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How to develop realistic scenarios to prep for?

The approach of this site ist generally to focus on broad categories of emergencies, not highly specific scenarios. This is generally sound, I beleive. However: One broad scenario is bugging out. What a good bug out bag looks like is highly dependent on the reason *why* you bug out. As Eric Bunny pointed out in the thread on wildfires, a vehicle bug out can turn into a bug out on foot quickly. In this specific situation a fairly light bob is crucial, a level 1 bob will be better than a level 3!

This is just an example to show that there is value to think through the possible *whys* of bugging in and out and tweak ones preps accordingly: Develop a plan to work from, obtain specific gear and skills for that. How do you think through possible scenarios?

The only approach that comes to my mind is listing possible scenarios (urgent trip to the hospital, house fire, in my specific location: unexploded WW2 ordnance, pandemic, brown out or other grid down event …), guesstimate the likelyhood and possible effect and then decide how to prep, or tweak ones preps. 

An other angel that is, IMO, harder to think through logically is broad tendencies that will affect our lives and make some disasters more likely or severe: Climate change => More extreme weather events  & heat waves, worse quality of public services including health 

So what do you do to think through scenarios? How do you avoid traps like biases (you can probably deduce something about me, from that crime and terror don’t feature big on my list …)?

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Prepping for self-managed abortion post-Roe v. Wade

In the event that Roe v. Wade is repealed in the U.S., access to abortion will fall to the state level to legislate. Many people with uteruses will very quickly have a much more difficult time accessing healthcare that allows them to end a pregnancy.

Therefore, pro-choice preppers who want to understand self-managed abortion care may be interested in learning how to gather materials, build local community networks of support, and access information about how to perform different kinds of as-safe-as-possible self-managed abortions for people with uteruses in your community.

I’ve been doing a little research about this and wanted to share what I found.

This is obviously a topic that can get super politically charged. I’m not interested in having those conversations. If this prep isn’t something you’re okay with for any reason, you don’t have to do it. I’m sharing information in case somebody else can benefit from it.


Handbook on a Post-Roe America by Robin Marty Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Christiane Northrup M.D. A Cooperative Method of Natural Birth Control by Margaret Nofziger

Websites & articles for information:

An academic journal article (no paywall) detailing how to purchase safe, effective abortion pills online as a U.S. based consumer, including a chemical composition study of what was actually in those pills Women on Waves, providing information about the safety of abortion pills and on how to access self-managed abortion How Activists Can Prepare for a Post-Roe World video lecture on how to spread the word about self-managed abortion within your community Self-Managed Abortion with Pills how-to video lecture & information Investigative journalism article from 2018 on networks of people learning to provide at-home abortion services as a form of civil disobedience — full of great information and search terms to mine in Google Guide to performing a menstrual extraction with a homemade Del-Em device r/Childfree sourcing information about healthcare providers who will provide seterilization services in the U.S. and many parts of the world An overview of abortion laws by U.S. state, to help forecast which states might protect access to abortion if Roe v. Wade was repealed

Affordable Plan B and pregnancy tests to add to your prep kits:

My Way Emergency Contraceptive (3 Plan B pills for $15 USD on Amazon) Pregnancy test strips (50 count for $15, $0.30 each, on Amazon) Read More

Lahaina Fire: Deadliest US Fire in a Century

A wildfire destroyed the historical town of Lahaina, former royal capital of Hawaii, on August 9, 2023. Many people burned alive in their homes, unaware that a fire was approaching. Others burned in their cars, stuck in traffic while trying to evacuate, or drowned while trying to escape into the harbor.  Bodies are still being counted (93 so far), but the death toll could be up to 1000.

As fires become more common and more intense, we need to learn fire emergencies like Lahaina so that we can prevent them, or at least reduce the loss of life in the next fire emergency. Please join me in collecting information about what went wrong and what could have been done differently. What challenges did the people of Lahaina face as they tried to escape the flames. What could individuals have done differently to improve their odds of survival? What could the community have done differently to prevent the town from burning or to get people out in time?

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What are my fellow urban Canadians doing different about prepping? Here’s some of what I have done and worked.

I hope I’m not duplicating an existing thread, but I thought it would be useful to have some discussion specific to Canadian members, given differences in laws, available products, climate, infrastructure, etc. I’m a newish prepper and am interested in how others are setting themselves up. I live a in a city in Western Canada, in a condo, so I don’t have land, a garage, or tons of storage space. Given those limitations I’m still better set up than most people in my city.

First, my perspective. I really only focus on a two-week scenario. I’m assuming my plan would involved (1) bugging in, (2) assisting three elderly family members, (3) contending with overloaded public services, and (4) no “societal breakdown,” partly because that is such a vague concept. I have no problems with guns but don’t own any and don’t plan to (though I might get armor). There are very different laws here regarding weapons, self-defense, etc., and it would be good for Canadians to be aware of those.

My main scenarios are (1) loss of power during extreme cold or heat, (2) water system breakdown, (3) air contamination largely from fires.

I’ve developed my plan by asking, what would I need to get by, and what shortfalls/losses would I find demoralizing. So I’ve planned on the high end for maintaining hygiene and related items. If the water system went down, the prospect of 00s of 000s or millions of people pooping in their yards or plastic bags (ineptly and in a panic) raises concerns about air and water contamination, and obvious panics about supplies. 

I have food and water preps, medical, and air filtration, so far. I’m investigating solar generators and am debating which one I should get (affordable but also useable over 14 days), as well as a panel. I’d prefer to get a large unit and two smaller ones for elderly family members.

For the elderly family I’ll be assisting, the first question is whether they’re safe to remain at home, or join me. In general, I’ll want to stay away from hospitals and any emergency public service centers as they’ll be chaotic and unpredictable, so psychological and medical aid on site is preferable.

Because I have limited space and am not planning for a very extreme scenario, I’m not going into my preps in detail because they’re pretty standard. But I’m curious what other Canadians, especially urban dwellers, are doing.

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Best home or neighborhood security system 2023

What are the best options to detect, deter, and prevent breakins in your home or neighborhood? My neighborhood had a nighttime burglary recently (involving a car, not the house) which has raised the issue of security in my neighborhood. I’m interested in recommendations for my own home’s security, especially detection/alerting, as well as neighborhood-wide options that I could present to the HOA.

