Its easy for so-called preppers to get complacent when martial law, wartime conditions, and full-fledge police state policies are expected but have not come to fruition. Nobody particularly desires a complete societal breakdown. But completely re-embracing that former Pollyanna lifestyle will leave you with your proverbial pants down when the SHTF.
It’s not a death knell to let your guard down a little. But there are some skills, activities, and exercises that need to stay sharp no matter your perception of the situation.
Hunting & Food Supply
It was March 1, 1942 when the U.S. government commenced the Food Rationing Program for all Americans. Gasoline shortages prevented trucks from delivering food to supermarkets, while most canned goods were shipped overseas for U.S. troops to consume during the war. Victory Gardens—people growing their own food—became both patriotic and necessary. Many pundits and political scientists believe World War III has already started based on the sheer number of conflicts around the globe. It’s more important than ever to ensure your food supply is adequate in the event of sudden shortages.
Disassemble, clean and oil all your hunting firearms after every trip to the gun range. Inaccuracy or complete failure due to fouling build-up is possible otherwise. Spend at least 30 minutes every week on target practice, whether at the range or on your own property. Bow hunters need to wax the string after every session. Replace the string entirely if there is excessive fraying or loose strands, especially around the servings.
It’s important to know what type of game is abundant in your locale and how much meat you can harvest. A hunter safety course in Virginia, for instance, educates participants about rabbits, deer and even bears as potential food game. Those west of the Mississippi could snag one buffalo and have enough meat to last a year. Next time you harvest a deer or other big animal, process and butcher it yourself. This skill will come in handy when processing businesses are no longer available.
Make sure to update your in-house food supply as well. Grab a few extra cans of tuna, chicken and other meats every time you go to the supermarket. Toss out and replace any sugar, flour or other basic ingredients that have been sitting around for years. Now is also a good time to get acquainted with and practice box gardening to grow your own fruits and vegetables.
There may come a time when you run out of traditional hooks and line for your fishing poles. That is when your improvisation skills can save you from starvation.
Paper clips, soda can tabs, nails and even a wishbone from certain birds can be sharpened and used for makeshift hooks. Dental floss or even a loose thread from an article of clothing can be the line. You can make lures out of earrings or some other shiny metal that fish will think are fluttering insects. When fishing in clear waters, use a bright-colored cloth for a lure.
Practice constructing all these makeshift items and go fishing with them. It may not be as enjoyable as an afternoon fishing with your high-end reel, but it could ultimately save your life down the road.
Bug Out Maintenance
When you’re ready to head for the hill, it’s essential your bug out vehicle is ready for the trip. Take it for a drive a least once every month and listen for any unusual noises or vibrations. All bug out vehicles should have at least two five gallon cans of gasoline in them, treated with a fuel stabilizer. The fuel tank should be full at all times, but make certain to drive it enough so the gas isn’t sitting in the tanks for more than six months. Test your extra battery’s voltage and charge as necessary.
Make sure that your final bug out location is off the grid and off the map so that others will be unable to locate you. A shelter is a must when it comes to survival, so be prepared and prep a custom bunker for you and your family.
Survivalists can live a fairly normal life and still be prepared for the worst as long they keep essential skills and equipment sharp (literally and figuratively). The saying goes “the revolution will not be televised.” The imminent SHTF scenario will not be announced either.
The good thing about prepping is that it’s less important why you do it. Rather, it’s more about how.Planning ahead is always wise, whether you’re expecting the End of Times, a zombie apocalypse, some degree of political turmoil, or just a big snowstorm heading your way that might knock out power for a few days.Whatever the case, it’s all about being ready for whatever comes your way, although some longtime experts say that can never quite be prepared enough. But hopefully, before the zombies come a’ knockin’, you have enough time to gain new knowledge, like maybe taking a prepping class at a local college, community center, or from your peers in prepping communities.
- Health: If hospitals, insurance and drug stores aren’t available when things go bad, people will benefit from basic first aid skills, like knowledge on how to stop bleeding or how to reduce a fever. Your local firefighters may offer basic lifesaving classes, along with the American Red Cross, which offers classes in person or online. There are also special programs for instructors who can learn effective ways to teach others. Specific videos online, such as tutorials from The Prepper Journal cover everything from burn care to winter survival.
- Firearms: Just about all the prepper literature out there recommends owning and using some sort of gun, which can be handy for property defense or food gathering. If you don’t yet know how to shoot, the Doomsday News blog suggests getting some pointers from a local expert or signing up for an NRA-certified program which can teach firearm safety, aiming, and how to handle, store and clean different guns. The blog recommends starting with a .22, which is easy to learn and practice with, followed by a shotgun.
