(Level II Scenario, continued)
For me, a 1,000 Gigawatt generator is not needed. Just 12 volt deep cycle storage batteries and a photovoltaic panel to charge them up, along with with a homemade generator from a lawnmower engine fan belted to a Chevrolet car alternator will be enough to power some communication electronics and spot lighting. Deep cycle batteries are preferable to regular 12 V car batteries as they last much longer, but car batteries will certainly do in a pinch. Incandescent lights need more power than fluorescents which need more than white LED arrays. Do some experimenting. Another way to generate electricity is by turning a DC motor into a generator. A DC motor accepts a DC voltage, from a battery for example, applied across two terminals and translates that energy to a rotary mechanical motion that drives whatever the motor is hooked up to, (a cordless drill, a kids play jeep, whatever). A generator is the exact same motor, except instead of applying a voltage and harvesting a rotary force, you apply a rotary force and harvest a voltage. All you do is hook something to the motor shaft, a bicycle, hand crank, a water or wind wheel, and turn it and a voltage is generated across the same two terminals the battery was previously hooked to. Pay attention to polarity. The motor should have a plate on it indicating what amount of voltage and amperage it will generate. As you put the generator under a load it will become harder to turn, the result of a phenomenon called back EMF.
I don’t know much about big generators. The options are basically gas, diesel or propane. Diesel appears to be the best option. Gas is more dangerous to store than diesel and the diesel generators last longer under a sustained usage (lower RPM). Propane may also have problems lasting due to top end lubrication (I’m not sure about that) but propane is the easiest to store. A generator could be used sporadically, say a couple hours a day to keep the refrigerator cold or run appliances. If you do store gas or diesel, treat it with preservatives while it is fresh, at the beginning of the storage cycle, and store it in a safe manner.
There are a lot of electronics that could be harvested from a car, 12 Volt lighting, batteries, radios, CBs, meters and gauges. Not to mention the metal to fabricate tools, hydraulics to provide motive force, petroleum products, the motor, the wheels and tires, transaxles to translate a rotary force 90 degrees, seats (what Southern abode is complete without an old car seat gracing the front porch?).
We have pretty well considered water; (did I just say well?) That's the next step in a more permanent water supply: a well. It is certainly possible to hand dig a well, but before attempting to do that, you should find out how to go about it because a well cave-in is nothing to be ‘cave’alier about. The best bet is to have the well dug by a professional; don't forget to have a way to get the water up without electricity, or have a generator. Research how to locate a well with regard to septic systems, water table etc.
Lighting is also covered by using Kerosene lamps and /or rechargeable solar powered lamps. Have spare wicks, globes, bulbs, switches, and plentiful fuel or energy. Even if using Kerosene lamps, it would be wise to have a more concentrated, focused, portable, powerful method of lighting available to use when needed. Of course, a flashlight fills the bill quite nicely. Have some way to use rechargeable batteries.
For more permanent ways to dispose of bodily waste, I reckon the most lo-tech is the good ol' outhouse. Dig a pit about 6-8 feet deep, build a portable house to cover it and provide privacy. When it gets near full, cover the last few feet with dirt, dig a new hole and pull the house (built on skids?) over to it. Lime might be used to keep the smell down, another exciting topic to research. Other options are methane digester toilets, burning the waste in 'honey pots" or using the existing septic system by hauling in flushing water by hand. The latter option is probably the easiest and less damaging to the water table than an outhouse, non-potable water can be used for flushing.
Washing dishes in a water conservation mode can be done by using the following process: 1.) scrape the loose food of for the dogs to eat or to compost for the garden, 2.) fill one sink with water and some soap, 3.) fill another sink with water and a 1/4 cup of Clorox, 4.) Wash the dishes in the soapy water, 5.) rinse/disinfect in the Clorox water and 6.) set out to drain or towel dry. Dishtowels will be worth their weight in gold; I suspect the cloth could be purchased fairly cheaply and towels cut, and hemmed, from the roll. If need be, recycle the water through a distiller or use it to wash something else.
