One question I get asked a lot is “What’s best? Should I bug out or prep to bug in?”
Well it’s a classic question and one with no really clear answer.
The short answer is “it depends”
Depends on what you ask? It depends on so many things. Off the top of my head I’ll go through the most common scenarios and what works best for each of them. Let’s tackle a long term SHTF situation and let’s say your group of survivors have varying degrees of experience from military experience all the way over to no experience at all.
I think the general rule of thumb to most survival scenarios is there is not much point bugging out if you do not have a prepared and secured location to go to. I just groan at the thought of the average city dweller stumbling around one of our national forests trying to madly recall what survival tips they saw on one of those survivor man TV shows and making things much much worse for them and their family members.
Even with some members of your group having extensive training staying mobile on the long term is going to be difficult especially if you have young children and the elderly in your group. Shelter and supplies are a constant for us humans and being on the move limits what supplies you can take with you and also how secure each of your shelters will be. Giving up a secure shelter in extreme weather conditions (hot or cold) is not a wise move. There are just way too many variables for me to ever think that staying on the move is the right play.
Okay, so then what are some situations where it does make sense to pack up and get the heck out of dodge?
I think the general rule is if you can’t drink your water or breath the air – no matter how secure your Bug Out Location (BOL) is its time to move.
I think its probably common sense to most of us when it might be a good time to leave your secure compound and hit the road but just in case you are wondering what scenarios I think it would be worth leaving behind my land and supplies I would considering the following scenarios time to get out of dodge.
The advent on nuclear war or a failed nuclear reactor anywhere near you. If you have done your research properly before buying a property I would like to think that none of us are down wind or down stream from any nuclear reactors. Just look at those poor folks near Fukishima Japan if you don’t believe me.
Of course in the advent of a nuclear war (or a terrorist dirty bomb) now one can tell for sure when the bombs will drop. However a safe rule of thumb would be near any one of the major cities , or near any well known military base or military target is a good place NOT TO set up your BOL.
Although a lot of my friends and associates believe that America will never be invaded, I would not rule out a scenario straight out of the 80s classic US invasion film “Red Dawn” happening some time in our future. As of writing (late August 2016) tensions between the US, China and Russia have not been this bad since the 80s. Anyways depending on your location just as in Red Dawn it would be wise to bug out if your home situation is in the path of any invading troops. The teens in Red Dawn managed to hold out by heading to the hills and using guerrilla tactics against their aggressors. That said if an invading force hit the west coast and you were based in say Maine, it wouldn’t make much sense to pack up and get the heck out of dodge.
I think on the whole most of us are aware of the well known Earthquake zones, at least in this country. Even as a young kid growing up in Australia I knew that both California and Japan were on fault lines and that the Japanese were very skilled in making houses out of wood to ensure their best chances of surviving a major quake. I also thought Californian’s were crazy for “knowing” that they lived on the San Andreas fault line and one day the “big one” was going to hit and yet they all took their chances. Of course now being an adult I fully acknowledge that some people are stuck where they have to work or perhaps you are unfortunate enough to be visiting somewhere either vacation or a business trip when the big one hits.
That said as preppers it would be wise if possible to make sure that you do not have a property anywhere close to a major fault line. I have also noticed that in recent years that there are quakes happening in places that are not known for them. For example I was still living in New York 5 weeks after 9-11 and I was lying in bed one morning when I felt an earthquake, most of the local residents thought it was another terrorist attack but I knew it was not. The news later reported that Astoria, New York was on a fault line (who knew?). I have also seen more recent research that states that the big one will happen either in the mid west OR further north of California, some where between Portland and Seattle, the scary thing is as far as I am aware buildings in those places are not made to the same earthquake codes as buildings in Northern or Southern California are. So the damage could be at lot worse if these scientists are right.
I guess to sum up this section it would not be wise to have your BOL anywhere near an earthquake zone but if you are caught on the coast when the big one hits your best bet would be to get as far out of the area as fast as possible, as if you are not quake in the direct blast you still run more risk of being caught in a Tsunami wave on the coast which can do much more damage to survivors than the initial quake. Just look at those poor folks in Indonesia after the quake of 2004.
Even if you are positioned a top of a hill OR say have an apartment that’s not the basement or ground floor during a flood there are still problems that can come after a flood esp with burst sewers and fresh drinking water. I would like to think that most of us as preppers are savvy enough not to live anywhere which is below sea level. (New Orleans anyone?) that said I was shocked a couple of years ago when parts of Australia that had gone through decades of drought got flooded – so who can say for sure.
So I think if you have advance warning of flooding and depending on your living situation bugging out will probably be advisable.
In a scenario where there is lots of illness – I think its probably best to bug in. Unless a Zombie virus hits us sometime soon ala. The Walking Dead, which I highly highly doubt staying in and hunkering down for a few weeks is the smart move.
An EMP attack is likely to fry electronics in most cars ..if you are faced with bugging out in this scenario it is going to mean doing it on foot. I think depending extra circumstances of this situation you are going to best served by bugging in.
To sum it all up , I think as I mentioned above most peoples fantasy’s of bugging out are just not based in reality. By bugging out to the National Forest (or whatever) are just going to find themselves in a far worse off situation if not out and out dangerous. If given a choice stay where your land and your supplies are. That said if your water is not safe to drink and your air not safe to breath it’s time to pack up and get the heck out of dodge.
Everyone likes to get away for the weekend and when you get a chance to there is a lot of fun in taking a recreational vehicle, or RV, to go camping in. Your RV could be a pull behind camper or a camper that you can drive. What ever you use RV’s usually run off of electricity from another source or they have battery powered lights. When you use electric hook up in a camper you may want to consider turning your RV into a solar powered RV and never worry about electric hook ups again. Enjoy your vacation anywhere without restrictions.
Once you hook up to a power source you are able to have the comforts of home by turning on and off the lights and using the bathroom. If you cannot access a power outlet you may use a generator to supply power to the camper. These generators are nice in a pinch but you have the problems of running out of fuel to keep it going not to mention the noise that it makes. If you want to turn your RV into a solar power RV it is simple to do and with little expense. There are a number of different products that you can buy to make camping fun and modern with little or no effort.