Here are some relevant previous security articles and discussions, but I suspect some of the technology has advanced in the years since these were written.

Please share both ideas and experiences about how to setup home or neighborhood security systems.

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Learning from the past – The 1815 volcano that covered the world

On April 5, 1815, the Indonesian island of Sumbawa (to the north of Australia) was alerted to the sounds of the Tambora mountiain coughing up ash and fire as the volcano awoke. People hundreds of miles away recalled that it sounded like cannon fire. These small eruptions continued for days until April 10th when the whole mountain exploded. Three plumes of fire and rock shot upwards, merging into one massive blast. Lava flowed out of the volcano and engulfed the village below. Midday felt like midnight for weeks as ash continued to fall, piling as high as two feet in some places.

Throughout the world, people stared in awe at vibrant sunsets over the coming months but little did they know that disaster would follow. In the coming year, the weather would turn unpredictable and be devastating to many.

Because of this eruption, in India, temperatures dropped and thousands were killed from cholera (infection in the small intestines which leads to watery diarrhea, vomiting, and muscle cramps). In China, the normally mild climate was disturbed with summer snowstorms and brought flooding rain that destroyed crops. In Europe, food supplies dwindled leading to starvation and panic. In North America, 1816 was called the year without a summer where there was snowfall and frosts that ruined entire crops. Thousands of people throughout the world had to flee and relocate during this period because of effects caused by the volcano.

To the people all over the world at that time without news and social media explaining what was going on, these events must have felt apocalyptic. The Mount Tambora volcano was the most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded human history ejecting 38-51 cubic miles of material into the atmosphere. It is mind boggling to think that a small mountain on the other side of the world could affect the entire world killing 10,000 from the initial explosion and 90,000 from famine and disease in the coming years. Our world is so fragile where a drop in 0.7-1.3°F can cause so much devastation.

Previous episode of Learning from the past: Otzi the Iceman 

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Games that teach survival skills

What games have you found that teach survival skills in a fun way? I’ll include some of my favorites as comments and encourage others to do the same.

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Boil water alert – Washing your hands

Our city is currently under a boil water alert.  I have plenty of water in 55 gallon drums, 1 gallon jugs, and bottled water.  I pulled some gallon jugs and put them near each sink.  However, it is very inconvenient to wash your hands.  What solutions would you recommend to make it easier?  I’ve thought about buying some pump dispensers but not sure how well they will work with water.

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Screenshot from 2022-08-31 10-59-07

I am new, advice?

Hey everyone! I just turned 18 and I am learning about the prepper community. I have always been interested, but never really started “prepping” until recently. Does anyone have an advice for me?

I am looking to have a good stock pile, but I am not sure where to buy from (that will be effective and relatively inexpensive). I am not really sure how to use this site either, but I am trying to learn as much as possible. Any advice, recommendations, warnings, etc. would be infinitely appreciated.

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Is using natural gas a realistic option in most grid-down scenarios?

Given the number of electrical grid-down scenarios over the past year or so, I’ve been thinking about how to heat my home should that happen in the dead of winter.

My question is this:  Does natural gas ever get disrupted, specifically in locations like the Rocky Mountain West?  Power outages exceeding more than a few hours in my area are rare, perhaps once a year at most.  I don’t recall ever–in my lifetime–having a natural gas outage, period.  Though, obviously, anything is possible given the right bad circumstances.

It occurred to me that in a simple extended power outage (ranging from a few hours to a few days) due to, say, downed power lines in a snowstorm, I could simply plug the fan for my gas fireplace (or, possibly, the fan for the main house heater, which uses forced air) into a Jackery or DIY power station and keep heat circulating through the house.  While I haven’t yet taken a look at the setup in the basement furnace room, my initial thought is that that electric fan on my fireplace would require significantly less electricity and would be sufficient to keep our small two-bedroom ranch style home “warm enough” in an emergency situation.

Obviously, as well all things prepping, I wouldn’t want to put all my eggs in the same prepping basket.  So being prepared to function without natural gas ultimately needs to be part of my plan.  But, it seems, that many if not most grid-down situations would be no electric BUT natural gas still available, allowing me to battery power the fans to circulate the heat.  And, obviously, for an extended outage, natural gas–if available–is in much greater supply than the amount of propane I can realistically (and safely) store onsite.

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Pooping in a pail and other prepper pastimes

I am in the middle of a plumbing problem and thought I’d share what I’m learning AS I’m learning it, since I learn a lot from the “what went well/what didn’t” threads elsewhere in this Forum. To the extent possible I’ll try not to repeat what is in the “Toilets when there’s no water” thread. 

It seems our outbound sewer line is blocked. We are lucky that we have an unfinished basement so the disgusting backup is mostly in our non-living areas. But though we have plenty of clean incoming water, if any of it goes down the drains it just makes the backup WORSE and more disgusting. My preps are coming in handy, but I’ve learned some things!  Warning, this thread is – kinda gross. 

You need more trash bags than you think. I’m peeing in the toilet as usual but not flushing, and throwing the wet TP in the trash. Despite my husband’s objections, I am also Pooping in a pail, using my “luggable loo” for “#2”, with two trash bags inside and a big scoop of kitty litter. It still smells, though, so I take it out to the trash afterward and thus the need for lots of trash bags. 

I wasn’t thinking clearly when this first happened and at first I was trying to practice “hygiene” outside – hand washing, etc. using the outdoor faucets. This sucked since it is freezing here. I quickly realized that all I really have is a drainage problem, so I put big bowls under each house faucet to catch the hand washing water and then I throw it outside.  From this I learned a few other things:

Pails are REALLY handy.  LOTS of pails.  In addition to the “luggable loo” pail, which is serving its purpose, I have a pail in the bathroom to dump the hand wash water into, and a pail in the kitchen for dishwater. To the extent possible I’m using biodegradable soap and as the pail fills up I’m dumping it on the edge of the woods.  I also had to use a pail for cleaning up the backup in the basement. It was disgusting. Thank goodness I had dish gloves and plenty of hand sanitizer.  At first I was cleaning up with the ol’ wringing out a wet rag method, but this took forever. I finally figured out that using a squeegee to push the water into a large dustpan worked much faster. I probably made thirty trips to the woods with buckets of gross water. My next prepping purchase will be a water vacuum. Would love a review of those for a  future guide. 

