic you would like to know more about, drop me a line in the comments section and I’ll address it in a future post!