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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Guest Post: Firestorm Chapter 4 , by Christopher Young

Gomer goes for Sam

OK, listen up. This is Commander Gomer. Just cause I'm out of the military, don't wimp out, and think I've gone soft. I'm still in charge, here. I got my fill of that sloppy writing, and so this chapter, I'll take charge. Sigh. Besides, since my truck just burned down, I've got to find something to keep me busy for a while.

Commander Gomer strode purposefully out of the map room, and went to talk with Faith. Faith shrank a bit when I walked in. Such is good. The girls ran over for hugs. More hugs! Well, that really cramps my commander approach. I put up with the attention for a couple minutes, and then turned to Faith. The moment of truth. Faith decided to cut to the chase. "Yeah, the world collapsed, and you got to use all your emergency shit. Happy, now, asshole?"

Ignoring the insult, I asked if she had brought along all the bug out gear that I had left, when I moved out. No, she'd got a new boyfriend and wanted all memory of me out of the house. The tent, camp stove, bottled water, lantern, flash lights, all of it. Went out with the trash. After that big argument, where I insisted that she put 10% of her paycheck into survival equipment, and she insisted that I quit that nonsense, and get more cable channels. That's when I moved out. The last of a long string of battles.

Chris figured it was time to change the subject a little. Faith's girls were in the living room romping and playing with my three kids. Heather was in the kitchen trying to stay out of sight. But at the same time be able to hear every word. Might be time for dinner. Chris signaled Heather with the sign for "EAT!" and Heather nodded.

"Late lunch!" Heather called from the kitchen. Chris knew the girls would be starving by now. my kids hardly acted like they heard. Well, no surprise. I do keep em well fed. Just stayed in front of the television. Savannah and Bobbi nearly fell over each other on the way to the kitchen table. Faith had to remind them to wash their hands and faces, first. When the girls got to the bathroom, they looked in the mirror, and were amazed how dirty they were.

Heather had a wide assortment of food on the table. Faith asked where to sit, and I pointed out three chairs. Late lunch was much like regular lunch, but that the three starving civilian  females ate most of the food. Faith was astounded when Heather got a couple Pepsis out of the refrigerator. Nice and cold. 

Right after "late lunch", Chris and I went to the map room. Some quick calculations, we figured four hours to get to Sam's location. That is, if the local indigenous personnel aren't too much trouble. If the road were clear, and we avoid the cities. We mapped out a route that would likely be clear. With  Chris's  official looking fire department vehicle, we could take the Southern Tier Expressway most of the way. And then go south, down some country roads. It would be maybe four hours. Figure arrival time 8 PM if everything went well.

"Well, shit, we're down a vehicle. Any ideas?" I asked. Sam was walking, and Brenda said their car was burned up. Guess that leaves the Blazer, and Faith's mini van. "Van! That's it!" Chris exclaimed.  "Ernie is watching my van, back at the trailer." We looked at each other, and a light bulb came on. That's the other vehicle we'd need. Now, to  plot a different route, stop by and get the van.      
Time to load up Chris's Blazer, and get the show on the road. I left some last minute instructions with Heather. And once again reminded Faith that she had best get with the program, and start thinking like a survivalist. Faith tried her best to be meek. But there was a twinkle in her eyes that made it clear that Heather had taken her out to the back window, and shown her what was behind the shed. Damn, can't trust them women.  

Time was an important issue. The afternoon was passing, and Sam would be out in the wood with a broken leg. Sooner is better, when it comes to medical extractions. No way to know if Sam was losing blood, or going into shock.

We decided to travel light. Pack up Chris's Blazer with enough supplies for three or four days of food, and only the minimal camping gear. The schedule and plan would be immediately changeable, depending on Sam's wants and needs.

I left some instructions with Heather. The usual security, but be sure to call on the cell phone every hour. And if the cell wasn't working, to make do until they heard back. Keep the HF band radio on at all times, on the arranged frequency, in case they were within range.