The stuff I bought for hurricanes – shampoo caps, GoodWipes, wet toilet paper, etc. (plus the hand sanitizer that has basically become a staple in pandemic times) have been absolute gifts when I need to use as little water as possible. Here are some other tiny things I’ve noticed:

Habits are VERY hard to break. My husband kept running the faucets etc. without thinking, thus making our backup worse. I made signs with a big red magic marker and post-its saying “STOP! Minimize water use!” and posted at each sink and toilet, and that helped.  My preps were not as – prepped – as I thought. It took me a while to find the Luggable Loo, the trash bags, and the solar shower (which I ended up not needing).  I thought I was SO organized! I wasn’t.  We always say we should practice but does anybody really? These “mini emergencies” – only a drainage problem, instead of a full on emergency – are the ideal scenarios in which to work out the tiny details (which is why I am writing about it).   We should have a list of hotels with in-room laundry and kitchen facilities.  This problem has been going on for three days now (a plumber came on day one and SAID the problem was fixed – it wasn’t!) and we are considering moving to a hotel. However, with Omicron raging I really, really don’t want to be around other people, so finding a place with in-room laundry and kitchen facilities would be ideal.  Good to learn this now as in the future I might need to find one quickly, and WHEN you’re dealing with a literal “poopy situation” is not the time to figure stuff out like that. I found myself remarkably reluctant to use my preps. Example: The kitty litter with the Luggable Loo. I thought, Well maybe I should save this for a “real” emergency. I decided the situation definitely warranted the use of my supplies and that I can buy more kitty litter later! Very grateful for my “not quite BOB”. In addition to my full-on BOB, I keep a fully packed suitcase with three days’ worth of clothes, toiletries, and medications in case of a family emergency. I haven’t needed to use it yet but knowing that it is there is a stress reducer.  Given that we can’t do laundry just now, having three days of clean clothes set aside is a blessing.

Well, the plumber just called and is on his way.  Stay tuned. My next post might be about my hotel room kitchen kit, that allows us to have hot healthy meals even in a hotel without a kitchen. I put it together last summer in case we had to travel in the pandemic but haven’t tested it out yet. 

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What do you keep in your BOB for menstruation?

This came up in a different thread about prepping resources for single women,

Wanted to start a separate thread to dig deeper into period prepping! 🙂 Everyone was so generous with suggestions on the other thread, thought we could continue and consolidate here.

These were the main ideas that came up so far

Menstrual cups are a good idea because they’re washable and reusable, though the learning curve can be steep and there might be hygiene issues Diva Cup seems popular but not all brands work for all people Period underwear such as Thinx may be better for bags since they can be worn regularly and won’t add more weight Disposable paper products are cheap and can be used as a fire starter too, but you are limited to what you already carry

One person mentioned getting a UTI from her cup, so obviously everyone’s experience will be different. Whatever you choose, you should be sure to practice with it in real life. Don’t switch to a new method the same time you’re dealing with an emergency.

So… what do you keep in your bag? How do you think about prepping for periods when you’re not at home in an emergency? Has anyone gone through this, like at a shelter?

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California megafloods! New research, articles, prepping challenges, etc.

I don’t think we’ve had a forum thread on this before… LMK if I’m wrong and I’ll delete this and move my links and comments to the appropriate place, but the WaPo ran an article on megaflood risk in CA today.

If you get paywalled, here is:

The research article that prompted the press coverage (which is allegedly open access) A long Mother Jones feature from a couple of years on the same subject

TL;DR — California can get enormous rainfall events that generate enormous floods. There was one in 1862 and it basically turned the Central Valley into an inland sea and drowned a whole bunch of cattle. It would have been a bigger deal if the area were settled and farmed the way it is now. It will happen again and cause all kinds of havoc, destruction, loss of life, etc. My husband called it, “California’s Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.”

The thing that makes this so hard to grok for me is that, unlike likely shaking intensity for earthquakes, tsunami run-up, ordinary FEMA flood risk, and event wildfire hazard, this scenario doesn’t seem to have been modeled at the local scale. There isn’t a GIS where I can plug in my address and see whether it will be underwater or not, or plan an evacuation route.

My husband said, “We’d have five days notice, so, have sandbags ready to deploy, move everything valuable to the second floor, and evacuate.” Having sandbags and sandbag alternatives on hand seems like a no-brainer, and a list of things to move to the second floor or take (in addition to BOBs) is easy/consistent with work I’ve already done, but “we’d have five days notice… just evacuate” seems like a bad strategy given the tendency among Bay Area weather media people to totally overhype winter storms, especially those involving atmospheric rivers. If feel like all it would take is a good El Niño year and we’d be evacuating every week. Also, I have no idea where we’d go: “Head for the hills” doesn’t seem like a great rule of thumb given the propensity of the Coast Ranges to rearrange themselves under the duress of a wet winter.

Anyone else thinking about this?

(Edited to address formatting issues!)

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Grid down – How to recognize it early?

This was posted in November to the internet but my husband and I just watched this video yesterday. One of the things I found most interesting and relevant was the mention of how the initial reaction to the scenario would probably be more of a vacation vibe until the gravity of the situation really began to sink in after 2-3 days of no electricity. How does a prepared person get ahead of the curve on something like this? Realizing that the power is not coming back up in 12 hours, rather than waiting 48 hours seems like it might give you additional time to stockpile last minute water or supplies before the herd starts to panic. But how do you recognize that it really is a grid down and not an extended power outage? Or do you not worry about getting it wrong after you hit a certain length of outage, for example 6 hours, and assume grid down so that you can start moving to bug in or out as necessary?

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Livestock for prepping

There seems to be a common belief that keeping certain classes of livestock will insure a source of food (or transportation) when SHTF.  I’m an old lady, I’ve kept pretty much every class of livestock in my goal to be “self sufficient”, and I have a different perspective.  Let’s look at bugging out with livestock, supply chain disruptions for feed and supplies, predation, types of livestock, and sort out whether maintaining livestock REALLY makes us independent, or does it become an anchor around our neck when we need extreme mobility and lack of distraction.

