Just about every prepper has stored some food and water in case of a major disaster. That’s one of the first things you began to stockpile right? But did you ever stop to consider ways and means of cooking your food in a serious SHTF scenario? Unless you have a month’s (or more) worth of MREs, food preparation is going to become a very important part of your survival.
In a long-term, grid down situation, your ability to cook will be restricted. No more microwaves or electric stoves. Even with something like a gas grill, your fuel source won’t be infinite. And as such, you might need to consider what you would do in that type of situation.
So when making your contingency cooking plans, here are some things you might want to consider:
Be careful what you burn as a heat source
I think that if we experience a long-term, grid down situation there are going to be A LOT of people who are going to have all kinds of problems because they do not know what they can and cannot burn for fuel. There is a long list of things you absolutely should NOT burn. (This is even more important if you are using something like a fireplace or wood stove inside your home.)
Treated wood should not be burned. Doing so will release chemicals like chromium and arsenic into the air that you breath and into the food you are cooking. Treated wood is typically green, though as it ages it turns grey. But wooden structures such as decks, exterior trim, siding, railings, etc are almost always treated. So don’t use them!
Things like particle board and plywood are also no good. The chemicals used to make these produces can be very toxic when burned. Other things in it like glues can cause the fire to burn a lot hotter…which might exceed the temperature setting of your wood stove or fireplace.
Don’t burn wood that has been painted or stained. Until the late 1970s, paint contained lead. And until 1990, most paints contained mercury. ‘Nuff said! Even with paint or stain from today, burning this wood will release toxic chemicals into the air. This is of course NO BUENO!
Burning things like colored paper can also be dangerous. The same goes for items that have colored ink on them. Things like magazines, empty pizza boxes, styrofoam cups etc can release harmful carcinogens.
A majority of wood pallets today have been treated with a flame retardant chemical. Burning this will release these chemicals, and could cause problems. So I’d skip wooden pallets as well.
Plenty of articles talk about how to make large supplies and other preparations for various emergencies. In what follows, I want to take a different approach: I’m going to give you nothing but quick, down-to-earth tips of what to do and what not to do when these 4 disasters strike.
Keep in mind that, although the advice itself sounds simple, taking action on it when everyone around you is panicking will be a huge challenge.
Surviving a Riot
We’ve all seen numerous riots spark in the United States as well as in Europe. Here’s some quick tips on what to do should you get trapped in social unrest:
- Never move in the opposite direction of the rioters. You will stand out and they might pick you as a target, possibly dragging you along.
- If you see tear gas, run as fast as possible. Everyone else will. Tear gas will make you throw up and impair your vision, maybe even get you arrested once after the cops handcuff you and put you to the ground.
- Avoid wearing camo clothes, black hoodies and bandanas. Law enforcement might think you’re one of the rioters.
- If you can’t find a way out, try to find a building to take cover in until everything calms down.
- Walk instead of run.
Editor’s note: If you can avoid the area altogether, that might be your wisest course of action. Peaceful protesting is your right. But too many times in recent history we have seen protests and demonstrations turn violent. I would urge you to think long and hard before heading off to what could become a potential riot or chaotic situation.
When it comes to possible serious SHTF (Sh*t Hit The Fan) or TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) events, the one that seems to be most “popular” with preppers is a EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) attack. Many popular “prepper fiction” books, such as One Second After, have been written based upon an EMP attack on America. (It’s a good read.) There are plenty of articles and books out there telling you how to prepare for them. So I’m not going to try to rehash them here.
Instead, I thought I’d take a look at what EMPs are, what we know (and don’t know) about them, how difficult it would be to recover from one, and how much of a threat they pose to us.
What is an EMP?
In layman’s terms, it is an intense burst of electromagnetic energy caused by an abrupt and rapid acceleration of charged particles. This can cause all kinds of problems with electronic equipment and devices. In some cases, it can even cause physical damage to things such as buildings, airplanes, power lines, etc.
