Main Prepper's long-term survival guide : food, shelter, security, off-the-grid power and more life-saving..

Prepper's long-term survival guide : food, shelter, security, off-the-grid power and more life-saving strategies for self-sufficient living

A STEP-BY-STEP, DONT-OVERLOOK-ANYTHING WORKBOOK OF DIY PROJECTS THAT PREPARE HOME AND FAMILY FOR ANY LIFE-THREATENING CATASTROPHE The preparation you make for a hurricane, earthquake or other short-term disaster will not keep you alive in the event of widespread social collapse caused by pandemic, failure of the grid or other long-term crises
Year:
2014
Publisher:
Ulysses Press
Language:
english
Pages:
209
ISBN 10:
1612432735
ISBN 13:
978-1-61243-273-1
File:
PDF, 1.30 MB
Download (pdf, 1.30 MB)

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COBB

Beyond The FirsT 72 hours

• Practical water collection for drinking and hygiene
• Storing, growing, hunting and foraging for food
• First aid and medical treatments when there’s no doctor
• Techniques and tactics for fortifying and defending your home
• Community-building strategies for creating a new society

$15.95 US | $18.95 CAN
Distributed by Publishers Group West

PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL

The preparation you make for a hurricane, earthquake or other
short-term disaster will not keep you alive in the event
of widespread social collapse caused by failure of the grid,
pandemic or other long-term crisis. Government pamphlets
and other prepping books tell you how to hold out through an
emergency until services are restored. This book teaches you
how to survive when nothing returns to normal for weeks,
months or even years, including:

PRAISE FOR JIM COBB
“Jim Cobb has rapidly established himself as one of the leading
authorities in the preparedness and survival field. He has shown time
and time again that he knows his stuff and, most importantly, knows
how to convey that knowledge to his readers.”
—Scott B. Williams, author of Bug Out, The Pulse,
and The Darkness After
“In the disaster-preparedness community, most people just talk the
talk. Jim Cobb is one of the few who walks the walk!”
—Creek Stewart, author of Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag
“If…you’re serious about prepping, you should seek out serious advice.
That means seeking out the experts who have no particular political
or religious dogma to sell, experts who are laser-focused on what
works. Jim Cobb is one such expert.”
—Mike Mullin, author of Ashfall, Ashen Winter, Darla’s
Story, and Sunrise

PRAISE FOR PREPPER’S HOME DEFENSE
“Prepper’s Home Defense has earned a place on my bookshelf by giving
me the information I needed to go home and put in place some
security procedures and equipment that made my home more secure
the day I read the book.”
—Stephanie Dayle, American Preppers Network
“Jim does a great job in laying out the options ; and helping the reader
wade through all of the available weapons choices. I especially liked
his improvised ‘hand spike’ fashioned from a hubcap removal tool…
If you like reading about prepping—especially defense—you will like
this book. It’s a great compilation of security strategies to help protect
your ‘fort’ and ‘family.’”
—Creek Stewart, author of The Unoff icial Hunger Games
Wilderness Survival Guide

“Two things I especially like about the book are that it is realistic and
that I couldn’t find any really bad advice… I feel Cobb tells readers
what they should hear, which is a credit to him.”
—Charlie Palmer, author of The Prepper Next Door

PRAISE FOR THE PREPPER’S COMPLETE BOOK OF DISASTER
READINESS
“Unlike many of the books in this genre, Jim’s does not resort to scare
tactics—one of my pet peeves. I highly recommend this book. The
information is well researched and just might save your life.”
—Arthur T. Bradley, PhD, author of Prepper’s Instruction
Manual and Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for
the Family
“Jim Cobb has been a ‘go-to guy’ on the Internet for a long time, and
I think with this volume, he’s collected a canon of survival knowledge
and training. The chapters on survivalism in fiction and the survival
library section are worth it alone.”
—Sean T. Page, author of The Off icial Zombie Handbook, War
Against the Walking Dead, and Zombie Survival Manual

Text copyright © 2014 Jim Cobb. Design and concept © 2014 Ulysses Press and its
licensors. All rights reserved. Any unauthorized duplication in whole or in part or
dissemination of this edition by any means (including but not limited to photocopying,
electronic devices, digital versions, and the Internet) will be prosecuted to the fullest
extent of the law.
Published in the U.S. by
Ulysses Press
P.O. Box 3440
Berkeley, CA 94703
www.ulyssespress.com
ISBN: 978-1-61243-273-1
Library of Congress Control Number 2013947951
Printed in Canada by Marquis Book Printing
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Acquisitions Editor: Keith Riegert
Project Editor: Alice Riegert
Managing Editor: Claire Chun
Editor: Theresa Duran
Proofreader: Elyce Berrigan-Dunlop
Indexer: Sayre Van Young
Cover and interior design: what!design @ whatweb.com
Cover photos: person using water filter © Timothy Epp/shutterstock.com; canned goods
© Cara Purdy/shutterstock.com; army knife © Volegzhanina Elena/shutterstock.com;
aermotor windmill © Kenneth Keifer/shutterstock.com; matchstick © Joe Belanger/
shutterstock.com; cartridges © svich/shutterstock.com
Layout: Lindsay Tamura
Distributed by Publishers Group West
NOTE TO READERS: This book is independently authored and published and no
sponsorship or endorsement of this book by, and no affiliation with, any trademarked
product mentioned or pictured within is claimed or suggested. All trademarks that
appear in the text in this book belong to their respective owners and are used here for
informational purposes only. The author and publisher encourage readers to patronize
the recommended products mentioned in this book. This book has been written and
published strictly for informational purposes, and in no way should be used as a substitute
for actual instruction with qualified professionals. The author and publisher are providing
you with information in this work so that you can have the knowledge and can choose, at
your own risk, to act on that knowledge. The author and publisher also urge all readers to
be aware of their health status, to consult local fish and game laws, and to consult health
care and outdoor professionals before engaging in any potentially hazardous activity. Any
use of the information in this book is made on the reader’s good judgment. The author
and publisher assume no liability for personal injury to the reader or others harmed by the
reader, property damage, consequential damage or loss, however caused, from using the
information in this book.

For Mom and Grandma—I hope I’ve made you both proud.

Table of ConTenTs
Acknowledgments ............................................................................... ix
Foreword ........................................................................................... xi
Introduction ........................................................................................ 1

ChapTer 1: Long-Term Events: Learning from History
to Prevent Future Déjà Vu ................................................................. 7
ChapTer 2: Water: Water Everywhere and
Not a Drop to Drink ........................................................................ 21
ChapTer 3: Food: How to Avoid a Starvation Diet ..................... 33
ChapTer 4: Medicine: There’s a Doctor in All of Us ................... 51
ChapTer 5: Hygiene: Staying Clean in a Dirty World ................. 73
ChapTer 6: Staying Warm and Keeping Cool:
Gimme Shelter ................................................................................ 83
ChapTer 7: Security: You Can Never Have Enough Defense ...... 95
ChapTer 8: Tools: He Who Survives with the Most
Toys Wins ...................................................................................... 111
ChapTer 9: Surviving Boredom: Adding Entertainment
to Survival ...................................................................................... 127
ChapTer 10: Barter and Trade: Not Just for
Baseball Cards ............................................................................... 135

ChapTer 11: Community Survival Planning: It Takes
a Village ......................................................................................... 145
ChapTer 12: Final Thoughts: Thus Endeth the Sermon ........... 165
appendix.................................................................................... 169
Beyond Bugging Out Checklists .............................................. 171
Recommended Reading ........................................................... 179
Index .............................................................................................. 183
About the Author ............................................................................. 193

aCknowledgmenTs
With any book, the author him- or herself cannot take sole responsibility
for the finished product.
To my wife and soul mate, Tammy, I think you’ll agree this one was a
bit easier, eh? Please know I do recognize and appreciate the sacrifices
you’ve made to allow me to live my dream of being a writer. I love you
more today than yesterday, but still not as much as I will tomorrow.
To my boys, Andrew, Michael, and Thomas, you guys are awesome. I
don’t tell you nearly often enough just how proud I am of each of you.
I love you all dearly.
Special thanks to Lisa Bedford for taking the time to contribute the
foreword for this book. I truly do appreciate it!
Also special thanks to Sean Neeld for going well above and beyond the
call of duty and lending an assist with this project. You da man!
Any writer is only as good as his editors, so I’d like to thank Keith
Riegert, Alice Riegert, and the team at Ulysses Press for all their hard
work and dedication to making this book just as great as it could be.
To Chris Golden, thank you once again for watching my back. My life
is made so much less stressful with your guidance and advice.
To Tracy and Michelle, your support and encouragement has been a
source of inspiration to me.
Finally, to my readers, thank you for letting me take up some space in
your heads. Trust that I’ll do everything I can to earn my keep.

ix

foreword
In the world of survivalists and preppers, I admit that I’m a newcomer.
The year 2008 devastated the economy of my community and left my
home state of Arizona floundering, with foreclosure signs dotting the
suburban landscape. My family was poorly prepared for a future that I
quickly realized was insecure and uncertain.
A favorite song from my high school years, “The Future’s So Bright
I Gotta Wear Shades,” was replaced by “The future’s so shaky I gotta
stock up on canned goods.”
In short order, I jumped into the world of food storage, self-defense,
and Berkey water filters. That’s where I’ve been ever since as “The
Survival Mom.”
For some, survival and preparedness are fads, flights of momentary panic
or fancy, but for my friend Jim Cobb, they’re a way of life. Jim was a
prepper long before Doomsday Preppers made preparedness fashionable,
or laughable, depending on one’s point of view.
Jim understands that preparing for an uncertain future is something
that takes time, research, a bit of money, and dedication. No one gets
prepped for a worst-case scenario in just a week or two.
There are an awful lot of armchair survivalists and preppers out there.
People with plenty to say on any number of survival topics but who
don’t live the lifestyle. When the worst comes, whether by natural or
man-made disaster, you’ll want a pro, like Jim Cobb, by your side, and
you’ll be grateful you heeded his advice.

