When the lights go out, how will you protect your OPSEC?

by Liz P

I hadn’t really thought about how much light comes from our house until I read Survival Mom by Lisa Bedford. She mentions an elderly woman whose candlelight and flashlight power could be seen through her windows at night. When neighbors and others approached her home asking for lamps and oil she had none to spare. They were upset and angry with this woman because she wouldn’t share her preps.

That night I did a light inspection and wandered around our property. I was astounded at the amount of light coming from the kitchen window. It shone almost to the back of our quarter-acre property. I then did the same test with an oil lamp and a 100-hour candle placing them the farthest away as possible from the windows.

Even with all the light pollution from neighbors and the streetlights, I could still see the faintest light from the 100-hour candle in the front bedrooms through and through the patio door blinds and kitchen to at least 15 feet. This is with the “room-darkening blinds” and patio and kitchen curtains drawn closed. Imagine the amount of light emitted from a single candle through closed blinds/curtains without all the light pollution. Anyone living within proximity of us, out for a leisurely walk, or driving by could obviously see someone was home. And for some reason, CenturyLink likes to visit us after dark. Who knows maybe they wait until dark to see who is home. But I digress.

This light emitting revelation really got me thinking about what would happen if the power went out lasting well into the night and I have my 100-hour candles and oil lamps burning bright. During the summer when it’s light at 5am and doesn’t get dark until 10pm it wouldn’t make much of a difference. Early to bed early to rise. However, what if it was winter when darkness settles in at 5:00pm? Now, I know people have generators to run their lights but I don’t have the funds to invest in one so I came up with a fairly easy solution: blackout fabric, Velcro, and some magnets.

For my first test I started small; the glass in the front door. The door is steel or some metal that lets magnets adhere to it. I knew what I wanted to do and knew there would probably be no pattern available so I used my own sewing knowledge. First, I measured the window’s length and height. Taking those measurements to one of the big box fabric stores, I found some home décor material and blackout fabric and purchased those with store coupons. Because I wanted the “drape” to look like it belonged as part of the door and part of the house, I bought enough home décor material to make a front and back. Then purchasing some large magnets from a well-known discount tool store, I was ready to sew. I folded the material right sides together in half and then pinned the blackout fabric to one side of the material. Then I sewed pockets to hold the magnets, about 1 magnet every 6” on each side. When the magnets were in place I sewed the pockets shut and then sewed the front and back together leaving a gap to turn it right-side out. I quickly sewed up the bottom and tried out my new blackout curtain. The magnets held the curtain against the door and created a light seal. I had my husband turn on the hallway light while I went out to check for light leakage. It worked great. There was no light coming through and the curtain looked like it belonged as part of the door/house.

My next step was to tackle the two street-front bedroom windows.

One bedroom is the guest bedroom, the other our “office.” We use the office daily whereas the guest bedroom is used less often but still faces the street. The “room-darkening blinds” in both rooms do little to keep light in and I needed a way to make a curtain that would totally block out light. I looked at various curtain patterns but there are problems to the design if you want to totally block out light. The rods stand out from the wall so there is light let out at the top. If the curtains meet in the middle, there could be light gap there and then light at the sides depending on the rod style. I needed something to cover the inside of the window but look like a curtain. Roman shades were the closest thing I could find that I thought would work but I didn’t want to spend the money on the materials and I would still have some light seeping through.

I used the same premise as the front door, but magnets don’t work on vinyl, so I needed to come up with a different hanging solution. Velcro. Heading back to the fabric store I once again purchased enough material to make a front and back and then enough blackout fabric to cover the size of the window. I also purchased industrial strength, sticky-back, white Velcro (and don’t forget those coupons!). I sewed the fabric and blackout fabric together then cut the Velcro and stuck it to the new curtain. I also sewed the Velcro to the new curtain because I didn’t want the Velcro to come unstuck when taking down and putting it up. If you use the sticky back Velcro, you’ll want a couple of heavy duty sewing machine needles on hand. The adhesive quickly wears down needle not to mention, it makes it sticky. The other half of the Velcro also has a sticky back. I put this part on the very top on the inside of the window. The white Velcro matches the white vinyl and the top of the mini-blind covers up the Velcro strip anyway. I only did the top of the window for now. In case of a real blackout emergency, I can quickly add more Velcro strips to the sides and bottom of the window and fabric to create a complete light seal. Once again I did a test for light leakage. I put the curtain up and then used the room light. No light shone through. I then repeated this process for the office window.

