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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Do you really need a Bug Out Vehicle?

Bug Out Vehicles, do you need one?

Firstly, a BOV or Bug Out Vehicle is some form of transport that will take you away from your current location in a time of crisis or distress. Almost anything that will move can be considered a potential BOV candidate. That includes motor vehicles, animals, human powered devices or anything that can carry or tow some kind of load.

Do I need one?

The simple answer is yes, it is very likely that you will need something to move you and your stuff around at one time or another. Even if you are well set up in a great location, there may come a time you will need to move. I can’t elaborate on what the circumstances may be to make you move, but I can make some suggestions that will help you decide what you may require when that time comes.

Firstly, how many, how far, how much, how often?

 This is where you start to question what you need to move and how far you need to move it. If it is just one person, and they have a small bag of things, then the demands are not great. However, if it is a whole tribe of folks, and everything goes with you including the kitchen sink, then you will need something more substantial.

How many?

So, how many people are included in the group that is willing and able to move from your established location? Take into consideration that if your group is large, some might not wish to go even if it is against their better judgment. Some of the group may have special requirements that will take up more space, things that cannot be left behind like medical equipment. Also consider that you may even have extra people to move around. You never know what might happen, and if you can make provision for these possibilities, within reason, more power to you.

How far?

Is your new location across the road, across the city, across the state, across the country, maybe even across the world! You will need to identify the location you wish to get to, and what might be required to get there. That includes consumables, possible repairs and any chance you might have to adjust your course. Make allowances in your plan to get there via the ‘scenic route’.

How much?

This is what you plan to take with you if you do have to move. If you are in a set location with good resources and a chance living well, then your absence may be short, until you can return. In that case, short term items are of prime consideration, with a few longer term items thrown in just in case. If you plan to bug out, and stay bugged out, then you will have to take a lot of gear with you. You must make plans to take all that gear with you safely and efficiently. You may have to leave some of it behind, or hide it until the time is right to retrieve it. You may have to hide some of your gear before hand to lessen the burden later on. This must all be considered and factored into your plan.

How often?

Do you plan to move once, a few times or be continually on the move? If it is just once, think about where that one move is going to, and will you have to move again? If the answer is yes, then your plans for the one move have already failed. Also, if you plan to continually move, will you be able to stay for an extended period in one spot if the circumstances permit? You must be willing to be flexible in these plans, even if you have no thoughts of going anywhere, is it wise to be prepared ahead of time if the unthinkable occurs and you do have to move. Different styles of travel require different modes of transport, and the transport you select must be able to follow those plans or you aren’t going anywhere!

In the end, if you plan to survive for a long time, you will very likely have to move around a little no matter how well prepared you are, as even the best-laid plans sometimes fail. In this case, consider your BOV as ‘plan B’. If your continued existence requires you to move away from your current location, then your BOV needs to be ‘plan A’. Whichever way you decide to go, a good reliable BOV should always be placed high on the list of needs, even if it is just as an emergency.

Oh you say you already have a BOV???????

When was the last time you packed it up, while in a rush, and drove to your desired location?  How long did it take you to pack?  Were all your neighbors watching (OPSEC)? Did you get everything in your vechicle that you needed AND wanted? Did you make a list of everything you didn't take, but really needed and vi-sa-ver-sa?

Practice makes perfect...get out there an practice.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

When the SHTF - you will have to too...sewage treatment

In interesting times, depending on your sophistication level, you will have (probably) one of the three type of treatment systems. The privy or outhouse, a cesspool , or a septic system with leach field. In a shelter situation you will also need the basic bucket behind the screen which I will also cover.

The overriding reason for treating sewage is to prevent disease and contamination of ground water and food stuffs. Fecal matter is full of bacteria, some of them quite toxic. Two of the hardiest are the many serotypes of Salmonella and Aeruginosa. They can survive over 5 months in topsoil when directly applied to it. Composting at 140 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit can kill them.

Without going too deeply into the biological action of sewage decomposition, there are three useful types of bacteria and 4 enzymes needed to break the stuff down. Anaerobic, aerobic and facultative bacteria break down sewage. They are aided by enzymes which work on breaking down starches and carbohydrates (Amlyase), cellulose or paper (Cellulase), fats ( Lipase) and proteins (Protease). All commercial systems use these basic components to turn sewage into sludge. Sludge if processed properly is an excellent fertilizer.