1.  Chickens:  EVERYBODY loves chickens and thinks they’re an ace in the hole when SHTF.  First of all, let’s look at the avian flu epidemic that is affecting private flocks.  30+ chickens and ducks were just destroyed in our county.  There are undoubtedly more that haven’t been reported. They were probably free range.  It is unlikely that most chicken owners can grow their own healthy food for modern layers and meat birds (there’s an element of decades of breeding for high performance or exhibition that makes modern chickens different from those of the WWI era). So owners are highly dependent on supply chains.  Feed is hard to stockpile because it can easily go bad or become rat infested. Bedding is also subject to supply chain disruptions and inflation.  Bagged wood shavings can also be affected by the lumber market.  Around here, shavings were hard to get during the pandemic because the mills were all shutting down. Predation can bring death and destruction to a flock overnight. Oh, and the deep orange of homegrown eggs, to which is ascribed health benefits, is the result of feed compounders adding marigold extract – a dye – to the feed. It isn’t green grass and worms and sunshine.

2. Livestock and Evacuation: The overarching concern for ALL livestock owners is evacuation.  When our county was evacuated due to wildfires in 2020, there was a Facebook network called Cowgirl 911 which coordinated livestock owners with those willing to help transport.  That was the most appalling experience of a lifetime, seeing people pleading desperately for help transporting their chickens, pigs, goats, horses (not trained to load onto trailers).  And transporting to where?  As a horse owner caught up in the evacuation, the amount of time and space it took to load up those horses and their “survival gear” was staggering.

If you are a livestock person already, you’re probably aware of the devastating state of affairs of abandoned livestock after a big disaster. We’ll include cats and dogs here as well.

3. Other small livestock:  Somebody mentioned raising “cuy” in a recent post here.  Did anybody look that up?  Cuy = cavie = Guinea pig=rodent.  “They eat grass.”  Grass is not the same foodstuff from one hour of the day to the next, not to mention seasons.  There is a saying: “Just because you have grass doesn’t mean you have feed.”  I have been shepherding a horse through a major metabolic meltdown for eight months that occurred because of the grass she ate late last spring. 

Rabbits are kept caged.  They are susceptible to many ailments and are subject to the same issues with supply chains, evacuation concerns, etc.

Pigeons:  Why isn’t anybody raising pigeons anymore?  They were survival food for millenia.  If you look at a nicely grown out squab (young pigeon) expertly cleaned, you can only imagine how delicious it would be roasted.  Getting into pigeons is very expensive and subject to all aforementioned difficulties, but if I could convince my husband, I’d be trying pigeons. Or, if wild pigeons are in your area you can catch them to start your loft.

4. And lastly, may I bring up the subject of horses, which have been described here as “the ultimate bug-out animal”.  One prepping blogger went so far as to “instruct” the reader to go out and catch a mustang, train it according to Buck Brannaman (the “horse whisperer), and you’ll have transportation in case you need to bug out and all the roads are wrecked.  This is such a work of fiction that I can’t even wrap my brain around it.  The LAST thing you need to be “saddled” with (pun intended) is horses in a disaster.  They contribute nothing to survival unless you’re actually using them for farming.  They’re timid, they require more knowledge than raising children (neither comes with operating manuals) and while they’re not being used for bugging out, they require ENORMOUS assets, work and money to keep in a state of health. And what abandoned horses suffer in a natural disaster is the stuff of nightmares.  Even worse what they suffer in the hands of the uninformed.

If you are a city dweller who longs for the country life, that’s a realistic desire, but keeping livestock does not, in my book, equate to prepping or survival.  It creates an additional concern, a living “asset” if you will, which adds to the scope of necessary prepping, it does not subtract from it.

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Sump Pump Kit: Keeping your basement dry (and your neighbour’s too)

(image credit: Magnolia Field Flooding by Doc Searls. Licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY 2.0)

It’s 2 am. Your neighbour bangs on the door. Their house is flooding, and their sump pump just broke. The hardware store is closed. Can you help?


If you live somewhere with a basement and water, you may use a pump to keep your basement dry. This kit contains everything needed to get water out of your house.

This kit may seem expensive, because you are buying a pump. But it’s cheaper than an emergency call to a plumber. And it’s cheaper than an insurance claim and a flooded basement.

A sump pump is a perfect example of something worth preparing in advance. When you need it, you *really* need it. And chances are – everyone else may too. Better to have a kit ready than to be part of the crowd, rushing to the out-of-stock hardware store during a flood.

How To Use It

Usually you want to send the water one of two places: into the storm drain system (in a city) or out onto the lawn or road. The farther away from the house, the better – at least 20 feet.

Note it is illegal in many areas to permanently connect your sump pump to the _sewer_ system (it should connect to the _storm drain_ system), including a floor drain. But in an emergency, if choosing between a floor drain and a flooded house – put the water wherever it needs to go. You can point the hose at the floor drain and remove water, if the hose is not long enough to reach outside of the house.

How To Store It

You have several ways to store this:

One Bucket, stuff sticking out. If you use a standard hose kit, it is unlikely everything will fit into one bucket. If you’re not concerned about being neat and tidy, this is the cheapest, easiest way to do it. You could also measure the hose length to your floor drain and cut the hose to save space. Two Buckets, one for hose, one for pump. If you coil it nicely, 20 feet of 1-1/2″ hose will juuust fit inside a 5 gallon bucket. Put the pump and other items into a second bucket. This lets you put lids on top, to keep it all together. You must carry two buckets around. One Bucket, smaller hose. If you buy an adapter, you can use a marine hose (strong garden hose) instead of a regular hose. This lets you fit everything in one bucket. The marine hose may be longer, but have a smaller diameter, so it will move water more slowly.

Can I Really Use A Garden Hose?

You should *not* use a garden hose for a permanent setup. But in an emergency a hose will move water. It’s an option.

I spent twenty hours of research and one hour of testing creating this kit. I found a dozen people online and one person in my real-world prepping circle who have used (real life) or claimed to have used (online) a pump with an adapter and garden hose. I called three pump manufacturers and two plumbers to ask about pumps, PSI, and setup. All of them recommended *NOT* using a garden hose as your permanent pump setup.

A garden hose or marine hose has a smaller diameter, so it will move the water more slowly.
Your first bet should be the main discharge hose that is sized for your pump.
But if you want to buy a $15 adapter, you can.