You can mount a solar panel to the RV camper in order to charge your energy in your RV. This is done by purchasing a solar panel mounting bracket that your solar panel will set on. You can buy RV solar panel kits that include both the mount and the panel. Once it is installed you can power your camper and batteries using the suns warmth that was already there and it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg to do so. Run your solar panel wire to the battery compartment and you are ready to go. Each solar powered kit offers different wattages and sizes so you can select the right one for your RV size and what you will be using.
When you are out on a camping trip you can feel good knowing that you can go anywhere you need to go. Your solar panel on top of your RV will also withstand any type of weather and because a camper is so small it won’t take much solar power to operate the RV. Another hot solar powered item to buy for your RV is called the Solar Power Ventilator. This provides the perfect ventilation system for small quarters, such as RV’s. When it is hot in the summer or anytime that the sun is shining it doesn’t take long for the RV to heat up and become very uncomfortable. The solar power ventilator will run all the hot air out and circulate the air with clean fresh air.
When you take the RV out you want to enjoy your time in the great outdoors without giving up the fact that you have to rely on a power source or go without power completely. If you have to go without power you may find that it is inconvenient and hard to do, especially when you purchase an RV because of the way that it is convenient.
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER ABOUT THIS INFORMATION This blog post is for information purposes only. Do not attempt any of the techniques shown unless under the guidance of a fully qualified professional. Always consult your physician before engaging in any physical activity. The author assumes no responsibility for any injury that may occur as a result of using these techniques. All of these techniques may ONLY be used in justifiable circumstances where care is taken not to infringe local laws regarding legal restraint and use of force.
Hi there – I got the idea for this blog post after re-watching the film “The Strangers” about a witless couple who’s house is besieged by a trio of homicidal strangers.
I thought to myself – everything they are doing is wrong and then I was like “Ok there smart guy – what would you do differently if you were in their position?” Watching it does make for a great Horror film, however in real life their decisions and actions will get themselves killed very very fast.
I want to add you might one day find yourself defending a place that does not have any firearms and you may find that in a home siege situation.
Whether your weapons get stolen from you in an earlier home robbery, you are caught visting friends on the other side of the country when the SHTF and have no access to your cache or perhaps you live in a country where you are legally prohibited from owning firearms the techniques we are going to discuss today, could one day save your life or the lives of your loved ones. So without any further ado let’s proceed.
The Most Dangerous Weapon of All
The bottom line is pretty much anything can be a weapon if you have the right mindset. I have seen bar room brawls where pretty much anything that can be picked up, has been used to inflict hurt on others, I have seen women impale others with the heel of their shoe!
Felons that sit in prison on lock down 23 hours a day have nothing better to do with their time but to think up inventive ways to create weapons out of whatever resources they have to hand. I saw an episode of one of those prison documentary TV shows, where they managed to make a shank (prison knife) out of melted plastic coffee lids!
The key take away in all of this is,in a post SHTF situation if your location is under the threat of violence you must be prepared to take any and all steps necessary to protect your family and loved ones. It makes no sense in brandishing a weapon to use as a deterrent to the bad guys, only to have them call your bluff, take it from you and use it against you.
If you have a weapon or create a weapon then you MUST BE PREPARED to inflict maximum damage on your enemies if you wish to survive.
Ok, so why not just learn martial arts or boxing? Well I think everyone should have some basic training in self defense, whether judo, boxing, muay thai or jiu jitsu – all of it can be effective, however its worth pointing out that the bones in our hands are fairly fragile and even trained boxers with hand wraps and heavy gloves can still often break bones in their hands. In a siege situation you will find it may be much more effective to grab a blunt instrument to hit that thug over the head as he attempts to climb into your window than to hit him with a nice right hook.
Before we look at some ideas for everyday items lying about your house, that can be helpful weapons let’s look at the basics of home defense.
In this scenario we will be discussing the average suburban house not a “super fortress prepper compound”. I am a great believer in “rings of defense’ If you think back to Ye Olden days and the times of Kings and castles…most castles started with a moat, a ring of water around their castle, then came a massive wall with places along the wall for archers to fire arrows and guys to pour the boiling hot oil onto their besiegers. If those defenses failed everybody would fall back to a smaller part of the castle to defend.
I really think something similar can be achieved on a suburban level with a solid brick wall around your home (if local planning authorities approve that type of thing, its going to vary town by town) then choke points in your yard, whether that’s rows of rose bushes with thorns or some type of thick vines so that marauders can only enter your yard in one or two paths. Lining up attackers makes it a lot easier to deal with than having multiple points of entry to defend.
I also think that if you are in a suburban siege situation doors and windows need to be defended and unless you are experienced in combat situations – stopping people from crawling through your windows is going to be an easier ‘fight’ than having to over power them once they break in.
Of course the layout of most homes varies but depending on how many willing and able people you have on hand to defend your home you may have to decide which windows and doors to the outside world you block or barricade. What I mean by this is if say you have 3 able bodied family members prepared to fight to protect you and your loved ones but say 6 doors and windows that could be access you would have to choose which 3 (usually the most likely entrances) and barricade those first. That could mean a heavy couch over the front door – the refrigerator over the back door and a book case over the bedroom windows.
History has shown us that a clever defense of your position is far stronger than making a run for it and getting picked off one by one. To prove my point just google “The Battle of Rourke’s drift” where a 150 British soldiers managed to hold off an attack by over 3000 Zulu warriors. Only by using the defenses of their station did they manage to fight off far superior numbers.
Ok with that said, now let’s look at some ideas for every day household items that can be used as weapons to stop violent intruders gaining entry to your home.
A simple pen can inflict vicious damage on an intruder but only if you use to on potential weak spots like the eyes and neck and you are also prepared to use repeated blows until your enemy is incapacitated. Be mindful that a regular ball point pen is not going to be strong enough. , especially one covered in blood and gore can be very slippery to keep hold of. It would pay to have some pens handy in your home office , bedroom and living room.
I prefer a titanium pen (stronger than steel and lighter too) with a thick rubber grip for obvious reasons. You can actually invest in tactical pens, many online knife stores sell them, expect to pay around $60-$70 for a good quality one. Many of the tactical pens have a steel concealable rod or spike running through them making them much more of a serious weapon than a house hold pen but much
more costly. Mine has a regular ink cartridge as well so that it can be used for writing too. I like that
Don’t laugh but a sock can make a nice mace type weapon. In the penitentiary a sock is usually filled with a couple of batteries, or even a couple of bars of soap if batteries are not to hand. Knotted off and swung over head it can administer a pretty brutal beating in the right hands. The kicker for prisoners? They can quickly disassemble it and put their soap and dirty sock away in seconds before prison officers inspect their cells for illegal weapons. I prefer (if available) a soccer sock as they are extra long and one end can be tied around the wrist of the wielder to ensure it does not get snatched away from them.
