Wed. June 24, 2020 – more of the same, sorta

Hot and humid.  [74F and dripping, overcast. I purely suck at weather forecasting]  It is Houston and summer….

Yesterday was hot and humid, although less of both than previous days this week.  Stuff was actually drying out once I dumped the standing water.  Sometimes we’ll go days with water in every nook and cranny because it just can’t evaporate.  And I was able to work outside for a while, without my vest or my head exploding.  Nice little break.

I took some time and did pool care.  Skimmed off the leaves, swept the bottom, and made a big siphon hose to suck out the debris.  My little siphon hose took too long and used too much water.  And it clogged easily on the half eaten pecans.  The damnable tree rats are chewing the still very undersized and unripe pecans in half.  That makes two marble sized pieces to drop in the pool, since they can’t eat them.  Bigger hose, stronger flow, less choking, and I had that cleaned up in a jiffy.

Then on to pulling some inventory to go to the local auction.  I’ve got two big black bins full, and more to go.  SO MUCH MORE.  The auction isn’t appropriate for all the sort of stuff I have to sell, more for the household/estate stuff than the industrial stuff, but I’ve got plenty of that too.  In the process, I was going through stuff in the house, on the patio, and in the garage.  Miles to go before I sleep, but every journey starts with a single step, right?

Dinner was Taco Tuesday.  Canned chicken, canned beans, tortillas and fixin’s from the fridge.

Daughter one has a visit with the orthodontist this morning.  We were doing a retainer to move some teeth around so they didn’t get damaged before we could do the braces.  She lost the retainer.  It’s been months, so it’s time for a reassessment.

Daughter two is complaining of a mild headache and feeling “pukey”.   No actual vomiting, but no appetite either.  I’m wondering where she picked up a bug, and the only answer is ‘swim practice’.   That is double plus ungood as it points out how easy it would be to get something else.  I’m not feeling great either, with occasional coughing, and some mild headache.  I’m blaming mine on allergies and doing too much reading with my cheap ‘cheater’ glasses.  We might stay home from swim today.  We’ll see.

As part of my cleaning up and moving stuff, I moved some rice from bags in the black bins to buckets with O2 absorbers.  I filled two buckets and could have filled a third and fourth with rice and another bucket with flour.  30 pounds per 5 gallon bucket, 2 cups a day, and each bucket is good for approximately 30 days.  That’s a nice tidy number and easy to see at a glance what inventory looks like in ‘days’.  I find it much easier to think in terms of ‘meals’ or ‘days’ when looking at my stored preps.  I absolutely never think in terms of ‘calories per day per person.’  Bob and I had some discussions about our different approaches to thinking about food, and I’m convinced that mine has fewer built in barriers to action, lower friction for the prepper, while his has the advantage of having math and science behind it.  Like a lot of prepping, it’s easy to go off into the weeds and to find reasons not to start.  “Oh, I have to figure out how many calories are in a bucket of flour before I start storing it.” “are mylar bags really necessary?  What about oxygen absorbers?  I don’t have any.”   Stuff like that.  My method feels a little more haphazard, but really, do you think in terms of making a pot of rice or of cooking 1700 calories of foodstuffs?

However you think of it, get started if you haven’t already.  I’m eating rice stored very haphazardly in 2014 and it is delicious.  (stored in a black bin, limited airflow, no vermin, constant comfortable temps.)  I didn’t use O2 absorbers, or repack into mylar, or any of the other things.  I saw a case of ebola in Dallas and panic bought a bunch of food.  I packed it tightly in bins at my secondary location, and ignored it until this year.  Because I moved it home, I’m repacking it into buckets as they are more air tight, and easier to move when full.

I’ve rotated the 2014 stuff to the front and put the 2019 and 2020 in the back.  If I move some back to my secondary storage, I’ll move the 2019 and 2020 food.  My point is, you don’t have to do it perfectly, or in any particular way at all.  You don’t NEED all the rest of the stuff or to spend a lot of time.   Rice is cheap.  Flour, sugar, salt, and even peanut oil (my stored fat) are cheap.  If you have some spoilage, it’s a small price to pay vs. NOT having any food.  To the staples, add canned food- meat, veg, and beans to start, fruit, pie filling, and ‘weirder’ stuff as you can.  The cans will do just fine for years if you keep them cool and dry without any other work on your part.

You can and should build off that food stockpile, but at least you won’t starve to death in the first 3 months of a disaster, whatever that might be (prolonged unemployment being the most common, sick spouse or kid being the second.)

So, get started, or keep going, but keep stacking.

 

nick

Fri. Sept. 20, 2019 – so I learned some things…

77F and wet.  Probably.

Boy did we get some rain yesterday.  And I got stuck at the kids’ school, where I was able to help out, and everything worked out ok, but…

Turns out there are some holes in my vehicular preps, and in aspects of my current habits and lifestyle.  NB-I don’t typically carry a BOB or GHB or any other specific bag in my truck.  I’ve got a couple of totes in the back with extra stuff, and my EDC.  I thought that was pretty good, and it is.

I usually have some additional supplements like energy bars tucked away, but I ate them.  Day before yesterday and I didn’t replace them.  I usually refill my gas tank whenever there is a storm coming, and whenever it gets low.  I didn’t notice the level on Wednesday, and it beeped at me on the way to school- 50 miles to empty.  No problem, I’ll fill up on the way home.  Except what if I get stuck in the water on the way and need to wait out the flooding?  Not enough gas to do that.  My friend took 3 hours to get home with his kids.   I certainly didn’t have 3 hours worth of gas, to go less than 5 miles.

I have shirts, sweatshirts, pullover windbreakers, and long pants in the truck.  I’ve got hat and mittens when it’s cold.  I’ve got yellow plastic rain gear, ponchos, and even a set of FroggToggs.  No socks.  No dry shoes.  That’s a big oversight.

I don’t carry my ‘daddy bag’ anymore, so I don’t have a change of clothes for the kids.  It’s been a long time since one had an ‘accident’.

A couple of days ago, I had a case of Mountain House in the truck.  Yesterday I had only two expired MREs (the date doesn’t bother me) and USCG approved lifeboat survival bars.  Plenty of water, soda, and cans of flavored water… and I’d even added instant iced tea to put in the plain water.  I did so and drank that during the afternoon.  Had we been stranded at school overnight (and we have school friends in walking distance, so that was EXTREMELY unlikely) the kids and I would have eaten MREs in the truck while everyone else dined on microwave popcorn.  I did share a big Costco bag of candy that I was taking to my gunstore buddy.  Daughter used it to earn points with her friends.

