All too often, the world is shaken by a new flu bug or the resurgence of an old one. This article caught my eye, as it’s about a mutated version of avian flu H7N2 that was transmitted from a cat to a human, quite a rare occurrence. I also have a long enough memory to recall the Ebola panic just a couple of years ago and shaking my head at the incompetence and poor decision making by those in authority, including the CDC.
The history of Ebola, as detailed in this book, is helpful to know and understand how a deadly virus originates, mutates, and spreads.
With an eye on the future and knowing a little about how quickly certain viruses can spread, I have put into place a number of preps that would see my family through the duration of a widespread outbreak, similar to the ones described in Steve Konkoly’s The Jakarta Pandemic. I know Steve personally and the massive research he put into this book, although a novel, is spot on. Read it to learn even more strategies to keep your family safe.
So, if we can learn anything from past epidemics, we can fully expect to see many more viruses of every kind spread, to one degree or another. And, naturally, there will be even more cases of overwrought hysteria by the media and public officials. Another very concerning development where these viruses are concerned is the flood of immigrants from all parts of the earth whose health issues are unknown. Some carry highly contagious diseases, like tuberculosis, which have previously been very rare here in the U.S.
That said, imagine for just a moment that you and your family have been placed under an official quarantine lasting seven days, fourteen days, or even longer. No one goes to work, no one goes to school. You won’t be eating at restaurants, going to church, the bank, to the movies, or visiting friends. During a quarantine, you will be expected to be self-sufficient for everything except for your utilities.
How will you cope?
Preparing for something like this is a good excuse to really get going with your prepping if you’ve slacked off or are pretty new to the idea. Basic prepping for anyone begins with food and water. If you haven’t yet started storing food, here’s a list of some basic foods to begin stocking up. One simple strategy is to begin buying extras of the groceries you use more often and do that each time you go grocery shopping.
If you’re the one who’s sick and possibly very contagious, you’ll need to have on hand a couple of week’s worth of things like canned soup, freeze dried meals, and other simple “open and serve” type meals. Make sure everyone in the family knows where this food is and how to prepare it.
In addition to food, you’ll need essential non-edibles that are a part of your daily life but also a few items more specific for dealing with a quarantine and pandemic. Those would include soap, laundry detergent, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bleach, black trash bags (the really heavy duty contractors bags), rubber gloves, N-95 face masks, medical quality disinfecting wipes, and medical disinfectant spray.
An official looking quarantine warning sign would be a good idea. Keep in mind, in a true epidemic or pandemic, you will want to quarantine, even if no one in your household is sick. Hunker down at home and let the virus run its course, far from you and your loved ones. A quarantine sign will be a reminder to outsiders that you’re aware of the health scare and are taking necessary precautions within your 4 walls. At the same time, if any potential intruders are casing your home, that sign could possibly scare them away if they believe the virus is alive and well inside your house.
Now would also be a good time to make sure you have a working thermometer or two, extra bottles of pain reliever, at least one humidifier, diarrheal medicines, and electrolyte drinks or dry mix as detailed in this article. If the virus is affecting the upper respiratory system, the humidifier becomes even more important, along with decongestants, many boxes of tissues (be sure they are immediately disposed of in something like this), lots of water for rehydration, possibly natural remedies you have found helpful (we use Boswellia tablets for coughs). The CDC has a helpful article that details complications from the flu — good to review, take notes, and plan to have on hand supplies to deal with this type of common virus.
Once the quarantine is in place, you will probably not be able to go to a drugstore or pharamacy. In that case, you need to make sure you have an adquate supply of prescription drugs. I’m thinking, in particular, of asthma inhalers, since a number of flu viruses focus on the upper respiratory system. This could be particularly dangerous to an asthmatic.
Depending on how severe the illness, you may need contractor-grade bags to hold refuse, biohazard bags, barf buckets, even gauze (or maxipads) to absorb blood. (Remember pictures of people with tuberculosis coughing up blood in old movies?) In the case of Ebola, the virus was found in bodily secretions of all kinds. That’s where rubber gloves, goggles, disposable Tyvex suits (not as expensive as most people think) and a biohazard clean up kit should be added to your supplies.
Most people don’t give much thought to the pathogens that could be present in vomit, saliva, urine, and feces. They’ll probably grab some paper towels and maybe a bottle of Clorox spray, but an actual biohazard spill, or clean up, kit provides most everything you need to clean up and then dispose of potentially dangerous substances. Speaking of disposal, adding biohazard disposal bags provides you with a safer option for disposal of used medical supplies and even clothing worn by the sick person.
Clothing, towels, and sheets used by the sick person will have to be quarantined away from those used by everyone else. Launder them separately and once the patient has recovered, throw them away. This is true of everything else used by the patient: cups, plates, silverware, etc.
Lest you think it impossible to deal with a deadly virus like Ebola within your home, a young Liberian woman did just that by using low-tech supplies to keep family members alive during the worst of the outbreak:
Every day, several times a day for about two weeks, Fatu put trash bags over her socks and tied them in a knot over her calves. Then she put on a pair of rubber boots and then another set of trash bags over the boots.She wrapped her hair in a pair of stockings and over that a trash bag. Next she donned a raincoat and four pairs of gloves on each hand, followed by a mask.It was an arduous and time-consuming process, but Fatu was religious about it, never cutting corners.
A quarantine will require that everyone stay home. If you have kids or grandkids, then you’ll want to make some plans now to keep them busy and entertained.
First, they should understand basic quarantine rules:
Very young children who tend to not always follow instructions may need to be kept behind a barricade, such as a kiddie gate.
