I try to have a long view, one that is both near and far in perspective. We are in the final part of this article, taking a look at the preparations required for a long-term scenario, in the event of a major societal break down. This is part of my routine, as I evaluate my own preparations compared with risk assessments.
We have looked at repairs, food, water, weapons, and medical topics in the previous two portions of this article. Now let’s move on to how we keep warm and prepare our food.
Heating and Cooking
If you don’t live near the equator, you’ll probably need a source of heat for your dwelling, and you’ll definitely need a source of heat for cooking no matter where you live. And unless you’re near a surface coal mine , the only real viable long-term sustainable source for producing heat and fire is wood. Even if you currently use propane or oil and store a large amount, you’ll eventually run out, and if you don’t have a way to produce or acquire more you’ll have to switch to something else. That’s where the problem comes in, if you aren’t already set up for heating and cooking with wood. Converting existing appliances to work with wood is pretty much impossible.
While you can help things out with solutions like passive solar heating , you’ll need a wood cooking stove and a heating stove (or one combined), or a decent fireplace. I heard people say that they would just burn wood in their gas grill for cooking. That’s fine if you can cook outside in any weather all year round, but if you want to be able to cook indoors. In this case, you need something with a sealed vent pipe to exhaust the smoke and burn gasses. You may also need to consolidate your daily living into one or two connected rooms in your house that can share heat from a wood stove, since providing winter heat for your entire 5000 square foot McMansion probably isn’t going to be practical.
Methane Generation or Wood Gasifier
I encountered some preppers talking about solutions like using small-scale methane generation  or a wood gasifier  to produce burnable gas for cooking or heating, but both of those methods strike me as being somewhat complicated for a long-term solution. On the other hand I don’t have any personal experience with either, so you may want to do some research to see if they would be good solutions for you.
Starting Your Fires
You’ll also need to consider how you’re going to start those fires. Those Bic lighters and survival matches you’ve stocked up on will probably see you through for a couple of years or so of starting fires nearly every day, but you’ll want to make sure you have some reliable longer-term options:
- Stock up on ferrocerium rods . You can start hundreds, if not thousands, of fires with each of these, so they should last for quite a few years.
- Learn to identify and collect flint and other sparking rocks  in your area. This is a great activity for kids.
- Practice other primitive fire-starting methods  and use them when time permits.
While I’ve covered some of the basics, there are a lot of other areas that need to be considered when planning for a long-term, self-sustainable lifestyle. Some of these are listed as follows:
Modern solar systems can last 25 years or more, and when combined with LED lights that are rated for more than 50,000 hours (approximately six years) of continuous operation, can provide you with a good long-term solution for lighting. You can also use the power for things like charging tablets, computers, and e-book readers to provide you with years of access to reference materials and entertainment. If you’re going to plan on having any kind of electronic devices long-term, I highly recommend getting and using a rugged case and a tempered glass screen protector for them.
Given that you’re not going to have 300 channels of cable TV (with nothing on) or the Internet any more, you’ll have to adopt more personal forms of entertainment (which you should be doing now anyway). Activities like wood-working/carving, playing music, reading hard copy books, and playing board games can all be fun and relaxing for the whole family. They can help get you through long, dark winters of being indoors most of the time.
If you’re not already home-schooling your children (you should be), you’ll need to stock up on the books and materials you’ll need to provide them with a decent education. While they’ll be helping out around the homestead a lot of the time, you still want them to have a decent grounding in areas like mathematics, history, language, religion, and engineering. You’ll also want to teach them skills like farming, hunting, trapping, repair, and other things they’ll need to survive when you’re not around.
How often do you need to buy a new pair of shoes, jeans, or other clothing? You’re probably going to be doing a lot more hard work than you ever have, and you’ll be wearing out clothes a lot faster than you would sitting on the couch watching TV. You need the ability to repair your clothing for as long as you can to make it last, and you need to become familiar with how to make clothing utilizing natural resources like cotton, hemp, wool, and animal skin. You should also consider creating a stockpile of spare clothing from sales, dollar stores, and secondhand shops. Just keep in mind that your body style will probably change a lot (weight loss), once you transition to a completely self-sufficient lifestyle.
You may not encounter a spiritual leader of your chosen faith for years (if ever), so you need to be prepared to live with your own counsel through many troubled times. Share your faith with your family, friends, and neighbors, and support each other in times of need.
Unless you own a junkyard full of spare parts and store hundreds of gallons of gasoline, your car/truck/motorcycle will eventually become unusable, and if walking everywhere and carrying what you need on your back isn’t practical, you’ll need to consider some form of alternate transportation. Riding animals, like horses or donkeys, are probably your best bet, since they can also be used to pull carts. But like anything else, if you don’t have them now you’re probably aren’t going to find them easily in a post-SHTF world. A bicycle may be a viable alternative, as long as you stockpile plenty of spare tires, inner tubes, and parts (and a manual tire pump). You should also have or be able to make carts and sleds to haul loads, and cross-country skis or snowshoes if you’re in an area that gets lots of snow in the winter.
We need shelter to survive. Given how much time you probably spend working on your house right now, how long do you think it will be before it needs some form of major repair? Do you have the tools and material available to fix a broken window, storm-damaged roof shingles, or a hole in the wall?
I have discussed firefighting previously on SurvivalBlog .
Regardless of the disaster, if even a small percentage of humanity survives, organized society will eventually reassert itself. The question you need to find a comfortable answer for is how long that process will take, and are you and your family ready to survive for that long. I’ve only barely scratched the surface regarding the types of long-term issues you need to consider, but hopefully this helps you get started.
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.