I have some great neighbors that are on constant neighborhood watch on our little cul-de-sac street, but that also makes them highly aware of any changes to the houses on our street. I also have a new nosy neighbor that has taken a keen interest in what we do around our house (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen him looking over our back fence). I needed to acclimate our neighbors to the “new” décor, so once or twice a week I put the blackout blinds up at night and leave them up the next day. It definitely darkens that end of the house but it has become a “natural” part of the house.

I have added more blackout fabric along with the sticky-back industrial Velcro to my preps to cover all the windows in our house if such an occasion were to happen. The windows won’t have the home décor look but at least, I’d be protected from neighbors seeing light coming from my house and becoming angry that they weren’t prepared for when the lights went out.


  1. Rob in Ontario says:

    Great ideas , I was just thinking of same problem other day I have steel doors with large glass ,was trying to figure out how to make them not so easy to break into and just unlock . Is the “blackout material” an actual material called that?

    • There is such a fabric, and I do believe it can still be purchased in some places. Some people here may recall “Black Out Curtains” that were a REQUIREMENT in England during WWII. They were generally made of heavy black or dark color velour; they had a chain sewn into the bottom to hold them in place.

      Personally, I prefer the idea of half-inch plywood custom cut (in advance) to each window. Mark each piece; keep them where they will stay dry and not warp. Make sure you have everything you need to secure them in place – hammers, nails, screws, screwdrivers, etc. Of course, this approach assumes you want a permanent rather than a temporary black-out solution.

      Another approach I like is taking old heavy wooden doors and cutting them to fit. Cut it down the middle. Install with heavy-duty hardware like shutters but on the inside, rather than out.

      • Oh, and you can buy blackout curtains off ebay, but, I don’t know how “good” they really are.

        • We bought black out curtains for our double wide glass front door from Amazon. They come in many colors and dimensions. We hung them above the door frame and ended up keeping them up all year. They keep out the heat and the cold but can be slid off to the sides easily. No-one has even noticed them because I matched them to the decor. They totally block all light too…an extra bonus.

      • “Some people here may recall “Black Out Curtains” that were a REQUIREMENT in England during WWII. They were generally made of heavy black or dark color velour;”

        Actually, there was no velour in Britain during the blackout period. IF people could get velvet and line it, that was used, but most could not afford it. In fact only the rich bought it.

        People painted their windows with several coats of black paint, tarred them or used a heavy brown paper several layers thick. These methods were prescribed by the Home Office. The military also provided material (when they could) that was super heavy. The same as used in duffel bags.

        The ARP would go around at night during blackout trials and cite people if the tiniest light was showing on the lower floors. The RAF surveyed upper floors from the air.

        The reason I know this pat r is because I was born 1 yr after the war ended and I have seen the telltale signs and heard all the gore from family members. My own house still has a couple of pieces of tar on a window casing in the storeroom. I choose to leave it.

        People suffered from “blackout anemia” and lung problems. No light and no air circulation. Pray this country never gets this bad.

        • oldalaskan says:

          Here in Anchorage some people cannot sleep in the summer because it doesn’t really get too dark until 1 AM. people do many things to block the sun. They tape aluminum foil to the glass or put up insulated (blackout) curtains. This works good in the winter as added insulation. As for me if it comes to that point I will probably get some rolls of carpet tape and black visqueen. One thing is in the winter with a good snow cover and a full moon it is almost as bright outside as a cloudy day and that light is reflected into my home to the point I can walk around the house without lights.