Faith was fast asleep on the sofa, the stress had worn her out. The five kids had gone outside, and invented a game which involved throwing rocks at trees, and keeping score. They were good for a couple hours. As an after thought, I got went to Faith's purse, where she had left it on the counter. Got out Faith's keys. Twisted the apartment key off the ring, and put the key on the ring in my pocket. Chris watched me do this, but said nothing.

Chris went to the back of the Blazer for one last quick equipment check. Hefted the two gas cans, to make sure they were full. Yep. I got in the passenger side, wishing I was the one doing the driving. That Ford would have been the nuts for this kind of thing. With the optimized fuel injection, and high flow exhaust headers. We'd have enough horsepower to pull a semi with a full load. And the Ford four wheel drive can't be beat. We rolled down the driveway.

Just as Chris was turning right onto the road, I started to think out loud. Trying to organize thoughts about why the world was in such a mess. And organize the intelligence Chris and me had.

  The reason we lost power was Muslim extremists had destroyed well over 85% of the electric generating capacity of the USA. They have also destroyed millions of homes, business, switching stations and substations across the country. A medium yield neutron bomb has taken out most of the Feds in DC including the President and VP, The military has declared a coup and are arresting most federal representative for treason.
 SubPac has launched nuclear strikes against China for their part in the attack on the US and the US coasts have been declared off limits for all foreign flagged ships. AirPac has steamed the aircraft carriers, and surface ships of the fleet are maintaining a 200 mile corridor off the coast. The US forces abroad have all been recalled, we have withdrawn from the UN and ousted all UN representatives. The UN has offered "help", but our military has declared any movement of UN
troops to our shores will be considered an act of war. Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Japan, Israel and South Korea maintain diplomatic ties, the rest of the world declares the US
in violation of UN sanctions. Now the shoe is on the other foot. We're the ones being sanctioned by the UN.
  Most of the country is in a state of unrest, rioting and looting. The federal troops are busy patrolling. Local law enforcement is required to turn over any prisoners to the Fed. FEMA has quickly and quietly been releasing Muslims, but keeping all other prisoners and truck drivers in old military bases, schools, and any public building that can house prisoners. Also they were starting to fill the FEMA prison camps which had been built. About 600 such camps. Presidential Executive Orders have been issued, and the nation is essentially a dictatorship. But who is the dictator? No one really knows.
  All States have activated their National Guard units. Most Air National Guard units have been reassigned to ground forces, the exception being in the southwest, where air units are providing air patrol of the border. Most units in the border States have been assigned to maintain border security.
  In several northeast States, the Governors have issued gun confiscation decrees.

  Yet unknown to us, the director of FEMA had ordered that all privately owned vehicles would now be confiscated for use and redistribution of goods for the welfare of the people. Not just semi trailers, but all passenger cars and light trucks also.

  Overall, the situation is grim. The stores are all closed, and there is no hope for resupply. At least until the manufacturing can be restarted. The Fed and local governments were doing nothing useful in terms of crime control.

And typical of the state of the Nation, the situation was grim for Sam, also. He was out of water, and down to two pain pills. The river was too far down for him to get any more water by hiking down the bank. Well, only thing left to do was to stay in the shade and wait it out. Sam wondered how his family was doing. Brenda said that Emma had made it home safely, but Sammy his oldest son was still unaccounted.

At this moment, at Bill's ranch, Connie was fixing dinner. The time was about 4 PM, and she knew the kids would be busy playing. They would also be hungry. The kids came in, Madison had her make up set under her arm, but didn't look like she had any make up on. Jade was certain not to have any make up on. Well, she must have washed her face some how. Or maybe they got bored with make up, and decided to throw rocks into the river or something like that. No matter.

Connie went to the kitchen counter, and picked up the small but powerful FRS walkie talkie. She looked out the widow, and keyed the mic. Told the boys they had best get in for dinner, it was on the table.

The squawk of the radio was exactly what was needed to stop Bill's laughing fit. He finally regained some composure, and began to breathe again. Bill had made the mistake of looking at Dave again, and the make up. Well, time for early dinner. They decided to leave the look out post for an hour or so, and go back into the house. The two men shouldered their rifles, and started the 200 yard walk down the trail to the house.

