Emergencies

Signs Of The Time, Part 104

In the May 2016 issue of The Atlantic there’s an article entitled “The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans.” Neal Gabler writes:

Since 2013, the Federal Reserve Board has conducted a survey to “monitor the financial and economic status of American consumers.” Most of the data in the latest survey, frankly, are less than earth-shattering: 49 percent of part-time workers would prefer to work more hours at their current wage; 29 percent of Americans expect to earn a higher income in the coming year; 43 percent of homeowners who have owned their home for at least a year believe its value has increased. But the answer to one question was astonishing. The Fed asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all. Four hundred dollars! Who knew?

I didn’t know.

But I’m really not surprised to learn of it either.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Gabler, Neal. “The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans.” The Atlantic. May 2016. (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/05/my-secret-shame/476415/). 24 May 2016.

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Signs Of The Time, Part 102

From the official website of the National Association of REALTORS- realtor.com- this past Tuesday:

“Prepping for Doomsday: Bunkers, Panic Rooms, and Going Off the Grid”

Excerpts from the article included:

“If the booming sales of panic rooms are any indication, more and more city dwellers these days are obsessively worrying about everything from home invasions to terror attacks…”

“Some real estate companies are seeing big increases by specializing in ‘survivalist properties’…”

“Survivalists are also particularly hungry for metal containers they can convert into shelters and bury underground…”

While there’s the expected mocking tone to the piece (“Welcome to the brave (and for some, highly profitable) new world of paranoia”), it’s still an interesting look at what’s going on with panic/safe rooms, survival real estate, and (underground) shelters- topics I’ve blogged about from time to time over the last several years.

You can read the entire article on realtor.com here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 45: Top 3 Threat Priorities

“As a result of my research and this blog, I’m now aware of the myriad of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to my life and lifestyle (and those of my loved ones), and think it’s probably wise to acquaint myself more with ‘prepping’ via a sustained ‘hands-on’ program of learning and doing, which I’ll call ‘Project Prepper.’

Through a series of posts on this blog which I suspect should last for quite some time (years?), I’ll be able to share my preparedness experiences with you…”

Survival And Prosperity, “Project Prepper, Part 1: It Begins,” October 24, 2012

This week’s “Project Prepper” post is going to be a little different. While I’m currently working on a number of projects related to fulfilling seven “innate survival needs” (hat tip Jack Spirko @ The Survival Podcast):

1. Physical Security
2. Financial Security
3. Water
4. Food
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy
7. Shelter

Today I’m going to talk about threat priorities. As a forty-something homeowner residing with my girlfriend in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, in 2016, “I’m now aware of the myriad of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to my life and lifestyle (and those of my loved ones).” Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know I blog about them frequently. But from my vantage point, here are the “top 3” I’m mostly concerned about:

1. Severe Weather
2. Financial Crisis
3. Terrorism

Concerning severe weather, here in the Chicagoland area residents have to contend with spring and summer storms that can consist of high winds, torrential rain, flooding, and tornadoes. Winter can bring along with it ice storms (not too often), significant snowfall/blizzards, and brutally-cold temperatures. Consequently, structural damage, utility outages, hazardous travel conditions, and other threats to life and property accompany such events.

Case in point, prior to my girlfriend and I moving into our house in 2013, a large part of the Chicago metro area suffered significant damage from a “derecho” (widespread, long-lived wind storm) event that left many area homeowners without electricity for several days. A real nuisance for most of those affected, but potentially deadly to those with serious health issues- like my elderly father. And in case readers think I’m talking about those far-off “suburbs” of Chicago here (I remember one real estate agent referring to Rochelle- approximately 80 miles west of Chicago- as a “western suburb” during the housing boom last decade), these extended outages were taking place in near “North Shore” enclaves. I remember watching one furious Northbrook homeowner being interviewed on the local televised news, saying how he had been without power for a number of days and couldn’t understand why it hadn’t been restored yet considering the high taxes he paid to live in such a nice area. Anyway, severe weather tops the list for me. Not as “sexy”- as some would say- as preparing for the “Zombie apocalypse,” but oh well.

Financial crisis. Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity and its predecessor know I’ve been on the lookout for coming “tough times” for some years now. From this blog’s “About” page:

Back in 2004 when SP’s creator/editor Christopher Hill was surveying the economic and investment landscape in support of his own investing activities, he concluded from his own research that the United States was heading towards a financial crash. Deciding that this was something other Americans might want to know about, Mr. Hill launched the independent financial blog Boom2Bust.com, “The Most Hated Blog on Wall Street,” on Memorial Day Weekend 2007 with the purpose of warning and educating others about the approaching U.S. economic crash. He has been credited with calling last decade’s housing bubble and subsequent bust, the 2008 global economic crisis, and the “Great Recession” as a result of his work on this project. Chris wrote over 1,500 posts on Boom2Bust.com during its nearly three-year run, with many of these picked up and republished on the web sites of The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, Fox News, Reuters, USA Today, the Chicago Sun-Times group, the Austin-American Statesman, the Palm Beach Post, and the West Orlando News, among other media outlets. Chris was also interviewed for a May 2009 MSNBC.com article as a result of his work with the blog.

Since Memorial Day Weekend 2007, I’ve stood by and watched as the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble and subprime mortgage crisis was quickly followed by carnage on Wall Street in the autumn of 2008 and a “Great Recession.” I also observed how the Washington politicians and the Fed responded by “papering up” the mess with massive government and central bank intervention. But as everyone knows, you can only “kick the can down the road” so far. And my concern is that the road is rapidly coming to an end. Visit this blog often enough and you might get that sense as well.