    • The fabric mentioned is called “Blackout Fabric” at Joann Fabrics. It runs $7-10 a yard but they constantly have 40-50% off coupons on their website and sometimes in the local Sunday paper. They also carry or did carry the industrial strength Velcro. Home Depot also carries the industrial strength Velcro.

  2. PrepperDoc says:

    Great ideas!
    Dumb me merely plans to put up black garbage bags with duct tape, but your ideas are much better & you’re also acclimating your neighbors to it.

    If we have a major “event”….my goal is to protect my entire neighborhood. I have extension cords long enough to reach my two closest neighbors.

    I have significant solar power generation capability, and I think I have enough to run refrigerators in all three houses and a tiny modicum of compact fluorescent lights. That’s about all I can do, but there is another neighbor up the street with solar PANELS (no batteries….system useless if no grid….) and I *think* we could rewire his system (in a long term disaster) to provide power to several more homes. We would have to use car batteries from many cars — but they won’t be doing us much good anyway…….

    My goal is to rally all the neighbors and to create a security perimeter to include the neighbor just to the north of our community (who has about 30 head of cattle)….. and then to teach surrounding communities how to do the same so that we build islands of security. Get people to PLANT CROPS at the very earliest opportunity, in order to keep people from starving.

    • PrepperDoc says:

      Forgot to say: For Christmas, one of my gifts was Ted Koppel’s book “Lights out” to that neighbor with the panels — I think he has given some thought to adding the abiility to generate his own power. There is another neighbor who has firearms and is a strong believer and although he isn’t willing to do much yet, he is slowly coming on board. There is another neighbor who is also understanding of my concerns. Another neighbor has grown to appreciate my viewpoints. My immediate neighbor to the left has now read two prepper books with great excitement. I think that is why he stays in the nieghborhood instead of downsizing. The neighbor to the right has significant trust in our viewpoints but is no where close to being a prepper.

      Every year I advance these concepts just a bit farther in my neighborhood. With only one entrance and all houses on either side of one street, we are a natural self-defense area.

      • MsBlindSpot says:

        PrepperDoc…one good “event” will make believers out of them all.

        • Hi MsBlindSpot, actually, I am baffled by the number of normally intelligent people who go through minor and major disasters time after time without ever learning that they would be a lot better off maintaining some baseline level of preparedness all the time.

          I’m not talking about people getting ready for TEOTWAWKI. Some of these (family) people have told me explicitly to stop giving them batteries for Christmas for the MagLight flashlights I gave them on previous Christmases. Their flashlights are ALL dead. I know- I have tried them. They won’t even take batteries as gifts.

          They might have a camp stove because they used to camp, but decline to keep any fuel for it. They won’t keep a flat or two of bottled water because it is ‘just too hard.’

          Yet they have blackouts from time to time, blizzards regularly, now and then issues with city water. I don’t understand it. These are smart, well educated, well informed people. They do not expect the government to take care of them. They just refuse to be prepared for much of anything.

          Such people baffle me, and there seem to be a lot of them.

          • MsBlindSpot says:

            Yes…I think you’re right, now I think of it. Some sort of BlindSpot, I’d say. 😉 I use that name ’cause we always have one, and it’s good to consider what it is. I do believe tho, that there are many who will ‘wake up’ at some point (I’m seeing more of it now) and get busy. Hopefully “better late than never” will be good enough for them.

          • penrod,
            why not gather up all of the dead flashlights you gave and ask what the relatives would prefer as a trade. maybe a box of chocolates?
            you can remove the batteries to prevent ruin of the maglites and store the lights against a day of need.
            there are none so blind as they who will not see.
            it is an act of will.
            i would also stop even mentioning any of the prep things in teir presence. let it flow away.

            you’ll be safer that way.

          • Aussie Prepper says:

            Penrod, do you expect these same people to arrive at your front door “expecting” you will the guy who save their sorry ass?


          • Hi Aussie, Nope. They live on the Mainland, we live in Hawaii. Chances are greater that we would be sheltering there.