Having the kids at home 24/7 may drive everyone batty, so it will be worth your while to tuck away a few books on CD, DVDs, books, and even school workbooks. Amazon carries the BrainQuest workbooks for various grades, and at over 300 pages each, surely they’ll keep kids busy for a long while. Also, have plenty of pencils and a good pencil sharpener handy. Puzzle books, board and card games, and indoor physical activity supplies (jump ropes, exercise videos, etc.) can help create a routine that, in turn, helps everyone stay sane. This article provides many more examples of how to set up a shelter-in-place routine.
Finally, if no one is working during the quarantine, it’s possible your income might suffer. Your mortgage company, landlord, and utilities must still be paid right on time, so do a little financial planning to be sure that money is set aside in case the worst does come to pass. As always, it pays to be prepared in more ways than one.
This 7 minute video from Dr. Bones gives more helpful tips for setting up a quarantined home:
What happens if you are stuck in a large riotous crowd? Now this can be the result of an evacuation or bug out situation, a protest, food riot or any other mob-ruled violence.
Now, back in the early 70s, I was working undercover and got caught in a couple of the anti-war riots that occurred during this period. Once, I even ended up on the wrong side of a police line, not the right place to be.
Last night I was watching a movie and they showed people traveling in a large, panicky crowd. Our heroes made several dumb moves. First, they tried to drive through a crowd having the only running vehicle. This does not work, unless you are willing to kill people and even then, you most likely won’t get out of the crowd alive.
If you are on the road during a bug out and there is a large and desperate crowd in front of you, reverse course. Find another route, even if it means abandoning your vehicle. This is why I recommend having a detailed map, like these, as well as a GPS. Remember, crowds are something to be feared. A panicky crowd will have no conscience.
Going back to our movie, our hero made a second mistake: he pulled a firearm. All this did was result in the loss of the firearm and him almost being killed. If you have a firearm in a crowd, try to keep it out of sight, and for sure, don’t pull it out and threaten someone.
The best solution is to avoid being caught in crowds, but sometimes you have no choice. You may be attending a large public event like a ball game or simply have to work in a bad area.
Hopefully you never get caught in this situation. Planning ahead and living and working in good areas, can help keep you and your family safe. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done!
Surviving a nuclear incident, for example a dirty bomb, nuclear reactor accident, or nuclear explosion, seems to many people to be impossible. They assume it’s impossible to survive such an event, so they decide they will just give up and die. I have had many people tell me that they would prefer to die in a nuclear war than survive. While any type of nuclear incident would be horrific, with a bit of knowledge it is possible to survive and go on with life.
The most important survival tool that you need is knowledge. The following points are information you should study and learn.
1. First, there are two types of radiation associated with a nuclear explosion that you should know about. The first is the initial nuclear radiation from the blast. If you are exposed to this, you are probably dead.
However, the second type of radiation, Residual Nuclear Radiation, is different. This radiation is mostly from the radioactive fallout. This radiation comes from the weapon debris, fission products, and, in the case of a ground burst, irradiated soil. There are over 300 different fission products that may result from a fission reaction. Many of these are radioactive with widely differing half-lives. Some are very short, i.e., fractions of a second, while a few are long enough that the materials can be a hazard for months or years. Their principal mode of decay is by the emission of beta particles and gamma radiation. The bombs dropped on Japan were airbursts and caused very few deaths from radiation. Cancer deaths that occurred much later are for another discussion.
2. A ground burst will produce much more fallout than an air burst. In a nuclear war, most countries would use airbursts; they create damage over a larger area, but minimize radioactive fallout. Terrorists would probably use a ground burst because they would want to cause radiation damage and fallout.
3. Avoid looking at a distant nuclear blast. Flash blindness is caused by the initial brilliant flash of light. More light energy is received on the retina than can be tolerated, but less than is required for irreversible injury. This results in temporary damage to the visual pigments of the eye, and temporary blindness for up to 40 minutes. If you have the fireball directly in your field of vision, it is possible to get a retina burn that can permanently damage your vision up to and including blindness.
4. This same flash that can damage your eyes can cause thermal burns. When thermal radiation strikes an object, part will be reflected, part transmitted, and the rest absorbed. The fraction that is absorbed depends on the nature and color of the material. A thin material may transmit a lot. A light colored object may reflect much of the radiation and thus escape damage, like anti-flash white paint. The absorbed thermal radiation raises the temperature of the surface and results in scorching, charring, and burning of wood, paper, fabrics, etc. If the material is a poor thermal conductor, the heat is confined to the surface of the material. Depending on your distance from the blast, it is possible that the flash can ignite fires.
5. Duck and cover – This has been made fun of in the media on many occasions, but in reality it is a good idea. Depending on your distance from the blast, it can protect you from possible blast damage. It also protects you from flash burns and blindness. This is something that can save your life.
6. Learn how to find cover and what shelter factors protect you from the effects of radiation. The book Nuclear Warfare Survival Skills is an excellent reference on this subject. It teaches the 7:10 rule. Assume that a 1 megaton bomb blast occurs and you are sheltered or far enough away to survive the blast if fallout of 1000 Rads arrives at your location 1 hour after the blast. A 450 Rad accumulative dose can kill you, so one-half hour of unsheltered exposure can be fatal. If you have shelter and are using the 7:10 rule, you will know that after seven hours the outside rate will drop to 100 Rads per hour. In another 7 times 7, or forty-nine hours, it will have decayed down to 10 Rads per hour. Then using the rule of seven times forty-nine hours which equals approximately two weeks it will be down to one Rad per hour. You need to stay sheltered until it drops to one-half Rad per hour, and that takes about twenty-five days total.