The biggest problem is that there are only two real driveable ways into the school’s neighborhood, and BOTH are subject to flooding.  If we were desperate, I would have taken the chance on the deeper intersection.   I could see vehicles making it through and had a good idea of depth, but I also couldn’t get good info about the next step in my route.  I retreated to safety and comfort, deciding that the unknown and risk was not worth it to sit at home for the afternoon.

The situation might have been different if I was trying to GET to school and pick them up in an emergency.  This was not an emergency.  No one should have wrecked a car in an attempt to pick up the kids from a fully functional school, in the middle of the day.

It’s amazing the speed and reckless regard with which some people entered the high water.  They didn’t even wait to see how the guy in front of them made out.  Some pulled out around me, while I was watching the other guy go, and sped on ahead.  No way could they have seen the other guys success or failure before entering.  Dumb doesn’t even begin to cover it.

This being Houston, one of the items in my tote is a professional personal flotation device, designed for people who work on the water.  It will auto inflate, but most of the time stays out of your way.  It’s the first item in the tote.  If there ever came a day when I felt compelled to enter high water, I can at least gear up first.  I have a short rescue rope on top too.

My Expy is currently full of cr@p to the point I couldn’t have taken 2 extra kids with me, only one.  I’ve got a lot of auction stuff piled in the back and on the back seat.  That stuff needs to get out of my truck.

I need to add some Mountain House, durable snacks, and kid clothes to the tote.  I need to move a pair of sturdy shoes and a good pair of socks to the tote.   I may even set up a 3 gallon bucket as a toilet for the truck, and leave it in there.   (the 5 gallon with the seat only goes with us when I think or know we’ll want it.  Like 4 hours in a parking lot, watching fireworks,  It’s too big to live in my truck 24/7.)

The kids have grown, and I haven’t changed my truck pack much.

Meanwhile, my wife was stuck at her work.  I reminded her that there were at least a couple of powerbars in the ‘resource kit’ in her minivan.  She decided to stay at work, where they had food, light, AC, and work to do, rather than move through flooded streets.  Maybe I’ll be able to stash a bit more in her vehicle, ‘for the children’ now.  (FWIW, the thing we’ve used most often from her kit is fire starter and matches.)  She waited for clear streets and drove home without incident.

We’re supposed to get more rain.  I hope not, but I guess we’ll see.  This was a good opportunity to find holes in my preps without any resulting drama…and I’m going to use the gift to get better.

nick

Tues. Sept. 3, 2019 – hurricanes are no joke

Slightly cooler, but humid. [76F and 83%RH at 6am]

Spent yesterday at the beach, which was surreal considering what was going on east of us.  The beaches were mostly empty too, to my surprise.

The pictures and video that are coming out of the Bahamas are shocking.   It’s been a while since we had good video of such a devastating storm.  Waves washing the second story windows should convince anyone that evacuation is the better part of valor, if that’s what you might be facing.

There are reports of “price gouging” coming out of Fla.  I’m of the opinion that laws prohibiting charging more than the usual rate when un-usual events are happening are un-American and counter productive.   Let the business earn the opprobrium if that’s what people decide is fair.  Otherwise, let those without the ability to plan pay those who have the ability for the privilege of their ignorance and lack of self control.

Complaining about expensive bottled water WHEN IT’S COMING OUT OF YOUR TAP is about as stupid as stupid gets.  Gas is a <i>bit</i> different, as it can be difficult to store safely, but if you are motivated you can do so.  I did, and do.  If it’s a priority, you will find a way to do it.  If it’s not, then you will pay the tax.

If there are any new readers, let me point out that I live in a hurricane zone, have been through several, and THAT’S WHY I PREP.

Read through anything tagged with prepping related tags.  Read the comments.  Learn it for next time, as there will surely be a next time.

Also, accept that there are some things that are out of your control and you will just have to deal with them as best you can.  That’s another good reason to have resources set aside, so you can adapt.

Speaking of which… my mom decided that the best thing to do was fly into Florida EARLY this year.  She’s in Sarasota as of YESTERDAY, so should be ok unless things go very wrong with the storm track.   However, I’m reaching out to MY resources, with a ‘heads up’ that I might need some sort of help in that regard if things go pear shaped.  She doesn’t “believe” in preparedness of any sort and so I find myself in the (not completely unusual) position of having a loved one firmly in my darwin column, and yet I can’t actually leave her there if push comes to shove.  I hope to convince her to do her shopping today, and to pick up some extra, if it’s even available.  (FWIW, I was under the impression that her flight would be canceled and she’d stay safely in Chicago, I was shocked to get her text that she had landed in Sarasota.  No idea what she was thinking.)

If you are in the threatened area, please take what time you have and do what is needed to ensure you have the best chance at safety.  If you are not directly threatened by this storm, take it as a warning- there will be other storms, quakes, floods, tornadoes, riots, pipeline explosions, derailments, plagues, and pestilence.   Get prepped.

 

nick

added-  looks like Dorian has started to turn north.  That is good news for Florida but it’s still gonna be a mess up the coast and central regions.  Freaking thing sat for 40 hours on the Bahamas.  That is nuts.

Tues. July 23, 2019 – a different way to prep

79F and 89%RH at 7AM. We never got more than that little bit of rain yesterday. It stayed a bit cooler, but it was still hot.

As I woke up this morning, I had a realization… there is a way to “prep” that is very different from what we normally talk about. It is a way to take care of yourself, and possibly some close others, and it doesn’t cost anything but time.

We hear people say “I don’t have room to prep.” Or money. Or time. Or skills….

Well, if you can’t prep yourself, attach yourself to an agency that does prep. Become known to them NOW, so when you show up at the shelter, they hand you a meal and a nametag. Seriously. Start now. Join the Red Cross or Salvation Army disaster response. Take the shelter managers courses. Get the background check. Volunteer.

I’ve never worked or been in a Red Cross shelter, but knowing human nature, I’d bet money that the staff had plenty to eat and drink. The mantra of Emergency Response, “You can’t take care of others unless you take care of yourself” backs up that idea.

