Prepping For the Financially Challenged : Homes and Open Spaces part 1
By: Tom Chatham – Author of The American Dream Lost
If you live in an urban or suburban home you will have more space to prepare systems for grid down situations. One of the first things you need to think about is whether your home is paid for or not and is there a situation that would force you to leave and seek shelter elsewhere for the duration. If your home is not paid for and you could lose it if your finances were cut off or you determine that it would be too dangerous to stay there in certain situations then you need to decide if you will install anything that you won’t be able to take with you when you leave. This could be solar panels , fruit trees , a garden or security measures installed on your home. You need to plan ahead when thinking about these matters. Any money spent on these systems would be lost and might have been better spent on other equipment that you will need if you relocate.
Water is always a primary concern in any emergency. If you have your own well you are much better off than most people. If it is a dug well, with no power you can simply drop a bucket in and pull out what you need. If you planned ahead you may have a backup electric pump or a manual hand pump you can hook up. If you have a deep well you can still get a hand pump that will work but they are not cheap. You can also get a specially made bucket that can be dropped down the well casing to hoist water out by hand. It looks like a long piece of pipe with one sealed end and attachments for rope or cable on the other. If you don’t have a well you are going to need a water source as close to home as possible. The closest thing to a well is a rain catchment system where rain water from your gutters is channeled into rain barrels for storage. The more storage you have the better. Besides barrels you could use a small kiddy pool that are reasonably cheap and store easily until you need it. If you have a large pool and keep it full you could use it for a water supply , but if you do you should not swim in it or use it for bathing. That should be done somewhere else for health reasons.
If none of these options are available you will need to forage for water. You need to identify a pond , lake or stream that can supply fresh water and haul it back to your shelter. It is best to filter the water when you get it however if you carry it back to filter in a stationary unit you should keep that bucket separate from the ones that contain filtered water to avoid contamination. In an emergency you should assume that all water is contaminated and filter any that you plan to consume or cook with even if it is from a well. This may be considered overkill by some but any illness in this situation could be lethal. With a rain catchment system you have the opportunity to provide yourself with running water. One of your rain barrels can be situated on an elevated platform and a hose connected to the bottom which runs into the house. During cold weather this type of system would have to be well insulated to prevent freezing . Before electricity made them obsolete, farms used to have windmills to pump water into a container located near the top of the tower to provide running water to the homestead. These windmills can still be found near old farmhouses. You can still buy new ones at http://www.aermotorwindmill.com . If you have the means to purify or filter the water that goes into the elevated barrel , you could connect it to your home water system providing water throughout your home. This would necessitate a shutoff valve between your home and the line coming from the original source.
Your sanitation needs will be delt with based on your situation. If you have a private septic system you can continue flushing your toilet as normal using your water supplies if they are plentiful. If you are connected to a community sewer system and the power is out, the pumps that carry the sewage away will not be working. Continued use of your toilet,tub or sinks will result in the lines backing up into your home causing serious health risks, as well as other problems. Even if it dosen’t back up into your home it may in someone elses home who is lower in elevation. In this situation you can use a portable toilet with removable linings or if you have the yard space you can set up a privy. For a privy , something permanent you can build is a 4’x4’ “garden shed” for your back yard. This structure can be complete minus the actual hole that you can dig when you actually need it. A bag of lime to take care of the smell and plenty of toilet paper and you will be set. One word of caution though, if you have a well or water source on site that you use , this structure must be placed at a sufficient distance so you do not contaminate your water supply.
As far as security for homes, you don’t need to recreate Fort Knox, you just need to make forced entry so difficult that they will move on to easier pickings. Granted , the more reinforcement you have the better. For the average person with a limited budget your doors and windows are the main focus. Some well mounted steel shutters or a heavy set of bars will go a long way to keep intruders out. A cheaper solution would be to cut pieces of 3/4” plywood or thicker wood that will set in the window frame on the outside. Cut a small hole in it that you can see out of then cover the whole outside of the wood , including the hole , with a very dark window tint. This can be screwed or nailed in place over the windows to make entry more difficult while giving the appearance of being just a large tinted window.
A normal wooden door could be replaced with a heavy steel door and frame to make forced entry much more difficult. A heavy steel gate on the outside to protect the door would also be helpful. A garage door that is lightly made can be reinforced with plywood, but anything less than ½ “ thick is not going to help much. The thicker it is the better. Barbed wire or concertina wire layered around the outside of the house or the planting of large thorny bushes next to the house will also make approaching the house difficult. In a suburban environment , the bushes may be your best option without drawing too much attention to your home. Basically you want to give the impression , you can’t get in , go away , nobody is home. If a determined person or group decides they are going to get in no matter how hard it is your only recourse may be the use of deadly force. This is truly your last line of defense. How you would carry this out is a personal decision that you need to make now so you are properly prepared when the time comes. Many say that hearing someone rack a shotgun is a good deterrent and I might add that hearing a chain saw start up would also be a bit disconcerting for would be thieves.