xi

PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide

I was fortunate to share a stage with Jim at one of the first prepper
expos held in the United States. It was a sweltering hot Dallas weekend
in 2010. I was struck by Jim’s good nature, expansive smile, and his
comprehensive understanding of what survival is all about. In fact, Jim
has identified himself as a survivalist for more than twenty years.
He knows his stuff.
Beyond his knowledge and skills, though, Jim has a true heart for
spreading the word that preparedness will save the lives of moms, dads,
children, and grandparents. His signature website, Survival Weekly, isn’t
a hypermonetized, glossy site, but instead one that demonstrates his
dedication, vast knowledge base, and plain speaking style.
Over the years, as survival has become trendy, charlatans of all types
have infiltrated the niche, knowing that panicked people are an easy
mark. That is so not Jim Cobb.
If you’ve picked up this book, you’ve probably lost sleep worrying about
how you and your loved ones will fare in the face of a true worst-case
scenario. You’re painfully aware of the precipice on which our nation
sits and just how close we are to the tipping point. Scenarios that were
once found only in the realm of science fiction or old Gerald Celente
videos are now plausible, even imminent, threats.
Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide is written for the ordinary person
who has determined to take preparedness to the next level. By following
Jim’s common-sense advice, you’ll reach the point at which you can
relax just a bit, knowing that you have the major bases covered. Your
survival plans have been finely tuned, and you haven’t ended up deeply
in debt. Yes, Jim understands the importance of preparing on a budget,
which is why he says, “Knowledge takes up no space, doesn’t spoil, and
can be taken anywhere.”
Even if you’re a crusty old survivalist yourself, Jim’s easygoing writing
style and creative tips will give you something new to consider, something

xii

FOREWORD

new to add to your bug-out bag, and a new twist on timeworn topics
such as bartering. When it comes to survival, no one ever “arrives.” There
are always contingencies that haven’t been considered and, inevitably,
an area or two that needs to be fortified.
Survivalists are their own worst critics.
In Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide, Jim shares his best advice and
strategies for planning for basic needs, including food, hygiene, shelter,
warmth, and security. Long-term survival requires energy, the right
tools, and even forms of entertainment when going to the movies is
out of the question. This is a comprehensive book you’ll enjoy reading,
highlighting, and recommending to friends.
As The Survival Mom, I’ve learned that I can never stop learning. I’m
grateful that pros like Jim Cobb never stop teaching and sharing.
—Lisa Bedford, creator and editor of TheSurvivalMom.com
and author of Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family
for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios

xiii

inTroduCTion
Nowadays you can’t throw a dart while blindfolded in a bookstore
without hitting a survival manual of some sort. From bug-out bags to
food pantry organization, prepping topics fill the shelves. Click over
to your favorite online bookseller and you’ll find e-book after e-book
extolling the virtues of having extra batteries for flashlights and making
sure you have the latest and greatest water filtration system, just in case.
It wasn’t always like that, though. Back when I was a kid, at the height
of the Cold War, about the only survival books you could find were
centered on wilderness skills. How to make a debris hut and get a fire
going until you were rescued—that type of thing. While I devoured
those books and had great fun “going native” in the woods near my
home, it wasn’t until a fateful purchase of my father’s that I truly got
the prepping bug.
I’d always been a voracious reader, even as a young child. Science fiction,
horror, and action/adventure were my genres of choice. One day, my
dad was at the mall and stopped in a B. Dalton bookstore. A display
of paperbacks caught his eye, and he thought I might be interested in
reading at least the first book in a new series called The Survivalist by
Jerry Ahern. Within mere minutes after he handed it to me, I started
in on it and was immediately riveted. Nuclear missiles raining down on
America! Gunfights with nasty bikers! And, oh man, what was the deal
with the secret retreat hidden inside a freakin’ mountain?
Not long after that, I happened to stumble across a copy of Life After
Doomsday by Bruce D. Clayton. Here was the perfect complement to

1

PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide

the fiction I’d been reading. It gave detailed instructions on how to be
prepared to survive a nuclear war, just like John Thomas Rourke in
Ahern’s novels. This book truly sealed my fate, as it were, to become
what we call today a “prepper.”
I studied, and then put my studies to use. I built an obscene number of
survival kits of various shapes, sizes, and configurations. I learned how
to shoot, how to purify water, and how to stockpile food and supplies.
Flash forward a couple decades, and now prepping has become rather
mainstream. As that happened, naturally all sorts of writers jumped
on the proverbial bandwagon. Many of these books were and still are
excellent references, such as Build the Perfect Survival Kit by John D.
McCann and The Unoff icial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide
by Creek Stewart. But quite a few other books have been, shall we say,
less than ideal.
Time and again, the books and manuals tell readers exactly what to do
until power is restored, until help arrives in some form, or until they
find their way back to civilization after being lost. They spell out lists
and lists of bug-out bag contents, eighty-five different ways to build a
fire, and how to set a broken leg with paracord and a stick.
But what if the lights never come back on? What if there is no help
coming…ever? This long-term scenario is something that has always
been lacking in survival nonfiction.
Until now.
What you hold in your hands is the key to surviving weeks, months,
even years after the initial disaster. If building a bug-out bag is Prepping
101, consider this Prepping 401. We’ll go well beyond bugging out
and instead focus on becoming self-sufficient in the wake of a major
calamity. Of course, much of the information here is just as applicable
today, while times are whatever passes for normal, as they are after an
electromagnetic pulse (EMP) takes out the grid from coast to coast.

2

INTRODUCTION

If you are brand-new to prepping, this book might not be the best place
to start. If you are interested primarily in being better prepared for a
power outage that lasts a few days, you may want to look elsewhere on
the bookshelf.
However…
If you are forward thinking enough to realize a stockpile of food to
last even a solid month may not be enough to last the duration of a
pandemic, keep reading.
If you are truly concerned about how you would keep your family alive
and safe after society has collapsed around your ears, this book is just
what you’re seeking.
If you are willing to make serious preparations to withstand the longterm effects of the New Madrid fault slipping in a major way or the
Yellowstone Caldera finally blowing its top, you have come to the right
place.
Let’s go for a walk to the far end of the preparedness trail. We’re going
to skip past the blizzards, the wind storms, and the stranded-in-thewoods scenarios and get right into the heart of long-term survival
planning. Don’t worry, I’ll be right beside you. I’ll do my best to make
sure you don’t get lost along the way.

3

auThor’s noTe
To help illustrate what life may truly be like in the wake of a major
disaster, each of the following chapters is prefaced by a fictional entry
from a journal or diary, ostensibly written during the weeks that follow
an EMP strike in the United States.

ChapTer 1

long-Term evenTs:
learning from hisTory To
prevenT fuTure déjà vu
It has been 112 days since the lights went out and didn’t come back on. I know this
because the last thing I do every night, after checking all the locks one more time,
is cross off the day on the calendar. Four months ago, had anyone told me a major
disaster was right around the corner, I’d have snorted at them for being “doom and
gloom.”
I’ve been meaning to start this journal for months now. I kept putting it off because
there is always so much to do, and by sundown I’m ready to just collapse into bed.
But, while I make no promises to update this thing every day, I do want there to
be some sort of record, some documentation, of what we’ve endured so far and
will continue to experience as the days progress. Heh, who knows? Maybe decades
from now, if the country ever gets back on its feet, they’ll talk about this journal in
schools across the land.
Four months ago, I could take a hot shower three times a day if I wanted. Today,
I bathe once a week at most, in tepid water that three others have already used.
Sixteen weeks ago, I had my choice of any number of restaurants for dinner. Today,
we eat whatever we can find, grow, hunt, or trap.
One hundred and twelve days ago, I was living the American Dream. Today, I’m
living a nightmare.
Welcome to the end of the world.
When we talk about long-term events, we are referring to catastrophes
that effectively bring society to a screeching halt, along with all the

7

PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide

associated chaos and confusion one would expect. Tornadoes and
hurricanes, while certainly disastrous in their own rights, don’t bring
with them quite the level of societal collapse we’re looking at here.
Thankfully, these events don’t happen very often, but when they do,
it takes a long time to return to some semblance of normalcy. To
better illustrate the point, let’s start by taking a look at some historical
examples.

pandemiCs
Pandemics are epidemics that cross national or international boundaries
and affect great numbers of people. In other words, a whole lot of people
living in a wide area have all been infected with the same disease. This
isn’t just a case of the sniffles running rampant through a school district.
For many people, the first thing that comes to mind when discussing
pandemics is the Black Death, sometimes called the Black Plague.
While it is impossible to cite an exact death toll, historians believe
the Black Death claimed up to 200 million lives from roughly 1347
to 1350. In just three years, it decimated up to 60 percent of the entire
population of Europe. This pandemic of the bubonic plague originated
in or near China and spread over the Silk Road to Europe. Fleas, carried
on the backs of rats that infested all the merchant ships, helped spread
the disease everywhere they went.
Take a moment and let those numbers sink in a bit. About 200 million
people perished as a result of the disease. To put that into perspective,
in 2012 the estimated population of the United States was roughly 314
million people. Can you even imagine what life would be like if twothirds of the US population all died within a few years? How long do
you think it would take for life to return to anything close to normal?
According to some experts, it took Europe about 150 years to get back
on its feet.

8

LONG-TERM EVENTS: LEARNING FROM HISTORY TO PREVENT FUTURE DÉJÀ VU

A more recent example is the flu pandemic that occurred in 1918–1919,
during World War I. This was the first major outbreak of the H1N1
flu virus. It is sometimes referred to as the Spanish flu, only because
of the distorted news reports back then. Government censors worked
hard to keep wartime morale up by not allowing much negative news
to hit the airwaves. (I know, that would never happen today.) So, as the
early reports came in about the spread of the deadly flu in the countries
at war, these censors did what they could to keep it hushed up. Spain,
however, was neutral during the war and didn’t bother keeping things
quiet. The result was that news reports seemed to indicate Spain was
being hit harder by this flu than the rest of the world, hence the name
Spanish flu.
What was particularly chilling about this flu outbreak was how it
targeted healthy segments of the population. The deaths were not
centered among the elderly, the infirm, and children; rather, it was the
strapping young adults who were hardest hit. This was due to how
the flu virus worked, by causing what’s called a cytokine storm in the
body. Essentially, the virus would send the patient’s immune system
into overdrive. The healthier the patient was at the outset, the more
powerful the body’s immune response, resulting in a cytokine storm of
such force that it killed the patient.
This flu pandemic hit just about every corner of the planet. While
numbers are still sketchy, estimated death tolls range from fifty to one
hundred million. No matter how you look at it, that’s a lot of dead bodies,
but bear in mind that most of them perished within a nine-month period.
Could something like that happen today? I mean, with all our modern
medical knowledge and advanced technology, surely the powers that
be would act quickly to stop the infectious disease before it got out of
control, right?
Think about this, though: HIV/AIDS has been around since 1981, and
they still haven’t found a cure for it.