The Milwall brick
A Millwall brick is a newspaper that’s been folded to create a improvised blackjack (or cosh as they say in England) The Millwal brick got its name from the rowdy fans of an English Football (soccer) team called Millwall FC.
In the late 60s and early 70s football violence in England was so out of control that the authorities banned anything that could possibly be used as a weapon to be carried onto football grounds. That meant not only brass knuckles, switch blade knives and the like, but steel combs, heavy work boots, boot laces and even pens. There was no law against carrying in newspapers and so
out on necessity came invention. The larger tabloid style newspapers worked best for this – tightly folded and held by the ends creating a potentially lethal weapon. Wetting the paper after folding too gave the weapon more weight.
That said in a pinch even a magazine tightly rolled will make an effective handheld weapon.I believe there was a fight scene in one of the Jason Bourne films where Bournes uses a rolled up magazine as a weapon. I recall in an interview with Matt Damon said his fight instructor was explaining the different fights for the movie and Matt scoffed at the idea of a magazine being used as a weapon. His fight instructor rolled up the magazine tightly and slapped Matt with it..Mister Damon soon got the idea.
If you have access to a working stove during a home invasion type situation (you might not if you are bugging in during a long time grid down situation and have an electric cooker) boiling water and pouring it on assailants (like I mentioned above with the castle siege type situation) is a nice way to cause a lot of hurt to your would be attackers.
Aerosol can and a lighter
Ok we all know that lighting a highly flammable spray (like bug or fly spray) can create a make shift mini flame thrower, but on the whole I wouldn’t recommend this one for most folks, as they are likely to burn themselves or set their house on fire if used incorrectly. In fact I would say make sure that if you do opt for this for of home defense that you only use it if you have done it repeatedly in a non combat situation and know what you are doing.
Which brings me to my last point.
Any weapon that you use in a fight situation can will be used against you if you are not careful.If you are in any doubt at all about one of your people not being able to use the weapon you have for them it may be best for them to not be involved in any home defense.
I hope this article has given you some ideas of what maybe be used around your house to defend you and your family and I really do hope that none of us ever have to live through a scenario like the one in the movie the Strangers. That said it is always far better to be prepared and never go through it than to be in that situation and not be prepared
Biofuels are also a green energy source. It has been around for a very long time and lately, people are beginning to take notice.
Liquid biofuel which is the one used in cars is a natural and renewable domestic fuel that can only be used for diesel engines. This can be made from vegetable oils mostly soy and corn. The nice thing about it is that it contains no petroleum, is nontoxic and biodegradable.
By fueling up with biofuel, you decrease the pollutants in the air because it does not emit anything. Right now, it is the only fuel approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), passed every Heath-Effects Test of the Clean Air Act and meets the requirements of the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
One example of this is biodiesel which is made from alcohol like methanol and a chemical process that separates glycerine and methyl esters (biodiesel) from fats or vegetable oils. Aside from methanol, some countries have also experimented with corn and sugarcane to create their own version of biofuel.
Glycerine is a common products and this is used in making toothpaste and soap. Since it is quite new, the process of converting it is quite expensive and right now, this is still much more expensive per gallon compared to petroleum.
But if you look at what you pay for it, the returns are huge because you get to do your share to preserve a cleaner environment, an improvement in air quality and a reduction of cancer-causing agents.
A cheaper and primitive way to make bio-diesel is by collecting cooking oil and then processing it. This may not good your car’s engine so be careful if you decide to use it.
If you are skeptic about biodiesels, studies have shown that its performance on the road is just as good as petroleum in terms of power to efficiency, hauling and climbing. You can use this in its pure form or blend with petroleum fuel. The most common mix in the market is 20/80 and is referred to as “B20.” This means that 20% is biodiesel and the remainder is 80%. Another version is the E85 which is fuel composed of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline.
The best part about using biodiesel is that you only have to make a few changes in your engine to be able to use it. Aside from making the car run, it also helps clean the engine. If you are concerned that this will void the warranty of your vehicle should there be a problem, don’t worry because it doesn’t. In the US, B20 is the most common one available but there are only a few gas stations that carry it.
When car’s first rolled out in the beginning of the 20th century, Henry Ford planned to make these vehicles especially the Model T’s run using ethanol. Tests have even shown that these may also run using peanut oil.
This never materialized because huge oil deposits were discovered and diesel was cheap. It was only when our demand for oil increased in the 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s and in the early part of this year that people began to realize that to reduce our demand for foreign oil that we should try using biodiesels and other forms of alternative energy.
Is it too late? Not yet because there is still time to use biofuels and others as green energy sources.
I got into prepping back in the late 1970s. I was reading a popular Australian magazine and there was an article about “Crazy Survivalists in the USA”. The purpose of the article was to mock and make funny of these people “oh aren’t they silly waiting for the end of the world” but I read the article and took it the other way thinking “wow that’s how I feel” After that, I read up on anything I could to get on the subject of prepping. Things were much harder then, with no internet to just type your questions into. It meant a lot of trips to the library and speaking with my elders who knew more than me.
As they say hindsight is 20/20 and looking back over the years I realized I made a lot of mistakes and spent a lot of time and money focusing on the wrong things. I thought it would be cool to “give back” to the community and share some of my wisdom to those who are new to the prepping world.
I spent a long time figuring out “escape routes” from whatever city I was living in and having places mapped out to stay at, in the advent of an emergency. Usually about a 3-4 hr drive away from whatever city I was working in at the time. Sad fact of the matter – anyone who ever has traveling over a holiday weekend can testify – getting out of any major city in the western world during anything close to real disaster..it just NOT going to happen – in fact there would be such grid lock, you would probably be best off bugging in, not to avoid the disaster, but the fact that more people are going to be hurt in road rage situations than by whatever everyone is fleeing from.
A much safer and better bet is to have a permanent bug out location. Now there is of course two schools of thought on this.
