Various preparedness tips --- LONG.greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Found this post deep in Sangers Review. Sorry if posted before, but I for one have never seen it and it does contain several fairly unique tips.
One way to insure that you have at least intermittent electric power is to invest in an AC generator. But these require fuel, and a lot of it for an extended period of time. Moreover, small gasoline generators are not designed to be run for long periods of time -- they typically operate at 3600 RPM and wear out rapidly at this speed. Some (usually those in Motor Homes and other RV's), operate at only 1800 RPM and will last a lot longer. One secret to generator life is to never run one for more than a brief (a minute or two) warmup period with less than a 2/3 to 3/4 amperage load. A light "load" tends to glaze the engine's cylinder walls and will make the unit inoperable after 100-200 hrs. Another requirement for longevity is frequent (50 hours) oil/filter changes. Spark plug fouling is a frequent problem for the 4KW Onan I have in my Winnebago, so I've stocked a half-dozen sets of new plugs (Champion RS14YC @ .025" gap) for it and several for the smaller Coleman 1.4 Kw generator I also have as minimal backup.
A 4KW generator is almost standard fare for an RV these days, but it's overkill for survival. A 2-2.5 KW (2000-2500 watts) is certainly adequate and uses much less likely-scarce gasoline. A 4KW Onan uses 3/4 gallon per hour. Even with a full 40-gal gas tank, you'd have full-time electricity for only 48 hours or so; 1 hour per day would last only 6-7 weeks. Even a smaller (1200-1500 watts) generator using less than a quart per hour would only run for a total of 200 hours -- that's only six months at 1 hour per day. Thus, you likely need to store/carry additional gasoline ... You'll need about 100 gallons of Stabilized gasoline per year for a 1000-2000 watt generator running 1 hour total per day. Incidentally, with a motor home that has an auxillary generator, charging the deep-cycle coach battery is best accomplished by running the main vehicle engine at a high idle (1000 RPM or so), not the big generator which charges at a much lower amperage rate and thus uses more fuel because it has to run longer to achieve full battery charge..
A tip on cold-weather generator usage: most units have a vent tube from the oil reservior (crankcase) to the carburator that tends to collect condensation which then freezes during prolonged operation below 32 degrees F. This vent blockage will cause engine oil to be discharged in various places. It's not only messy, but can be dangerous as well. Sometimes, partially enclosing the generator will cause it's own operating heat to prevent this condition, but it didn't with my enclosed 4KW Onan. The next time I have to use it for a prolonged period in freezing weather, I plan to take a hair-dryer to the carb every few hours, making sure I don't exceed the generator output wattage (most hair-dryers consume 750-1500 watts, low/high). An alternative is to re-route the generator engine exhaust such that it exits near the carburator ... another (so I'm told) is to merely remove the carb air filter in freezing temperatures.
Another caution is to make sure your generator will actually start your appliances. Any motor-driven electrical appliance will have a plate/sticker on or near the motor giving it's operating data, typically 60 Hz, 115 volts AC current and some amperage figure. But what it typically does not tell you is the wattage required (watts = volts x amps) to actually start the motor. This current can be up to three times the running current, especially in older appliances! I found this out the hard way in the recent Ice Storm ... though the manufacturer's data on both the kitchen fridge/freezer and the water pump suggested 15 amps (115v x 15 amps = 1725 watts) would run either of them (one at a time), the current output of my small Coleman (1750 watts peak) was insufficient to start the electric motors. Thus, it is absolutely necessary to consider these startup loads when buying a backup generator!
It might be smarter to choose a diesel-powered generator, because the fuel stores for years ... Onan makes 'em with a Cummings diesel engine which will last much longer than gasoline/LP models. But they're expensive ($2000+)!
