It never ceases to amaze me when something seemingly trivial that occurs in my life can lead to so much self reflection and totally change the direction I travel, so to speak, in my life planning. I recently decided to purchase a spare, portable plug-in heater for my camper, in the interest of redundancy. So, off I went blissfully unaware that this simple, last-minute decision would alter the course of history, my history that is. I went to my local big-box store and soon realized an important issue I had never thought about before– seasonal items are difficult to find in the off season. I’m sure at this point you’re thinking, “No-DUH! Thanks for the update, Captain Obvious.” Well, no, I’m not an idiot (at least I’d like to think I’m not), but I guess I am guilty of being complacent. I have seen seasonal items come and go for so long, year after year, buying what I needed when I needed it and never paying attention when it was gone, other than to maybe get some good clearance deals here and there. That’s as far as my thought process went on the subject of seasonal items. This was the first time I bucked the natural order of things and went against the flow to get my spare off season item. Needless to say, I didn’t get my heater locally and wasn’t willing to spend more to get one online. (I’m not cheap; I’m poor.) It was a wake up call and did get me to do some serious thinking. I have read a lot here on SurvivalBlog and elsewhere about survival and prepping for the last couple of years. I still consider myself to be in the beginning stages of prepping and am currently not very prepared, but I am working on it as fast as my limited financial resources allow. I am aware of what’s going on in the world and here at home. I don’t bury my head in the sand and expect that everything will be just fine. I do hope for the best, but I am preparing for the worst. I also know prepping is not for just one emergency situation, like some shows would have you believe, but instead it’s for any number of situations that currently happen to people on any given day somewhere year after year, like:
- Power outages, short and long,
- Water contaminated by industrial spill,
- Getting lost in the woods when hiking/camping,
- Car breaking down in a secluded area or skidding off the road,
- Home invasion (by criminals or government agents), and so forth, as well as
Catastrophic or government-sponsored events that have happened in the past and could or will happen again, like a:
- Hurricane or tornado,
- Meteor or asteroid,
- Epidemic, or
- War or terrorist act
Plus, there any number of things that we may not have thought possible but could be, like an alien invasion or zombie apocalypse. Who really knows? Yes, I read and watch a lot of Sci Fi.
Like many, some farther along than others, I am starting to build up food and water stores and, of course, bullets and band aids bit by bit, when I can afford it, while still paying my bills. I just never thought about the seasonal stuff until now and how not getting something seemingly trivial before it’s too late could potentially lead to serious consequences. Many emergencies could be short-lived, as in days or weeks, so a bit easier to plan for but still not a vacation. However, my thoughts are more for the longer term, as in months or years. As we have heard and some have seen, a serious grid down situation would likely last for months and maybe years, depending on severity, and could be triggered by any number of things. This would affect food and water availability, for short- and long- term, and whether anything is available in stores. This is when redundancy can mean the difference between life and death, over minor things. Yes, we can die from disease, starvation, lightning, brigands, or any number of things at any time that may be difficult or even impossible to prevent.
That’s not what I am talking about here. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want it to be because my $30 heater quit working in the camper in the middle of winter when it’s 20 below and my propane ran out a week ago when the power is still on but the snow’s too deep to go get my tanks refilled.
There are any number of things that I may not have yet or may need to replace or buy a spare of that are seasonal and many that are not, so prioritizing the seasonal items first is one thing I have learned from this. If an emergency or event were to happen before a season starts, that could prevent me from ever getting it at all. While I know the ultimate goal is, of course, to be completely self-sufficient, many if not most of us are not there yet. We will need to rely on any number of non-replaceable items for at least the short term, while transitioning to long term in the event of a serious SHTF situation. Those that are fully prepared can disregard this nonsense about temporarily relying on non-permanent items, since this would not apply to you and you are very fortunate to be in that position. However, redundancy will still apply to everyone, whatever your methods of survival.