9

PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide

famine
Famine is defined as a widespread lack of food, causing a sharp increase
in fatalities on a regional level. Basically, something causes crop failure
or in some other way limits the amount of available food in a given area
over a period of time. For example, a long-term drought could result in
a significant lack of food crops being available. Famine could also result
from political upheavals, as when an oppressive government negatively
affects food distribution.
Occasionally, both natural and political factors can combine, causing
something akin to a perfect storm of food shortages. In July 1995, a
series of massive floods occurred in North Korea. The floodwaters
utterly destroyed crops, arable land, and, perhaps most importantly,
emergency grain reserves. Given the already tumultuous political
climate and declining economy, North Korea didn’t have the capability
to bring in resources from outside the country.
While precise figures may never be known due to the lack of reliable
information coming out of North Korea even today, estimates range up
to three million deaths directly attributable to the famine.
One of the most well-known famines is the Irish Potato Famine. From
1845 to 1852, approximately one million people died in Ireland as a
result of a potato blight that wiped out the primary source of food.
Another million or so people managed to flee the country. Between the
famine deaths and the mass exodus, the overall population of Ireland
dipped by about 20 to 25 percent during this period.
At the time, roughly 30 percent of the population were entirely
dependent upon the potato for food. Further, most of them relied
on a single variety of potato, called the Irish Lumper. Because of the
lack of genetic diversity among the crops, the blight was particularly
devastating.
It wasn’t just starvation that killed people during the Irish Potato
Famine, nor in any other famine. As people starve, their immune

10

LONG-TERM EVENTS: LEARNING FROM HISTORY TO PREVENT FUTURE DÉJÀ VU

systems begin to falter. This, coupled with the gradual lack of services
providing medical care, clean water, and other necessities, causes
significant outbreaks of disease.
We may live in a nation of plenty right now, but what if the everchanging climate were to take a turn for the worst and cause massive
crop failures? The domino effect from even one or two bad seasons
could send the country into a tailspin.

eConomiC Collapse
Of the various types of long-term disasters, perhaps the most difficult
to define is economic collapse. Many situations would fall under this
umbrella, such as hyperinflation or a lengthy economic depression
resulting in mass bankruptcies and high unemployment. No matter the
cause, one thing almost all economic collapses have in common is mass
civil unrest.
In 1998, Russia experienced an economic collapse that resulted in bank
closures and mass runs on basic commodities. Inflation rose to about
84 percent. By comparison, the United States currently averages around
1.6 percent inflation. Prices for food went up almost 100 percent, while
at the same time the ruble decreased in value. Millions of people saw
their entire life savings disappear as banks failed.
Those Russians living in urban areas were the worst off. With no
homegrown crops to sustain them, they were forced to stand in long
lines for the most meager of supplies. The elderly living on pensions
suddenly found the much-needed money completely cut off. Hospitals
were also affected, seeing massive reductions in already scarce drug
supplies.
While the Russian economy did rebound rather quickly due to rising
oil prices the following year, I don’t think they are out of the woods
completely, even today.

11

PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide

Around this same time, Argentina experienced its own collapse. After
several years of economic instability, including at least two bouts of
hyperinflation, the bottom finally fell out in 2001. By the end of that
year, unemployment had risen to about 20 percent. As a result of people
pulling their pesos from the bank, converting them to dollars, and then
sending them abroad, the government froze bank accounts for twelve
months, allowing only very small withdrawals each week. This measure
naturally did not go over very well, and people took to the streets to
protest. While many of these demonstrations started out peacefully
enough, albeit loud, they were soon accompanied by property damage
and violence. It took several years before anything that could be called
recovery began to take place.
What would you do if the government suddenly froze your bank
account? What if what little money you could scrounge was all but
worthless?

freak oCCurrenCes
Things like economic collapse and pandemics don’t typically happen
overnight. There is usually a chain of events, though perhaps
imperceptible at the time, that takes us from Point A to Point B and
on down the line. However, history has also witnessed events that
occurred so suddenly and had such long-ranging effects, it is almost
mind-boggling.
In 1815, volcanic Mount Tambora, located on the Indonesian island of
Sumbawa, violently erupted. This remains the single largest volcanic
eruption in recorded history. The eruption column rose about twentyeight miles, spewing over sixty cubic miles of dust and debris. The ash
that jetted into the atmosphere created something akin to a nuclear
winter. Temperatures across the globe fell for a year or more.

12

LONG-TERM EVENTS: LEARNING FROM HISTORY TO PREVENT FUTURE DÉJÀ VU

horror sTories
Believe it or not, the Tambora eruption helped create two of the most popular
horror icons in modern history. A group of friends were vacationing in Switzerland
that summer, and the poor weather forced them to stay inside for much of their
trip. A contest was set up between the friends to see who could write the scariest
story. Mary Shelley won the contest with her story Frankenstein, or the Modern
Prometheus. A second member of the party, Lord Byron, wrote A Fragment, which
later inspired a third member of the group, John William Polidori, to write The
Vampyre. This work, in turn, greatly influenced Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

The so-called “Year Without a Summer” was the result of those falling
temps. The abnormal cold wiped out many crops. In June 1816, frosts
were being reported in New York. Lake ice was seen in Pennsylvania in
July and August. In some areas, only 10 percent of the crops planted
were eventually harvested. This drove the price of grains up, tripling in
some places.
On June 30, 1908, an explosion occurred in Siberia near the
Podkamennaya Tunguska River. This explosion was about a thousand
times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It
is believed to have been either a meteoroid or a comet that exploded
about five miles from the ground. The explosion leveled pretty much
everything within almost eight hundred square miles.
Due to the remote location, it took several years for scientific
investigators to mount an expedition to the site. What they found at
ground zero was an area about five miles across containing upright trees
that were scorched and missing all limbs. Moving outward from there,
trees were completely flattened, all falling away from the site of the
explosion. Because the explosion happened in the middle of nowhere,
there were no known human casualties.

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However, what if something like the Tunguska event were to happen
today, say a few miles above New York City? Meteoroids enter Earth’s
atmosphere every day. Most of them burn up before hitting the ground,
and those that survive the fall are usually rather small. But an explosion
or strike in a populated area would have serious, lasting consequences.

¤¤¤¤

Now, keep in mind that this has been just a very brief walk though
history. There are many other long-term events we didn’t touch on,
along with examples of entire cultures and societies that fell apart, such
as the Romans and the Mayans.
What sorts of calamities might the future bring? What events will
shape the world to come? Let’s take a look at some of the more likely
suspects.

new madrid earThquake
When you say the word “earthquake,” most Americans think
immediately of California. I mean, how often would thoughts turn to
the Midwest?
The New Madrid fault runs along the southeastern edge of the Midwest.
Extending roughly 150 miles in length, it goes from Illinois through
Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Several thousand earthquakes
have been reported in this area over the last four decades, with most
of them being way too small to be felt by residents. However, that
certainly wasn’t the case in 1811–1812. Beginning with two quakes
on December 16, 1811, this seismic zone went into an uproar. These
quakes were powerful enough to be felt hundreds of miles away. They

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LONG-TERM EVENTS: LEARNING FROM HISTORY TO PREVENT FUTURE DÉJÀ VU

caused sidewalks in Washington, DC to crack and church bells to ring
in Boston.
With so many tremors happening every year, this is obviously an area
with a lot of seismic instability. Should the fault finally decide to give
way, the damage and loss of life could be staggering. Some experts
believe a major quake along the New Madrid fault is inevitable, perhaps
within the next few decades.
Should that come to pass, it would make any of the California
earthquakes look like a child’s temper tantrum by comparison. Unlike
those of the West Coast, the building codes in the New Madrid fault
zone have given a nod to seismic safety only in the last twenty years or
so. Anything built prior to that won’t hold up in an earthquake.
If you thought the government responses to Hurricanes Katrina and
Rita were ineffectual, can you imagine just how overstretched the
emergency response would be to a disaster that encompasses several
poorly prepared states?

yellowsTone Caldera
While this threat is becoming a little more recognized by the general
public, many people still do not realize the home of the much-vaunted
geyser Old Faithful rests atop a huge underground volcano. Imagine a
vast underground bubble of magma or molten rock. If it gets emptied,
say through an eruption, the land above that bubble may collapse. That’s
called a caldera.
The Yellowstone Caldera was formed 640,000 years ago after what
is sometimes called a supervolcano erupted. While there weren’t any
scientists around back then to take notes, they’ve postulated that this
eruption sent about 240 cubic miles of ash and debris into the air. Now,
go back and reread what I said about the eruption of Mount Tambora

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and the effects it had on the world. The amount of debris sent flying
then was about one-quarter of what the Yellowstone supervolcano
managed.
If there were another comparable eruption at Yellowstone, and many
scientists say we’re entirely overdue for one, we’re talking about a true
end-of-life-as-we-know-it scenario. It would plunge the entire planet
into a mini Ice Age. Solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface would
be minimal. There simply wouldn’t be a growing season at all in most
regions, not in the immediate future. Ash would fall like snow for days,
possibly weeks. The air quality would diminish greatly as well, due to
all the soot and particulates floating around.
If you want to read what I feel is a pretty accurate portrayal of what
life would be like after such an event, pick up a copy of Ashfall by Mike
Mullin.

eleCTromagneTiC pulse (emp)
We’ve all experienced temporary power outages. A few hours, no big
deal. A couple days, pain in the posterior but easily endured. But what
if the lights never came back on?
Essentially, an EMP is a short burst of electromagnetic energy. It
causes electrical current surges, which may damage a wide range of
devices. While we typically use things like surge suppressors to protect
our electronics from lightning strikes, they would be of little use for
protection against a large EMP strike.
We face the risk of an EMP damaging the electrical grid in the United
States in two different ways. First, it could occur as part of an enemy
attack. EMP is a byproduct of nuclear detonation. Scientists found that
out after the Starfish Prime atomic bomb test in 1962. A high-altitude
nuclear explosion was set off 250 miles above a point in the middle of

