Thursday, June 30, 2022

It's Getting Worse Than I Thought (Please Prepare)

An Assessment of the U.S. Power Grid and Its Vulnerabilities

 Original Article



By Tom Marlowe

We face many problems and ongoing threats in America today, but one of the most pervasive and the most pressing or threats to our power grid.

It is difficult to understand just how important electricity is to our modern society, and most folks are totally, completely unprepared for a sustained loss of electricity.

Far from being a luxury that can turn on lights at the flick of a switch or animate all of our wondrous modern gadgetry, electricity is now woven into the DNA of our society, and is quite literally the beating heart of commerce, communications, national defense and more.

power lines

It is terrible, then, to consider how old, decrepit and increasingly vulnerable to disaster or attack the entire power grid is.

But consider it we must and a thorough understanding of the vulnerability of our national power grid and our attendant dependency on it is the first step towards insulating ourselves against a long-term or indefinite loss of that power. The consequences of such an event can barely be put into words.

This article will serve as your assessment of the current status of the United States power grid, its vulnerabilities and the likely outcomes you’ll be facing should a regional or nationwide grid down scenario occur.

Electricity is Essential for Modern Life and Continuation of Services

Virtually everyone living in the United States today, and indeed throughout much of the West, quite literally cannot imagine life without the reliable, constant presence of electricity.

It is no overstatement to assert that our electrical grid is the single, most important part of our nation’s infrastructure. It is even more important than our telecommunications hubs, any financial industry, national defense or transportation.

This is because our electrical infrastructure is quite literally integral to the continued operation and sustainment of all of the other mentioned components of our society.

If the electrical grid goes down many elements will cease working entirely until power is restored, and what few remain working will be severely degraded or limited in capability.

The ongoing operation of our electrical grid is the keystone to modern life as we know it and anything that threatens it threatens to start disastrous dominos falling in rapid succession, ending in calamity.

But in a strange sort of symbiosis, our electrical power grid is itself dependent on many other utilities and other parts of our infrastructure.

Natural gas, oil, transportation and telecommunications systems are all vital to the ongoing upkeep and operation of electrical grids from coast to coast and if any of these systems are delayed or disrupted it will start an already complex and tottering electrical grid to begin swaying, and perhaps collapse.

Aside from big picture national infrastructure and societal initiatives, all of us “little people” are still entirely dependent on electricity for running our day-to-day lives.

99 times out of 100, electricity is what will make the lights come on to banish the darkness. We rely on electricity to power our devices that keep us connected to the internet, receive radio signals or operate our televisions. Electricity keeps our banks on and functioning, be it at the teller counter or at the ATM.

Electricity keeps grocery store shelves replenished and stockrooms receiving. We even need electricity to fill up our personal vehicles with gasoline, or to recharge them directly in the case of all electric vehicles.

Imagine all of that, everything, ceasing in an instant and perhaps not coming back on for a very long time. When it fails, it will fail quickly and with ever-increasing rapidity.

Seemingly Minor Incidents Can Lead to Regional Outages

Despite this extraordinary importance to the preservation of life and society in the United States, our electrical system is frighteningly vulnerable both from within and without.

The actual components of our electrical system, the very equipment that allows it to operate and transmit electricity to facilities and homes is old and outdated, and getting older by the day.

The layout of the system is also a major point of vulnerability, being both obsolete and highly Byzantine in design in many regions.

The principles of engineering used to construct and connect it are also proving to be increasingly out of date compared with modern, better practices.

In total, all of these shortcomings add up to a nationwide grid that is by and large incredibly frail, fragile and vulnerable to disruption if not outright destruction.

Aside from quality of life and production problems like high failure rates throughout the nation that just get worse as time goes by, inefficient production and delivery of power and rising repair costs we must also deal with maintenance and refits that grow increasingly expensive and complex owing it to the slap dash, antiquated nature of the grid.

What does this mean in practical terms? It means that our electrical grid, considered at local, regional and national scales, is highly vulnerable to everything from natural disasters and direct action attacks to simple rough weather and seemingly minor accidents.

Any or all of them, as you will soon learn, or enough to trigger total blackouts over a shockingly wide area, potentially affecting millions or tens of millions of people, to say nothing of other critical infrastructure.

As the Demand on the Grid Increases, Funding for Critical Maintenance and Protection Decreases

It is not bad enough that the power grid is old, outmoded, and vulnerable to internal and external threats, along with the odd brush from bad weather or legitimate natural disasters.

Further compounding the problem geometrically are the ever increasing demands in society for electricity along with maintenance and upgrade budgets that are slashed and slashed again as the political football is kicked about or is otherwise raided as part and parcel of the graft that all of our elected officials engage in.

The government is also interested in converting every single one of its vehicles, at least those used in civic roles, to fully electrically-powered. The increasing funneling of taxpayer money to Tesla and other companies pioneering these technologies is proof enough of their commitment.

Consumers, driven by a counterfeit ecologically-conscious ideology or from government mandates in various states, are likewise starting to buy into electric consumer vehicle technology.

Constant attacks against reliable forms of major power production like coal, natural gas, oil and especially nuclear power in lieu of inefficient dead ends like solar and wind power likewise mean that demand is only going up, up, up while production of electricity barely grows at all, goes stagnant or even operates at a net loss due to ever-increasing inefficiency as mentioned previously.

This means that the already overburdened, vulnerable and inefficient power grid will be subjected to growing demands that it can barely handle as is, in ideal conditions.

What do you think will happen to the power grid and to consumers’ access to steady, reliable electricity when times are tough?

Heat waves, direct action attacks, successful cyber warfare intrusions, major natural disasters, cosmic EMP events and more all have the potential to completely capsize our power grid.

Make no mistake: there is going to be no nationwide initiative to revamp our power grid in any meaningful way. There will not even be any money found to afford it a significant overhaul or badly needed maintenance in many areas.

Things are going to limp along like this for the foreseeable future, with everyone involved happy to kick the can down the road or sweep the problem under the rug until such time as the inevitable happens and a total systems collapse occurs.

What is likely to be the instigating factor for that collapse? We have no shortage of possible offenders to look forward to.

