"When" The Shit Hits the Fan

 

One of the things I’ve spent a lot of time and bandwidth on is pointing out the inanity of focusing preparedness on some potential future cataclysmic event that will bring about The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI). Shit like overnight, total economic meltdown leading to a catastrophic failure of modern society, EMP or CMP destroying the electrical grid, terrorists detonating “dirty bombs” in multiple major metropolitan centers, zombie or other pandemic disease outbreaks, and the like are cool to theorize about. The problem is, they’re cool to theorize and fantasize about because they are so unlikely.  

That’s not to say that it wouldn’t be super convenient. That sounds facile, but it really isn’t. Sure, the idea that “90% die-off” of the American population being “convenient” seems ridiculous. The idea that spending the rest of your life in a tooth-and-claw fight for sustenance and survival would be “convenient” seems like something a testosterone-poisoned teenage boy would claim. The reality is however, compared to the reality we are facing, the popular images of “TEOTWAWKI” are exactly that: they’re convenient.  

You wake up one morning, and nobody, anywhere, has any electricity. The banks and banking computers no longer work, so nobody, anywhere, has any money left, and those who did have a couple hundred or thousand in cash, stuffed into a pair of underwear, are shit out of luck, because every quickly realizes that cash is valueless. You no longer have to worry about soccer practice, band recitals, or math tutors, for Little Suzie and Sam, because it’s time to crawl into the Crye Multicam jammies you bought, strap on your plate carrier, load and zero your 1970s vintage, Belgian-made FN/FAL with wood furniture (because real men carry rifles made of wood and steel, by Gawd!) and iron sights, and prepared to defend hearth and home, and the virtue of the little Missus!  

No more fighting about what’s for supper, and whether we should eat at home, or go out, because we’re going to be living on beans and rice for the next year. No more worrying about who is watching what on television, because the power grid is down, and the satellites got fried by the CME too, so there’s no DirecTV, even if you did have a generator to hook the television up to. No more worries about making it to the gym to work out, and try to treadmill that “freshman fifteen” you put on your first year of college….twenty years ago, because it’s going to be physical labor from now until you die, trying to gather supplies, and cut and split wood.  

No more dealing with attorneys to battle it out with the neighbor over the boundary dispute because one of you built the privacy fence incorrectly. Now, you can just smoke check the dude with a thirty caliber round from your FAL, because the police are no longer working. It’s not like you have to worry about him fighting back, because he’s “sheeple,” and you’re pretty sure he doesn’t even own a gun. You’ve certainly never seen him carrying one, and he doesn’t have any cool guy gun bumper stickers on his truck, like you do.  

Yeah, it would be convenient.

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Reality is dirtier, and far, far less convenient. Reality is PG&E shutting down the power grid to millions of people, for weeks, because they’re worried about lack of infrastructure maintenance causing runaway wildfires. Reality is those wildfires happening anyway, and closing down your “Bug Out” route, because of traffic congestion, as everybody else tries to flee the dangers at the same time.  

Reality is a tornado sweeping across two counties, knocking power out to thousands of homes, and sending 300 year old oak trees through roofs, and blowing barns and sheds into the next township. Reality is the electric company subsequently telling you that, “Yeah, your power is going to be out for awhile, because we’ve got several hundred miles of line to replace, and you’re at the bottom of the priority list. Oh, you have a newborn baby? A disabled grandmother living at home? Not our problem. Sorry.”

Reality is a winter storm blowing in and knocking out the power for the next week, as temperatures plummet to single digits, and nobody in your subdivision has a wood stove for back-up, because covenants in the HOA agreement. 

Reality is what happened to parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas this summer, when the Arkansas River flooded to historic record levels, and destroyed entire communities worth of homes.  

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I have a friend who lost power recently. Their power was out for a week. They ended up going and staying with family, because the weather was cold, and they didn’t have any back-up systems in place at the house. Dude is one of the most all-around competent, handy, people I’ve ever known. He’s a super hard worker, self-employed, and has dozens of employees. He’s genuinely, just an all-around competent dude.