Related Threads Read More
(image credit: Magnolia Field Flooding by Doc Searls. Licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY 2.0)

Twenty ways to prepare for civil unrest

Here are 20 ways you can prepare for potential civil unrest:

Stay informed about current events and potential threats in your area.Create an emergency plan for you and your family, including a designated meeting place and a way to communicate if you are separated.Build an emergency supply kit with enough food, water, and other essential supplies to last at least three days.Consider storing extra supplies, such as non-perishable food, water, and medical supplies, in case of a prolonged disruption.Consider securing your home by reinforcing doors and windows, and installing security cameras or alarms.Keep your car fueled up and make sure it is in good working order, in case you need to evacuate.Have cash on hand in case ATMs and credit card systems are not functioning.Consider storing important documents, such as identification, insurance policies, and bank account information, in a safe place.Take a first aid and CPR class, so that you can help yourself and others in case of injury.Learn self-defense techniques, so that you can protect yourself and your family if necessary.Consider purchasing a firearm and taking a firearms safety course, if you are legally allowed to do so and feel comfortable using one.Stay calm and avoid panicking, as this can make a difficult situation even worse.Avoid crowds and large gatherings, as they can quickly turn violent.Follow the instructions of law enforcement and emergency personnel, who are trained to handle these situations.Avoid confrontations and stay out of areas where violence is occurring.Be prepared to shelter in place, if necessary, and have a plan for how to do so safely.Have a plan for how to evacuate if necessary, and know the routes to take to avoid areas of unrest.If you see something suspicious, report it to law enforcement immediately.Stay in contact with your friends and family, and check on them regularly to make sure they are safe.Keep a positive attitude and stay strong, even in difficult times.

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Illumination during a power outage

We were enjoying the wood stove and the warm glow of the Aladdin lamps last night, rather absorbed in talking about the lamps, when I suddenly realized I had no idea of the state of our preps for dispelling the darkness in an extended power outage.  I’m a kindergarten prepper compared to others on this list.  My goal is to prepare for three months of independence. So I’ve been trying to take stock all day of emergency light sources and things can be improved.

I learned that the Aladdin lamps are good for roughly 10 hours of lighting (probably on low) on a 1 quart fill of kerosene.  (I love these fussy little prima donnas!) It seems that my approximately five gallons of kerosene (all designated lamp fuel) would net about 50 days of light, burning four hours a day. Seems we need another five gallons to slightly exceed three months. (My primary concern is earthquakes.)

Battery powered lanterns:  We have assorted Coleman battery powered lanterns.  Each takes eight D-cells.  D-cells are over $2 each now.  I looked at the Amazon page for our newest LED lantern and was hurtfully misled by the main advertisement for run time.  Scrolling through the specs revealed the actual run time to be about 1/3 what they were claiming in the ad. I think it actually worked out to about $1 for every hour the lantern is used, compared to the Aladdin’s roughly $0.28/hour.

But, once you light an Aladdin, you don’t want to move it.  The lantern is good for going out to the barn.  D-cells are also necessary for flashlights.  I carry a heavy Maglite to the barn every morning and night, partly for illumination, partly because I’m skeered of mountain lions!  LOL!  Just in case I need to clock a mountain lion in the head (as if I’d get a chance!)

Candles:  Pfft. 

Solar:  I read and very much appreciate the recent review of several solar light sources.  Here in the maritime Pacific Northwest, it is estimated we get about 26% of available sunlight during the winter.  Hubby is extremely resistant to anything solar.  We just don’t get any sun.

Generator:  As long as the gas and/or propane last, it is possible to run some 120V lights in the house.  That would be kerosene-sparing, since a generator HAS to be run to access the deep well pump, and run the septic pump and freezers. The generator was actually the cheapest “lighting” source, but gasoline storage is a problem.

Since I’m the chief cook and bottle washer, I tend to focus on food supplies and redundant cooking resources. Warmth is stored in piles of cordwood. “Power” is stored to the extent possible in gas cans and propane tanks.  But plain old LIGHT.  Seems I’ve taken it a little less seriously than I should.

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How to avoid losing your entire digital life in an instant

TL;DR: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Download all your data and store offline regularly.

A New York Times article this week, really got me thinking about how I organize my digital life. Sorry it is long but please take the time to read this, the lessons learned from this person’s experience can apply to 99% of us and there are things we can do now to prepare and be resilient against losing our entire digital life in an instant.

Here’s a brief summary of the article. A dad noticed a rash occurring on his toddler son’s genitals and took pictures with his Android smartphone to document the problem and track its progression. The parents contacted their doctor who requested the photos so they could review them in advance to their doctors appointment. The husband texted the photos to his wife’s iPhone and she then uploaded them to the doctor’s patient portal. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and the rash cleared up for the toddler.

Two days later, the dad’s phone received a message stating that his Google account was suspended because of “harmful content”. He then thought about it and realized that Google probably thinks he was sharing child porn. No big deal though, he could just contact Google and clear it up, he did nothing wrong. He filled out a form requesting a review of Google’s decision and explained his son’s infection and that the doctor requested those pictures. A few days after that, he received a response stating that they will not reinstate his account.

It gets worse… Google then contacted the authorities and the San Francisco Police Department opened up a case against this dad. He received a letter in the mail stating that they were investigating him, and served warrants to Google and his internet service provider. This would include all of his internet searches, location history, messages, documents, pictures, and videos. The dad contacted the investigator and tried to clear his name, the investigator responded that they have already closed the case because they could tell that no crime had occurred (and clearly had common sense).

The dad appealed his case to Google again sharing the police report that he is innocent, but Google was not going to budge. The New York Times also reached out to Google and asked if this dad could have his account back and they said no as well. He then got a notice that all of his information with Google was going to be permanently deleted. The sorta happy ending to all this though is that because the police had served that warrant with Google, they had a copy of all his data. They are in the process of getting this dad his information.

What a headache right!? Let’s look at all the real damage that was done.

