(Continued from Part 2.)
Communication methods must be well thought out, ahead of time. Most communication methods that are mentioned on the blogs/literature involve electronics such as ham radios, CB radios, walkie-talkies, portable radios, etc. All of these require some source of power. As discussed earlier, computers are very fragile and should not be depended on for communications.
- What power source does your communications technology use?
- Do you have backups?
- If using rechargeable batteries, how many times can they be recharged before they die?
- Are your communication methods subject to eavesdropping? (HINT: the answer is yes.) How will you communicate securely when needed?)
- What is the range of your communications technology?
- Have you practiced using it?
- Can you communicate with your neighbors or similarly minded preppers?
- Is the technology stored in such a manner that it is safe from an EMP?
- What will you do if the government/invaders/whoever knock on the door to confiscate your communications?
Look into alternatives as well. Telegraph between close neighbors might be feasible given a battery, telegraph key and wire (old phone wires, perhaps?). Coded light signals using lights or lanterns might be another method. Another method might be drum codes. A drop location to leave messages that can be checked by those who share that drop location might be another option. After all, humans communicated for many years before our current electronic technology became available. Consider researching and learning some of these older methods.
Medical Care, Health and Hygiene
An extremely important part of planning is to prepare for the health, hygiene, and medical needs of your family. An assessment of the health issues of members of the family/group is essential. As is the overall physical fitness of each member. I mentioned earlier that I went on a program to lose weight and improve my physical fitness. I have also changed my diet and lifestyle and been able to get off all prescription medication.
- Is your weight at a healthy, physically fit level?
- Have you had a recent physical?
- Have you made any necessary diet and lifestyle changes to eliminate prescription medications as much as possible?
- Do you have a year’s supply of prescription medication stored? Do you rotate this supply?
- Have you had a recent dental exam and cleaning?
- Taken care of any caries or necessary dental work?
- Have you had a recent eye exam?
- Do you have a spare pair of glasses? Plenty of extra contacts and solution? Spare reading glasses?
- Have you stocked up on medical supplies? Bandages, antibiotics, burn ointment, splints/wraps, disinfectant, sutures, etc.
- Have you taken any first aid/medical training?
- What herbs and/or essential oils do you have on hand?
- What will you do if a member of your group is giving birth?
- Is there a local midwife?
- Is there a local doctor who is similarly minded?
- Do you have soap, toothpaste and other hygiene items?
- When you run out of hygiene items, can you make more?
- How much toilet paper do you have and what plans do you have for when it runs out?
- Do you have the means to wash clothes when the washer and dryer are not functional?
I located two books which have been very useful in preparing. One is called “Where There Is No Doctor” and the other is “Where There Is No Dentist.” Both are available online as free PDF downloads. I found the dental one very helpful in describing exactly the dental tools and techniques needed when no dentist is available. The medical one is also very helpful.
Many medical supplies such as scalpels and sutures can be purchased from veterinary supply catalogs when unavailable from other sources. Even IV saline can be purchased from these suppliers. Some drugs may require prescriptions, discuss this with your friendly fellow prepper doctor or veterinarian.
Both your local Red Cross and your local college offer first aid and medical classes that can be taken pretty inexpensively. Even to the extent of having a member of your group go through EMT and/or paramedic training.
Some areas may have classes in using herbs for medicine, if not, there are many excellent books available. But start to study now, purchase the essential oils, practice making tinctures. After the SHTF, it is a little late to try to figure out how to obtain, prepare and use these alternatives. Another excellent alternative to have on hand is colloidal silver. Although purchasing colloidal silver can be a little pricey, it is possible to purchase a colloidal silver generator and make your own. This is actually ionic silver but seems to work just as well as the colloidal silver.
One of the keys to maintaining health post-TEOTWAWKI will be nutrition. Interesting statistics from the medical field indicate that of all the health issues for which people seek medical care currently, close to 90% can be attributed to diet and nutrition. This includes diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, digestive issues (stress), arteriosclerosis, even autoimmune disorders such as many cases of arthritis. By starting now to eat more nutritionally dense food, avoiding pre-made foods with added chemicals, losing weight, and becoming physically fit, you increase your chances of staying healthy. Among the benefits are a stronger immune system to reduce the chance of disease, a body less prone to injury in performing unaccustomed physical activity, and the reduction or elimination of many chronic health issues.
I have chronic Lyme disease and before embarking on this journey, I was almost bedridden. Since the changes I have made, I am seldom sick, seldom spend the day in bed and am able to move 50 pound sacks of feed on a daily basis. So much for the predictions that I would be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.
Investigating old methods of soap making and practicing how to do it is both a useful skill and a fun activity for children who may be involved in Scouts or other youth groups. Soap will be critical to maintaining cleanliness and good health.
Food Preservation and Storage
Having healthy food also requires a way to preserve and store the food that your precious labor has produced. So consider –
- Do you know how to can in a boiling water bath and/or pressure canner?
- Do you know how to dry produce and/or meat?
- Do you have a stock of canning jars, lids and rings?
- Have you estimated how many canning jars it will take to store food for your family for one year?
- Do you know how to smoke meat?
- Do you have a supply of salt for preservation needs?
- Do you have an alternative cooking source that generates enough heat to safely can?
- Do you have a place to store the canned/dried/smoked food?