This friend has tens of thousands of dollars worth of guns. He wears a concealed pistol everywhere he goes, and he keeps a rifle locked up, inside the cab of his truck, along with a plate carrier, “just in case.”  

I asked him, “Why do you carry a gun?”
 

“Well, because there are bad people in the world, and I can’t rely on the police to be on hand to protect me and my wife and kid!” He’s right. It’s a really good answer. It’s solid. It’s legitimate.

“Cool. So, why don’t you have a back-up generator wired to the house? Why don’t you have a woodstove in the house, and a couple cords of wood in the backyard? What if, instead of a storm knocking out the power for a few days, this had been THE EVENT? What if your family had lost power too?”

He didn’t have an answer. Most people I’ve had similar discussions with, over the years, haven’t had answers.  

We have an aunt and uncle who lost power during the same outage. They’re “sort of” preppers. They have some guns, and a couple boxes of ammunition for each one. They’ve got some freeze-dried foods in the basement, and a LOT of precious metals stocked away. The aunt buys gold and silver jewelry for her kids for holiday gifts now, instead of other stuff, because “it’s got inherent value if the banks fail.”  

Three days in, they were bitching about not having power. I called and asked if they didn’t have a generator. When told no, I asked if they wanted me to bring our extra generator to them until the power went back on. They decided, if the power didn’t go on the next day, then yes, they would want that. Fortunately, they got their power back the very next morning.  

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There’s two ways to look at this:

1) It’s way more likely that you’ll experience a power outage from storms lasting several days to a couple of weeks, than it is that you’ll suffer a permanent power outage from a terrorist or hostile nation-state EMP attack on the US. You’d be a lot better off preparing for those common occurrences than you would be preparing for some sort of economic failure leading to endemic, permanent violent civil strife.

2) If you’re actually, legitimately prepared for a long-term, multi-generational emergency, then you’re damned sure prepared for the power to go out for a few days or weeks, regardless of what time of year it happens.

My posture is “both.”  

The reality is, if we look at the patterns of history through a morphological lens, rather than through the filter of simple individual, isolated events, or through the filter of “divine providence,” then the fact is, we can begin to recognize that most of what we’re witnessing in the way of “short-term” emergencies, are actually part of the long-term disintegration.  

But….in the near term, you need to be focused on dealing with those short-term disruptions. If you die of exposure, during a cold snap that causes failing electrical infrastructure to go down, then you’re not going to be around to protect your family during the “boogaloo.” If your whole family dies because your dumb ass didn’t bother having a way to keep them warm during a winter ice storm, there’s not much point in having XX pounds of rice and beans per person, stored for when the banking system fails and you can’t buy food from the grocery stores.  

If you don’t have a way to keep your family warm, or you don’t have a way to cook nutritious, healthy food, that they will eat, during a winter power outage, you really don’t have any business having a fucking Mayflower Plate Carrier and Level IV stand-alone rifle plates, “to be prepared for WTSHTF!” (I mean, I don’t really give a shit what you spend your money on, but, let’s be real about shit…)

In light of these realities, let’s take another look back at SWEAT-MSS, from the short-term, emergency perspective, and discuss some options.

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Security

I’d be willing to bet, if you’re reading this, you own a gun. You probably own multiple guns. You may even have had a training class or two, and have some idea on how to use those guns in the anti-personnel role. Cool.

In this context, the security threat you’re most likely facing, as far as “people,” could be opportunistic looters, if you’re dealing with a situation like a hurricane, or a major F-3/4 tornado that tore up four or five counties. More realistically, you’re probably looking at one or two people trying to find a dry place to sleep, or some food. A .38 Special snub revolver will probably do what you need done. A 12-gauge shotgun would be even better. If you’ve got a tricked-out Glock 17 with WML and RMR, and an AR15, you’ve more than got the gun/security equation solved.  

