On January 21st, 1948, Eliza Moore, the last surviving individual born into slavery before the Emancipation Proclamation, died in Montgomery County, Alabama, at age 105. Since 68 years have now elapsed since her death and 151 years have now elapsed since 1865, JWR perhaps presumptuously hereby declares that it is now fully high time for Americans to Get Over It and instead focus on current slavery issues, like the uncounted thousands of slaves now being held by Muslims in North Africa. There is no cause for so-called White Guilt in our generation, but we should feel badly about doing little or nothing (both individually and collectively) toward seeing modern slavery abolished once and for all!

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Today, we present part four of this entry for Round 68 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $15,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate that is good for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chrome-lined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 20 Magpul PMAG 30-rd Magazines (a value of $300) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt; (an equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions),
  6. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  7. The Ark Institute is donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package (enough for two families of four) plus seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate (a $325 retail value),
  8. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  9. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Tactical Self-Contained 2-Series Solar Power Generator system from Always Empowered. This compact starter power system is packaged in a wheeled O.D. green EMP-shielded Pelican hard case (a $2,400 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  8. An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
  9. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
  10. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Third Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  3. A custom made Sage Grouse model utility/field knife from custom knife-maker Jon Kelly Designs, of Eureka, Montana,
  4. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  5. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  6. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  7. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  8. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a $125 Montie gear Gift certificate.,
  9. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value), and
  10. Fifteen LifeStraws from SafeCastle (a $300 value).
  11. A $250 gift certificate to Tober’s Traditions, makers of all natural (organic if possible) personal care products, such as soap, tooth powder, deodorant, sunscreen, lotion, and more.

Round 68 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Announcing The SurvivalBlog 11-Year Archive — Now on a USB Stick!

We are pleased to announce the availability of a limited edition SurvivalBlog 2005-2016 Archive, loaded on a 8 gigabyte waterproof USB flash drive. It now spans 11 years of the blog and with 20 additional bonus books, including a fantastic formulary by William B. Dick, first published in 1872. This archive gives you the same searchable functionality of our previous archive DVDs but with more storage, greater compactness, and a waterproof housing. These top-quality and durable alloy memory sticks have O-ring seals that are waterproof down to 100 meter depth!

One of the great advantages of buying the SurvivalBlog archive on an 8 GB memory stick is that there is an extra 4 gigabytes of space left available for you to add scans of your important family papers and photos. So this is the perfect stick for your Bug Out Bag or your vehicular Get Out Of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) kit. For full details on what is included in the archive, see our SurvivalBlog Archive Sales Page.

Sorry, but the archive memory stick is not available overseas. However, offshore SurvivalBlog readers can get the digital download version and then put a copy of it on your own (locally procured) USB memory stick. (Blank 8 GB waterproof sticks are available worldwide for around $18 to $20 USD each.)

Be sure to order yours soon. It bears special mention that only 1,000 of the special waterproof sticks were produced, and at last count–after only four days of sales–we now have only around 490 of them left! – JWR

Hurricane Preparedness Experience- Part 4, by N.K.

I recommend more gas cans so you’re not constantly refilling the same two. I won’t say how many NATO cans I now have, but I won’t have that problem again. If you get NATO cans to avoid the spillage common with now-mandated CARB cans, get several extra NATO vented spouts; nothing else fits them. An assortment of funnels is handy, too. For vehicle filling, extend the NATO spouts with 1/2” steel or brass press-on nipples (the galvanized steel is less expensive and works fine and I’d avoid the plastic versions) from Lowe’s plumbing department and about 16” of 5/8” ID / 3/4” OD clear plastic tubing. The tubing fits perfectly into unleaded gasoline filler necks and extends the reach of the spout for different vehicles. I secured the nipple-to-spout and nipple-to-tubing connections with a wrap of steel safety wire, tightly twisted. It’s pretty secure without it, but the last thing I need is the spout extension coming loose unnoticed and sliding into the filler neck. I equipped every NATO spout I have with the extension. It’s a $3 fix, and I don’t have to look for the right spout to fit a vehicle; they’re all the right spout.