Keep reading to get an overview of the most serious and pervasive threats to our power grid, and after that we will examine a selection of some of the biggest and most destructive, not to mention most costly, power grid failures in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Specific Vulnerabilities and Threats to the U.S. Power Grid

The following section details just a few of the major threats to our power grid. though some of the entries on this list may seem minor, even trivial, they take on an entirely new significance when you consider that the US power grid consists of more than 10,000 functioning power plants, nearly 20,000 electrical generators and a combined 450,000 miles of distribution and transmission lines serviced by over 55,000 substations.

This astonishingly massive, intricate and interconnected network could be taken offline entirely, and I mean the whole thing taken offline, if just nine strategically chosen substations out of those 55,000 plus were taken down by force majeure or direct action.

Keep that in mind as you read through this list.

Overload

We all take for granted that the electricity will be there when we plug in the appliance or flip the switch. Luckily, it is much of the time but there is no endless fountainhead of electricity to supply all needs at all times. As hard as it is to imagine for lay people, that supply is decidedly finite.

As demand increases, especially peak demand that arises as a result of changing conditions or unforeseen circumstances, operators of the electrical grid at large must begin making choices about where and when they will supply power.

This involves a sort of “shell game” process by which power may be reduced or cut off in some areas and redirected to others.

Obviously, if you’re one of the unfortunates left in the dark that is bad enough, but the intricate nature of the power grid means that the very process of rerouting power entails a certain amount of risk as it is fraught with opportunities for error and then subsequent catastrophe.

When power grid operators are forced to “rob Peter in order to pay Paul” when it comes to supplying power to a hungry populace it is only a matter of time before a confluence of circumstances and human error result in a cascading failure.

Operator Error

Naturally we all want to think that the people who very literally keep the lights on represent our best and brightest minds, and thankfully so much of the time this is true, the inescapable reality is that they are still, at best, human and prone to making mistakes or, at worst, barely qualified to be operating the milkshake machine at a greasy spoon diner.

Human error and good old fashioned incompetence have before and will again result in calamitous power grid failures.

I don’t mean to say that flipping switch a when they should have pulled lever b instead means a ruined parade or Christmas tree lighting. I mean to say that monstrous blackouts affecting tens of millions can be a direct consequence of even a single procedural error.

Such is the nature of electrical generation and continual power supply in America today thanks to our problems I have spent much of this article outlining.

With layoffs, walkouts, worker shortages and more affecting every facet of society thanks to a mysterious pathogen of unknown origin turning the world upside down you can bet on rush replacements, under qualified workers and endless overtime taking its toll on our power grid workforce very soon. When that occurs, lights out.

Accident

Accidents great and small are another common cause of power outages. We have all been there. A windy day or stormy night sends tree branches toppling into power lines or even knocks over power poles themselves resulting in a localized, hopefully, power outage.

Bigger disasters, too, can have deleterious effects on our supply of electricity, everything from automobile and plane crashes to industrial accidents and even mishaps at power generation facilities themselves.

Any or all of these can plunge our society into darkness, but what you might not know is that even the most mundane of accidents could turn into gargantuan regional blackouts that last for days, weeks or potentially even months with all of the attendant effects we have discussed.

You’ll read about one such comparatively recent incident just below. Something as simple as a branch toppling from a tree onto nearby power lines could result in a sequence of events that knocks out power across multiple States for millions of people. No joke.

Natural Disaster

One of the most obvious and pervasive causes of blackouts are natural disasters. Relatively small ones like tornadoes, unpredictable ones like avalanches and wildfires and massive, regional scale catastrophes like category 5 hurricanes.

Each and every one of them can result in widespread, total systems damage to the power grid and the aftermath of these events makes diagnostic and repair tasking considerably more difficult.

In the case of the largest disasters society as a whole in the affected areas can be completely ground to a halt. Even accessing the affected areas to begin to assess the level of damage can take weeks.

Naturally, the loss of power in these areas complicates rescue and retrieval efforts in addition to other post disaster initiatives.

Some disasters don’t even necessarily take place on our planet, but instead happen to it.

Cosmic phenomena like solar storms and coronal mass ejections can project incredibly powerful electromagnetic energy across the gulf of space, potentially impacting the atmosphere of our planet and messing with all electronics, including the transmission lines and substations of the power grid itself.

A particularly powerful event could quite literally fry the entirety of the grid in the blink of an eye, rolling us back to the Stone Age.

The most severe disasters can disable power for millions, even tens of millions, across a regional area and leave them in the dark for months on end.

Direct Attack

As mentioned above, our power grid is a network, a colossal system comprised of millions and millions of components.

Each of these components, seemingly barely significant in terms of the whole, is nonetheless vulnerable to direct attack by malicious entities or individuals in a bewildering number of ways.

Most of these installations and components are completely, totally unguarded, and practically cannot be protected except in the most rudimentary ways or in the case of the most sensitive or crucial installations.

Just in the past couple of decades we have seen small groups or individuals target substations with rifle fire, damaging transformers and other components, fuel tanks targeted with improvised explosive devices, power lines sabotaged and so much more.

The ubiquitous, distributed nature of the power grid combined with a lack of protection means that simple, human ingenuity is more than enough to inflict catastrophic damage on all but the most heavily defended or hardened components or installations.

Frankly, it is a small wonder that the US has not yet been plunged into a long night by a simple, easy to execute attack by an organized enemy.

Cyberwarfare

By far the most insidious, and increasingly one of the most likely, threats to our power grid is that posed by cyber warfare efforts or individual cyber attacks.

An incredibly complex topic, made even more complicated by the patchwork nature of our electrical grid, ongoing efforts to research and bolster the cyber defenses of our power grid have been ongoing since 2005.

We have already seen what devastating computer viruses like the Stuxnet worm can do to even critical infrastructure. One need look no further than what happened to the Iranian nuclear program for proof of that.

Though that worm was not deployed against the United States it takes no imagination at all to believe that similar cyber weapons are ready and waiting in their digital silos for deployment against the U.S. by our near-peer enemies, or worse yet, are already lurking out in cyberspace primed to infect essential systems before being activated.

Ongoing testing and “red teaming” of the United States various electrical systems has shown that electronic warfare efforts, including computer hacking and autonomous viral weapons are capable of logging keystrokes, manipulating system status and various controls, and interfere with data monitoring and other essential, ongoing tasking.