At about 4:15 PM, Brenda also decided it was time for an early dinner. She went in to the house, and opened the refrigerator. The smell of warm food came out, but fortunately none of it was badly spoiled. She got out the last of the meat, and decided that since the power was off, she'd have to clean out the fridge, and leave the door open. She looked around the kitchen, and finally found a chair to put in the opening of the refrigerator, to keep the door from self closing. At least it would not get moldy, she thought. A shame to lose the refrigerator, though. That was so important. And the ice cubes were good in the hot Ohio weather. And also a shame to lose the air conditioning. The house did get so hot in the summer.

Brenda opened the door, and called her grand daughter in from the breezeway. The blond girl looked up from her coloring book, smiled, and unsteadily got to her feet. She toddled along the edge of the couch, using one hand to keep her balance. Brenda met her at the door, and picked her up. A big smooch on the forehead brought a smile.

About half hour drive from my retreat, we entered the town where Faith used to live. There was a truck with several National Guard soldiers standing around. Wondering, if they were the same ones that talked with Faith earlier that day. They waved, and Chris waved back. The truck looked official. Out of town, they approached  the apartment where Faith lived. "Pull in here, please." I said. Indicating the apartment where faith lived. Chris pulled in, and we got out of the truck. Chris turned off the motor and followed. I marched up to the door. The key worked, and I took point to recon the apartment.

"What are  you thinking" Chris asked. "Just to check and see if there are any useful supplies we might need, or want to pick up on the way back" I replied.

The refrigerator was empty, except for some ketchup and pickle relish. The freezer was empty except for a couple of ice cube trays with water still in them, and a package of breaded fish sticks that really smelled fishy. Chris took an empty cardboard box, and used it to prop open the fridge door, and then opened the freezer all the way, so that it would stay open. He took the box of fish sticks, and threw it into the trash. Wrapped the trash bag, and took it out to the trash toter.

Coming back into the house, Chris felt good with himself. Saved a lot of damage, because the rotting food would not stink up the apartment. I near to bust out laughing. "Like anyone is going to  pick up that trash, d'uh." Chris whapped himself on the forehead. "d'uh!!" Well, at least the raccoons would eat good.

The apartment was neat and tidy, like Faith always kept it. The TV and DVD sat in the corner of the living room along with the stack of DVDs. Minus the ones Faith had brought along. The kitchen had the dishes lined up neatly in the dish rack, and a rack of silverware neatly washed and standing at the end of the dish rack.

Chris tried the water faucet, and was surprised to see cold water come out. He let the water run for a few seconds, and then started to fill the containers he could find. Pitcher from the cabinet, and then rinse and fill the soda pop bottles that Faith had left. I took the moment to head upstairs. 

To be continued. Don't miss the next exciting episode of Firestorm, next week. Keep your computer tuned right here for more exciting drama.

SHTF Survival: A Person Is Only As Good As Their Tools

In my quest for efficiency, a dear friend reminded me how important it was to have good, quality tools.  “With the right tools,” he said, “a person can finish the job in half the time it would take with average tools.”  That statement really got me thinking how important it is to have quality tools in a SHTF situation.
Good, quality tools are a sound investment that can last a lifetime if properly cared for.  However, they do come at a price.  Yes, a person can save a few bucks here and there on cheaper supplies, but the price could come at a cost.  It could be an indicator of the lack of craftsmanship or sub par quality of the tool.  In my opinion, in a dire situation, our tools are just as much part of our life line as our food and water.
Tools for a SHTF can be used to help chop firewood, build a shelter, fix fencing, cut back terrain and maintaining gardens.  Many can find good tools at their hardware stores or local home and garden centers.  Some preppers who are looking for Amish crafted tools can look at these websites Lehman’s, or Cottage Craftworks to find what they need.
  • Bolt cutters
  • Sledge hammer
  • Crowbar
  • Hammer
  • Multi tool
  • Knife
  • Axe with a sharpening device
  • Wedge to help in cutting firewood
  • Hand saw with extra blades
  • Machete
  • Fencing pliers
  • Wood saw
  • Paracord
  • Shovel
  • Cordless drill set
  • Gardening tools
  • Emergency water filtration system with extra filters

One is None, Two is One

Having these  tools on hand will help any person with their day to day chores in a homestead environment.  But remember to have parts such as extra blades, sharpening tools and lubricants such as WD-40 to keep these solid investment items up to par.  If a tools needs extra parts, invest in those when purchasing the tool.