One being have a remote homestead so far off the highways that all the people fleeing the major cities will not be able to find your place, when their cars run out of gas and they trudge through the forests
Two, move to a small town where you have a better chance of survival as a group. We could spend all day talking about the pros and cons of both but we will save that for another article. The bottom line is to get your mindset away from the concept of bugging out.
Gasoline Deteriorates Over Time
I wish I had spent more time learning about bio diesel and alternative fuels over the years. You see whenever you watch a Zombie movie or a Post Apocalyptic movie and its 3 years after the fall of civilization or whatever, what they don’t tell you is overall cars will be useless. In fact unless you are prepared, the future will be much more like The Road where they have to walk on foot and the bad guys have a wood burning truck than Mad Max 2 driving around in muscle cars with mohawk haircuts.
Gas stored in a storage container will last anywhere between 3-5 months and if you mix in a fuel stabilizer it will possibly last up to 8 months. If I had my time all over again I would have spent more time taking bio diesel options seriously, (where you can use corn oil or cooking oil to fuel your vehicles) Failing that..learn about horse breeding and horse riding.
Making Your Own Ammo – Bow and Arrow Hunting.
Anyone who is serious about their guns, practicing and improving their shooting skills will tell you – the price of ammunition soon adds up. Even if you use something like 9mm ammo, that’s relatively cheap it still gets costly with a day at the range.
I wish I had started learning about making my own ammo and re-using my shell casings earlier than I did. Also think of this, in recent years we have seen some of the biggest shortages of ammo that I can recall.
In a long term grid down situation its going to be pretty hard to pick up more ammo if you do not know how to manufacture your own.
I was an avid Bow and arrow hunter before I got into guns, I wish that I had kept the skills up (again like shooting guns archery is a “perishable” skill set) you still need to shoot on a regular basis to be any good. Again looking at a long term grid down situation, being handy with a bow and arrow is a nice skill to have not just for hunting but also for self defense, There is a stealth aspect to using a bow and arrow versus using a gun, if you were attacking or evading someone in the woods.
Buying Silver – Items for Trade
I spent a lot of time buying silver – as opposed to gold in the advent of financial collapse. (The rationale behind buying silver to use for trades/currency is a long one which you can read about in my guide here) However over the last few years my thinking has shifted a lot more to “invest in items that will be in limited supply after a societal collapse” – short or long. Think about it – whilst many people are going to be well stocked in ammo or MREs most people would have not thought to have a long term supply of many items we take for granted day in day out.
Disposable razors, shaving cream, women’s hygiene products, alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, tooth paste, tooth brushes, toilet paper the list goes on and on. One of the bonuses to buying extra items like this is you can use the surplus yourselves which could come more in handy than sitting on a stack of silver bullion.
Outside of stocking up on useful household items, if your current job is a desk job you might want to do a stock check of what skills you could trade with in a long term collapse situation. Are you an amateur mechanic? Gardener? What else can you bring to the party if YOU get caught short and need to be able to trade with someone else on an item you did not think to stock up on. You get the idea.
Meals Ready To Eat – Fresh Vegetables
When I was first starting out I bought a lot of MREs (meals ready to eat) in fact a 6 month supply for a family of 4, that’s a lot of meals. Now, admittedly the quality of MREs has improved a lot over the years from the huge doses of sodium in the older MRE’s we used to get. Of course the argument goes – who cares about sodium levels when it comes to starving, versus having an MRE?
That said you cannot compare the quality of even the best MREs to fresh garden grown vegetables. Whilst I still have a lot of MRE’s stored away, I do a lot more gardening now than ever before and the quality of home grown vegetables just cannot be beat.
Unless you are living in an apartment I would highly recommend you learning to grow your own veggies. Of course there is a lot to learn but, its a fun learning cycle and you can even get your kids involved in this. I for one, started growing my own tomatoes when I was 10 years old. I’ll tell you they were the best tasting tomatoes I ever had!
Even if you live in a suburban home you still have plenty of room to get a garden going. In fact up until the late 60s it was still quite common for many families to have their own vegetable garden.
I never really gave much thought to being a good butcher, even though its something nearly all our ancestors excelled at. Well, you had to back then no matter what culture you came from. In fact growing up, even on our little main street we had two butcher shops.
Over the years we, as a people drifted from fresh meat chopped and prepared in front of you to buying the shrink wrapped nicely packaged meats at the supermarket. Butchery had become a lost art.
Many cultures excelled at using all parts of an animal from the skin to the hooves in their life’s.
I am slowly learning the best ways to butcher meat and prepare the different parts of an animal but I certainly wish it was something I started working on some time ago.
Metal working and carpentry
Self explanatory really. I did woodwork in High school (a long long time ago) and whilst I am far from a master carpenter I could put together a basic cabin with a few friends if I had to. Metal work I really didn’t get the opportunity to learn as a teen and I have thought about about taking some classes at the local community college but time wise I have just not got around to doing so. (I know, LAME!) but if I had my day all over again I would have at least taken welding classes in High School.
Again, like I mentioned above, try to be of the mind set on what skills you have that you will be able to trade with others in a long term grid down situation. Being adept at both wood and metal work will come in handy, very much so.
Store plenty of water
I’ve done a whole guide on storing water for your homestead – which you can read HERE. But if you have never done so, spend a weekend with your family just using the water you have stored up. You will be surprised, no shocked on just how much water the average family uses in a weekend and how much we waste day to day too. I can’t stress it enough – STORE PLENTY OF WATER. Way more than you think you will need.
Well that’s it for this blog post – leave a comment below on which preps you wish you had started on earlier.
I originally wrote this as a request from one of my readers who wanted a guide on everything to do with fresh water for his homestead. After working on it – I thought to myself “why not share this on your blog for others out there who are interested?” So here you go – its long for a blog post so you may want to download a pdf of it or book mark this page and come back to it. As always leave me any questions in the comments section below.
As most of my readers know I grew up in Australia before moving to the Northern Hemisphere 26 years ago. Australia is pretty much the same size land mass as the lower 48 states of the USA, yet we have less people than the state of California with most of those people living very close to the coasts. The number one reason for this is, lack of a decent water supply in the inland areas. Without fresh water there is no life. Australian fresh water supplies coupled with a growing population since I left the country have meant heavy financial investments in desalination plants. Which are basically ways to turn Sea water into Fresh water at a very very expensive price. Can you imagine what happens to these water supplies in a long term grid down situation? Yup you guessed it. All gone. Those who are not prepared will be S.O.O.L. (Sh*t out of luck)
My mother traveled through Papua New Guinea in the early 1960s and saw tribal warfare over who got to control the local watering hole! Forget Mad Max style marauding gangs for “Gazzolene” for their muscle cars! Without fresh water they won’t be alive to get their precious gas.