More important is the ability to slow people down from getting into the house, and making them realize the place is occupied and defended. One technique that we’ve seen work in the past is simple plywood over windows, spraypainted with warnings to keep out. If you’re “bugging in,” plywood over the windows may not be the ideal option, though. If it’s summer and you’re dealing with the aftermath of a Gulf Coast hurricane, you can pretty much guarantee that boarding up the house windows is an all-around bad fucking idea. It’s going to turn the house into a festering sauna. Board up the windows during the storm, but once the storm is past, get that shit down, and get air circulating through the house again.  

You know what works well? Locking your fucking doors. Sure, if they find the door is locked, they may kick the door in, or they may bust a window, but at least you’ll have some warning.  

You know what works even better? Getting a fucking dog. It doesn’t need to be a big, scary, trained guard dog (says the guy who has Mastiffs….). I take a dramatically different approach to dogs than most people. We love our dogs. They’re awesome animals, and the kids adore them. The baby crawls all over the dogs, and I’ve seen them go after people they THOUGHT were putting the kids in danger (the older dog came barreling across the house one day, charging me, when I was moving to spank the oldest kid, because she started screaming. Ever heard a Mastiff growl, and snap his jaws?), but ultimately, the dogs are “speed bumps.” Their primary purpose for existence is to warn us that danger is present, and to slow down bad guys just long enough to give me time to gun up and go to work.  

That doesn’t require a big dog. A fucking Chihuahua will get it done, if it is taught the boundaries of its “turf.” Just, get a dog, or three. (I will state, I do not subscribe to the “rescue a dog from the pound” mentality, especially if you have children. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the idea of a rescue dog from the pound, and I’ve known people that got really great dogs from the pound, the reality is you don’t know why that dog is in the pound. Sure, lots of them are victims of Soccer Moms getting their kids a dog, and then “realizing” it was way more work than they or the kids were interested in. But...there are also a lot of dogs in the pound simply because they are not good dogs. Some didn’t do well around the family kids. Some went after neighbors, or chased neighbors livestock. Some tore into the owners. My solution to those problems is not to take the animal to the pound, but a lot of people—most people—are not willing to take responsibility for solving those problems themselves, and the pound is a convenient way out of doing so. In short, if you want to rescue a dog, by all means do so, but don’t feel bad because you decide to purchase a puppy instead, and train it the way you want it trained from the beginning. 

So, short term emergency security solution? Exactly the same as it is for day-to-day security: Have a gun, know how to use it, and get a dog.  

Water

A simple answer to short-term water procurement and purification is to simply have a reasonable stockpile of bottled water on hand. We keep a case of bottled water in both trucks, and we keep several flats of bottled water at the house, even though we are self-reliant on water. For us, the bottled water at the house is a convenience issue, and it allows us to have water on hand, if we need to bring some bottled drinking water to someone when their power goes out.  

If you operate off a well that is pumped by electricity from the grid, or you’re on “city” water, you’d  better have a plan in place, in case the power goes out. Remember your Rule of 3: you can live three days without water. That’s assuming however, that you’re relatively well hydrated when the three days begin, and even then, halfway through, you’re going to be functioning at a severe deficit, physically and mentally.  

In summer weather, I expect a flat of bottled water to last one person maybe two days. That’s assuming they’re not using it for anything except drinking. That’s not counting hygiene or cooking. It’s JUST drinking water. For my family, that means a minimum of 9-12 flats of bottled water to make it through the government prescribed 72 hours (two of the kids are small enough that they’ll get double the use out of the same amount of water as the adults and oldest child will). 

Since we’re water independent, it’s not really an issue for us, but if you’re on a well, a good emergency backup is the same thing I prescribe to people for the “temporary” SFTACFAC water solution: set up a rainwater catchment barrel or two. Even a single 55-gallon drum full of water, will get a typical family through several days of cooking and basic field sanitation and hygiene. Two 55-gallon drums will have you set for a week, probably. If you live in a place that doesn’t allow rainwater catchment, well, put it on the backside of the house where nosy neighbors and passerby police cars can’t see it, and then shut the fuck up about it.  