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LONG-TERM EVENTS: LEARNING FROM HISTORY TO PREVENT FUTURE DÉJÀ VU

the Pacific Ocean. The resulting EMP took out streetlights in Hawaii,
almost 900 miles away. From that, we can extrapolate that if a similar
device were detonated 250 miles above Indianapolis, Indiana, there
would be loss of electrical power from Dallas, Texas, to New York City.
And that’s limiting it to 1960s nuclear technology.
Congressional studies seem to indicate that as few as two small nuclear
devices detonated in the right places could take out 70 percent or more
of our electrical capabilities. Several countries have this technological
capability right now, and more will likely join the list soon. This is
one of the reasons why we get a little uptight when nations like North
Korea want so badly to have successful rocket launches.
The second way we could get hit with an EMP is through a geomagnetic
storm sent via the sun. Back in 1859, we experienced what has been
dubbed the Carrington Event. In September of that year, the Earth
was bathed in a coronal mass ejection from the sun. You’ve heard of
the aurora borealis, right? While that light show is usually confined
to northern locations like Alaska or Norway, the Carrington Event
was seen as far from the poles as Hawaii and Cuba. There were some
negative aspects to those pretty lights, though. Telegraph systems were
dramatically affected, in some places catching on fire. Back then, of
course, those telegraphs represented the height of technology. This was
way before electric devices became commonplace. It wasn’t until the
early 1900s that cities began installing electric lights, for example.
Care to place a bet on just how bad things could get if a similar solar
storm happened today, or if some terrorist faction got their hands on
an EMP device? Think about how dependent we are upon electricity
nowadays. From the alarm clocks that wake us up, the TV that brings
us the news and weather forecast, to the almighty smart phones that
keep us connected to the world at large, all of that and more would be
rendered useless in the blink of an eye. Heck, if Facebook goes down for
an hour, some folks act like it’s the end of the world.

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The effect wouldn’t be limited to conveniences like computers and
alarm clocks. Pretty much anything that contains circuitry would be
dead. Cars, trucks, modern railway systems, all would just roll to a stop.
I know if an EMP hits, I really wouldn’t want to be on an airplane
either.
Something that is often overlooked in discussions about EMP is the
fact that while we have the know-how to build more transformers
and such to replace any infrastructure that is damaged by EMP, those
repairs don’t happen overnight. It would take literally years before any
semblance of life as we know it could be restored.

war and Terrorism
Leaving the politics out of the discussion, terrorist acts and outright
declarations of war remain a constant risk. A couple of guys in Boston
set off two bombs and managed to effectively shut down the entire
city. That’s exactly how terrorism works. It spreads fear, confusion, and
chaos. In some ways, it is like watching a magician who is particularly
talented with misdirection. Only instead of a dove appearing in one
hand while you’ve been watching the other hand do card tricks, it is the
sniper distracting you from seeing the car bomb.
Ever since 9/11, Americans have seen many of their rights slowly erode
away in the name of security. Believe it or not, there was a time not too
long ago when visiting the tax assessor’s office at the county courthouse
didn’t require you to all but strip down to your skivvies just to get past
security. Some believe we’re not too far away from seeing martial law
enacted in some areas, complete with soldiers at every street corner
asking to see your papers.
Something that is rarely taught in public schools is what happened
to Japanese Americans during World War II. On February 19, 1942,

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LONG-TERM EVENTS: LEARNING FROM HISTORY TO PREVENT FUTURE DÉJÀ VU

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066,
authorizing the military to remove all people of Japanese ancestry from
the West Coast of the United States and place them into internment
camps. It did not matter that many of these people were full-fledged
American citizens. The US Census Bureau assisted in this program,
opening its records to the military. As many as 110,000 to 120,000
people were detained in these camps.
This all happened as a reaction to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Our nation certainly has a habit of overreacting to situations, doesn’t it?
Of course, we still face the possibility that another nation might openly
attack us, using nuclear missiles, conventional weapons, or even the
EMP devices discussed earlier. While we would, I have no doubt,
prevail in such a conflict, we’d likely suffer at least some damage. Odds
are pretty good too that the effects of such an attack would be longstanding. Generally speaking, weapons get more, not less, powerful
as technology advances. If some foreign entity were to send a missile
strike, and even one or two managed to sneak through our defenses, the
damage and loss of life could be enormous.

¤¤¤¤

The point of this walk through both the past and potential future is
to illustrate the very real risk of long-term disasters. As humans, we
all have a tendency to become complacent. If we’ve not seen a major
catastrophe in our lifetimes, we often feel as though one could never
happen. Sure, we’ve had hurricanes and tornadoes, floods, and even a
pretty bad terrorist attack right in the heart of New York City. But I
doubt many of us have seen a total societal collapse, not up close and
personal.

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Does that mean you should fear what may be coming? Well, there’s no
simple answer to that question. Yes, there exists the distinct possibility
that during your lifetime something may happen to turn the world, or
at least your world, on its ear. That probably should scare you a little bit.
But, right now at least, you have the luxury of being able to take steps,
to make plans, so you’ll be in a better position then than you’re in today
should the worst come to pass.

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ChapTer 2

waTer: waTer
everywhere and
noT a drop To drink
A few years back, I was channel surfing one night and caught part of a movie that
had something to do with talking lizards living in what looked like a town from the
Old West. (Hey, I didn’t write it.) There was a scene where it starts to rain and
everyone in town rushes outside with every pot, pan, and bucket they can find
to catch the rainwater. That’s pretty much what it’s like when it rains here now.
Those of us who have rain gutters have buckets or barrels in place all the time.
It’s surprising how many homes in our neighborhood don’t have any gutters at all!
I’d never paid any attention to that before, but many of the homes that were built
or extensively remodeled in the last several years don’t have a single gutter run
anywhere. Those folks are really hurting now.
Water is another of those things we always just took for granted. Turn on the faucet
and, voilà, all the water you could ever want. On top of that, it seemed as though
every person you met on the street was carrying a bottle of water. It's been a long
time since we had the luxury of going to the store and choosing which brand of
water we liked the most.
We manage to make do with what water we can harvest from the rain as well as
rationing out our remaining bottles. Outside of standing in the rain collecting what
we can, it has been quite some time since we were able to take actual showers.
Thankfully, we have been managing about a bath a week or so. Well, “bath” might be
an exaggeration. We have an old metal washtub that we used to use for giving the
dogs baths. We save all the water we’ve been using for cleaning dishes and clothes,
dumping it into the tub. After several days, we have about five or six inches of water
in the tub. Haul the tub up above a fire pit to heat it up and then we take turns
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bathing. By the time the last person gets their turn, the water isn’t all that warm
anymore, but it beats just having another sponge bath. Once everyone has washed
up, the water gets poured into the garden. Waste not, want not, and all that.
It is said that the human body can survive about three days without
water. While that might be technically accurate, I sure wouldn’t want
to be a test case. We need to regularly consume water to even approach
some degree of good health. We also use water for hygiene purposes,
as well as for washing clothes and other items. If you sit down and do
the math, adding up every gallon of water you use in just a single day,
you’ll likely be shocked. The average person uses somewhere in the
neighborhood of one hundred gallons a day. Your own average might
be a bit north or south of that, depending on personal habits. The good
news, though, is that all the water you’ll be using need not be potable.
But, it’s safe to say that you’ll need far more than just a couple cases of
bottled water if you’re planning to survive an extended emergency.
There are basically four primary sources of water to consider: water
you’ve stored, drilled wells, rainwater, and what we’ll call “wild” sources
such as rivers and lakes.

waTer sTorage
Storing water involves a few issues that need to be planned for in
advance. First, water is what it is. By that, I mean it is heavy, it takes
up a certain amount of space, and nothing can be done about either of
those factors. It cannot be compressed into a smaller size, and it sure
can’t be made lighter. There is really no such thing as dehydrated water!
One gallon of water weighs around eight pounds. While most people
can easily handle moving a single gallon of water, it adds up quickly
when you store it in bulk containers. For example, one product I use
is the Aqua-Tainer jug. It holds seven gallons of water in a food-safe
plastic container, complete with handle and nifty little foldout spigot.

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Full, it weighs about thirty-five pounds, which is probably a good upper
limit for a portable container. Once you get much heavier than that,
many people will have real difficulty moving it. I myself can easily lift it
with one hand, but I sure wouldn’t want to run a race with it!
Portability is something you need to keep in mind with water storage. If
you want to set up fifty-five-gallon drums as rain barrels, that’s a great
idea (and something we’ll discuss in detail shortly), but recognize that
once they’re even two-thirds full, those barrels aren’t going anywhere,
at least not easily.
It is important, though, to have at least some amount of water set aside.
Honestly, you can’t store too much water. If it is stored properly, it isn’t
going to go bad, and, let’s face it, water is something you’ll always need
to use, emergency situation or not. Even though properly stored water
won’t get rancid, I do suggest rotating your stored water about every six
months. Use the old water for your garden or animals. Getting into the
habit of rotating your water storage will help keep you assured of exactly
how much you have on hand at any given time.

properly sToring Tap waTer
If you are on municipal water, there is likely already enough chlorine and other
additives to it that it will store just fine for several months. However, whether that’s
the case or if instead you have a well, it isn’t the worst idea to add a bit of bleach to
the water prior to sealing the container. Fill the container almost all the way to the
top, then add a few drops of non-scented chlorine bleach. Given that this is water
that should be potable already, you only need to add a couple drops per gallon of
water to prevent any nasties from multiplying. Fill the container the rest of the way,
then swirl it around so a few drops of water splash out on to the threads where the
cap screws on. This ensures no bacteria or other organisms are able to sneak in
after putting the cap on the container.

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Start with buying several cases of bottled water. If you shop around
and watch for sales, you can get some good deals and not cause too
big a dent in your wallet. The point of having these cases of water is to
give you a bridge, so to speak, between the first few days of the crisis
and the time when you’ll be totally dependent upon alternative sources.
You know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the bottled water is safe,
which can give you tremendous peace of mind while you set your other
plans in motion. Plus, bottled water, even in cases, is very easy to move
around. Stash it all in the basement or in the back of closets to reduce
the temptation for family members to grab bottles here and there.
Any water you’ve stored ahead of time should be saved solely for
consumption, if at all possible. This is the water you will drink and use
for cooking. Of course, it will run out eventually, and then you’ll need
to turn to the other sources we’re going to discuss. But until that
happens, stretch these pre-positioned supplies as long as possible.

whaT abouT swimming pools?
Invariably, someone new to prepping sees that nice, big swimming pool in the
backyard as a great way to store water. I mean, hey, it’s already there, right? Here’s
the problem: To make sure the water stays nice and clean for swimming, we have
to add chlorine to it. I know, I know, that’s what municipal water departments do
to our drinking water as well. The problem lies in the additional chemicals that are
mixed with the chlorine used to treat swimming pools. These chemicals, called
stabilizers, serve to keep the chlorine working longer before it finally gasses off. It
is those chemicals that can be harmful to us if we consume pool water in any real
quantities.