If you are lucky and the Rate is only 10 Rads per hour in your area, then seven hours after the blast it is down to one rad. Forty-nine hours after the rate is down to one tenth of a Rad and you can leave the shelter.
7. You and dirty bombs. As you know, there has been a lot of concern about terrorists getting their hands on nuclear materials and setting off a dirty bomb. Studies have shown that members of the public are more likely to be harmed by the impact of the conventional explosives than that of the radioactive materials. A dirty bomb would spread radioactive materials, contaminating the local area and any individuals in the nearby vicinity. However, this contamination would be mostly external in nature, and if the attack was promptly identified as being radioactive, decontamination of individuals would be a relatively straightforward process. The exposure time of anyone affected would be limited and the negative health effects mitigated. There would be no nuclear explosion and the radiation would only be scattered within the blast radius.
Hopefully this will provide you with some information that will help you understand some of the ways in which you can mitigate the effects of a nuclear incident. Take the time to study this problem and Build a Nuclear Go Bag for Fallout or Radioactive Incidents.
Angery American is the prolific author of some of the most popular prepper fiction around. He lives in Florida with his family.
Click on the title to learn more or to order:
Roses Have Thorns – YouTube
Color Revolution article – Zero Hedge
If you are watching the news and following events you know that the country could be in major crisis with very little notice. The average citizen in Venezuela had little time to prepare for the collapse of their economy, and the author of this book lived through Argentina’s multiple collapses and can give you tips for preparing and surviving.
An economic collapse, an EMP, war — these worst case scenarios are part of the reason we all prep, so that we can handle the unexpected. But suppose you have a few hours notice? What are the 10 last minute things that are most important?
1. Contact your friends and family and let them know what is happening. Get the kids out of school, get home from work. In other words, get your group together in one location.
2. If you are bugging out to a stocked retreat, load the car, fuel up, gather extra gas cans, and leave now. You can complete the rest of this list en route and when you arrive. Before you leave, make sure you have a destination. You do not want to become a refugee.
3. Make a last minute trip to the grocery store. Buy items that you are short of, but at the very least, grab useful items like batteries, candles, matches and all the canned meats you can carry. Grab any other other last minute supplies you need. Don’t forget extra fuel. Be sure to store it in proper containers for safety.
5. Check your water supplies. Are all containers filled and in good condition? If you have a waterBOB, fill it now,and have 2 on hand if you have 2 bathtubs. If you don’t have a waterBOB, fill your bathtub and all extra containers that you have on hand. Locate your water filters and make sure they are ready to use.
6. If it appears the power will go out, get your generators or other sources of off-grid power ready. It should be done even if you will be using kerosene lanterns, a propane cooker, or anything else that doesn’t rely on generator power. You may need that generator in the middle of the night, so test it and have it ready to go at a moment’s notice.
7. If you have a freezer full of food, implement your plan to preserve it. If this is going to take some time, wrapping your freezer in blankets can help keep your food frozen for a longer period. If you own a Yeti cooler, as your freezer begins to warm up, keep as much meat as possible in the Yeti. This will buy you at least a couple of days before it must be cooked. A Yeti could also be used to keep life-saving medications chilled.
8. If the weather is cold and you will lose heat, get your blankets, sleeping bags and cold weather clothes ready. If it is hot, make sure that your group is dressed appropriately for the weather and has plenty of water to drink and battery-operated fans to help avoid heat-stroke.
9. Make sure that your first aid and medical supplies are easily accessible. This medical kit is especially well-equipped.
10. Implement your security plan.
These 10 last minute things can be accomplished in a short period of time if you do a bit of pre-planning. For instance, if you are familiar with the layout of your nearest grocery store and where the important items are, you may be able to gather things up quickly.
If you have more than one vehicle and multiple drivers, you’ll be able to simultaneously pick up the kids, get the cars gassed up, run by the grocery store, and be on the road quickly. Be prepared to act fast and without hesitation. If you are wrong and nothing happens, you won’t have lost much and you will have had a good drill.
Are you one of millions of Americans who live near one of the many nuclear facilities that are scattered all over the country? In reality, there are probably additional secret locations that we are unaware of. If you want to get up to speed with what you should know about nuclear events, you can read this article.
In the meantime, you may want to build yourself a nuclear survival bag. This is a bag that you would grab in addition to your bug out bag if you had to flee your home because of a dirty bomb, nuclear power plant accident, or some other nuclear incident. This bag should also contain most of the items you would need to survive if you have to shelter in place because of radiation. Keep in mind that location might be your home, but just as easily, your workplace, school, or vehicle.
These items are not listed in order of importance but should be in that bag:
Adults over 40 should not take KI since they have the lowest chance of developing thyroid cancer and are more likely to have allergic reactions.If your radiation detector indicates continued exposure, children and adults should take an additional dose.
Do NOT give additional doses to newborns or pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Every item on this list, with the exception of the radiation detector and potassium iodide tablets, have multiple uses in many different scenarios, so the expense in putting this kit together is justifiable.
Take a bit of time and put this nuclear go bag together. If a nuclear emergency occurs, these items will help you whether you shelter in place or bug out.
It’s happened. You’ve just found out the main breadwinner in your family is now unemployed or maybe their hours have been cut. Either way, you’ve joined a growing club of Americans who are dealing with a loss of income, and all the hardships and stress that come with that membership. On one hand, you aren’t alone facing this financial disaster, but on the other, this isn’t a club that anyone wants to join!
