What is your plan, or can you handle a small disaster?

August 12, 2013

Almost every site that covers survival and prepping talk about all kinds of disaster and that you should start with the most common disaster in your area.  If you are starting out look at things that happen yearly such as flooding, wind (Tornadoes, Hurricanes), Winter(snow and ice storms) and summer(drought and heat). All to often I see people that act surprised that summer is hot or winter is cold and snowstorms can happen.  So far it has been a quiet hurricane season but every time the news gets a chance to hype a storm people wait till the last minute to get what they need and it’s a near riot.  I mean it’s called hurricane season for a reason as it tends to happen every year. Same with all those other things called seasons.

A couple of things that happen during all of those events is a loss of power and a lack of clean drinking water. You need to have a plan in place that takes care of those two items first.

Energy/power: You will lose electric power and possibly your natural gas will stop because of a break in the line or is turned off for safety reasons.  A gas generator is a good short term answer for getting through the first week of a disaster if you have fuel, oil, heavy duty extension cords and can run it safely.  I recommend at least a 3000 watt generator for the average home owner, that will allow you to run either a fridge or freezer for about 6 hours every 24 hours and keep stuff cool or cold while you eat that food first. Save your canned goods till after those appliances are empty. Don’t use the generator to run everything in your house! Use it sparingly to extend your fuel. Power packs, inverters hooked to batteries or solar can give you more options and are a bit cheaper than a gas generator for up front costs.

Lights: Many options here but start with LED flashlights are great for long battery life and a safe for kids to use. I’ve picked several l LED lights that clip on a hat brim or head lamps, if you need to keep your hands free to work. You can use candles but I’m not a big fan on having a lot of open flame in a disaster. Enclosed or protected flame lamps that run on Kerosene, Propane or white gas offer better light to work by and are a bit safer than candles. Get a few mirrors to place behind you lanterns to reflect the light out.  Add wicks along to your fuel and do your tests to see how long your lanterns will burn on one “tank” of fuel.  Have lighter and matches to light them up!

Cooking and Heat: Lots of options with this item and you probably have something you can cook on like a propane or charcoal grill outside. There are a lot of low cost options from single burner butane stoves to camp stoves to a propane oven with burners. If you have a wood stove you have both heat and cooking as long as you have fuel. You will also need a way to boil water to make it safe to drink.  If you need another source of heat I recommend the propane Mr. Buddy heater for it’s safety features. You should have both a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector that are battery powered or have a battery backup. Kind of stupid to get dead from carbon monoxide poisoning or a fire after you survived a disaster.

Water as you know is my “big thing”.  Store as much as you can and not as little as possible. If you have warning before a disaster fill everything that will hold water before the storm hits. Pots, bathtub,clean garbage can, ice chests whatever! it might not be safe for drinking but you can treat it ,use it for flushing a toilet or water your plants. Better to have extra an not need it than the other way around. Add in a good water filter, chemical sanitizer like bleach or Iodine tablets.

Now for some basic disaster tools: Work gloves, face masks and protective goggles. Pry bar and crow bar, Sledge hammer, shovel and axe . With these items you can get to someone or dig yourself out. Bow saw and extra blades, great for removing downed limbs or small trees.  Tarps, Heavy duty plastic sheeting, duct tape, heavy duty stapler and construction grade garbage bags. With these items you can cover a hole, broken window or start on cleaning up. Snow shovel, Garden rake, push broom, sand and ice melt.

Do a  test of your stuff even if it just for a day. Put a little sticky note over all of your light switches and go lights out! No one washes  or flushes the toilet until they heat or haul the water for it.  Test your generator and extension cords by running a couple of appliances such as a fridge, A/C unit or small heater for a few hours and know how much fuel you need. I’ve done quite a few tests of all my preps but there is a big difference between a disabled person living alone and a family of four that are healthy. You must prep for you and no one else can tell you exactly what you will need.

You probably have quite a few of these items already on hand because you have needed them in the past. I think you should have these items at a minimum for the seasons and you will use them at some time in the near future. Just some basic common sense items to have on hand for everyday life. Plus once you get all of the items that you need for your yearly needs you will be well on your way for being prepared for any big disasters.

Heating and cooling. Yard work, compost, the wood pile, solar lights and a big thank you!

August 10, 2013

Friday I dropped off the last bit of paperwork for the wood stove loan.  The loan should be finished up next week and then I can schedule the installation for next month.  Mom and I went looking for another small Air conditioner at the local home improvement stores. Locally the Big box stores had sold out of the 5000 BTU units but the 6000 BTU was available. So we have a backup that can run via the generators. We have a couple of family members that have suffered heat injuries so even if the power goes out we got them covered for a little while. I would like to add one more of the 5000 BTU Frigidaire A/C for my house next year as a backup or to cool another bedroom.

