This guest post is by Erica H and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .
I have come to the unenviable realization that I too firmly believe something is going to happen to life as we know it and that our status quoue is going to change dramatically. However being immobilized by fear isn’t going to help me. I’ve trolled internet sites and while ive found some useful information, a lot of it has been either too generic, or so specific it doesn’t meet my needs, or worse, costs money to get a simple piece of information.
While there are many scenarios im anticipating, (massive unemployment being the most likely in my mind) the one im specifically preparing for is an extremist situation: one where the grid is down and there is no electricity. Specifically why this scenario? In 2013 the solar maximum is set to come and if the solar flare emits enough radiation, it could take out the electrical grid. Is this a likely scenario? I honestly can’t say, I’m a project manager not a scientist. But it gives me a “worst case” baseline scenario to work from.
This scenario gives me my time frame (Jan 2013 approx for the solar maximum) so 6 months. And it gives a scenario for the conditions I need to prepare for. I took my worst case scenario from various articles from nasa.gov and other news sites which highlights sketchily this particular scenario. In this scenario, the electrical grid will absorb the radiation which will take out the transformers. In this disaster event, the grid will be offline and may take up to 5 years to be brought back online. This would turn our country into a 3rd world nation.
So Im basing my information on how 3rd world nations live and survive, as well as how our ancestors fared.
Scenario Summary (worst case)
- No electricity
- Breakdown of government
- Electrical grid may not be back up for 5 years
- Possible EMP pulse from radiation rendering electronics useless
1st Milestone: Shelter
My first milestone which I have just completed was Shelter. (I used the word milestone, see I am a project manager).
I have recently moved to the western part of Jersey. I do not have enough money to own my own property, I rent. However I have moved to a farm which is renting a mother daughter apartment. The rent includes all utilities and has ample storage space. This place is actually a gem for survival:
- On a hidden road and at a dead-end, house is on a hill
- 14 acres that backs state land on 3 sides
- Large river runs through the property
- Organic orchard with various fruit trees (zone 6 so mainly apples)
- Built with concrete (to act as a bomb shelter) – so its solid
- Wood burning stove, which heats the entire house and there’s enough wood on the property already seasoned for 3 years, additionally a lot of trees to replenish.
- Has a walk in freezer/fridge built into the side of a hill. Even without power this makes an amazing root cellar.
- Built in greenhouse (that some poor planner built on the north side of the property, oh well)
- Has its own well and septic tank (which im convincing the landlord should have a standby hand pump if necessary)
The bonus for this shelter is the landlord is of a like mind, he’s a farmer and believes in preparation (although he doesn’t believe in my extreme scenario). He is also into collecting heirloom seeds and is a farmer. Odly enough he spends part of his time in another state on his blueberry farm, so there is a chance he may not even be in the state when the SHTF
The other interesting facts of this place is:
- It has a pool (which will work well as a cistern
- House is on a hill with one primary way of egress and is on a dead-end on a hidden road (so easy to defend)
- Abundant wildlife as were next to a massive state park and nature preserve.
Recommendation for others looking to start out:
I make 40K a year. I do not make enough to own my own home currently (Just got out of some debt). I don’t make enough currently to have a bug out location and a primary residence. I am living in my bug out location which I am renting. I work almost in NYC. It means I now have a 4 hr daily commute. It’s the sacrifice I made to ensure I had a sanctuary in case worst case happens. My next goals are to find employment closer to home, and to begin the next milestones of what I need.
But anyone can, if they’re resourceful enough and willing to lay down the groundwork and the research, begin to prepare, within a budget. And for those who think im crazy, I live in a gorgeous rural area, my rent is now 500 cheaper, and while I have a long commute, it is mainly via train which equates to reading and research time.
- Water storage and purification
- Food storage – long-term as well as short-term
- Food replenishment
o Raising Livestock – (for now it will be chickens)
- Health and hygiene
Water storage and purification (Upcoming Milestone)
One of the main reasons why I chose this location was: a river (with fish!) on the property, and it had its own septic tank and well. However I face 2 problems. 1) the river water will need purification, and the well currently is electric. My solutions to this problem are of various costs:
- Hand pump for the well. Only a viable option if the well is not too deep.
- Solar pump for the well. About 3,500 for the entire system priced out. And if an EM pulse knocks out electronics, I better have this bad boy put away in a faraday cage first, and then hope I have enough smarts to hook it up myself. But it’s too expensive for me in my 6 months time frame and budget, so this is not an option at this time
- Water purification and storage
o Water storage. In my research the best thing for long-term water storage was hard plastic containers. Also putting a small amount of bleach to prevent any bacterial growth. In this I noted that: Bleach doesn’t store for long periods of time, and I don’t want to drink bleach water.
§ long term bleach storage issue solved: use Calcium hypochlorite
- To make a stock of chlorine solution (do not drink this!) dissolve 1 heaping teaspoon (about one-quarter of an ounce) of high-test (78%) granular calcium hypochlorite for each two gallons (eight liters) of water.
- To disinfect water add one part of the chlorine solution to 100 parts water to be treated.
- Let the mixture sit for at least one-half hour before drinking.
My main choice would then be to get a water purification system like the Berkley purifiers and use it to purify river water (need to boil first) should the well be unusable. However this will require:
1. Water storage (will need to store water cause im not going to the river every day)
2. Calcium Hypochlorite to make “bleach” to then purify the long-term storage water
3. AND the Berkley purification system with extra purifying canisters (because in my scenario it will take 5 years for the grid to come back)
4. And a way to boil water (no electric)
Supplies then to obtain: (My august shopping trip)
- Transport water to and from the river (My gardening wheelbarrow)
- Water storage containers. I’ve chosen the water brick containers. Theyre expensive!!! $20 each but they are solid, built to last easy to store (stackable). In my scenario I need items which will last as they’re wont be opportunity to purchase more
- Berkeley Water Purifer. Also expensive but seems to be the best on the market. I’ve read blogs where people are using brita pitchers and I can’t believe it. Too flimsy. Plus the Berkley purifies so much more out of the water. Plus the filters can be cleaned using a toothbrush to allow them to last longer. $350 for the filter, plus will need to buy additional filter parts.
- How to Heat the water: Crisis Cooker – works with propane (with additional kit) Charcoal, or Wood. Being that I have a large supply of wood I felt this was my best bet. While it’s mainly used for small “crisis” cooking it can boil water with a pot in a pinch (as well as cook meals) $89.00
Cast Iron pots and pans and Dutch Ovens – have these already from my mother/grandmother and is what is necessary to cook on an open fire.
This contest will end on October 10 2012 – prizes include:
- First Place : $100 Cash.
- Second Place : $50 Cash.
- Third Place : $25 Cash.
Contest ends on October 10 2012.
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