(Continued from Part 2. This concludes the article.)
Can you hear me now?
How do you plan on communicating when your cellphone doesn’t work? There are numerous radio options available including FRS/GMRS, MURS, CB, Marine band, and ham bands. Having spare radios and accessories will be important and those spares should be stored in Faraday cages. The problem with radio communications is that they are not secure, meaning others can listen in on your conversations gathering information that might then be used against you. Some of those radios will require batteries too that may give out at some point and not be replaceable. It is also easy for people with a little bit of equipment and know-how to find out where you are transmitting from. Just do an internet search for “Amateur Radio Fox Hunt”.
Building a micro survival communications infrastructure will have to take into account what you need to communicate and with whom (how far away are they and what are their capabilities?). To me post-SHTF communication will fall into two main categories; emergency communications that relay critical information that is time-sensitive, and routine communications that isn’t immediately needed. So, think about how you would communicate information about an approaching threat. (Approaching, as in they are 10 minutes out.) Perhaps a warning system such as a bell could be used to signal the need to go to a higher security posture. Or what about the need to assemble a fire brigade? Don’t get caught up in the belief that communication has to be just radio. I have a number of field telephone and miles of wire to build a more secure communications system in our immediate neighborhood.
For non-voice communications, I look for carbon paper and buy it when I see it. I would really like an old printing press but it isn’t that high of a priority at this time. The carbon paper will allow me to write once but produce several copies at once. “Runners” on bicycles or even walking can also deliver messages. When I was in the Army, in the late 80s early 90s, they still employed “runners” at times. We also have put away a few “triangles” (dinner bells) and even an old WWI gas attack alert system- it is a “U” shaped steel pipe that has a piece of wood partially wrapped with the same pipe- you bang the “U” with the metal on the wood handle. Low-tech works, no matter what. Have a plan and build the capability now.
There’s a new Sheriff in Town
One of the other critical infrastructures identified by the Department of Homeland Security is emergency services. Depending upon where you live (rural, urban or suburban) you may already rely upon yourself for some of these services. Calling the police where we live for immediate assistance is a joke. We have a great volunteer fire department and spotty EMS coverage. In a long-term, post-SHTF world, new very localized (your neighborhood versus a town or city) security and fire protection will need to be organized. Fire protection may well revert back to the old bucket brigades. One of the main challenges for fire protection will be access to water as municipal water systems dependent upon electricity will not be functioning. Again, going back in history, look at how fires in populated areas spread with catastrophic results.
The San Francisco Fire of 1851 and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 are just two better-known examples. Recently, when the electric and water systems were offline in Texas due to the winter storm, Firehouse magazine reported that in Fort Worth “An average day for that department might include between 300 and 350 runs. During February’s severe weather, the department was averaging between 2,100 to 2,200 runs.” In a grid-down scenario, many people will resort to using alternative sources for light, cooking, and heat. These sources and lack of experience will result in additional fires. Your post-SHTF community may consider instituting a “fire watch.” When I was in basic training, we always had one person up whose job it was to alert everyone in the barracks if a fire broke out while we were sleeping. This type of early warning system will be important since you will be more successful in fighting a smaller fire versus a larger one.
I won’t really touch on security since most of us realize that we will have to be our own security force post-SHTF. But I will say you can’t just shoot anyone that approaches your home or community. That line of thinking could play out like an episode of The Twilight Zone where you shoot someone who was really there to help you. Shoot first and ask questions later makes a great T-Shirt logo but as Sun Tzu in the “Art of War” states, “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” Sooner or later, if you engage in a battle every time you see someone, the law of averages will catch up with you.
Developing a community-based security system with rings of defense will be required. Without modern communications system to provide information on what is going on around you, communities will have to rely upon patrols that gather information on what is happening beyond your communities. Having security protocols in place will help as well. Make sure that any “visitors” that make it into the center of your community don’t see, hear, smell or taste your infrastructure/capabilities. Make sure people know not to talk to anyone outside of the community about infrastructure and capabilities.
Out of the Ashes
Immediately after the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) event, what is left of society will be scrambling to meet their basic survival needs (food/water/shelter from the elements). At some point, society will find its “sea legs” and start to rebuild. The re-establishment of critical manufacturing will start. Thinking about, planning, and preparing for post-TEOTWAWKI critical manufacturing now will give you and your community/MAG an advantage. Think about the simple ability to mill grain into flour, sawing trees into lumber, forging iron into a plowshare, distilling spirits, or weaving linen. Think about how many hand-cranked grain mills, two-man crosscut saws, looms, and blacksmiths’ forges there are per 100,000 people in the United State right now. These items will go from antiques to being critical devices for manufacturing. But remember these chunks of metal and wood are nothing without the knowledge to use them.
One of my recent prepper goals is to establish a functional blacksmithing shop. The ability to manufacture (means of production) will be the best possible barterable asset you can have on hand. Stocking up on trade items from the dollar store will only go so far, but when you can make something for someone who needs it, that becomes truly priceless. This brings me to the last critical infrastructure that we need to think about which is the financial sector.
A post-TEOTWAWKI world will rely upon a barter economy for some time. Many rely upon the thought that gold and silver will be valuable post-TEOTWAWKI. In my opinion in an economic collapse gold and silver will have value, however in a true, long-term, grid-down world, manufactured goods, food and specific skills like medical, chemistry, and physics will demand more value than gold and silver. As I write this article, gold is going for $1,709 an ounce. We also know what happens to any commodity when the supply is greater than the demand, the price plummets. In a post-TEOTWAWKI world, everyone (prepared and unprepared) will be trying to hock their gold and silver for anything to eat. What will be the value of an ounce of gold then? If, on the other hand, you took that same $1,709 and invested it into the means of production, what will be the value of that $1,709 investment post-TEOTWAWKI?
For example, I have been buying equipment and tools for my blacksmith’s shop. Let’s say that I invest $1,500 in the ability to shape and manufacture items. What do you think my return on investment would be manufacturing and selling plow blades, nails, or custom repair parts? The means of production have always been a better investment than commodities. Do you want to own the gold coin or the capability to mine the gold? By having the means of production, you will have a limitless source for barter and trade. Those communities that establish manufacturing and other infrastructures quickly will also become a magnet for those who did not prepare but have special skill sets and knowledge.
Looking at history again, we need to consider what happened when Nazi Germany fell and the Germans who worked on jet engines and rockets scurried to find a new home. The same thing happened after the fall of the Soviet Union when nuclear physics and chemical weapons designers were hired by North Korea and other un-friendly regimes around the world. So, the question is, will you, your MAG, and your community be a magnet for those which special skills or will you let those people be recruited by the likes of “Toe Cutter” and the “The Governor” or “Negan”? As we stated earlier in this article, our critical infrastructures are dependent upon one another. Our defense and security infrastructure will be dependent upon our survival critical manufacturing capability. Those with the best means of production will be able to provide the logistical capability to defend themselves.
Dreams into reality
As the old saying goes, preparedness is a journey. For many, the quest for disaster preparedness ultimately leads us down a path to homesteading. Why? For the very reasons that we have just discussed. Homesteading is about building survival infrastructures and to a smaller degree the means of production. But you don’t necessarily have to homestead to have prepper infrastructures and the means of production. However those that own land have sufficient space and resources, like dirt and water, to help with some of the means of production. Ten years ago, moving to the county and building our survival infrastructures was a dream. Now, a few short years later we have fruit trees and berry bushes planted, raised beds, gardens, chickens in the coop, a 1500-gallon rain catchment system and plans to continue to add and improve infrastructure based upon a yearly updated 3-year plan. Always dream big but remember dreams come true by actions.