A coordinated cyber attack could offline the American electrical grid almost instantly and by design or accident cause calamitous, coast to coast damage.

Examples of Major 20th and 21st Century Regional Power Grid Failures and Incidents

The scenarios I have alluded to throughout this article are not theoretical. History, even near history, furnishes for us many examples of just how bad and how widespread power grid failures can be, and gives us a grim estimator of just how bad the damage can be. The only thing theoretical for our purposes is just how long the next big one could last.

Read through the following historical blackouts, and their causes, and you’ll have an accurate picture of what we are up against and what you will be facing the next time something similar happens.

Great New England Blackout, 1965

This humongous blackout affected eight states throughout New England and resulted from human error, though a tragically tiny one. A cascading failure resulted after a technician set a protection mechanism in the wrong position. Five minutes of failing power later more than 30 million citizens had no electricity at all.

Today this is a classic example of the societal effects of a sustained, widespread power outage. Some people were trapped in blackened skyscrapers or in halted subway trains deep underground.

New York City did as New York City always does and immediately began looting and pillaging. Beleaguered police blunted the edge of the chaos but could hardly contain the outbreak of crime.

New York City Blackout, 1977

Another Big Apple blackout, this one caused by multiple lightning strikes that completely knocked out power to the vast majority of New York City proper. Though not particularly catastrophic from a technical perspective, this blackout could not have occurred at a worse time.

With socioeconomic tensions at an all-time high and the city already on the brink of paranoia from the ongoing Son of Sam killings, pandemonium erupted in the immediate aftermath of the blackout.

Rioting, looting, arson and killings are always on the menu in New York City and all were being served by the cartload.

Homes were broken into by the hundreds, thousands of stores were robbed or looted and more than 1,000 instances of arson or committed, including more than a dozen multiple alarm call-outs. Every police structure that could hold prisoners was committed to doing so.

Even though this blackout lasted little more than a day, total damages were over a billion dollars.

West Coast Blackout, 1982

This massive blackout originating near Tracy, California was the result of a simple accident. Freak high winds knocked one high tension transmission tower into another, which subsequently toppled into another, creating a literal domino effect of cascading failure.

Worst came to worst when response teams bungled the initial procedures and compounded it with shoddy communications.

Communities as far away as Las Vegas, Nevada were plunged into total darkness and had no idea why.

This blackout should serve as one of the best, recent examples of how even comparatively minor mishaps can be compounded by human error, improper procedure and confusion.

Northeast Blackout, 2003

In upstate Ohio, during August of 2003, transmission lines that were already strenuously overloaded by high demand or contacted my branches from overgrown trees and other vegetation.

This transmission line tripped and went offline, normally a minor event; however, a malfunction with the notification alarm systems controlling software meant that power company operators were none the wiser at first.

By the time they became aware of the situation, three more transmission lines were rendered offline and then things got really bad.

The subsequent cascading electrical failure resulted in a massive blackout virtually unprecedented in its scope, impacting more than 45 million residents throughout the American Midwest, Northeast and portions of Southeast Canada.

More than 250 power plants were put into failure states and multiple, major American cities, among them Cleveland, Detroit and New York were plunged into darkness.

The full restoration of power took more than a week.

Southwest Blackout, 2011

This blackout, shockingly widespread in its scope, was the result of human error and resulted in a loss of power or interruption of power to more than two and a half million people in the American southwest, predominantly southern California and Arizona.

A technician made a grave mistake while working on a capacitor bank at a substation in Arizona and the consequences were yet another cascading power failure.

Airlines, schools, public resources, water, sewage, banks and more were all affected with many being brought to a standstill. Though the outage lasted less than a day this instance sharply illustrates how bad even the simplest of errors can be when dealing with our power grid.

Hurricane Sandy, 2012

The landfall of Hurricane Sandy in October of 2012 knocked out power in 22 states and more than 8 million residences.

The damage to regional power grid installations and facilities was nearly total, and included destroyed terminals, flooded or submerged substations and badly damaged power plants.

As a direct consequence of grid damage from the storm, airline flights were canceled, aircraft were grounded, trains could not run and public water and sewer systems catastrophically failed.

In many places, the total loss of electricity including reliable backup systems meant that sewage actually contaminated drinking water supplies. Radio and cellular communications were likewise affected in the most badly hit areas, further hampering efforts to alleviate the problem.

This outage cost anywhere from an estimated $15 to $22 billion dollars in damages and losses. Full restoration of electricity and services took months.

California Substation Sniper Attack, 2013

Early in the morning on April 16th, 2013, multiple shooters using various rifles began shooting at and severely damaged 17 transformers at the Metcalf transmission substation in Coyote, California.

These transformers were perforated by gunfire and leaked more than 50,000 gallons of oil before overheating. Prior to the direct attack, the gunman or others associated with them cut fiber optic telecom cables elsewhere.

Though low-tech in nature, the attack was highly organized and professional in execution with the perpetrators going uncaught to this very day. Though mercifully no cascading failure resulted from the attack, damage was substantial, totaling more than 15 million dollars.

Multiple experts consulted on the attack agreed that if conditions were even slightly different, the impact on the electrical grid could have been massive.

It remains one of the best examples of how easily and severely small organized teams could affect the power grid

Arkansas Grid Attack, 2013

Coming just a scant few months after the attack on the substation in California, another coordinated series of three attacks took place against substations and transformers in Cabot and Scott, Arkansas.

The first attack sabotaged a support tower for a massive electrical line that resulted in it being dropped onto adjacent railroad tracks and severed after a passing train ran over them. Power to the entirety of Cabot, Arkansas was cut. A later direct attack on a substation in Scott, Arkansas caused more than 2 million in damage but thankfully minimal disruption.

These perpetrators were caught, but it again further illustrates the extreme vulnerability of even the most essential components in the transmission of electricity. Minimal planning with plenty of motivation and low-tech tools and weapons are more than capable of crippling the power grid in a local or regional area.

Arizona Diesel Supply Attack, 2014

Nogales, Arizona, June 2014. An incendiary IED was placed under a 50,000 gallon diesel storage tank serving a liquid fueled generator and a power station. Mercifully, the strike failed to ignite the diesel fuel even though it functioned.