            Which is why we have been slowly building up some preps in two different places on the Mainland, but not with those who can’t be bothered keeping fresh batteries on hand.

      • Hi PrepperDoc, How was “Lights Out” received by your neighbor? I know a lot of people who are already preppers have read it, but I am wondering how many have “seen the light” as a result of reading it.

        It would be interesting to know if Koppel turns out to be mostly preaching to the choir or if he is waking up some people.

    • Axelsteve says:

      My wifes boss has 40 panels on his roof. I do not know about batteries though. He has enough power to go off grid but he is still on grid due to poltical issues. If someone knocks on his door he will ansere it armed.

      • Lights Out will definently get (some) folks thinking if they read it. There will always be those who think It’ll never happen. They’ll be the ones who think YOU owe them something.

        Glad to find out our new neighbors are preppers +/-. They took no time at all to populate the property with livestock. I’ll be giving canning and drying lessons this year. Gardening this summer of course.

        • PrepperDoc says:

          Don’t yet know about MY neighbors & what effect “lights out” might have had on them. One of my kids (who is in the armed forces) — I watched the National Geograph. “American Blackout” with him….and he instantly became at least a skin-deep “believer.” He was over at his inlaw’s house preaching about how people needed to get prepared!!! So at least THAT tactic worked….

      • remember if it is a volcano explosion the solar panels will be use less for maybe months. good to have backup.

    • oldalaskan says:

      Instead of car batteries get Marine/RV batteries.

  3. Nightshift says:

    Good article. Just an add, large pieces of cardboard cut to fit snuggly in the inside window frame does a good job of blocking light and is basically free. Can even be painted whatever color to make it less obvious.

    • riverrider says:

      we keep a stack of cardboard for this very reason. keeps in the heat too.

      • Thomas The Tinker says:

        😉 We shop ala Cost-co. I like a clean backstop when sighting in rifle. I will tour Cost-co now and again and ‘remove’ the pallet dunning when its near down a level and roll it up …. and have never been approached. When I’m lucky…. its cardboard dunning in 48″ sq. sheets. We too keep a nice stack of cardboard and a very nice roll of the thinner stuff…………………. FYI

      • I was thinking of using cardboard too. How do you plan to attach it…duct tape was all I could think of. I’m afraid it’ll lose its stickiness or the weight of the cardboard itself will just pull it off the wall or window trim. Any ideas?

        • Vickie; You could put a few staples in the top of the cardboard to hold some of the weight. Then tape around it to block out any leaks.

          • Well,….duh. I don’t know why I couldn’t think of that myself! Sometimes it’s the simplest things that elude us. That’s why we have sites like this though. Thanks Izzy!

          • LOL Vickie; You’re welcome. You’re right, we have a site like this for those things that we just seem to miss. Trust me, my binder is growing with info from this site.

  4. This is a good action to take. For some reason , human nature thinks you should “share”. That person that looks over the fence might be trouble….does he think you have something “extra”? He will be the first to knock on your door looking for a hand out.

    • I plan to offer Ramen noodles to those requesting food. They’re really cheap, easy to store, and will fill a belly when needed. I have lots of them on hand for quick meals when I don’t have time for anything more lavish. On the subject of lighting–I hate candles and see them as a fire hazard in the event of an attack– I’ve found that automotive brake lights are INCREDIBLY bright, the housings can be had for almost nothing from pull apart type junkyards, and alligator clip-type battery connectors will hook up to a battery. No fire hazard…

      • You can also pick up solar lantern’s at Walmart.com with 36 led bulbs for about 20.00 each. They are really bright. The also have a crank handle to charge them but I have never used it.

      • Illini Warrior says:

        good luck with your charity thoughts of handing out food – hope you have the chance to change your mind before it gets you & yours mobbed & killed ….