Or, maybe in your case, it’s the discovery that health insurance premiums have tripled or, perhaps, an unexpected medical crisis has left you with a mountain of bills.
Whatever the cause, you’re facing a financial disaster.
Once the shock, tears, and other emotions have had their turn, it’s vital to search for solutions and put into place an action plan. Your family’s well-being and nothing less than its future depends on this.
If you find yourself in a panic mode, give my 16-Second Survival Breathing technique a try. If it works for the men and women in Special Ops, it can certainly work for you in a moment of panic!
It’s so important in this process to remain calm when the kids are around. I don’t recommend lying to them about your financial situation, but kids, especially young ones, cannot completely understand something as complicated as a family’s finances. They often take things literally and worry needlessly, like the time my kids found out that friends of ours had lost their house.
“How do you lose your house?” was a question I had to answer!
So, when the family is together, breathe your 16-second survival breath, if you must, but do your best to not give in to tears or a panic attack. You don’t want to add fearful children to your list of problems to solve, and at the end of the day, it’s solutions you need.
I always feel better when I’ve taken some sort of action. It beats fretting and digging into a gallon of Blue Bell ice cream! If you’re dealing with a financial disaster, you, too, must take action, and developing a Family Financial Plan is part of that.
A Family Financial Plan doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t necessarily need the assistance of a professional. You just need to take a look at the 2 main components of your situation: income and out-go.
How much money do you have coming in?
How much money is going out?
The first answer is likely the easiest one to answer. If you’ve lost a job, your income takes a dramatic plunge! However, there may still be severance pay and/or income from unemployment, disability, and other sources.
Write it all down, no matter how pathetic those numbers might appear. Somehow, when something is written down, it loses its power of intimidation.
The next step is to determine your family’s expenses, or, if you’re single, your own personal expenses. If you use a debit card for most of your purchases and for paying bills, this step is very easy with an online session at your bank’s website. Every single expense is listed there for easy categorization. If you haven’t gone through your monthly expenses in a while, you may very well be shocked at how quickly unnecessary expenses add up.
What if you don’t use a debit card but rely mostly on cash and checks? You aren’t off the hook, but it will take a little more effort to go through the checkbook and any receipts that you’ve kept.
If you use cash for expenses, keep track of those for at least a couple of weeks in order to get an idea of where that money is going.
If you haven’t guessed, the next step is to separate necessary expenses from those that are not truly necessary. This step takes a lot of guts because it may involve favorite activities, family traditions, and some of the small luxuries that so many of us take for granted.
Eliminating these expenses may be painful, but there’s also the possibility that the loss is temporary. I remember having to cancel my children’s music lessons because the extra money just wasn’t there, but the loss wasn’t forever. And, admit it, you’ve probably become accustomed to little luxuries that you won’t miss one bit once the initial pain has gone away.
Some folks call this, “living simply.”
Believe it or not, even in the toughest of economic times, it’s still possible to earn a living, and sometimes, a very, very good one. The concept to begin applying is to look for multiple ways to earn money. I explain this in more detail here.
After you’ve cut every expense you possibly can and you’ve researched creative ways to prepare yet another meal of rice and beans, it’s time to consider how your family can bring in extra income, and it doesn’t involve a paper route!
The easiest way to bring in some extra cash is through selling anything of value that you don’t want or need any more. Ebay, Craigslist, and local yard sale websites are an easy tool to use. If you love yard sale-ing, you might consider looking for yard sale bargains and re-selling them online or add them to your own stash of yard sale items. If you’re a smart shopper, you might turn a very nice profit.
Direct sales companies are enticing, but be careful about signing on the dotted line unless the initial investment is very, very low and you have at least 10 friends who have committed to being your first home party hosts. I spent 18 years in the direct sales industry, know every trick in the book for booking parties, recruiting new sales people, and up-selling, and I can tell you, it’s not all that easy to maintain this type of business, much less getting started.
What about mystery shopping? Well, I’ve done that, too! Generally, there’s a lot of effort involved with highly detailed reports required within a very tight time frame. This is best left to those with lots of time on their hands, a reliable vehicle, and plenty of gas money. You’ll need all 3 to turn even a small amount of profit.
A part-time job can bring in enough extra cash every week for groceries, and if your kids are teenagers or older, they can earn money for their own expenses, including that cell phone service that just wasn’t a necessary expense in the Family Financial Plan! And, two part-time jobs isn’t a bad idea, either.
Behind all of these suggestions is the critical notion of constant movement. You may start out working part-time at Waffle House or washing windows on the weekend, but doing something is energizing. Sitting at home, watching TV and playing video games is a sure route to more of the same: countless hours watching TV and playing video games. Neither of those activities will ever result in the solutions you and your family desire.
There’s one more strategy for bringing in extra income, and it involves the bank of skills and knowledge you’ve acquired.
There are a lot of people who want to learn how to can food, make jelly, speak another language, or learn CPR. If you have mastered just about any skill, you can teach it. If you can produce a quality product, you can sell it, and the internet makes this easier than ever.
If you’re a walking encyclopedia of herbal remedies, you can turn that into a side business by offering classes or writing articles for websites and magazines and ebooks. Learn how to quilt and you can not only sell your quilts but you can teach others to quilt. Start a quilting blog and earn money from advertisers and affiliate sales.
One woman in Phoenix has turned her lush suburban homestead into a very successful business, delivering organic vegetables, goat cheese, and fresh eggs to upscale customers who happily pay her prices.