Going Through My Bookmarks

Welcome Preppers and Survivalists,

I was cleaning up my office, got bored, and started eliminating some of my bookmarks that I've had on the computer for the last few years.

Ten Ways to Prepare for a Post-Oil Society from Alternet

The Wood Heat Organization, Inc. home page

Solar Cooking International home page

Building an Institutional Barrel Stove from Aprovecho Research Center

Thoughts On Disaster Survival from Fr. Frog

A Forum for Readers in Great Britain from Self Sufficient'ish

Thank you for your donation, Kristen!

Very much appreciated.


Methods of Water Purification

boiling waterYou can go for 3 days without water.

Effectiveness of different water purification methods.
Data gathered from various sources.

Contamination.. Iodine..Chlorine..Filter #1...Filter #2...Filter #3...Boiling
Giardia ................Fair.... Fair....... Fair..... Good .....Good..... Good
Cryptosporidiosis.. Fair... ..Fair....... Fair..... Good..... Good..... Good
Viruses............... Good.. Good...... Poor..... Poor..... Good..... Good
Taste of water after
purification.......... Bad.... Bad........ Good.... Good.... Good..... Good

Filter #1 = Reverse Osmosis Filter

Filter #2 = Absolute 1 micron filters

Filter #3 = Nominal 1 micron filters


Regular bleach (for laundry use) usually has about 4% to 6% available chlorine. Check the chlorine content before using, and add according
to the following guidelines:

1% chlorine (10-20 drops / litre)
4% to 6% chlorine (2-4 drops / litre)
7% to 10% chlorine (1-2 drops / litre)

Water should stand after treatment for 30 - 60 minutes. If water is murky or very cold, the treatment time should be lengthened
to several hours over even overnight.

Boiling Water -- A rolling boil of one minute at 7000 ft or lower.
A rolling boil of two minutes 7000 ft to 11,000 ft.
A rolling boil of three minutes above 11,000 ft.

Iodine (Polar Pure) About $12.95 will get you 90 days supply. It comes with a thermometer because dosage is temperature dependent.

Unpurified drinking water may contain four things that pose health risks: protozoan parasites (e.g. giardia), toxic bacteria, viruses, and poisonous chemicals. Only boiling and iodine are entirely effective against the first three, and only charcoal filtration is effective against the fourth.

Just ten years ago, halazone tablets were the preferred water treatment method. Even today, many commercial rafting companies use Clorox(TM) to disinfect dishes. Both halazone and Clorox are chlorine-based, and because chlorine is unstable, slow to disinfect, and pH-sensitive, it is not always effective against protozoa and viruses. Halazone also tastes worse than iodine, so there's no excuse for using it. US municipal water supplies are usually treated with chlorine, so your tap water may not always be free of micro-organisms.

The First Need(R) water filter is cheap (less than $40), but is effective only against protozoan parasites. Its .4 micron filter pores are smaller than giardia cysts (3.5 microns), but larger than some bacteria. The marketing brochure for the First Need says it removes 99% of cholera and typhoid bacteria, but does not say that E. coli bacteria (which range from .3 to .9 microns) go right through its screen. A few years ago my wife got a case of turista on a Deschutes trip where we filtered all our water through a First Need. (The banks of the Deschutes are heavily grazed, and cattle are prime carriers of E. coli.) The bacteria remained in the filter and she got the same case of turista the next few times we used the filter, until we bought a new one. If you own a First Need, flush it with iodine as soon as you come home. The First Need's charcoal canister is not big enough to be effective against poisonous chemicals -- you need a pound of charcoal for this -- so the charcoal just adds unnecessary weight, and provides a potential haven for the growth of harmful bacteria.