Our focus is usually on individualism and NOT relying on others, but if you think you will have to, get out in front of it and secure your place by JOINING with them now.

The most it will cost is time, and there is the side benefit that you will be helping others.

nick

Fri. April 26, 2019 – driving all day, so some links

Supposed to be clear and nice today and tomorrow. I’ll update that before I leave the house.   [59F and not quite saturated]

I’ve got a pickup in San Marcos, so I’ll probably swing by Austin as well and hit the surplus store. Depends on the time and how long everything takes. Minimum, I’m on the road for 5 hours, with an hour or so between cities at the far end. That means I won’t be here.

Some hard core prepper links (that I haven’t read yet) to keep you occupied. From one of my EMgmt newsletters.

Preppers and doomers always talk about how quickly our Just In Time based world will fall apart and how fragile it is. Here are a couple of links that address that very thing.

Aligning Public and Private Supply Chains Following Disasters

PrepTalks GraphicDr. Jarrod Goentzel’s PrepTalk, “Aligning Public and Private Supply Chains for Disaster Response”, demonstrates how the private sector has far more capacity to respond than the public sector, explains the role of emergency managers in supporting private sector supply chain restoration, and shows how analysis of supply chains can help with strategic and tactical preparedness and operational collaboration during a crisis.”

Private Sector Resilience: It is All in the Supply Chain

PrepTalks GraphicDr. Yossi Sheffi’s PrepTalk, “Private Sector Resilience: It is All in the Supply Chain”, explains the modes of failure in supply chain networks, explores new ways to think about disruptions, and showcases a General Motors case study on the complexities of supply chain management.”

So what can you do before disaster strikes???

These taxpayer funded FEMA resources exist to answer that question. And might provide the basis for some PA novel, if you were inclined that way…

Strategic and Operational Planning

The purpose of this page is to provide information on strategic and operational planning. The National Incident Management System is intended to be used by the whole community. The intended audience for this page is individuals, families, communities, the private and nonprofit sectors, faith-based organizations, and Federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments.

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And for the really detail oriented…

CPG 101, Developing and Maintaining Emergency Operations Plans, Version 2

How to Use This Guide CPG 101 is designed to help both novice and experienced planners navigate the planning process. Used in its entirety, this Guide provides information and instruction on the fundamentals of planning and their application. Chapters 1 and 2 lay the foundation for planning efforts by providing information on the basics of planning (Chapter 1) and the environment within which planners function (Chapter 2). With an understanding of these fundamentals, the Guide then transitions from theory to practice by discussing the different plan formats and functions (Chapter 3) and moving into an explanation of the planning process (Chapter 4). A detailed checklist, building upon Chapters 3 and 4, is provided in Appendix C. Because Appendix C provides a set of detailed questions to consider throughout the planning process, users are encouraged to copy or remove this checklist and employ it as they work through the planning process in Chapter 4.”

There are a BUNCH of interesting looking PREPtalks in the left hand sidebar on the pages linked above. This is going to be a time suck soon…

Until then, I’m on the road and will only be checking in periodically.

Tell me what you did this week to plan, or prep.

n

Tues. Nov. 27, 2018 – an appeal…

Cold and wet this morning. Weather station hibernating due to weak batteries. It was 44F according to my wife’s phone yesterday, and I expect it will be the same or colder today, mainly based on the amount of time the furnace is running right now…

I have been reading thru a lot of the old posts Bob made wrt some of the new preppers here. There is a ton of good info tagged with the names of the couples and families he was helping. I would REALLY like to hear from you guys, now almost two years on, regarding your experiences, mindset, and current preparedness.

Jen, Jason and Jessica, Brittany, Cassie, Lisa… pseudonyms all, members of the community! You can contact me directly at flandrey at aol dot com if you like and I’ll pass along whatever you care to share.

For everyone else, I encourage you to read thru some of the older posts under whatever tag catches your eye. As usual, the tag and post are often just the jumping off point for a lot of good activity in the comments. If for some reason you are coming here, and still not reading comments, you are missing 95% of the content. I came for years without reading or writing comments, and missed some of the best comment section on the interwebs.

And now, time to get the kids and wife fed and out the door.

n

Fri. Aug. 10, 2018 – prepper fail!

Back in the swamp, I mean Tree City USA, I mean Bayou City, I mean… Houston. 80F at 8am.

So. Prepper fail.

Yep. I left my carry on bag at the house we were staying at. My airline ‘bug out bag’. My ‘get home bag’. I left it. Sitting on the bedroom floor. Didn’t realize until returning the rental car, and that was too late. I’ll get it UPS’d to me next week, but I was NAKED for my flight.

What didn’t I have?

No change of shirts and underwear
No ‘one day’ of meds
No reading glasses
No blow out kit
No boo boo kit
No first responder IDs (CERT, ham radio, Constable’s program)
No snacks or water bottle
No electronics- 2 kindles and a tablet
No chargers or batteries
No noise cancelling headphones
No shortwave radio or dual band ham radio
No backup money, $1000 in cash, 1 oz gold in coins, extra clean credit card
No loyalty cards
No toys for the kids (2x nintendo DS)
No rain jacket

Like I said, NAKED.

And I made it home fine. I was almost caught by irony as there was a hail storm in Houston that could have messed up my travel, exactly the sort of thing my bag is meant to make more tolerable. Imagine that I needed all that crap for once and didn’t have it because I’m an idiot. Fortunately it didn’t.

Home safe, but VERY weird to be on an airplane without the comfort and convenience stuff I’ve become accustom to.

Because I AM a prepper, I did have my ID, money, phone, and FLASHLIGHT. I always carry that on my person. Especially on a plane, you need that base level of stuff on you. DON’T put it in your bag. If you have to get off the plane in a hurry, you won’t be allowed to bring your bag. Then you’ll be sitting in a shelter area without your id, money, or phone.

LEARN from my stupidity! Double check. Even a seasoned traveler can have a lapse.

n

Guest post, some thoughts on radios, and why it’s hard to get a straight answer from a ham…

In response to this question-

“@nick

You seem well-informed on the subject, so what are YOUR recommendations for someone looking to just get a few radios?”

I’ve consolidated some of yesterday’s discussion in one place.

 

—————————————————————————————

The important question to start with is ‘what do you want to do?’ With that info, you can narrow the list.