The Rules

One final thought about this prior to going into the systems. Whatever you put into the system will most likely be there for you to take out of it. SO, minimize what you flush. No garbage grinding using the disposal, wipe with the minimum amount of paper. No harsh chemicals to kill the bacteria when using wet systems, AKA the septic system or cesspool. No fats which can be skimmed. No oils that are solid at room temperatures. In other words, nothing you would not want to have to muck out later because it didn't breakdown to humus.

The Systems

In a shelter situation, the simplest form of toilet would probably be the 5 gallon (20 litre) bucket with a plastic bag liner. After so many uses the bag's treated with enzyme, sealed and stored until the occupants can leave the shelter. There are many companies who sell the lids for these camp toilets and they are well known to many who use the out doors. Plan to have supplies sufficient for 3 weeks of use. The list is 3 liners with seals, 3 packets of treatment media and 1 roll of toilet paper per person per week. A family of 4 will generate about 2 cubic foot of sewage bags per week.

A pit privy or out house should be an enclosed structure sited away from the retreat/homestead and 150 feet from the water well should you have a shallow one. It should be well drained and vented to facilitate the decomposition of the material. Using a cyclone vent above the structure and the application of lime to the pit can reduce smells. The pit should be used for a period of 6 months then filled and allowed to rest for a year. Over the long haul a small group (about a dozen people) would be able to rotate between 3 pits without too much hardship. Do not dig the pit deeper than 2 foot above the local water table.

One variation of this system originated in Scandinavia. It has proven quite useable and is called the two can system. A 5 gallon can is filled to the depth of 2 inches with fine wood chips or saw dust. Then the can is used as a toilet. Alternate layers of waste and wood chips/ saw dust are placed in the can until it’s full. Then the can and contents are placed in a “ bread box”. The bread box is a miniature green house with south facing glazing and the north interior wall painted black. The sides can be insulated for greater heat gain in northern climates. The angle of the glass for the roof should be the latitude plus 15 degrees. The can is placed inside it and a small amount water is added to aid in the decomposition of the mixture. The rotting material will heat itself along with the solar gain of the box and sterilize the contents of the can. Sustained temperatures of in excess of 140 degrees Fahrenheit will kill the bad bacteria and produce fertilizer. This process will take around 7 weeks to complete. When it’s done you take the product, dump it into the compost pile for later use and scrape out the can. The container can then be rinsed and reused. Depending on the number of users there may be more than 2 cans involved obviously.

Cesspools come next. They are basically a porous covered underground vault. The vault is vented to allow for the combustible gases to dissipate without danger to the users. Indoor plumbing drains into the vault. The liquids drain out and the solids stay. And depending on how fastidious you are at maintaining crapper discipline, you only have to deal with it once the vault is full. If you generate lots of greasy waste or lots of hard to decompose fibrous material you will have to deal with it sooner than some one who keeps the system clean. Usually what happens to this system is the porous tiles become impregnated with grease or ossified material and stop draining. The vault overflows and the users scratch their heads and call the septic pumper. In interesting times this would not be an option. Therefore users should refer to the rules above.

Septic tanks and leach fields are common fixtures in rural areas. They are basically a vault which in this case is impermeable that has the sewage fall into it. There are baffles to cause solids to fall out. Then the liquid effluent is piped by gravity to a network of permeable pipes which drain it into the soil. Sizing of these systems is straight forward and controlled by the local building code. Depending on how well the soil drains, the sizing of the leach field follows. Slow draining soil means large leach fields. Fast draining soil means small leach fields. Since these require a substantial outlay in money and time to complete, they should be in place at the site well in advance of occupying the retreat/homestead. Also, sizing of the tank and field is required to handle the population of users. This is necessary to prevent overloading the system and causing failure of the biological processes required to decompose the sewage. Most people think a septic tank if properly maintained will not require pumping. This is a rare bird indeed. In the real world, most septic systems are working very well if they can break down 2/3’s of the sewage solids placed in them. As a general rule they require pumping about once every 5 years.