  5. One point on the sticky velcro – my experience has been that eventually it loses its stickiness either through age or summer heat so you might want to somehow reinforce it to the curtain, maybe some hand tacking with thread. Otherwise, it could fall off at the worst time.
    On the roman blinds, check the edges up close from outside – it’s where any ‘leakage’ will show, same with all exterior doors and basement windows (if you have them). Upstairs light often shines down a basement stairwell and the glow can be seen from outside. A nosy neighbor would be sure to inspect closely for any light and items ‘you should share’.

    • Great article, with a good eye to keeping the house looking “normal” inside and out. (I suppose us womenfolk prefer coordinated curtains rather than garbage bags or cardboard.)

      FYI, Velcro sells a version that might work better for this application. It’s only sticky on one side, the other side to be sewn in place.

  6. MsBlindSpot says:

    This is a fantastic article about something practical and with instructions! I always appreciate that. Thank you.

    An aside: the “curtains” can help with keeping a place warm/cool.

  7. There will not be a big problem until people realize that the power is not coming back on ….then all bets are off … and NO planning will completly prepare you for the
    Reckage and Ruin that is coming ….

  8. Insul-Bright or a dark blanket/quilt plus an inexpensive aluminized mylar “emergency” blanked will block visible and Infra Red light (heat). You will be surprised what can be seen with some modern still and video cameras.

    • @RA Myers; You will be surprised what can be seen with some modern still and video cameras.
      I would suggest that if someone has a night vision device it would behoove them to take a trip around the outside of the house in the dark, curtains in place, house lights on. It would instantly open up a new respect for just how much light leaks out around whatever preparations have been made. I’m not saying that you have to have a night vision device, just that a lot of eyes are more sensitive to light when properly adjusted to the dark and can see minute variations that might leak out around windows. I also remember reading on a membership site somewhere how a homeowner created an interrupt relay of sorts, so that when the power was out, it also turned out the solar exterior lights so that it didn’t look like he had power when everyone else was without.

  9. ” (I suppose us womenfolk prefer coordinated curtains rather than garbage bags or cardboard.)”

    Personally, when the SHTF, I am not going to care much what my house looks like. In fact, I prefer people think it is hardened. They will more likely try to break into a house that is a lot easier than one with Lexzn on the outside and plywood on the inside. I care more about security than pretty.

  10. Back in Alaska we covered the windows with wide aluminum foil….

  11. I think the next time you spot that nosy new neighbor looking into your backyard, you might want to put them on the spot. Greet them in a friendly-enough manner, then ask them what they’re looking for. That might just be a game changer; won’t know without trying.

    • MsBlindSpot says:

      Totally agree Pat R. I do this whenever I think someone is taking a strange interest. I did this with a guy in the grocery store who followed me through several aisles. I just looked straight in his eyes and said Hi, how are you? He went away then. Many predators are looking for easy prey and if you show some directness, they back off. I would definitely do this with this nosy neighbor…especially the “Can I help you find something?”.

      • JD from NY says:

        Yep, told DD the same thing. We were watching a movie were a girl was being followed on public sidewalk and she just picked up her pace. I told DD to not ignore him, turn around with your phone in hand and take a quick pic. then ask in a VERY determined voice WHO ARE YOU AND WHY ARE YOU FOLLOWING ME?! Predators don’t want to be seen and they prefer easy targets. Don’t be a sheep BE a mountain lion!

    • Had one of those type neighbors next to the first house I owned so I added a three foot extension to the top of the fence on their side. It got the message across.

  12. Good article, going in the book!

    My plan for lisghting is a lot like cooking – no sight or aroma except what is going on around me. If we are still “here” then if the neighbor can use his grill, I will, but only to boil water. I have enough freeze dried and dehydrated meals to last for the first month or so. I can still cook low key in the basement.

    Lighting is the same way. We each carry small flashlights for moving around when the lights go out, and finding dropped items now. Single candles, candle lanterns, battery lanterns used singly should not be too suspicious. Plus I have a few “give away” used candles from the Thrift Store” if it comes to that too. Make it look like I’m only slightly ahead of the “herd”.