This was a comparatively localized attack, and if it had gone off as planned it would have instantly cut power completely to tens of thousands of people in the area.

Conclusions

The United States power grid is a massive conglomeration of installations, equipment and interconnected systems that are increasingly decrepit, poorly maintained and frighteningly vulnerable to a variety of mishaps, accidents, disasters and enemy action including cyber warfare.

As time goes on, relatively minor incidents will cause bigger and bigger problems until eventually the whole system comes crumbling down. This is not a matter of if, but when.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

If What They Say is True, You Should Be Getting Prepared…

Making a water management plan for when SHTF


 

By
Bob Rodgers




During an emergency or when disaster strikes, the assurance of clean water becomes a significant concern for you and yours. Regardless if it’s a natural or artificial disaster, you must do everything possible to procure, treat and use water as efficiently as possible.

The lack of water might not seem such a big concern to some folks because they believe storing food, ammo, and having a bug-out bag and vehicle ready is more important. After all, water is always available, and there’s plenty of it all around us. Right?

Well, there wasn’t plenty of it for the people affected by Hurricane Katrina and Sandy or for Californians during last year’s blackout.

You probably have a bug-out bag ready, a pantry full of food, and a lot of gear stacked neatly on shelves in your basement, but do you have a water management plan?

Some smart ass will say that everyone knows how to store bottled water and should buy a good supply of it. Well, you should, but a water management plan is more than that. You need to be able and procure water regardless if you’re in a rural or urban environment, you need to have ways to treat the water and make it potable, and lastly, you need to figure out ways of storing and transporting the water.


Seeing that FEMA recommends having one gallon of water per day per person to use for drinking, cooking, and sanitation, you might realize that your water needs grow exponentially if you’re part of a big family. For example, a family of four will need 28 gallons of water to survive for one week. And to create a mental image for that water requirement, it will mean having up to 53 2-liter bottles readily available just for one week.

And if you have storage space available, that might not seem such a big problem as long as you have ways of procuring the water, but what about bugging out? If you’re forced to evacuate, you will need to carry more than 200 pounds of water to keep your family alive for a week. And hauling that much weight isn’t easy, especially if you have to rely on your and your family’s strength once your car breaks down.

So, you see why having a water management plan is mandatory if you are preparing for an uncertain future. When you set up your plan, your choices will be centered around those mentioned above three key concerns: acquisition, treatment, and storage/transportation. Let’s look more into it.
Acquisition

Here, the solution is simple, and you have two options: buy commercially “purified” water or bottle tap water and call it a day. It sounds good in theory, but it also depends on your budget and storage limitation. You will need to spend money to buy bottled water, or you will need to buy plastic containers to store tap water once you’ve gone through the soda bottles you’ve been stashing.

And this is all fine and dandy if you prepare now, in times of peace and tranquility (sort of, with the pandemic and all), but what happens if you go through your stored water supply during an extended disaster or if a crisis catches you unprepared. In those cases, you will have to procure water from whatever sources you can locate.

Most folks will start in their homes and use any available drop of water they can find by emptying the water heater and exploiting whatever other item holds water in their home.

Some will use the water from their pool or the rainwater they’ve collected for their gardening chores. In contrast, others will explore the neighborhood to buy whatever bottled water is left or to map potable water sources while trying to stay ahead of the competition. Some would use municipal water sources that may still hold water, such as hydrants or spigots from various public places, unless someone else got to use them first.

And depending on the season and the region you live in, there could be many water sources available, but even so, you must assume your water sources are contaminated. This may be especially true if you aren’t collecting it from a flowing water source.

How about if you are forced to bug out?

In that case, for the safety of your loved ones, you must assume that every natural water source may be compromised. You may be lucky enough to discover a natural water source, and once you do so, it’s time you take care of the second key factor, treatment.
Treatment

If you manage to collect enough water to meet your needs, you must make sure your water is potable and safe for cooking or your hygiene needs. There are various ways to treat the water; however, none of the methods available to the average Joe will make it completely pure.

You can make sure the water you obtained is as clean as possible by subjecting it to various treatment methods. Your goal is to make water safe and reduce the risk of health issues associated with bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and dissolved chemicals. Essentially, your treated water needs to be tasteless and odorless. Let’s look at some viable options you have for water treatment.
Filtration

This is the most used and perhaps familiar method for preppers and the average Joe. You have various options to choose from here, and the water filtration items range from the portable personal straw-like filter, like LifeStraw, to water filter systems like the ones made by Berkey.

There are all sorts of options available nowadays, and they all function more or less the same. Dirty water comes in through one end, it goes through various types of materials and filters, and it comes out the other end cleaner and potable.

Now, what type of filters you decide to include in your water management plant depends mainly on what level of contamination you expect to deal with in your region. The more contaminated the water, the more complex (and perhaps expensive) filter you will need.

Some folks will run water through a coffee filter or a few layers of cheesecloth and call it a day. However, in those cases, it mostly depends on where they got that water from. Some filters use more dense media than those improvised filters to keep out bacteria and microbes. Other filters have activated charcoal layers incorporated to improve the taste and filter out chemicals.

Filtering the collected water is the first step in the treatment stage of your water management plan, and some folks will go even further.
UV-light treatment

Municipal water treatment facilities use UV light treatment to kill protozoa, viruses, and bacteria. This cool and modern technology is also available on a smaller scale to everyone, and it’s even lightweight and portable. These devices are simple enough to be used by everyone.

They consist of a container you fill with water and a device that emits UV light inserted into the water. In theory, the amount of UV light emitted by the device for a specific amount of time will kill bacteria and microbes (by breaking up their DNA) in that particular volume of water.

Some folks will use these UV light devices even for the water they’ve filtered using whatever commercial water filter they have available. It’s sort of like a backup solution if you will.
Boiling

This is perhaps the primary water treatment method that people resort to (instinctively, I must say) when they need to make their water potable. It’s deeply embedded in the back of their mind, and they found about it at some point throughout their lives from movies, from local authorities and magazines, and so on.

Someone told them that it’s the right thing to do, and it’s the primary method they’re using to make sure their water is safe to drink. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that’s not a thing you should do. On the contrary, boiling water kills most bacteria and other microbes and is perhaps the safest treatment method.