- Firearm repair: Related to proficiency with firearms is the knowledge of how to repair them, since a well-maintained gun could be critical to your family’s well-being. If you have these skills, it could also be helpful as an additional source of revenue and usefulness if you can repair other people’s firearms for them. There are a variety of accredited online programs, like the gunsmith career diploma from Penn Foster, that can share knowledge of the different types of assembly for typical guns.
- Food: If you’re able to grow your own food or hunt your own game, you still need to do something with it, so skills like preserving game can be handy. A county extension program through a local college or meat shop will likely offer classes in basic butchering, dressing and preserving. If you’re interested in a garden, the Happy Preppers site recommends using heirloom/open-pollinating seeds, which don’t need to be planted from year to year. These can be ordered from seed catalogs or purchased from someone who is successfully growing the fruits or vegetables you’re interested in.
- Workshops: The Internet is a good place to learn about online courses or local gatherings, since traditional media may charge a lot for advertising or may not portray preppers in a positive light. Groups like Doomsday News or The Approaching Day Peppers, for example, posts updates about organized activities to learn new techniques. Some are online only, such as the Survival Summit, which included a series of free online workshops one weekend in January. Other commercial endeavors may come to your community. Some fellow enthusiasts like gathering, even for something as organized as a Meetup. As of early February, there were 19,000 members in 184 groups nationwide that are interested in Prepper issues.
Author Info:Ronnie Blythe
Prepper, survivalist, dog lover
WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR WATER SOURCES?
According to recent data; most tap water and well water sources in the United States are no longer safe for consumption. Our ever increasing industrial and environmental pollution are credited as being the chief contributors to our nation’s water pollution. America has reached a point that all of our natural drinking water sources have become contaminated in some manner or another. This includes municipal water systems, lakes, rivers, wells and even glacier run-off. Contaminants range from man-made chemicals and by-products to naturally occurring minerals. While many of these contaminants are found at non-toxic levels (meaning they don’t cause immediate discomfort or illness); it is proven that exposure to many common contaminants will, over time, cause severe illness including liver damage, cancer and other serious ailments. Even the chemicals we use to treat our municipal water supply such as chlorine and fluoride are toxic and known to have significant adverse effects on the human body.
POOR WATER QUALITY: A GLOBAL CONCERN
Water contamination is the leading cause of death and disease worldwide. It affects over 1 billion people daily; particularly those people in developing countries. The United States is not exempt from the discomforts of water pollution although primarily caused by natural disasters and human activity. Recent studies of our nations water quality revealed that 47% of our lake acres, 45% of assessed stream miles, and 32% of assessed bays square miles were classified as polluted and unfit for drinking. Due to industrial dumping , hydraulic fracking and agricultural byproducts; a significant portion of ground water and well water sources may also be contaminated. Our contaminated water problems aren’t limited to the drinking water alone. Our food supply is also adversely effected. Plants and animals living in contaminated ecosystems in turn become contaminated and often contain heavy metals, chemicals, microbes and pharmaceutical drugs. Anyone that uses tap water will be exposed to these substances every day.
CAN WE TRUST BOTTLED WATER?
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your water is safe for drinking simply because it is packaged and sold in a fancy bottle. BOTTLED WATER SOLD IN THE UNITED STATES IS NOT ALWAYS FILTERED and is not necessarily cleaner or safer to drink than tap water. This was a sobering revelation of a 4 year study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The NRDC study included testing more than 1000 bottles of 103 brands bottled water. Although most of the tested bottled water were found to be of high quality, some brands showed significant contamination. Approximately 1/3 of the bottles tested contained contaminants including synthetic and organic chemicals, bacteria and arsenic. At least one sample exceeded allowable limits under both state and bottled water industry standards & guidelines. FACT: approximately 1/4 of all bottled water is actually bottled tap water.
WATER FILTRATION – What is the best solution?
Having a good water filter is possibly the only solution to our water problem today. Most filters can be installed and maintained without outside assistance. The best option for water filtration is a multi-stage filter system. Each stage removes certain types of contaminants and when combined should provide complete protection from just about every type of contaminant. The best and most cost effective system set-up is essentially one containing 3 stages; reverse osmosis filter combined with activated carbon filters and an ultraviolet light. A system like this will easily pay for itself in 6 months and can last 10-15 years with regular filter changes. With one simple installation you can protect the environment, provide your family with a healthier drinking water and save money on questionable bottled water purchases.
