Monday, October 21, 2013

Seven Days In Place: The First Step to Prep

Where I live, Winter is coming.

As I'm not a Stark, this is not a Game of Thrones reference.

What it is--as that meme points out--is a reminder that a lean time, a mean time, a time of adversity and difficulty is coming and you should be making ready for it.

As I noted in my previous post on this topic, preparing is not about the fucking zombie apocalypse. There will not be a zombie apocalypse, and what does go down will not be the utter shitfest that is too typical of zombie media. Again, you should be preparing for the collapse of the grid as a result of a natural weather phenomenon. The fear-mongering of certain alternative media outlets and figures should not be heeded; instead, you should be examining your specific location and circumstances, looking up weather patterns (especially severe weather patterns) and checking up on the ability of your local agencies to respond to such events. With this information in mind, it's time to start making a basic plan.

This is best done in steps, and for now the first scenario is the one to square yourself away for: a grid failure lasting seven full days (seven days and nights) due to some storm pattern knocking something offline. You will need to acquire and maintain a store of food, water (drinking/washing/cooking), energy (generations and fuel) and applicable medication to hold out in place for that duration. You will need to adjust this for your income, for your location, and for what you can do with your neighbors and not just on your own; my circumstances in a small household in the center of North America is not that of several friends of mine who live in the heart of the nearby city, or several relatives who live outstate in various rural communities so adjusting to conform to specific needs and difficulties is a thing that you'll have to do.

For food, I recommend staples that keep well without a freezer or refrigerator (dry and canned goods) and can easily produce satisfactory nutrition for pennies on the dollar (and aren't crap). If you have a Winter season, as I do, season rotation of goods that need to keep cool or cold is viable if you have the means to heat and then cook them. You WILL need to rotate through your food supply; it will go bad eventually, so some means of keeping track will be required of you. If you don't know how to cook, learn now; this is basic self-sufficiency skills that you should already know.

For water, you need to remember that it's not just drinking water. You need to supply the water you use to keep yourself clean, keep your clothes clean and clean as well as cook your food. That bulk pack of bottled water won't cut it; you need to have the means to collect rainwater--fuck everyone that gainsays this--and then purify it (at the very least by boiling it) before either using it or storing it in airtight sterile containers. Yes, this too needs to be rotated, but the rate is not as it is with your food stores.

For power you should have a generator. If you have the means and the ability to acquire a reliable human-powered generator, and it can satisfy all of your household's needs, go for it. I say the same for solar panels and other alternatives to the stand-by that is the fuel-powered generator; yes, you should have one of these also--and the fuel to run it for the duration--for the simple reason of redundancy, which contributes to resiliency and thus to your overcoming the disaster faster and transitioning to clean-up/rebuild mode sooner (which itself transitions to a return of normalcy sooner). If the panels break, or you're all too sick/injured to crank that thing, then revving up that engine will be the thing that allows you to convalesce and not risk dying before help arrives.

If you can square your household away for a seven-day disaster, then you're likely to be able to hold out just fine until external aide arrives for the most common reasons for the grid to go down. Once you've got this down, build up those stores gradually until you're able to do this for six months or more; this is the most severe set-up for a disaster scenario, as it means that the agencies are themselves so screwed up that they can't intervene at all for over a season at a time, and the purpose for having that long-term a store prepared is not to await rescue (it won't get there before things go from bad to worse, depending upon where you are; city dwellers will be compelled to flee into the countryside), but to weather the immediate aftermath and then prepare your household to relocate to a location far better suited for a long-term scenario. That's a post for another day.

Remember: This is Boy Scout stuff. The neighbors will not crash through your walls to devour you and take your stuff; they will be checking on you to see if you're okay and need any help, so don't worry about them- worry instead about making sure that you, yours and your community get through this in one piece.

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