This Google account was decades old and contained all of his emails for all that time. His contacts were stored with Google. All of his appointments were in his Google Calendar. All of his phone’s photos and videos were stored in the Google Cloud. His phone’s service plan was with the Google Fi provider so he lost that as well. He received is 2 factor authentication codes through text messages tied to that Google Fi phone number

This dad really put all his eggs in one basket and got sucked into the convenient ecosystem that Google has set up. Look up at that list and think about what you would do if you could no longer receive, send, or view old emails, could no longer receive calls or texts, couldn’t get into your accounts that needed a text message verification code, lost all your calendar appointments, and years of pictures and videos of your family. I personally would be devastated! It could be even worse if you took important notes in Google Keep, bought lots of apps, music, movies, and books through your Google account, subscribed to various YouTube channels, and more.

The lesson here is that you could be totally innocent and did nothing wrong and get your entire account banned, and even if you plead your case and any normal person with common sense would be on your side, they can still have your account banned.

Below are my tips on what I do and want to do better to avoid situations like this from totally disrupting my life. Please share your thoughts and advice as well, I want to hear if there is some better or different approach I can take to make things better.

Email – This actually happened to me last month. I was switching email accounts and for a weekend didn’t have access to my emails. It made me feel vulnerable that I could no longer contact certain people, receive notices from my bank, or get important medical test results that I was waiting on. Email is vital.

Easy step – Download a copy of your emails through Google Takeout. This will give you an offline copy of your existing data.

Medium step #1 – Have all of your emails automatically forward to a secondary Google or other email account.  That way if you got banned from one account, a copy would exist in another account.

Medium step #2 – Switch to another email provider that isn’t able to see the content of your emails. ProtonMail is a great solution.

Advanced step #1 – POP/IMAP your emails to your computer for offline viewing.

Advanced step #2 – Set up a custom domain. If your main email gets banned, you can then move it to another service and continue as normal.

Calendar –

Easy step – Export weekly/monthly your Google Calendar or any other calendar service you have. This offline file can then be imported into another Google account or pretty much any other calendar service and be rebuilt without losing all your appointments.

Medium step – Move to a totally offline calendar solution and don’t sync it to the cloud. Still keep your regular backups though in case your device gets broken. I like the app Simple Calendar for Android.

Photo and video storage – This all might have been avoided if he hadn’t set his phone to automatically upload his pictures and videos to the cloud.

Easy step – Turn off cloud sync with Google or iCloud. Yes, Apple also scans and flags potential bad pictures on their service too.

Easy step – Plug your phone into a computer monthly and download all your pictures and videos to it.

Medium step – Move to more secure cloud storage like ProtonDrive or where they cannot access or see what you store with them.

Phone service –

Easy step – Having a different phone provider like Tmobile or Verizon will make it not as life disrupting if you lost you Google account.

Medium step – Create another Google account and use it solely for Google Voice, which gives you a free additional phone number that you can use to make and receive calls and text messages.

2 Factor Authentication – 

Easy step – Prioritize software based 2FA over text or email based 2FA. It is commonly an option everywhere except for banks in my experience. That way if you lost access to your phone number, you can still get into accounts. An easy solution is to use Authy.

Easy step – Many sites will offer backup recovery codes if you don’t have access to your authenticator app, store these to get in again.

Medium step – Move to a totally offline 2FA application like Aegis for Android or OTP Auth for iOS. Back these up manually on a regular basis in case your device is ever lost or destroyed.

Advanced step – When setting up 2FA with each service, download your seed codes into your password manager. Then if your authenticator app breaks or whatever, you can manually rebuild.

Contacts – 

Easy step – Download and backup your contacts offline monthly.

Medium step – Request alternative phone numbers and emails for each of your contacts and set up alternatives for yourself and give those to all your contacts. Make sure everyone can reach everyone at any time by any means possible.

Medium step – Print off your contact information and store in your emergency binder.

Good tip for all the above and everything else – 

Download all your data regularly and store offline. If that’s through Google Takeout, or manually for each service, this is the best thing you can do to prevent total loss. Then back that up again somewhere else, preferably at a friend’s house.

Gone are the days you can take pictures of your kid running naked in the sprinklers without having to worry about getting your account suspended. There are many other situations where you can fall victim to such things like driving past a house where someone is getting murdered and your location data is on and police think you are the murderer, or someone uses your unlocked device and looks up bad things that then gets tied back to you. Don’t fall into the thinking that “This will never happen to me” because that dad probably was thinking that and look at what he has had to go through now.

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An idea for another safety tool at the drive-up ATM?

I was getting money from the drive-up ATM one Saturday morning.  The bank was open but there wasn’t anyone else at either machine.  It’s in a low-crime area but I always keep my head on a swivel and take as little time as possible.  I overshot the machine, so I had to back up.  After getting into a better position, I glanced at my rear camera.  Just then it hit me that if I keep my vehicle in reverse (and foot on the brake), I have a really good rear view of what is going on behind me.  Of course, if anyone is behind me it might freak them out, and if something were to go down I would likely back into the car behind me.  No, I don’t have any aftermarket front or rear security cameras and realize that would work better.

Just wanted some thoughts from the community.

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Public safety power shutoffs – Dress rehearsal for the real thing

In SoCal, we now routinely experience PSPS when high winds prevail.  While inconvenient, they are preferable to wildfires sparked by down power lines.  They also offer a chance to test at least some of your preps and experiment with procedures. We just had a two hour PSPS, and last year we had one that lasted for three days.

With internet down, keeping phones charged was a top priority.  Camping gear came into use, especially for cooking.  Our headlamps and portable lanterns proved useful.  Batteries recharged by portable solar panels were great.  We learned to minimize opening and closing the fridge.

On balance, not exactly fun, but a good learning experience for more difficult episodes…..

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How to prepare with pets

I’m fairly new to prepping (I’d been thinking about it for a good while, but the pandemic combined with world events really kicked things into gear for me) and while I have a solid go bag and a plan in case I need to leave the city with my two kids – I’m at a complete loss with regards to how to prepare for travelling with my cat. I don’t drive, and even though my partner does, I don’t want to rely on that necessarily, so all of my plans are based on walking to my folks’ house in the country, a journey that could potentially take 2 days. Anyone in a similar situation? What do I need to keep my cat safe and warm in an emergency situation that could involve camping overnight?

