Category Archives: Technology
By: Tom Chatham
When people are sitting around making lists and deciding what they need to survive or just get by in the future there is one thing they need to give great thought to. Energy is the basis of everything. Energy takes many forms such as food, electricity, liquid fuels, mechanical, nuclear, solid fuels, solar and wind to name a few. Without it your body will not function, you will have no light, no heat, no transportation or communication. Energy is the foundation of everything humans do in this world. Without energy in its many forms we cannot live.
If you can produce enough energy you can do just about anything. You can live deep underground, live on the moon or even in space. You can heat your home, produce light to see, grow food, power vehicles and radios, produce goods from raw materials and power equipment to keep you alive.
Most people do not think about this very often because they can simply walk outside and feel the warm sun on their skin, do numerous tasks and even feed themselves as a result of this energy from the sun. They can do many things without modern technology because the sun provides the energy to do it. Knowing how to generate and utilize the various types of energy allows you to survive in many different environments. Here is one example to think about to show you what I mean.
In the movie The Road, the earth is consumed by an environmental disaster that leaves the world in a cloudy haze, leaving it cold and dead. The survivors wonder around looking for any type of sustenance they can find including each other.
Even under the circumstances given these people still have the ability to produce energy. Energy means life. Nuclear power would still work under these circumstances especially in navel vessels. Even though all of the trees seem to be dead, they can still be burned for fuel. As long as water falls from the sky hydroelectric power will still work. Where you have power generation you have the means to provide heat and light to grow food. You only need the knowledge and skills to do it.
In a survival situation, especially an extreme one, having an energy source that allows you to live is very important. That is one reason why knowledge and skills are so important to many preppers. Knowledge and skills allow you to construct a new living environment following an event and energy plays a major role in that. It is idiotic to walk around like the survivors in The Walking Dead, with no food, water, equipment or transportation when there are resources scattered all around you that can be utilized.
Simply burning wood can provide you with energy to run a vehicle, produce power for lighting and communications and produce heat for cooking. With sufficient energy you can grow food, produce clothing, distill water, even provide fresh air and refrigeration. Energy is the key to living and the more knowledge you have in producing and controlling it the more likely you are to survive long term. The types of energy produced and the ways you utilize them are entirely up to you when your survival is in your hands. The more energy you can produce, the better your living standard is likely to be.
When an abnormal event occurs that can bring civilization to a screeching halt, the energy you have available to you will determine if you survive or not. Energy in all of it’s forms is something most people never think about until it is too late. It does not matter if it is the sun, wind, hydro, wood, oil, bio fuels, coal or thermoelectric. You need to be ready to utilize what you have available when the time comes. Your ability to create and utilize the energy available to you is your ability to live.
By: Tom Chatham
Those that are aware of the EMP commissions report have probably also heard the statement that this type of event would suddenly transport everyone involved back to the 1800’s almost instantly. It is also possible that up to 90% of the population could die within 2 years due to the sudden lack of modern technology. It does not matter if it is an EMP, CME, cyber attack or terrorist attack on the grid, the results will be largely the same.
This is a sobering notion that you can either believe or disbelieve. If you think it is all hype you need only to go back to your daily activities and hope it never happens and leave your survival to someone who will do something if it ever happens. For those hardy souls that take responsibility for their own fate and that of their family, it falls to you to determine what this type of event will mean for you. An event of this magnitude will affect different people in different locations in different ways.
It is important to first realize what changes you will likely see following this event. To understand this you must look at what a 19th century lifestyle would look like to you. Understanding these differences will help you to determine what plans you need to make ahead of time to adjust to these changes in a way that will allow you to survive. Here are some of the things you will face with a collapse in modern technology and this does not even take into account problems you will face from the ill prepared.
19th Century support systems included the following
Sailing ships for cargo and human transport
Steamships for cargo and human transport
Steam locomotives for cargo and human transport
Horses and wagons for cargo and human transport
Horses, mules and oxen for cultivation and harvesting
Root cellars for common storage
Ice houses to store ice cut in winter
Open pollinated seeds for planting
Livestock manure for fertilizer
Local mills for processing grains
Shallow dug water wells for fresh water
Manual tools for building and repairs
Developed systems for kerosene, whale oil and candle making for lighting
Mechanical power systems for factories and machinery
Telegraph lines for communication
Local craftsmen to build and repair items
Human and animal means to produce coal
Wood stoves for cooking and heating
Outhouses for sanitation needs
Buildings designed for natural ventilation
Limited clean water systems
Limited hospitals and doctors
Limited drugs, medications and medical equipment
Limited firefighting capabilities
Limited law enforcement capabilities
Physical currency of silver and gold
Banks utilizing paper records
Many of these systems exist today only in museums or historical sites and in insufficient quantities to support the population we now have. So simply going back to 19th century living standards would be impossible for the vast majority of people even under the best of circumstances. This brings to light the conclusion that 90% of the population would not survive long term under these conditions.