While we were out we looked at some sink/bathroom vanities that were very reasonable and looked great! I can’t afford them right now but it did give me some ideas about the look I want and the costs.  I want to go with a late 1930’s early 40’s look and also get everything setup in case my CIDP progresses.  I think it will look great as most of the fixtures from that era are handle types that I can just push rather than twist/pull.

I got the front yard mowed and it went very fast for me. I put the clippings in my new compost pile along with  straw, kitchen waste and some leftover rabbit poo from the original compost set up.  I love using my little pressure wand for adding water to the pile. It pushes deep into the pile and gets the water down deep so the entire pile gets moisture without a lot of turning.

Dad stopped by and added a some more  stacks of wood. I guesstimate we are about 2/3’s of the  way done on moving all the wood under the carport.  I have been using my little garden wagon to move the wood and it has worked out pretty well. I kind of wished the cart had a wider wheel base as it can tip over easily when full but I’m learning to anticipate that and load it more evenly.

I got all my solar motion detector lights installed.  I’ll test them tonight and see if they pick up  motion and shine where I want them to light up.  I like using the solar lights in the yard as a decorative touch and for security.  I save electricity, cut down on light pollution and it looks nice. I have read that cops say motion detector lights work better than always on security lights.  Using the smaller solar lights is a win all the way around.

I just heard from SMB and the doc says the skin grafts are looking good and while painful she is doing much better than she expected. The prayers, thoughts and good wishes are working and I really appreciate all who have added my friends to your list of prayers and such.

There is still time to prepare! You just need a plan and begin.

August 8, 2013

Now you can sit and make excuses or blame universe or whatever else in your life.  You can cry about life not being fair and that someone should do some thing. But when it come down to it your life is your responsibility. No one owes you anything and if you believe someone owes you something, you believe in Slavery!

Now I’m a disabled vet and I also worked to pay into the Social Security system and it was supposed to be a safety net for me. Guess what the PTBs  lied and if there is no money I won’t get paid. Same for a lot of you, you were lied to and many of us wanted to believe the lies. Many Americans are no better than the government as Americans are incredibly in debt with car loans, student loans, credit cards and huge home mortgages. I was not as bad as some but I wanted to believe I could have it all as long as I could make the payments and I would pat myself on the back for not being in as much debt as those “other people”.

It can be tough to admit you got conned, were ignorant and played for a fool. But I think your first step is to admit that, and do a brutally honest assessment of yourself. In order to have money to prepare you must know where your money is going and I mean down to the last penny!  You can do it via a notebook or save all you receipts, write checks for every thing or whatever works for you but you have to know where you spend your money down to a can of soda out of a vending machine. Most people who do this often are surprised on how much money trickles away, getting a burger at the drive in, a latte at the coffee shop, a dinner out or a night on the town. I’m not saying you can’t do these things but those can add up really fast if you don’t pay attention and have it in your budget!

When you start seeing where your money is going you can take a hard look at your budget and see where you can cut back a bit and save money. No you don’t need to throw away your TV, Ipad or internet but take a look and see what you are actually using and perhaps you can lower the cost by dropping a certain cable package, or go from unlimited data/minutes to what you actually use and a buffer. I’m on my Dad’s Verizon Friends and family plan and I pay him for the line. I don’t use my cell phone much and when I call most of it is free minutes cause it is Verizon cell to cell.  Otherwise I use my magic jack internet phone that costs $30.00 a year. No quality isn’t always perfect but it’s good enough for the price. Yes, you will need to do a little research and find the best bargain for you but even saving $5.00 a month equals $60.00 a year and that is enough to buy 150 pounds of rice or just over 2 years of rice for at 2 meals a day for one person or six months worth of rice for a family of four.

Water is critical, here in Idaho we will get our irrigation water turned off a month early. Over in Oregon they have a boil order in Baker for a germ in the city water supply and last year Twin Falls water supply broke down completely during a power outage as the backup generator did not work and there was rationing and a boil order for a week or two while the city scrambled to repair the damage. You got three days tops before the lack of water kills you and after about a day to 36 hour your brain starts going  to mush and you don’t think clearly. You must store water and you should be looking to store as much as possible and not the bare min. of a gallon a day. Water regulates your body’s thermostat and you need water to stay warm in winter as well as cool in summer.  Start shopping around now for sales on camp jugs, rain barrels as we shift to fall those should start going on sale. You may also find camp water filters on sale so you can purify water from rain barrels.

Fall and winter are coming and you need to stay warm as well as handle any power outages from storms. Got a snow shovel, salt or sand if you live where they get snow or ice? Got a backup heat and light source, how will you cook or heat water if the power goes out?  I’m seeing generators at the local farm stores and stoves are showing up at the home improvement stores. Got fuel and oil for your generator? Have you tested it out and made sure it works or did you leave old gas in it? If you have gas in fuel cans stored how old is it? Do you need to get fresh gas and some Stabil to make it last longer? If you use propane, wood or oil stoves have you ordered fuel for the winter? Get it now before the rush or prices go higher!