A bug-out plan. Our house wasn’t severely damaged, none in our area were, so we never considered evacuating. Quite a few houses to our south were, however, mostly from roof sections missing, allowing water intrusion and requiring lots of blue tarps and in many cases alternative living quarters. When the ceiling gets waterlogged and collapses into the living area, it’s tough to live there. If we had to evac I didn’t have a plan on where to go and what to do with the stuff in the house. After a discussion with my insurance agent, I now have that plan. Make sure your policy adequately covers temporary relocation, and it doesn’t hurt to touch base with the local Red Cross folks to get some names and phone numbers, just in case. Check with your church to see what assistance resources they may have and join whatever assistance team your church has, or help start one. The best way to learn what help is needed and how to get it is to give that help and be part of delivering it for others. Whether it’s a hurricane, a fire, or a flood, your brain will be overloaded, and the entire family will be stressed. If someone else can help with the “decision overload” during the first 48 hours, do take advantage of that resource.

This ties into documentation. Critical paperwork, such as insurance info and things like birth certificates, vehicle titles, et cetera, need to be scanned and stored electronically on multiple media. Having the originals in a bank safe deposit box is a good idea, but if there’s no electricity, the bank won’t be open. You can have certified copies made, but that’s usually not necessary. Clean, readable copies almost always are sufficient. One set in paper, the others can be electronic. Make sure you store the electronic scans in a format and on media that can easily be read. Adobe PDF is the current gold standard for scanned documents, and CDs and DVDs are more reliable than memory sticks, but you need scans on both, because sticks are more convenient. Every PC now has at least one USB port, but it may not have a CD/DVD drive. The CDs, DVDs, and memory sticks need to be kept securely, because the data on them won’t be encrypted. Why not encrypt it? You may not be in control of what device is available to read it; a PC at the public library surely won’t have your favorite encryption program on it, and you can bet they won’t let you download and install it. A laminated wallet card with critical phone numbers is a very good idea. A national email account, such as gmail or yahoo, has some value because an account with a local ISP (Internet Service Provider) may be unavailable if that ISP is in the no-power zone. Be aware of security issues, however, with accounts such as those.

There’s an old engineer’s joke, or maybe it’s a joke about old engineers, but when employees ran into the Chief’s office yelling about a giant meteor due to strike earth in 24 hours and wipe out all life, the senior guy just pointed to his bookcase and said “top shelf, blue binder, section 4”. That may be a bit extreme, but maintaining planning documentation, reviewing it, and keeping it updated as you learn things and obtain prep supplies is important. As attorneys say, “if it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist.” In the stress of a disaster or emergency, you will get “suddenly stupid”; having a written resource, especially checklists, to guide you is invaluable until you can mentally adjust.

Cash. No electricity means no credit, debit cards, or cash registers. Often, having exact money or close to it may be the only way to buy necessary items. I’d suggest keeping at least $500 in cash handy (and well secured), no larger than $20 bills. Go heavy on $5s and $10s. $50-$60 should be in ones, and have a roll or two of quarters for pay phones. (Be aware that many pay phones have their ringers disconnected to prevent them from being used to support illegal activities, so getting a call back on that number may be a problem.) Separate your cash among several pockets when you’re out. Pulling out $75-$100 in $5s and $10s where people might glimpse it is safer than someone seeing all $500, and in the event of a robbery you can better prevent losing everything. Put a few $1 bills on both the outside and the inside of your stack of bills when you fold the money. That way all the folded cash looks like $1 bills from either side.

Speaking of phones, the one thing that never stopped working was the land line telephone. No electricity means no cell connection, because at least some of the towers will be down, and Internet phones were useless as well. You may be able to connect if you drive a few miles to where there’s power, but if the outage is widespread that could be a long drive. Many people no longer have land line phones. That’s more reason to stay engaged with your neighbors; if one has a land line, they might wind up being a neighborhood communication hub. A good neighborhood plan would be for neighbors to chip in for the monthly cost of one land line with unlimited long distance, an inexpensive phone, and a 100 ft phone cord. The neighbor with the land line could put the “community phone” on a porch for everyone to use.