Are you an expert hunter or fisherman? Have you considered advertising your skills as a hunting guide or fishing instructor?
All these skills and hundreds more can help add income to your budget when you teach them! Offer classes to a homeschool group. Call a community college or a community center to find out how to teach
There is no limit to where your skills and knowledge can take you. Here’s my master list of practical skills. See which ones you have mastered, or could become an expert in a short amount of time and consider how they could be turned into an income source.
If your child or grandchild suddenly collapsed in a busy mall, would you refuse help offered by a doctor or nurse who happened to be there that day?
Of course not! In a crisis, you need all the help you can get.
Well, a financial crisis is no different. I encourage you to accept all offers of help from unemployment payments to EBT cards, food banks, and anything else your community, church, and circle of friends has to offer. Most people who offer help see it as a privilege and a way to pass on a blessing.
If you’re uncomfortable with this, and most self-reliant minded people are, then look for ways that you can help others.
Everyone experiences a setback, sometimes many setbacks in their lives. If your attitude about this financial setback becomes one that brings your family together as a tighter unit, and you find yourself able to focus on the good things that life brings with it every day, you’re already on your way to recovery.
Attitude is everything, and a common refrain heard from those who lived through the Great Depression, “We didn’t even know we were poor,” illustrates the difference attitude make. Your attitude is contagious.
Saving money and cutting back on expenses can become a game, with everyone wanting to get involved. When I serve a home cooked meal, I tell my family, “There’s $40 we didn’t spend at a restaurant!, and we all cheer.
Our culture continually tells us the lie that we must constantly be acquiring in order to be happy and successful. Face that lie with the truth: it’s not STUFF that is most important in life.
There are communities around the country where unemployment is relatively low and, perhaps, a bit of true economic recovery has occurred. If your family is still enjoying a stable income, it’s nevertheless wise to begin thinking, “What if…?”
Here are a few tips from my book, Survival Mom, that will help you prepare just in case there’s an income loss in your family’s future:
1. Cut back hard on unnecessary expenses now.
2. Begin living as though your income were cut by one-third.
3. Pay extra on your utilities each month. Try to get 3 or 4 months ahead. This is money in the bank should the worst happen.
4. Use coupons and store sales to stock up on several weeks’ worth of food, toiletry items, and cleaning supplies.
5. If your job is currently secure, put in extra effort to make yourself indispensable. Figure out how to make your boss look good!
6. If you have credit card debt, make minimal payments, for now, and stash whatever you can in a savings account.
7. Learn a new skill or brush up on old ones that might be useful to bring in another stream of income.
A financial disaster doesn’t have to mean the end of the world if you keep your wits about you and focus on what can be done to keep your family thriving.
I remember the night so clearly. It was the end of an emotionally exhausting day. My husband and I were lying in bed, holding hands, feeling like it was the only thing we had to hold on to. He sighed and said, “The life that I am living doesn’t seem like mine. Everything we are going through seems like something that happens to someone else, not us.” I could not argue with him, he was right. We were watching much of our life around us crumble and there was not much we could do to prevent it. We had to wait until the crumbling stopped and we could re-build.
Our family was experiencing hardships of almost every kind. We had to move from our home, close a business, and we had nowhere to live. The foster child we were in the process of adopting mentally went off the deep end. For the physical safety of our family, we immediately moved him out, and this caused more legal and emotional trauma than we could have imagined.
One of our cars died; it was not worth fixing. A friend loaned us an extra vehicle he had. We stayed at my sister’s home until we could find a place to rent. Moving to a new area where we didn’t know anyone was just another stress. Our other car was beginning to have problems. Our savings were low. We were living paycheck to paycheck and our food storage was almost depleted.
Some of the chaos was our fault. We did not prepare as much as we thought we had or think some decisions through completely. The other chaos was called life. We had no control over the economy, other people and their actions, nature, or health issues. Even thinking about that time brings back some of the overwhelming feelings we had. Our family was working on getting our footing first, then rebuilding our emergency supplies. We learned many difficult and painful lessons along the way, and we came out of it much smarter and stronger than we could have imagined. Life will always throw us curve balls, but we are more prepared to handle them now. As a family we have become the “better prepper”.
1) You can never have too much money saved.
There will always be something unexpected come up, and it will come up at the worst time, always. We kept a mason jar around for loose change. I remember using it to buy $85 of groceries. As things got better, we worked our way up to a dollar jar. We were surprised to see how fast the jars filled up. Those jars were what helped us build up our emergency money. They are still in use and are a reminder to keep change and cash on hand. Not only in our home, but also in our bug out bags and cars.
To raise additional funds, we sold items we did not need. We started cleaning out what we had and decided what we could live without. At the time, it was difficult to see some things go. Knowing that we were doing everything we could eased some of the pain. It was a few years later that I heard Dave Ramsey on the radio. Being prepared means having a healthy savings account and we decided to try his baby steps plan. That was the beginning of the way we now handle our finances. Go over your finances and make certain you have enough to get you through an emergency.
Here are a few Survival Mom resources for you:
2) Have 3 months of food stored.
Money was tight and we ate our food storage. Our meals were inexpensive and home-cooked. Everything was used, nothing was thrown out. Soups were made with left over vegetables, meat was stretched by putting it in casseroles and salads. Knowing how to prepare nutritious meals from scratch was a skill I possessed, but had taken for granted.