Generator gasoline can be stored for only a very few months (3-6) before it starts to break down and finally turns to a sticky, brown goo that smells like shellac! The way to avoid this is to treat your gasoline supply with a product called Stabil (auto parts store, Walmart, etc.). Once stabilized, stored gas will be good for a couple of years (but don't use Stabilized gas in Coleman-type cooking/lighting units if at all possible). Don't plan on running a generator all the time either. Even freezers and refrigerators only need electricity part-time if you keep 'em closed. For small use (i.e. lighting, etc.) get a 12-volt deep-cycle Marine/RV battery, 12v lights and a 150-250 watt DC-to-AC inverter ($40) to run very small appliances/motors (hair clippers, small fans, laptop computer, etc). The deep-cycle batteries can be recharged at 15-20 amps when you run the generator twice daily for a half-hour to run your fridge/freezer. And a chest-type freezer is strongly recommended (but you have to have a generator & fuel to run one intermittently). Stock such a freezer with fresh food you normally eat. Seal everything that's not shrink-wrapped in Saran-like Plastic Wrap and air-tight plastic freezer bags to prevent freezer burn. Better yet, shrink-wrap everything if you can. Actually, get two chest-type freezers -- one for the food you normally eat -- and the other for a bit more and the frozen foods you'd really like to have available.
Be aware that most rural water wells typically use a submersible electric pump which usually operates on 220-240 volts (but 110-120v is available). Most small generators only put out 110-120 volts. If you plan on buying a portable generator, consider getting one that delivers both voltages. These are typically larger, heavier, have higher output (wattage), are more expensive and use more fuel, so I didn't. I'm hoping that water availibility will not be that much of a problem. But purifying available water for drinking and cooking might be a challenge ...
Regarding water, you'll need some to drink, cook and bathe. Municipal water may or may not be available. Either way, don't count on it being potable (drinkable). Get a water filter & refill cartridges. Some of the best Swiss portable ones can filter dirty water from a puddle and transform it to almost spring water purity (but cost $250). An inexpensive way to purify water (other than boiling it for 5+ minutes which takes scarce energy, but is the best method) is to add 10 drops per gallon (15 drops if cloudy) of 5% hypochlorite (plain ol' Clorox) to it at 75 degrees F. and wait 30-60 minutes. Swimming pool chlorine is often 10% hypochlorite, so use half as much per gallon. Whichever, make sure it's fresh. This will kill most bacteria, protozoa and viruses, but you still may have to filter out sediment. Chemical pollutants are only filtered through a short-lived charcoal filter. Each person ought to have at least 2 quarts available per day, just to drink (with little activity). Get a canteen for each person, and a belt to hang it on. You can take a "shipboard shower" (soap up, then rinse off from a bucket/ladle) with less than 2 gallons of water.
Many frozen foods will keep well for over a year. Some exceptions are hamburger patties, cut corn, and most pork items. These tend to lose a fair amount of their flavor withing 6-8 months. Frozen peas, green/yellow beans, steak, hot dogs, boiled ham slices, butter/margarine, bacon, chicken, etc. seem to be OK for up to 15 months (in my experience). If you're a meat eater, then either get boneless meat or cut the bones out -- no sense in taking up freezer space with inedibles ...
Newer freezers will run even in freezing weather. They should be set to keep food at zero degrees F. or below. An unopened chest-type freezer will stay sufficiently cold at 75 degrees ambient temperature for 10-12 hours. That's why running your freezer only twice every 24-hours with a generator for less than an hour should be enough to preserve the food sufficiently (0 degrees F.) and recharge 12v deep-cycle batteries from the generator's DC outlet (make sure it has one) all on about a quart or so of fuel daily.
Did you know you can freeze eggs? But only beaten ones (as in scrambled eggs). Crack a dozen eggs in a bowl, beat well with whisk, fork or electric/manual beater, then pour into ice-cube trays and freeze overnight. Each cube is about half an egg. Pop the egg-cubes out of the trays and seal in pint/quart-sized Ziplock freezer bags and store in a freezer for up to 15 months. Thaw for scrambled eggs or other cooking (they look a little funky when thawed, but cook up just like fresh ones). Even fresh eggs will keep for a week without refrigeration. You can also pickle eggs by hard-boiling for 10 minutes and putting them in a 75-90% vinegar solution to keep for weeks at room temperature ... give 'em 3-4 days to soak up the vinegar before eating ...