Ok you say, that’s Australia, most of the country is pretty much desert – that can’t happen here in the U.S of A. Wrong. just look at what is going on in California and most of the Nation’s southwest for that matter. The very same thing that I have seen for years in Australia. Water shortages, lake’s drying up, farm land turning to dust bowls. Things are getting bad and in my opinion only going to get worse. Its up to us to take the right steps to ensure that our families are taken care of in times of drought or disaster.
In this blog post we are going to cover the following important water topics for Homesteaders.
* How to Collect Rain water
* How to purify water from lakes, streams and rivers
* How to disinfect your own well.
* How to check a potential property for a Seep or Spring
* How To Daisy Chain Rain Water Barrels together
* How to dig for a well
* How to keep water safe over a long periods of time
* How to test if you water is safe to drink
* Is Collecting your own Rainwater illegal?
How to Collect Rain water
In my opinion the most ideal water supply set up for us homesteaders is a gravity fed spring water supply. Not every property is going to have this so next best scenario would be a fresh water well, followed by a rain catchment system. Now you see why I am saying if you are currently located in the Southwest you might seriously want to consider moving to some where there are far more abundant water sources.
If you do find you have a fresh water spring on your property do make sure that any feeder pipes that you have going to your water holding tank are covered with screens to act as filters for any debris that may end up blocking your pipes . Speaking of holding tanks – we went for a concrete one. From some of the homesteaders I talked to regarding plastic holding tanks versus concrete ones they found that plastic ones did not fair so well buried in the ground. We have a 1500 gallon one on our property, price wise you can pick up a 1500 plastic holding tank for about $750 but a concrete one will set you back approximately $1750. Its the old adage though that you get what you pay for. My mind set right now is I would rather pay extra now for something that will last my lifetime versus saving $1000 only to have it fall to bits, no doubt at the most in-opportune time.
Even though gravity feed is ideal I would also like to suggest that you install a pressure pump system too. While I truly believe that you should be 100% off grid and self sufficient the amount of energy a pressure pump system uses to have water pressure just like your suburban home or apartment is miniscule. I am literally talking a couple of minutes a day. If the grid was to really go down long term using a pressure pump system with a solar battery pack would really not be much of a drain at all compared to the convenience it offers.
If you have been reading my guides for any length of time you know that I am huge believer in back up supply systems, we also went with a rain water catchment tank system as a back up supply of water for our homestead.
How to purify water from lakes, streams and rivers
I would like to think that everyone understands the health risks of drinking polluted water and the fact that even though water might look “clean” it may contain Bacteria, E.coli, Coliforms, Nitrates and other nasties that remain unseen with the human eye. Dirty water can cause, nausea, cramps vomiting and diarrhea which can be deadly for young children and the elderly. So its extremely important to understand how to clean your water to make it safe for drinking
There are pretty much six tried and tested ways to purify water for drinking purposes. For watering your garden, washing clothes, and showering you can be a little more lax on your purification methods, but still I believe its of importance to stay safe. All you need in a long term grid down situation is to mess up and swallow some unclean water while showering and get yourself bedridden for days on end. Not worth the risk in my opinion. Before we being I hope everyone knows WHY we need to purify our water before consumption? If not lets quickly review the little unseen nasties that can exist in our water supplies, whether from a nearby lake or stream, rain water storage or your preferred method of water storage. They are Bacteria, Protozoa, Parasites and Viruses.
Boiling water is the worlds oldest known method of making water safe to drink. If you are stuck in a jam and your water supply is in question a metallic pot with a nice seal-able lid and a heat source (gas source, camp fire, etc) will see you right. A seal-able lid is advisable not only because you bring your water to boil faster using less energy but you can let it sit and cool to one side after the water has boiled. Contrary to popular opinion you really only need to boil your water for a minute or two, to kill any pathogens in it, boiling it for 30 minutes at a time is over kill and in a grid down situation is not very functional either esp if you are relying on a wood fire to purify your water.
In the modern age one of the easiest and simplest ways to purify your water super is to use household bleach. Make sure you get the kind that has no dyes, perfumes,or phosphates in it. Just plain simple bleach that you can find at your local supermarket or dollar store. It goes without saying that if you were to sit there and chug a couple of pints of bleach you would more than likely get seriously ill. Although I doubt you would die. However in very small amounts bleach is probably the number one method most homesteaders use when it comes to making sure their water supply is safe to drink. The general rule of thumb is 2-4 drops per quart of water and let it sit for 30 minutes. If you water is cold it is advisable to use a couple more drops and or let it sit for a bit longer. I usually go for 1 hour tops on cold water.
I also think that it is worth mentioning – if you are in a bind say your well or water storage tanks have been compromised and you are going for lake or stream water, it is best to do some serious filtering first. As a general rule the chunks of plant life etc that you find when you scoop say, lake water will not kill you it is of course all the little unseen bacteria and parasites that will get ya. However if you use Bleach to purify your water the chemicals in bleach can bond with some of the harmless particle matter in lake water rendering it ineffective for killing parasites and viruses. So strain thru a t-shirt, or even a home made water filter before adding your bleach to your water.
* Iodine treatments
Iodine is another chemical treatment method of purifying your water supply. Iodine treatments kills bacteria, parasites and virus’s but doesn’t kill protoazas. The most commonly sold bottles of Iodine are the 5-7% solutions but for water purification only a 2% solution is needed. The general rule is 20 drops of iodine per 1 gallon of water and let it sit for 30 minutes, however if your water is cloudy looking or suspect you will need to leave it for longer. I would suggest filtering any cloudy water before begging your iodine treatment – if you are in a jam even using a t-shirt (or any woven material you have to hand) to strain your water before commencing treatment will help. The same goes with cold water which you will need to leave your iodine in for up to 3 hrs to be effective in killing pathogens. The down side with Iodine purification of water is that some people do have an allergy to it and might be best served using the bleach method mentioned above. Also you will notice on the bottles of iodine tincture there is a little skull and cross bones dangerous if ingested warning, this of course if taken in large does (undiluted) with all that in mind I would not use iodine treated water for more than 30 days straight. Its worth me mentioning too, always go for the bottle and not the iodine tablets they sell in camping and prepping stores, they can easily go bad with heat or poor storage conditions.