To supplement our food storage, I took advantage of additional opportunities. Many communities have some type of food co-op program where food is exchanged for volunteering hours or food is deeply discounted. The local university offered in-season produce grown by the students at $90 a year. My husband put in a small garden of tomatoes, lettuce, squash and bell peppers. Our neighbor was more than happy to give us oranges and lemons from her trees. Lemons were prepped and kept in the freezer for future meals.
DON’T MISS THIS: Survival Mom’s guide, “Simple Food Storage Meals“.
As things improved and finances allowed, we purchased meat and canned goods that were on sale. Our 3 month food supply of food, water, and everyday living supplies was built up a few items at a time. Nothing causes you to evaluate your food storage than having to use it. Store food you are going to eat and enjoy. This includes cake mix!
3) Education: I attended the local adult education school.
After only a few months I was employed as a certified nursing assistant. A few months later I was a certified EKG technician. This experience slowly morphed into a small business. Being self-employed allowed me to make good money and go back to school for my BA. I knew I did not want to do this type of work as a career, but I do not regret the certifications.
Being a prepper, I understood that it was an education that could someday benefit my family and others. Always look for ways to increase your education and preparation. It could be an Amateur Radio license class, CERT classes, and local adult education or community classes. Adding other streams of income is the key.
4) If full time employment is not possible, look for a short term solution.
Something as simple as a dog-walking, house-sitting, substitute teaching, or other temporary jobs can get you through a rough patch. If you already have a full time job, look for other part time income streams. Is there a skill or hobby that you teach to others? What knowledge or experiences do you possess that can be turned into a small business?
5) Physical and Mental Health
Even though we did not go through a natural disaster or suffer extreme trauma, we still experienced a large amount of stress. Stress takes a great toll on your body. Glucose levels and blood pressure can increase. Our immune systems can take a hit, making you at risk for auto-immune and cardiac disorders. To off-set the negative impact of the stress, our family focused on cutting out processed foods and switched to a whole food diet. We spent time walking, swimming and hiking outdoors.
Mental health is sometimes overlooked in the prepper world. The pressure of trying to put life back together can be overwhelming. The effort used to get through or get by can push aside feelings of anxiety or depression. Sundays have always been used as a day to decompress for our family. When there were times of difficulty, we focused even more on keeping Sunday low-key. We attended church and did not obligate ourselves to anything else. We read books, watched uplifting movies, played games together and rested. This down time allowed us to face the next week with a renewed attitude.
Along with family time, my husband and I continued to have our weekly date night. Since there was not much money, we could often be found having a picnic at a park or attending free activities in town. Maintaining strong and healthy relationships is part of being prepared. Two people, or a family of more, can work together and get through trying times if their family has trust and communication between each other.
We are a religious family, it is part of who we are and it is our family culture’s main ingredient. During the good and bad times, we pray. This simple act has sustained us, and has given us the strength to get through difficult times. It has also given us hope that things will get better and that we are not alone in this journey. Prayer holds us accountable. When I pray for guidance, I am reminded that I need to be doing my part. Am I a wise steward with my money, time and resources? Prayer helps put things in their proper prospective and reminds us of the blessings we have been given.
For those who are not religious, it is important to take time meditate or connect with one’s self. There is much to be thankful for, even in trying times. Center yourself and be open to opportunities and possibilities. Great ideas and solutions can come when the world is quiet and we are alone. Write down any ideas, even if they sound a bit crazy. They can transform into brilliant ideas.
Through all of this, we were able rebuild our food storage, savings and emergency supplies. Our financial situation was good, and education and jobs were going well. Life was to be going great! And then another curve ball was thrown. My husband’s employer was replacing all management employees. We had a little bit of notice, but not as much as one would hope. After a brief moment of panic, we realized that we were going to be okay. Together we had been through such challenging times, this did not seem as difficult. Because of the experiences we had many years earlier, we were better prepared. During those four months of unemployment, we adopted a daughter, celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas, witnessed our son’s wedding, had a beautiful reception on a shoestring budget, and prepped two kids leaving for college. We were able to enjoy all of the happy family events because we were prepared.
According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, there are 61 active commercial nuclear plants spread across the United States. A question on the minds of many is, what would happen to those plants if the nation experienced a widespread, long-term blackout? Would there be a nuclear meltdown? Let me start by saying that there is a quite a bit of misinformation on the web about this subject, so my advice is to be careful about what you choose to believe.
Many of you may know that I have a background in science and engineering (Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering), so I believed that if I could talk with a knowledgeable person working in the nuclear power industry, I could get to the bottom of this question. To find answers, I consulted Jim Hopson, the Manager of Public Relations at the Tennessee Valley Authority. As readers may point out, it was in Mr. Hopson’s interest to assure me that nuclear plants are safe, but to be fair, I found him to be forthright about the industry’s safeguards and vulnerabilities.
Probably the best place to start is with a basic discussion of how a nuclear power plant operates. There are two types of reactors in the U.S., boiling water reactors (BWRs) and pressurized water reactors (PWRs). For purposes of our discussion, the differences in their operation aren’t terribly important. Nuclear reactors use an atomic process called fission to generate heat. The heat is then used to create steam that turns large turbines to generate electricity. The steam is later condensed and returned in a closed-loop process within the reactor system.
The nuclear reaction itself is beyond the scope of this brief write up (and my expertise), but the gist is that an energetic neutron is absorbed by a uranium-235 nucleus, briefly turning it into a uranium-236 nucleus. The uranium-236 then splits into lighter elements, releasing a large amount of energy. The physical system inside the reactor consists of tens of thousands of nuclear fuel rods placed into a water bath. The rods are essentially long metal tubes filled with ceramic nuclear pellets that are bundled together into larger assemblies.