Assuming this type of event did occur, what would you need in advance to insure your survival? That is a question many people need to ask but most will not simply because their belief system would be shattered if they acknowledged potential threats and that they need to be responsible for their own lives.
There is the potential for many types of catastrophic events that we may never see but the potential should be enough to cause reflection on the individuals part to at least ask the important questions for their own survival. To prepare mentally as well as physically is important to survive the worst of the potential events we could face. You may not find yourself living in the 19th Century tomorrow, but what if?
By: Tom Chatham
Surviving an EMP event without prior preparation would be difficult at best for the population and here is why. Many people have read the reports that claim we would be sent back to 19th century living levels following an event and many simply think they could bear that for a short period until things get fixed. The problem is we no longer have 19th century infrastructure to support that level of existence. We do not have the transportation systems based on horses and steam locomotives, the ability to grow, harvest and process food the 19th century way, the local water sources to support populations, the sanitation systems or the medical systems that do not rely on technology or the ability to heat and cook the 19th century way. We have the knowledge to build these systems but that takes time and resources we may not have especially in the large cities. Without these types of systems waiting on the sidelines to be readily put into action, society as it is would collapse into tribal warfare as groups fight for the few resources that still exist. Even with these systems we could not support the number of people we now have. In short, many people would die even in the best of circumstances. Those that have these types of systems would have the ability to survive if they could protect these resources long enough.
If you own a large boat and suddenly sink for some reason many miles from shore, there is an easy way to survive this situation and a hard way to survive. You can have a good life boat, supplies and a radio to call for help and wait in relative safety or you can float around in the ocean with nothing but a life jacket hoping somebody finds you in time.
Any type of disaster can be looked at in these terms. Preparation makes all the difference when things happen. With all of the talk about a possible EMP happening it is important to think in these terms and provide yourself the best possible way to survive events should they happen. This means realizing what could happen and what supplies you need that can survive the initial effects of the disaster.
An EMP has its own special problems when it comes to storing supplies, especially equipment, to survive the aftermath. The special nature of an EMP make many types of equipment unreliable following an event without proper storage. Even with proper storage the use of a super EMP could overwhelm many basic storage devices such as homemade faraday cages. The U.S. hardened some of its military infrastructure to withstand a pulse of 50 kilovolts/meter. The problem is that Russia has weapons that can produce up to 200 kilovolts/meter which would likely overwhelm our most hardened components. Until it actually happens you don’t really know what will survive. This is the crux of the problem trying to decide what to store to survive an EMP.
I go about this in a two fold manner. I store electronic devices in the safest manner I can but I also have a non-electric backup system in the event that fails. As with any preparations, two is always better than one. This means if one system fails you have another to go to you can be sure will work when needed. This means preparing systems in depth to assure availability.
Just as an example, if you know you will need transportation following an event you could have an older vehicle stored in a metal building to protect it and certain electronic components for that vehicle stored with additional shielding in the event the vehicle is damaged. This will allow repairs following the event. Then you could have a secondary mode of transportation such as horses, a bicycle or a boat depending on your circumstances. This provides you with many options no matter how bad the event was. Just keep in mind that the simpler the system, the more likely it will still work when needed.
You need to determine what critical systems you will need or want following an event and determine what you will need to store to have those capabilities. This prior planning is essential so you do not waste time and limited resources on items you do not need or will not survive the initial phases of the event.
If you want power following an event you need to do a good assessment and determine what components will give you the most bang for the buck. A generator is good but you would also want to store electronic components that can break or burn out as well as items like carburetor kits and spare spark plugs. You would need a good fuel supply on hand and possibly an alternative fuel source like propane or wood gas. If this system fails to work following an event you would need a secondary energy source. Solar or wind is good but you would need all of the components to make a complete energy system including charge controllers, batteries and power inverters.
If you have solar panels and batteries and these are the only things to survive you will still have generating and energy storage capability. Having panels hooked directly to batteries would require close monitoring to prevent damage and a simple voltage meter would be helpful in this regard. This would give you 12v or 24v power to utilize in an emergency and there are many products out there that run on these voltages. This would provide you with a viable energy system as a backup and some capabilities even if you only had a 12v lighting system and a 12v absorption refrigerator to use. Planning ahead and breaking it down to the most likely components to survive will avoid wasted time and money.