You can start building skills and doing things that will save you money. Libraries and the internet have all kinds of classes, books and things you can learn that cost little if no money. You need to work on changing your mindset and think outside of the box. Think of what is possible instead of making excuses for yourself of not learning and doing.  Embrace failure and learn not to fear it, because that is how you learn. Stop using the word can’t and figure out a way to make it happen! I loved playing basketball as a kid and I was never going to slam dunk a basketball simply because my body was incapable of leaping nearly 5 feet in the air. So I learned to shoot 3 pointers from outside.

Last but not least have you got your holiday shopping done or at least started?  Keeping those family traditions going will make you feel more in control and boost your morale when things get bad. I think the PTBs will hold it together in the USA for another year, but after Cyprus and all of the banking changes I plan for a bank holiday every paycheck by paying my bills as soon as I can or a little ahead and taking all the remaining cash out of my Credit Union. Cash will be King at least for the short term, your credit or debit cards not so much.

Will you have a week, a month,  a year, five years I don’t know.  I do know you will probably have a disaster of some sort in the because Mama nature has a bizarre sense of humor and “Life” is trying to kill you and one day will succeed. You will always need the basics of food, water and heat in the future so there is no harm in getting those things now that you will use. Instead of using a credit card/debt to buy what you need/want today and pay for it in the future. Buy what you need in the future and pay for it today.

Got a couple of prayer requests

August 6, 2013

I belong to the Grab the Apple Forums and we have a couple of folks going through a rough patch.

SMB has been in and out of the hospital with a flesh eating bacteria. Very bad stuff and just for kicks she will lose her job at the end of the month. She’s got a lot of rehab, skin grafts and healing time ahead of her so if you send up a prayer for her and her family I thank you

JH is going through some dark times as he put’s it and he was a grunt in Nam so it must be tough. If you could ask God to give a little extra support and to light his way I thank you again.

Just because I have never met these people face to face they have become friends and like another family to me.  I believed in the power of prayer and these people need all the strength they can get to move pass these hard times.

Got a few things done this weekend

August 5, 2013

Finally made some more beer!  It’s been so hot I haven’t wanted to heat up the house boiling the wort but we had a couple of cooler days so got busy baking bread and making beer. I got a wheat beer and a new lager started so it will be fun to see how the new lager recipe turns out.

Cleaned up my old gas grill and then set up the Weber by the patio. The old grill had a couple of place where the paint had flaked off so I gave it a quick sanding and sprayed with 1400 degree paint. I have always kept the grill covered so it didn’t rust and still is in good shape considering it is about 10 years old. I scraped and cleaned the grill on the Weber along with getting some vegetable oil on the grates.  It looks pretty darn good sitting out there if I do say so myself.  I noticed the gas hose has a bad kink in it so I will order a replacement when I get the new flavor bars later this month.  I am adding a bit to the cost of the Weber but by investing about $75.00 total I will have a nearly new Weber gas grill. If you order the parts from Weber they have an outstanding replacement policy and the prices and shipping costs are competitive.

Since I have been doing a lot of work outside with grills and the wood stove project is on it’s way to completion.  I’m thinking an outdoor kitchen would be nice to have during the summer months. I have access to a water spigot so doing a cold water work sink would not be to difficult add a small work counter and it would be easier to do all the canning and beer making without heating the kitchen in the summer and fall. Add one of those double burners that run on propane and a Brick pizza/bread oven and I would be set to do most of my baking and canning outside and keep the house cool. I can’t do it this year but it would make a nice project for next year after the wood stove is paid off!

I know when you start out from nearly nothing like I did it can seem like an impossible task to get even the basics.  I prove you can do this even if you are on a fixed income and you slowly build by paying mostly cash, use free layaway programs and use what you buy as you go to save money. It’s simple if not always easy you just have to stick with it and be persistent.  For me it has now become a way of life and who knows how long we have to get ready? Not me, I have been wrong on the collapse(so far) but right about rising costs of everything you need to live.  Living this way has saved me a few times from an unexpected vet bill or high power bill to keeping my food budget under $150.00 a month. You can’t put a price on knowing you can handle any little disaster or the peace of mind that you are ready for a big one!

In a strange way I’m grateful to the PTBs for motivating me to get prepared and start becoming self-reliant. I doubt I would have tried learning how to do so many things if not for them and what they are doing.


Albertson’s has a good sale and I got some Lobster this time!

August 4, 2013

A couple of weeks ago Albertson’s had lobster but they sold out before I got there though I did get a good buy on some salmon. So I was very excited when they had small 12-14 oz. lobsters for $4.99 and today I got there and picked up two. Not the cheapest food you can buy, but it makes for a nice treat. Plus I can cooked up the shells and make a little lobster stock for punching up the flavor of dishes.