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How to prevent and survive a home invasion

There are 8,000 home invasions in North America every day. Your home is probably the place you spend most of your time, followed by work or perhaps school. It is also where you let your guard down and feel most safe. A home invasion not only is devastating, with the possible physical damage to yourself and possessions, but can also leave you with horrible mental and emotional trauma. After a home invasion, you may never feel completely comfortable or safe in your home again, and have many sleepless nights of anxiety long after the initial crime was committed. Don’t let this ever happen. Take the steps now to protect yourself and your loved ones from this horrible event that does happen.

While the elite crew of trained mercenaries cutting phone lines and executing a months-long plan to invade and hold you ransom does happen (and I’ll talk about that), most home invasions are from burglaries. 1 out of 5 homes will experience a home burglary. Every 30 seconds, a burglary takes place in the US. That’s 2.5 million per year. The majority of those occur during the day, and 25% are when someone is home. SCARY!

I have enjoyed reading, learning from, and taking steps based on the home-hardening articles on this site. They offer many solutions that are affordable, easy to install, and offer a lot more protection than your standard-built home. That is my first recommendation, harden your home using those guides to prepare against the most common form of home invasion, burglary.

But let’s say a burglary does happen when you are at home, here’s a possible scenario and what to do about it:

Scenario #1 – A break in or burglary in progress.

In this first scenario, you are either in your bedroom asleep or in the living room with your feet up watching a movie with your family to wind down for the evening. Let’s say you are watching the movie National Treasure with America’s national treasure Nicolas Cage. Both are situations where you are relaxed and feel safe and comfortable in your home. You hear a noise coming from across the house or in the garage.

It’s not wise to run out of the home every time you hear a noise and get spooked. Especially if you have pets or family members are not aware of their location, it most likely would be them accidentally dropping a glass or shuffling things around. If you think it through a little and come to the conclusion that it could be something dangerous, then dial 911 from a nearby phone and tell them you think someone might be in your house. It’s better to have the police aware and on the way than to be staring down the barrel of a gun by a home invader. You can always call back and apologize later that it was your cat if that was what it was. Calling a close neighbor is a backup if you really are hesitant to call 911, just do something to have another person come to assist you and be aware of the situation.

My first tip is to have some sort of weapon in every room to grab and respond to disturbances. Even if you carry a gun, you probably are not wearing that with your pajamas. Pepper spray is a good one that can be bought in bulk and easily distributed to hiding places throughout your home without taking up too much room. Improvise if you don’t have anything. A lamp or rolled-up newspaper is better than nothing. Take a couch pillow or jacket wrapped around your arm as an improvised form of body armor that could give some protection against a knife.

If you confront someone in your home, tell them to get out. If they stand there with a knife and act threatening attempt to talk them down, offer them cash from your wallet, or say “Take that then you can go free.”. A few bucks are worth deescalating the situation and avoiding an altercation. Be on guard though. Fight for your life if you need to.

My friend experienced a situation like this before when he was watching TV and a young burglar hopped up on drugs broke into his home. He used a commanding voice to tell the person to leave, but the burglar charged him, forcing my friend to at the assailant. He was justified but still lives with the guilt of taking a life. Again, harden your home to deter and reduce the risk of anything like this from ever happening.

While this next scenario is less likely to happen, it’s good to be aware of and at least think of.

Scenario #2 – A professional home invasion

If you hear a loud noise and try and call 911 like in the above scenario but are met with a cut phone line or even jammed cell phone then you could be facing a much greater threat than the teenage punk trying to steal some stuff to pawn. In this case, you have multiple points of evidence that you are facing a home invader. Get out and don’t investigate or confront them. Even if you have a gun and feel confident that you would be okay, they could have larger and more guns than you. And even if you were able to take them out, you now have to live with that for the rest of your life and now have a mountain of legal issues to worry about that probably will bankrupt you.

If you see people outside your home, they could attack as you try and flee, so even the get out advice isn’t a hard rule. Be smart about the situation you are in.

Most professional home invasions and kidnappings follow the following steps:

Stalking – they watch you, and know your routine Entry – they surround your house, cut off escape routes, and enter your home most likely fast, loud, and with a lot of guns to surprise and have the upper hand. Control – They will try and establish control over you and the situation by showing force or separating you from your children or spouse. Event – They will use you as their key to get what they want. Kill hostages – If they kill one of you or reveal their faces, they might show they have nothing left to lose and could easily kill the rest of you. Escape – The home invaders will try and escape after getting what they want.

If this occurs at night, turn off the lights and stay away from windows that will silhouette you. You know your house and the layout, they don’t. Have the upper hand.

If you are out numbered, act passive and non-threatening. The kidnappers/home invaders have elevated adrenaline and want to maintain control, especially in the early stages of the event. During the control phase, don’t try and reason with them, talk with them, or even look at them. Follow their orders because if you fight, they will try and exert even more control and dominance. Use this time to gather as much information as you can. Remember any names they mention, look for tattoos, how many are there, etc. This intel will be valuable for when you escape.

During the control phase, they will likely hold your spouse or children separate from you as leverage. They know that we are less likely to make an escape or fight back if we know we will leave a loved one behind or in danger. If you are presented the opportunity to escape however, you should. The ability to get away, secure your safety and call the SWAT team will leave you in a better situation than being left alone with the home invaders and the guns.

One way to create a diversion is to hit the panic button on your car’s key fob if you have your keys on you. Once they leave to check out the disturbance, you can try and escape. Do not run, it creates too much noise, move swiftly and quietly.

If you can get out of the house, be aware that professional home invaders may have additional men outside to keep an eye on things like police or you escaping. If you are caught again, expect to be met with extreme violence as they try and regain control and show you who’s boss.

Watch for patterns your captors exhibit. Do they send a text message or call the other kidnappers who are holding your family every 10 minutes to let the other person know that everything is going to plan? If you need to attack and subdue them, know that if they don’t get that phone call at that prescribed time, your family might be at risk. You would want to attack right after they make that call so you have at least 10 minutes to locate your family before things go bad.

Thanks to Ubique for sparking the idea of this forum post. She had posted scenarios last year that I have saved and finally am getting around to thinking about more, researching, and sharing my viewpoint on the subject. Here’s her first post that details out a home invasion scenario, and then in a followup forum post goes over the various things that could have been done to prevent and change that situation from happening. Your homework is to read those two and think about what you would do.