Thanks to my wake up call, due to the heater search and all the new thoughts I’ve had on seasonal items that I took for granted, I have completely rethought my SHTF planning in general. So, for me personally I have decided to build up my short-term plan first (up to a year and possibly more) as quickly and completely as finances will allow. This is my bug out location/ future house site, which is where my previously mentioned camper lives. It is undeveloped rural land that is not as secluded as I would prefer but all I could afford at the time. Last summer, I connected to the existing well via underground lines that are well-insulated and under the frost line for year round use. I had previously been hose connected for summer use only and carried in water on winter visits. There had been a mobile home on the site years ago, when I bought the property, but it was too far gone to repair, so I removed it and had the septic tank pumped out and inspected at that time. My second project last summer was to properly connect the camper to it via buried PVC, instead of the camper flex hose I had been using, which needed replacing far too often. The septic system is large enough for a home, and I plan to use it for the house I build, but it also works well for my camper in the mean time, as long as I remember to dump the tanks before they’re full. Now, as part of my new course, I have altered my focus from keeping it barely adequate to live in while focusing on building a house and relying on shore power for cooking, heat, and so forth, to instead making it suitable on its own to living in it full-time in the event of SHTF happening sooner than later.
My Phase 1, so to speak, was the well and septic, and I had already planned on doing that so there is no change required there, but my new altered Phase 2 will now be:
- Building an insulated addition using as much recycled (free) materials I can find that can safely house a small wood stove for heat and hot water and shelves for food stores and supplies. I will be using information I have gathered from the Internet for many of these projects, such as using copper tubing wrapped around a pipe or a radiator used as a heat exchanger, mounted against the side of the stove and then connected to a larger hot water tank which in turn is then connected to the camper’s hot water line. I have plenty of wood on my lot which is mostly wooded.
- Building a coke can passive heater from plans I found online and installing it on the roof, then laying buried PVC pipes underground for passive cooling and connecting them to the campers addition. These are both very inexpensive in materials, so I think I can swing it to greatly reduce heating and cooling needs.
- Catching the rain water from the addition’s roof into several rain barrels, directed through the gutters. I see these rain barrels available inexpensively or free occasionally, so I will grab what I can when I do; I’ll start with one and then add on as I get more.
- Adding skirting to the camper bottom using the old rusty roof panels that were left over from the previously mentioned mobile homes porch that I didn’t have any use for until now and painting them white.
- Building a large enough garden for my needs. (I’m single at this time. Hi, ladies. wink,wink…) Where was I? Oh yeah, I’ll be using the old fencing I find in the woods, apparently from long gone animal pens. It’s free but labor-intensive as most are very bent from tree branches over the years.
- Converting to all LED lighting in the camper to lower my energy needs and adding a couple more marine batteries for better electrical storage during power outages.
- Getting a Big Berkey water filter I can use for either the well water or rain water purification. I currently buy bottled water for drinking and only use the well water for brushing teeth (with a bottled water after rinse) and for washing and cooking, if it gets boiled first. This, however, is last on phase 2, due to it being unaffordable for me at this time.
- Oh, of course, getting my spare heater as soon as it’s in season, too.
Once Phase 2 is Done, Phase 3 will be:
- Adding a small solar system that can also power the well and adding wind power with a total capacity high enough for the camper needs and for tools and whatever is needed for home building and expandable for the house needs when it is built, but that’s definitely not in the budget at this time, either. However, I have seen some information on DIY wind generators made from used car parts which would be less expensive, so that’s promising. Harbor Freight does have some pretty good sales on their small solar kit, so that’s promising, as well, for the camper. However, it is not so great for a house, but we’ll see.
- Raising a small menagerie of rabbits, goats, and chickens for meat, milk, and eggs, which I see free or close to it pretty regularly. That will have to wait until I have suitable fences and hutches and a coup installed for their safety.
- Lastly, replacing my firearms that were unfortunately stolen, so I can use my bullets again. This is why I say my lot is not as secluded as I would like. Unfortunately, some people have no respect for private property. I only wish they would have the courtesy of coming when my Doberman and I are there.
While I understand that this new plan will take time and resources away from building my house, which will be delayed. It will, however, put me in a better position much sooner, if I don’t get a “later” and allow me to survive for much longer than my original plan would have. If I am lucky and do get a later, then I just move on to my original plan of building my house and probably keep the camper as a cool little guest house. This experience has taught me to look at my prepping as a series of smaller steps. I will now complete each one as if they were my last before moving to the next one. I would rather survive in a fully-prepared, self-sufficient camper than die in an unprepared house.