Washing clothes will be a chore. I guess a big washtub or two and a washboard is the way to go, hang em up on a clothes line, it's been done before. Another option is to cut a hole in the top of a five-gallon bucket lid and agitate using a (clean) plunger, kind of like an old-fashioned butter churn. A clothes wringer would be cool (A large industrial mop bucket with a wringer might suffice). Speaking of which, study up on ways that these common things were done before electricity, read books on pioneers that kind of stuff. Figure out how to make soap or stock up on enough to hold you over for a year or two, just in case, God forbid, a collapse drags on that long.
Trash disposal will be non-existent in a survival situation. Around here if we miss one trash day, it starts to pile up something fierce. Over the long term, this could be a serious health hazard. Trash piling up will smell, attract rodents and flies, and encourage disease. On the bright side, there will be less packaging to be disposed of since most new production will be home generated, food and such. None the less, have a sanitation plan. Separate trash at the point of origin, paper and combustibles in one can, biodegradables in another, glass and metal in a third. Burn the combustibles, compost the bio-degradable, and bury or pile up the metals and glass. Re-cycle everything possible. Keep the area cleaned up from trash blowing into the yard.
Bathing could be accomplished by heating water on a stove and pouring into a tub or maybe by constructing a solar shower outside for summer use.
Communications could be clutch. Try to cover as much as the spectrum as possible. Get a short-wave radio, or Ham transceiver, covering at least 15 kHz to 30 MHz; a police/fire scanner covering the local emergency bands, an AM/FM radio, CB radios, and a television. Have the ability to power all these with a 12-volt battery. A Ham rig would be cool to enable two way conversations. The shortwave should cover the upper and lower sidebands as well as CW signals. The police scanner will be useful if there are riots or civil unrest. CB radios, especially ones with sideband channels, can be used for personal communications, maybe one base station and 2 or 3 handhelds, all with rechargeable batteries. Avoid having an 'antenna farm' outside your house so as not to draw a lot of attention. Point to point communications in the form of intercoms, sound powered phones, hand, mirror, and semaphore signals could also be used.
If the gasoline is flowing, well and good, if not, it’s back to bicycles, horses and feet. Make sure the car stays tuned up, has good tires, a full tank of gas and is in good working order. Stock up on spare parts, water pump, alternator, fluids, and plugs, et al. You can build an 'Urban Assault Vehicle' with winches, heavy-duty bumpers, and extra gas cans and all that stuff if you are so inclined. Having a couple bikes handy might be a good thing. Spare inner tubes etc, etc.
The immediate concern regarding education is knowledge gained before problems occur. Learn how to do stuff, study farming, gardening, carpentry, blacksmithing, medicine, cooking and preserving, stone masonry, weaving, trapping, hunting, fishing, metal working, electricity, plumbing, the list goes on and on. Pick one or two things to get really good at and cross train in the others. Gather information, books, magazine and Internet articles to keep as a reference library. Don't neglect classics and light reading. And the three R's, reading, 'riting and 'rithmatic. Set up schooling for the children if the schools shut down for a while and train constantly in as many sufficiency disciplines as possible. Have school supplies available.
Picture yourself in a shelter with four young kids and no crayons; picture yourself climbing the walls. Games, books, coloring books and crayons, lots-o-paper and pencils (exactly how would you go about making a pencil anyway?) textbooks for higher education, radio, outdoor activities. Have fun.
A real wild card, chances are they won't be prepared (in a good way) for a serious societal emergency. Of course with the current bunch of crafty, disingenuous, lying, cheating, stealing, power mad, constitution stompin' yahoos in Washington, that won't matter as they are likely to make a power grab (for the good of the people, don't you like children?) using the various Executive Orders surreptitiously signed into law over the last few decades. "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you." Yeah, right.
As far as self-government goes, pick a leader, establish a legislative and a judicial body is one option, follow the US Constitution; another might be to set up a system of Judges like the early Hebrew people had in the Bible. Definitely something to think about.