As the most widely available energy source on the planet, the sun provides a limitless opportunity to power our lives. Every minute enough energy hits the earth from the sun to create energy for the world for an entire year. This energy is free, it’s renewable and it can be harnessed to help you live a more self-reliant life style.
Why You Need Solar Power Back Up
We can all agree that the world is becoming increasingly more unstable. The weather is becoming more extreme, our economy is hanging on by a thread, and our power grid is based on old technology making it extremely vulnerable to terror attacks.
Power Grid Failure
America is facing an aging power grid infrastructure. The instability of our power grid is almost as severe as our failing economy. Most of our aging power grid components were built in China several decades ago. There have been several incidents of power grid failure that effected millions. In August of 2003 there was a great blackout that showed how fragile our power grid really is. The problem started in Ohio and within 10 seconds 50 million people were out of power. We are relying too much on technology from the 1960s and 70s; there are even electric transmission lines that actually dates back to the 1880s.
Acts of Terror
Our Power grid is also very vulnerable to acts of terror. There have been several suggested ideas about the severity of the situation that would occur if such an act took place. According to the National Academy of Sciences (which was sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security), our power grid is incredibly vulnerable to an attack which could lead to widespread blackouts for weeks or months.
Earth quakes, hurricanes, snow storms, thunderstorms and as well as massive solar storms have the power to seriously damage our electrical grid. To learn more about the effects of solar storms see our page about EMPs.
What would happen if the power grid failed?
The first thing that would happen is mass panic. People would flood the stores to stock up on goods. Most municipal water systems requires the use of electricity. Most city dwellers would be without water for an extended period of time. Gas stations rely on electric pumps and you could be unable to pump gas. Your debt card might not work, leaving you only able to use cash for your transactions. A power grid failure would challenge or shut down business commerce, communications, mass transportation and supply chains. It would be difficult for goods to be transported from the source to your local grocery store. Many people would be forced to seek refuge in a public relief center. If the power grid where down long enough, we would see similar events occur such as the following of Hurricane Katrina. Any way you would like to paint the picture makes a grim outcome.
Why choose solar as your backup?
Solar power has been around for a long time. Solar power units from the 1970’s are still around and kicking. Many solar power units greatly exceed the manufacture warranty (averaging 20 years).
Solar power is by far a smarter choice rather than a gas powered generator. Gas powered generators are of course powered by gas. If you were to assume that you would always have access to gas, you would be lying to yourself. If the gas stations can’t pump gas, if you can’t swipe your card, and if it’s not safe to leave your home, all of a sudden your gas powered generator is a giant paper weight. Gas may not always be available but the sun will keep shining.
How does a solar panel system work?
After the solar panels absorb the energy of the sun, it is then sent to a battery backup system where the energy is stored. Connected to the battery will be a charge controller. A charge controller regulates the amount of energy going into the battery to ensure the battery doesn’t become too charged. This process creates DC power. In order to run AC powered appliances, a power inverter is used to make that possible.
Living off the grid is beginning to morph into a mainstream way of living. And why not? After all it’s not just for hippies and mountain men anymore. There are so many benefits to living off the grid. Reasons to live off the grid might be to be greener, a financial decision, self-reliance, fear of instability within the grid. Whatever the reason you are considering it, it’s important to figure out the factors; the biggest of which for most would be the cost of living off the grid.
Solar Energy Cost
Solar Power is the first thing we think about when we consider living off the grid. The cost of solar power systems is decreasing all the time. 10 years ago a panel would easily cost you several thousand dollars; today panels that create a single kWh average about $660. A new panel will create about 14,000 over its lifetime. However, you can’t just buy the panels, you need a system. A system might include batteries, charge controller, power inverter, circuit breakers, disconnects and maybe even a combiner box. With that said, the average modern solar system cost about $18,000. A unit of that cost generally creates 4.5 to 5 kWh on a sunny day.
Is 5kWh enough for your family? Well according to U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average family uses about 30 kWh in a single day. Bummer. However, of you adopt the off the grid lifestyle, you don’t have to sacrifice much to live within those boundaries. You can still have a big fancy TV, Wi-Fi, and a microwave; you just have to have energy efficient versions of those things. You may only want to vacuum when it’s sunny outside for instance, or have a solar powered clothes dryer (aka a laundry line in the backyard). The bottom line is, making smarter choices can allow you to live off of solar power.
Wind Power Cost
Wind power is a great energy source if you have the winds for that. In an urban setting, you’re probably going to run into zoning restrictions of a wind turbine. It’s also suggested that your location average wind speeds of about 10mph. Wind turbines also require a generator, inverter and a tower of other small components. The average cost of a wind power system cost is $30,000.