Propane appliances are a good way to go when planning for electrical disruptions. Old school propane appliances that lack a lot of electronics will insure operability when you need it. A good supply of propane is also easy to get at this time allowing you to run appliances for months or years depending on your storage capacity. This can give you the time needed to survive and adjust to long term realities.
At the bottom tier of your alternatives should be manual tools and equipment that can replace electrical and energy dependent devices to accomplish the tasks you deem necessary following an EMP event. These are the systems you can depend on to work no matter what happens. This is your last line of defense in a worst case scenario. When planning systems I try to buy the manual items first simply because they are usually cheaper and if something happens before I buy everything I want, I know what I have will work.
Thinking ahead and identifying the weak links now will allow you to survive much easier than the general population will if such an event comes to pass. Having even a handful of backup systems that still function following an event will give you a definite edge when survival becomes a daily task. Every capability you have following an event gives you that much more to insure survival. Surviving an EMP event will be no piece of cake by any means but would you rather be afloat in relative safety or simply fighting to keep your head above water?
By: Tom Chatham
The recent cyber attack on computers worldwide is just the latest wakeup call to the future we are blindly building for ourselves. The vast majority of humanity embraces technology like it is their next breath of air. Without it, they feel like they will die.
Technology is a double edged sword that we wield that must be handled with care less we cut off one of our own limbs. Technology allows us to be more productive and work faster than without it but as we embrace more technology to relieve us of many manual tasks we must not let it rule our very existence.
Technology must be used as a lever, not a crutch. When we give up our ability to function in daily life and allow technology to rule our every move, we ultimately give up our freedom. To allow technology to dictate what we can do and when we can do it is to reduce ourselves to nothing more than compliant slaves to it.
When a hospital cannot perform operations or even see patients because their computers are down or we cannot communicate or travel because of computer hacking, we have allowed technology to become a crutch that prevents us from falling on our faces in its absence. When we cannot buy food or fuel or depend on electrical power for basic needs we have become too dependant on the technology we invented to assist us.
The use of technology is a good thing that allows us to move forward and build things we never dreamed of before but when it becomes a weakness, we need to reexamine our use of it. If we become so dependant on technology that we cannot function without it we are preparing ourselves for a doomsday scenario when it eventually fails and we are helpless to care for ourselves.
It is only logical to have backup systems to utilize in the event our technology fails for some reason. This is the whole reason we have people to warn us before hand such as the EMP Commission to tell us we are in danger if certain events happen. Technology provides us with many good things but it also leaves us susceptible to many bad things as well if we ignore our responsibility to use it wisely and not become too dependant on it.
Many people today can actually have withdrawal symptoms if they lose access to their technology for any length of time. This should be an alarm to society but most just brush it off as fear mongering. When the loss of technology causes a business to completely stop operations, that should be an indication they do not have sufficient backup systems to fall back on.
One of the prime tenants of the prepper movement is that they have multiple backup systems to rely on if technology stops working. This is just a logical step taken by people that have taken the time to analyze the threats posed by the loss our technology and determine action is warranted for the preservation of life following certain events. The less technology you require to take care of daily activities, the more freedom you have to live a normal life.
Most people still do not take the threat of technological disruptions to society seriously. They think that if something happens, someone will fix it and life will go on as normal. What they refuse to contemplate is if something happens and nobody can fix it. As society moves along this technological road they become more dependent on it and the risk to their lives increases as they lose the ability to do basic tasks. Hopefully this latest cyber attack will instill in people the need to have backup systems in place to continue their daily activities and live life as a free person and not be a slave to the technology they so eagerly seek.
By: Tom Chatham
If you realize that we live in an ever changing and dangerous world where anything could happen at any time then you have probably also realized that you should have a plan to provide resources you need if the supply system is ever cut off. This mindset takes you into the realm of prepping.
The amount of preparations you have is relative to the type and extent of the event you are planning for. The problem is that we never know just how bad an event will be until it happens. Many intelligent people have supplies laid in just in case they need them but what will you do when they run out? We hope any event will be short in duration but what happens if it lasts for decades?
