Letter Re: Discovering What We Needed in an Actual Time of Need

Hi Jim,
Two SurvivalBlog posts on Friday (Discovering What We Needed in an Actual Time of Need and Hot Water, Post-SHTF) caught my attention and got me to thinking. They were similiar in the sense of discovering “needs” during a “crisis”.  One (MM) was wanting a generator and other had a generator but still had needs.
But were they really needs?  Or just wants?  Both spoke of “keeping life as normal as possible” and maintaining their current lifestyle.  Both spoke of the psychological aspects (stress, crying and sanity) of dealing with changes to their accustomed routines and environments.  Wow, what are they going to do when the poo really hits the fan?  How are they going to cope? 

I visit most of the survival type sites on the Internet and have read almost all the post apocalypse books out there.  I have come to the conclusion that there are two types of preppers out there.  One side has what I consider to be a realistic view of how hard it is going to be and that life is not going to be “normal”.  The other side is spending outrageous amounts of money striving to maintain their current lifestyle post poo hitting the proverbial fan. 

I worked in the wilderness survival field for a bunch of years in my younger days. I was facscinated and studied the affects of taking people out of their comfort zone and plopping them into a foreign world (wilderness setting).  People are so acculturated.  It amazed me how even the slightest change to their “normal” routine or living conditions could cause stress.  The ones that could psychologically adapt to the new environment were successful.  Those that could not adapt had a tendency to stuggle a lot.  Some even became ill (?) and needed to be evacuated.  It was just too much for them. 
My best piece of advice to people is to get real.  Hot water, clean houses, clean clothes, and plenty of light on a regular basis are actually a luxuries rather than needs.  Yes, sanitation is important but humans are not as fragile as one would think.  The human body has an amazing ability to adapt.  Some people have become so conditioned that they can become psychologically fragile if their preconceived needs are not met.  So, on to the “wants”…
I live in a small two bedroom house (1,000 sq. ft.) down by the river in a forested area in Colorado.  I didn’t want to have to re-wire the utility room to handle a 220 washer and dryer so I found a work-around. 10 years ago I bought a used Danby washer and small used 110 watt dryer and they are still going strong.  The old Danby’s require you to hook a hose to your faucet to get the hot or cold water.  They have another hose that takes the water away.  I throw the outlet hose in the garden to let the grey water go to good use.  I have only had mild problems with the outlet hose freezing up during the cold winter months.  A bucket of hot water poured on the outdoor outlet hose fixes that.  Since both the washer and dryer are 110 VAC they can be run off a generator. 
I too don’t like the feel of stiff line-dried clothes.  I hang the clothes to dry and when they are almost dry I throw them in the dryer to soften them up.  This uses a lot less electricity and I get the softness I want. 
One way to squeeze the water out of freshly washed clothes is to use a mop bucket that has a strainer on it.  They can be found at Home Depot and Lowe’s.  Squeezing the water out of a mop is the same as squeezing the water out of clothes.  You can also use a big pot strainer, like the ones used for pasta.  I have one that fits inside the “big” pot used for heating the water.  Find a lid that is smaller than the strainer pot and use it to squish the water out of your clothes.

I too have pets, lots of trees, snow, dirt and leaves. They all create messes that find their way into my house.  I have a wisk broom on the front and back porch and literally sweep my clothes off before going inside.  The other way I keep the dirt, mud and snow off my floors is by taking my shoes off by the door.  I don’t wear shoes inside and it’s amazing how much doesn’t get tracked in as a result.  Invest in some good Thorlo socks to wear around the house. 

The non-electric, old fashioned push-pull sweeper only work marginally well.  I have more luck with a really good broom but then I don’t have 2,000 sq. ft. of carpeting to deal with.  For all  the pet hair I have found that a “Stickey” works great.  They have a newer form of them that is advertised on television that let the gunk accumulated on the head to be washed off.  This makes them incredibly versitile and reuseable.  A long pole can be attached to the head that allows you stand normally while using it.  I have two Maine Coon cats and one long hair cat and they shed constantly.  I roll the “Stickey” over the carpet and furniture every couple of days to keep it to a minimum.  I have allergies and occasional asthma.  I find that I feel better if I just keep up on it.  However, in the past, when I got really really busy and couldn’t get to it for a week or so, I am happy to report that I didn’t die.

I have every type of alternative lighting possible.  I switched over to the battery LED lanterns in the last couple of years and swear by them.  This last year I fould a couple of the solar LED lanterns at Harbor Freight and love them.  They have 12 white LED’s and have a run time of 8 hours on a full charge.  They come with all the various adaptors such as AC and the cigarette plug type.  One was around $25 and the other around $32.  They were well worth the money. 

I have used the solar showers a lot and find they work fine for my needs.  Just fill the bladder, put it in the sun for the day and you have the basics covered.  The camping world has come up with some pretty innovative and pricey hot water systems that can be found on line at some of the better stores such as Cabelas. 

I hope some of these suggestions work for those seeking the creature comforts of the world.  I can distinctly remember the wonder and appreciation for instant hot water, heat and lighting, soft beds, regular showers, etc.  I had basically spent two full years living outdoors in various wilderness settings.  When I finally “came-in” from the cold and got a real place to live I probably spent the first couple of hours turning off and on these “modern conviences”.  I can clearly remember standing at the sink and turning the hot water on and off and thinking how wonderful it was.  I did the same thing with the stove and thermostat. 

After years of roughing it I found a new appreciation for these creature comforts.  I admit it, I love them as much as the next person.  My past experience taught me that they were luxuries and I could survive without them.  It just wasn’t as nice and comfortable as it could be.  There is a big difference between want and need.  Staying clean and good sanitation is important but there are lots of work-arounds outside our normal everyday experience.  We’ve just have become so acculturated that we have forgotten how to think and exist outside the norm. 

Take care. Keep your socks and powder dry,