Lighting. I like the D-cell Maglites, and I have them all over the house now in wall brackets and in each vehicle. A glance confirms the flashlight is there or not, the brackets provide a proper place to keep the light, and pointed up in the bracket they can be turned on and reflected light from the ceiling is more than enough to navigate around the house. The brackets are all adjacent to doorways, on the knob side, making it easy to find lights in the dark. To make sure they always have good batteries, I use Amazon Subscribe and Save for Amazon’s Basics batteries: a 12-pack of D batteries arrives every third month to replace the batteries in four flashlights or LED lanterns. A tip: For your first couple S&S orders, get two 12-packs of D-cells; set one aside each time and date them when they arrive. The second quarter’s S&S order gives you two 12-packs on the shelf. Deliveries after that can be just one 12-pack; that way you always have at least a couple dozen fresh spare batteries on hand. When you start using flashlights and LED lanterns for several days, you’ll need those extra batteries. I’ve numbered the flashlights and lanterns and do them in order, so every flashlight and D-cell lantern gets new batteries once a year. Streamlight Siege lanterns are super, lasting days and days on the lowest setting; look for them on sale. There are less expensive LED lanterns that will work quite well, too. Get some attractive bathroom robe hooks from the home center and put them in strategic places. They’re great for hanging LED lanterns, and devising a hook arrangement to hang a lantern from the family room ceiling fan above head height isn’t a bad idea, either.

We’re in the “thinking” stages for a major remodel, when I’ll add a transfer switch to allow connecting the generator, and add a new receptacle in each room on one circuit so I can provide generator power to each room, in addition to the usual fridge, freezer, and furnace circuits. All of the ceiling fans will be on one circuit in the transfer switch, too. As I mentioned earlier, solar will get added as well.

Furnaces. We’re no longer in Florida, so I converted my present house from heat pump only to heat pump + natural gas by adding a furnace. (Heating wasn’t a concern in Florida.) I’d need a pretty big 240-volt generator to run my heat pump, but my gas furnace, including the blower, runs on 115 volts and consumes only 865 watts. That’s a light load for my 3000 watt Honda, and I can even run it on my 2000 watt Honda. The thermostat selects heat pump or gas furnace based on outside temperature, but I can also select “furnace only” manually. As long as natural gas is flowing and my generator runs, we can avoid huddling around the fireplace in winter. I also have the conversion parts to switch the furnace to propane; I’d need a gas furnace technician to safely install them and make the hookup to the 200-gallon backyard propane tank, but having the conversion parts on hand is most of the battle. Yes, the 3000 watt and 6500 watt generators now run on either gasoline or propane. In the planning stage is a small wood stove, but that’s going to be part of the major remodel; good hardwood for burning is rare in Florida but not in my new location.

That’s pretty much our Excellent Hurricane Adventure. The take-away is “plan, practice, and organize.” Lay out a written plan and practice it. Pick a weekend to turn the power off Friday afternoon for “indoor camping weekends” (everything but the fridge and freezer), and use the family Sunday dinner to discuss what worked and what didn’t. You’ll be surprised on both counts.

Letter: Prayer Works – 11th Hour Attempt by France to Further Jam Up Israel Flops

Hugh,

It looks clear that Trump administration support of Israel will be (thankfully) almost a polar opposite to the disdain and malicious “one step forward-three steps back” policy of Obama. The last straw occurred when the U.S. broke with their consistent 68-year policy of supporting Israel at the UN. In late 2016, the U.S. allowed a significant condemnation of Israel through the UN resolution that the U.S. allowed through the Security Council by refusing to veto it. Sensing Israeli blood in the water, France hastily organized a kangaroo court-style 2017 Paris Mideast peace conference that was set up for the sole purpose of further condemning Israeli actions before the Obama administration’s anti-Israel window closes. Many were concerned the conference had the potential result of seeing an additional, even harsher UN resolution that, among other things, would try to force Israeli actions and territorial concessions that would have surely lead to their destruction, especially with the world now on the brink of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Fortunately, many stood up to this blatant action with prayer and other opposition for a conference that was a curious replay of a similar, French-led attempt 70 years ago to do the same thing. That meeting was organized by largely the same players to again try to force a two-state solution into existence. Both times it was attempted the same way– without the agreement or involvement of either Israel or the Palestinians.