You may have a small farm to rely on but even if it is designed to be largely self sufficient, you will still run into problems later on. For instance, if you have a solar or wind system for power generation, what will you do when the batteries finally fail to work? Even the best lead acid battery will begin to fail after 10 years of use. What will you do then? There are other types of batteries but they all will fail at some point. Some batteries can last many decades such as nickel-iron batteries if you can replace the electrolyte every decade but that would require you to look ahead and store extra chemicals for that job.
If you farm and you need to buy fertilizer, seeds and fuel every year, what will you do when those supplies are cut off? There are ways around those problems such as using manure from your livestock to fertilize fields, using bio-diesel or wood gas for fuel and cultivating open pollinated seeds for future use. All of these solutions require prior planning to utilize them if it is necessary. And for machinery, keep in mind that you may be able to make fuel but lubricating oil and filters are a different matter that will require storage of extra supplies that you cannot make yourself.
Growing and canning your own foods is a smart move but do you have the supplies to do it indefinitely? If you use disposable canning lids how long will your supply last? If you use reusable canning lids and store extra rubber gaskets you will be able to can for many decades.
Following any large event that shuts down the grid or distribution system for several months or more, the supplies you need will not suddenly reappear on store shelves immediately following power restoration, transportation and banking. Many factories will have ceased operation during the event and may never reopen. The production and distribution system is a hardy weed but it will not reappear overnight once it has been shut down and you need to understand that and prepare accordingly.
Most people have a planning horizon of only a week or month at best. Preppers extend that to several months or a few years. If you really think we are headed for some type of catastrophic event then your planning horizon needs to be 5, 10 even 20 years out to foresee any problems you may have and plan your logistics to compensate for it.
Planning for the unknown 20 years out is a big step and the cost of some of the projected logistics could be enormous but simply looking at the problems now and coming up with cost effective solutions can have enormous benefits in the future.
Having a few basic tools and the knowledge to make leather shoes or boots can guarantee you a supply of footwear in the future. Having a sewing machine, spinning wheel, loom and some cotton seeds can provide you with the ability to make clothing indefinitely. A small charcoal foundry will allow you to make many types of metal products.
While we may not want to resort to these primitive types of production, it may be your only option if the worst happens. Simply having the materials and knowledge to resort to these types of production can be inexpensive today but priceless tomorrow if they are ever needed.
Looking ahead today and planning for tomorrow will allow you to deal with anything life throws at you in the future. The more resourceful you can become now, the more likely you will have a good quality of life in the future. It all starts with planning.
By: Tom Chatham
Most people would agree that when disaster strikes, what you know is one of the most important things you will have to work with. Your knowledge base is the one thing you can carry with you wherever you go. It will allow you to create items from locally available materials and improve your situation, whatever it may be. It is this mindset that many preppers use to improve their chances if the unthinkable should happen.
But lets take this mindset a step further. What would you be capable of doing if a global catastrophe happened? One such as a pole shift that destroys much of the infrastructure, knowledge and people that know how to build things and how they work. Would you be able to recreate some of the things you would need to rebuild society if you had to start from scratch with only your knowledge to guide you?
I like to play a mental game sometimes to help me understand just how much I actually know so I can identify what I need to learn. One scenario I use is to imagine that I am suddenly left in a destroyed world. What complex system could I recreate that would help me utilize many of the technologies I have lost? One system I use is the aircraft carrier. That may sound strange but just think of all of the various systems that comprise of that one ship.
While you may not be able to recreate all of the systems in their current form you can retain the knowledge to build primitive versions of those systems. You may not have the ability to build microprocessors but you can build vacuum tubes. You may not be able to recreate the telephone but you can build a telegraph set. You may not be able to build a nuclear reactor but you can build a wood fired steam engine. You may not be able to build a GPS unit but you can build a sextant and compass.
All of the technology we have today was built on the foundation of previous technologies we once used. Even if you do not understand current technologies, knowing how antiquated equipment worked gives you a base of knowledge you can build on. The following are some of the technologies it is helpful to know if you ever need to recreate them from scratch.
How to identify iron ore in rocks and refine it into cast iron and steel
How to weld or rivet steel plates together
How to build a boat or large ship
How to build a simple steam engine fueled by wood
How to build a propeller for a ship
How to make oil lamps and fuel for them
How to make a basic light bulb
How to make copper wires
How to make a simple telegraph set
How to make a basic battery
How to make a basic radio set or crystal radio
How to make vacuum tubes for radios
How to build a simple airplane or glider
How to build a simple generator
How to build a crossbow
How to build a flintlock rifle
How to make gunpowder
How to make glass
How to make paper
How to build a water wheel for power
How to build basic machining tools such as a lathe or milling machine
How to build a water pump
How to build a saw blade to cut lumber
How to make lead pencils or ink
How to make cloth
How to build a still
How to build a compass
How to build a mechanical clock
How to navigate by the stars or sun
How to make a camera or tin type
How to make camera film
How to make a telescope or binoculars
If this list seems overwhelming, that is the idea, and this is a small list. Most people do not realize how much technology we use on a daily basis and most have no clue how any of it works. If they were suddenly cast out into the wilderness, they would likely revert to caveman living if they survived at all.