- Do you know how to cook with the food you have preserved?
- Do you have a stock of multivitamins laid in to provide any nutritional needs that may be lacking in your diet?
- If you have a dehydrator, how will you run it (power source)?
- Do you have a supply of glass and metal storage containers for dry goods?
- How will you keep pests out of your stored food (i.e., mice, rats, cockroaches, etc.)?
For myself, I do considerable canning and drying. I use a turkey fryer burner as the stove in my trailer does not generate enough heat at 6700 feet altitude to safely pressure can. I can also can over an open fire or on a wood stove. I have estimated that I can consume one quart of canned produce and one pint of canned protein per day. This results in an estimated 350-360 quarts of produce and the same of pints of meat for one person for one year. Multiply that by the number of persons in your family and you will begin to understand the quantity of supplies needed. This does not include grain for bread. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints recommends at least 350 pounds of grain per person per year for making bread. This falls in line with old medieval records indicating rations of one pound of bread per person per day. And this is whole wheat dense bread not the white sponge sold in grocery stores.
Remember also that store bought quick rise yeast will not be available. Keep enough fresh yeast on hand to make a starter. Practice keeping a starter going over long periods of time. Sourdough starter from the yeasts native to your environment will be the only way to make risen breads. There are excellent cookbooks on creating starter and cooking with it.
Many local community colleges offer courses in canning as does the local agricultural extension office in many communities. There are also many excellent books available which teach how to preserve food. This is another skill that should be learned and practiced before the SHTF as you do not want to take any unnecessary chances with your family’s lives.
I am building a smoker in the future to preserve the meat from my hogs and have my own bacon and ham.
A critical consideration in planning for TEOTWAWKI is waste disposal. Improper waste disposal can generate deadly disease and draw pests in the form of rodents, cockroaches and flies which can bring potentially deadly disease as well. Consider –
- Do you have a way to burn all burnable trash that is separate from any fire you may use for cooking as both paper (the printing ink) and plastic can release toxic chemicals in the smoke?
- Can you rinse metal and create a recycling pile? (Metal in all forms will be precious.)
- What will you do with plastic that is not burnable?
- What will you do with containers that had paint and/or other chemicals and could be toxic to people and/or animals?
- What about disposal of human waste when the public sewer no longer functions?
- What will you do when your septic tank is full?
- If you create an outhouse, can you dig it sufficiently far from your water source to be safe?
One potential solution is proposed by The Humanure Handbook available online. This teaches how to build a simple, inexpensive composting toilet and how to manage the compost. It was designed for third world countries but has been approved by the New York Department of Health. Properly maintained, this system is very safe for the handling and disposal of human waste.
If you have a septic tank, be prepared to suit up in a biological suit and dig it out when it is full and you will still need a way to deal with the waste that is removed from the tank. Burial is an option in some limited circumstances but does not eliminate the health hazard entirely as in many areas of the country (especially arid areas), the buried waste never decomposes.
Personally, I use the system described in The Humanure Handbook and have found it very satisfactory. The compost does not even get flies in the summer. Trash is sorted into scraps for the livestock, compostables, burnables, recyclables/reuseables and actual trash. The actual trash in very minimal. One way to minimize your trash is to consider the packaging of items that you buy. For example, I buy sliced cheese that is NOT individually wrapped.
Remember, waste disposal is critical to your group’s health. Carelessness in this area can lead to cholera, dysentery, and plague, among many other health and safety issues.
Have you considered where your clothing and footwear will come from in a grid-down situation. Most clothing and footwear are imported from Asia to this country. They will no longer be available after TEOTWAWKI. Unfortunately, there will not even be much cloth available.
- Do you have enough clothing for all seasons for at least two years?
- Do you have enough sturdy footwear for all seasons for at least two years?
- What about extra shoelaces?
- How will you make or acquire replacements when items wear out?
- Do you know how to sew, knit or crochet?
- Do you have extra socks and underwear stored?
- Do you have cloth stored?
- Have you ever made a quilt? Remember, blankets will also become unavailable.
- Do you save scraps or worn out clothing to use for quilts, rags, etc.?
- What about diapers for babies?
- What fibers can be raised or grown in your climate?
- Can you raise/grow those fibers?
- Can you process the fibers into thread/yarn? Carding, spinning?
- Can you weave, knit or crochet the thread/yarn into cloth or items of clothing?
- Can you tan hides from your livestock into leather?
- Can you turn leather into outerwear and/or footwear?
I have practiced tanning hides from rabbits and goats. It can be done and is hard work to achieve a good leather product. It takes practice! I have sheep and have sheared, washed, carded and am learning to spin with a drop spindle. I would like to acquire a spinning wheel and loom eventually. A good friend who is about four miles a way is an experienced spinner and weaver and we have discussed trading her services for meat, produce or a share of the wool when the SHTF. Wool can also be felted into material for hats, slippers, liners, etc.
We are experimenting with growing flax here but the main obstacle is the lodging caused by the wind here in the high desert. There is too short of a growing season for cotton. But I have considered the possibility of long distance trade to southern Arizona to obtain raw cotton that we could process into clothing.
Another friend is an experienced leatherworker who would create clothing from our leather in exchange for a share of the leather. This is all part of the network that can be built prior to grid-down so that options are in place.
(To be concluded tomorrow, in Part 4.)