The other day I was watching a TV series on Netflix called The Colony. It’s a reality TV show about a group of people who have to work together to survive after a global catastrophe. It was presented like an experiment and had controlled scenarios of what could happen after an economic collapse or large scale disaster. This got me thinking, what can I do to prepare for something like this without coming across as eccentric or paranoid? I’m definitely not paranoid and this post is meant to be entertaining and informative. However, I do believe that something could happen in the future to cause the economy to falter and life as we know it to change. If something disastrous were to happen money would hold little to no value, business would come to a standstill, daily conveniences that we take for granted (like electricity) would be gone, and food and clean water would become scarce. There are a lot of theories about what this terrible event could be; all I know is I don’t want to be caught totally unprepared. So, I came up with this list of things anyone can do to make themselves more prepared.
1. Accumulate Books with Old School Knowledge.
The old saying, “knowledge is power,” is definitely true, especially when your survival is on the line. In today’s society there’s a lot of common knowledge that has been lost. I’m talking about knowledge pertaining to hunting, foraging for food, farming, and so on. Do you know how to purify water? Would you be able to identify edible plants that grow in your area? Could you successfully grow your own food? Would you know how to preserve that food? Could you successfully hunt and kill an animal? If so, would you know how to properly butcher it? I’m not suggesting that you should know or even try to learn all of these things, but I am suggesting that you buy some relevant books on these topics. That way if you don’t know how to do something you can just look it up. Here are a few suggestions…
2. Know How to Purify Water.
You could buy a book on how to purify water, but I think that this is something everyone should know how to do because the ability to purify water could make all the difference. Unpurified water can contain parasites, heavy metals, fecal matter, and unsafe levels of hazardous chemicals. The last thing anyone wants to do is get sick in a survival situation. There are many ways to purify water but the longstanding methods of filtration/boiling and distillation are the simplest when water purification chemicals aren’t available.
- Most water filters work by passing water over activated carbon/charcoal. One teaspoon of activated carbon has a surface area larger than a football field, allowing a small amount of carbon to efficiently filter large quantities of water. When water passes over the activated carbon, any chemicals or contaminates in the water are bonded at a molecular level to the carbon, removing them from the water. Carbon water filters help remove most, but not all, contaminates found in water. They are most effective at removing chemicals and sediment, but are not effective at removing minerals, salts, and dissolved inorganic compounds. If you don’t have any carbon filters, a large water filter can be made by drilling holes in the bottom of a large, unused plastic trashcan and filling it with clean sand. Place this above a collection tank and filter water through it. This is what they did on the TV show The Colony. Water should always be boiled after filtration for 10 minutes to ensure purity.
- Water distillation starts by heating untreated water until it reaches its boiling point and vaporizes. Once the water has vaporized, it enters into a condenser where it’s cooled and turned back into water. The water then flows out of the condenser into a collection tank. The distillation of water will remove chlorine, nitrates, fluorides, ammonia, heavy metals, arsenic, viruses, bacteria, herbicides, and pesticides. Water should be distilled twice to ensure its purity. Water can also be distilled using the heat of the sun. This is called a solar still.
3. Plant a Perennial Garden.
If you plant things like fruit trees, blueberry bushes, asparagus, grape vines, and strawberries on your property you will be able to harvest food year after year while only planting once. There are also many different types of flowers that are edible. However, be sure to do your research before you start eating any unknown flowers around your home.
4. Secure Your Home.
Looting will most likely increase after a large scale disaster. This means that if you have anything of value inside your home some people will not hesitate to break down your door to get it. In most situations this will be out of desperation, and if you’re in a position to help people then I believe that’s what you should do. However, some people probably won’t want your help; they’ll just want to help themselves to as much of your stuff as they can carry (including food and water). You can significantly increase the security of your home by reinforcing your exterior door frames with metal plates and your windows with window security film. If you would like more information about home security check out my free ebook called Home Security Principles at www.frugalhomediy.com/ebook . You can also watch the YouTube video I created on how to reinforce an entry door (below).
