Blog Archives

Local Civil Defense Needs To Be Revived

By: Tom Chatham

The ability to provide emergency assistance to the local population following an event is critical to preservation of law and order, not to mention life. The ability to keep the population calm in the face of mass destruction will make recovery much easier by freeing up valuable manpower for recovery efforts. The ability to provide food and water will be the primary resources that will be needed to maintain control of the situation for long periods of time. A food storage and distribution system will be needed to provide sustenance to local populations very quickly following an event.

The need of civil defense personnel to provide the manpower for this function can not be over emphasized. Following an event such as a nuclear war or EMP strike, communication, transportation and deployment of personnel will be difficult if not impossible. If CD personnel are already present in the local communities nationwide, deployment will be automatic and immediate. There will be no need to find available personnel and transport them to the site. Local CD personnel can begin emergency operations within a few hours of an event providing the stability and direction the community will need to face the event.

A local CD program can be as small or as extensive as the community wishes. It can consist of a few dozen families on the same street or a whole town. It can simply have food stores to distribute or it can provide food, medical assistance, fuel supplies, power generation, shelter and transportation abilities. Food is the most basic need and must be stored before anything else, For a food distribution system, minimal equipment will be required if bulk storage is located locally and CD members have a distribution plan already mapped out for the worst case scenario.

A basic ration that can provide suitable calories to survivors can be packaged and dispersed on a monthly basis at designated dispersal areas. Local individuals can be issued a ration card in the initial days following an event that can be used to receive monthly rations. The card can have designated boxes that can be punched out every month when rations are received. Parents can be issued cards for each child to insure each person will get a monthly ration. A basic ration can consist of the following items.

183 lbs. Hard Wheat 15.25lbs./month
45 lbs. Oats 3.75lbs./ month
137 lbs. Corn 11.4lbs./ month
113 lbs. Beans 9.4lbs./ month
46 lbs. dry milk 3.8lbs./ month
1.5 Gal. Veg. oil 16oz./ month
45 lbs. Sugar 3.75lbs./ month
7.5 lbs. iodized salt .625lbs./ month

These items and amounts will provide one person with a basic daily ration for one year or month as noted. The ability to store these items in bulk will provide an efficient means to store a food supply for a community that can feed them for up to a year. One simply has to multiply these amounts by the number of people you will need to feed to determine the total amount of food you should store for such an event.

A community that knows it will have basic food supplies regardless of the situation will prevent acts of violence and desperation following an event when people will normally panic due to the many unknowns in their future. Providing them with a certain number of knowns will keep the panic to a minimum and allow the community to focus human energies on alleviating their longer term problems.

Power for basic systems can be provided by fuel storage and ultimately by the use of wood gas generators for longer term situations when fuel resupply is not possible. Wood gas can also be used for vehicle fuel if functional vehicles are available. The ability to provide local energy for critical systems like water and sewage pumping will go far in alleviating suffering due to lack of functional infrastructure. It will also provide power needed for any functional communication systems available to the community.

A local civil defense corps can fill many of the needs a community will face following a catastrophic event and is one of the only solutions that can be run by local communities that offers immediate results. Local governments like to think they have a plan to deal with most emergencies but when it comes to the low probability/ high impact events, they are all largely ill equipped to handle them. A power grid failure can cascade into something much worse if the problem is not resolved fairly quickly. It is the potential for these cascading failures to occur that makes modern life so deadly for the population.

Government entities do not possess the ability to care for the entire population of the country if everything stops suddenly. The government has little in the way of food stores that can feed the nation without going to individuals and companies and taking what they have to be distributed in an ad hoc fashion.

Having bulk supplies in every community nationwide is the only way to insure we have the means to survive the worst if it ever happens. By explaining the potential dangers to locals and gaining their support by real leadership, money can be raised in the community and used to construct bulk storage sites and equip a civil defense unit. When our previous civil defense organization was folded into FEMA we lost all local control of any response and the benefits it brought to local communities and individuals.

As with most things, you do not have to do it all at once. Simply buying 9 food grade 55 gallon drums and filling 4 with wheat, 2 with beans, 2 with corn and 1 with oats, you will have sufficient grains and beans to feed over 50 people for a month. This is at a cost of about $310 dollars at current prices. That is a small investment to insure 20 families are working together rather than against one another. It should also be noted that those with the resources following an event will have control over the population. Would you rather some government entity have that control or your community.

While there are no simple answers that will work equally well for all communities, having something to work with in an emergency is a far better situation than having nothing. We often forget that in our just in time delivery system we can go from everything to nothing in a matter of hours. When something goes wrong, how well our communities handle the aftermath will depend on what they have to handle it with. With the many dangers we face today, it is likely only a matter of time before we are forced to respond to an event, and what price will we pay in our current state of readiness?