  13. We have large black plastic sheets that fit over the window openings. All of our windows have the white vertical blinds mounter inside the window opening, that block your view in, but not light. By closing them first, then putting up the plastic sheets you not only block the light, but make the black sheets invisible from the outside. If things get really bad, we also have our wood storm window covers that get bolted over the outside of the windows during hurricanes. These would be put over all but a couple of the windows, leaving a couple for emergency egress. Also keep in mind that you need some sort of curtain behind the front door to block light when you open the door. We have a large cloth blackout curtain that hangs across the entrance hall, so if we have to open the front door at night, the light will not shine out.

    • You might want to reconsider the wooden storm window covers–you might the ability to see through these windows to assess threats, or even use them for shooting at threats…

  14. everybunny in TX says:

    I’ve been thinking about this lately, so the article is very appreciated. Excellent factors to think about. Thank you for posting!

  15. Black large leaf/trash bags and duct tape would work just fine as Tim Allen would say. Uhuhuh!!! It also helps if your main room is in the back of the house with a fireplace and have a fenced backyard. The fireplace gives you heat,light and a way to cook with renewable energy. But remember having solar power already deployed will probably be fried as well if it is an EMP.

    • riverrider says:

      most of the trash bags are too thin these days to work, at least the ones i’ve tried. maybe the extra heavy contractor bags, unopened, might work. fireplace also gives you smoke and smell, but trade offs have to made.

      • Hi riverrider, “fireplace also gives you smoke and smell”

        Lots of smoke and smell if you cook over a wood fire, but if you put a camp stove in the fireplace and cook over that, there is essentially no smell from the stove, and the chimney should get the food smells up above people. Not perfect, but it would be a non-trivial improvement, especially over a wood fire. This is where a raised fireplace would be handy.

        • I have a camping stove too, but at night when its cold and dark you get 3 benefits, heat cook and light. The smoke will be harder to see at night so that is when I would cook. Eventually we would run out of fuel for the camping stoves and people will have fires going just to keep warm. You could possibly have a diversionary fire in a clearing to mask the smell. Say in a 55 gal. barrel.Just a thought.

  16. Good ideas about light leaks at night .I keep several large pieces of cardboard , black plastic and plenty of tape . We are planning new construction and we plan several narrow windows ( 12″-14″ wide x 36″ high ) that allow good vision but are easy and quick to cover from the inside .
    Light leaks and cooking aromas can be real problem areas in a tough times scenario . Good thought provoking post .

  17. Babycatcher says:

    Another option to attach the Velcro on a wall is double sided tape. Might tear the wallpaper off when you try to take the tape down, but there isn’t any reason to take it down. At least for the next several years.

  18. Janie Bell says:

    Blackout fabric is called Duvetyne. It’s sold on Amazon and a few other places. The man who writes the blog “to simplify”
    had some curtains made for his van he lives in and he has put them to the test for light leakage . Black plastic trash bags, don’t work. They leak light right through the plastic. I already tried it.

    • Thomas The Tinker says:

      Yowzaa Janie…

      http://www.Rosebrand.com Click “Frabric”… “Fabric by use” 16oz. Commando / Duvetyn.

      We use this in set construction and stage equipment and prop masking and curtain backing. You can in fact rig a set of 1KW shin busters behind this stuff …… NO Light LEAK.

      Also type in “Gaffers Tape” and think about a roll or two of “Shurtape A&E Pro. 2”. Stuffs not cheap… It comes in colors … and Camo. You can tape Hell to an Ice-berg with this stuff, sew through it, paint over it… don’t apply to anything you want to take it off.

    • Islandwings says:

      The contractor bags purchased at the hardware store are much heavier and should work…… That is what I am going to try and secure them to the window with duct tape….

  19. riverrider says:

    cardboard the first floor and move down into the basement. few windows, cooler, and bullet proof concrete. have 12v led lights hardwired down there too. i have been thinking about putting a kill switch in the circuit to cut off the light when the door is opened.

