It was James Howard Kunstler who alerted me to the problems that has caught so many other people unawares in early 2002. Alas, although we’re light years ahead of our fellow citizens in terms of preparedness, we’re many parsecs behind the majority of your readers! We do have about six months of food on hand (which keeps growing each day), plus containers for water storage and filters for water purification. We have some basic medical supplies. Our “battery” has been augmented including the storage of several hundreds (although not thousands yet) of rounds of ammunition. Soon, I’ll have a basic reloading set up. I’ve been buying whatever high-quality tools I can find, whether it’s a 1930s #8 Stanley plane or a King of Spades shovel. Our organic garden is growing each year. We’re not squeamish so we’ll probably be gray-watering and humanuring as soon as it is feasible. My wife is a green thumb and is becoming an expert on foraging: she knows every edible plant/mushroom in Kansas!
So all hope isn’t lost but there is so much to be done. Which brings me to my point: thanks ever so much for this incredible resource!
But I have one question: knowing the little that you do about us (family of four, in rural Kansas, slightly-prepared but not much) what would you recommend as being our first priority? What products/skills should I spend the next year focusing upon? Thanks again, – SF, DDS, in Kansas
JWR Replies: My recommendation, particularly for anyone living in the Plains States and most of the western US is that water should be your top priority, including roof downspout rain barrel conversions, and locating any nearby creeks or reservoirs where you can collect water, and the means to transport and treat it, even if you are ling “Grid Down” and don’t have gasoline available to operate motor vehicles for hauling water..
In the next year, take advantage of as much free and low cost training as your schedule permits. (Red Cross, WRSA, et cetera.) Next, move on to more sophisticated training, as your budget permits. (Medical Corps, Front Sight, OnPoint Tactical, et cetera.)
Since you are a dentist, you might think in terms of operating a minimalist general dentistry and dental surgery practice without grid power. Stock up on expendable supplies. Search for old-fashioned/alternative equipment. Buy a full-up photovoltaic power system if you can afford it. You might even be able to find a foot-powered dental drill. These are now considered museum pieces, except in the Third World, where they are still in limited use.
As I’ve previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, I have some very strong reservations about the humanure approach. To be done safely, it takes very close temperature monitoring, and that might prove difficult in a grid-down post-collapse environment. I also consider it unfeasible for handing waste at a remote retreat that is only occupied for part of each year. (Ideally, it would best done at a rural farm or ranch that has at least five residents that are living there year-round.) In my opinion the risks far outweigh the rewards for most of us.