That doesn’t mean that ten-thousand-gallon swimming pool is of no practical use.
Far from it! Use that water for washing clothes, bathing, flushing toilets, that sort of
stuff. Doing so frees up the potable water for drinking and cooking.

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wells
Being on a private well, as opposed to municipal water, puts you a step
ahead of the game…kind of. See, wells need pumps to bring the water
up to your house. Well pumps work on electricity, of course. No juice,
no water.
All hope is not lost, however. Companies like Flojak make hand pumps
that can be installed inside a home’s well system. What is nice about
these devices is that they can pressurize the water and allow you to use
your faucets and taps just as you would today. The downside is the cost.
Expect to pay in the neighborhood of $1,000 for one of these hand
pump systems. They are not difficult to install and can be easily stored
for future use.

rainwaTer CaTChmenT sysTems
If you don’t have gutters on your home or garage, I highly suggest
you look into installing them yourself or having them installed by a
professional. It isn’t cheap, I know. Depending on your location and
the size of your house, expect to pay upwards of a few thousand dollars
when all is said and done. But, it is infinitely harder to collect rainwater
in any quantity without the use of gutters. Think about it like this: If
your roof is about a thousand square feet, just a half inch of rainfall will
give you about three hundred gallons of water flowing through those
gutters and into barrels.
Depending on the configuration of your house and outbuildings, the
ideal would be having rain barrels set up at each gutter downspout. If
that’s not doable for some reason, do the best you can. Whether you
have just one downspout that can work with a barrel or several, consider
daisy-chaining multiple rain barrels together so that when the first one
fills up, the runoff goes to the next in line. While this is a fairly simple
DIY project, you can also buy readymade kits from several sources that
will provide all the materials and instructions you need.

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PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide

No matter how you set up the rain barrels, be sure to have an easy way
to access the water inside. A built-in spigot near the bottom is probably
the best and is far better than dunking in buckets. With the spigot, you
can run a garden hose to wherever you want to use the water, such as in
a garden bed. Also, make sure the barrels have tight-fitting lids to help
prevent insects and debris from getting inside. You’ll still have to filter
the water before consuming it (more on that subject below) as it will
have picked up bits of roofing and other detritus as it flowed down into
the barrels, but anything you can to do keep more junk from getting
into the water will be beneficial.
There are many different types of rain barrels readily available for
purchase at just about any decent-sized hardware store. You can also
sometimes pick up food-grade barrels fairly cheap from Craigslist or
similar sources. These used barrels will need to be thoroughly cleaned.
Personally, I prefer to purchase actual rain barrels from a trustworthy
source, lest someone try to sell me a “food-grade” barrel that once
contained some sort of toxic chemical.
One option you might consider is placing one or more barrels inside a
garage or shed. This will serve to keep prying eyes from seeing them.
Stop in at your local hardware store or garden shop and ask about gutter
diverters. This is a device that is installed on a downspout to divert the
water into a hose that runs into the rain barrel. Once the barrel is full,
the diverter will allow the water to continue through the downspout
and onto the ground. You can run the hose from the diverter through
a small hole in the wall and into the rain barrel you’ve stashed inside.
While most diverters blend in fairly well with the gutter system, you
might hedge your bet by setting this up only on the back side of the
garage or shed, where it won’t be quite as visible. Be sure to caulk around
the hole very well to prevent insect infestations.
Even if you don’t plan to use this sort of hidden rainwater catchment
system, those diverters are handy to have as they will keep water
from overflowing out of the barrels and gushing onto your home’s

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foundation, which could compromise its integrity over time. Unless it’s
being captured in barrels, rainwater should flow away from the house
rather than seep right down the foundation walls.

wild waTer sourCes
Rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds are all potential sources of water, as
long as you keep in mind a few caveats. First, odds are you aren’t the
only person who knows about them. I don’t know that you’ll need to
go to battle with someone who is claiming the entire water source as
their own (unless it lies completely on their own property, then you
might indeed have a fight on your hands), but if your plan is to avoid all
human contact, these wild sources of water might not be the way to go.
Second, you will need to make double-damn sure you do everything
feasible to filter and disinfect the water prior to it crossing your lips.
Waterborne pathogens such as giardia are not be to be trifled with. I
don’t care how pristine and clear the water looks, odds are there are
going to be nasties floating in it, way too small to see and just waiting
for some hapless goof to down a quart so they can go to work.
As noted earlier, water is heavy. Transporting it by hand over any sort
of distance will get tiresome. But, if that’s the only source of water
available, you’ll have to figure out a way to deal with it. One option that
might be worth exploring is to use buckets with tight-fitting lids, such
as the ubiquitous five-gallon pails found at any deli or bakery. Stack
them two or three high on a two-wheeled dolly and cart them back and
forth. A wheelbarrow might work as well but will require a bit more
strength for lifting.
If the path to and from the water source is too uneven for wheeled
transport, you might fashion together a shoulder pole, also known as
a milkmaid’s yoke. This device has been in use for thousands of years
and is still being used today. It is merely a pole that is about four feet

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PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide

in length and rests across the back of your shoulders, with a bucket
suspended at each end. The pole will need to be rather strong to support
the weight of a couple buckets of water. It isn’t the worst idea, either, to
cut small notches at each end of the pole to prevent the bucket handles
from sliding off. Use a towel or some other padding to make a cushion
at the back of your neck. Lift with your knees, not your back.
Flowing water, such as streams and rivers, is generally going to be safer
than standing water. Moving water won’t usually be full of algae and
such. But, if a still pond is your only feasible option, so be it. If you
can, brush aside any thick algae growth on the water’s surface before
you fill your bucket. All you’re really trying to do is limit the amount of
material that will need to be filtered out later.

filTraTion and disinfeCTion
As I’ve been saying over and over, water other than that which has
been stored ahead of time will need to be filtered and disinfected prior
to drinking or using for cooking. These two terms are sometimes used
interchangeably, but they actually mean rather different things.
Filtering water means removing parasites and debris. Disinfecting
water means killing off harmful organisms. Neither of these will truly
purify water, at least not in a technical sense. It’s all semantics, I know,
but the differences are worth keeping in mind.

FILTRATION
OK, so how do we go about making a bucket of nasty lake water potable?
One method is truly DIY. You build a water filtration system, then boil
the filtered water. Start with an empty two-liter plastic bottle. Cut off
the bottom, so you’re left with what looks like a big funnel. Turn it
upside down, so the threaded spout is at the bottom. Lay a coffee filter
in the inverted bottle. Layer in a couple inches of activated charcoal,
which can be purchased at any pet store. Then, add a couple inches of

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fine grain sand directly on top of the charcoal. Finally, put a layer of pea
gravel or similar size rock at the top.
If you want to test out your filter, take some tap water and add food
coloring to it. Run it through the filter, and it should come out just
about clear. You’ll know it is time to replace the filter material with new
stuff when the water stops coming out clear from the bottom, no matter
how many times you run it through.
The nice thing about this sort of filter is it is made from commonly
available materials, so there is little investment involved. Even if you
purchase a commercially manufactured filtration system, this homemade
one is good to keep in mind in case your store-bought model runs out
of filters or starts to malfunction for some reason.
Berkey is one of the leading manufacturers of portable water filtration
gear, with Katadyn and Aquamira not far behind. All three are known
for providing high-quality equipment that is easy to use. Plus, for the
most part, their systems will negate the need for disinfecting the water
after being filtered. However, for extreme long-term situations, you’d
do well to stock up on plenty of extra filters for the system you choose.
Neither these manufactured products nor the DIY approach we just
discussed are designed for filtering mass quantities of water. This means
you’ll likely be filtering water as you use it.

DISINFECTION
As for disinfection, boiling is one of the best and most reliable ways to
kill off anything that might be swimming in the water. Experts seem
to disagree on whether the water needs to be at a hard boil for several
minutes or if just bringing it to a rolling boil is enough. When it comes
to making water potable, I myself always suggest an overabundance of
caution and would go with boiling it for at least a few minutes. The
water may taste a little flat after it cools. This can be helped by pouring
it back and forth between a couple containers to aerate it.

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Another great way to disinfect water is to use ultraviolet rays. There
are two methods that use this approach. The passive method is called
solar disinfection (SODIS). The active method is to use a device such
as those produced by SteriPEN.
SODIS takes time but works all by itself. All you do is set it up and let
the sun do all the heavy lifting. Plus, this is one way you can disinfect
larger quantities of water at once. Start with plastic bottles—clear, not
green. Remove all the labeling, as you want nothing to inhibit the sun’s
UV rays from penetrating the bottle and disinfecting the water. Fill the
bottles with filtered water. The water should be as clear as possible, as
any debris or sediment will likewise prevent the sun from doing its job
properly.
Find a spot in your yard that gets plenty of sun. A rooftop is even better,
provided you can access it safely. Lay the bottles on their sides on a dark
surface. Corrugated metal works well, if available. If not, even black
construction paper will work. Let the bottles sit in the sun for one full
day, provided the sky is fairly clear. If you’re stuck with cloudy skies, go
two days. The corrugated metal or dark surface helps heat the water,
which assists the overall disinfecting process.
SteriPEN is probably the best-known name in portable UV disinfection
products. These products fall into two basic types: those that use
batteries and those that are crank powered. Just a short burst of UV
rays from one of these units will disinfect your water. No muss, no fuss.
I suggest the crank-powered model, as you won’t need to stock up on
batteries. This technology is essentially the same as that currently used
for water treatment in many major cities, just downsized for portability.
Common household nonscented chlorine bleach can also be used to
disinfect water. However, it is important to note that bleach has a
limited shelf life. Once the bottle is opened, it will last only about six
months before its effectiveness starts to degrade. Therefore, while it

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WATER: WATER EVERYWHERE AND NOT A DROP TO DRINK

might be useful in the beginning weeks of a collapse, it isn’t well-suited
for the long term.
To use bleach for disinfection, add a quarter teaspoon to a gallon of
water. If the water is especially cloudy or exceptionally cold, double that
amount. Mix it thoroughly and let it sit for about an hour. There should
still be a faint whiff of chlorine smell. If not, do it all over again.
Finally, calcium hypochlorite, also known as pool shock, can be used
to disinfect water. Avoid purchasing shock that has a ton of other
chemicals in it. Instead, look for 100 percent calcium hypochlorite.
This method is a two-stage process, in which you first produce what is
essentially a form of bleach, then add that to the water to be disinfected.
Add one teaspoon of pool shock to two gallons of water. Mix using a
wooden spoon; do not use metal as this solution will corrode it. Then,
add this solution to your water in a ratio of one to one hundred parts.
To save you the math, this comes to adding one pint of solution to
twelve and one-half gallons of water.
Pool shock is great for long-term use because so little goes so far. A
single pound of calcium hypochlorite will disinfect about ten thousand
gallons of water. It also stores very well, provided you keep it from
getting wet. Be sure to store it away from metal and any ignition sources.