Local Area Relations
That would be your neighbors. Help them get informed about survival in general, if not your plans specifically. If your neighbor has his own food supply, he won't be knocking on your door for a handout when the SHTF. This is where it gets a little confusing. If someone is doing a full combat assault on your house, hey lock and load, ready on the right, ready on the left, commence fire, not a real moral dilemma; but, if your neighbor, your beer drinking buddy, and his extended family are starving next door and you've got some food stashed back, but not really enough to hand out willy-nilly without endangering your own family, then what? One possible solution would be to store a lot of extra bulk foods, (corn, beans and rice) to be able to share liberally, also within your group, if you hand out a meal, someone within the group fasts for that meal for a net loss of nothing, as long as no one fasts excessively. Maybe a combination of both, even so keep an ultra low profile, maybe leave a bag of groceries on the front steps at night. If the food is distributed openly, the person receiving it can hoe in the garden or chop some firewood to help out. Help as much as possible within your neighborhood and community. Try to form supporting groups of people that have diverse skills and knowledge.
If your job goes under due to societal issues, you will need an alternate career until everything gets back to normal. Gather tools and supplies to accommodate a backup career. Try to focus on something that 1) you know how to do and 2) will be in demand. Some job where the work came to you rather than you going to the work would be desirable. Something like a produce stand would be ideal or battery charging station, just a thought.
Bugging out, aka leaving your home base, without a clear destination that is able to absorb you and your family, is just another way of saying: refugee. Refugees are helpless and totally dependent upon the vagrancies of whatever group takes control of them, be it a government or an armed band of thugs; or both as happened during Katrina. Forget bugging out to the forest with a .30-30 and a backpack; it won’t work.
Have a secure bugout location in mind before you leave. Bring what you can: weapons, ammunition, food, medicine, seeds, tools, blankets, camping gear, pots and pans, functional clothing and footwear, candles, lighters, whiskey, kerosene lamps, Clorox, soap, detergent, towels, gasoline and kerosene (keep your vehicle gassed up).
Be prepared to take back roads as the interstate system might be shut down. Travel with a group if possible and keep a well-armed presence. Have actual paper maps; don’t depend on the GPS system being up and running. Beware of roadblocks.
Level III Scenario
I guess I really don't know what to say about this type of scenario. Lock and load. Pretty much like a super level II scene. Sort of like the movie "The Postman" without the happy parts. Who knows?
Do not be dismayed by the prospect of societal collapse; take precautions but don't freak out; it won't do any good anyway. If I were to guess about the potential for a societal collapse, I would say probably a mild level II scenario with more inconvenience than danger. The foregoing text dealt with a more severe level II with the premise that is would be better to be over prepared than under, "better a year too early than a day too late", as the saying goes. Which is good advice, don't wait until it is too late to start preparing, it may be too late by then to get many items. Get the bulk foods first and secure drinking water now, then start in on the other items. Gather together with family and friends to prepare; plan on congregating together if it gets hairy.
At times this paper takes on a Christian evangelical bent. I don't apologize for that. If you aren't right with God, you need to get right. All you have to do is realize that you need God in your life and ask Jesus into your heart. Matthew 7:7-8 says:
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
Self-sufficiency will give you a peace of mind regardless of the actuality of an emergency taking place. You don't buy car insurance planning on getting into a wreck, but you buy it anyway for the peace of mind and the protection afforded in you do have an accident. Use the same approach for “collapse insurance”. You can probably do everything mentioned in this paper for the amount of money you spend on insurance in one year, and to a large extent, these are one time expenditures not re-occurring expenses. Better safe than sorry. But, put your trust in God.
This reminds me of a joke: A guy dies and goes to heaven and Saint Peter says: "We have a point system to get into heaven, it takes a hundred points to get in the door, tell me about your life." "Well", the guy says "I was a preacher for seventy years and led many hundreds of people to know Christ the Savior." Saint Peter says "OK, that'll be 3 points." The preacher says "I started a soup kitchen in my town and fed many homeless people every day with my own money." "4 points" says the Saint. By this time the preacher is getting a little nervous. "Okay...I operated an orphanage in my home and kept dozens of children there for the last 40 years." "Ummm, 3 points" says Saint Peter. "Now wait a minute", explodes the preacher, "at this rate, the only way I'll get into heaven is by the Grace of God !" "100 points!" says Peter throwing open the Pearly gates.
2 Timothy 4:7
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
to be concluded later this week, with some appendices.