To increase the longevity of your system, you should put in place the following aids to allow you to maintain your setup. Have all cleanouts and manholes or access points clearly marked. Maintain a good “as built” schematic of where the stuff is. Install a grease pit and a trash screen. The grease pit will collect the fats and stuff which was liquid at room temperature but gelled when it hit the cold underground piping. The trash screen will filter out “chunks”. These are things like the prim 5 year old who managed to get a half roll of toilet paper to flush and it didn’t plug the outfall line. That Tango Papa (TP) isn’t going to rot in your lifetime, so why put it in your system? Have on hand the enzyme and bacteria starters needed to keep your system active. And when in doubt, READ THE RULES above.

How to Survive when you live in an apartment

I hear it all the time, "I live in an apartment, How can I prepare for survival".. Or "I live in an urban neighborhood"... Living in an apartment, Dorm, or urban neighborhood doesn't mean you can't be a survivalist, you just have to be smarter about your preparations.

Living in these areas DOES have unique challenges.. for instance storing 100 Gallons of unleaded fuel in an apartment is probably frowned upon by most landlords... Carting crates of ammunition from your SUV to your urban garage is probably not the brightest idea either, and I'd bet your insurance company would have hissy fits.

But even these settings are not impossible to deal with... you'll just have to do what I call "Pre-preparing".

Pre-preparing is simple once you get the hang of the concept.. it's storing the things you'll need to get the things you'll need. No this is not a Zen thing, it's just called "Beating the hordes to the punch".

For example... You get an early alert from a fellow prepper... You're ahead of the game (and crowds) already. Since you're smart, your BOV's (Opps, sorry, I meant "Your SUV's") are already at least half full of gas. You rush to the store with the empty Gas cans you bought (but didn't fill) and you have cash money on you to fill them up... You have the money because you DID NOT fill up the gas cans, and you DID NOT have to buy gas treatment for storage, nor did you have to rotate out old gas when you didn't need it.

This is but one example of "Pre-preparing". You bought empty plastic gas cans on sale and didn't fill em... therefore you could simply store them under the bed, in a closet or in the rafters of your garage. While your neighbors rush around lost, you're already filling up your cans.. by the time they realize they need fuel and start trying to find gas containers, you're back home working on something else... A REALLY smart survivalists would have already taped a 10 dollar bill to each can to be used when filling them in an emergency...

We ALL have problems with "Storage space". Even those of us that live "Way out" struggle with this problem. Stored fuel, stored water, stored food, etc, all take up a lot of space and most of this stuff is heavy... meaning it has to be stored on the floor (and floor space is "premium space". But what if your "Water supplies" consist of a few gallons of actual stored water, and a stack of clean collapsible water carriers? 20 of these 5 gallon collapsible containers fit in a very small space. When needed, you simply fill them... if the emergency passes without incident, empty them, let em dry, stack em back up out of the way. Be sure to fill your tub and sinks with water too after you fill the collapsible containers!

Of course, Most apartment dwellers like to get away from it all.. in most apartments and urban neighborhoods you'll find fishing equipment and Backpacking equipment... You can fit a lot of "camping equipment" in a modern back pack.

Packing stoves don't even cause a non-survivalist to raise an eyebrow.. yet they are tiny, easily stored in a pack and can be used for cooking and heat in an emergency.

What survivalist doesn't have friends that live in the country? It's not unusual for our city dwelling friends to leave their hunting rifle and some ammo in one of my gun safes. Heck, that's what friends are for.

Why build a "safe room" for bio-emergencies when you can simply store sheet plastic and duct tape in a shoe box or two? You can then use a common HEPA type air cleaner as your pressurization method when needed... plus you can run the HEPA cleaner in your apartment 24/7 and you get to breathe cleaner air during "normal times"... simply store a new filter "for emergencies". Precut your sheet plastic for the room(s) you want to seal, then you're ready! This even makes sense if you DON'T live in a city.

Don't have a lot of room for books and manuals? SO? You have a computer, and I guarantee every scrap of info you'd need in an emergency can be found on line (Or on your Rubicon CD). How many CD's and disks can you store on ONE book shelf... probably the combined knowledge of human-kind.