 

The first separation is listen vs talk. No license required to listen. To listen, get a scanner. Most transceivers will scan, but they are much slower. To talk, see below.

If you want to monitor your local area, (and it’s fun but you aren’t necessarily gonna get the inside scoop), you need a couple of scanners. I like analog because they’re cheap. They work well for scanning ham bands, or the analog FEMA interop freqs.  Analog scanners will also cover the GMRS and FRS bands, weather bands, marine (almost everyone in the US is near a coast or navigable waterway), air, etc.  If you are rural, you may have more traffic on analog than other areas. If your area has gone digital, you need a digital capable trunk tracker scanner. The Uniden Home Patrol II is a bit long in the tooth, but is widely recommended. I like mine, but it needs a bunch of tweaking to the internal channel list. Setting up scanners takes a bit of thinking about what you want to monitor too. I shut off all the dispatch channels because they run constantly here.  You may be in a slower area, and want to hear the dispatches, but even in a rural area, I think you’ll be surprised how much work your cops and EMS people do.  For other sources of good intel, your highway motorist aid guys probably still use analog and they’re a good source for high water and road debris info. Same for the ‘talkback’ channel for your local news teams to talk to their ‘in the field’ guys. There is a lot of interesting stuff even during normal times.  Radio Reference is the definitive web site for frequency info.

The other type pure listening radio for preppers is Shortwave. After trying dozens of radios and listening at least a couple of nights a week for the last year, I’ve concluded that there’s not a lot of info actually on SW. By definition, the state broadcasters are running propaganda stations. Most of the other stations are religious.  The airwaves are NOT awash in alternative news stations.  But even so there are things to listen to, and post SHTF, there might be other broadcasters or other content. It’s definitely overblown in the prepping world though.  Other than music, I listen to a ham focused show out of Havana, a ham focused show on one of the religious broadcasters in Tennessee, and everyone’s favorite conspiracy guy broadcast by a station in Florida.  Shortwave is also a fun, quick way to check band conditions without firing up your HF ham rig.

For SW, I like older “communications receivers” like the Kenwood R-1000 or the Yaesu FRG-7700. They have continuous coverage from the low lows to their highs at 50mhz. They are usually used on AC power but also may have battery inputs. For off grid, I love my Panasonic RF-2200. Over a year of checking thru the dial a couple of times a week, on one set of D batteries.  Like the AC models, it is a larger model.  Larger models will generally give you much more sensitive tuning and bigger dials, which is GOOD.  For pocket or on the go, I’m really liking the little Sony ICF 7600 I took to the Virgin Islands. It’s got digital tuning but you can comfortably just tune thru the bands. LOTS of other radios with digital tuning will “chuff” or take a second to tune every single time you push the UP or Down button. For scanning around that is REALLY tedious. The Sony is very smooth tuning up and down.

You’ll notice that this stuff is all older. Yup, it is, but the designs stood the test of time.  And it’s non-critical or covered by spares, and is cheap compared to current gear with the same capability.

I’ve decided the little pocket analogs are almost completely useless and the pocket digitals are pretty useless for just tuning around.  Also, don’t worry about single side band or having a Beat Frequency Oscillator on your SW radio so you can listen to hams. They are almost impossible to tune in given the smaller dials, and across a dozen portable radios, I couldn’t consistently hear SSB conversations. If you want to listen to hams, get a ham radio.  [there are other factors too, like where the band pass filters start and stop that can make SW listening on a ham radio, or ham listening on a SW radio problematic.]

 

When it comes to talking on the radio:

If you are thinking about getting a ham license, and want to get started cheaply, the baofengs are a great entry point for a tech or general license. DON’T buy a used radio unless you can get some guarantee that it works. You want to get on the air, not work on radios. If you want something better than the chinese radios, any of the big three, Icom, Kenwood, or Yaesu, that have the features you want, will be great. ALWAYS check the reviews at eHam.com before buying. They will address any reliability or useability issues, esp for something that’s been out for a while. I’d buy cheaper, and fewer features unless you’ve decided you like ham radio as a hobby or decided that you need a digital mode. Buy a dual band radio that has 2 meter (144mhz or VHF) and 70cm (440mhz or UHF). Don’t buy a single band radio unless it’s very cheap or you are planning for a dedicated use like data or APRS.

For HF (getting more than a mile or two away, or for HF data modes) I’m gonna say, there are great values in 20-25 year old gear. My Yaesu FT 847 works great.  There are many classic models from the time period that are well regarded, still run well, and are cheaper than comparable new models.  Any voice work on HF requires a General or Amateur Extra License.

There are multiband mobile radios that include HF but due to power and antenna limitations, they aren’t the best choice if you are gonna do a lot of HF.

Mobile radios make decent home stations too, if the power limits are ok for you.

Antennas are critical to your success talking on the air.  Some of the radios (like FRS) are intentionally crippled by requiring attached (and crappy) antennas.  There are lots of books about antennas, making your own, or buying, and the classics are available used for very low prices.  The web is full of antenna projects too.

Some people recommend tube radios for EMP survivability but they are harder to use, need more power, and are physically bigger. Probably better to get another modern radio and put it in a metal box if that worries you.

Moving to radios that don’t require a license, the most common are the ‘blister pack’ small form factor walkie talkies.

I have buckets full of FRS/GMRS radios (blister pack) that I buy when I see them cheap ($1-3). I don’t trust them for anything critical though. I use them when I’d rather not yell but don’t trust them for anything farther than that.

I’ve also bought motorola business radios when I see them cheap. They are bulletproof unless the batteries leaked, but anything will be destroyed by leaking batteries. After years of using moto radios in the field, I may be biased, but they just keep working.  A blister pack Motorola business radio is a good compromise between a $10 FRS and a $1000 ham or commercial high end walkie.

There are real differences between a $1200 moto walkie and a $30 one. Those differences might not be important to you, but don’t discount them. Sure, you can easily replace your $30 radio with a spare if you are where the spare is. It’s NOT so easy to replace if you are out USING it and the spares are at home. If it’s critical gear, buy quality.

I’ve mentioned before that I think CBs are worth having. There is still a lot of CB use in more rural areas, and among the Off Road crowd. There are also some people in the prep/liberty/militia/patriot movements that advocate a super set of CB known as “freebanding.” They use modified radios or ‘export only’ models that include access to freqs outside the Citizen’s Bands. They are illegal for most people, are NOT obscure, ARE easily monitored, and get you very little for the additional cost/risk/complication and learning curve.