Canned foods (except high-acid foods - i.e. high tomato content) will usually last for 2-3 years with ease, and some even longer. The problem with canned goods is the water content. Not only are they heavy, but they will freeze if stored in too cold a place. Like plain water, most canned food will freeze in an hour or three below 32 degrees F. (0 degrees Celcius). If stored canned food [never frozen] develops a "dome" on the top or bottom of the can, discard it, as harmful bacteria are producing gases sufficient to deform the metal can and the contents are very dangerous to consume.
One of the better and least expensive canned foods to store is tuna, either the "light" or the more expensive, higher-priced albacore. With a little lemon juice on the latter, you have a high-protein, lite meal all by itself. You can store unsweetened lemon-flavored Koolaid ... mix a little of the powder with water (no sugar) for a "lemon-juice" substitute. But I like my tuna in a sandwich, with mayonnaise (and lettuce, but that doesn't store at all -- but maybe you could grow some in a biosphere). A quart of mayo will last two people about six weeks if you have refrigeration [a Coleman/Igloo 12v portable keeps food at 40 degrees less than the temperature outside the cooler and draws only about 5 amps from a car battery or other 12v system].
Small cans of chicken (i.e. Swanson or the like), though relatively expensive ($2 per 5oz. can), will also keep for 3-5 years if not allowed to freeze. You can eat this stuff plain, with mayo in a sandwich or extend it by adding it to boiled rice with several sprinkles of freeze-dried vegetable mix or whatever -- some LaChoy soy sauce gives it a distinct oriental flavor. Long-grain or medium-grain (the "clumpy" kind) rice is another good thing to have -- like some 25 lb. bags of it. Not only is it very inexpensive, but it also stores for years, right out of the grocery store. If your kids won't eat it plain, sprinkle some brown sugar on it -- yummy!
[Get some intact cardboard boxes from a liquor store, pack your survival food items in them, tape them closed, label the contents and wrap/seal in clear plastic kitchen garbage bags to help keep 'em dry. Don't let them freeze and don't forget manual can openers!]
Corn meal and baking powder are advisable additions, as are dried onions. Oatmeal keeps for many months and is good to have a lot of. The 1/2 lb. size of [brick] Velveeta cheese lasts for months beyond its expiration date, and even longer if refrigerated. Tang keeps forever, and is a good OJ substitute. You can make excellent tomato juice from 3/4 quart of water, 1 tsp. salt and a 4oz. can of store-brand (pure tomatoes, no seasoning added) tomato paste (read the Campbell's juice can - it says "made from concentrate"). With a little hot sauce, ice and some vodka, bingo -- a Bloody Mary! Individually-sealed [crunchy] granola bars keep well, as do banana chips, raisins and dates. Another couple of items that keep a long time are pasta (spaghetti, macaroni, shells, etc.) and un-popped popcorn. Watch out for mice in your pantry though -- they love this stuff! Get some traps/poisoned bait, but watch the kids/pets.
Canned beef, often from Argentina, either as "corned beef" or (Libby's) roast beef will also keep for years. I've eaten some of the Libby's brand that I've had for 5 years, and it was still fine! It comes in a gravy that you might want to extend with a beef bullion cube, 2-3 oz of water and some flour/corn starch to thicken it a bit. Get some chicken boullion cubes too ... boullion makes a nice (though salty) hot drink, and a needed addition to foods you might want to "extend" for several people. A can of Campbell's Beef/Vegetable Beef soup, a cup of freeze-dried diced potatoes (or 1/3 package of grocery-store scalloped potatoes without the seasoning packet), a can of cut-up Libby's roast beef, a couple of beef boullion cubes, a quart or so of water, two tablespoons (Tbsp) of corn starch or flour and some dried veggies stewed together for 1/2 hour on low heat and served with fresh-baked bread makes a robust stew-meal which can feed half a dozen people or more ... be creative in your survival culinary efforts ...
