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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Preppers House

water dropsImage by fox_kiyo via Flickr
© 2011Northern Raider

As prepper’s we have a strong need for our homes to be fitted out or uprated to help meet our enhanced needs.

Increased storage capacity across the board features highly in our plans, water, food, fuel, clothing and equipment storage is something we ideally need more of.

And just like our ordinary neighbours we need as much energy efficiency, privacy and security as we can get.

Food, Clothing and Kit Storage

We need extra storage space that is preferably cool and dark to store extra food supplies in. Ideally some of it should be concealed storage IE in places where the average person would not think to look. I know of people who have fitted discrete hinged lids under the carpet on the stairs allowing them to hide extra food in the cavity under the stairs, people have kitchen units with false back panels fitted allow more concealed capacity, in houses with timber floors rather than concrete slabs some folks hide plastic tubs under the floorboards in the sub floor cavity. A false wall made from plasterboard in a garage gives an extra 1 foot deep storage space for one prepper I know. And false panelling in a bedroom provides extra storage for another.
At the very least we need extra larder space for our increased food stocks, very often this can be as simple as shelving units in the garage or utility room if you have them.
Some of us just keep extra food and kit in large plastic storage boxes under the bed and in the bottom of the wardrobes whilst others turn over the smallest bedroom to the prep store (the door that is always closed and locked when you get visitors)

We always need extra water storage capacity, for some more wealthy folks it could be a garden pond, swimming pool, Jacuzzi etc. But for most of us it used to be simply swapping out the 50 gallon cold water tank in the loft for a bigger tank or adding extra tanks linked in series to the original 50 gallon tank to give extra capacity (roof joist re-enforcement needed).

Others like me simply keep a good number of extra 20 or 30 litre polyethylene food grade water containers in the garage along with a high quality gravity fed water filter like a British Berkfield. (Remember a gallon of water weighs 10 pounds before you put loads of full containers in the loft space)

Water, Heat, Light, Power etc
A problem has arisen for prepping in the last 15 years with the introduction of the condensing combination boiler for the domestic supply of hot water and central heating. These very energy efficient devices have two massive drawbacks for preppers. Firstly they don’t use water tanks in the attic for their cold water feed, they are fed directly from the mains supply, and thus you lose the cold water tank and expansion tank from your loft. Secondly they don’t use a gas pilot light for the boiler ignition system, they are now electrically ignited so if the power to your house goes off you lose power AND heating and hot water all at once.

Preppers with Combi–Boilers need auxiliary methods of storing extra water, and alternative methods of heating the home and providing hot water with.

Preppers can enhance their self-reliance by taking steps to further reduce their reliance on the mains utility system by fitting secondary or backup systems.

Water
As well as extra emergency water storage systems you can reduce your reliance on the mains system by fitting rainwater catchment systems that capture the rain from your roof and direct it into large rainwater storage butts in your garden.

Heat
Emergency heating can be supplied by portable bottled gas heaters using propane or butane gas in 7 or 15 KG bottles, but a more long term investment you should consider if fitting a wood or multi fuel burning stove in the living room. Even many modern houses can now be retro fitted to house a wood burner with the advent of insulated flexible stove chimney pipes systems often made from double skinned stainless steel. A modern stove can be up to 80% efficient compared to 7 to 10 % efficiency for an open fire and a well sited stove can also double up as a cooker.

Don’t forget to plan for extra storage space to accommodate your log pile or bags of Coalite. If you are collecting your own firewood that it needs to be able to dry out to less than 18% moisture content so a shed or outhouse may be needed, mine is shared out between the garage and conservatory!!)  Either way your fuel supply needs to be dry and kept VERY secure.

Light
Short term emergency lighting can be provided by various means from candles, paraffin lanterns, light sticks etc, but more long term you really need to consider at the very least a solar system connected to a battery that will provide you with a low powered 12 volt LED lighting system for essential areas. If space and other constraints allow you may be able to supplement the solar charger with a micro wind turbine.

Energy Saving
We must ensure we waste as little energy as possible in our prepper’s home even in normal times with staring Armageddon in the face. A fully insulated house is a must, walls and loft area fully insulated, under floor as well if possible. Well maintained and fitted double glazing or even triple glazing will help massively in keeping your home warm if the power goes off for any length of time.  A double glazed or laminated wood / steel front and rear doors will enhance the houses insulation as well as provide slightly better security than an old style door fitted with a single BS3621 door lock.

Privacy and Security
Ensuring our privacy and security during a crisis is vital so it’s very important that we control access to our prepper’s home and reduce light pollution that advertises our independence from the grid power supplies. Blackout blinds and curtains are an absolute must for every window and door to stop light escaping thus advertising your self-reliant position.
Multi point locking on doors and windows is a must even in normal times, but after a crisis develops you may wish to add self-adhesive laminating security film to your windows which makes gaining entry to your home via a broken window far more difficult and noisy for the intruder. It’s also essential that you keep some pre-cut marine grade ½ plywood boarding to secure any windows that do get broken.

Some people have fitted security bars that pivot or swing over the doors to re-enforce the entry points. Apparently it is remarkably easy to kick in the bottom panel on most UPVC doors as they were designed this way to make access for firemen easier, equally the locks and hinges even on expensive double glazed doors do not stand up very well to police officers using a slide hammer to gain entry to execute a search warrant, so extra security devices, bars and hinges should be considered.

Note* Very often modern double glazed doors external frames are only secured to the building wall with a couple of mild steel screws in each side, this makes it very easy to simply bash the entire door and frame out with a sledgehammer, it’s well worth getting steel self-tapping bolts fitted which massively increase the doors security strength.


Intelligence Gathering
The preppers home in normal times as well as after a crisis needs to be able to help you find out vital intelligence on events going on in the outside world, you should consider fitting a new wide band high gain TV aerial, if you have a satellite system consider a satellite tracking system that allows you to access other satellite broadcasters. And of course last but never least an AM/FM/LW Radio aerial to greatly boost your reception of distant radio stations.   Some people also have Citizens band and Amateur radio systems set up at home as an extra communications system.

Security of the garden and perimeter has been discussed in other articles in the Preppers Guides as well as being covered on the PUK forum.