Learning about how things work does not have to be boring. Many people would find sitting around reading about making stuff enough to say forget it. If you want to learn about building boats you don’t need to build a ship, just build a canoe or row boat in your spare time. If you want to know about radios get a crystal radio kit or build a basic tube radio from scratch. If you want to learn about the basic structure of airplanes buy a balsa wood airplane kit and build a model from scratch. If you think a clock is too difficult to build try a paper clock kit that works. If you have kids these projects can be even more fun and educational if you do it with them.
In the event of a world cataclysm, if the few survivors could even recreate the technology of the early 20th century, they would have a good start on rebuilding our technology base. When knowledge is lost, it takes centuries to rediscover it. Just look at the achievements of the Romans and how much knowledge was lost when the Roman empire collapsed. Many of the areas reverted to more basic technologies until centuries later when the knowledge was rediscovered. Roman concrete was much harder than modern cement because they added volcanic ash to it to make it harder. How many people today know that?
When disaster strikes humanity at any level, the more MacGyver’s there are in society, the more likely we will recover from it with much less pain. Knowledge allows humans to be creative and constructive following a crisis while lack of knowledge turns people into animals doing anything they can to survive. Modern society has very little real knowledge and that does not bode well for the survival of humanity if the fateful day ever comes.
While very few people today may be able to recreate all of the things on this list, the more each person knows, the better off society as a whole will be in the future. You should endeavor to learn something new as often as possible until the day you die because you never know when that little bit of knowledge will be a lifesaver. It would be a shame for something to happen to this planet and the survivors be forced to revert to medieval living and the hardships it would entail for lack of knowledge of our most basic technologies.
By: Tom Chatham
If we follow the premise that all things on Earth are finite such as the physical resources we use then we must assume that at some point we will begin to run out of these resources as they are more heavily utilized. Our use of energy is one such item that should be addressed by the average person before we hit the wall of limited and then lack of these resources.
There are those that think solar and wind will be the salvation of our energy problems but these people fail to take into account the limitations of these energy sources. It still requires energy to extract the raw materials needed to build solar panels and these must be replaced at some point. Wind turbines require steel, concrete, fiberglass and copper just to name a few of the resources needed to make these things work and they too must be replaced every few decades as they wear out.
One problem with solar that I have talked about to people is the fact that massive amounts of energy must be stored in order for it to power the grid continuously. One person recently calculated that batteries to store enough energy to power the U.S for one day would require batteries covering 923 sq. miles and costing 41 trillion dollars. While I am an advocate of wind and solar I do not believe they are capable of powering our grid reliably. I think their benefits can only be utilized as stand alone systems on individual buildings.
Those that think solar and wind can replace oil do not understand our energy requirements at the present time and certainly do not understand the power requirements of things such as ships, trains and semi trucks that move the bulk of our commodities around the world. Cheap oil has made the current world trade system possible and the lack of cheap energy will cause a collapse of the status quo. The collapse of our current energy system will cause widespread chaos and depressed living standards if we do not address this issue now. It is for this reason that we need to look forward to the energy we will use in the future.
Hydrogen is more akin to a storage battery as it takes energy to separate the hydrogen from other elements to utilize in most cases. Fusion is still a promising energy source that we still do not know how to produce and maybe in the future if we figure it out it will change things but that is some time off. Things such as oil, natural gas and coal are heavily used today but they will only last so long and a growing population is using them at a faster rate as time goes on insuring their demise at some point. Nuclear power plants are filled with controversy and their future is uncertain unless something changes.
If our fossil fuel system begins to erode we will have to fall back on what we know. In this case the most available source of energy available to the population is that age old element, wood. As archaic as it sounds if our energy grid begins to shut down wood may be the go to system for individuals at the local level. A mature wood lot can produce about ¾ of a chord of wood per acre per year. When utilized within these limits it becomes sustainable for the long term.