The Katadyn(R) pocket water filter is expensive (around $180), but is completely effective against bacteria as well as giardia. Furthermore, it can be cleaned after it clogs up. When our second First Need clogged up (they lasted only one season for us) we bought a Katadyn. The Katadyn is effective at removing smaller bacteria such as E. coli. However, the Katadyn's .2 micron filter is not effective against viruses. If you travel abroad (to Nepal for example), you risk viral infections such as Hepatitis A and Hepatitis non-A non-B, among others. In the US, most water is not yet contaminated by virus, but there's no reason to believe water supplies will remain uncontaminated for much longer.

To be entirely safe, water should be boiled for at least five minutes. Giardia is killed in less than a minute at 176 degrees, well under the boiling point. Bacteria and viruses last somewhat longer, but are probably killed in less than five minutes at 190 degrees. Some viruses may last longer; nobody knows. At 10,000 feet water boils at 194 degrees, so above this altitude you should boil water an extra minute for each 1000 feet. Very few river trips start this high, however. The main problem with boiling water is that it requires lots of fuel, which may be at a premium on long river trips.

If you have neither the time nor the inclination to boil water, iodine is equally effective. After 10 minutes (20 minutes for very cold water), a sufficient dose of iodine kills all protozoa, bacteria, and viruses. There are many iodination methods, and two excellent ones are commercially available. For low-volume purification, PolarPure(TM) is the best product. After adding water to a bottle containing iodine crystals, you pour a few capfuls into a liter of water and wait 10 minutes. The drawback is that a bottle of PolarPure can purify only 8-10 liters at once. The advantage is that iodine crystals are inert and last a very long time. For high-volume purification, check out Potable-Aqua(TM) tablets. Dissolve one or two tablets in a liter of water and wait 10 minutes. The main problem with iodine tablets is that they degrade upon contact with moisture, so be careful with that bottle, and throw away open bottles when returning home.

An older method, using tincture of iodine, is definitely not a good idea. Tincture contains more sodium iodide than iodine, and because sodium iodide has no disinfectant activity, it unnecessarily increases total iodine consumption.

Although iodine is not highly toxic, continuous ingestion of iodine may cause health problems. A study of Florida prison inmates who consumed iodinated water showed that their pre-existing thyroid conditions got worse. Also, if pregnant women ingest large amounts of iodine, the fetus may get a goiter that could cause respiratory obstruction at birth. The moral of the story is: don't iodinate all your water for more than a few months. The accepted concentration for iodine disinfection is 8 milligrams per liter, but this is mostly to get rid of protozoan parasites. A good compromise would be to filter first, then use a low concentration of iodine to get rid of bacteria and viruses. For this, a concentration of .5 mg/L is deemed adequate, so one capful of PolarPure or one Potable-Aqua tablet should disinfect around 16 liters.

Giardia has become a well-known, almost fashionable, outdoor hazard. Many people who experience gastro-intestinal problems after drinking bad water think they have contracted giardia. In many cases they have contracted something else. Since the only FDA-approved treatment for giardia (Flagyl) is carcinogenic, it's wise to make sure you really have giardia before taking Flagyl. Most low-grade bacterial infections go away on their own, and Flagyl is ineffective against viral infections. Tinidazol may also be available in your are, and is more effective against giardia.

Boiling Water

Boiling water is the best method for making water safe to drink. Boiling water as recommended will kill bacterial, parasitic, and viral causes of diarrhea. Adding a pinch of salt to each quart will improve the taste.

Directions for Boiling Water

Boil water vigorously for 1 minute and allow it to cool to room temperature (do not add ice).
At altitudes greater than 6,562 feet (>2,000 m), boil water for 3 minutes or use chemical disinfection after water has been boiled for 1 minute.