Fortunately, the 2016 version also failed to gain any traction. Here is a more detailed analysis of the meeting and its outcome. Keep praying blessings on Israel and for the peace of Jerusalem as well as pushing our political leadership to continue their support of Israel as well. – R.F.

Economics and Investing:

A Post-Inauguration Gold Price Forecast

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Declassified CIA Memos Reveal Probes Into Gold Market Manipulation – H.L.

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Items from Mr. Econocobas:

Obama Leaves U.S.A $9,335,000,000,000 Deeper in Debt– Keep in mind though, and this is important, he is not the first or even the worst at adding to the debt on a percentage basis. Ronald Reagan being one of the worst offenders, more than doubled the national debt under his presidency. The point here is not to defend Obama but to point out that we need to educate people that it doesn’t matter which party sits in the oval office or controls the halls on Congress, we need to rid ourselves of a monetary system that requires the relentless acquisition of debt in perpetuity and it cannot stop otherwise it will collapse.

Should you doubt my previous statement, take a look at the hard number straight from the government on historical debt outstanding; this cuts though political speak of doctored budget deficit numbers or the phony budget “surplus” years of Clinton. Show people the facts.

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SurvivalBlog and its editors are not paid investment counselors or advisers. Please see our Provisos page for details.

Odds ‘n Sods:

An update from Forward Observer: Battle Track the Inauguration SITREP 1830E

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This man’s solo seven-year construction project is astounding. (Video): Underground Rock House Construction

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If only it were that easy to shrink government: 28 Percent of Federal Workers May Quit Their Jobs Once Trump Assumes Office

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The Sneering Revolution: Obama’s Attempt To Undermine U.S. Strategic Capability? – The outgoing U.S. Barack Obama Administration and its supporters embarked on a campaign to traduce and challenge the incoming Administration of President Donald J. Trump in the hope that it would find it difficult to govern effectively. This may be unprecedented in U.S. history and could, to the degree that it succeeds, have an impact on U.S. strategic capabilities, actions, and alliances going forward. No departing U.S. president had gone to such lengths to use the pulpit of the Presidency to discredit an incoming President or presidential candidate as the lengths to which went Obama with Trump. The result was, even by January 2017— before Mr. Trump was sworn into office— to deliberately inflict damage on the strategic credibility and influence of the United States of America going forward.

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From the desk of Mike Williamson, SurvivalBlog’s Editor at Large: Twitter botnet security problem – Dormant, until someone needs it to manipulate. Social media links are always worth scrutiny and should frequently not be clicked on. If your friend says, “Regarding X we were talking about the other day, here’s the relevant article”, it’s likely fine. If all you get is a link or “Hey, check this out,” immediately be suspicious until you confirm an actual person sent it and that it has relevance. “Clickbait” can be misleading, and it can also be dangerous.

Notes for Friday – January 20, 2017

Today is the birthday of Congressman Richard Henry Lee (1732–1794).

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FYSA (For Your Situational Awareness), Forward Observer has started their battle tracking for the Inauguration, just like they did for the Ferguson riots. Check out the battle map and if you want to participate in this tracking effort to learn the process, scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the instructions. This is an excellent opportunity to see how a community can pull together and create real time intelligence that can benefit your decisions. (Note: You do not have to be local to Washington, DC to participate. Much of this intelligence is collected from online sources and vetted by the volunteers. You can do this from your normal computer.)

If you think this is valuable intel, you might consider supporting Forward Observer through a subscription to their intelligence briefings. They are having a sale right now on the annual subscription.

