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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Prepare: How to build a cheap fallout shelter

Too many survivalist writers include preparation of a deluxe expensive fallout shelter as part of their suggestions and fiction. For instance, how often have we read about our hero and his shelter designed underneath his home complete with air filtration and blast door from American Safe Rooms (less than $10,000.00!), well, septic system and multiple hidden entrances?

Most of us have limitations on what and how we can prepare; space, money, time and understanding of others we live with.

A fallout shelter is one of those areas. Most of us simply do not have several thousand dollars around for a complete, sub-basement fallout shelter depicted in stories and movies. So we have to make due with a less expensive version using the tools and supplies we may have on hand.

To get started, you need the following:

A place for a shelter
A shovel, rototiller and pick
Plastic sheeting

What is described is a trench shelter. Basically, it is a long hole in the ground, a few feet wide, with ceiling and walls made from lumber and plastic sheeting and then covered with the dirt from the hole. 

A place for the shelter. This could be the backyard, acreage, vacant lot or other property. While having the shelter on site where one lives is the best option, having a shelter off site somewhere out of the way may be useful in avoiding prying eyes and uninvited guests.

While it's handy to have a back hoe, most of us will have to settle for a shovel, pick and plenty of labor. If thei digging team is limited to one or two adults/teens, then plan the work over a long weekend or several days.
A rototiller is handy because it can break up three or four inches of soil allowing its quick removal by shovel and is faster than using a pick.

The fastest way to start is to mark off the spot where the shelter should go. The usual applies:  Make sure it is away from water source, structures which may collapse on the shelter or exits, away from gas line, fuel tanks, underground wiring or plumbing.

Start small and expand on the basic structure. Mark off and dig a six foot long trench. The deeper it is the more protection it offers and the more comfortable it will be for the residents. At one or both ends of the trench, mark off a ninety degree right angle turn. This will be the entrance/exit to the shelter. Gamma radiation cannot "bend corners" but only travels in a straight line thus the entrance points should be at a right angle.

Shore up the sides of the trench with lumber using two by fours and plywood. Put plastic sheeting on the floor to keep moisture out and then place plywood on top if a stable floor is desired.

At a depth of six or more feet, the top can be covered with plywood, but solid core doors from the house can be used as well. After the doors or lumber have been put on top, cover them with sheets of plastic to keep moisture out. Then cover with at least three feet of earth. The entrances can be covered as well after occupants have entered the shelter, but not neccessarily with dirt.

Shelter residents would block the entrances with bulky items such as preparedness supplies in buckets and totes, water barrels or other containers. A crack should be left for fresh air to enter the shelter which can be protected by placing a furnace filter or similar over the opening.

This type of trench shelter can theoretically be occupied as long as water and food holds out. Typically, the worse radiation is in the first twenty four hours after the last bomb has exploded. Shelter stay normally lasts for a few weeks afterwards, but have a way to measure radiation before leaving the safety of the shelter.

For more information on how to build your own shelter, check with these resources:

Cresson Kerney's authortative website on nuclear war preparedness

K14U - A great site for nuclear prepardness and supplies.

A fallout shelter, in an emgency, does not have to cost several thousands of dollars or take years to prepare.

An Introduction to Cloth Diapering

What are the pros to using cloth diapers?

Cost: While cloth diapers may seem expensive to purchase upfront, they are cheaper than disposables in the long run. (And if you use the homemade laundry detergent that was highlighted in the January 2010 meeting, the soap cost will only be 3 cents per load!)

Environmental Impact: It is estimated that roughly 5 million tons of untreated waste and a total of 2 billion tons of urine, feces, plastic and paper are added to landfills annually. It takes around 80,000 pounds of plastic and over 200,000 trees a year to manufacture the disposable diapers for American babies alone. Although some disposables are said to be biodegradable; in order for these diapers to decompose, they must be exposed to air (oxygen) and sun. Since this is highly unlikely, it can take several hundred years for the decomposition of disposables to take place, with some of the plastic material never decomposing. While cloth diapers do require washing after each use, the waste that is flushed/washed away is being properly treated at wastewater plants instead of accumulating in landfills.