"But I need to power that computer"

Again, SO? Flexible solar panels are easily stored out of the way anywhere.. when you need power, simply unpack them and tape them to the windows of your apartment.. if you buy wisely, it'll look like you've simply tinted your apartment windows. Have a second battery added to your vehicle and make sure BOTH batteries are big deepcycles. When you need a deepcycle Battery in your apartment to run your computer, simply yank the second battery out of your SUV.. BAM! It's charged and ready to produce power for you! PLUS you get the added bonus of never having to worry about being stuck with a dead car battery in a dark parking lot.

Modern inverters are small, easily stored, and produce MORE than enough power for a computer... If you have a laptop, you get bonus points for "Pre-preparing". Combine the Solar panels, battery and the inverter and you have a small power company in your Apartment during the emergency.. just be careful about charging the battery.. you might want to stick it in a rubbermaid container and vent it outside during charging.

"Emergency lighting?"

Decorative candles, Decorative oil lamps, backpacking lanterns, etc (Light AND heat).. plus no one outside will know you have lights on, because you have solar panels taped to your windows :)

"Uhhhh, Security?"

Precut a few 2x4's and store em under the bed... in an emergency you can nail them into a "T" shape, nail a small piece of 2x4 to the floor a few feet from the door and then jam the "T" between the floorboard and the door... it takes a LOT to break down a door that's reinforced like this.


Rain suits and duct tape... Gasmasks are small.

If you DO have to leave the city.. do you know where the nearest U-haul rental place is? Or the nearest Home improvement store that sells trailers? Since you haven't bought one, you have the cash you saved on hand to buy one in an emergency before the sheeple know there is a problem, right?

Just because you can't have "one of something" where you live doesn't mean you shouldn't save up the money to buy one. One of my friends has this mind-set and we had the following conversation:

"I don't have anyplace to park a yard trailer"

(Me) "So do you have the money to buy one if you need it?"
(Him) "No.. Why should I? I can't buy one, I don't have a place to put it"
(Me) "But you think you might need one if you have to bug out?"
(Him) "Yeah, but I can't buy one... I don't have a place to put it"
(Me) "So save the MONEY and buy one when you need it! Go ahead and mentally pick one out and put the correct hitch and wiring harness on your truck NOW... then save the money so you can buy the trailer when you need it."

(Sometimes my friends can be dense)

You should know already "what" you need for survival purposes... if you live where you can't have some of those items then you should know where you can get them quickly in an emergency and have the purchase price already saved up for it.

We have items on our "Wish list" also, but you can modify a wish list to your situation.. simply make a list of what you need. Look that list over and see if you can get Some parts of the items you need now (The gas can example above). Then shop around near home and see who carries the items you'll need in an emergency... note down their price, store location and the item's location in the store...

IE: "Coleman fuel", "Jack's Camping supply", "Isle 3, bottom shelf", "$4.00"

Now put the list in an envelope and stick 5 bux in there with it for the Coleman fuel.

While you are making your survival supply list, keep these things in mind... Keep SMALL BILLS with the list. This way you'll have close to exact change if the store's computers are down... also presenting exact change in small bills reduces the temptation of the store owner to price-gouge you... if the item costs 45 bux (Plus tax) and you hand him 5 tens, yer close enough to the actual price that you didn't get hurt. If you produce a 100 dollar bill, you potentially won't get change, and the store owner may have just mentally marked the price up.

ALWAYS have TWO places on your list that sells what you need in case one place is closed, sold out, or whatever... our list actually has four places listed for some of the items we may need (Which includes a bobcat front end loader)

Make an ORDERED list!

Make your emergency purchases in a smart manner.. you need Gas first, THEN you can go get the bulk cans at the grocery store (People hit gas and groceries first in an emergency, and you need to beat the crowds), THEN you need to pick up the trailer(AND a tarp, bungie cords and a good lock!), THEN go get the other bulky items you'll need and put them under the tarp in the trailer... THEN go home and load up and get outta dodge.

That scenario may not work for you exactly, but you get the general idea.. it does no good to get the genset before you have a way to haul it, and it does no good to go to the gas station and grocery store when those places are already stripped clean.