All you need to do is just put your water in a large pot, bring it to a boil, boil it for at least 2 minutes, and that’s it. Once the water cools, you can transfer to a clean recipient, and your water needs are covered for the day.

However, consider that boiling water cannot remove toxic metals and certain impurities while killing viruses and bacteria. Also, this is a time-consuming method. It would help if you considered certain limitations, such as the volume of water you can boil (limited by the container you are using) and the availability of a water source and fuel.
Distillation

This is a method that many believe to be the best when it comes to water treatment, and it’s cheaper compared to other options since you don’t need much to improvise a distilling system.

Sure, there are water distillation systems that you can buy, but you can also create a mobile water distiller in case needed. And I’m not talking here about using copper tubbing and all sorts of still designs to start a moonshine business. It’s much simpler than that.

You can use a small pressure cooker and a ¼-inch stainless steel tube bent into a U or a hook shape to improvise a water distillation system.
Here’s how to do it:

1. Drill a hole into the lid of the pressure cooker.

2. Pour the water you’ve filtered or boiled into the pot and seal the lid tightly

3. Insert the stainless-steel tube in the hole you drilled, ensuring it’s a tight fit. The tube should extend away from the pressure cooker and slope down into a clean recipient of your choice.

4. Use some duct tape to seal the pressure cooker hole and tubbing in place.

5. Bring the water to a boil, and soon enough, the steam will rise into the tube, and as it condenses, it will drip down into the container below.

For this method, you also have to keep in mind that it’s very time-consuming and requires a lot of fuel to obtain a limited quantity of water.
Chlorination

This water treatment method has been advertised and encouraged in the prepping community in the last two decades. And in fact, this method works, and it’s pretty much safe if you don’t use scented or color-safe bleach or a mix of bleach and other cleaners. Instead, FEMA recommends using bleach (only simple bleach) containing 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite.

If you have that type of bleach and if you want to use this method for making your water potable, remember the following:

1. Use 1/8 of a bleach teaspoon for each gallon of water.

2. Stir well and let the water stand for 30 minutes.

3. After 30 minutes or less, the water should have a slightly distinctive chlorine smell.

4. If that’s not the case, you can add another 1/8 of a spoon and wait another 30 minutes.

5. If the water still doesn’t smell like chlorine, discard the water and avoid using that water source. Find another source of water and try again.

Another alternative to chlorination will be to use water purification tablets. These are sold commercially and are not expensive. They work similarly to bleach, although the chemical process is different. They contain certain chemicals that cause an oxidation process, killing bacteria and other invisible critters.
Storage and transportation

Once you figure out how to procure and treat your water, you must deal with various storage and transportation problems. The main problem being that water is bulky and heavy.

You may find different ways of storing it if you have enough available space and various containers you can use. You can use anything from 2-liter soda bottles to 55-gallon drums and pretty much any container you can get your hands on. However, what happens when you have to evacuate, and mobility is your crucial consideration?

If you need to bug out, you should concentrate more on carrying the items that would help you collect and purify water rather than hauling your entire water supply. You can fill your truck with a few gallons of water (or more if you have the space) to last your family for 2-3 days, but you should figure out how to obtain water and purify it once you reach your destination or even before you reach it.

This requires a little bit of research on your side, and you need to map water sources regardless if you would obtain your water from grocery stores, gas stations, municipal parks, or natural water sources.

And regarding the natural water sources, keep in mind that you will need to carry water back to the campsite from a nearby lake or stream if you don’t set up your camp near that water source. There are all sorts of collapsible buckets, plastic bags, and other items that you can use to collect water, so make sure you have something available. Oh, and don’t throw away the water bottles you’ve emptied because those can be refiled and used for storing all the water you manage to purify.

Another thing to remember when handling your water is to have separate containers for clean and dirty water, to avoid cross-contamination. Everyone should use the containers for what they’re intended to be used because the water is only as clean as the container it’s stored in.
Concluding

As you can see, having a water management plant becomes mandatory regardless if you plan on hunkering down or bugging out during a disaster. You also need to figure out other things, depending on several factors such as family size and needs, living area, time of the year, and types of disasters you are prepping for. Make sure you take everything into account when building your water management plan.


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Food Shortages Coming: 15 Things you can do

5 Largest Chicken Breeds in the World






When you are curious about chicken breeds, the first things to keep in mind are their shapes and sizes.

You’ve probably noticed that some breeds are bigger than others and have a ton of meat while others are not.

This is important information to consider, especially when looking for a new breed to add to your poultry farm.

Poultry farmers have different reasons for raising chickens.

While some may raise chickens for meat, others may do so for their egg production.

If you’re new to raising chickens for meat, check out my posts:What You Need BEFORE You Get Baby Chicks
13 Creative Ways to Save on Your Chicken Feed
What You Need BEFORE You Butcher Chickens For the First Time
How to Incubate Chicken Eggs For Free Baby Chicks

Either way, it’s important to know what the options are, especially if you’re going for the bigger, plumper ones!

In this article, you will learn about some of the largest chicken breeds you can raise in your backyard.

5 Largest Chicken Breeds in the World


1. Jersey Giant

The first list of large size breeds of chickens is the Jersey Giant, known for their friendly breed and calm temperament.

It can weigh up to 15 lbs, probably the largest breed of chicken you can find, and can be bred for meat or egg production.

It can lay around 150-200 large brown eggs per year and are known to be beautiful birds because of their impressive layers.

These dual purpose birds may be available in black and white.

Black Jersey Giants are generally heavier than whites, but both are good pets due to their docile nature, which makes these gentle giants a good alternative to turkey.





2. Brahma

If you are looking for a large breed of dual purpose chicken, then the dark Brahma are excellent chickens.

It can provide tasty meat and can lay eggs up to 300 per year.

And just like the Jersey Giant chicken, this breed of chicken is also a docile breed, making it a great choice for pets.

An interesting fact about Brahma chicken is that it is by far the largest breed of chicken in the world, which is why it is called the king of Chickens.

It can stand up to 30 inches tall and 10 pounds fat!

This impressive size is what makes it popular!

Brahma chickens have different breed versions.

There are regular versions and Bantam versions.