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Today, we present Part three of a four part entry for Round 68 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $15,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate that is good for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chrome-lined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 20 Magpul PMAG 30-rd Magazines (a value of $300) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt; (an equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions),
  6. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  7. The Ark Institute is donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package (enough for two families of four) plus seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate (a $325 retail value),
  8. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  9. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Tactical Self-Contained 2-Series Solar Power Generator system from Always Empowered. This compact starter power system is packaged in a wheeled O.D. green EMP-shielded Pelican hard case (a $2,400 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  8. An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
  9. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
  10. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Third Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  3. A custom made Sage Grouse model utility/field knife from custom knife-maker Jon Kelly Designs, of Eureka, Montana,
  4. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  5. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  6. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  7. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  8. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a $125 Montie gear Gift certificate.,
  9. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value), and
  10. Fifteen LifeStraws from SafeCastle (a $300 value).
  11. A $250 gift certificate to Tober’s Traditions, makers of all natural (organic if possible) personal care products, such as soap, tooth powder, deodorant, sunscreen, lotion, and more.

Round 68 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Hurricane Preparedness Experience- Part 3, by N.K.

Cooking was interesting. I had a propane gas grill with two spare 20-lb cylinders, a dual-fuel Coleman camp stove, a couple of single-burner butane units, and the ability to build a fire in the backyard. The gas grill got used, because it was easiest. It did take a couple of days to learn how to cook more than simple camping meals on it. We have an old style coffee percolator for camping, and getting the heat to it correctly on the grill took some learning. Cooking on the grill was something we should have practiced before we needed it. A tip: The standard size propane tank for grills holds 20 lbs of propane, which is about 4½ gallons. Many exchange tanks are filled only to 15 lbs; it’s faster and easier to swap out an empty tank for a filled one, but I’ve found it less expensive to take the time to get them refilled to the full 20 lbs rather than exchanged for one with 25% less propane. The cost is nearly the same; you’re paying more for the convenience of a quick exchange. So, buying an empty spare tank for about $45 and refilling it will pay for itself quickly, if you use a grill a lot.

We put as much of our neighbors’ food in our fridge and freezer as would fit, and everyone fired up gas and charcoal grills to cook the rest and share the food before it spoiled. The neighborhood ate very well for the first couple of days. Steak or hamburgers for breakfast is a common occurrence when the power goes out.

Cleaning wasn’t much of an issue since county water service was uninterrupted, but most Florida houses have an electric water heater. In August, cold water in Florida isn’t really cold. It’s about 82F out of the spigot, but if you’re used to real hot showers that can be a shock. I had a single burner Zodi camping hot water shower, which adds about 30F to water. (I’ve since bought a spare, since two is one and one is none. This way we could have 105-108F showers, though it’s more like a lightly pressurized rinse; however, it does work. Don’t forget extra D-cell batteries for it.) The Zodi uses one pound propane cylinders to heat the water, so it must be used outdoors; we used it on the back porch, drawing water from a 5-gallon bucket. It’s been used on camping trips, so everyone was already experienced with it. I had enough spare 16-ounce propane cylinders to loan it to neighbors, each of whom I let develop their own solution for outdoor shower privacy. Depending on your circumstances, that’s something to include on your prep planning, along with extra cylinders or an adapter to refill 16-ounce cylinders from a 20 pound grill tank. Some 24-inch-long 1” PVC pipes stuck in the ground will accept lengths of ½-inch EMT (Electrical Metallic Tubing); some spring clamps, costing about $1 at Home Depot, will hold solar screening fabric or even bedsheets to the EMT to provide privacy.

I’ve recently added a rechargeable hand-held shower unit, purchased on an Amazon Lightning Deal, to backup the two Zodis, and a 21-watt solar panel for recharging it. A 30-quart aluminum turkey frying pot can be used to heat water on the gas grill or even over a fire, if necessary. The big advantage is in winter a pot of water can be heated outdoors and then carried inside to be used in the tub with the rechargeable hand-held shower unit. Even in Florida, there are a few chilly days. Now that I’m no longer living in Florida, winter is a consideration.

With no electricity, garage door openers didn’t work, so during the day everyone left their garage doors up. That’s a security concern, but there were more than enough neighbors around helping each other that it wasn’t much of a concern. Almost all of my neighbors were gun owners and security-minded, so there wasn’t much worry about looting. In some areas there was, and had our neighborhood been so afflicted we would have had to come up with some sort of security plan.