Pretty much any time I pick up a prepping magazine these days I see one of those ads for those portable filters, that look like oversized straws that hikers, campers and survivalists can carry in their bug out bag. Designed for people to be able to grab safe drinking water from even a filthy puddle of water when on the move. They are supposed to be able to filter out dangerous waterborne pathogens for the user. For Homesteading purposes filters work in a similar fashion to these, however I do want to point out that filtering water of sediment , toxic chemicals and pollutants will not always take care of nasty viruses. For that you need a purifier after your filter.
For off grid living, Gravity fed water filters are the best bet, even if you are still using the cities power lines, keep in mind that in a long term grid down situation all your electric powered filters and pumps will be rending useless. Most times after a serious natural disaster when the city power lines go – so does the water supply, you run the risk of not just sewage waste backing up and ruining your water supply but also even dead bodies. Think the Tsunami disaster in Indonesia and Thailand or the Japanese earthquake /tsunami disaster. A solar powered pump / filter combo actually uses very little energy and should be seriously considered over relying on the cities power supply.
Large size water storage tanks and filters can be purchased relatively cheaply from your local Home Depot, Lowes Home building supplies store. The more expensive the water filter the more effective it will be , I have to add that even with the top of the line models the filters will wear out over time and need replacing. The more effort you can take before your water enters your filtering system to remove sediment and pond scum the longer they will last. From all the homesteaders I know the general consensus with them all is that gravity fed filtering systems are the way to go.
Distilling water requires boiling it and catching the steam. The process removes salts, Heavy metals and toxic chemicals in your water. Very similar to water desalination plants that convert Salt water to fresh water its an energy extensive method of creating safe drinking water, but beats drinking salt water when dehydrated, which can be very deadly. An example of a home created distilling water process would be to have a large metal pot half filled with your unclean water, on a fire or stove with a sealable pot lid tipped upside down with a smaller pot hung from the upside lid handle to catch the water droplets as they reach the lid and slide down towards the center.
* Ultraviolet Light
Using UV rays from the sun has been a method of creating safe drinking water for over 4000 years now. Records show the people of Ancient India utilizing this method back then. Using UV rays kills the waterborne pathogens that can cause, Diarrhea, Ecoli, Salmonella and more. This method isn’t advisable for those of us in the frozen north (where we have an abundance of woods to use in water boiling methods anyways) but much more suited for homesteaders based in the Southwest or Australia.
Anyways with that said the basic method require you filling up a clear plastic water bottle (do not use colored plastic bottles as they have a tendency to not let the necessary UV rays in and the sun’s handiwork will not be effective.) and laying them on its side in the sun usually for about 5-6 hours. Try to not use bottles big than a liter as this method is most effective in smaller size bottles. You also don’t want to lay your bottles out say in the morning sun as when the sun swing around from the East then you will not be getting the full effects of the suns rays. A south face roof top would be ideal. Also keep in mind the following :
1) placing the bottles directly on a very hot metal roof may cause them to warp or be damaged
2) placing the bottles on paper or dry grass may cause the grass or paper to catch fire. Surely everyone remembers starting fires with a magnifying glass when they were a kid..don’t they?.
If you do not have any 1 liter or smaller plastic bottles heavy duty freezer bags will work just as well, in fact some people say better as they lay flat on the surface and there for the water get more evenly blasted by the suns rays.(again quart or maximum gallon size bags only !
If you are traveling or bugging out to your homestead during a disaster you may want to invest in a Steripen. It’s a small hand held device that uses ultraviolet light to make safe drinking water for yourself. Depending on your situation and budget you may want to consider purchasing one they can be picked up for anything between $49-$99.
* Chemical purification tablets
Iodine treatment (mentioned above is one form of Chemical purification method) there are various other treatments (such as chlorine tablets etc) that can be purchased from camping and sporting stores. I would only recommend these for people with allergies to Iodine and only for small does of water. Eg if you are bugging out to your homestead.
* Life straw
No one water purification treatment is ideal in eradicating 100% of the nasties that threaten you and your families health and well being. When it comes to this KEY resource always be safe and over cautious, taking extra care and diligence in purifying your water whatever method you prefer. Leaving your water bottles out in the sun for an extra hour because you were worried that the sun went behind a couple of clouds earlier in the day is a minor inconvenience versus fighting off Dysentery right?
How to disinfect your own well.
Well water can become contaminated over time. I would recommend picking up some household well water test kits – you can grab them for under $20 from Amazon (click here) These affordable kits will show you if there are any toxins in your well and they also show you dangerous bacteria levels too.
You can disinfect your well using the bleach method mentioned above. Before you start you will need a gallon of non scented household bleach , rubber gloves, safety goggles (or some form of eye protection) a plastic funnel and some old clothes (as to not damage your good ones).
1.Before you begin if your well water is cloudy or muddy run the water from an outside spigot with a hose attached until the water becomes clear.
2.Check what type of well you have and the best way to pour the bleach in. For example some well’s have sanitary seals so you will have to remove those before you add the bleach. Others may just have an entire cover you can lift off to add your bleach.
Take your bleach and carefully pore it into your well. Use your funnel if needed
After the gallon of bleach has been added, run an outside hose into the well casing until you smell the chlorine from the bleach coming from the hose
turn on every cold water faucet connected to your water supply and let it run until you smell the chlorine then shut it off. If you have a water treatment system switch it to bypass until you have finished.
Wait 12-24 hrs before using your water system again. Right now your system contains high amounts of Chlorine and will not be safe to drink.
Once the waiting period is over run a hose to a safe area where it will not affect your plants, lakes, streams or septic system, until you cannot smell chlorine anymore. Your water is now safe to use.
Its recommended to retest your water supply 7-10 days after disinfecting to see if there is any bacteria remaining. Use the kits that I talked about above.