Both are available in different colors (Dark, Light, Buff) and sizes.

Brahma’s also made it to our Top 12 Heritage Chicken Breeds list as well.





3. Cochin

Another breed of baggy and massive birds that can reach a maximum size of 5 pounds is the Cochin, which is also a dual-purpose breed.

Being big and fat makes it a great choice for meat production.

Yet despite their buff appearance, they look very cute and amazing among other breeds of chicken.

They simply have good layers.

The cochin chickens are also friendly birds and easy to tame, especially the bantam version of the cochin (a smaller sized cochin) who loves to be cuddled.

As for their eggs, they can lay up to 160 large eggs per year.





4. Cornish

Another popular breed of large birds is the Cornish chicken, which can weigh between 8.5-10 lbs.

It also has a flavorful meat, which is commonly used in the commercial meat industry.

This was first bred in Cornwall, UK in the late 1800s of Chinese and Vietnamese descent.

It can produce an average of 150 to 170 large, tinted eggs per year.

It also has different color variations, such as buff, white-laced red, black or white.

Cornish has two different breeds, and each has different sizes.

Cornish Game chickens appear with a combination of brown, dark blue, and green on their coats, and can reach a height of 26 inches and weigh 8.5 lbs for their average size while their hens are around 5.5 lbs.

Jubilee chickens, on the other hand, are larger in size but thinner and lighter in color.

A distinguishing feature of this breed of chicken is its widely spaced legs which become a support problem as they age or become heavier.

They are known to be a muscular breed of chicken with a slightly dominant temperament.

Due to their sharp eyes, they are often intimidating to approach and look on.

But they’re still considered docile, but not as friendly as the larger breeds of chicken mentioned above.

The good thing about this large breed of chicken is that it can adapt to hot and cold temperatures.

It can be bred in any region, but again, providing them with good shelter remains one of their basic needs.

When it comes to egg production, this breed can provide you with an average of 150-170 brown eggs per year.

But more often they are bred for their excellent meat.





5. Orpington

Orpington Chicken, also known as Buff Orpington, is a UK raised chicken with thick coats that are good winter layers, which is why it can tolerate cold weather conditions.

If you live in hot areas, you might not want to consider raising this type of chicken unless you can provide good shelter to protect them from sunburn.

They are bred for meat and eggs, and are also a great choice for pets due to their friendly and docile temperaments.

The interesting thing about this breed of chicken is that it can be found in a variety of colors, such as chocolate, blue, lavender, buff, and black, and can grow up to 16 inches tall and weigh 10 pounds (their hen weighs an average of 8 pounds).

They are also great layers, ranging from 200 to 280 light brown eggs per year, medium to large in size.

This big bird also has impressive layers.

Because it is extremely friendly and docile, they are often not mixed with aggressive breeds of chicken in a pen.

But they are good as pets, especially suitable for children who like to keep playful chickens on the poultry farm.

If you have small farms and are looking for a large chicken bun that does well, this breed of chicken may be a good choice for you!

Conclusion

These are some of the most popular large chicken breeds raised on the poultry farm.

Whether you are just a beginner in raising large chickens or just raising your adventure a little higher, the points mentioned here would help you a lot!

Carefully consider your options, as well as the size of your pen, the climate in your area, and your budget for a shelter.

Overall, raising the biggest chicken breeds is a fun and worthwhile experience.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Cheap homestead protection during SHTF or THE Purge

Methods for moving a wounded patient







By
Bob Rodgers




In normal times if someone close to you gets sick or injured, you will get them to a modern medical facility as fast and soon as possible. However, medical assistance may be absent or nonexistent in a survival situation, so you will have to improvise to save your loved ones.

A general rule of first-aid states that victims need to be left in the position they are found until professional medical help arrives. However, that may not always be possible, and you need to decide if you can treat the patient on the spot or if you have to move them to another location where they can receive proper medical care.

If you decide to move the patient, you first stabilize the victim as best as possible. This means that you need to stop all bleeding, you have to make sure airways are open, you have to splint orthopedic injuries, and so on. If you can’t do that with the available supplies and materials, have someone from your party bring you anything you need to prepare the patient for transport.


Now, depending on the number of people you have in your group, you can figure ways to transport the patient without causing additional damage. For example, someone with a spinal injury should be rolled onto a stretcher, but you must do it carefully to avoid bending their neck back. You will need to use a cervical collar and supportive blocks with straps to immobilize the spine.

Even more, if you don’t have to deal with a spinal injury, it’s still recommended to immobilize the patient’s neck if they are unconscious. This will prevent additional trauma when transporting the victim. Keep in mind that the head needs to align with the spine for unconscious victims during transport if you suspect a spinal injury.

If you have people in your party willing to help, transporting the victim is much easier than you would think, but it does require some coordination. You will have to guide them to lift the patient simultaneously and move at a steady pace, so everyone needs to be on the same page.
Moving the patient

When you move the patient onto a stretcher, you first place the stretcher next to the victim. The patient should be on his back with the arms alongside his body. One person from your group should slip his arms under the victim’s back and waist, while another helper should slip his arms under the hip and knees. You give the command “lift,” and they should both lift the patient simultaneously and place him or her on the stretcher.

Alternatively, the helpers could carefully turn the patient on their side, and you could slip the stretcher underneath. If you decide to do this, make sure the victim’s arms are placed across their chest and the head is aligned with the spine when the patient is turned on the side.
Improvising a stretcher

Regarding the stretcher, you may have to improvise one using your creativity if you don’t already have it readily available. This is especially true if you find yourself in a survival scenario, but there’s always something you can work with even then.

For example, abandoned buildings could provide suitable materials to improvise your stretcher in an urban or rural setting. You can use a blanket, an inside door, or even an ironing board if you find one. All these can be used to make a backboard, and you can use a paracord or rope to make the handles and immobilize the patient, preventing his arms and legs from moving during transport.

Even a chair can be used to transport the victim if he or she is conscious. Have them sit or place them on the chair and position one helper to stand in the chair’s back and hold it by the sides. They will have to tilt the chair back, and you or another person will have to move in front of the chair and grab its front legs. Now lift at the same time and move the victim. The person in the back will also keep an eye on the victim and tell his partner to stop if something is wrong.