A side note on licensing. Many of the freqs and radios are restricted to various licensed individuals/businesses/or classes of people. Some are enforced, some are not. FRS doesn’t need a license, but is supposed to be restricted to non-business use. GMRS requires a license, which covers your whole family for a number of years, and is a ‘fee only’ license. CB dropped the individual license requirement, but there are still restrictions on power output, antenna heights, and even attempting to reach beyond certain distances. Ham frequencies and modes and power output are all subject to different license requirements. Technician and General ham licenses are not difficult to get with study, and will give you almost all the privileges that the very hard Amateur Extra license does. MURS describes frequencies for business use and does not require individual licenses. Most of the blister pack ‘business’ radios use MURS freqs. There are some other freqs and modes available (baby monitors, dakota alert, Moto 900mhz walkies, that don’t require individual licensing).  Some preppers advocate one of the more obscure frequencies and modes but you won’t be hiding when you press the transmit button, and there are ways for anyone motivated to eavesdrop.  BTW, it’s illegal to encrypt or otherwise attempt to hide the content of your communication on the ham bands, and also illegal to use them for business (with one specific exception for used ham gear) or to be compensated for your use of the bands.

Some online preppers have recommended getting marine radios and using them on land. This is a really bad idea, with very little upside.  It’s specifically prohibited by law. The Coast Guard takes a very dim view of this abuse, and they are set up to direction find transmissions. Just don’t do it.

Every month, the magazine of the ARRL (QST) lists enforcement actions the FCC has taken. The vast majority are for CB violations, followed by willful interference violations on ham bands. Hams will report you if you are on their bands without a license. Just don’t do it. There are guys that LIVE to direction find you, record you, challenge you, and they will remember you if you later get a license. Given that, there are WAY more violators than there are people prosecuted. But if you do get prosecuted the fines are not small, and the FCC tacks on “respect my authority!” fees too.  Get properly licensed and get on the air to practice.  It’s no different than the recommendation to gun owners to get training and practice.  You’ll learn to use the gear you have, be able to judge its usefulness and appropriateness for YOU, and to make changes if needed.

One of the biggest frustrations for new hams is getting a definitive gear recommendation. Experienced hams will almost always say “it depends” and “what do you want to do?” For preppers, it’s a lot easier. Start with the baofengs. Add a dual band mobile (in the car or on your desk) from the big 3. A good basic walkie or HT as hams say, is the Yaesu FT-60r.  Most will consider that an upgrade from the baofeng HTs.  Stay away from re-purposed public safety commercial radios until you’ve gotten farther along in the hobby, or unless someone local can set it up for you (and keep it up.)

In general, look for radios that can be programmed by pc with a cable. That will be WAY easier than doing it by hand. That said, I’ve got about 4 freqs programmed in my HT. How many more can you keep track of?

I hope that helped some, I’ve written 10’s of thousands of words on the subject here and in other blog comments.

n

 

(opinions are my own, correct me if I’m wrong, ask any questions you might have.)

Thursday, 23 March 2017

09:44 – It was 28.5F (-2C) when I took Colin out around 0715 this morning, with a slight breeze. Barbara got all of her errands run yesterday. She has a haircut appointment at 1030 this morning and will make a Costco run on her way home. She should be back by mid-afternoon.

Email the other day from another newbie prepper. I’ll call her Tiffany, but this time that really is her name. She and her husband are both in their early thirties. Both have decent jobs with reasonable job security. They have no children, and aren’t planning to have any. They live in a rural-ish area about 25 miles from the nearest town, which is about 30,000 population. She’s been reading my blog regularly for the last two or three years. They’ve been kind-of prepping for the last couple of years, but Tiffany calls their efforts hit-or-miss. When they think about it, they pick up an extra dozen cans of this or that at the Super Walmart, but she says they have only maybe a three-week supply of food. She wanted to know if I could send her a list to work from. She’d like to start by getting ready for a 3-month emergency.

They already have a good start on a lot of stuff. They have a woodstove upstairs that they could cook on if need be, as well as a fireplace with a woodburning insert downstairs. Their normal water supply is gravity-fed from a springhouse, with a 12V pump to pressurize their tank. That ordinarily runs from house current, but could easily be changed over to 12V battery power. Even without the pump, the gravity feed produces enough water pressure to provide water at the faucets and toilets. They have a decent first-aid kit. Her husband hunts and both of them shoot clays, so they have two shotguns as well as a bolt-action rifle and have accumulated a reasonable amount of ammunition suitable for self-defense. They have three dogs, which Tiffany says let them know any time anyone approaches the property. They have battery-operated LED lanterns and FLASHLIGHTS as well as several old oil lamps, with a good supply of batteries and lamp oil. The only thing she thinks they’re really short on is food.

So she asked me to assume that I was starting with no food and wanted to buy enough quickly to last two people for three months. What, specifically, would I buy? She says they’ll eventually expand that to six months and probably a year, but for now she just wants to make a serious start. So I replied as follows:

Hi, Tiffany

All of what I write below assumes that you’re feeding only two people for three months. I don’t know how big your dogs are, but I’d also store the same foods for them and in the same quantities you’d store for a person of equal weight. For example, if your three dogs weigh 50 pounds each, that’s the equivalent of one 150-pound adult.

Incidentally, the quantities listed below are going to sound huge, but they’re actually just adequate. Don’t forget, you want this food to hold you without outside resupply. You won’t be able to make your weekly supermarket run, nor will you be eating out, ordering takeout, and so on.

The main consideration is calories. Figure on at least 2,200 to 2,400 calories/day for yourself and 2,800 to 3,000 calories per day for your husband plus whatever you need for your dogs. Carbohydrates provide about 1,700 calories per dry pound, as do proteins (meat, beans, etc.). Oils and fats provide about 3,800 calories per pound. You need an adequate mix of all three for good nutrition. In addition to raw calories, all of the carbohydrates except sugars also contain significant amounts of protein—typically 10% to 15% by weight—but grain proteins are not “complete”. Supplementing grain proteins with meat and/or bean protein makes it complete.