Think about your situation

I'm not saying that Urban or Apartment dwelling is a permanent solution.. it is not. But you can find many ways to survive for WEEKS even in the city.

In other articles I have stated that the only reason to be in the city is to make more money. If you make more money, you can afford a "vacation home" in the country. If you're in the city and barely making ends meet, then you need to SERIOUSLY reevaluate your reasons for being there! It may not be what you want to hear, but it IS the truth.

If you're here at Prepare to Survive in California, chances are good you have like minded friends that will help you out. If they are within 200 miles of you and have a nice retreat or homestead, ask if you can preposition some stuff with them.  Don't be a leech... make it worth their while to store your stuff for you, their storage space is probably already limited too. If you plan to go to their house in an emergency, it's only fair that you help pay for some of the retreat maintenance and improvements.. after all, YOU aren't having to buy a retreat, or hook up alternate power, or buy water filters, or fix roofs.. so you should offer to help keep the retreat in order and help with making it a better place to be when TSHTF.

If they don't have the physical space to store your stuff, put it in a "U-Store" storage facility nearby their house.... be sure to add "Bolt cutters" to your list of things to get in case the storage facility is abandoned and you have to cut a lock off the gate to get to your storage area.

If the cost of renting a storage facility, or the security of a storage facility bothers you, offer to help your friends build a storage building for BOTH family's supplies on their land. If you assume that rent on a storage facility is 35 bux a month, then you can help pay for a BIG CHUNK of a good storage building on their land for what it would cost you to rent a facility for two years.... You both get something valuable out of the deal, BOTH of you are saving money!

If you put money into someone else's home or retreat, REMEMBER that it is THEIR home. They've offered to provide you with a safe place should TSHTF, but if things go sour, don't get into money arguments over who paid for what... You've basically been renting a retreat in case something happens... if the thought of this makes you angry, then think about your insurance bill... you rented protection from the insurance company, but if they cancel your policy, their responsibility to you is over. Simply go get the supplies that belong to you and store them somewhere else, all you've lost is the same amount of money you'd have lost renting a storage locker for the same amount of time. However, Choose your friends wisely and this will never be a problem.

Pre-preparing strategies can give you that edge you need to survive while those around you flap their arms and run in circles. It can help you get out of the city to your retreat (uhhh scuz me, "Vacation Home in the Country"). It takes some thought and planing, but it DOES save you money while you prepare and allows you to gather the equipment you need to have the edge on the crowds.

Oh yea, get out of the house and practice....something....anything which will help you and your family when The Shit Hits The Fan.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I can't take credit for this post...it was sent in by a friend.


By cooking and dehydrating beans and rice in advance, you can save time and energy when using them for a meal.

First I cook the rice or beans fully! Then I spread it on cookie sheets and dry it at about 200 degrees for about 4 or 5 hours. To test I put some dehydrated rice in cold water. Cold because I figured if it would rehydrate in cold it would do great with hot. It rehydrated great. So now, in soups, or just a dish, all I have to do is soak it in cold water, and add it to a dish I am warming. Also, if we do have more problems and work than we think it sure will be a lot quicker. And one more thing. It is crunchy and not all bad! My 17 year old son grabs a handful every time he passes the cookie sheet I've taken from the oven.

We also presently eat our dehydrated corn (with salt) just as it is. My husband has taken pinches of most everything (spinach, collards, pineapple (I have to hide), etc. and has eaten them dry. He said they are not bad at all and he could tolerate them. So, there you have it.

I bet it's alot cheaper than buying it at Wallyworld.



Native Americans used to garden with the 3 sisters - corn, squash and beans.

They planted corn and when it sprouted, planted pole beans around each stalk of corn so the beans would go up the corn.

They planted squash (pumpkins, winter squash, vining types) in between the rows.

This conserved space and also reduced the amount of weeding required.

SNAILS - Get rid of them or eat them...whatever


Place crushed egg shells around the base of plants in the garden if you are having a problem with snails or slugs. They don't like crawling over the sharp edges. The shells are good for the soil too.