Skin & Health Concerns: Cloth diapers do not contain the dyes and chemicals that disposables do, making them a good alternative for children with sensitive skin. Many parents who use cloth diapers on their babies report significantly less diaper rash. This is attributed to the fact that babies who wear cloth diapers are likely to be changed more often than babies who wear disposables.

What are the cons to using cloth diapers?

Initial Cost: While they may seem costly to purchase initially, they will more than pay for themselves over time compared to disposables. (Please see below.)

Convenience: Cloth diapers need to be washed after each use instead of simply being thrown away. Some may also find them a bit more work to use while traveling. (Many opt to use cloth diapers at home and disposables on trips.) With the newer style of cloth diapers that are on the market, however, disposable diapers are not much more convenient that cloth diapers. The new multiple layer, Velcro/snaps fastening cloth diapers are just as easy to put on and take off as disposables. Cloth diapers do not really need to be presoaked, or even rinsed out. Flushable liners can be used with cloth diapers that let you lift the soiled liner off the cloth and flush the liner and the poop down the toilet. If you don’t use liners, you can just dump the older baby’s solids down the toilet. Cloth diapers usually only add about 2 extra loads of laundry a week to your schedule.

(see The New Parents Guide for more information)

Where can I buy cloth diapers, and how much will they cost?

There are literally dozens of brands that are sold online (too many to mention here)! A great place to start would be to contact someone you know who has used cloth diapers and get an opinion on which brands/types she/he enjoyed using. Or, try a few brands and see for yourself which you like best. If you would like to try to save yourself the cost of shipping, it may be worthwhile to find a seller in your town. USA Baby and Well Rounded Mama are a few local boutiques that sell cloth diapers.

There are different types of cloth diapers, namely: Prefolds with covers, pocket diapers with inserts, and all-in-ones. The cheapest route would be using prefolds with covers. This option, if you were to use them on your child from birth until 2-1/2 years, including the cost of washing, comes out to be approximately $380 total. The most expensive cloth diapering route would be a combination of all the cloth diaper types and comes out to be approximately $1,470 total. The total estimate to outfit one child from birth until potty training in disposables is about $2,577, approximately $1,100 more per child than even the most expensive cloth diapering option!

(see Diaper Decisions for more details)

Suburban Survival Hazards - Don't Feed Wild Animals

With a habitat that is quickly disappearing due to the increase of suburban expansion, many wild animals are quickly losing their fear of humans causing new threats to your survival. These threats can be real for you, your children and your pets.

Many suburban areas are being overrun by everything from coyotes and alligators to skunks, possums and raccoons. Many suburban areas are also being plagued by large deer populations that are destroying yards and gardens while creating traffic hazards as well. More remote suburban areas have additional hazards from even larger predators that may include wolves, bears and mountain lions depending upon the area.

Striped Skunk
Just remember that many of these animals are predators by instinct and will view you, small children and your pets as little more than their next meal. Coyotes in recent years have become especially bad about this in many areas as they have started hunting for food and prey in suburban areas. They are quite often infected with rabies creating an additional hazard.
You can read about the numerous coyote attacks on people and children here:
Coyote Attacks

Drawn by food scraps in open dumpsters, uncovered trash bins and feed dishes for pets left out with easy access, these wild predators are taking advantage of easy meals provided unknowingly by many suburban homesteaders. In the absence of an easy meal, they are also viewing small pets and even small children as a new food source.

While smaller animals such as skunks and raccoons can be quite attractive to young children, they can also carry rabies and other diseases that can be a very real hazard to you and your pets. The treatment for rabies can be a painful experience and a hard lesson for anyone, including a young child, to learn.

One of the best things you can do is to notify animal control officers or a good pest control service in your area of any sightings. They normally monitor activities of this nature and are usually more aware of increasing populations of wild animals in suburban areas and the proper way to rid yourself of this type of hazard. You can also make sure not to leave pet foods out with easy access for wild animals, keep dumpsters closed and trash bins covered.