Peanut butter is another great item to have in quantity. It has a lot of fat, but you're likely to need that. Freezing doesn't seem to hurt it either, as there's little (if any) water in it. Dry-roasted peanuts, salted or not, are also nourishing; they tolerate freezing and keep a long time. But jams & jellies don't tolerate accidental freezing well. I've had some grape jelly for over 5 years in the fridge ('cuz nobody here likes it) that's still good.
Another of the better survival foods readily available in almost any US chain grocery store is the Nissin "Cup-of-Noodles" item. They come sealed in their own styrofoam container (like a big coffee cup) and have noodles, freeze-dried meat & veggies. Though a bit bulky, they are very light in weight. Just add boiling water, wait 3 minutes and eat right out of the provided cup. These make good "sharing" meals.
Commercial dehydrated or freeze-dried food is another way to go ... I have some things (diced/sliced potatoes, bacon-flavored Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP - like Bacos), etc. These things last for years (like 10+), but I wouldn't want to have a steady diet of 'em, even with the broad variety of such things. An order from western suppliers (none on the US east coast I can find) takes 3-6 weeks or longer to get sometimes. There's a link to a reliable supplier in the LINK MENU. However, you can often get some of the same things faster and cheaper (but not nitrogen-packed for long shelf-life) at a local health-food store. You can also get sprout seeds there -- an empty Mayo jar with a cloth top and a bit of light can provide some fresh alfalfa, bean or other sprouts for fresh veggies in a few days ... ya just hafta rinse 'em daily.
If you like potatoes, you can get the grocery-store packages of instant potato flakes for mashed or the small boxes of the "scalloped" or other baking-mix kind. The latter come with an enclosed package of seasonings for baking, but if you save the seasoning packet for some other dish and just boil the dried potatoes for a half-hour or less in a quart or so of clean water, you can have the same as "boiled potatoes" for your meal (save potato water for use in bread-making - it has some natural yeast). Leftover potatoes can be pan-fried in 1 oz. or less of left-over bacon fat (or veggie oil) to make 'em like you get in a restaurant "country breakfast".
One of the most basic staples is bread. It's relatively easy to make, but you need the means to do so. Many cookbook recipes call for milk. Don't use it (even dried milk), 'cuz it often comes out like a brick. What you need is bread flour (about 3/4 lb. for each loaf). Bread flour makes a much lighter loaf -- not quite the "kleenex" of standard-fare-grocery-store bread, but not the heavy, sour-dough type that often results from using regular flour (and milk). You also need solid vegetable oil (Crisco), sugar, salt, water and, most importantly, yeast. Now, dried yeast doesn't last very long. When the package date is reached, it's dead (unless you refrigerate it -- it keeps well over a year that way). Five-pound bags of bread flour (makes 6 loaves) just fit into a gallon-size Ziplock-style freezer bag and will keep for years in almost any temperature. You can learn to make "sourdough yeast", but that's tricky ... but probably a necessity though. Many cookbooks have a workable recipe for sourdough ... there's a good basic recipe for both bread and sourdough on this site ... check the LINK MENU if your browser is Frames-capable, otherwise return to the links on the main page ...
But you need something to bake bread loaves (of whatever shape) in. A 300-350 degree oven is best, but a covered metal pot with a wire rack in it over a fire will also work via trial-and-error ... get an oven thermometer -- and a spare. Walmart has 'em cheap, as well as the refrigerator kind at $2 each -- get several of the latter to use in your future survival garden or for identifying cold/hot spots in your survival shelter.