A small homestead with a good woodlot and some solar and wind power may be the future we are forced to embrace until some new energy source becomes available in large enough quantities to fulfill our needs on a large scale. Now is the time to begin this conversion before we are forced to do so when the materials we need are no longer available to the masses. There are many people that have made this change and live off the grid today and are very happy about it.
Wood is also a viable source of energy for vehicles utilized in the local area. Wood gas can provide the energy to power much of the agricultural equipment we need to maintain the food supply. While this is a step back it will likely become a necessity at some point if we wait too long. With wood gas a conservative estimate of wood power indicates about 20 pounds of wood equals a gallon of gasoline when utilized in a motor vehicle. There is some power loss with wood and production efficiencies vary from system to system.
Much of the population growth of the world has been made possible by the availability of cheap energy and the loss of this cheap energy will cause a drastic adjustment to the population on this planet as we run into resource scarcity. The abundance of food we now produce depends on vast quantities of cheap, available energy. Nature has a way of balancing things out if we refuse to do so on our own. People need to understand this.
While a small homestead with solar and wind power and equipment powered by wood may not be the ideal plan, it is one you can be working towards while you can do so with minimal disruption to your lifestyle. In the near future if energy prices and availability should become more of an issue than it is now, having alternative energy systems will minimize the effect on your quality of life. I suggest you have a plan that works for you and your family before you are forced into one by events.
A plan to deal with an energy shortage will not only protect you from a shortage but also from manmade and natural disasters that would curtail or eliminate the timely delivery of energy to the masses. The ability to provide the majority of your own energy needs makes you less vulnerable to shocks that can send society into panic and disrupt many lives. Over time things change. This can be beneficial or detrimental to our well being and your ability to adapt to those changes will determine your quality of life in the years to follow.
Our energy resources may be stable for many years to come. Then again they could change drastically in a matter of weeks. Walking into the future with your eyes closed knowing full well you could fall off a cliff is a dangerous way to live, especially when you could take steps to minimize the dangers and insure your quality of life if something does happen.
By: Tom Chatham
We all like to think that even if something catastrophic happens we will still have at least some access to electricity to run some of our most critical items. It is in our nature to be optimistic when it comes to our well being. Unfortunately the universe has no limit to the ways it can harm us. Whether through natural or manmade occurrences, we are subject to crisis at any time.
It is this potential for hardship that we are required as thinking persons to take due diligence and insure we can overcome potential events at least to some degree. Preparedness allows us to exert a certain amount of control over what happens to us.
It does not matter if it is a hurricane, earthquake, CME or war. How well we cope with the event is entirely up to us. When the worst of events happen we are forced back onto our own resources until things stabilize and resupply of basic needs is restored. In some cases it could be weeks or even years before this stabilization happens and distribution systems are reestablished. This will depend on the type of event and its damaging effects.
When the worst happens and society as a whole is stripped of its modern conveniences, only those that can cope with the new reality will likely survive. This means knowing how to use the ways of past generations to get by from day to day. Survival will depend on how prepared you are to revert to these older techniques to fulfill logistical needs. Here are some of the major items you will need to deal with when the worst happens.
Water sources and pumping –
Finding and retrieving clean water is a critical need when services are cut off for extended durations. Knowing where to go locally to find clean water and having a way to collect it and carry it home become life saving measures. Having the means to filter water or knowing how to build devices to do so becomes priceless knowledge.
Growing food –
Having food stores is essential to staying alive following an event until distribution and production systems are working again. Storable food gives you the time to find new sources of food or to begin growing your own food. The ability to grow your own food provides you with a sustainable source of food for indefinite periods of time. Extra food production also gives you a product to trade with.
Storing food –
Once you have food you must have a way to store it until you use it. Different foods have different storage requirements and shelf life. You may need several types of storage to satisfy all of your needs. Root cellars, dehydration, canning and salting are some of the most popular methods that do not require electricity to maintain food supplies.
Providing heat and light –
Providing heat and light without electricity will require primitive methods to some extent. Wood stoves for heating and cooking are necessities over long periods of time. Some stoves with glass doors will even provide some light. Oil lamps and candles are the most basic types of home lighting. In desperate situations it is possible to make additional candles and produce liquids to burn in lamps.
When modern types of transportation no longer work you must cultivate older systems to fulfill your needs. Bicycles, horses, boats and walking will be the fallback systems most will use when modern systems fail.
Without electricity to send and receive signals from afar, older more local systems will be required. Bike or horse messengers will become standard again. For more technical minded people like ham radio operators, Morse code can still be utilized with the use of signal mirrors or signal lamps. Message boards at central locations will be useful for dispersion of information to local populations.