Got wild suburban predators? Don't become their next meal!

Staying above the water line!


Survival Fire Safety, by Mr. F.

In our preparations, we’ve all made an in depth survival plan.  We have stocks of food items and a means to hunt or grow more.  We know where we’ll get water and how to treat it and have solutions for cooking, heating and lighting.  Perhaps some will operate gasoline or propane-run electric generators and some may distill alcohol or use wood gasification for fuel.  We also have adequate supplies of medications, vitamins and first-aid items.  We’ve thought of everything, planned for any contingency.  Right?

What about Fire Safety?  Our plans mostly or entirely rely on fire for cooking, heating and lighting.  Do you have working fire extinguishers or another plan to deal with a fire if one erupts?  If you are planning to use a generator it needs to be properly wired to prevent fire.  And what about your fuel storage?  Is it a hazard?  After all, if services have deteriorated to this point, the local fire department isn’t coming either.

Of all aspects of our daily life, Fire Safety is most commonly overlooked.  The second step to mitigating any safety hazard, after removing the process entirely if possible, is to engineer out the hazard.  Today, this is done for us in the form of model building codes, UL listings and other industry standards.  Not surprisingly, it isn’t forefront in our minds.  But when SHTF, we’ll be trading our electric lights for kerosene lamps and candles, electric ranges for camp stoves and wood fires.  Many things will be home-built or improvised from available resources.  Have we already, or will we, engineer in those safeguards?

The Science of Fire

To understand fire potential, and extinguishment, it is important to understand the dynamics of a fire.  Some of you may recall learning about the “Fire Triangle” in school.  The theory being that combustion occurs when all three components (oxygen, fuel and heat) are present, and removing one or more will extinguish the fire.  While this is a simplistic approach, it makes an appropriate foundation to start with.
First off, this means that the fuel and oxygen components must attain proper geometric distribution or fuel to oxygen mixing.  This usually requires that the fuel, though it may be in a liquid or solid form, must be heated until it vaporizes.  This is where heat comes into play.  “Flammable” means that it will vaporize at temperatures below 105 degrees F and generally includes liquids such as gasoline, alcohol, propane, etc.  “Combustible” refers to fuels which vaporize at temperatures greater than 105 degrees F, thus requiring more heat input for the combustion process to occur.  This is also why it is harder to start a campfire in the dead of a Canadian winter than summer in west Texas.

As a fire burns, the combustion reaction produces large amounts of energy in the form of heat.  This in turn becomes the heat necessary to sustain and/or grow the fire.  The hotter the fire, the more fuel that becomes available and the more rapid the fire’s growth. The only limitation now is the available air. It is important to note, however, that not all fuels need to be in vapor form.  Fine dust particles, when airborne in high enough quantity, can attain the proper mixing with oxygen to burn quite rapidly.  This is important for anyone with bulk storage of grains, coal, sawdust and even dusty hay.
The oxygen, or oxidizing agent, in the context to which we are concerned with comes from “standard” atmospheric air – roughly 20% oxygen, 79% nitrogen, etc.  As the fire burns, hot combustion gases expand and rise in a superheated plume.  As these gases rise, fresh air is drawn into the fire at the base, heated, consumed in the fire and again released upward.  This is what is referred to as convection currents and one reason why you aim a fire extinguisher at the base of the fire. Also note, however, that in some instances such as with gunpowder, no outside oxygen is required for combustion.  Some chemicals, such as nitrates, contain sufficient quantities of oxygen within the molecules, and are easily released during the combustion process.  These burn rapidly and are difficult to control.

Okay, a fire just broke out!  Now what do we do?  First, we need to know what classification of fire it is (that is to say what materials are involved).  This is important so we can determine the proper method of extinguishment. 