¤¤¤¤

Water is a precious resource, necessary for life. Plan ahead to have plenty
of water stored as well as multiple means of filtering and disinfecting
water from other sources.

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ChapTer 3

food: how To avoid
a sTarvaTion dieT
For the first week or so, it was like there was a neighborhood party every night.
People were clearing out their refrigerators and freezers, trying to get everything
cooked on the grill before it went bad. Some had more and some had less, but
everyone had at least something they could contribute to the get-togethers.
Today, we’d give almost anything to have a fraction of what was eaten at just one
of those impromptu backyard feasts. The thought of biting into a juicy cheeseburger
or tucking into a plate of barbecued chicken wings is, at times, almost sexual in
its urgency, in its lust. We aren’t starving, not in a Third World sense at least, but
we’ve all lost a fair amount of weight. Granted, for many of us that hasn’t been all
bad, as we had a bit extra around the middle in the first place.
Rather than the wide range of food we once enjoyed, we’re now limited to whatever
was picked or caught that day for dinner that night. Few of us have much left in the
way of packaged foods, though I suspect a couple of the families have much larger
pantries than they are letting on. Can’t say I blame them for not opening their doors
and letting folks have free rein. Still, it would be nice if they’d share a little with
the rest of us.
Most of us are just now starting to see some results from the makeshift gardens we
put in a few months back. Not a lot but enough to keep us from eating shoe-leather
soup. I’m not sure what we’re going to do through the winter, though.
Food is vital; that should go without saying. Without fuel, your body
won’t function properly, if at all. Unlike water, the odds of food falling
from the sky are pretty darn remote. But the thought of trying to
stockpile enough food to feed just one person for a year or more, let

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alone an entire family, is just not feasible nor practical for most folks.
Even if you could afford the expense, where would you keep it all?
Sure, you can mitigate part of the storage problem by investing in a few
pallets of freeze-dried food. It’s a great way to cram a lot of calories into
a small space. But here’s something you’ll never see mentioned in the
catalogs or on the websites of companies who sell freeze-dried foods: A
steady diet of that stuff will wreak havoc on your digestive tract. Not to
mention the high sodium content in many of them will increase your
blood pressure and have other nasty effects. Your belly will be full, but
the rest of you will be falling apart.
As with most other things, you’ll be best served by not putting all your
eggs into one basket (no pun intended) and by diversifying your food
plans. The options include food storage, growing and raising food, and
finding natural sources of food through scrounging, hunting, fishing,
and trapping. We’ll explore each of these options, along with food
preservation and cooking methods, in a bit more detail.

food sTorage
Earlier, I said that storing enough food for a year isn’t practical for
most folks. While true, you should still have at least some amount of
food squirreled away for an emergency. When preparing for long-term
events, your minimum goal for food storage should be three months.
Supplemented with wild edibles, garden produce, and other items, this
stockpile should be able to stretch to six months or more. The idea
behind having some amount of stored food is to give you a cushion. If
the garden doesn’t produce enough due to weather issues, or the local
pond gets fished out quickly, you have something to fall back on until
you can get over the proverbial hump.
Stored food should include a combination of canned or boxed goods as
well as dry grains, pasta, and legumes. You want a wide variety of foods,

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The imporTanCe of diversifiCaTion
In early 2014, a chemical spill in West Virginia left about 300,000 people unable
to use their tap water for virtually anything. The chemical, 4-methylcyclohexane
methanol, which is used in the coal industry, leaked into the Elk River from a
processing plant. From there, it worked its way into city water systems. Within
hours of the spill’s announcement, there wasn’t a bottle of water nor bag of ice to
be had anywhere in the area.

This is something to keep in mind as you plan your food storage. Many longterm foods marketed to preppers require the addition of water to make the food
palatable.This is all well and good when water is in large supply. But the wise
survivalist diversifies their food storage to include things that are ready to eat, right
out of the can or bag.

if at all possible. You should also concentrate on the foods your family
enjoys eating. Here are a few examples:

RICE: Do not store the long-grain or wild varieties as the oils in
the husks will go rancid.
BEANS: These are a great protein source when meat isn’t an option.
CANNED AND POUCH MEATS: When the hunting and trapping isn’t
going well, you can still put together a decent meal.
DRY PASTA: Kept dry, this lasts just about forever. It’s a great filler,
too.
CANNED VEGETABLES AND FRUITS: While not as good as fresh,
they’ll still provide necessary vitamins and nutrients. Most canned
goods will store well for at least a year or more, provided they are
kept cool and dry. This is why you should store only the foods
your family currently eats, as you’ll want to rotate out the canned
goods before they reach their expiration dates. Any cans you pull
from the pantry that are bulging or rusted should be tossed.
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PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide

SOUPS AND STEWS: Odds are pretty good you’ll be making a lot
of soups and stews due to their simplicity. Basically, you add
whatever food you have to a pot of water and let it cook down a
bit. Bouillon cubes will help dramatically with making your soups
more flavorful. Dehydrated soup mixes, the type that are sold in
pouches, are another excellent option. They will keep just about
forever and, provided you have the water needed to cook, make
quite a bit. My family particularly likes the Shore Lunch soup
mixes. One pouch will make, on average, about eight cups of soup.
BAKING MIXES: Don’t forget to add baking mixes to your storage.
Look for the varieties that require only the addition of water,
as opposed to milk, eggs, and shortening. A hearty bean stew
coupled with a plate of hot biscuits makes for a great meal.
COOKING OILS: Stick with the vegetable oils rather than lard or
shortening as they will store longer. Oils will provide necessary
fats in your diet.
SPROUTS: These are incredibly high in nutrients and easy to grow.
Although you can sprout a variety of seeds and beans, the milder
flavors come from mung beans, alfalfa, and clover. Rinse the seeds
in clean water, then put them in a clear jar and soak overnight.
Drain the water (reusing it in the garden rather than wasting it)
and then keep the seeds moist by rinsing and draining them two
or three times a day. In three to five days, you’ll have a new crop
of sprouts to add to salads or to eat as a side dish. You can get
the appropriate seeds or beans at health food stores. They should
come with any special instructions that might apply.
HERBS AND SPICES: In addition to storing foods, don’t forget about
things like herbs, spices, and gravy mixes that will all help with
making the food more palatable. If you aren’t very experienced
with cooking from scratch, take the time to learn now, rather than
having to puzzle it out while your hungry family is staring at you,
hoping for something that is at least somewhat edible.
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FOOD: HOW TO AVOID A STARVATION DIET

growing and raising food
When the cars stop working and shouting over fences replaces e-mail,
many backyards will be turned into garden plots. You’ll be ahead of the
curve if you’ve taken the time to invest in a supply of heirloom seeds.
These are different from the seeds you typically find at Home Depot
or Walmart. Most of the varieties sold in big-box stores are hybrids,
meaning the plants grown are mutations, selectively bred for certain
attributes. The seeds obtained from these hybrid plants will not grow
true, if at all. Heirloom seeds, on the other hand, are true stock, meaning
you can grow a watermelon, then turn around and plant the seeds from
it to grow more of the same.
Remember, we’re talking about extreme long-term survival planning
here. You may have to rely on saving those seeds and replanting them
over the course of multiple seasons.
Start by making a list of the vegetables you and your family eat on a
regular basis. Add to the list those veggies you’ve not had yet but would
be willing to try. Then, do your homework and find out what garden
crops grow best in your area and stock up on the appropriate seed packets.
Don’t wait until a collapse before getting your hands dirty either. Start
now with small garden beds or even just a few container gardens. Odds
are you will make mistakes, and it is better to learn from them now
rather than when it really matters.
Raising food animals is also definitely something to consider. Rabbits,
chickens, and even goats will do well in small areas. As with gardening,
though, this isn’t something you can start doing at the drop of a hat.
After the grid goes down, you’ll not be able to waltz down to the feed
store and pick up a few chicks to raise for Sunday dinners. But if you
start now, a half-dozen chickens will keep you in eggs and fresh meat
for quite some time.
Raising backyard critters has become rather popular recently. Many
libraries as well as community groups have begun offering free or low-

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cost classes to teach people how to raise small animals like rabbits,
chickens, and goats, right in the city or suburb. If such classes aren’t
available in your area, hit the library shelves for more information.
Another food animal to consider raising is tilapia. These fish breed
easily and grow to good size rather quickly. You don’t need a large pond
either. They will live quite well in food-grade barrels. As a bonus, the
water you rotate out of the barrels is fantastic for your garden beds.
While honey isn’t something you can really live on, it is extremely healthy
and an excellent substitute for sugar in most recipes. Honey contains
powerful antioxidants and can also be used topically as an antiseptic on
wounds. You might consider investing in a beehive to keep at the edge
of your property. This is not a small investment in money nor time, but
it may prove to be lucrative when it comes to bartering, which we’ll
discuss in a later chapter. Suffice it to say, the person who shows up to
the trade with a pint of honey will probably be able to name their price.

foraging wild edibles
Outside the extreme northern and southern ends of the globe, wild
edibles can be found just about everywhere. However, it takes time
and effort to learn what foods can be foraged in your area. This isn’t
something you can simply grab a book on and learn in an afternoon.
You can certainly start there, of course, but you need to get your butt off
the couch and outside to really know what you’re doing.
For beginners, I heartily recommend either Peterson’s Field Guide to
Edible Wild Plants (get the edition appropriate for your area) or Sunshine
Brewer’s Coast to Coast Survival Plants. Then, get in touch with your
local county extension office and find out if they offer any courses in
wild edibles. Most do offer such training at various times of the year.
Go out on hikes in your area and practice identifying plants, getting to
know their appearance during different seasons and at different stages

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FOOD: HOW TO AVOID A STARVATION DIET

of growth. Once you are comfortable identifying plants, make an effort
to add them to your regular meals from time to time. This will allow
you to determine which ones agree with both your palate and your
digestive system.
Most people are familiar with some of the more common wild edibles
like blackberries and dandelion greens. They might not regularly eat, or
even think about, dandelion salad, but it is there for the taking.
While people in times past were able to live well on foraged foods, that
likely won’t be the case after a major disaster. Odds are pretty good that
folks will be out in force, stuffing anything green into their pie holes
and hoping for the best. Sure, Darwin’s Law will winnow out those
people eventually, but that won’t make new plants grow any faster. That
said, by taking the time now to learn what is good to eat and what isn’t,
you’ll be in a better position to get out in front of the crowd.

hunTing, fishing, and Trapping
Quite often, these pursuits form the backbone of a person’s long-term
survival planning. Some survivalists figure they will be able to keep their
larder full by hitting the trail just a few times a week. Sure, this might
work out for those who live way out in the sticks, well off the beaten
path. But for those who live in cities, suburbs, or even smaller towns,
the competition is going to be fierce. Expect forests to get hunted out
fairly quickly; same with small lakes getting fished out.
I’m not saying you should give up all plans of augmenting your food
supply with wild game. What I am saying, though, is that shouldn’t be
your primary plan.