Or you can just eat the little buggers...the common garden snail was imported as a fine food.  If you want to learn how to raise snails to eat (like they do in San Francisco) send me your email and I'll send you a free ebook...or your can find it online...just look up "Raising Snails for Food".

Try solar cooking in your wheelbarrow


Prepare dinner at breakfast time when the day is over 23 degrees Celsius.

1. Wash out the wheelbarrow, then line with aluminum foil.

2. Select a sheet of glass to cover the top of the barrow.

3. Position in a sunny spot.

4. Place potatoes and veggies into a Dutch oven with lid and put them in the wheelbarrow on a couple of bricks, replace the glass.

When setting it up wear sunglasses as light reflects off the foil, wear oven mittens as it gets very hot. I also recommend an oven thermometer so you can gauge the temperature correctly.

Practice makes perfect.

When your batteries run out of juice...do you back up lighting?

Kerosene Lamp Info


Use #2, water-clear kerosene; tinted/scented lamp oil gives less light, can gum up the wick or smoke up the chimney excessively. Lower grades kerosene with higher number will work but may cause similar problems with wicks and the chimneys will be dirty sooner.

Cost of Fuel:

May cost as much as $2.00/gal. Using 5 traditional lamps and a lantern 5 hours /night in the winter will use about 1 gallon/month.

Transferring the fuel:

Use a cheap bulb siphon and ONLY use it for kerosene (gasoline residues in a kerosene lamp is extremely dangerous). Try not to siphon any of the sludge and throw away the last 1/2 cup in the can. Siphon outdoors to minimize problem spills. If you spill over several thickness' of newspaper, do not burn in wood burning stove (chimney fire).


Do not overfill kerosene reservoir. You need air space between the bottom of wick holder and top of the kerosene for good wicking. When installing a new wick, soak it in kerosene first. You will then burn the kerosene and not the wick. If the top of the wick is dry only ht wick will burn. Trim the wick occasionally while using it and the first time you use it. A wick trimmed straight across will give a wide, flat-topped flame and will smoke excessively; too pointy of a wick produces a thin flame and little light. You should cut off the corners, and round the top of the wick a bit. After many hours of burning, the top of the wick will get ragged and charred. The flame may even have two lobes. Trim the char off into the shaped that works best for your lamp. There are two kinds of lamp owners: those who've burned themselves and those who will. Always check before touching the chimney. You cannot see heat.

To light a kerosene lamp, remove the chimney, turn the wick up a bit, and light and replace the chimney. As the wick begins to smoke, turn it down, just enough to keep from smoking. Adjust the wick for max light without smoking.

Extinguish a kerosene lamp by holding your hand just behind and above the chimney top. Adjust the angle of your palm to direct your breath straight down the chimney. Blow against your palm and a quick puff will blow it out.


Cleaning the chimney. Remove soot with a facial tissue and wash in hot, soapy water(Dawn?). Rinse in very hot water, to which baking soda has been added to eliminate spotting and then air dry. Wicks: Take stub of wick with you when buying a new one. There are circular wicks, and flat wicks, which come in different widths and thickness'. One that is too thick or thin will not feed through the wick adjuster and may even damage it. It is better to use one that is too narrow than one that is the wrong thickness or width. A narrow wick will not produce as much light, obviously.


Keep spares on hand. A lamp without a chimney is worthless. Thin glass cost less but break easier; frosted diffuse the light but are less bright. Tall, thin straight chimneys produce a thin, very bright flame, while bulbous chimneys produce wider flame and maybe more total light. Different chimney styles means adjusting to trimming the wick differently. You may eventually have to put on a new wick adjuster through normal usage or by damage by improper wick. You will have to replace the whole burner. Keep an extra one or two on hand. The best lamp has a heavy glass base which allows you to see how much kerosene is left. The weight of the base gives stability.

Aladdin Lamps:

They are more expensive than traditional lamps. They use pressure to volatilize the kerosene and a mantle to distribute and intensify the flame. They use twice as much kerosene as a traditional lamp and the mantles have to be replaced frequently. The parts of one model of Aladdin lamp may not be interchangeable.

It's always good to have a back up...as my friend DAVE S. reminded me TWO is ONE and ONE is NONE.