Class A Fires
involve “ordinary” combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, etc.  This is the most common fire you can expect and will most likely occur from a campfire that got out of control, a lantern getting knocked over, a lit candle or some other similar incident.  A little care can go a long way here.
Water is going to be the best means to put out a Class A fire but it’s likely to be a precious commodity.  Snow is another excellent media since it is also very effective at blanketing the fire.  If it is small, you can also try smothering it with a blanket or jacket but make sure there is no flammable liquid involved (guarantee you’ll set the blanket or jacket on fire if there is).  In the case of a small to medium fire outdoors, sand or soil shoveled onto the fire is also effective.  However, sometimes it may be best to simply let the fire burn itself out while you prevent it from spreading.

Chimney Fires can creep up unwittingly.  Unburned volatiles called creosote are given off primarily due to green/wet wood, low temperature fires and insufficient airflow.  This creosote builds up until it either blocks the flue or is ignited by a hot fire.  If a fire occurs, immediately close all inlet vents on the stove to smother the fire.  If it is an open fireplace, extinguish the fire below then carefully try to close the damper if you can.  Do not attempt to cover the chimney but do try to water down the roof if possible.  There is otherwise very little that can be done for a chimney fire.  Water sprayed into the flue will likely crack the flue liner.  Even the extreme temperature generated is likely to cause damage to the chimney.  Damaged flues and chimneys drastically increase the likelihood of a structure fire.  It is best to take every precaution to avoid a chimney fire. [JWR Adds: Chimneys should be cleaned at least once per year!]

Class B Fires
involve generally flammable liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, paraffin, alcohol, etc.  These pose a great risk because they ignite easily and spread quickly.  Accumulated vapors can ignited with the smallest spark, even static electricity.
If you encounter a flammable liquid pool fire, do not use water.  Remember, most of the flammable liquids we will be using are hydrocarbon based and float on water.  Application of the water will cause ripples in the fuel, causing a flare up as well as spreading the fire.  Flammable liquid fire must be extinguished by smothering.  This is best accomplished by dry chemical of foam fire extinguishers though small fires in containers may be carefully covered.

| Now let’s say you are refueling a hot generator and it flashes over.  You now have flames coming out of the fuel tank as well as the gas can.  Get away!  It is important to keep your distance as explosion or eruption is possible.  This is a bad situation and there is little you’re going to be able to do.  A pressurized hose could be used to cool surfaces but at the risk of overflowing the tank or can, thus spreading the fire. In the event of a leaking propane line that catches fire, shut off the gas at the source if it can be done safely.  It is unlikely that anything else you try will be successful and even if it is, you’ll be releasing raw fuel that is likely to re-ignite.

Probably one of the most common and dangerous fires in this class is the grease fire.  This generally occurs from superheating animal fats or vegetable oil and also applies to paraffin.  Again, do not use water.  Find something to cover it with, such as the lid to a pot if you are cooking.  The next step is to do nothing.  That’s right, don’t touch it.  Let me repeat that.  Do not touch it.  Don’t even think about.  You see, as oil, grease or paraffin burns, its’ auto-ignition temperature decreases.  That means that if any air is introduced, it will flash over again unless it has cooled sufficiently.

Class C Fires
involve energized electrical components such as wiring, motors, generators, etc.  In this case, the ignition source is the electricity and the fuel is usually the wiring.  The first step in this situation is to kill the electricity – trip the disconnect, turn off the ignition, shut down the generator, what have you.  Now it is simply a Class A or Class B fire.  DO NOT use water around live electricity.

Class D Fires involve metals, such as sodium, magnesium, aluminum, etc.  These may be found in some fire starters and flares as well as around metal grinding and cutting.  It is possible for two metals, along with a catalyst, to ignite.  Such fires burn rapidly and extremely hot.  However unlikely it is that you will encounter such a fire in a survival situation, this is one you can’t affect without specialized firefighting equipment.