TRAPPING
Of the three approaches to putting wild meat on the table, trapping is
the one that requires the least amount of energy on your part. Traps

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will work on your behalf 24/7, though you will need to check them on
a regular basis. If you are going to go this route, I suggest you plan on
checking all traps at least once a day. While you don’t want to spend
endless hours running through your trap route, likely disturbing the
very critters you want to catch, you also don’t want another predator
(whether on two legs or four) to find your catch before you do.
The best snares around are likely the ones produced by Thompson.
They come in a few different sizes and are rather easy to set. I buy
mine from Survival Resources (www.SurvivalResources.com). Notice,
though, I said they are easy to set, not that they are easy to use. Trapping
or snaring game has a learning curve, just like anything else. Take the
time to do your homework on the types of game that live in your area.
Find out what they eat, when they are most active, and where they
likely make their homes. Only with this information can you make the
best decisions on how and where to place the traps.

FISHING
There are certainly worse ways to spend a lazy afternoon than sitting
on shore with a line in the water. But the object here isn’t relaxation;
it is to fill bellies. Increase your odds of success by using trotlines and
automatic fishing reels.
Trotlines are simply a way to fish with several lines in the water at once.
Typically, they are placed in rivers or streams, rather than lakes or ponds.
A rope or other cord is run from one riverbank directly across to the
other. At intervals along the way, smaller lines, called snoods, drop down
into the water. Each snood ends in a baited hook. For faster-moving
rivers and streams, you might affix a weight to each snood as well, to
prevent the bait from rising up to the surface. It is important to keep the
snoods from tangling with one another. A great way to prevent this is to
space them out according to their length. For example, if you are fishing
a foot down, keep the snoods three feet apart along the main line. This
way, the fish you catch won’t get tangled with one another. It is also a
good idea to attach floats, such as empty milk jugs, to the main line to

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FOOD: HOW TO AVOID A STARVATION DIET

keep things from sagging too much. Check your trotline a couple times
a day, if you can, to retrieve your fish and bait the hooks again.
Automatic fishing reels, sometimes called yo-yo fishing reels, are another
way to keep fishing while you’re off doing other things. These reels can
be found at various sporting good stores as well as online. Essentially,
they work like, well, yo-yos. You bait the hook and drop it into the water,
then attach the reel to a tree or heavy rock. If a fish gets hooked, the
motion trips the reel, causing it to retract the line automatically.
Fishing is also an activity requiring homework. You need to determine
which bodies of water in your area have sustainable populations of fish
and what types they are. This will help you determine the best ways
to catch them, such as particular baits to use and times of day best
suited for fishing. The good news, though, is getting outfitted with
basic fishing tackle is a rather inexpensive proposition. For example,
just the other day I spent under ten bucks and came home with over
fifty new hooks, about forty split-shot sinkers, and a couple spools of
line. If need be, I could attach line to a branch and I’d be in business
with just those supplies.

HUNTING
Now, those of you who regularly go fishing or otherwise spend a lot
of time outdoors may notice that the methods I’ve presented thus far,
trotlines and snares among them, aren’t often legal in today’s world, at
least in most areas. I am certainly not suggesting anyone go out and
incur the wrath of their local authorities. But, should there come to
pass the type of long-term disaster we’re focused on here, those laws
will likely become moot. In fact, some current regulations, when turned
around, become helpful tips and suggestions on increasing your odds
of success.
For example, hunters know that in most locales, “shining” deer is
forbidden. This activity consists of taking a powerful flashlight out in
the wilderness. You find a meadow or field and shine the light. If you

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see a set of eyes reflecting back at you, aim for a spot between them
with your rifle. The light not only allows you to see where the deer are
located, it also tends to make them freeze upon seeing it, giving the
hunter ample opportunity to line up the shot. After a societal collapse,
this might be one way to dramatically increase the chances of you
putting some meat on the table.
Bear in mind, though, you might not want to concentrate your hunting
efforts just on big game like deer. Sure, you can secure a lot of meat with
one shot, but you have to have a way to preserve that meat, otherwise it
will just go to waste. My suggestion is to be prepared to hunt whatever
you happen to find, from squirrel on up.

food preservaTion
Naturally, you are going to need methods for keeping food reasonably
fresh for at least a minimal length of time. Refrigerators and freezers
don’t work so well without power. Fortunately, there are a few other
ways you can keep your food from going bad.

DEHYDRATION
Fruit, vegetables, and even meat can be dehydrated rather easily. Take a
screen from one of your windows and wash it well to get rid of fly gunk
and such. Slice the food about a quarter-inch thick and place in a single
layer on the screen. Try to keep the slices all about the same thickness
so they will dry evenly. Lay another screen on top to keep bugs off, then
set it in the back window of a car parked in the sun.
When dehydrating meat, which is essentially making jerky, be sure to
remove all fat from each slice. Otherwise, the fat will go rancid and
spoil the meat. It is always best to use the leanest meats available when
dehydrating for food storage. If you have the means to freeze the meat
prior to slicing, your job will be made much easier. Of course, dried
meat is best with the addition of salt and spices. I suggest you try out

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several different recipes and determine the ones you like the most, then
stock up on the necessary spices.
Back in the old days, they would dehydrate apples simply by coring
them, then cutting them into thin slices. They would then run a string
through the apple slices and hang them around the house to dry out.
Today, there are several different models of food dehydrators you can
purchase. However, most of them rely upon electricity and therefore
may not be very useful if the grid goes down.
Store the dehydrated foods in tight-sealing jars or zip-top baggies
until you need them. If kept in a cool, dark place, dehydrated foods
will last several months. Add the veggies to soups or stews, and they’ll
reconstitute nicely. Fruit can be eaten as is or added to pies.

SMOKING MEAT
Since ancient times, people have been preserving meat by smoking it.
There are two types of smoking: hot and cold. Many people today are
familiar with hot smoking, as it’s the method used in the home smokers
that are so popular. Hot smoking is a great way to make a brisket, but it
won’t do much at all for preserving the meat.
Instead, cold smoking is the way to go, and it doesn’t require much in
the way of equipment. Start by cobbling together some sort of rack or
hanging system from which to suspend your meat. One possibility is to
use those folding wooden racks designed to dry clothing in apartments.
Another would be to use stakes and clothesline, though you need to be
sure the weight of the meat won’t cause the rope to dip too close to the
ground or the fire.
Dig a small pit and build a fire in it. Use only hardwoods. Using
softwoods like pine will give the meat a bad taste. For added flavor, use
apple or hickory if available. You don’t want a large, roaring fire either.
You’re after smoke, not heat. In fact, once the fire is burning well, soak
some of the wood in water before adding it to the flames.

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As the fire begins to burn, slice your meat into strips about an inch
thick. Hang it from your rack, making sure no piece of meat is touching
another. Enclose the fire and meat rack with a tarp, making sure the
covering isn’t close enough to burn or melt from the fire. Periodically
check the fire and add fuel as needed. Having an oven thermometer
handy will help you keep the temperature in the sweet spot of about
150°F to 155°F.
The meat is done when it is shriveled, dark, and brittle. Smoking for a
day will keep the meat viable for about a week. If you can keep up the
smoking for two full days, that will extend the preservation to a couple
weeks to a month.

HOME CANNING
Home canning is the tried and true method of food preservation.
Many of us have grandparents or great-grandparents who canned food
as a matter of course. While it isn’t a difficult skill, it does require an
investment in supplies as well as time to learn properly.
There are two types of canning: water bath and pressure.
The water bath method consists of simply placing sealed jars of food
on a rack and immersing them in boiling water for a set period of time.
When the jars are removed from the water and cool down, the lids
form a vacuum seal. This method is suitable only for acidic foods like
fruits, preserves, and pickled vegetables. Anything else must be pressure
canned.
Pressure canning involves the use of a—wait for it—pressure canner.
Food is packed into jars and subjected to high pressure. This pressure
causes the food to heat at much higher temperatures than it would in
boiling water, killing botulism spores and other potential nasties.
Now, operating a pressure canner over an open flame is a bit trickier
than doing so on a stove top, where you can more easily regulate the

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temperature. But it certainly can be done, and has been done for many
years. It just takes a bit of practice.
If you want to pursue this method of food preservation, you’ll need a
pressure canner, plenty of jars and lids (I recommend the Tattler brand
lids as they’re reusable, but be sure to read and follow the instructions),
a couple jar racks, and, above all, a good book detailing the exact process
times for a wide range of foods. One of the best resources out there
remains the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

ROOT CELLARS
Provided you have the space for one, root cellars are another age-old
method of preserving food. Essentially a hole in the ground, a root
cellar stays a constant temperature and humidity year-round, providing
a very stable environment in which to store food. While traditionally
root cellars were used to store things like potatoes and turnips, you can
realistically store just about any fruits or vegetables, with the possible
exception of apples. Those give off ethylene gas, which causes other
fruits to ripen quicker.
A rather easy way to make a small root cellar is to use a metal trash can
with a lid. You want to locate it near your house so you don’t have to
trek a long distance to get to it. Avoid putting it in a low spot in the
yard, where water is likely to collect in a heavy rain. Find a small rise
in the terrain and dig a hole deep enough to bury the can, leaving the
last few inches of it exposed. Put in your goodies, then put the lid on
the can. Toss several inches of hay on top of the lid, then cover it with
a tarp to help keep rain off. Weigh down the edges of the tarp so it
doesn’t blow away.
Every time you remove veggies from the root cellar, take a peek at what
you’re leaving for later use. Remove anything that is beginning to rot or
mold. Toss that stuff on the compost pile.