I’d recommend that you start by buying adequate quantities of both bulk staples and canned goods, as well as some supplementary dehydrated items to cover you for three months. Try to get the following categories covered equally:

Carbohydrates – 180 to 210 pounds per adult or dog equivalent

You can mix this up however you like, but I’d recommend the following as a starting point. Adjust as you see fit, as long as the total is 180 to 210 pounds. All of these foods provide about 1,700 calories/pound.

60 to 75 pounds of pasta (macaroni, spaghetti, egg noodles, etc.)
48 to 60 pounds of white flour (for bread, biscuits, pancakes, thickening sauces, etc.)
30 to 50 pounds of rice (white rice stores forever; brown rice for five years or more)
30 to 60 pounds of white sugar (or honey, pancake syrup, etc.)
6 to 10 pounds of oats
6 to 10 pounds of corn meal

Adjust according to your own preferences. If you don’t plan to bake (which is a mistake) or make pancakes/waffles, you can get by with a lot less flour, but make up for it by weight with another carbohydrate. If you hate rice, don’t buy any, but again make up the weight with another carb.

Protein supplement – at least 15 pounds per adult or dog equivalent

Although all of the carbohydrates listed except sugar contain significant amounts of protein, it’s not complete protein because it lacks essential amino acids. You can get these missing amino acids by adding beans, legumes, eggs, meats, etc. to your storage. Beans are the cheapest way to do this, but most people prefer meat, eggs, etc. Note that canned wet beans should be counted as one fifth their weight in dry beans, so while 5 pounds of dry beans suffices for a month, if you’re buying, say, Bush’s Best Baked beans, you’d need 25 one-pound cans of them to equal the five pounds of dry beans.

We keep about 100 pounds of dry beans and lentils in stock for the 4.5 of us, but most of our supplementary protein is in the form of canned meats. Cans of chicken from Costco or Sam’s, Keystone Meats canned ground beef, beef chunks, pork, chicken, turkey, etc. You can order Keystone canned meats from Walmart on-line. A 28-ounce can of most of them costs just over $6. We order them in cases of 12 at a time. They also have 14.5-ounce cans, although they cost more per ounce. They might be better for you if you’re planning to feed only the two of you. Also consider the 12- to 16-ounce cans of meats like chicken, roast beef, ham, tuna, salmon, Spam, and so on. The actual shelf life of canned meats, like other canned foods, is indefinite assuming the can is undamaged. Keystone, for example, rates their canned meats at a 5-year shelf life, but in fact they will remain safe and nutritious for much, much longer.

Although the five pounds per person-month is a minimum, you’ll probably want more. For a three-month supply for the two of you, I’d buy 90 cans of meat, plus extra for your dogs. One can per day to split between/among you. That’s going to be the most expensive part of your LTS food purchases, at maybe $200 to $300 for 90 cans. If that’s more than you want to spend at one time, you can substitute dry beans pound for pound for some or all of the meats, at roughly $1 per pound.

Oils and Fats – at least 3 quarts/liters or 6 pounds per adult or dog equivalent

Oils and fats do gradually become rancid, but stored in their original bottles and kept in a cool, dark place they last for years without noticeably rancidity. Saturated fats (lard, shortening, etc.) store better than than unsaturated fats. Poly-unsaturated fats have the shortest shelf life.

We store a combination of liquid vegetable and olive oils, lard, shortening, etc. We also keep anything up to 40 pounds of butter in our large freezer. In a long term power outage, we’d clarify that by heating it and separating the butter solids from the clear butter, and then can the clear butter to preserve it.

For the two of you for three months, covering this requirement can be as simple as buying two 3-liter bottles of olive oil, lard, shortening, or another oil of your choice, or a mix of those. Plus whatever you need for your dogs, of course.

Dairy – at least 9 pounds dry milk per adult or dog equivalent

This amount is all for cooking/baking. If you want to drink milk, have it on cereal, etc. you’ll need more. You can buy non-fat dry milk already in #10 cans, or buy it in cardboard boxes from Walmart and repack it yourself. (There’s also a full-fat dry milk called Nestle Nido that’s sold in #10 cans and has a real-world shelf-life of at least a couple of years and probably much longer.) For instant non-fat dry milk, the cheapest option is the LDS on-line store, which sells a case of twelve 28-ounce bags (21 pounds total) for $46.50, or just over $2/pound. There’s a $3 flat shipping charge no matter how many cases you order. If I were you, I’d order a couple of cases. Just note that although LDS dry milk is fine for cooking and baking, it really sucks for drinking.

Another alternative is evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk, although it’s mostly water so you’ll need to buy about five times as much by weight. For drinking or use on cereal, consider a milk substitute like Augason Farms Morning Moos (dumb name, but by all reports it’s the closest thing to real fresh milk). It comes in #10 cans and has a very long shelf life. It’s mostly non-fat dry milk, but with sugar and other ingredients that make the reconstituted stuff taste close to real milk.

Salt – at least 2 pounds per adult or dog equivalent

Buy iodized salt. Sam’s sells 4-pound boxes of Morton’s iodized table salt for about a buck each, so a three-month supply for one person is about $0.50 worth. The shelf life is infinite, so buy a lot. Repackage it in 1- or 2-liter soft drink bottles, canning jars, Mylar bags, or other moisture-proof containers. (You don’t need an oxygen absorber.) After extended storage, the salt may take on a very pale yellow cast. That’s normal. It’s caused by the potassium iodide used to iodize the salt oxidizing to elemental iodine. That’s harmless, does not affect the taste, and still provides the daily requirement of iodine (which the soil around here is very poor in).

Meal Extenders/Cooking Essentials (varies according to your situation)

You can survive on just beans, rice, oil, and salt, but the meals you can make with just those foods will get old after about one day. Even if you’ve stored a lot of canned meat, you should also store other items that add flavor and variety to your stored bulk foods, such as:

Herbs and spices – buy large Costco/Sam’s jars of the half-dozen or dozen herbs/spices (sperbs?) you like best. In sealed glass/plastic jars they maintain full flavor for many years. Your preferences probably differ from ours, but at a minimum I’d suggest: onion and garlic flakes/powder, cinnamon, thyme, parsley, dill, mustard, rosemary, pepper, cumin, etc.