Chemical Disinfection

If boiling water is not possible, chemical disinfection with iodine (e.g., Globaline, Potable-Aqua, or Coghlan’s, found in pharmacies and sporting goods stores) is another method for making water safer to drink. Cryptosporidium (a parasite that can cause diarrhea) and other coccidian parasites (e.g., Cyclospora, Toxoplasma) might not be killed by this method. Cloudy water should be strained through a clean cloth into a container to remove any sediment or floating matter, and then the water should be treated with iodine.

Directions for disinfecting water with iodine

Iodine tablets

Follow the tablet manufacturers' instructions.
If water is cloudy, double the number of tablets.
If water is extremely cold, less than 5° C (41° F), an attempt should be made to warm the water, and the recommended contact time (standing time between adding a chemical disinfectant to the water and drinking the water) should be increased to achieve reliable disinfection.
Note: be sure the tablet size is correct for a Liter of water.

Tincture of Iodine - measure out your dose to water.

If using tincture of iodine 2% solution, add 5 drops to a Liter or Quart of clear water. If the water is cloudy, add 10 drops per Liter or Quart. (Note: 20 drops=1 ml.)
Allow the water to stand for 30 minutes before drinking when the water temperature is at least 25°C (77°F). Increase the standing time for colder water: (e.g., for each 10° less than 25°C (77°F), allow the water to stand for double the time before drinking it.
Crystalline Iodine (found at some chemical companies and sporting goods stores) First make a saturated solution and then measure your own dose to add to water. The crystalline form stores well indefinitely and new batches of the saturated solution can be made from a small amount of crystals each time you take a trip.

To prepare a stock of Crystalline Iodine saturated solution:

Place 4-8 grams of crystalline iodine into a 1-2 oz container and fill with water. Note: 1oz=6 teaspoons.
Warning: crystalline iodine at 4-8 grams is a lethal dose if accidentally swallowed in a single dose. Keep out of the reach of children.
Shake the bottle vigorously for 1 minute. Allow several additional minutes for the iodine to maximally dissolve in the available water. Some crystals should always be visible; if they totally dissolve, then more crystals should be added to the container to insure that iodine saturation of the stock solution has been achieved.
If the water to be treated is clear, add 13 ml of saturated iodine solution -- liquid above the crystals, not the crystals themselves -- per Liter or Quart. Note: 5 ml= 1 teaspoon. 13 ml = about 2.5 teaspoons
In cloudy water, add 26 ml of saturated solution per Liter or Quart.
Note: Allow the solution to stand 20 minutes before drinking the disinfected water when the water temperature is 20-25°C (68-77°F). Increase the standing time with colder water. For each 10° less than 25°C (77°F), allow the water to stand for double the time before drinking.

Portable Water Filters

Certain types of portable water filters can also remove some types of infectious agents from drinking water. However, most of the portable filters on the market do not effectively remove viruses, thus chemical disinfection of water is needed after filtering with such filters to make the water safer for drinking. Some portable water filters designed to remove parasites (Giardia/Cryptosporidium) have an "absolute” pore sizes of 0.1 to 1-micrometer and, therefore, may also remove most diarrhea-causing bacteria. See the Division of Parasitic Diseases' Guide to Water Filters and Bottled Water to learn about different filters and those that filter Cryptosporidium. Viruses are smaller than 0.1 micron and will NOT be removed by filters with a pore size of 0.1 or larger. To kill viruses that may pass through these filters, add iodine (as described above) to the filtered water before you drink it.

Note: Chlorine in various forms has also been used for chemical disinfection. However, it is not as reliable as iodine for killing disease causing organisms in the wide range of water-quality conditions that travelers might encounter


Crystalline iodine 4-8 grams used in a stock solution constitutes a human lethal dose if accidentally swallowed in a single dose. Keep out of the reach of children.
Water that has been disinfected with iodine is NOT recommended for pregnant women, people with thyroid problems, those with known hypersensitivity to iodine, or continuous use for more than a few weeks at a time.

Source: http://www.cooscountysheriff.com/OSS...rification.htm
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