How to check a potential property for a Seep or Spring
the best time to review potential sites for your off grid cabin is during the late summer and early Autumn. If you check properties in the winter or spring time you are going to see the best case scenario for water supplies on that piece of land which will not really give you the fairest indication of the water supply potential. Ask the realtor to show you the seep or spring,, if they’re not much help then search for depressions in the land that appear extra green or the earth is mossy and soft.. Any signs of vegetation changes in a piece of land are pretty good indicators of a seep or spring so keep your eyes open. If the property has a seep but not a spring it can still be used as a potential water supply. My way of testing the strength of a seep is to use a gallon water bottle or jug and time how long it takes to fill up. For example 2 minutes to fill a gallon jig is a pretty good yard stick. Mountain type terrain with a water supply is a great way to have a gravity fed spring – so keep that in mind.
How To Daisy Chain Rain Water Barrels together
If you want to collect rainwater from your roof to use for watering your gardens and you live in a climate with a decent rainfall you have probably thought about connecting more than one 55 gallon barrel together to save your water. This is a great idea and relatively simple and fairly low cost to do. Even though I can this water is not going to be collected for drinking I do suggest that if your budget allows it to purchase brand new FOOD GRADE water barrels and not pick up free ones from craigslist or used ones from ebay. In my opinion the risk of using barrels that may have stored toxic chemicals or waste is just not worth the cost of a few hundred dollars. (You can purchase 55 gallon food grade water drums for about $70 each at home depot.)
There are two main ways to daisy chain the barrels together – one school of thought is to cut the over flow holes near the top of each barrel and the other at the bottom. I have only tried the top (over flow method) so I can’t really say whats best, but people that I spoke to were pretty evenly split on which method they preferred. Make sure that before you start that you have enough space near one of your house’s gutters and that the space is level and clear of all debris. Pretty much everyone I spoke to used cinder blocks or wooden pallets to elevate their 55 gallon drums off the ground.
I started with the first drum I purchased an Atrium grate from Home depot (which costs about $4.00) and turned it upside and drew around the widest part to trace where I would cut the top of my collection barrel as a template. An Atrium grate is used to keep leaves, sticks twigs etc out of your water barrels. If you live in an area which is besieged by mosquitoes it is highly advisable to cover your grate in drain sleeve a fine cloth that’s used to prevent them getting into your barrel and laying their eggs in the water.
About 6 inches down from the top of the first barrel and on the side I drilled a hole using a 3/4” spade drill bit to act as the over flow outlet. Using 3/4” garden hose adapters I screwed into the hole , and I used plumbers putty to seal the adapter with a locking nut on the inside of each barrel. Then I measured off a length of garden hose that would reach each adjoining barrel and used a female hose adapter to attach the hose to the barrel. You can then repeat for each respective drum. I used a spigot set up at the bottom of my final barrel to be able to run off the chain and to fill buckets and watering cans for my vegetable gardens.
Tip for those of you living in cold climates: If you have freezing temperatures in the winter, you definitely want to drain the barrels, and leave the valve open, Divert all the water from going into the barrels in the winter, otherwise your plumbing on the bottom will burst when the water in it freezes.
How to dig for a well
Hiring a company to come out and dig a well on your property if there isn’t one there already can prove to be a costly affair, with local companies quoting me around $5000 to get it all done for you.
Before you get started you will need to check with your state’s geological survey department to find out what type of soil you have on your property. Obviously drilling down through sandy/loamy soil is going to be easier than clay and rocky soil. They can advise you on how deep you will have to drill down tp find quality water on your property. It is worth mentioning that why you may get lucky and find a decent water supply at say 30ft down, most quality well water (at least from the homesteaders that I talked to was found at around the 100ft level.
State by state there are different rulings on set backs (how far your well must be away from your septic tank or sewer lines) and a quick search on the internet for your specific state for your requirements shouldn’t take you long, but as a general rule you want to be at least 50 ft away from your septic tank and on higher ground as well. You will also want to check before you start drilling that there are no utility lines or existing pipes below that you may damage once you have figured out your drill site.
Depending on how far out you are in your country you may or may not require a building permit before you start to drill your well.
I actually like their method a lot – no hiring of rigs and heavy equipment to master. Its a simple system with a drill and air hose that pumps the water up and out creating a vacuum so that your drill bit doesn’t get stuck in the mud. If this sounds like something that interests you then go to their website (link above) where they have a couple of videos explaining how it works in detail. Its definitely a low cost alternative to hiring heavy duty equipment and a bunch of guys to dig your well for you.
How to keep water safe over a long periods of time
* Outside of having your own well, water tank or spring I think it pays to have some water stored away separately in the event of emergencies. Most homesteaders and preppers that I spoke to whilst working on this guide recommend a minimum of a two week supply of water stored , ideally more if you have the room. Working on the gallon per person, per day rule that works out to be 14 gallons for 2 weeks water so if you are part of a 4 person family you are going to AT LEAST need 56 gallons stored for a 2 week period.
Best bet for keeping your water safe over a long period of time is food grade plastic 55 gallon containers, you can find them for sale online for less than $100, I would definitely go for new and not used in this scenario. Steel 55 gallon drums are no good as chlorine (which you will use to treat your water damages the steel)
I would definitely suggest that do not use a common garden hose to fill your water bottles but a dedicated drinking water hose which you can find on Amazon from about $10 and up. (depending on the length required etc)
Dedicated drinking water hoses are lead free, BPA free, phthalate free and don’t give your that weird plastic taste you used to get as a kid drinking from the garden hose on hot days.
There are two school of thought when it comes to long term storage of water and treatment with chlorine, many preppers believe that if you use city supplied tap water to fill your barrels that you do not need to include any added chlorine to your tanks since city water is already heavily chlorinated. However if you are using water from your well to store I do believe its wise to add some chlorine to your barrels. Keep in mind water does not spoil, its CONTAMINATION that makes it go bad. So be sure to seal your barrels correctly after filling.
Some of the homesteaders that I talked to like to store their plastic water barrels on wooden pallets in their garage as opposed to letting the containers sit directly on their concrete floor, this is done out of the belief that there could be a potential chemical reaction between the concrete and water barrels, which I am not entirely convinced is necessary. But hey if it helps you sleep at night its a low cost step to take.
How to test if you water is safe to drink
The easiest and simplest way to test if your water is safe to drink is the DIY test kits that you can find these days available on Amazon. They are going to set you back about $17 and are very easy to use. However they are not always 100% accurate in general they will give you the general idea if your water is safe or not. They test for Ph levels, chlorine levels pesticides, lead, nitrates and of course bacteria.