Sauces and condiments – store your favorite sauces/condiments (or the ingredients to make them). We store spaghetti sauce, alfredo sauce, canned soups, ketchup, mustard, pancake syrup, etc. in quantity. Rather than storing barbecue sauce, we store bulk amounts of the ingredients to make it up on the fly. (See https://www.ttgnet.com/journal/2017/03/04/saturday-4-march-2017/)

Which brings up another issue. You need to plan your meals and figure out how much of what you’ll need to make them. For example, we intend to have a dinner based on that barbecue sauce once every three weeks, or 17 times a year. The recipe makes up a quart or so of sauce, which with a 28-ounce can of Keystone beef chunks or pork or chicken is enough to feed the 4.5 of us. (The buns are just part of our flour storage.) To know how much we’ll need to store to do that for a year in the absence of outside resupply, we just multiply everything by 17.

17 – 28-ounce cans of Keystone canned beef, pork, or chicken
25.5 cups (11+ pounds) of white sugar
25.5 Tbsp (12.75 fluid ounces) of molasses
25.5 cups (204 fluid ounces) of ketchup
8.5 cups (68 fluid ounces) of prepared mustard
8.5 cups (68 fluid ounces) of vinegar
8.5 cups (68 fluid ounces) of water
17 Tbsp (8.5 fluid ounces) of Worcestershire sauce
17 Tbsp (8.5 fluid ounces) of liquid smoke hickory sauce
34 tsp (77 grams or 2.7 ounces) of paprika
34 tsp (194 grams or 6.8 ounces) of salt
25.5 tsp (59 grams or 2.1 ounces) of black pepper

Cooking/Baking Essentials – varies according to your preferences

You’ll almost certainly want to bake bread, biscuits, etc., so keep at least a couple pounds of instant yeast (we use SAF). On the shelf, it’s good for at least a year. In the freezer, indefinitely. You’ll also want baking soda, baking powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, vinegar, lemon juice, vanilla extract—all of which keep indefinitely in their original sealed containers—and possibly things like chocolate chips, raisins and other dried fruits, jams and jellies, etc.

Multi-vitamin tablets/capsules – one per person/day

Contrary to popular opinion, fruits and vegetables aren’t necessary for a nutritious, balanced diet. Still, most people will want to keep a good supply of them. As usual for canned goods, canned fruits and vegetables last a long, long time. We buy cases of a dozen cans each at Costco or Sam’s of corn, green beans, peas, tomatoes, mixed fruit, pineapples, oranges, etc. (Note that pop-top aluminum cans are problematic. Where a traditional steel can will keep foods good indefinitely, the pop-top cans don’t seem to do as good a job. I recommend you stick to traditional cans, and of course that you have at least two manual can openers.)

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Thursday, 9 March 2017

09:14 – It was 39F (4C) when when I took Colin out around 0700 this morning, but it’s now warmed up to 57F (14C). Barbara and I are working all day at home on science kit stuff today.

When Lori delivered the mail and picked up a shipment yesterday morning, I asked her what she thought about the new TrumpCare proposal, which basically amounts to “if you like your ObamaCare you can keep your ObamaCare.” She thought I was kidding. When she realized Trump really didn’t intend to get rid of ObamaCare, she said that was the last straw and things were likely to get very bad very quickly. I agreed with her, of course, and asked how she was doing on prepping in general and food storage in particular.

She said she’d repackaged pasta, rice, etc. in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, but that she had nowhere near enough stored. Of course, as she said, she also has many tons of beef on the hoof, “if I can hold onto it”. We talked in some detail about what she should do next, and I later sent her the following email to reiterate and expand upon some of what we talked about.

Hi, Lori

I know I ran a lot by you this morning, so I figured I’d summarize it in writing. Here’s what I’d recommend you buy, assuming you intend to feed two adults. This doesn’t include anything for your dogs. I store the same stuff for Colin as for us, figuring him at 70 pounds to be half an adult.

I don’t know what your long-term food storage totals are currently, but if you’re starting without much I’d suggest you target a one-month supply to start. Expand that to three months’ worth, then six, and eventually 12 or more.

Water – At least one gallon per person/day (shoot for 3 gallons/person/day)

You have a well, which is great as long as you have power, and a year-round spring, which is excellent. Still, water is critical, so it makes sense to store at least some water to give you a buffer. I’d recommend you start by storing enough bottled water to keep yourself, Casey, and your dogs for at least one week, at 3 gallons per day. That totals 42 gallons for you and Casey, plus whatever you need for the dogs. We buy Costco bottle water in gallons at $3.60/six-pack, so enough for you and Casey for week would cost about $25. And in a real emergency, you could stretch that to maybe two or three weeks.

Assuming your spring water is not contaminated by agricultural chemicals, you can count that as your second backup supply (assuming you can’t pump well water). Unless you’re completely sure that the spring water is not biologically-contaminated, you’ll need the means to micro-filter it (as with that Sawyer mini filter you have) or chemically treat it. Many sources recommend using unscented chlorine bleach to disinfect your drinking water, and it’s a good idea to keep an unopened gallon on hand for that. However, the problem with liquid chlorine bleach is that it’s inherently unstable. It breaks down even in a new, sealed bottle. After a year it’s noticeably weaker, and before you know it the concentration is down to nothing. A better alternative is to keep a bottle of dry calcium hypochlorite (pool shock or similar) on hand. If you keep it sealed and dry, it lasts indefinitely.

Carbohydrates – 30 pounds/person/month (360 pounds/person/year)

You can mix this up however you like, but I’d recommend the following per person-month as a starting point. Adjust as you see fit, as long as the total is about 30 pounds/person/month. All of these foods provide about 1,700 calories/pound.

10 pounds of pasta (macaroni, spaghetti, egg noodles, etc.)
8 pounds of white flour (for bread, biscuits, pancakes, etc.)
5 pounds of rice (white rice stores better, but brown rice is good for five years or more)
5 pounds of white sugar (or honey, pancake syrup, etc.)
1 pound of oats
1 pound of corn meal

Protein supplement – at least 5 pounds/person/month (60 pounds/person/year)

Although all of the carbohydrates listed except sugar contain significant amounts of protein, it’s not complete protein because it lacks essential amino acids. You can get these missing amino acids by adding beans, legumes, eggs, meats, etc. to your storage. Beans are the cheapest way to do this, but most people prefer meat, eggs, etc. Note that canned wet beans should be counted as one fifth their weight in dry beans, so while 5 pounds of dry beans suffices for a month, if you’re buying, say, Bush’s Best Baked beans, you’d need 25 one-pound cans of them to equal the five pounds of dry beans.