Electricity

This is the big one, for most people. They figure, even if a storm rips shit apart, they can always drive to Wal-Mart and buy some bottled water. But, when the electricity goes out, people lose their fucking minds. Never mind the fact that significant portions of this country have had household electricity for less than a century, and nobody had household electricity 150 years ago. Today, it’s a fucking basic human right, if you ask most people.  

Of course, with the off-grid solar power set-up, it’s a non-issue for us, unless a really bad storm happens to blow the PV array away.  Considering the fact that ours has so far survived 90+ MPH winds, unless we take a direct hit from a tornado (the last time a tornado hit our mountain was like the 1920s…), I’m not really very concerned about that. The only time we’ve ever had an issue was when the system took a lightning strike and blew out the inverter. That was a twenty minute fix, putting in a new inverter. Fortunately, I had a spare on hand.  

For my mother’s house, which is decidedly on-grid (she’s even on county water now, which baffles me, since she has two fucking wells on the place), that’s not an option. In our area, losing power for a week or two each winter, due to storms downing power lines is an expected annual occurrence. So, her late husband set up the system so they can disconnect from the grid, and hardwire the generator to the house, in about five minutes. When the utility company gets the power back on, you can disconnect the generator, and flip the breaker switch to hook back into the grid. I don’t know how legal it is, but it works like a motherfucker.  

With Ma’s stroke last summer, I don’t know if she’ll be able to do it herself, but I’m a ten minute drive away, so we’re looking at 15-20 minutes for her to get her power back on. Realistically though, she doesn’t actually need it, it’s just convenient. In twenty years, they used it twice, when the power stayed off for two weeks, and the weather warmed up enough they were worried about the food in the freezer spoiling.  

Before we bought the farm, and built the off-grid system, we lived in rented houses that were on-grid. Neither installing an off-grid system nor hardwiring a generator to the house were realistic options (although my first wife and I did live in an off-grid rental for a couple of years. It had an undersized PV array and battery bank, and a propane backup generator that was way too expensive to rely on). So, we utilized other options. For most people, those options are going to be a lot more feasible, in the short-term emergency context.  

In order to determine how to deal with those, we need to look at what “necessities” we rely on electricity for. Short answer: lights and refrigeration (and in summer, air conditioning, depending on where you are located. In Idaho and Wyoming, A/C wasn’t a priority, even in hot summers. If you live in Lower Alabama, and a tornado or hurricane has knocked out the power in summer or early fall, A/C while not “essential” is going to be pretty fucking important to mental health for most modern folks.  

Our solution for lights was oil lamps and flashlights with rechargeable batteries. Oil lamps, as a long-term emergency option, aren’t particularly practical. You can only store a finite amount of fuel, after all, and speaking from experience, I can pretty much guarantee that you’re going to burn through it a lot faster than you expect to. In the short-term though, of a few days to a couple of weeks, a half-dozen oil lamps, and a couple gallons of fuel for them will be more than adequate to get you through. Combined with some battery-powered flashlights and lanterns (I’d feel a lot better about a battery powered lantern than an oil lamp in the kids’ room, for obvious reasons….), we never had a problem with not having lights for household chores and even reading or playing board games, when the power went out.  

Refrigeration is the biggest issue you’re going to “need” electricity for, and there’s no real way around it, especially if you’re a typical “prepper” with a freezer or two full of food. For us, the simple answer was two-fold. Number one, we used a generator. Number two, we only ran the generator during the day, and after we turned the generator off at night, we kept the freezers closed, and minimized how long the refrigerator door was open. My experience has been, a couple of hours, during the hottest part of the day, will keep food frozen solid, even if the power is out the rest of the time, indefinitely, even on a hot summer day. In the winter time, keeping the freezers in the garage, or an uninsulated backporch, and just opening the doors at night, so the cold air itself keeps stuff frozen is adequate.  