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The viable storage time for cellared fruits and vegetables varies considerably. Carrots can last up to six months, while broccoli will stay
decent only for a week or two.
If you are thinking of adding a root cellar to your overall preps, I highly
recommend consulting Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel.
Incidentally, dirt is a great barrier against disease and such. When you
harvest your crops, leave the dirt on them until you are ready to prepare
them to eat.

FREEZING
For those who live in areas that have a real winter, with freezing
temperatures, snow, and all that other fun stuff, you can obviously keep
food frozen outside. I suggest putting it into a cooler or other container
and placing something heavy on top to keep critters out.
In bear country, always keep any food stored outside suspended from a
rope, high enough to where a bear can’t reach.
I also suggest that if you have large pieces of meat, such as from a
harvested deer, butcher it completely before storing it outside. This way,
you already have the cuts made, and you aren’t having to hack off frozen
chunks of meat from the carcass, then thawing them to cook.

Cooking meThods
Given that microwave ovens and electric stove tops likely will be
inoperable, odds are pretty good that most of your disaster-aftermath
meals will be prepared using an open flame. This could be from a
campfire or even a charcoal grill. Either way, there are a few things to
consider now so you’re better prepared later.

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building a basiC fire
While there are about as many variations on fire building as there are people making
them, one of the simplest is the teepee fire. Before you strike a single match, gather
together all the necessary supplies:

Material is that is very dry and combustible, such as dry grass, cotton
fibers, or seedpod fluff.
TINDER:

KINDLING: Thin sticks, no bigger around than a pencil; the drier the better.
FUEL: Larger branches, from the thickness of a thumb on up.

Fashion a small nest with the tinder, basically a bowl shape about the size of your
fist. Take the kindling and lean pieces of it against one another, creating a teepee
shape above and around the tinder. Use a match, flint, or a lighter to start the tinder
burning. The flames will start the kindling blazing after a bit. Slowly add the fuel,
starting with the smaller stuff and working your way up to larger sizes.

OPEN FIRE
Gas grills and camp stoves might be a viable method of cooking at
the beginning of a collapse, but without a means to obtain more fuel,
everyone sooner or later is going to be using campfires and such.
A wise investment would be one of those small patio fire pits that have
become commonplace in the last few years. Take an old grill grate
(found at a rummage sale if you don’t have one lying around) and lay it
across the top of the fire pit to provide a stable cooking surface. Another
option is to use a kettle-shaped charcoal grill and burn wood when the
charcoal runs out.
If you’ve never cooked in this fashion before, pay attention. You don’t
cook over the actual flames but instead over the hot coals. We call it
open-flame cooking, but that’s something of a misnomer, really. The

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coals are what provide the heat for cooking. Build your fire and, once
it begins to die down, scrape the coals to one side and cook over them.
Continue adding fuel to the actual fire to supply more coals as needed.

SOLAR OVEN
Another option to consider is building a solar oven. This is a device that
is easily crafted at home from basic materials. It works well, but it isn’t
a very fast way to prepare a meal. It is also very weather contingent—
rainy days don’t make for very good cooking with a solar oven.
At the core, a solar oven is nothing more than an insulated box with a
clear lid. Here are the basics on how to construct one:
You’ll need two cardboard boxes, one a bit smaller than the other. As
you choose your box sizes, bear in mind the smaller of the two is where
you’ll be putting your food. So, you’ll want it at least large enough
to fit a small pot or pan inside. Use flat black spray paint or black
construction paper to completely cover the interior of the smaller box.
Center that box inside the larger one and fill the space between the two
with crumpled newspaper or shredded paper as an insulator. Cut off the
box lid flaps on the smaller box, making the cuts as straight as possible.
Next, you need to find a clear lid. What works very well, provided
you can find one of suitable size for your box, is the glass from an old
photo frame. You want it large enough to cover the smaller box opening
completely. If you can’t find the right size of glass, you can head to
your local hardware store and pick up a small sheet of clear plastic
like Lexan and cut it down to size. Ideally, there should be little to no
space between the top edges of the smaller box and the clear lid to trap
as much air as possible. That’s why when you cut the flaps, the edges
should be as straight as you can manage.
Line the inside of the flaps of the larger box’s lid with aluminum foil,
gluing it down and smoothing out the wrinkles as best you can. What

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works well is to use a squeegee or ruler and run it along the foil, pressing
firmly to iron it out.
Take the entire box oven out into the yard and find a sunny spot. Prop
up the foiled flaps to reflect the sunlight into the box. Put your food
on a dark-colored pie plate and place it in the box. Put the lid in place
and let it sit. Check it regularly and turn the box as needed to keep the
sun shining into it. You might also want to stir or reposition the food.
Expect cooking temperatures of around 200°F, perhaps a bit more on
a very sunny day, maybe as high as 350°F. The best times for using the
solar oven will be from around 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. as that is when
the sunlight will be strongest in most places.

COOKWARE
Most of your day-to-day pots and pans aren’t designed for use over
hot coals. Plastic handles will melt, for example, and thin aluminum
pans will warp. Even higher-end stainless steel pans aren’t made to be
used over a campfire repeatedly. I highly suggest you pick up at least a
few cast-iron skillets as well as a dutch oven. Properly seasoned and
maintained, they will last a lifetime or more of everyday use.
One of the best ways to season cast-iron cookware, although this
method might not be feasible after a disaster, is to take the clean skillet
and coat it with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Put it upside down in a
350°F oven for an hour, then turn the heat off and let it cool in the oven
back to room temperature, which will take several hours. You might
want to put a foil-covered cookie sheet on the rack underneath to catch
drips as it cures. When cool, use a towel to wipe it down. If an oven
isn’t available, coat the cast-iron pan with oil, then set it right into the
middle of a campfire for an hour, pull it out, and let it cool down.
Cast-iron cookware can be found at most department stores, but if you
hunt around, you’ll likely find bargains at thrift stores and rummage
sales. If you find a pan that is rusty, you can scrub it out with either oil
and coarse salt or with steel wool, then season it as outlined above.

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To clean cast iron after use, just use a small amount of hot water and
a nylon brush. Apply another thin coat of oil and you’re good to go.
If the pan has a lid, store it separately or at least put a paper towel or
something between the lid and pan so air can get inside. When cooking
with cast iron, keep in mind that the handle will be just about as hot as
the rest of the pan. Therefore, always use a pot holder or thick towel to
pick it up. One of the great things about cast iron is heat retention. The
pan will stay hot for quite a while after being removed from the fire.
You may want to leave a towel draped on the handle after you put the
pan on the table or counter so you don’t forget, grab the bare handle,
and let loose with a string of expletives that would make a dock worker
blush.

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ChapTer 4

mediCine: There's a
doCTor in all of us
One of the biggest challenges we’ve had to face is the lack of professional health
care. I mean, we don’t even have access to WebMD to self-diagnose! Fortunately,
the police acted quickly enough and were able to protect the pharmacy in town.
That’s been quite a godsend to many of us. One of the three pharmacists who
worked there lives here in town and has been working double shifts trying to
keep up with demand. We also have a few experienced nurses and even a dental
technician, but no doctors, no surgeons, no dentists. The EMTs we have are great
with patching up cuts and scrapes, but all of their training has been concentrated
on stabilizing a patient to get them to a hospital for treatment, not so much on
actual long-term medical care.
We had a pretty severe flu outbreak about a month ago. They were doling out
various over-the-counter meds to those who needed help with symptoms of
vomiting, diarrhea, and such. Not much they could do about fighting the actual
bug. I’ll tell you, the stomach flu is infinitely worse when indoor plumbing isn’t an
option anymore.
As might have been expected, the first few weeks of the crisis brought a lot of
injuries as people tried to figure out how to properly use things like chainsaws and
hand tools. While no one lost a leg, as far as I’ve heard, there were a couple fingers
lopped off, several heart attacks, and quite a few infections that resulted from cuts
and punctures not being treated properly.
Dental issues have also been cropping up a fair amount. Several people had been
fighting off various and sundry cavities and mouth infections even before the
crisis hit. They are doing the best they can down at the new makeshift clinic, but
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antibiotics are being used only in the most severe cases. Once our supply of those
meds is gone, we have no way to get more, so we’re rationing it out based on
priority.
Just about everyone who was on life-saving medications, like heart meds or even
insulin, is gone now. There are a few who are lingering, but I don’t think they’ll last
much longer.
One of the most critical elements of any long-term survival plan is to
account for medical needs. This goes beyond that small first aid kit you
keep in your glove box. That will work great for small cuts and scrapes,
but the longer a crisis goes on, the more likely it is that people are going
to need help with more serious injuries and illnesses.
Like any other aspect of postcollapse life, you are going to be pretty
much on your own when it comes to providing for your medical needs.
While we would all love to have a couple of MDs within our survival
group, that likely won’t happen for most of us. And while we might
dream of having a fully stocked emergency room at our fingertips, odds
are pretty good that any in the area will have long since been looted and
picked clean.

disClaimer: i am noT a doCTor
Nor have I ever played one on television. The information provided in this chapter
is based upon research as well as my own experience. Nothing here should ever
replace the advice and treatment received from a competent medical professional.
If a long-term crisis were to come to pass, make every effort to seek out medical
care before resorting to extreme measures on your own.

mediCal Training
All the supplies on the planet won’t do you much good if you don’t
know how to use them properly. I’m not saying you need to go out and
enroll in medical school tomorrow morning (though if that’s a feasible

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option for you, please feel free). However, there are a few different
avenues worth exploring to increase your medical knowledge and skills.
Many technical colleges offer courses of interest within their emergency
medical technician (EMT) programs. Even if you have no plans to
pursue that career path, the training and knowledge will be very useful.
If you lack the funds to pay the tuition, look into auditing the classes.
Some schools al