Poor sanitation has the ability to kill more people than anything else on Earth. We see it all the time following major disasters. Whatever your living situation is now, it could drastically change within minutes. Understanding proper sanitation methods such as how to build an outhouse in your yard can mean the difference between life and death. You need to know how you will dispose of waste safely if your current system stops working. This is especially true if you live in a city where your options may be limited.
In the old days before telephones, the sheriff was a long ride away. Any imminent threats had to be dealt with by you. That can happen again and does following some disasters. Being able to keep your surroundings safe following some event will allow you to start the rebuilding process. Lack of a safe area makes survival much harder especially long term.
Long ago when a person got sick they either sent for the doctor or carried the sick person to him. This usually required actual horse power in either case meaning it was slow. When this happens today we have the advantage of having modern medicines and equipment to keep people alive when they would have likely died in the past. Many of these modern techniques and medicines can be maintained by individuals to insure they are available to injured persons if help cannot come. Knowledge of medical procedures and organic medicines would be necessary if a long term disaster occurred.
The possibility of total loss of electrical production and electrical devices is very small but not impossible. The only way to be fully prepared for any type of event is to assume the worst case will happen and have a plan to deal with the needs of the community. It is good to have back up equipment to satisfy your needs but some natural disasters can destroy that equipment leaving you only the most basic means to work with. When that happens what you know becomes very important.
Knowing how to take care of basic needs for long durations without the aid of modern conveniences becomes more critical as the world around us becomes more automated and technologically based. Many people today cannot function when something as simple as a power outage or communication outage occurs. They have forgotten how to think for themselves and think through the most simple problems.
If the worst should happen such as an earthquake or major war, leaving you cut off from modern services, it will be up to you to work through the problems you face with the tools available to you. Help may not come for a very long time and if that happens your life will be in your hands.
By: Tom Chatham
The threat of a massive CME or human initiated EMP that takes down most of the electrical devices we depend on has become more of a threat to modern survival than ever before. Modern man has become so dependant on technology that the loss of it can have sudden and catastrophic consequences to our daily survival. The 1859 Carrington Event caused much chaos in its day but life went on. The problem is that we have moved far beyond those simpler days of 19th century America.
A catastrophic loss of technical infrastructure today would have the potential to reduce the American population by up to 90% according to many experts in the field. This is due to the inability of modern populations to adapt to the sudden changes and the lack of modern delivery systems to supply large population centers. The inability of population centers to function without modern technology could be overcome but the lack of preparations by these people make it unlikely. This is due to the lack of a functional infrastructure to replace modern technology and the lack of supplies to carry people over until older methods could become functional.
Water and sewage can be moved by steam powered pumps and bulk food supplies can be moved by steam locomotives. The lack of these archaic items makes this unlikely today in the short term but possible none the less. You also find problems with modern food production where the current 2% that produces food for the other 98% will no longer have the ability to do so without modern machines. With modern technology removed from the equation we simply do not have the infrastructure to maintain the current population. That does not mean we do not have the ability to maintain a smaller population.
Even in the worst technology disruption we still have items that can help to maintain a smaller population and provide a good quality of life. It only requires that people embrace this older technology and have it available if the time ever comes that it is needed. The following is a list of items that will still function even with a catastrophic CME or EMP.
Mechanical clock or watch
Steam engine and boiler system
Absorption refrigeration systems and gas appliances
Compass and paper map
Pencils and pens
Typewriters and carbon paper
Manual printing press
Slide rules and mechanical adding machines
Gramophone and records
Mechanical sewing machine
Livestock, plants, seeds
Fishing poles and nets
Stills and fermentation tanks
Telescopes and binoculars
Firearms and ammo
Independent septic systems
Mechanical food processing equipment
Mechanical weather instruments
Non-electrical medical instruments
Bicycles, sail boats, balloons
Clothes line and washing tub
This is only a small list but you can get the idea. Even with a catastrophic loss of modern technology we still have items that can function and carry a smaller population until systems can be rebuilt or repaired. One of the differences between the survivors and victims will be the amount of older infrastructure available to them when the worst happens. Those that have the ability to access older technology will fare much better than the multitudes that have no access. It all boils down to infrastructure and supplies and the masses that laugh at preppers will learn that lesson the hard way if this scenario ever comes to pass.
Many of the things on this list are already owned by many and other items are relatively cheap and take up very little space but will be worth their weight in gold if they are ever truly needed. In a massive CME or EMP many things will be lost but many things will still work and allow you to live if you have access to them. The day that everything suddenly stops, you will have what you have on hand to deal with it. A CME or EMP does not have to be the end of the world but unfortunately for most it will be. How well are you prepared?