Search on Amazon for “First Alert WT1 Drinking Water Test Kit”.
I must add that no cheap DIY test kit is going to be as detailed and as accurate in their analysis as a full blown lab that tests for everything but in a grid down situation I do not think any of these labs will be open for business even if you could afford their fees, if you get what I am saying.
Is Collecting your own Rainwater illegal?
If you have spent anytime at all on the internet and Facebook in the last 2 years I am sure you have seen articles or links that friends have posted and shared about someone getting arrested or even imprisoned for collecting their own rainwater! Most of these sensationalistic articles are designed for nothing more than to get you to click the link (these are called “click bait” in the blogging business) they are pretty much all a re-hash of the same thing exaggerated claims backed up by little and or no facts.
The truth is rainwater harvesting is NOT ILLEGAL. It has been restricted in some states but even those states (Utah, Washington State and Colorado) have relaxed their laws in recent years. In some other states rain water harvesting is regulated, meaning you will have to obtain a permit to do so no different then getting a building permit to work on your house. If you have seen the article about the Colorado man who WAS jailed he had applied for his permit, got denied But went ahead and built 3 reservoirs regardless. That was his real crime, not collecting rainwater. If you are still concerned make sure you contact your local state authorities and double check what the laws are in your particular state.
Water is essential for all living things, without it we die. I truly believe that as the world goes on we are going to have more and more issues with our personal water supplies. Higher costs in getting water from the city, more recycled water and a lot more de-salinated water as well. If you have yet to purchase your own homestead I sincerely urge you to make sure it is in an area with a good annual rainfall and ideally the property has its own well or spring. Far better to take these steps now instead of leaving it for a few more years where properties with well will only increase in price far faster than those without.
As always thanks for reading and do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions
Everyone has a few purchases that have resulted in no buyer’s remorse whatsoever, and in this list Alex breaks down five of his.
The firearms on this list can meet a pretty broad set of criteria, ranging from how fun said gun is to how useful it has been over the years.
What are the top 5 guns you are glad you purchased a long time ago and still enjoy using?
Something a bit different today – ever since I saw the original planet of the apes film in the early 1970s i always loved Post Apocalyptic Movies, seeing towns and cities that once were lying abandoned. So today’s video is of 18 of the most Beautiful abandoned places in the world.From an mysterious looking mill in Italy to beautiful but creepy amusement parks these are the most beautiful abandoned places. Enjoy!
10. El Hotel del Salto
Just southwest of Bogota Columbia is a spooky tourist attraction that dangles on the top of a large cliff in the rainforest with a view of an enormous waterfall. According to legends, during the Spanish conquest of South America, people would jump off the cliff you see in this photo in order to avoid slavery. It was once a luxurious hotel teeming with wealthy travelers. Some believe the hotel closed its doors due to contaminated river water.
9. Sunken Yacht
This eerie photo remains was taken of a sunken Brazilian yacht off the Maxwell Bay in Antarctica. The yacht belonged to a famous journalist and entrepreneur. The yacht most likely ran into strong winds while the crew came there to film a documentary. The crew was eventually rescued by the Chilean Navy but the memories of being trapped for 2 days must be frightening. Hopefully he still got some good film for his documentary.
8. Abandoned Six Flags
While some theme parks are deserted because of low attendance, others are deserted because of natural disasters. When hurricane katrina struck New Orleans much of the city was left in ruins. Six Flags New Orleans has been left abandoned ever since and left with excess shrubbery and graffiti. Here in this photo you see the decay and complete desolation of the once popular theme park.
7. Lawndale Theatre, Chicago
The Lawndale Theatre was once a thriving theatre in Chicago along the once bustling Roosevelt Road and played many classic movies. In this photo you see the once beautiful building, barely hanging on to life It opened its doors in 1927, and often promoted many British silent films and would even have “Chorus Girl Contests”. During world war II the neighborhood took a drastic turn and left the area into poverty. Legend even has it that a gang leader was shot dead here. It reopened as a church but then closed its doors in the early 2000’s..
6. North Brother Island
How is it possible an Island in New York’s East River goes completely forgotten? Only a 10 minute boat ride from the Bronx, the island you see in the photo served as a quarantine for those with small pox, scarlet fever, leprosy and even jungle fever. Many described it as an awful place and was surrounded by dirty water. The facilities shut down in 1963 and the island is now deserted.
5. Abandoned mill
In this photo you see an abandoned mill in Sorrento, Italy near the city of Naples. This area was also known as the Valley of Mills and here they produced much flour, probably for making pizza and other bread products. In 1866, the mill conditions and area began to get too humid. Mother nature eventually reclaimed her territory and the mill closed. Tourists still come often for photos and tours.
4. Chatillon Car Graveyard
This grim scene in the photo features hundreds of abandoned cars is not a scene from the “Walking Dead”. This is actually a car graveyard nears a small village in Ardennes, Belgium. The deteriorating cars have been sitting here for the past 70 years and the neighboring wilderness will eradicate them completely someday. The reason why so many cars were abandoned still remains a mystery. An interesting legend says that the cars were left behind by American soldiers who were stationed here and when it was time to come home they just left them here.
Prabalgad is a plateau in India where a famous fort and temple to Ganesha are currently located. The fort was finally taken over by the forces of the Mughal Empire. No one currently lives in this fortress most likely because it seems like one heck of a hike to get up there. Must be some great views from the top. In this photo you can see the steepness and you can imagine how it must have been difficult to build anything at the top.
2. Craco, Italy
Craco was once a bustling medieval city in the South of Italy until a natural disaster took place.Landslides and earthquakes make it very difficult for people to make this place home. As you can see in this photo, the village sits on top of a hill which makes it an easy target to be affected by natural elements. The abandonment make the location popular for tourists and filmmakers. Occasionally festivals are held at this location but no one will call this place home.
This infamous prison located on an island in the San Francisco Bay is an iconic image of the city and possibly the most well known deserted places in the world. Alcatraz island was originally built was a fortress but later transformed into a military prison in 1868 and then a federal prison in 1963. In 1986 it became a National Historic Landmark and can be reached by a quick ferry ride. The lighthouse is the oldest one built on the west coast and legendary escapes from the prison had been turned into movies!