I try to have a long view, one that is both near and far in perspective. Whenever significant events occur, I do a quick review of my potential events risk analysis to see if anything’s changed that might impact how I’m prepared. In this article, I am taking a look at the preparations required for a long-term scenario, in the event of a major societal break down. We have covered the need for repairs and tools to make repairs, when items or parts and supplies won’t be easily replaced or shipped to us.
Yesterday, we also covered a significant portion on the subject of food, particularly on gardening and practicing now to supply your family’s food needs, but we haven’t completed this discussion just yet.
Hunting and Fishing
Are hunting and fishing part of your long-term survival food plans? Bear in mind that after a major TEOTWAKI disaster a lot of other people are going to be planning on the same thing, and the wild game populations will probably plummet for the first few years. As with everything else, if you’ve never hunted or fished and processed your take, post-SHTF is not the best time to learn to do so. If you’d like some idea of how to get started hunting, butchering, and cooking wild game, I highly recommend Steven Rinella’s series of books (“The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game: Volume 1: Big Game” and “Volume 2: Small Game and Fowl”). Just remember that reading about it is a far cry from actually doing it.
You also need to adjust your approach when it comes to long-term food procurement. If you’re hunting or fishing to survive, you need to move from an “activity” mindset to a “harvesting” one. You’re trying to obtain food to survive, not for the enjoyment of the activity itself. This means things like setting traps and checking on them regularly instead of spending the day stalking a deer, and setting up a trotline with multiple spring hooks or yo-yo fishing reels, or setting a gill net. Remember, your goal is having the ability to obtain the required protein in a long-term sustainable manner with a minimal investment in time and resources.
Water is essential to life, and having a long-term supply of clean water needs to be central to your preparations. While there are a lot of factors that impact how much water you need, I generally use the rule of thumb of 1.5 to 2 gallons per person per day. If you currently have a well that produces sufficient potable water without any filtering, you’re in a better position than a lot of people. But what if your well dries up or gets contaminated? If you’re dependent on an electric well pump, what happens when your power source dies or the pump fails?
Many people plan on relying on a water filter, but consider the following: a set of Berkey water filters is rated for a maximum of 6000 gallons. At two 2 gallons per person per day, that means clean water for a family of four for a maximum of two years. You’ll need to stock up on a lot of filters if you plan on filtering as a long-term solution, since you probably won’t be able to order replacements post-SHTF.
Long-term Access to Water
Here are some thoughts on long-term access to water:
- Always have at least two sources of easily accessible water, if possible.
- Assuming you have access to a reasonably clean source of water (well, stream, et cetera), begin to acclimate to drinking it unfiltered. Start with just swishing some unfiltered water around in your mouth daily for a week or so, then move to drinking a few drops, then a tablespoon, et cetera, until you can drink the unfiltered water without any side effects. This will allow your body to develop immunity to the native pathogens in the water and eventually eliminate the need for filters. If you rely on a well, make sure you have a manual backup well pump.
- Always maintain a good supply of stored clean water, even after SHTF. That way you still have water for a few days if you can’t access your external supply for whatever reason.
- If you absolutely have to have some sort of purification, your best bet for a long-term solution is probably a still of some sort, since the only thing it requires to operate is an external heat source (e.g. fire). However, be aware that there are potential health issues with drinking only distilled water.
- While rainwater may be relatively clean, the surfaces it runs across while being collected aren’t clean. So you’ll still need some way to purify it to make it potable. Your best bet is to limit the use of collected rain water to non-potable purposes, such as watering your farm or washing.
- Boiling water every day consumes too much time and too many resources to make it a viable long-term solution.
I’m probably in the minority in that I don’t see (or hope to see) the post-TEOTWAKI world as being a constant series of running gun battles with groups of Mad Max-like marauders. That doesn’t mean I don’t think you need to be prepared to defend your family, your property, and yourself. I just don’t think you should focus exclusively on elaborate semi-automatic firearms and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Reliable Long Term
While a tricked-out AR-15 is probably a good idea for defense for the first few years after society disintegrates, you’ll also want something that’s more reliable long term and that can be handed down for generations. Here are some ideas:
- Ruger 10/22 – Good for hunting small game.
- Bolt-action rifle – Something like a Remington 700, which is extremely reliable and good for hunting larger game.
- A break-action shotgun – One of the simplest and most reliable types of firearms available.
- A revolver – While semi-automatic handguns hold more rounds and have a faster reload, a revolver has a lot fewer moving parts and requires a lot less maintenance.
Calibers and Storing Up/Reloading
You’ll want to try to keep calibers common across as many of your firearms as possible, in order to simplify your ammunition stocking requirements. Speaking of ammunition, I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss the whole “stocking up” versus “reloading” over the long-term debate. In general, for the most common calibers (e.g. .223/5.56, .308/7.62, 9mm, et cetera), the savings realized by reloading probably won’t be very significant over just stocking more ammo (especially if you can get it on sale).
You can increase the savings by picking up and reusing your own casings, casting your own bullets, et cetera, but reloading requires an investment in equipment and learning time, and you’ll have to make time post-SHTF to reload your bullets. As I mentioned in the beginning of this section, I’m of the opinion that having a huge ammo stash won’t be necessary, so I’m comfortable just storing up what I believe is a few decades worth of ammo. You’ll have to do a little navel-gazing in order to decide for yourself.
If you’re planning for even longer-term possibilities, consider obtaining (or making) and practicing with more primitive weapons, like spears, bows and arrows, crossbows, slings, bolos, and slingshots. They won’t necessarily replace firearms, but there are many situations where they can be used to hunt or defend, which will extend the useful life of your firearms and ammunition. Store extra strings for bows and crossbows and bands for slingshots, and you can depend on them for decades.
Medical support is a difficult area in terms of long-term preparations. Obtaining and maintaining a sufficient degree of medical skill for anything beyond the basics requires a not-insignificant, on-going time investment, and, while many natural medicinal sources do exist, it’s one area where you’ll probably be better served by a large stockpile of supplies.
A Multi-Layer Approach
I recommend a multi-layer approach:
- Take some training and get regular refreshers. The Red Cross offers some decent courses, and I can personally recommend the NOLS Wilderness First Aid class. Share the training with family and friends so that everyone will be prepared.
- Stock up on a lot of medical supplies. Next to food and water, medical supplies are my next largest volume of preps. This should include a wide range of bandages, gauze, splints, tape, et cetera, as well as a good selection of drugs, which will keep for a lot longer than you may think.
- Buy and read some good reference books. The ones I recommend at a minimum are “The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way”, “Where There Is No Doctor”, and “Where There Is No Dentist”.
- Start familiarizing yourself with and using locally-available natural remedies.
- Start making health care a daily activity, not just a once-every-few-years doctor’s visit. Give everyone in your group regular check-ups, and have someone give you one. The human body is just like any other machine; it’s a lot easier to fix problems when you find them early.
Tomorrow, we will look at heating and cooking and other considerations in our evaluation of our long-term preparedness.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 74 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- 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.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- 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,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels 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. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- 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,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- 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,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- 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).
Round 74 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.