As for heating, a wood stove is probably best if you live in/near woods. If you have one, great -- get lots of wood for it. I heat my house with a low-sulpher (K1) kerosene-burning Monitor heater ($400 annual fuel cost in extreme northern NY to heat 1400 sq-feet). It's excellent, but requires constant pure sine-wave electricity to operate! For my Survival Vehicle (the Winnebago), I don't rely on the LP furnace as it uses way too much propane. Instead, the main emergency heat is a (pair of) 10K BTU unvented kerosene heater(s) (to -30F.) for which I've rigged sufficient exhaust fan capability as to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning (I also have an alarm-detector of same). If this type of heater is run constantly, the wick builds up carbon deposits at its top. The cure is to let the heater run out of fuel about once per week to burn this carbon off. It smells, even worse than when the heater is shut off normally, but is necessary to prolong the life of the wick. Get spare wicks, too, just in case, though they usually last for hundreds of hours if "cleaned" periodically ...
I've also modified the exhaust (one-inch steel pipe, 45-degree elbows, coupling and hi-temp silicon sealer) on my 1400-watt Coleman portable backup generator to exit through the wall. Running this baby inside the Winnie can produce 5000-7000 BTUs! It's noisy, but tolerable for a half-hour+ twice per day to run the freezer and recharge the coach deep-cycle battery. This means you can run a generator inside your home/shelter if you vent the exhaust to the outside! Be careful not to restrict the exhaust flow with too many bends in the exhaust piping and that you have sufficient oxygen available for engine combustion (by slightly opening a window near it). Put such a small generator on a table or stable platform such that you can run the modified exhaust pipe through a 1" hole in 2" rigid insulation cut to fit tightly in the opening in a double-hung or similar window (remember, the exhaust pipe gets hot!)
Another heating alternative for a small house is an old, (1940-50s) vented "pot burner" that burns kerosene. They're not made anymore, due to EPA condemnation as "unsafe" (for idiots). They're fine for heating if there's no electricity, if you remember to not throw a lighted match in the burner with an excess of fuel there (chimney fires) ... a handy CO2 extinguisher snuffs it out in seconds ... but ya gotta vent these things into a proper chimney/stove-pipe. You might pick one up at a NE garage/yard sale.
What I've done recently is to buy a small wood stove for the house. It's an Ashley NCA1 model that's only 28" wide, 18" deep and 25" high with a big glass in the door for viewing the fire ... heat output is about 23,000 BTUs/hour, maximum. It also has a two-level flat top for warming/cooking food, boiling water, etc. In a well-insulated house, with a 12v-powered circulating fan behind and above it, it will effectively heat up to 1600 square feet at -20F. outside. The only drawback I can see is that it weighs 240 lbs, thus it's a relatively permanent fixture! It was $400, new.
For lots of emergency heat, you can even get a "barrel stove kit" ($50) with which you can rather easily make a useful, high-output wood stove from a common 55-gallon steel barrel (the kind with two bung-holes on top), a hacksaw, screwdriver, furnace cement, some 6" stove pipe and sand/fire brick/grate to lay the fire on. That's for heating larger areas -- likely for other people, I suspect. Ya gotta have some stuff to share with others ...
Just make sure you install stovepipe with the "crimped" end pointing toward the stove, else the "creosote-like" goo will drip down all over the outside of your stovepipe when you burn wood. The harder the wood, the less of this flammable stuff gets built up inside the pipe/flue. It needs to be cleaned out periodically (annually, at the very least), else you have chimney fires ... also have at least 24" clearance between the stove and any combustible materials.
Use hardwoods (except for small kindling). These include Hickory, Maple, Beech, Oak (white & red), yellow Birch, Elm, Cherry, Ash, Aspen and Basswood in descending order of BTU output [per the Ashley Stove Co]. Wood must be "seasoned" (dried) for at least 6 months to the point where it appears somewhat withered and the ends appear "cracked". Burning unseasoned wood results in a smoldering, smoky fire and flue temperatures that are cool enough to cause a more rapid accumulation of hazardous creosote.