  20. You guys are overlooking the most obvious “tell tail” give-a-way, in a “power down”. Smoke. I can smell candle smoke at 50 feet. I can smell burning lamp oil at 100 yards–further if the weather and wind is right. I can smell wood smoke for MILES , and tell if its a cooking fire for hundreds of yards. A tracking dog can do all of this from MILES away and allow someone home in on you in the dark while you huddle blind and deaf behind your “blackout”. No matter what you do it is impossible to hide from a determined hunter if you are in a fixed position. You can take proactive measures. Sentries, LP’s, patrols. TRIBE. Its why you build one. But if things are gonna go Tango Uniform its gonna come down to a gun fight. TRAIN TRAIN TRAIN. Cause eventually running and hiding won’t work.

    • Another layer of protection could be this product:
      There’s a burglary attempt video showing this products abilities–don’t know what it costs, but it has me thinking…

      • Lexan also works great Leonard. My windows are covered with Lexan cut to size. It is pricey, but it looks like a normal storm window. I did a few windows at a time. Mine is bullet proof up most handgun calibers and several rifle calibers.

    • Babycatcher says:

      Amen. I have wondered about this…the more desperation sets in, the more violence we will see, until the bad guys are killed off, or the situation improves to where people feel safe again. But it may be a new normal, not seen in this country since 1865 or earlier (1812?)

      • Thanks guys! One thing to think on if you live south of New England; Summer: You will want to keep the window’s open 24-7 in hot weather. In a “power- gone” so is the AC . and fans. Screen doors and windows are the only way to survive in summer south of the Ohio river without AC. The only way to protect your garden and live stock at night is to HEAR your attacker before they make off with the cabbages. If you hide you “survive” till the goodies run out. But if you form a village, open up your house, farm and fight ,you LIVE. So do your grandchildren. You might have to plow with a rifle strapped across your back. But that is EXACTLY what my ancestors did when they got to the “frontier” in 1535 (mom) and 1699(dad) They built America with an Ax , a flint lock and an Iron pot. I dare all y’all to do better.

  21. Work both sides of this aisle — keep them guessing. It’s a simple prep to buy a bunch of tea candles for practically nothing. You can get 100-count bags for $10 at the obvious places. Keep a couple of those around — if people get nosy and suspicious, you can buy them off with a couple (“I only have a few left and I’m stretching them as long as I can”), but if you are looking to actively barter in that sort of situation, those tiny tea candles are as good as gold in my mind. (Fuel for light, fuel for coating, an aluminum cup that is useful for hacking, wax that can be repurposed for sealing and preserving, etc etc etc.)

  22. OhioPrepper says:

    Good insights and some equally good solutions. Blackout curtains were standard practice along coastal cities in the U.S. and all over Europe during WWII. While we live out in the country with like minded neighbors no closer than 100 yards and off the road in the front of the house by a similar distance, lighting security is a bit of a concern. We’ve done a similar thing, except we completely closed off some of the rooms in the winter, since large old farm houses can have some chilly cold spots. Additionally, making these curtains with a heavier material can also provide an additional layer of insulation from that cold weather. One additional thing to take into account, in winter, is heating your abode. We use a propane gas furnace with some large tanks; but, they require that electricity be available. In the case of no power we have a large capacity ventless heater connected to the main tanks, and in addition, we cook and bake with propane gas. For an emergency heating situation, we have some of the old Terra Cotta flower pots that can be inverted and placed over the burners on the range creating an additional radiant heating source in the kitchen. Add to that a buddy heater, a stash of propane cylinders and a hose to connect to a 20 pound propane tank. I bring up the heat for two reasons.

    First: With the proper lighting, you can gain a great deal of additional heat. We have LED lamps and flashlights; but, we also have several Aladdin mantle lamps which produce the light of a 75-100 watt incandescent bulb and about 3000 BTU per hour of heat.

    Second: If you’re planning on a woodstove for your heating in this situation, keep in mind that wood smoke can alert passersby to your presence as easily as lighting, unless everyone in your area heats with wood on a regular basis.