5. Keep Your Home in Good Shape.
Build your home to last while reliable labor and high quality materials are readily available. This is because the last thing you’ll want to deal with during the aftermath of an economic collapse is a house that needs a lot of work. So, when things need fixed or replaced go for high quality. A good example of this is getting a metal roof instead of asphalt shingles when the time comes to get your current roof replaced. Metal roofs are very long lasting. If you put a metal roof on your home it could very well be the last roof you ever have installed, given you get a quality installation. It may seem expensive but metal roofing actually costs less than asphalt shingles in the long run. Also, the high solar reflectance of a metal roof increases energy efficiency resulting in a 35% reduction of cooling costs during the summer. On top of all that, a metal roof has been shown to increase a home’s resale value. All of these benefits make installing a metal roof one of the best remodeling investments a homeowner can make. Another great example of this is switching from incandescent to LED light bulbs. LED (light emitting diode) bulbs offer better light quality than incandescent bulbs, use less energy than CFL bulbs, can last 22 years or longer, and contain no toxic materials. The cheapest place to buy LED bulbs is online here.
6. Amass Non-Power Tools.
If electricity becomes scarce you will still be able to get work done with old fashion hand tools. Things like hand saws, axes, hand drills, hammers, wrench sets, screw driver sets, and shovels are all good thing to have.
7. Develop a Plan for Energy Independence.
If electricity becomes unavailable through the grid there are ways to produce it yourself. This is easier than you might think. However, I’m not saying to go out and buy all of the supplies needed to do this. If you want to do that I think that’s awesome, but just having a basic idea of how to make this happen is a good start.
The basic idea is to create an electricity source that charges a battery bank. Fifteen to twenty batteries will be enough to power most applications. The best kind of battery to use for this is a deep cycle battery. A deep cycle battery is designed to provide a steady amount of current over a long period of time and can be deeply discharged over and over again. These batteries can be connected in a series, parallel, or a series/parallel depending what you are trying to power.
Connecting in Series
- When connecting your batteries in Series you are multiplying the voltage while maintaining the same capacity rating (amp hours). Just connect the negative of the first battery to the positive of the second battery and so on.
Connecting in Parallel
- When connecting in Parallel you are multiplying the capacity (amp hours) of the battery while maintaining the voltage of one of the individual batteries. Just connect the positives of all batteries together and the negatives of all batteries together.
Connecting in Series/Parallel
- To obtain maximum output from the batteries both a series and a parallel connection is needed. The batteries are connected in a series to improve the voltage and in parallel to improve the current (amp hours).
After the batteries are hooked up you’ll need a power inverter to power household appliances. A power inverter converts the direct current (DC) of a battery to alternating current (AC) that we use in our homes. Once the battery bank is complete you will need something to charge it. One way to do this is with a gas powered generator. If you don’t have any gasoline to run your generator a process called wood gasification can be used to create fuel. I also saw this on the The Colony. Wood gasification is the process of turning wood into carbon monoxide and hydrogen by heating it up to high temperatures in an environment with little to no oxygen. When solids and liquids combust they must first be turned into a gas and mixed together with oxygen. Without oxygen, the wood gas can’t burn so it just stays a gas. This wood gas can then be used as fuel to power an internal combustion engine.
Wind turbines and solar panels can also be used to charge a battery bank. A wind turbine can be made from scratch with readily available materials. I am not going to get into this here because that is a subject in itself.
As a side note, heating your home will be a concern in the winter if you live in a colder climate. A wood burning stove can be easily installed in any home (even without a chimney). Also, you will want to check the insulation levels in your home to ensure warm air isn’t escaping and being unnecessarily wasted. In addition, if you live in a warmer climate a solar water heater can be used to passively heat your water. This can be as simple as a large container that sits out in the sun.
If you have any other ideas feel free to comment below.