Matches are a must have -- the "strike anywhere" kind. Get several boxes ... they're cheap now, and may be a valuable barter item (as are .22 caliber shells, fishhooks, and of course, small gold coins). Toilet paper is another absolute necessity, as are a couple of manual can openers, coffee/tea, sugar and salt! Keep matches (and other things affected by moisture) in sealed, freezer-type Ziplock-type baggies.
Flashlights are OK, but better yet are the "headlites" -- ones that have an elastic band you put around your head so you wear the light on your forehead -- which allows the use of both hands and the light points to where you turn your head. Get the waterproof one(s) from Walmart, etc. They usually require 4 AA batteries which last a fair amount of time. Get lotsa batteries and some spare bulbs. Radio Shack (and probably others) now sell the new nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries in AAA, AA, C, D and 9-volt sizes. These are supposed to last twice as long as the old nickel-cadmium "ni-cads" (Ni-Cd) without the "memory" problem of the latter where, if you fail to discharge a Ni-Cd fully before recharging, it fails to take a full charge and is almost useless after only a few charge/discharge cycles. The new Ni-MHs are twice the price - about $5 each. These would be useful if you have a 12v system and an inverter to use with the Ni-Cd/Ni-MH charger. You sure wouldn't want to run a gas-guzzling generator for the usual 8-hour recharge time just for these type batteries!
The relatively-new, screw-in, low-current florescent bulbs ($10-12) will work fine with a 12v battery and inverter. A 20-24 watt one will equal a regular 75-watt bulb in light output and give light for 20-30 hours from a fully-charged 12v battery (via the inverter). You also can adapt a bicycle to turn an automotive alternator to recharge 12v auto/marine/RV batteries ...
Candles work, marginally; they blow out easily, are a fire hazard, and you have to have something to stick 'em in to stay upright. Coleman-type dual-fuel lanterns (and stoves) are much better, as they provide bright light and some heat (get extra mantles & "generator(s)" and use unStabilized gasoline in the dual-fueled ones). Plain ol' kerosene lanterns are also useful, but don't provide much more light than a couple of candles ... but they don't blow out if windy. They burn either "lamp oil" or K1 kerosene (best). But these all put out some carbon monoxide and a certain amount of soot.
Make sure you have some durable work gloves, heavy socks & shoes, warm clothing and a waterproof hat. It's likely you'll be spending a lot of time outdoors after the heavy rains stop (it may rain for months). A poncho or two is also highly recommended. Discount stores have the disposable (but reusable, with care) kind for $2. You 'll likely need at least calf-high waterproof boots too, and insulated innersoles. Better yet, a pair of "waders" -- chest-high, vinyl/rubber, waterproof stream-fishing apparel.
A porta-potti is another good thing to have, for nature is gonna call ... basic tools (axe, saw, file, etc. included) are another necessity, as is a shovel (folding military-type is good). Get some tarps (8'x8', 10'x20', etc.), a tent that sheds water readily (rain-fly) and something to keep it off the ground. Get some sleeping bags (6 lb. Holofil 808s in the northern latitudes are good down to zero degrees in an enclosed area -- get a knit "tuke" to keep your head warm though). Get sleeping bags that can be zipped together for more than one person, just in case there's a friendly, willing soul around to keep warm with ... :-)
Likely much better than a tent is one of the various-sized geodesic portable dome shelters for not too much more money ... they have portable greenhouses too.
There are other things to have too: sharp knives, scissors, nylon line, a compass, a shotgun & shells [slugs, buck & birdshot], aspirin, soap, eating utensils, cups, bowls/plates, scrubbing dish sponges, fishing gear, towels, razor & blades, toothpaste & brushes, medications, First Aid kit, vitamins, salt & pepper, spices, sugar, zip-lock freezer bags, aluminum foil, booze, pasta, candy, nuts, paper & pencils, a battery-powered radio, a CB, a Bible, pet food, a geiger counter ... the list can go on and on ...
But if you have much of the above, you might do quite well in almost any short-term survival situation.
For more complete listings of survival supplies to have available, see Holly's Survival Info page at Noah's Ark site.
-- Jon Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 07, 1999
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