We now live in a very hot, very humid environment. After almost two decades in the northern Rockies, moving back here was a major climate shock for me. It’s been several years now, and I’m still not completely acclimated to the heat and humidity in the summer. I can function in it, and at high levels, but it’s miserable to do so, and I have to make a concentrated effort to do so. As I pointed out to a neighbor this summer, people in equatorial cultures don’t take “siestas” because they’re lazy. They take “siestas” because it’s a fucking survival mechanism. It’s just too damned hot, in the middle of the day in summer, to do shit except lie in the shade and drink fluids. We’re at an advantage, versus a lot of folks around here, in that we’re on top of the mountain, so when there is a breeze, we do catch it, and we are rural, so we have lots of trees, increasing evaporative cooling. People that live in subdivisions, in the valleys, around here, suck when the power goes out in summer. They basically live in ovens at that point.  

We don’t have A/C in the house. Instead, we open all the windows, all summer long, to catch any breeze that may arise. Additionally, we run a couple of simple box fans. Two of them are downstairs, making sure any breeze the house catches, gets pushed around the downstairs. We put another one in each upstairs window (there are two, one at each end of the house), blowing OUT, instead of in. This serves the purpose of pushing any rising hot air in the house OUTSIDE, pulling more cool air upstairs. Combined with the passive thermalsiphon system I put in, this keeps the house survivable, if not “comfortable.”  

The final thing we do is, on the hottest summer nights, everybody sleeps downstairs, on the floor. It’s the coolest place in the house, and with a couple of fans blowing on you, it’s actually reasonably comfortable.  

Of course, if it’s a winter storm that knocked the power out, you don’t have the issue of keeping cool, but of keeping warm. The no-brainer answer to that is, “put in a fucking woodstove!” as I advised our friend. He lives on acreage, outside of town though. If you live in town, or in a rental, and the woodstove is not an option, for whatever reason, you’ll need an alternative. We had a simple one, that worked incredibly well, when we lived in rentals.

We had lots of warm sleeping bags and clothing. This goes back to something I mentioned in an article recently, “warm the person, not the air.” Even now, at night, I shut the woodstove down tight, at night. The house gets cold, in a hurry (not freezing, but definitely in the upper 30s, lower 40s, through the night in winter), but we all stay comfortably warm, because we have lots of wool blankets and quilts, and if the weather is cold enough, everybody in the family has a winter-rated sleeping bag. Everybody wears warm pajamas and socks, and has wool stocking caps to sleep in, if needed.  

Last winter, the youngest was a baby (his birthday is in July and he turned one this summer). It got plenty cold in the house in the winter. He had plenty of blankets under and on him, and the only time the cold ever bothered him was when he wet his diaper and it leaked through at night. He’d start crying, one of us would get up and change him, and he’d fall back asleep, as soon as he was under the blankets again.  

Keeping warm, even when winter storms knock the power out, is not fucking rocket science. It’s pretty much common sense, and a basic human survival instinct. Bundle up, you’ll be fine.  

Adminstrative

When it comes to food, short-term outages aren’t the same as long-term emergencies. You don’t “need” to plant a garden, if you know the power is coming back on in a week or two. Doing so would be pointless for that purpose. The problem with food preparation at that point, becomes whether you can cook the food or not. If you are in an all-electric house, and the power is out, you have a couple of options.  

First is the obvious (to me) choice of a simple Coleman camp stove. We have two of them. They’re simple two-burner affairs, in their own carrying case, and run off White Gas (and you can store a LOT of white gas, easily. Hell, the little metal cans are rectilinear for ease of storage and stacking!). The Coleman stoves are relatively inexpensive, even if bought new (we bought both of ours used. One required about $10 in parts to repair and get running, but I only paid $2 for it at a yard sale, because the dude couldn’t figure out how to make it work again….I think I paid $10 for the other one, at a “flea market/antique mall.” I look for them every time I go into places like that or pawn shops, so I can stockpile more to hand out to people. In fact, it occurs to me that, a rebuilt Coleman stove, with a spare fuel tank and pump, and a couple gallons of white gas, could be had for less than $50, and would make stellar Christmas gifts for members of your tribe….)

Another option of course, are simple backpacking stoves like my MSR Whisperlite Internationale or XGK. Those are not as convenient for multiple person meals, unless everybody is going to eat out of the same pot, but they’ll do.  