Reviewing What We Learned From This Experience

Power came back on Thursday, and half a day was spent shifting back into “normal” mode. Here’s what we learned from the whole experience:

Organization is critical. Having all the tools and supplies is great but only if you can find them quickly and easily. I was pretty well organized but not nearly well enough. Flashlights, batteries, candles, and matches all in one large box was wrong. Trying to find and dig out what I needed was frustrating, and in some cases it got done in the dark, which was even more frustrating. We needed more headlamps. (BTW, using headlamps requires some practice. One develops a sort of “head twitch” to point the light where you’re looking; the habit of just moving your eyes doesn’t work too well.) Smaller latch-lid plastic boxes that you can see into, each with only one type of equipment in it and well labeled is the way to go. My extension cords, rarely used but suddenly needed immediately, were hanging behind garden tools that had to be moved, then put back out of the way when the cords were retrieved. That was poor planning there.

Practice your preps. The first couple of meals cooked on the gas grill were quite edible, and we quickly got better. However, cooking techniques and tools are different, especially coffee with a “cowboy percolator”. Camping experience helped a lot, but it would have been beneficial to practice occasionally by cooking a “regular” meal on the grill with pots and pans now and then. Showers with the Zodi were easy; alternatives to it might have been useful, but they hadn’t been planned for or practiced.

There’s a transition period no matter how much you practice; by the end of day three, we were experts in non-electric living, but we could have reached that point by the end of day one if we had practiced for it.

Contractor contacts need to be developed and cultivated. Roof replacements may come only every 20 years, but it’s a good idea to get to know a couple roofers and stay in contact, because sometimes repairs are needed urgently. The same applies to plumbers, electricians, carpenters, fence builders, et cetera who have expertise you may suddenly need. My fence was the only one still standing. It was 6X6 and 4X6 posts set three feet deep in concrete. Everyone else was scrambling to get their fences repaired ASAP, because Florida law requires swimming pools be in an enclosure.

Information about governmental services needed to be developed, maintained, and updated periodically. We never had a problem with water, but if county water stopped, I didn’t know where I could get potable water in quantity or how to transport it other than the 5-gallon jugs used for camping. By the time hurricane Jean hit, I had ten 7-gallon Aquatainers, a 150-gallon bladder for the pickup bed, and a list of places to get potable water in quantity. I also added a 50-foot hose rated for potable water that I obtained from an RV supply house, and a couple universal sill cock keys to operate any water faucet I found. In Florida, I was surrounded by neighbors with swimming pools. In my new location I’m not, so every three months I buy a 1-lb bag of calcium hypochlorite, also called pool shock, to make chlorine water treatment. It doesn’t store well over long periods and is very corrosive to metals, so with each new bag I give the old bag to a friend to use in his pool; that way the bag doesn’t deteriorate, and it’s $3 locally, which is inexpensive to have the ability to make enough chlorine to treat thousands of gallons of water.

Have disposable dinner ware products to minimize impact on limited water supplies. You don’t want to use valuable drinking and cooking water to clean plates and silverware.

Simplify your lifestyle. Kitchen (or bathroom) counters cluttered with stuff are a real pain in the dark. You’ll find yourself operating very differently without electricity, and neatness everywhere counts. Develop storage/usage techniques to make using stuff easy while keeping it out out the way. A particular peeve: having only one manual can opener in the kitchen without a very firm rule to always put it back in the same drawer. Now, every drawer has a manual can opener. They’re inexpensive. Also, whenever I get a case or three of Mountain House from Safecastle (a Survivalblog affiliate), I tape a couple P-51 GI-style openers (which are larger than the P-38) inside the box lids and keep a couple P-51s in each personal and vehicle emergency kit. A bag of 100 is about $30+shipping from Sportsman’s Guide and is almost a lifetime supply.

Mental diversions. Games, especially card games, help give everyone a short “mental vacation” from the stress. It’s difficult to read much with only limited light, but board games and playing cards work well. Scrabble is very well suited to semi-dark entertainment. (No, it didn’t seem at all strange to see people wearing headlamps playing Scrabble and Monopoly, at least not by day four.)

Neighborhood planning and sharing. We all came together, as did thousands of neighborhoods across Central and South Florida after Charlie, and we worked well together. We needed to communicate more before the hurricane and develop skill sharing and better plans. Monthly backyard “pot luck” barbecues are great ways to get everyone together.