There are three types of EMPs, called pulses, which we will cover in a just a second. There are three things that we know cause EMPs: a bolt of lightning, a nuclear explosion (or EMP type weapon), and solar storms or CMEs.
EMPs (by high altitude detonation) or CMEs are caused by the release of charged particles within the Earth’s ionosphere. The ionosphere is the shell of electrons and electrically charged particles surrounding Earth. This “shell” is found from about 35 miles to 500 miles above the Earth. The size of the ionosphere can fluctuate some based on varying factors I won’t get into here.
I receive emails from time to time asking about how you will know when it is time to bug out. This is not always an easy question to answer, as many emergencies strike without warning, and typically the situation remains fluid.
I am a big proponent of riding out most emergency scenarios at home. (Click the link for more details.) I believe that if you are properly prepared and have adequate plans in place, you should be able to make it through most disasters and emergencies by staying at home.
But as I have said before, you need to have bug out plans in place as well. There may come a time when you need to get the hell outta Dodge.
“But James, how will I know when it is time to bug out?” you might ask.
If you bug out too soon, you may find that the emergency was not really as bad as you first though. Hence you end up wasting time and resources.
But if you bug out too late, you could find yourself in a worse position than you were in had you stayed.
Well, here is an old adage I have used before. I wish I knew who to give credit for it. I heard it years ago and honestly do not remember who I heard it from. But I like it and want to pass it on to you.
When it comes to bugging out, I use the acronym R.E.D.O.U.T to help me know when that time has come. Hopefully this will give you some ideas as to when it is time to carry out your bug out plans.
R – Resources are almost gone
If things get truly dire, and the resources you have stockpiled are almost gone, you might think about moving on to greener pastures. I say almost gone, and not completely gone because if you find yourself on the road, you will need some resources (things like water, food, etc) to help you in your journey.
For example, I have about a 5 day supply of food and water (for me and my family) stored at home. If a SHTF event happens and those supplies begin to run low, I will start making preparations to move on to my bug out location. Depending upon the scenario and my situation, I might leave even before that. But if not, once those supplies are running low, it’s time for me to move on.
I see A LOT of prepper videos and articles out there talking about bartering in a post TEOTWAWKI scenario. They encourage you to get gold, silver, cigarettes, ammo, etc. so that you can trade it after everything goes to hell. But I wonder if that is really a good idea? Is it a good use of your current resources to buy items solely for barter after SHTF?
I tend to think the belief and use of barter gets over-played in people’s’ SHTF scenarios in their minds. That’s not to say that barter might not happen on occasion. Barter has been around since the dawn of man. The zombie apocalypse won’t stop that. But I think in a true grid down situation, folks will be more worried about security and survival than they are trading things like gold and silver coins.
God forbid that if the grid goes down for good, there will be a time when the focus will be on merely surviving. Food, water, shelter, etc will be what is important. Having the tools and abilities to survive will be king. Those times will be the most taxing, the most trying.
Not until society has had time to “reset itself” and stabilize will barter actually come into play. Without a decent social environment and a somewhat stable economy, barter is not going to be likely. And in the rare chance it happens, it will not be without tremendous risks and peril.
Even when things may eventually begin to normalize, barter will not be as frequent or as common as many people want to believe. I think there are way too many variables that would make barter a rather rare occurrence.
With no more “Grid” there is no more Craigslist or Ebay. So finding other groups of people in your area that might actually want to trade with you may not be all that easy. I mean, I guess you could go wandering the country side looking for those groups, but that obviously comes with risks. And even if you find another group, chances are very high that they may not trust you or even want to trade with you.
For example, during a WROL (Without Rule Of Law) situation, if a group of strangers shows up at your place and says “Hi, let’s see what you have for trade.” chances are you are not going to trust them. Why would they be any different?
Next, these other groups (once you find them and decide you should trust them) would have to have items that you need, and you would have to have items that they need. There is certainly no guarantee that both groups have items they are willing to barter. With resources being scarce, I tend to think this will be a major factor should we lose the grid long-term.