Fire Extinguishers are an indispensable safety item for every household.  Each extinguisher will be labeled for the class of fire and fire size it is capable of being used on.  There are several styles available so familiarize yourself with how yours operates before it is needed.  There are also a number of different extinguishing agents so choose wisely.  Water and water based foams will freeze and the powders used in dry chemical types wreak havoc with electronics.  Do you homework. They also require some regular maintenance.  For instance, dry chemical powders need to be “fluffed” every so often to keep them from caking.  This can be accomplished by turning it upside down and hitting the bottom with a rubber mallet.  And also check to make sure the bottle is free of rust or other mechanical damage.  I recall one incident in which a woman intended to operate a fire extinguisher on a small fire.  However, the bottle was severely rusted and when she “charged” it by firing off the supplied air cartridge, the top blew off and killed her. Also, with the exception of the old “Indian fire pumps”, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to refill them.

Doubtless, the most fearful fire of all is one that upon your person.  In the event that your clothes become involved, don’t run.  STOP, DROP and ROLL to smother the fire.  If you see someone else on fire, this is where  your time on the high school football team comes in handy.  Grab a blanket, preferably wool, and tackle them (albeit gently).  The goal is to get them on the ground and covered with the blanket, smothering the fire.  Depending on the circumstances and clothing involved, there will likely be some first aid required.

Up in Smoke

Aside from the inherent dangers of fire itself, combustion by-products may pose an even greater hazard.
In complete combustion of organic materials, where adequate free air exists for the fire, carbon dioxide and water are produced.  Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a colorless, odorless gas which, being heavier than air, collects in low areas.  An increase of only 2-3% CO2 in the air we breathe can result in impaired memory, loss of fine motor skills and weakness.  Higher concentrations can cause unconsciousness and death.  If you find someone a victim of CO2 exposure, ventilate the area.  Do not go rushing in and become a victim too (you won’t do them or yourself any good like that).  Remove the victim to an area with fresh clean air.  In some cases, the victim may require further medical treatment my trained personnel.

If the fire is starved for oxygen, then carbon monoxide (CO) is produced.  Again, CO is a colorless, odorless gas, but it is even more dangerous.  Generally, CO exposure causes a feeling of sleepiness in the victim, but also nausea, headaches and vertigo.  Once the victim becomes unconscious, death soon follows.  The complicating factor here is that CO molecules bond to hemoglobin, the oxygen carriers in the bloodstream, preventing oxygen from getting to the cells.  Simply getting the victim to fresh air will not adequately purge CO from the system.  Treatment for CO exposure usually requires 100% oxygen or hyperbaric treatment.

When inorganic materials such as plastic, paint, glue, particle board, wire insulation and other man-made materials burn, there is virtually no limit to the volatile and toxic chemicals that are released.  These can result in serious illness and death very quickly and will almost certainly require medical treatment you cannot provide at your survival retreat.

An Ounce of Prevention

While we want to be prepared to deal with a fire if one starts, our best bet is to “engineer out” the hazard and prevent a fire altogether.
Make sure that lanterns, lamps and candles are placed on a flat, stable surface.  Candles should be in a proper holder or on a porcelain or tin plate with sides to catch melted wax.  An empty tuna can works well for this.  Ensure that all combustibles are kept away and be mindful of shirt sleeves and loose clothing when working with or around such items.  Also, be careful around children and animals (remember Mrs. O’Leary’s cow).

As I said before, chimney fires are best avoided and regular maintenance is the key to preventing them.  This starts with regular cleanings.   If you are burn strictly for heat in cold months, this means at least one cleaning before the burn season and possible more during the season.  If you will be burning regularly for cooking, you’ll probably be using a smaller fire, thus creating more creosote.  Burning hot and staying away from “green” wood or wood heavy with resins such as pines will drastically help reduce buildup. 

There are various products on the market which claim to help with creosote buildup.  These products are simply burned periodically in the fire.  However, while these would likely help, they are certainly no replacement for proper cleaning.  Make sure you have a brush or two of the proper shape and size for each flue.  In a pinch, a bundle of chain on a rope will work for small flues. 

