December 3rd, 2007 08:34 PM
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!
December 3rd, 2007 09:28 PM
I'll only answer what I think are some issues you might address better or that which you've asked specifically about:
Gasoline storage: Add "Stabil" to all stored gasoline. Available at Wal-Mart, instructions thereon. Gasoline is not stable, and starts deteriorating within 30 days or so. As you know, your supply is way too small. Look at a farm supply store for larger storage options.
Water: Enough is not enough. Your share 1,500 gallons with two other families, so your analysis shows only 750 gallons if you lose the well when it's at a low point shared by three families, so your theoretical share is 250 gallons in the large storage tank. If you shut off your neighbors, where will you store it? I'd add a 1,500 to 3,000 gallon cistern on your property, and send overflow from yours on to the common tank in the meantime. I do not think you have enough water. Alarm it? Definitely.
Defense: You'll get a lot of comments here, I'll leave it alone. More ammo is always better!
Firewood: You need six to eight cords split, dried and kept dry. That's only a guess, but you get darn cold, huh? How do you keep the pump room heated, or do you? Down-hole pump?
First Aid: Do you have some extensive first aid kits with good antibiotics, etc.
Truck: Snow removal blade?
There's an extensive, almost exhaustive list here somewhere - ExSoldier has it or had it posted as a sticky...I'll try to find it...
December 3rd, 2007 09:34 PM
Wow. The water thing is a bummer, because you can bet your bottom dollar that they will come for some. Maybe the thing to do is head that one off before it becomes an issue. Find a way to cut them off now. Get the whole thing declaed legally yours or maybe the courts can order them to pay you for maintenance and electricity usage for however long you've been maintaing the thing. Do you pay for all 4 pumps (electricity) or just the big pump and your little one? If this forces them to get their own wells, then even though your not friendly, if yours breaks, then hopefully theirs works and you can make a deal if you are the one with a generator.
As for fuel you can only do what you can do. Cycling through a ton of gas cans is a big pain. I can hardly remember to rotate my 4. If you have any fruit growing and a little time you can ponder producing some ethanol. If you have a generator set to run on it you can always make more if you have access to fruit or anything sugary. Also, it'll never go bad if you run straight ethanol, with no gasoline. (also good for first aid or some might even quench their thirst with it or barter with it in SHTF). Just keep a can or 2 of starter fluid on hand. Its hard to get an ethanol engine started in the cold. Just start this year and every year make more and keep adding to the stock in drums. Like I said, won't go bad, no need to rotate.
I think water is figured at 1gal/person/day minimum. Don't forget to save your dish/bath water for flushing.
December 3rd, 2007 10:00 PM
Another idea came to me. I've seen fuel tanks with a pump in pickup truck beds. You could put one in a trailer and tow with your explorer. probably just one or two hundred gallons at most, but way easier than doing the gas can thing. Every month or two, just fill up both vehicles with it the re-fill it. Maybe put 2 in one trailer.
December 3rd, 2007 10:28 PM
December 3rd, 2007 10:49 PM
@ Rock and Glock
Thanks for the response.
The gasoline additive is an excellent idea and I'll do that ASAP. I'll try to burn what's in the cans in my vehicles so I can start with fresh gas, too.
I don't know about elsewhere, but here you have to get a permit for containers over 5 gallons. I've found that 3, 5-gallon cans fit perfectly in a large Rubbermaid tub. Since I don't like storing gasoline in the house/garage, I keep it in rubbermaid tubs, under my canoe, about 50' from the garage. Any other ideas?
First aid: Actually, the reason I didn't mention it in the post is that I have quite a stock of medical supplies, from "first aid kit" basics up to antibiotics, painkillers, splints and crutches, EPI-PEN's, etc... so I'm set to go there.
Truck: You're absolutely right, I have zero snow-plow ability. Any ideas on buying or fabricating a detachable plow for an Explorer?
Firewood: I probably underestimated. I have two piles, each about 2 ft deep x 12-14 ft long x 5-6 ft high. From past experience I know this would last me AT LEAST two weeks, probably a lot longer depending on weather conditions. There are also several dead standing trees on my property that could be converted to firewood with a day's work. I think this supply is probably sufficient but more wouldn't hurt - not sure where I'd store it, though. It's currently stacked up against two outside walls of the garage.
As to the water well situation....
It's been a problem ever since I moved in. The well is kind of old equipment, although it has a new pump and compressor recently. No one ever wants to pay to get things fixed until it's not working. Even then, they haggle over the bill (which is split evenly into thirds...). Additionally, the jackass I mentioned before lives well up the hill from me - because of this, when my water pressure is acceptable, his is very low, and when his is acceptable, mine is very high. He likes to run the system at illegally high pressures (per county code). I've taken him to court over issues like this before, and he's always paid for high-priced lawyers to steamroller me. He's rich, and I can't afford to fight him over the well. Additionally, I know for a fact he has a well shaft on his property (no pump, though) from checking county records.
Bottom of the line is, if it's just a normal winter power outage, we have no problem - the well shaft is still in tact and I can connect my generator to the well and pump water, to all three homes, although they'll never pay me for the gas I'm sure.
I'd only clamp off the main-out valve if there was an earthquake or for some other reason I was unable to obtain more water than was immediately available. The well is on my property, I do all of the maintenance on it, and in a SHTF scenario, I'm protecting my water supply.
A storage tank next to my house is an attractive although expensive option.
Excellent idea for the in-bed type tank - I'll look into the legal (permit?) status of these, and a safe way to transport it. Maybe it could just ride in the back when I need to fill it up and I wouldn't need to get a tailor for it.
Thanks for the input everyone. I appreciate the opinions.
December 4th, 2007 07:18 AM
Just to warn you, if it holds say 100 gallons, it's gonna weight about 600 lbs full.
Originally Posted by Pete Zaria
Man, I hate guys that are wrong but can afford lawyers. Perhaps the cistern is the way to go. Although you shouldn't have to, you can get a pressure regulator for your line, then BOZO can pump it up to where he wants it and you'll always have whatever pressure you set it to.
December 4th, 2007 08:14 AM
Pete....people can do a lot,but they can do very little without water....I would change the Onan over to propane and keep a 250 to 500 gallon tank on hand...you could phase that in so the cost would be minimal,shop around! keep your old gasoline carb and stuff just in case you need it later.
The rest of your stuff is build as ya go....I agree withRandG...lots of firewood...lots of firewood...and lots of firewood!
December 4th, 2007 08:43 AM
This is a pretty easy fix - it'll protect your pipes and joints too if he over pressures.
Originally Posted by Cupcake
Here's that list I promised, courtesy of Mr. ExSoldier:
Ideas on snow plows found here:
I've seen a lot of small plows mounted on four wheelers too. Pretty small set up.
December 4th, 2007 12:53 PM
once i have a house there will be two things i will buy:
a palate of MREs and a bunch of water jugs.
and if its somewhere cold- firewood
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