    • everyone remember that windows are breakable and gangs will come eventually in many places. don’t just rely on blackout curtains nor on solar panels.
      if you have the $$$ have some sort of backup.

    • OP!!!!!! It’s great to see you back!!!

      • OhioPrepper says:

        Just dipping my toe back into the water; but, planning to work on doing full laps ASAP.

  23. Last year, my neighbor remarked that from her house (1/2 mile away), my 2 story 6 bedroom house looked like a hotel! We live out in the country and I have never had curtains on any windows. My response was to cover the two big garage windows that face the street with cardboard wedged into the window opening. I fitted all the upstairs bedroom windows with spring rods that fit inside the window well… Then I gathered up baby quilts (lots of kids =lots of baby quilts) and matched the quilt size to window size as best I could. I sewed a pocket along the top side of the quilt and slid the rod through before hanging up my new “curtains”. They do not totally black out all the light, but do make my house much less conspicuous and they have the added benefit of keeping in a bit of heat as well.

  24. To tell the truth I get blackouts at my house every winter and have yet to have a neighbor see light and come by to ask for anything. I have been here for 25 years. I am always amazed at these type of questions as everyone always goes straight to Mad max situations. If that is the case people are going to be banging on your door whether they see light at night or not and raping and pillaging will be rampant. For the record I seriously doubt we are going there. Economic problems like inflation or a collapse of the dollar are much more possible. And they will cause there own problems but unless you live in a city I don’t see people breaking down your door cause they saw a candle.

  25. Illini Warrior says:

    Light discipline is only a small part – an open display of heat and cooking is like ringing the dinner bell for the post SHYF moochers and more evil raiders …..

    Portable propane gas heaters – in the immediate post SHTF time frame instead of the more evident wood fireplace is a prepper wise move ….

    Planning on firing up that backyard BBQ or have you given thought to a covert basement kitchen venting thru the chimney or wastepipe stack?

  26. TPSnodgrass says:

    We installed some terrific solar powered security lights above each ground floor window, angeled to prevent anyone from seeing inside light spillage. Works well and the neighbors are accustomed t them, and even installed SME n their home. Its not perfect but it does reduce the opportunity and forces the hand of potential intruders.

  27. Encourager says:

    I am not sure how in the world I can do this as I live up on a hill (highest point in area) in a passive solar home (south side floor to ceiling windows.) Sigh… guess I had better address this if we are staying here.

  28. Just a thought folks;
    Mad Max? Not likely.
    Mass panic? Highly likely.
    Assaults from low life predators, thieves, thugs that are already walking and living among us, moochers, deceivers and anarchist minded folks? Definitely guaranteed and expected. So keep in mind that…….
    1. At some point the backup propane cylinders run empty
    2. As will the 20 lbs tanks (anything larger is quite noticeable and has been noticed)
    3. Realistically, larger family groups are going to go through those (cooking & heating) supplies at a fast clip
    4. If you live where winter has the likelihood to be somewhat hard to harsh (I currently live in Indiana) , meaning when temperatures get consistently below freezing to – 0 often during mid to late winter, it’s going to change how fuel is used.
    5. Regardless of what most people think, just about everyone with a fireplace will use it. It’s human nature to do so it’s convenient, comforting and will be necessary. People that have large supplies of firewood laid by did so for this very scenario.
    6. Folks in the farming communities and rual areas have stock and crops that are vital to their families and some neighbors survival.
    7. Guaranteed, there will be a run on everything related to heating, cooking eating especially since there is no way to know for sure how long it will take to get back to a semblance of normal.
    Lastly, take a drive or walk around any town and really pay attention, note how many people are actually around! I am amazed at how many people are in any given area in small cities and towns alike at any given time.
    A final thought, our forefathers because of various events had to Pray, farm, watch and fight to live. So will this generation.
    MD, thank you for your passion to keep us all aware and prepped.
    God’s Bless folks!

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