Hydro Energy Cost
If you have a nearby creek or a river, you might can take advantage of hydroelectricity. They are extremely cost efficient, but the cost is extremely varied. You would need an expert to come out to analyze different factors in order to get you a reasonable quote. If you have a viable water source that can maintain enough power, this may be a solution for you.
Water Wells Cost
A well is a great water source that can help with your off the grid lifestyle. Average well depth is 30-200 feet. To drill a well, it usually cost about $12 per foot of soil. For materials, machinery and labor, it can cost on average $10,000. A well is a well thought out solution and will help your wellbeing.
Gray Water Disposal Cost
What is gray water? Gray water is the relatively clean waste water from sinks, laundry lines, baths and other kitchen appliances. It can be dealt with differently from its evil cousin, black water. The idea of gray water disposal is to use that reuse the relatively clean waste water and use it for things like toilets. Simple low tech solutions can be setup for $1000-$3000.
Septic Systems Cost
Septic systems aren’t just for rural living any more. A lot of people are moving towards septic systems for a number of reasons. If there is a break in a city main line sewer line it’s very possible all that icky stuff could end up coming out of your bathtubs and other drain lines. A septic system allows you to get off that system. The average cost of a septic system is $4,800.
Waterless Toilets Cost
A Waterless Composite toilet system break down human waste into a harmless end product that can then be safely recycled back to nature. They use different natural agents to break down your waste in such a way where there is no odor. These waterless toilets are becoming pretty valuable in areas where water supply is an issue. $1500 is a decent price for a waterless composite toilet system.
Geothermal Heating and Cooling System Cost
This type of heating/cooling system uses the earth to keep you home at a comfortable temperature year round. The way it works is that you bury pipes around your home and a heat exchanger multiplies the effect of temperature gradient producing quiet source of heating and cooling. These units are also used to heat your water (Not having a hot water heater can save you $500 in annual energy cost). In general you will also save around $1600 in the cost of energy used to heat/cool your home. The cost to a geothermal heating and cooling system will run you upwards of $40,000.
Propane is great for heating and cooking. A tank will on average cost about $3200. However you will need acquire the propane; refills will cost you (based on 3 refills a year) $1200. You would have to rely on getting propane from somewhere which with the uncertain future could become an issue.
Wood Stoves Cost
Wood stoves work great in the right places. A wood burning stove can cost (and install) $3700. If you have a reliable source for wood the annual cost are much cheaper. However, in cold places chopping wood could become a daily duty.
Other Additional Cost to Consider
There are energy efficient appliances, and then there are products like a 12v refrigerators and solar powered water heaters. In general, the more efficient your appliances get the more effective your energy solution will be. Other ways to ensure energy efficiency are effectively insulating your home. A properly insulating your home can save you up to 50% of your energy consumption.
Your time is another cost you will have. It takes more time to hang your clothes on the line then it would be to toss them in the dryer. You may even have to become a daily wood chopper. There will be a number of additional daily chores you will have to take on.
In order to make the off the grid lifestyle work you might have to make dramatic changes to your lifestyle.
So in short what does it cost to life an off-grid lifestyle? I will break it down further for you.
Cost of Living off the Grid
Solar Power $18,000
Wind Power $30,000
Hydro Power ???
Water Well $10,360+
Gray Water $1000 – $3000
Wood Stove $3,700
As you can see, the cost of living off the grid adds up quick!
Can you get cheaper than this? Absolutely! These are prices I found from companies and industry standard rates. I am sure with some tenacity you can get better prices. In addition to that, there all sorts of do it yourself guides. There are also other great tax rebates out there.
The federal government will credit you 30% for geothermal heat pumps, small wind turbines and solar energy systems. You can also receive an additional 10% credit for the following as long as they are energy star qualified: biomass stoves, HVAC, Insulation, Roofs, Non solar water heaters, windows and doors. In addition to the federal government tax credits, all 50 states have other tax rebate programs for high efficiency products.
Will living off the grid save you money?
During the initial startup? Probably not (especially if you go into debt trying to get there). In the long term it can absolutely save you money. If you adopt the off the grid lifestyle and become more energy efficient you can save thousands. Energy cost in the future are going to rise significantly.
Like the idea but don’t wanna marry it?
Well what if I told you could have your cake and eat it too? It’s possible to have an underground bunker that will allow you to live that off the grid lifestyle when you need it. It can be built in your very own backyard so you could retreat to it whenever you desired. Rising S Bunkers can build an underground bunker on your property that it’s totally off the grid. The bunkers (unlike your house) are built with the off the grid lifestyle in mind, so it’s actually a lot more cost efficient.