Trivia bit: A nuclear fuel pellet is about the size of a pencil eraser but equivalent in energy to one ton of coal.
The risks of nuclear power are many, but two stand above the rest. The first is that the fuel assemblies in the reactor might overheat. That would only occur if the fission process became uncontrolled or if the cooling system failed.
Should overheating occur, the fuel rods’ zirconium cladding and nuclear materials could both melt, resulting in a nuclear sludge akin to molten lava. That slag would be so hot that it might melt through the bottom of the reinforced reactor. Eventually, it would cool enough to harden, but not before it had spewed nuclear contaminants into the air. Melting zirconium also releases hydrogen, which could lead to an explosion that might actually expel the nuclear material into the surrounding area—think Fukushima.
The good news is that nuclear fission can be stopped in under one second through the insertion of control rods. Those control rods are automatically inserted near the fuel rods either by a hydraulic system or through the use of an electromagnetic dead man switch that activates when power is removed. That means that when the electrical grid goes down or an emergency shutdown is initiated, fission would automatically stop one second later.
That’s a good thing, but it doesn’t make the reactor inherently safe. Even without fission, the fuel rod assemblies remain incredibly hot, perhaps a thousand degrees C. If they were not actively cooled, pressure and temperatures would build in the reactor until something breaks—not good. After three days of active cooling, however, the reactor would be thermally cool enough to open, should it be deemed necessary to remove the fuel rod assemblies.
The second major risk has to do with cooling of the spent fuel rod assemblies. Nuclear fuel rod assemblies have a usable life on the order of 54-72 months (depending on reactor type). Every 18-24 months, the reactor is brought down and serviced. While it is down, the fuel rod assemblies are removed, and 1/3 of them are replaced with fresh assemblies. Think of this like rotating cans of food in your emergency pantry.
In the U.S., fuel rods are not refurbished like in other countries. Instead, they are carefully stored in giant pools of water laced with boric acid—imagine a swimming pool at your local YMCA that is 75-feet deep. Those spent fuel rod assemblies are still incredibly radioactive, and they continue to generate heat. Water in the pool must therefore be circulated to keep them cool.
How long must the fuel rods be cooled? According to Mr. Hopson, the answer is 5-7 years. After that, the rods are cool enough to be removed and stored in reinforced concrete casks. Even then, the rods continue to be radioactive, but their heat output can be passively managed.
Nuclear plants obviously require electricity to operate their cooling pumps, not to mention their control systems. That power is normally tapped off of the electricity that the reactor generates. If the plant is offline, the power is provided by the electrical grid. But what happens when the grid itself goes down? The short answer is that large on-site diesel generators automatically activate to provide electricity. And if those should fail, portable diesel generators, which are also on-site, can be connected. Recent standardization has also ensured that generators can be swapped between plants without the need to retrofit connectors.
There are also a couple of additional emergency systems that can be used specifically to cool the reactor. These include the turbine-driven-auxiliary-feedwater pump, which uses steam generated by the reactor to power a cooling turbine. The pump requires an operator, but it runs completely without electricity. This system, however, is meant only for emergency cooling of the reactor during those critical first few days when the fuel rod assemblies are being brought down in temperature, not for long-term cooling.
And finally, in the worst case, most plants have a method of bringing in river or ocean water to flood the reactor. This typically damages the cooling system, but again, it helps to cool and cover the reactor core should all else fail. Unlike in other countries, permission from the federal government is not required to flood the reactor.
With backup systems to the backup systems, it would seem that there’s nothing to worry about, right? Under all but the direst of circumstances, I think that assessment is correct. However, one could imagine a scenario in which the grid was lost and the diesel generators ran out of fuel.
Speaking of fuel, how much is actually stored onsite? It depends on the plant, but at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, for example, there is enough fuel to run the emergency diesel generators for at least 42 days. I say at least because it would depend on exactly what was being powered.
Once the reactor was cooled down, a much smaller system, known as the Residual Heat Removal System, would be all that was required to keep the fuel assemblies cool, both in the reactor and the spent fuel rods pool. The generators and onsite fuel supply could power that smaller cooling system for significantly longer than if they were powering the larger reactor cooling system. Even if we assumed a worst case of 42 days, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which that would not be enough time to bring in additional fuel either by land, water, or air. Nonetheless, let’s push the question a little further. What would happen in the unlikely event that the diesel fuel was exhausted?
Even with the reactor having been successfully cooled, the biggest risk would continue to be overheating of the fuel rod assemblies, both in the reactor and the spent fuel rods pool. Without circulation, the heat from the fuel rod assemblies could boil the surrounding water, resulting in steam. In turn, the water levels would drop, ultimately exposing the fuel rods to air. Once exposed to air, their temperatures would rise but not to the levels that would melt the zirconium cladding.
Thankfully, that means that meltdown would not occur. The steam might well carry radioactive contaminants into the air, but there would be no release of hydrogen and, thus, no subsequent explosions. The situation would certainly be dangerous to surrounding communities, but it wouldn’t be the nuclear Armageddon that many people worry about.
The bottom line is that in the event of a long-duration blackout, several things would need to occur for a nuclear meltdown.
First, fission would need to be halted by the insertion of control rods, a process that takes less than one second. Next, the reactor would need to be cooled for at least three days using the large diesel engines to provide electrical power. After that, the fuel rods would be cool enough that the reactor could be opened, and the plant’s Residual Heat Removal System could be used to provide cooling. That smaller system would need operate for 5-7 years to ensure that the fuel rod assemblies, both in the reactor and in the spent fuel rods pool, didn’t overheat. Only then could the fuel rod assemblies be moved to concrete casks for dry storage and final dispositioning.