You can also move a victim using a poncho or a blanket, provided they are sturdy enough. Stretch out the blanket or poncho near the victim. Place them on the improvised stretcher and roll the side of the blanket or poncho inward to create some grabbing supports. Each person will have to grab a handhold, lift simultaneously, and carry the victim to safety. You will need four people to transport the victim using this method.

If only two of you are present, you can still use that blanket or poncho, but you will also have to improvise some supports from sticks or long poles. You can pick something that is 6 feet long and at least 2 inches thick to make sure it holds the patient’s weight.

Lay your blanket on the ground and place the two poles on top of it to divide the blanket into thirds. Now fold both of the outer thirds over the poles, backward toward the middle.

Place the victim on the blanket, and don’t worry about your stretcher coming apart since the patient’s weight will hold the blanket and poles in place when you lift.

If there’s just you and the victim and cannot wait for help to move the patient, you can still use the blanket or poncho to carry the injured person. Place it under the victim, hold the blanket at one end with both hands and place your forearms to cradle the head. Now use your legs to pull and move the patient to safety.

You can also drag the victim by pulling on the shoulders of his shirt or jacket. Grasp the back of the clothing right under the shoulder, and use your legs to pull them. Please pay attention when moving the patient so that your forearms can cradle their head.
Transporting the victim without additional materials

There may be nothing available to help improvise a stretcher or a litter system in a worst-case scenario, so you will have to use your body strength to move the victim to safety. 

Here are some recommendations:

Four-person team – If there’s more of you, that additional help will be put to good use. You can improvise what’s called the hammock method to lift and move the victim. Have the helpers kneel on both sides of the injured person, and two of them will have to reach under the victim and grab the wrist of the persons across from them. 

The helpers at each end will have to make sure one of their hands supports the feet and the head of the victim during transport. Good coordination will be needed when using this method because everyone will have to get on one knee upon the first command and then stand upon the second command.

Three-person team – Sometimes, you might be forced to move the patient onto a higher level than a stretcher on the ground. Maybe you have to place the victim on an operating table or a hospital gurney. In such a case, the helpers will have to stand on one knee near the patient and roll him on his side to face them. 

The patient is then lifted onto their knee, and they stand once the command is being given. In this case, the victim is being held on the helpers’ chest, and they all need to move using the same foot.

Two-person team – When there’s only you and another helper, you have several options for transporting the victim. For example, if the patient is conscious, you can improvise a four-handed seat by interlocking all four wrists in a square pattern. 

The patient will sit on the improvised seat, and he or she will hold onto your shoulders. If you need one hand free to operate a radio or a phone, you can use only three wrists in a triangular pattern to improvise a seat. Another method of carrying a conscious patient is the crutch method. 

This method is perhaps the simplest of them all, and it allows the victim to walk using the helpers for support (as a pair of crutches). Each helper grabs the patient’s wrist and puts the crook of the victim’s arm on the back of their necks and over their shoulder. The other arm needs to go around the victim’s waist. The patient can then stand with assistance. 

In cases where the victim is less alert, the waistband or belt can be pulled to help lift him or her, with their legs more or less dragging behind as you move. If the patient is more or less aware, you can use the two-handed seat method for transporting the victim. 

This method provides a backrest for the less alert victim. Each helper has to interlock one wrist to form the seat, while the other arm will grab the far shoulder of its partner, thus forming the back support. This method of transport needs to start with the helpers squatting on either side of the victim, and they need to use their legs to lift to avoid injuring their back. 

If you have to transport the patient over a long distance, you can use the fore and aft carry method. In this case, one helper has to get behind a laying victim and slip his arms under the victim’s armpits so that it can lock his hands around the chest. 

The second helper has to position himself facing the patient’s feet, and he needs to use both arms to grab underneath each knee. Please make sure the taller helper holds the patient by his chest since transport will be much easier. 

This method can be used for both conscious or unconscious victims.

One-person army – In case there’s only you and the victim, and there’s no equipment available to help you evacuate the victim, there’s still hope for the patient. You can use the fireman’s carry method to transport the victim since this method keeps the injured person’s torso relatively leveled and stable. 

Start by squatting or kneeling near the patient, grab his right wrist with your left hand, and drape it over your shoulder. Now keep your back straight and place your right hand between the patient’s legs, around the right thigh. 

Use your legs to lift and stand up. If you did things right, you should have the patient’s torso over your back, and his right thigh should be resting on your right shoulder. The victim’s left leg and arm should hang behind your back, and you can adjust his position to make the transport easier. Another option for carrying an injured patient is the pack strap carry method. 

The patient should be behind you, and you need to grab both his arms and cross them across your chest. When squatting, make sure you keep your back straight and use your legs and back muscles to do the lifting. Also, it’s recommended to bend a little so that the patient’s weight is located on your hips before lifting them.
Concluding

Carrying a victim to safety is a complicated ordeal if you have no idea what you’re doing or if it’s your first time doing it. You may end up causing more harm than good to the patient and make things worse for them.

It’s recommended to practice this patient carrying methods before you put your knowledge to the test. Taking part in a first aid class where various protocols are explained and practiced is recommended to be sure you can transport a patient to safety in survival settings.


Sunday, June 26, 2022

DIY Perimeter Defense - Area Denial Devices

Suggestions For Taking Care Of Your Body In The Wilderness


Original Article

 suggestions for taking care of your body in the wilderness


It’s important to remain healthy regardless of the conditions in which we might find ourselves. Obviously, it’s harder when in remote areas where you cannot just pop around the shops for a bar of soap. Simple things like blisters can turn into a major medical calamity if not treated earlier enough.

In this article, we will start with the head and work down the body to avoid or treat ailments that can jeopardize a wilderness adventure.

Hair parasites

Head lice are blood-sucking insects about 3mm long which lay eggs in the hair. They hatch after a week, and the bites are very irritating, which causes scratching. These scratches, in turn, become infected, which can lead to impetigo.

Lice are spread by skin contact and clothing borrowed from an infected person, especially headgear. Keep the hair short and be especially careful if living with indigenous people. There are products that can be used to cleanse the hair of eggs and lice, but the best method is combing with a fine-toothed comb after washing the hair.