33 Items An EMP or CME Will Not Affect

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
Steam locomotive
Woodstove
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
Oil lamps
Mechanical sewing machine
Windmill
Livestock, plants, seeds
Fishing poles and nets
Stills and fermentation tanks
Books
Sextant
Telescopes and binoculars
Firearms and ammo
Independent septic systems
Dug/shallow wells
Mechanical food processing equipment
Pressure caner
Mechanical weather instruments
Hand tools
Non-electrical medical instruments
Bicycles, sail boats, balloons
Blacksmith shop
Clothes line and washing tub
Bathtub
Your brain

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?

Shopping During a Blackout: Yesterday and Today

By: Tom Chatham

There is much talk about the possibility of an EMP or CME that takes out the power grid causing chaos nationwide. Some have stated that having cash on hand is necessary to make some last minute shopping trips to top off supplies. That is a good idea but in today’s world how effective would that be?

In the early 80’s I worked in a small local grocery store after school like many kids in my generation. This store had two checkout lines of which only one was normally used except during rush hour when 5 or six people would be in line at once.

One Sunday morning the power went off for several hours. There were some people that made a usual stop at this store on Sunday mornings for their Sunday paper and to do some shopping. On this particular day they continued to come in as usual but we had no power.

My boss who was also the store owner did not want to lose the business so he improvised. He went to his office and brought back a small portable calculator that had a printer on top. He stood at the register and added up the items as the people came to the counter, they paid in cash as normal, he wrote down the total of the sale for his records, gave them a printed receipt from the calculator and they went on their way.

This was all possible for three reasons. We had a means to add up the items, the customers were able to pay in cash and the most important thing was that all of the items had a price stamped on them.

This sounds like a normal reaction to something like this but would it happen the same way today if the power went out?

Most of the people working at the registers would not be able to add up the items for sale if it were not for the computer doing all the work for them. Even if they wanted to sell items, practically all corporate owned stores use scanners to scan the prices. The days when items had the price stamped on them are long gone, at least as far as the major stores are concerned. This lack of prices would make it almost impossible for stores to sell items even if they wanted to. The cashiers have no idea what the prices are these days.

The other major factor is the ability to pay in cash. With the grid down and no POS terminals working, most people would have no way to pay for their goods. In the old days stores accepting credit cards had a manual machine they placed the card in along with a credit receipt and they would rack the press and imprint the receipt. The person would sign the slip and receive a copy of the credit transaction. The store would then send the credit receipt in to get their money. Unlike today, this antiquated system worked even if the power was off.

Today there is no manual fallback if the POS system does not work. This makes any longterm blackout a potential time bomb for any society that relies on immediate credit processing systems.

In the event of a blackout today, only small stores would likely have goods that are individually priced and a worker capable of adding the sale even if the person had some cash. These are the problems that modern society has created for itself. These are the things you need to keep in mind if you plan to shop after a blackout has occurred. You and your cash are only part of the equation. The store and its ability to sell during a blackout is on the other side of the equation.

Keeping these things in mind, it might be a good idea to scope out the local stores near you and assess their ability to sell during a blackout if the situation ever arises. Keeping some cash on hand for emergencies is always a good idea, just be aware of the limitations you may face in using that cash where you want to shop.

Would Society Survive An EMP?

By: Tom Chatham

There has been much talk the past few years of a possible EMP/CME that would cause a mass die off in society. There are those that rebuff the idea that a technological society like ours would simply die from something as simple as lack of power. In many cases these are the same people in society that expect the government to come to their rescue if something does happen. The idea of dieing from a lack of basic necessities is so far outside of their comfort zone that these people refuse to think about it or acknowledge it could happen.

These people like to think that simply losing power or technology is a temporary thing that someone will fix in short order and life will return to normal. They believe they will just survive as our ancestors did a hundred or so years ago and life will go on with few bumps until technology is restored. This type of thinking is shortsighted and naive at best, and here is why.

There are a few words that many people need to understand in order to wrap their mind around this threat. Those words are available resources, skills and infrastructure.

When technology fails society is suddenly limited to the resources it needs that are already produced and on hand for immediate use. If water suddenly stops being purified and pumped through the lines, you are limited to what you now have in the lines or storage tanks. Gas stations are limited to the fuel they have in storage tanks. Stores are limited to the food and clothing they have on hand. The failure of technology will stop water from being replaced, sewage from being removed, refrigeration from keeping foods edible, light from illuminating dark areas that must be traversed, elevators from getting people to upper floors, gas and electric for heating and cooking, water for fighting fires, communications for calling for help and medical devices to keep people alive.

The reason everything will stop is because of another word to remember, infrastructure. Without infrastructure nothing gets done, even on a simple basis. You cannot cook food without some type of infrastructure to produce heat, you cannot store food without some type of storage to keep it cold or some type of container to keep it protected from rodents and the environment. You cannot process or store food without equipment to cut, grind, dry, smoke, can or root cellar it. You cannot harvest, plant or grow food without some type of equipment to do those jobs.