On the other hand, some people may be uncomfortable with the idea of using a pressurized-fuel open flame in their house. Those people are pussies, but that’s also where things like MREs and other camping foods that don’t require cooking come in. This can range from the obvious MRE, to something like canned or bagged stews and soups. I picked up a practice in the Army that might work for a lot of people. We had a dude on my first team that was a competitive amateur bodybuilder. One of his big issues was how horrible the nutrition in MREs was for his diet. So, he wouldn’t eat them. Instead, before we’d go to the field, he’d make a big pot of something like beef stew or chili, that met his macronutrient requirements. Then, he’d divvy it up into portions, and put each portion in a bowl. He’d freeze the bowls, pop the frozen food out, and vacuum seal that. He could shove the vacuum sealed “meals” into his ruck. By dropping the bagged stew into a MRE heater, he could heat it, just like an MRE meal, or, if in an admin phase, he could heat a canteen cup of water on his backpacking stove, and drop the bagged meal into that to heat up.  

Since I hate MREs, and always have, I took up the practice as well, and I’ll tell you it works remarkably well. I don’t know that I’d rely on it for food that was going to be in my ruck for months or years, but for a week or so, I can keep the food bags in the freezer right up until the last minute, then shove them in my ruck. They’ll stay frozen for a day or so, and after that, even if they thaw, they’re sealed and oxygen free, so as long as I eat them immediately after opening the pouch, they’re fine. I’ve used that method in the field in the Army, and I’ve used it backpacking in the Rockies, Appalachians, and in Alaska, with no ill effect whatsoever. It tastes a hell of a lot better than freeze-dried foods, and I know what’s in it. The same method would work even better for short-term emergencies at home, when “bugging in.” Have a couple weeks worth of individual or family sized servings bagged and frozen in your freezer. All you need to do is heat up a little bit of water, and it’ll heat up all the family’s food.

Trash

In a short-term emergency, trash disposal isn’t that big of a deal. Presumably, the trash services are still going to run, or will resume running, as soon as the power comes back on and/or the roads are clear enough. So, don’t change anything from your normal.

Medical

One of the issues we face with short-term emergencies, especially in the form of storms shutting things down, is the fact that while emergency medical services may still be functioning, they may be overwhelmed (because there are lots of dumbasses in the world, and they do stupid shit even when prudence says you should be extra careful). If storm debris has blocked roads, ambulances may not be able to get through, and if the storm is still blowing, counting on your LifeFlight subscription may be a dumb choice.  

My experience has been that short term emergencies lead to increased traumatic injuries and medical emergencies. People that aren’t used to running them suddenly decide they’re fucking Paul Bunyon and start running chainsaws and axes, either to clear storm damaged trees, or to cut firewood, and end up burying chain or ax head in their leg. People who are in poor physical condition suddenly decide that they’re fit as a fiddle to go outside and start clearing storm debris and suffer strokes and heart attacks from unaccustomed physical effort and stress.  

Of course, people with acute medical conditions that require electrical life support options are fucked if the power goes out, but if you have one of those people in your family, bugging in probably isn’t an option for you anyway, in a short-term emergency….unless you just don’t like that person and are looking for a way to get away with getting them out of your hair…

If you don’t have medical training, at least to the level of First-Aid/CPR and TCCC, you’re not a prepper, and you’re not prepared for a long-term emergency. You’re a poser who is collecting stuff. You’re also not prepared for short-term emergencies.  

Go get a First-Aid/CPR certification, and get a TCCC class under your belt. Build or buy a first-aid/trauma kit. Know how to use everything in your kit (if you’re not a surgeon, you don’t need a fucking surgical kit in your aid bag. It’s just going to get in the way). Keep an ax and a saw in your vehicle, in case, while transporting a casualty to the hospital, you need to clear storm debris. Learn how to use those tools, properly and safely, before you need them. Wear safety gear PPE. For using a chainsaw, that includes ear and eye pro, saw chaps (I say that as a guy who owns them, and literally never wears them. I also have several pairs of Carhartts that have frayed cuts in them, where I’ve hit myself in the leg with a still turning chain. How I haven’t ended up in the hospital is beyond me. Do as I say, not as I do….). If you’re expecting to have to fell trees, or deal with debris that may be over your head, add a hard hat to that package. Don’t be dumb (like me…).  