We keep about 100 pounds of dry beans and lentils in stock for the 4.5 of us, but most of our supplementary protein is in the form of canned meats. Cans of chicken from Costco or Sam’s, Keystone Meats canned ground beef, beef chunks, pork, chicken, turkey, etc. You can order Keystone canned meats from Walmart on-line. A 28-ounce can of most of them costs just over $6. We order them in cases of 12 at a time. They also have 14.5-ounce cans, although they cost more per ounce. They might be better for you if you’re planning to feed only the two of you. The actual shelf life of canned meats, like other canned foods, is indefinite assuming the can is undamaged. Keystone, for example, rates their canned meats at a 5-year shelf life, but in fact they will remain safe and nutritious for much, much longer.

Oils and Fats – at least 1 quart/liter or 2 pounds/person/month (12 quarts/liters/person/year)

Oils and fats do gradually become rancid, but stored in their original bottles and kept in a cool, dark place they last for years without noticeably rancidity. Saturated fats (lard, shortening, etc.) store better than than unsaturated fats. Poly-unsaturated fats have the shortest shelf life.

We store a combination of liquid vegetable and olive oils, lard, shortening, etc. We also keep anything up to 40 pounds of butter in our large freezer. In a long term power outage, we’d clarify that by heating it and separating the butter solids from the clear butter, and then can the clear butter to preserve it.

Dairy – at least 1.5 pounds/person/month (18 pounds/person/year) of dry milk or equivalent

This amount is all for cooking/baking. If you want to drink milk, have it on cereal, etc. you’ll need more. You can buy non-fat dry milk already in #10 cans, or buy it in cardboard boxes from Walmart and repack it yourself. (There’s also a full-fat dry milk called Nestle Nido that’s sold in #10 cans and has a real-world shelf-life of at least a couple of years and probably much longer.) Another alternative is evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk. For drinking or use on cereal, consider a milk substitute like Augason Farms Morning Moos (dumb name, but by all reports it’s the closest thing to real fresh milk). It comes in #10 cans and has a very long shelf life. It’s mostly non-fat dry milk, but with sugar and other ingredients that make the reconstituted stuff taste close to real milk.

Salt – at least 12 ounces/person/month (9 pounds/person/year)

Buy iodized salt. Sam’s sells 4-pound boxes of Morton’s iodized table salt for about a buck each, so a one-person-year supply is about $2 worth. The shelf life is infinite, so buy a lot. Repackage it in 1- or 2-liter soft drink bottles, canning jars, Mylar bags, or other moisture-proof containers. (You don’t need an oxygen absorber.) After extended storage, the salt may take on a very pale yellow cast. That’s normal. It’s caused by the potassium iodide used to iodize the salt oxidizing to elemental iodine. That’s harmless, does not affect the taste, and still provides the daily requirement of iodine (which the soil around here is very poor in).

Meal Extenders/Cooking Essentials (varies according to your situation)

You can survive on just beans, rice, oil, and salt, but the meals you can make with just those foods will get old after about one day. You should also store items that add flavor and variety to your stored bulk foods. (I consider meat a seasoning, but that’s just me…)

Herbs and spices – buy large Costco/Sam’s jars of the half-dozen or dozen herbs/spices (sperbs?) you like best. In sealed glass/plastic jars they maintain full flavor for many years. Your preferences probably differ from ours, but at a minimum I’d suggest: onion and garlic flakes/powder, cinnamon, thyme, parsley, dill, mustard, rosemary, pepper, cumin, etc.

Sauces and condiments – store your favorite sauces/condiments (or the ingredients to make them). We store spaghetti sauce, alfredo sauce, canned soups, ketchup, mustard, pancake syrup, etc. in quantity. Rather than storing barbecue sauce, we store bulk amounts of the ingredients to make it up on the fly. (See https://www.ttgnet.com/journal/2017/03/04/saturday-4-march-2017/)

Which brings up another issue. You need to plan your meals and figure out how much of what you’ll need to make them. For example, we intend to have a dinner based on that barbecue sauce once every three weeks, or 17 times a year. The recipe makes up a quart or so of sauce, which with a 28-ounce can of Keystone beef chunks or pork or chicken is enough to feed the 4.5 of us. (The buns are just part of our flour storage.) To know how much we’ll need to store to do that for a year in the absence of outside resupply, we just multiply everything by 17.

17 – 28-ounce cans of Keystone canned beef, pork, or chicken
25.5 cups (11+ pounds) of white sugar
25.5 Tbsp (12.75 fluid ounces) of molasses
25.5 cups (204 fluid ounces) of ketchup
8.5 cups (68 fluid ounces) of prepared mustard
8.5 cups (68 fluid ounces) of vinegar
8.5 cups (68 fluid ounces) of water
17 Tbsp (8.5 fluid ounces) of Worcestershire sauce
17 Tbsp (8.5 fluid ounces) of liquid smoke hickory sauce
34 tsp (77 grams or 2.7 ounces) of paprika
34 tsp (194 grams or 6.8 ounces) of salt
25.5 tsp (59 grams or 2.1 ounces) of black pepper

Cooking/Baking Essentials – varies according to your preferences

You’ll almost certainly want to bake bread, biscuits, etc., so keep at least a couple pounds of instant yeast (we use SAF). On the shelf, it’s good for at least a year. In the freezer, indefinitely. You’ll also want baking soda, baking powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, vinegar, lemon juice, vanilla extract—all of which keep indefinitely in their original sealed containers—and possibly things like chocolate chips, raisins and other dried fruits, jams and jellies, etc.

Multi-vitamin tablets/capsules – one per person/day

Contrary to popular opinion, fruits and vegetables aren’t necessary for a nutritious, balanced diet. Still, most people will want to keep a good supply of them. As usual for canned goods, canned fruits and vegetables last a long, long time. We buy cases of a dozen cans each at Costco or Sam’s of corn, green beans, peas, tomatoes, mixed fruit, pineapples, oranges, etc. (Note that pop-top aluminum cans are problematic. Where a traditional steel can will keep foods good indefinitely, the pop-top cans don’t seem to do as good a job. I recommend you stick to traditional cans, and of course that you have at least two manual can openers.)

Give me a call if you need to talk about any of this.

 

* * * * *