Outdoor lighting. With no street or porch lights doing anything outside after dark, outdoor lighting was nearly impossible. I had a couple 500-watt halogen flood lamps and some 1/2” and 3/4” EMT (Electrical Metallic Tubing), which comes in 10-foot lengths. “Beam clamps” from your home center’s electrical department are threaded for attaching lights with bolts and allow clamping the floodlight(s) to the 1/2” EMT, which can be placed over a steel stake driven into the ground, to get the lights 10 feet up, or higher if you insert the 1/2” EMT into the 3/4” and drill and bolt them together. The EU3000 watt Honda weighs about 150 pounds without fuel, so carrying it around wasn’t an option. When hurricane Frances was forecast, I bought a 24 inch X 48 inch 4-wheeled garden cart from Lowe’s (about $65 then) so I could more easily roll it into the garage for security. It still took two hefty people to put it on the cart, though. (Honda now has EU3000 models that come with wheels and a handle to make them more portable.) Without good wheels under it for portability, think good extension cords, not cheapies. Higher amperage rated cords– 12 gauge (20 amps) and 10 gauge (30 amps)– will be expensive, but they’re very much worth it to avoid voltage drop over distance. I’ve since added a Honda 2000 watt generator* as an “unlimited distance extension cord.” Weighing just 50 pounds, I can carry it one handed, plus Honda has a wiring kit to link two generators together to double output; check RV (recreational vehicle) forums for info on how to make your own wiring kit and external fuel tanks to extend running time. Knowing what I know now, I would have gotten a pair of EU2000s instead of the EU3000; it’s about the same cost, just as quiet, more portable, and a pair lines up with the “two is one, one is none” prepper philosophy.

I’ve since replaced the 500 watt halogen flood lamps with 60 watt LED flood lamps. (Thank you, Amazon Gold Box sales!) They’re about the same physical size, the same light (about 4,000 lumens) and almost 90% less wattage draw. I kept several spare bulbs for the halogen units, because they’re fragile; a couple spare LED lights are more expensive than the bulbs but worth it, I think. You’ll have to make your custom cords for either. I used inexpensive 3-wire 25-foot 16 gauge extension cords, cut the female connector off, and wired them up myself.

Letter Re: Hurricane Preparedness

HJL,
That was a great article about his experience and some practical advice [for hurricane preparedness]. For those interested in a possible simpler solution a product named “Generlink” at www.generlink.com is available. It is a collar that fits behind your meter at the power pole, and it allows you to control your power usage through your current breaker panel. The only cord needed is between the Generlink collar and the generator. As long as the power pole where your meter is located is intact and you have underground wiring to the house, you should be okay. It’s worth a look. – A.K.

Economics and Investing:

Student Debt Payback Far Worse Than Believed – G.G.

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Nobel Prize winner says US should “get rid of currency” – DSV

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How To Tell If Gold’s Rally Is For Real

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Dollar dips on less-hawkish Yellen, awaits Trump inauguration

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SurvivalBlog and its editors are not paid investment counselors or advisers. Please see our Provisos page for details.

Odds ‘n Sods:

On this inaugural day, a parting gift for Obama: Video – Time To Say Goodbye (parody) – D.S.

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Following up on the Veritas videos posted a couple of days ago: After Exposé, Anarchist Group Scales Back Plans to Blockade Roads, Disrupt Inauguration – BMM

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Thinking that building your retreat is beyond your grasp? – Single mom builds 3,500-square-foot home by watching YouTube tutorials – H.L.

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For those that live in places like Kalifornia or other anti-gun locations: How to Turn 12 Everyday Items Into Improvised Weapons – H.L.

(HJL’s Comment: Good suggestions, except for the hornet spray. Don’t bother with that one. Pepper spray performs better and won’t get you in as much legal trouble. In an emergency, you utilize what you have, but don’t plan for that one.)

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Lasers are nice, but identifying your target in the dark when it’s your own home is paramount. This video sent in by Reader T.J. covers some flashlight techniques that are useful to know.