By: Tom Chatham
When the grid power that you depend on suddenly stops for an extended time, you need an alternative supply to work with. If you have an off grid home you will have the same options to look at for power. The main thing is if you are living off grid for extended periods you will need to analyze how you create and utilize that power.
Using a backup generator for a few days every year is a far cry from providing all of your power on a continuous basis. A backup generator is great but most of them are not built to provide power on a continuous basis. Even if you had the fuel supply to run it for a year it is likely your generator will break down after only a few hundred hours if you are even that lucky. I have seen a brand new generator suffer an electrical failure after the first hour of operation with no load on it. The motor had to have an electrical component replaced inside the motor which required a mechanic with the proper tools and the replacement part.
For those that want or need to live off the grid it is necessary to look at the power system and understand where the weak links are. If you find yourself in a situation where you must provide all of the maintenance and repairs yourself, you must have the necessary tools and repair parts as well as the knowledge to do the job. In a longterm situation, the simpler the system is the more reliable it will be and the less you will need to fix over time. There are systems that are well made if you can afford them, and they will give many years of service but eventually you will run into the same problem. You may be called on to repair them some day and most people are not prepared to do that.
If you are contemplating a retreat to shelter you from some kind of catastrophic event, you will want something that the average person can work on and maintain with minimal effort for thousands of hours. It is common to find that the most efficient and easy to use systems are filled with high tech components that the average person does not understand and has no hope of fixing given a component breakdown. The more electrical components you have in your power chain from the generator to the appliance you wish to run, the more chance you have for a failure of some type that requires replacement of a component or equipment to restore electrical power.
Living off grid you have three basic choices for electrical power. You can have no electrical power, use 110v AC or 12v DC. In many cases you will have a combination of AC and DC components. To keep things simple you may want to analyze your situation and determine if using only 12v DC power may be best longterm.
Utilizing only 12v systems will greatly simplify your system and make it easier for the average person to fix when something breaks. A pure 12v system works well with alternative power generation such as solar, wind and hydro. In most cases you are generating power and storing it in a battery bank for later use. If your appliance is 12v DC you will be able to run this item straight off the battery system . In this instance you have reduced your components to the very minimum. Generator, regulator, battery and appliance. This is basically how the electrical system on a car is set up.
This very basic electrical system is easy to maintain, very durable and easy to repair. An automotive alternator can operate for thousands of hours and can be rebuilt with a few tools and repair parts by anyone with some mechanical ability. The automotive regulator either internal or external is easy to replace and easy to stock extras for future use. There are many 12v DC appliances available that can be useful in an off grid household to include refrigerators and freezers.
When thinking of longterm use the fewer appliances you have the easier it will be to provide the power you need. Having only a few necessary appliances and some 12v lighting will allow you to harden your system and get the most out of it over time. With a 12v system you can still utilize 110v appliances when needed utilizing power inverters but in the event these components become inoperative you will still have the use of your 12v system for full utilization.
You may still need a motor to turn your alternator but you will have more options to do so. You can use a small air cool motor that you already have and if it breaks you have the ability to replace it with another one. You can even use your car to provide the power and use it to charge a battery pack. The ability to power engines with homemade fuel also allows you to generate power when fuel is hard to find.
Making automotive alternators the center of your power system will give you much more flexibility over time. It is much easier to find another alternator than an AC generator especially in desperate times when everyone is looking for them. The same can be said for power inverters. We have an AC generator for emergency use but to date it has not been used.
In the past when we have suffered power outages lasting for days we have used a home built system. We take the motor off of our rotor tiller and bolt it to a board with an automotive alternator. This system charges a set of deep cycle batteries. We then hook a power inverter to the battery pack to run the freezer. With this type of system we can run the motor only a few hours a day and have uninterrupted power all day and night. This helps to conserve limited fuel supplies and limit’s the wear and tear on the motor.
When the power goes out we take everything out of the kitchen freezer and put it in the deep freezer. We then place gallon jugs in the deep freezer to freeze and rotate these into the refrigerator to keep it cool. This allows us to keep everything refrigerated and only have to power one appliance to conserve on power.
Having some type of plan to maintain power to essential devices is essential to maintaining your quality of life when you can no longer depend on the power grid. Whether you use 12v exclusively or a combination of AC and DC power, you will need to have something you can depend on if the unthinkable happens and you are thrown back on your own resources.