Even as I write this, I received a call from a woman who just had a chimney fire last night.  Today she is trying to make repairs so that it is again safe to burn.  Metal chimneys are expensive but easily replaced if you have spare parts.  However, damage to masonry chimneys is much more difficult to repair.
Take extra care with flammable liquids.  When stored, ensure that they are in approved containers with good seals.  On his 1911-12 journey to the South Pole, Robert Scott left caches of food and fuel.  On the return trip, he found that many of the fuel cans were empty, having leaked at the seals.  The lack of fuel eventually led to their deaths.

Flammable liquids should be stored out of sunlight and in a well ventilated area.  And for God’s sake don’t use anything with a flame around flammable liquids.  Even a flashlight is a potential ignition source.  If you need to have something for light, get a small flashlight with a Class 1, Div.1 rating.  I use ones from Pelican and UA.
Also avoid using gasoline and the like for starting fires.  The accumulation of fumes can have deadly results.  A good alternative is to use gel starting fluid for pellet stoves.  The gel is less volatile and won’t flash or explode like gasoline will.

Also be very mindful of the clothing you wear around or when starting a fire.  Nylon, rayon and the multitudes of synthetic fibers used in clothing today are extremely dangerous.  They ignite easily and melt even easier thus increasing the need for medical attention.  Natural fibers such as cotton and wool are best.
When possible, buy instead of building anything that uses a flame.  This includes lanterns, stoves, burners, incubators, brooders and heaters.  There are also several manufacturers of fire resistance coatings that can be applied to almost anything.

Be careful with outdoor fires, especially when windy.  The last thing you want to do is start a fire that burns your house or shelter down with your supplies in it.  Remember the rule of 3’s?  You can survive 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without food.

Don’t use stoves or flames inside of tents unless both the tent and the stove are intended for such a purpose.
If you are planning to use a wood framed structure for your survival shelter, you may want to think about fire resistance.  A number of manufacturers offer concrete fiberboard siding that is fire proof as well as water, weather and insect proof.  There are also a number of options for roof coverings such as metal, clay and cement fiberboard.

Unless you are competent in electrical wiring, make sure to have everything checked out by a licensed electrician.  If you plan to use an electric generator, use the proper connections and transfer switches.  Don’t try to jury rig this - the shock and fire potentials here are extremely high.
Smokey Bear always said “Only you can prevent forest fires”.  This is essentially true in a survival situation too.  Many of us will be living in somewhat primitive conditions compared to what we are used to.  We need to be vigilant at every moment.  Think Safe, Be Safe.

How to Prosper in a Salvage Economy, by Tamara W.

A salvage economy is a post-production economy. The economy is based on salvage and then reuse or remanufacture of salvaged materials. The current modern equivalent of this are those individuals who sort through trash heaps and dumps for recyclable materials. The historical equivalent of this are the stone masons in Egypt who tore down ancient monuments for building material. For example, the lost Pyramid of Djedefre was thought to have not been built until its foundations were found, including a mortuary temple and queens’ pyramids. Where did it go? Must of it was used to build buildings in Cairo from 1300 through the 1700s. It was easier and cheaper to take apart an existing pyramid near the city than find, mine and transport new limestone blocks from now-distant quarries.
Salvage occurs when the manufactured product is unavailable in a new state, has become too expensive for anyone to purchase, or has a supply chain that has fallen apart to the degree that the product is often unavailable most of the time.
For all of the discussion on survival, why focus on long term survival on a salvage economy? First of all, many people will not set up a refuge in the wilderness. Their best survival opportunity seems to be within the city. While difficult, it is not impossible, especially for those who prepare. Secondly, if we do slide to a post-technical or “eco-technic” society, we should not expect to return to “Little House on the Prairie”. More than half of the world’s population lives in the cities. Those cities will still be there even if some catastrophe, be it nuclear, chemical, biological or EMP, manages to kill most of its inhabitants. And we should not expect all cities to be lost, even if several major ones are destroyed in terrorist strikes or war. If those untouched but partially depopulated or damaged but re-buildable cities can be utilized to rebuild civilization, which should be part of a larger goal. This rebuilding will then requires a salvage economy. And last but not least, if we have a multi-generational decline, we will fall into a salvage economy as manufacturing capacity fades. Even if we retain the capacity for a high-tech manufacturing capacity and find it crippled by environmental regulation and economic depression, we will find a salvage economy as has exploded in California.
If faced with a salvage economy, the question then rises: how do you survive long term in such an economy? More importantly, how can you prosper in a salvage economy?
1. Use creative recycling within your own household. If opportunities present themselves that can be ethically utilized, do so, but avoid scavenging for a living. (Hunting and gathering of food are excluded from this discussion. Here we are only discussing physical materials.)