The original definition of an acre was the amount of ground a farmer could plow in a full day. Farmers now plant hundreds of acres a day to keep Americans fed. With no modern equipment, how many acres can a farmer plant even if he had a trained team of horses and the equipment to pull behind them? Let us not forget that 2 percent of the population now grows the food for the whole country. How much would they now be able to produce even if they had the necessary equipment to do it manually? Let us also not forget that farmers need to buy their seed every year to plant. Very few individuals raise heritage seeds that they can plant every year from their own production. Where would these seeds now come from? Farmers also need lots of fertilizer to make these plants grow, where would that fertilizer come from? Many farms need irrigation to grow plants, so where would the power come from to pump that water? The age old practice of utilizing animal manure to fertilize fields only works if the farmer has livestock to produce that manure. Once harvested, how will that food now get transported to distant markets? How will farmers know where to send it without communications? A telegraph system is simple but must be built before it can be used.

Many people think that if technology fails we will simply live as past generations have but they conveniently neglect the fact that regardless of what systems you use you must have the infrastructure to provide for that system. If you go from mail to telegraphs or from analog to digital technology the problems are the same, you must have the infrastructure in place to switch to first. It is true we know how to build the older technology but where will the resources come from to actually build it? Remember, once technology fails you are somewhat limited to what you have on hand to work with.

If we had to return to 1880’s living, how many people have a team of horses, a wagon to hook them to, a butter churn, a grain mill, cheese making supplies, candles, oil lamps, matches, wood cook stoves, blacksmith supplies, hand pumps or dug wells? People were able to live back then because they had the infrastructure to do so. This is what many people do not understand. How hard would it be for us to go back to vacuum tube technology now without the infrastructure to support it, even if we do know how to build it?

In 1776 America, about 40% of men worked their own farm. Another 30% worked as laborers on farms. About 20% owned large commercial farms or plantations. The remaining 10% or so who were professional businessmen frequently owned modest farms where they might raise a cow, some chickens and have a garden to provide for the home table. Even those town people that had no farm usually had a cow, some chickens and a kitchen garden for home use. To go back to this model would be difficult if not impossible for many reasons only one of which is the fact that city dwellers have no room for gardens or the infrastructure to maintain cows and chickens on the large scale that would be needed.

The other thing that many people ignore are the skills required to live in a different system. Most people cannot simply plant seeds and suddenly become a great gardener. They do not know how to make cheese or how to improvise cheese making supplies from items now in the home. They do not know how to make soap or candles or something as simple as toilet paper. A roll of paper seems simple in design but how many know how to process wood pulp or other fibers to make paper? It does not matter if you are making ten thousand rolls in a factory or one roll at home, you need the skills and infrastructure to do it.

Skills come in many forms but the skills that society depends on the most are the craftsmen and engineers that design and build the technology we depend on. Without their knowledge, it would be difficult to replace the technology we now use. How many people know how to rebuild and maintain the phone system we now use? How many people know how to build and repair refrigeration units or make electric motors? How many people know how to refine oil into gasoline and diesel and make plastics and all the other things from petroleum?

In a long term grid down situation where society breaks down, many people would die and those that hold the keys to our technology would be among them. The longer the duration of disruption, the less likely it would be that those who could rebuild the systems would be able to do so. It is a situation where society’s capabilities decrease as time goes on.

Many people talk of hunting and fishing to fulfill their dietary needs but if even ten percent of the nation decides to do the same due to necessity, how long will the game and fish last before it is all gone? Even if you have some food and seeds to plant, it will take time to grow new supplies. In the days following an event, those that are not prepared will seek out supplies from those that have them, including those that have gardens. It is for this reason that it will be difficult to grow replacement supplies for the first one or two years following an event in most places. This would necessitate those that have supplies be able to support themselves and their families until new crops could be produced. The less prepared the population is the longer your initial supplies will need to last.

Once you take into account these things it becomes evident that it would not be easy to revert to an earlier type of system without major disruptions. It is for these reasons that it becomes necessary for the population in general to have the necessary resources to tide them over until infrastructure and skills can adjust to the new reality people find themselves in.

During the cold war the government maintained three years worth of grain in reserve to feed the population until agriculture could recover after a major attack. Today the government keeps little in the way of food for the entire nation. If something happens they depend on resources coming from unaffected areas of the country to help. In a nationwide disaster, there may not be any help to send. This is the reason individuals need to keep the necessary resources on hand to tide them over until the system can be stabilized in some way and some technology can come back on line.

Unfortunately in a worse case disaster, this would only buy some of the population a little time. If the technology we depend on is offline for longer than the resources that are available to the population last, then a mass die-off would ,occur. It is important to remember that only 2% of the nation farms today. Without the modern systems to farm large tracts of land, it would be impossible for any small percentage of the population to feed the whole nation utilizing older, manual techniques. The population would decrease until technology was sufficient to support the population. This would hold true for other parts of the system such as clothing production and healthcare as well.

Because of the high impact this scenario would have on the population, that is the reason people need to resolve to store supplies and resources to care for themselves in the unlikely event this happens. The possession of basic food supplies, medicines, toiletries, energy supplies and alternative transportation and communication systems can provide society the room it needs to extract itself from the worst of the situation. The lack of preparedness will only insure a higher casualty rate and more destruction of surviving infrastructure in the aftermath of an event. The lower the preparedness level of society, the less likely society will be able to survive and rebuild itself.