Do PT and get into shape. You don’t need to be John Mosby, and spend six hours a week in the gym, throwing heavy iron around and doing hard conditioning work, and five hours a week in the dojo, doing Judo, but you do need to do enough PT to be able to do some basic emergency yard work, and maybe drag an injured family member out of the house and to the truck, then load them into it, to drive to the hospital, without keeling over and having a heart attack.

Preventive medicine is the best medicine!

Sewage

If you have enough water to fill the reservoir on your toilet, chances are, you don’t need to worry too much about sewage disposal. Just flush the toilet when you shit. Remember the old mantra, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.” That will reduce the amount of water you need for sewage disposal, and still allow you to use the toilet like normal.  

If, for whatever reason, that’s not an option, there are others. One may be the bucket, toilet seat, and a trash bag that you can dispose of later, when the trash service starts running again. If you do this, triple or even quadruple bag the waste, before you put it on the curb. I can’t imagine the trash hauler is going to be happy if the bag breaks and he ends up bathed in your family’s shit….

Another option may be the purchase of a portable “camp toilet,” for an RV. We tried one of these for the house, but preferred the bucket system. For short term though, this will be more comfortable for most people, because you can “flush” the toilet. When the water and sewer comes back on, you can just dump it into the toilet and flush it down like normal.  

Shelter

Unless your home has sustained storm damage, your shelter needs in the short-term should be taken care of by taking care of the above SWEAT-MSS critical nodes. If your home is damaged by storm winds, fixing it, at least temporarily, may be necessary. One of the things we see around here, often, after storms, is people patching holes in the roof with the basic blue tarps from Wal-Mart (Hell, we’ve got a guy down the road who’s had a blue tarp on half of his roof for like the last two years!), and people putting up Visqueen plastic with duct tape over busted windows. Either of these will work to get you through a short-term emergency until the power comes back on, and you can get replacement parts and/or hire a repair guy to come fix shit.  

If your house is really damaged, and the storm is over, you may be down to using tents or living in your storm shelter. I’m finally to the point of getting the storm shelter built, and after HH6 and I discussed it in some depth, we’ve decided to make the storm shelter big enough that we can camp in it for several months, if necessary. 12X16 won’t be comfortable with five people in it, but it will be doable. We have an extra PV array to store in there, in case the primary one is damaged (and if a storm is bad enough to destroy OUR house, it’s pretty certain to destroy the PV array as well), so we’ll have the ability to have electric lights. We have the camp stoves to cook on, as well as the ability to cook on fires outside. We have blankets and sleeping bags and cots to stay warm at night, and we have a couple of extra, small woodstoves if we had to use them (but, since the stove will be subterranean, that probably won’t be necessary).  

I can’t imagine having to move into a refugee center/emergency shelter, no matter what. Between bugout bags with survival gear, including shelter options, wool blankets and bedding stored in the trucks and in the storm shelter (and more off-site in secure places), we shouldn’t have to do so on account of lack of shelter.

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If you have a gun for security because “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away,” but you don’t have options and plans for short-term emergencies like power outages or storms, you’re not a “prepper,” regardless of how many guns you have. If you’re a “militia member,” and you can’t even take care of your own family in an emergency, you’re not going to go marching off in an emergency, to “defend and protect the community!” because you’re going to be too busy striving to get your family taken care of, and probably relying on that militia to do so.  

If you’re a member of a MAAG, and you can’t even make it through a week-long power outage, without losing your shit, mentally, you’re dead weight, and your MAAG should cut you loose.

If you’re going to be a “prepper,” make sure you can survive the short-term, mundane stuff, without becoming a liability to friends and family, or community resources, BEFORE you start worrying about preparing for the EMP Zombie Apocalypse, or foreign invasion by UN troops. Don’t be a dumbass.