Eyecare

The eyes are vulnerable to dust and bright light, and special care is needed in these conditions. In the desert, trying to guide a helicopter to land is like being in a sandblasting machine. Close-fitting goggles are essential to keep the eyes free of sand and grit.

A reflex action tries to rid the eye of any foreign body by vigorous movements of the upper lid and a stream of tears that try to wash the particle away. The eye must not be rubbed, let nature take its course. If the particle is stuck, it will need removing.

eyecare basic

Examine the lower lid first by pulling it gently down and remove any grit with the corner of a clean, wet handkerchief. Examine the top lid by sitting the patient down with their head tilted back.

The lid needs to be turned inside out for a thorough examination, this may sound drastic, but it’s a simple thing to do. Grasp the eyelashes between thumb and forefinger and pull out and up. Use a matchstick to press down on the lid and roll it over the matchstick. Now a thorough examination of the eye can be carried out.

Sunglasses will protect the eyes from bright sunlight in hot countries and also from the glare of snow in the mountains. On one of my mountain hunting trips, I couldn’t get used to my new snow goggles and kept removing them. After a few days, a brown halo surrounded my sight, this is the early warning of snow blindness.

The eyes are protected by a layer of aqueous fluid. Bright light from the sun, the glare off snow, or a welder’s torch, all break down this layer leaving the eyes feeling as though they are full of grit. It’s easily avoided by reducing the amount of light falling on the eye.

If you lose your goggles, you can improvise by blackening under the eye with soot or charcoal. Covering the eyes with mosquito netting or cutting narrow horizontal slits in cloth are other useful tips.


Oral hygiene is mandatory

Before going on a long trip, visit the dentist, especially if going to a cold climate or climbing. Clean the teeth at least twice a day and after each meal if possible. In the jungle, we couldn’t use toothpaste but took care of our teeth by flossing with the inside of paracord or using a toothpick fashioned from a thorn.

Temporary fillings can be made from pine resin. Collect the resin and mix in a small amount of cotton wool and pack it into the cavity. This will cover the nerve, greatly reducing the pain.

We used to carry zinc oxide and clove oil in the medical pack, which we used for fillings. Again add a little cotton wool to the mix and pack in tightly. I know someone who had one of these temporary fillings for months. He had to be reminded to get it sorted out professionally.

Gums are the common cause of toothache. Massaging them lightly with salt will help keep them healthy.

Take care of your lips

take care of your lips

The lips are particularly vulnerable to cracking in extreme heat/cold conditions. Keep them covered in the cold and out of the sun in the tropics. A lip balm is a good thing to carry, and any ointment, grease, or oil will help prevent cracking.

Certain oils will attract flies which was the case when I used margarine in the Middle East. But no matter what I used, my lips always seemed to crack a week before I was due home. Every time I smiled, the lips split, which is not a very romantic sight when returning from a six-month deployment.

How about the ears?

The ears are a perfect shape for an insect trap. It was a full-time job in the jungle removing creatures from ears. The worse thing to do is to poke or prod, which will push the insect deeper into the ear. Warm oil will help get rid of the unwanted guest. Keep the affected ear facing downwards, allowing gravity to help.

In Belize, I had a mate who became increasingly clumsy and complained of dizziness. He tripped over every vine and fell off the largest of logs that bridged the many streams that crisscrossed the area. At first, it was a source of amusement to watch him sprawling every few minutes, but as the injuries mounted up, something had to be done.

I used a torch to look into his ear, and he thought I was trying to attract an insect out like a moth to a flame. I used a cotton bud to remove the heavy discharge of wax and found a seed the size of a grain of rice wedged firmly deep in the ear canal. This what was causing his loss of balance. I used a syringe and forceps to remove the obstruction, thus ending the source of entertainment that he had supplied.

Staying clean

staying clean

It’s important to keep the skin clean, bathing occasionally in clean water will do this. No soaps or shampoos are needed, just a good soaking. Pay special attention to armpits and crotch, and make sure you dry between the toes.

Take good care of your feet. Keep them clean, have good-quality boots and socks, and ensure they fit correctly. Blisters can be avoided if friction between skin and socks is eliminated. One way of achieving this is by applying an oil that is specifically made to do this.

The largest organ of the body is the skin, and special care is required to keep it healthy. Personal and camp hygiene must always be practiced, even in the most difficult of situations. Areas most at risk are the crotch and armpits, areas of heat and dampness, which are prime breeding places for bacteria and fungi infections.

Tinea and ringworm are fungi complaints that attack the outer layer of the skin, hair, and nails, causing them to become brittle. It is highly contagious and will spread to others in the group if not confined.


In the military, we used ointments that should be listed under weapons of mass destruction. The burning application was worse than the effects we were trying to heal, but it was very effective.

Tinea is spread directly from infected clothes, towels, and lavatory seats and indirectly via the feet from wet floors and matting. Skin complaints were very common amongst the locals in the jungle, and we used a variety of ointments to treat them.

They adored being coated in Castellani Paint which is a rich purple color. Cetrimide was yellow, and calamine lotion, which is pink, were also used to treat skin complaints, and an artistic license was used in their application!

In Belize, the jungle was alive with bugs, flies, and insects that all wanted to use your body to lay eggs in. The Botfly favored the scalp to lay its egg, which started as a spot but grew as the larvae developed. The look on the barber’s face was priceless as he was cutting my hair when a maggot emerged from a spot that he had nicked. It actually stopped him talking for at least five minutes.

Staying fed and hydrated

We must keep the body well-nourished and try to eat a balanced diet. The body needs food to supply heat, energy, and tissue regrowth. Lack of food makes it increasingly difficult to keep warm, recover from injuries and illnesses.

Staying hydrated is equally important because water is essential and helps in the processes of digestion, assimilation of nutrients, and the elimination of toxins from the body. You should drink water as often as possible, and you shouldn’t ration your water supplies unless you are certain you cannot identify a water source.

Concluding

Taking care of your body is an important survival task if you find yourself in an environment that lacks modern infrastructure and the amenities you’re used to exploiting daily for your own comfort. There are certain things that shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to personal hygiene, and there’s always room for improvisation to maintain yourself in good shape.

Richard Trammell has written this post for Prepper’s Will.