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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. 13 PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide 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 14 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 15 PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide 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 16 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. 17 PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide 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, 18 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. 19 PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide 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. 20 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 21 PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide 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. 22 WATER: WATER EVERYWHERE AND NOT A DROP TO DRINK 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. 23 PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide 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. 24 WATER: WATER EVERYWHERE AND NOT A DROP TO DRINK 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. 25 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 26 WATER: WATER EVERYWHERE AND NOT A DROP TO DRINK 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 27 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 28 WATER: WATER EVERYWHERE AND NOT A DROP TO DRINK 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. 29 PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide 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 30 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. 31 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 33 PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide 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, 34 FOOD: HOW TO AVOID A STARVATION DIET 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. 35 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. 36 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- 37 PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide 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 38 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 39 PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide 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 40 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 41 PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide 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 42 FOOD: HOW TO AVOID A STARVATION DIET 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. 43 PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide 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 44 FOOD: HOW TO AVOID A STARVATION DIET 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. 45 PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide 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. 46 FOOD: HOW TO AVOID A STARVATION DIET 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 47 PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide 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 48 FOOD: HOW TO AVOID A STARVATION DIET 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. 49 PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide 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. 50 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 51 PrePPer’s Long-Term survivaL guide 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 52 MEDICINE: THERE'S A DOCTOR IN ALL OF US 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