2. Do not be a scavenger or salvager of materials yourself. This is to literally be at the bottom of the economic food chain. Be the collector or buyer that buys goods from the salvagers and then sells it at a profit to the recycler or craftspeople. This level of the supply chain is safer than doing the manual labor of salvaging, and your supply is both more diverse and continuous than those who do the actual salvaging. There is also less personal risk of injury or illness than salvaging. By becoming a collection point or “depot”, your own time is still mostly spent on survival related activities instead of searching for materials one only hopes to trade for items and resources needed for survival.

3. Have close and direct ties to multiple smelters or material re-processors. This provides more stability in sale price than if there is only one customer. A single purchaser can set their purchase price based on their ability to refuse to buy until you are hungry enough to sell at their desired price.

4. Invest in the replacement materials and goods that will replace salvaged product. After all, salvaged goods will eventually run out. This may be smelting equipment that can melt down the newly recycled metal into yet another material, compared to smelting equipment that melts down old steel beams into new steel goods. It may be plastic grinders and pellet makers that can turn new plastic materials into another form. It may be the act of investing in green energy projects as Peak Oil runs out and salvaging wood and plastic to burn winds down.

5.  Supply the material working tools needed by re-processors. This may be forges to be sold to metal workers or fuel to smelters. It could be molds or presses that can be sold to those recycling plastic. Create or produce what is needed for the salvage economy to turn salvaged goods into useable goods. The additional benefit of this is that there may be more than one re-manufacturer to sell these industrial essentials to, and one can always have the fall back of setting up the re-processing facility on their own property or help a neighbor do the same if the main re-processor shuts down.

6. Help develop the distribution market for existing salvaged goods, whether finding new uses for old salvaged goods or new demand for recycled products. By creating new markets or new customers, the profit margin is higher than competing with the existing salvage economy.

7. If shortages of obviously long-term useful materials are clear, consider stocking up on them. However, it is best to do so only if you can use them in your own business or own property. For example, copper tubing can always be used in plumbing projects or manufacturing of stills – or be sold to those manufacturing their own equipment. However, it is unwise to have hundreds of pounds of copper tubing sitting in storage if the money and space could be used to items with greater value to your household. Having a large stockpile of [cables or] solder wire may be critical if you are an avid ham radio operator and can generate extra income fixing and selling older rigs. But if you have no significant personal or business use and cannot barter it in sufficient quantity to acquire goods needed for life, use the space for food, water, or more valuable tools. However, if you have a small business that could use the materials or goods and it is a critical supply for those who may need it to rebuild technology as we rebuild, consider stockpiling it as a way to profit from the salvage economy.

8. Have the skills to fix salvaged items yourself. This may range from fixing broken toasters and radios to making small car parts to restore a heap of junk to a functioning car. Those who salvage are a dime a dozen. They could have been the migrant poor before the collapse, or they may have been hedge fund managers and bureaucrats who have no others skills than looking for and collecting salvage and scrap items. However, those who can take those broken things and make them functional will be a precious minority. If you do not have these fixer-upper skills, consider learning them.
Consider encouraging younger family members to learn these skills – be it wiring, tool and die cast, equipment repair or even complex mechanical assembly. Learning to read blueprints and manufacturing instructions would be an engaging project for any elementary school child. Fortunately, many of use have already stocked up these kinds of books in our homes, if only in the form of repair manuals for equipment and appliances we already own. Make it a reading assignment for yourself or your family members. Having these skills makes your labor valuable and your teaching ability even more so – and a non-tangible trade good that cannot be taken away.