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How to survive a nuclear attack

Many people are talking about the increased possibility of a nuclear attack. Here’s what I learned about how to survive such an attack and what we can do to prepare for one after a few hours of research. 

Nuclear bombs can be deployed in many ways such as from a missile from an enemy country or even in the back of a van driven into a populated area. 

Distances in which you will be safe will depend on various factors such as size of the blast and the amount of material between you and the bomb. With a ten kiloton nuclear bomb, all organic matter (that’s you) will be vaporized instantly, wood structures will be incinerated, and glass will melt within 1/4 mile of the blast. 

At 1 mile out you will be able to survive it. If you do see a distant extremely bright source of light, turn away instantly, close your eyes, lay down on the ground and cover your head. The flash of a nuclear blast is brighter than the sun (can cause temporary blindness if you are looking at it) and emits a 10 million degree pulse of heat called a thermal pulse. Fires will still start and buildings will be destroyed 1 mile away from the blast. The flash of light and thermal pulse will travel quickly and hit you first, shortly after that will be the shock wave. Continue to lay on the ground covering your head, cover as much exposed skin as you can to prevent radiation burns, and keep your mouth open to prevent the shock wave from blowing out your eardrums and lungs. Get as low as you can. The shock wave will feel like a freight train going over you.

At 3 miles out, it will take about 20 seconds for the shock wave to reach you after you see the initial blast. If you are driving, pull over and get down low. After the shock wave passes, you have about 20 minutes before fallout starts raining down. Fallout is the powdered pieces of buildings, and everything caught up in the explosion of the blast combined with radioactive material from the bomb which is sent in the iconic mushroom cloud up into the atmosphere.  This 20 minute window is critical to find where you are going to be spending the next days sheltering in place. Common injuries you and others around you may be experiencing after a blast are burns, lacerations, broken bones, head wounds, people passed out, and car accidents. Quickly cover any open wounds and stop the bleeding, if fallout touches a wound it will enter your bloodstream and that could be fatal. Remember, you only have 20 minutes to find shelter, so do not stay and help all the wounded around you or you may leave yourself vulnerable. 

You are responsible for your life. Seconds after an explosion, satellites will pick it up and alert the pentagon and the president who will put the country into Def-con 1 (the highest state of alert) maximum military and local response will take place to assist in your area if the entire nation isn’t going through the same thing you are, but that will take time. You are on your own for the short term (at least 72 hours), possible long term (never receiving help).

When looking for a shelter, look out for downed power lines, derbies in the road, buildings on the verge of collapse, fires, and other dangers. Move quickly but be aware. Vehicles, computers, cell phones, and other electronics within a 3 mile radius of the blast may be wiped by the electric magnetic pulse (EMP) that is caused when the nuclear bomb ionizes the surrounding air. If you are miles away from the blast and have the ability to escape the fallout, figure out which direction the wind is blowing and travel perpendicular to that. 

A standard wood framed house will only stop 30-60% of the fallout, a well sealed basement will block 90%. Try going to dense concrete or metal buildings when searching for a shelter. When entering a building that you are going to bunker down in, remove outer layers of clothing that might have come in contact with the radioactive dust. Use any water you have to rinse off hair and exposed skin. Fallout emits radiation in three ways, alpha, beta, and gamma rays. Alpha and beta are weak and are dangerous when inhaled or on your skin. Gamma rays are the scary ones that travel through flesh damaging cells and causing cancers. The only way to stop gamma rays is to put as much solid material between the fallout and yourself. Head to the center and or basement of whatever building you are in to create as much material between yourself and the radiation. If the building you are in doesn’t have a basement, go up as many floors as you can to get away from the radiation that will land on the ground, but keep at least two floors above you from the radiation that settles on the roof. (Example, go to the 10th floor in a 12 story building) Use plastic, tape, newspaper, or clothing to seal off as many air gaps of the door and the room you are in to prevent radioactive dust from entering the area. Within the room that you have dedicated to be your shelter, place as many pieces of furniture, books, boxes, and material along the walls. 

If you get exposed to radiation for too long you will develop radiation sickness or die. Radiation damages cells that are normally dividing to make more cells and keep you alive, when they are damaged they may not divide properly and you will feel sick. If the cells can’t figure out how to start working again and dividing you will die. Some of the symptoms of radiation sickness include becoming nauseated, vomiting, or swelling from damaged blood vessels. 

Fallout loses 90% of it’s potency after 3 days, so be prepared to shelter in place for at least that long. Have enough water and food for that time. An emergency radio is helpful to know when rescue teams are nearby and when it is safe to go outside. When it is time to leave the bunker, again cover up any exposed skin you can, wear a cloth or even better a N95/N100 mask to prevent inhalation. 

What are iodine pills that prepping groups talk about and do I need it?

When a nuclear blast goes off, radioactive iodine is released which can be inhaled or absorbed in our food and water. The body can’t tell between radioactive iodine and safe iodine so it will absorb whatever kind it can. Potassium iodide pills can be taken which will flood the body with iodine and accumulate in the thyroid gland. The concentration of this pill is so high that the entire thyroid gland will be saturated and unable to absorb any more radioactive iodine. So if you have these pills, take them ASAP after the nuclear blast to prevent your thyroid gland from absorbing the bad stuff. 

Educational website:

Check out the Nuke Map and see how large an explosion near you could be. 

Will YOU ever have to worry about this and implement these steps? 

My thought is it is incredibly unlikely and you probably won’t. But hopefully you have learned a trick or two from this post that will save your life. My greatest realization was that you have 20 minutes after the blast for the real nasty stuff to start coming down. That is more warning than many other disasters such as an earthquake or tornado. 

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How would you prep with an EV?


I was listening to the radio this morning and they were interviewing a Norwegian pop star about a campaign in the 1980’s to promote electric vehicles. 

During the piece they mentioned that the Norwegian government has plans to phase out sales of all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2027 (just 4 years time). Many other nations in Europe have similar plans.

This got me thinking about how this would effect preparedness, especially as my own country is looking at rolling blackouts and I had just been researching what times and days I was likely to be without power.

If you have a diesel or petrol vehicle it’s possible to keep extra fuel for those ‘just in case’ scenarios BUT what would you do instead if you had an Electric vehicle?

I’m interested to hear what you do if you have an EV or would do! 

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