I got a pound each of Dry Salami and provolone cheese for making up a big sandwich. I baked off a loaf of my Artisan bread for the sandwich. I cut the loaf in half and spread an Italian type dressing on each side then just start adding the salami, provolone, onions, lettuce, tomatoes and what ever else that I have on hand and like on a sandwich. Put the loaf back together and wrap it up tight in saran wrap and let it sit in the fridge over night.  This is great in the summer when you want something to eat but don’t want to heat up the kitchen. Just slice the loaf normally then add some fresh veggies from the garden or pasta salad and you have a complete meal.

We had a cold front move in tonight so it looks like Friday and Saturday will be good days to make up a few batches of beer.  I’m going to take a look at Mom’s solar panel set up and add a larger inverter to the panels Dad already setup and see exactly what we can work out adding a little more solar energy use for some smaller day to day items.  These days of 100 degree heat have made the energy bills go up a lot. Compared to what we got used to the last few years of relatively cool summers and warm winters.  I checked out my usage and it looks like using my little a/c unit really cut my power usage compared to the whole house central air. A big plus is by using the smaller unit and avoiding the on/off cycle of central air seems to work better in relation to my CIDP.  Talk about a win/win!

Sad to say that things you need to buy will probably keep going up no matter what the Fed or the talking heads say about how things are so great in the economy.  You need to be very proactive in cutting your costs now and getting ready for things to get worse.  I’m not talking about living like a monk as most of us can start doing little things right away that are low cost but can save money.  Using power strips to cut vampire loads when possible. I have gone big on using solar lighting outside and no longer leave my porch light on all night.  My little a/c unit is helping a lot and going around and turning off lights or things like radios and tvs that some people think need to stay on even if you leave the room. Downsizing or even eliminating most of your cable or sat. subscription and using the internet can really cut your monthly costs. These little things can add up fast and the best way to have money in your pocket is don’t spend it in the first place!

I was about a year into my prepping and I read an article by “ferfal” at Surviving in Argentina Blog. He covers what happen during the economic collapse of Argentina in 2001 and one of the big things that hit home with me was the currency devaluation of 30% early in the collapse. Can you imagine over night your paycheck loses 30% of it’s value?  Prices don’t go down and you must try and stretch your paycheck even though it has loss nearly 30% of it’s value. I believe this is what we will see either through devaluation or inflation that we will lose about 1/3 of our buying power.  That is the kind of cut that should happen in 2015 when SSDI runs out of money. So start cutting your costs now and stocking up so you can try and ride out what is coming.

Woodstove installation scheduled for September

August 2, 2013

I went a little over on the $3000.00  budget but I wanted to get a nice stove that looks good and not just get by as I usually do. This is a big step up on the stove as it is for about 2000 square feet which is more than enough for my house. It also has a dual level cooking top for two zones of heat which gives me more options using the stove. I’m saving a bit of money and floor space going with this stove as I don’t need wall protection or as much distance from the back wall.  I should get a lot longer burn time compared to the little cast iron stoves I was looking at purchasing. I also get to look at my fire which I consider a major benefit.  There are always trade offs but I want a stove that is easy to use and I think the extra $400.00 spent over budget on the stove will make that happen.

I talked to my credit union and I can get a loan for the total cost and then pay it off early with no penalty. Not the debt free method but it works good on timing for me having stove installed as the shop is busy this month but lots of openings in Sept.  I can pay off the loan quickly even considering I went over budget. I figure it will take about 3-5 years for the stove to payback the original cost  depending on wood use/cost and how cold winter will be, but I gain peace of mind that I will control my heat and not the utility company or the PTBs.

Since I’m going a little over budget with the stove the Solar generator is not going to get all the extras I wanted to add on with panels, extra inverter and batteries. Once the wood stove is paid off I can focus on the solar generator and get it finished up. I have read so many stories about people that decide that they must buy everything they can/need on credit cards and when the world does not end they are in a major bind trying to make payments.  I still think paying cash as you go is the best, but I can see that taking out a small loan can also be an option.  Just make sure you can pay it off as quickly as possible. If you are getting  a loan with the lowest payment and longest term you might be making a mistake. That compound interest can really kill your budget!

So the basic payment for the loan can be paid my savings from the house refi, and then I will be paying it off as quickly as possible probably about Jan. or Feb. because of the extra cost of the stove itself. A little longer than my original goal of having it completed this year but not to bad considering all I wanted to get done in 2013.  Bonus is the stove will be installed and I can use it all winter and save money on the power bill.  I can plow that extra savings into the payoff of the stove!  So I could get it all paid off by Dec. if everything hits just right. I’m not counting on that, but it is possible.