During those 5-7 years, electricity in one form or another would be required. If it was not maintained, radioactive contamination could be released into the air, but the temperatures of the fuel rods would not be high enough to cause a complete meltdown or the dangerous release of hydrogen.
The point of this article wasn’t to convince anyone that nuclear power generation is safe or that a nuclear meltdown could never happen. I would argue that history has already proven that it comes with some very serious risks. Rather, it was to discuss the impact of a long-duration blackout. Specifically, it focused on the safeguards that are currently in place, and more importantly, discussed the magnitude of the catastrophe that might result if we allowed those safeguards to fail.
Guest post by Arthur T. Bradley, Ph.D.
Sometimes a cautionary tale is more motivating than any amount of positive reinforcement every could be, and the horrifying reports from Venezuela are a perfect example. If you’re paying attention to the things they’ve run out of, you can put together a collapse supply list to see you through the crisis in the event of a breakdown in our own country. The time to prepare is now, well before the situation devolves to one that is similar.
Every day, there is more dire news out of Venezuela. It’s so bad there that even the mainstream news can no longer ignore that the country is in the midst of an economic collapse. Thousands have turned to looting in order to feed their families. Even their soldiers have been stealing food. Long lines, empty stores, and hospitals without electricity are the norm instead of an unusual occurrence.
It wasn’t always like that. Life before Venezuela devolved into socialism looked a whole lot like our lives do today. In fact, as recently as the 1970s, Venezuela was one of the top 20 richest countries in the world.
So, today, our financial situation certainly looks far brighter than that of Venezuela, but according to a lot of experts, that is a glossy veneer over a crumbling foundation. Obama calls it “peddling fiction” but the outlook here is not good. Financial statistics are massaged and many of them hidden to keep us in the dark. Jobs are nearly impossible to find, and heaven help you if you lose one. The price of living is going up, but financial solvency is going down as personal debt outstrips the ability to pay it. Pension funds that people rely on are going bankrupt, one after another.
It really isn’t a question of if, but when.
Economic collapse starts out as “going through hard times.” It isn’t mobs on the streets or regression to Third World status initially. Before it ever gets to that, you have time to prepare. So let’s get started.
The best way to make your supply list is to figure out what they’ve run out of in Venezuela. Below, you can find a list of the things they do not have, along with suggestions for stocking up or educating yourself.
If we never have a problem in the United States, you can rest assured that none of these supplies are crazy things you’ll never use. Most are the most basic of necessities and you’ll find it’s very convenient to be able to “shop in your pantry” whenever you need something. As well, learning to be more self-reliant is a great way to save money, live simpler, and often be healthier than those who depend on the store to meet all their needs.
The first thing we saw as Venezuela began going down was that the government cracked down on the ability to stock up on food. They instituted a fingerprint registry for buying food, made prepping illegal, and began to dole out supplies. The government took over most of the stores, then forced farmers to hand over the majority of their crops at the price the government chose to pay. These crops were then marked up extravagantly and sold to people who suddenly found they could no longer afford to eat. Eventually, the government announced that the country was out of food and that if people wanted to eat, they’d better grow their own.
Supplies mentioned in articles that people have stolen and waited all day in line for are milk, bread, chicken, rice, and flour.
Here’s a list of food and related supplies you should stock up on.
Also, check out this article: The Self-Reliance Manifesto: More Than 300 Resources to Guide You on the Path to Radical Freedom
It’s important to be able to remain clean if you want to stay healthy. Following are some of the supplies that have been in shortage in Venezuela for months now.
For some of these items, you can learn to make them yourself. For others, you can make or purchase reusable versions.
The country is rationing electricity and has been for quite some time. Currently, there are mandatory rolling blackouts. This is affecting everyday life, in that food can’t be kept in freezers, they are dealing with the hot humid weather without air conditioning, and they must use alternative lighting.
Stock up now on ways to deal with those concerns. These articles, books, and supplies can help you make your plan.
Your heart will break into a million pieces, but this article from the front page of the NY Times (hat tip to Mary) tells you the real nitty gritty of the situation in Venezuela. A hospital is just as likely to kill you as make you better now, due to terrible sanitation and a lack of supplies.
They’re out of antibiotics, cancer medicine, and equipment. They can’t do dialysis or other life-saving treatments. They have no running water so they’re doing operations on a table still covered with blood from the last patient. The rolling blackouts mean that every single days, babies and other patients dependent on respirators are dying. Doctors are making lists of supplies for the families of patients to go out and attempt to procure from the black market.
It is essential that you keep some supplies on hand and that you begin learning all you can about survival medicine.
The best book for that is Cat Ellis’s book, Prepper’s Natural Medicine. It isn’t dependent on expensive, difficult-to-find supplies, but on things you can find in your area. This book is something you absolutely must add to your stockpile. If you can treat most ailments at home and stay away from hospitals, you’re far more likely to survive in a scenario like the one described above. A trip to the hospital in that situation is probably more likely to result in your death than avoiding it altogether.
Be watching for a comprehensive 3-month program that is coming soon to help you get prepared with one-on-one help from some of the most popular preparedness authors around. More details are coming soon.
If you wait until a crisis is already occurring, you’ve waited too long, which is exactly what the people of Venezuela are learning. By preparing ahead of time and filling your collapse supply list, while you may still experience difficult times, your struggle will not be as extreme as the ones we’re seeing.