Preparing for SHTF in a cold climate...
I decided to post this in off-topic because it's not really a tactical scenario, nor did I see a better place for it to fit in. I apologize in advance for the long post, no obligation to read it all.
I was reading a thread on this forum, and another forum, about a family that rode out Hurricane Katrina. When help is two weeks away, fuel and food are running short, and "BG's" are eyeing your supplies... not happy.
I was pondering my own emergency preparedness. Last year, I was without power for 11 days during a winter snow/wind storm. It was a nice wake-up call, but I realize things could be much worse. I'm probably well ahead of "most people", but my preparations could be much better. I started this thread to ask your opinions about what I can do, on a budget, to increase my emergency preparedness.
Here in rural Washington, there's virtually no risk of hurricane, I'm too far inland to worry about a tsunami or tidal wave situation, but we DO get earthquakes here (and we're statistically due for a big one soon), and I'm also ~60 miles away from Mt. Rainer, which is considered the 5th most likely to blow volcano on Earth. These are the plausible scenarios I'd need to prepare for, besides the reasonably normal occurrence e of winter snow/wind storms that knock out power for a while.
I live way out in the suburbs, in the foothills of the Cascade mountain range. I'm about 10 minutes driving from the nearest town, and about 1/2 mile up a steep hill from a paved road. It's a dead end road with 11 houses on it, and I'm near the end.
I have a private well for water shared with two neighbors (more on that later) and a septic system, which means that assuming the well shaft is physically intact, I have access to water. The well shaft is ~300 ft deep, powered by a 1.5hp electric pump, which pumps into a 1500 gallon storage tank before it's pumped to the three houses. The well is on my physical property.
I have a 5kw gasoline Onan generator, though I generally only store 35-40 gallons of gasoline. Need to work on that. In power outages, all I need to run are the well pump and septic pump (which each only need to be run for an hour a day to fill up the water tank and empty out the waste tank), the freezers, and some limited creature comforts. I'm good at conserving fuel. The generator is reasonably new (has less than 100 hours on it) and I'm good at maintaining/repairing small engines. I do have some spare parts, but no backup generator.
Although I mainly use gas heat, I have a good wood burning fireplace and 2-3 weeks worth of wood (probably about 1.5 cords). There's more wood on the property that could easily be accessed, but would be a bit on the wet side to burn. I could deal with that if I had to.
I have two chest-type freezers which don't require much power to run, so I'm confident that as long as I have access to a limited supply of fuel, I should be able to keep food from spoiling. Between the two freezers and my pantry, I'd estimate I have 3-4 weeks of food at any given time. I have a nice steel propane grill and several 20lb propane tanks.
My vehicles are a '99 Lexus ES300 (w/ an engine swap, lowered, on rims, etc...) that would be nearly useless in an SHTF scenario, and a '97 Ford Explorer XLT 4x4 with nice chunky tires and a tow package, but no winch. I have two chainsaws, lots of rope, some chain, etc... so I think I'd be able to manage clearing a path to a main road, clearing branches/fallen trees, etc... In the winter I try hard to never let the gas tanks go below 1/2.
My weaponry arsenal, unfortunately, isn't too impressive; a lever action Winchester 30-30 rifle, a 6" S&W .38 Spcl, two 12ga shotguns (a mossberg 500 skeet gun, and a 18" Springfield/Savage Arms Model 67E pump), and various .22s (a bolt action rifle, a Hi-Standard .22 target pistol, and a Beretta 21A). I have ~1500 rounds of .22, ~100 rounds of 30-30, ~250 rounds of .38, and ~500 rounds of 12 ga target loads, ~50 rounds of .00 buck. I know more ammo stocks are in order. I'm going to be buying a dedicated CCW pistol soon, and will keep a nice stock of ammo for it.
Fuel. Between the generator, chainsaws, and Explorer, I'd chew through my small gas reserve quickly in a SHTF scenario, and refueling could be days away. I don't want to go through the paperwork (required permits) and effort of acquiring a large gasoline storage tank. This seems to leave me with storing a large number of 5 gallon cans. Gasoline doesn't store so well, and I should try to cycle through the gas every 6 months or so... right?
The only other good option I see is to convert the generator to propane and get a propane tank. This doesn't help the vehicle(s) much. Any ideas here?
Water - the well is excellent as long as the shaft is physically stable, since I can power it via the generator, however, a large earthquake would probably render the 300 foot 1.5" diameter shaft FUBAR'ed. As I mentioned, the well pumps into a 1500 gallon storage tank - it trips the pump to refill it when it gets down to half full, so worst case scenario, if the earthquake hit at the bottom of a cycle, I'd have 750 gallons of water there, plus my 100gal water heater and two 50gal barrels of rain water (toilet flushing water). How long do you think this supply would last two or three people, if well-rationed?
I'll be blunt; I'm not on good terms with the neighbors I share this well with. I have a restraining order filed against one of them as a result of repeated trespassing and threats, and I simply don't speak to the other one. This is a result of years of having to share a road and a water well, and several small legal disputes. In a serious SHTF scenario, I would (probably illegally) shut off the main output from the well so that no one could draw water through the pipes (this would also prevent loss of precious water due to pipe peaks), and access the well directly myself (since it's on my land). It's on my land, and they've never done jack $hit to help me maintain the well system, so if SHTF, it's my damned water. I'll protect it if I have to. I wouldn't take this extreme measure unless I thought it would be weeks before the well could be repaired, or fuel was unavailable, etc... but I will ensure my supply of drinkable water, period.
Security - I normally depend on a few security cameras and array of halogen flood lights on motion detectors to alert me to trespassers, since I no longer have a dog. I won't be burning precious fuel to power these during a SHTF scenario. Since the well is ~200ft from my house, if I was asleep, I might not hear someone down there. I'm considering buying a wireless alarm just for the well shed's door. Any thoughts on this?
That's about all I can think of for now. Thanks for your time and opinions!