Consequently, I’ve come to believe that the U.S. financial crash I still see headed our way won’t be like an airplane that suffers a sudden, catastrophic failure and plummets back to Earth like a rock. Rather, taking into account the abilities of the federal government and central bank to keep the aircraft aloft for quite some time, the crash may be more akin to a slow- yet-unavoidable descent into the ground. At which point, Americans might be left pondering what had happened to them, just like Argentines did after their economy crapped out in the early 2000s after prosperous times.

Making matters worse is the fact that I still reside in Cook County and Illinois, whose financial troubles are well-publicized. While I’ve left Chicago, I still haven’t made Wisconsin my permanent home address.

When the “balloon goes up” locally and nationally, I suspect everyday living is going to get particularly gritty around these parts.

As terrorism is concerned, post-9/11 I found myself working in the public safety field. As part of my duties at a local fire department, I catalogued potential terrorist targets in the area in the hunt for money to upgrade the agency’s response capabilities. It was my belief that the threat was real then, and it remains so today. Even more so in 2016, as U.S. border security is quite suspect at a time when those who would wish to harm the “homeland” continually make their operational capabilities and future desires for wreaking death and destruction known.


“Border Patrol Admits US Citizenship Doesn’t Matter”
YouTube Video

Like I’ve repeatedly said before on this blog, I believe it’s only a matter of time before the United States suffers terror attacks possibly resembling what occurred in Beslan (Russia) in 2004, Mumbai (India) in 2008, and more recently in Paris and Brussels. And a terrorist strike rivaling or even surpassing the carnage of September 11, 2011, is not out of the question as far as I’m concerned. New jihadists continue to replace their fallen predecessors in this “War on Terror,” and the religious duty of killing “infidels” remains the same. On May 6, 2011, I wrote:

In 2005, Dr. Paul L. Williams, a journalist and author, published the book The Al-Qaeda Connection, in which he discussed plans for a future nuclear terrorist strike, dubbed “American Hiroshima.” He wrote:

Bin Laden asserts that he must kill four million Americans- two million of whom must be children- in order to achieve parity for a litany of “wrongs” committed against the Muslim people by the United States of America. The “wrongs” include the establishment and occupation of military bases between the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, the support of Israel and the suppression of the Palestinian people, the Persian Gulf War and the subsequent economic sanctions, and the invasions of Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

These days, the Islamic State has stolen the headlines from Al-Qaeda and other Muslim extremists. But such religious fanaticism as a whole remains a top concern for me.

Severe weather, financial crisis, and terrorism are natural and man-made threats that register the most on my radar. But this doesn’t mean I discount other potential dangers to life and property either (pandemic, severe space weather, and war would probably be the next three on the list). As such, an “all-hazards” approach is emphasized in my “Project Prepper” activities.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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DHS, FBI Launches Nationwide Program Warning Electric Companies About Cyber Attacks

While most of Main Street might not have a clue about the threat to the nation’s power grid from cyber attacks, it sounds like the Feds may be starting to take it seriously. Bill Gertz reported over on The Washington Free Beacon website last Friday:

Three months after a Department of Homeland Security intelligence report downplayed the threat of a cyber attack against the U.S. electrical grid, DHS and the FBI began a nationwide program warning of the dangers faced by U.S. utilities from damaging cyber attacks like the recent hacking against Ukraine’s power grid.

The nationwide campaign by DHS and the FBI began March 31 and includes 12 briefings and online webinars for electrical power infrastructure companies and others involved in security, with sessions in eight U.S. cities, including a session next week in Washington.

The unclassified briefings are titled “Ukraine Cyber Attack: Implications for U.S. Stakeholders,” and are based on work with the Ukrainian government in the aftermath of the Dec. 23 cyber attack against the Ukrainian power infrastructure…

The briefings will outline the details of the attacks, the techniques used by the hackers, and strategies to be used to limit risks and improve cyber security for grid organizations…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Those who have been sounding the alarm over the cyber attack threat for some time now have found a high-profile ally in American broadcast journalist Ted Koppel. Graham Vyse reported on the website of InsideSources, a non-partisan news organization, back on March 19:

On Monday, ABC News legend Ted Koppel sat down at a conference table at the National Press Foundation in Washington, accepted the mug of coffee he was offered and proceeded to describe a national security threat greater than 9/11.

The longtime “Nightline” anchor told reporters about the danger of a cyber attack on the United States power grid — an unprecedented event that could mean months of blackouts affecting tens of millions.

Koppel sees this scenario as a likelihood, not just a possibility, for which the country is woefully unprepared. He worries it would reduce America to a kind of Hobbesian state of nature, with conflicts over food, water and other dwindling necessities. It’s all the subject of his latest book, “Lights Out.”

“What happened on 9/11 is nothing compared to what a cyber attack on the power grid would do,” Koppel said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Vyse added:

Koppel doesn’t think America can actually prevent a cyber attack, so he argues the focus should be on minimizing damage. The trouble is, he’s doubtful Congress would respond well to a request for $100 billion to buy enough freeze-dried meals to avoid food riots

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“The trouble is, he’s doubtful Congress would respond well to a request for $100 billion to buy enough freeze-dried meals to avoid food riots”

Yikes.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Gertz, Bill. “FBI Warns of Cyber Threat to Electric Grid.” The Washington Free Beacon. 8 Apr. 2016. (http://freebeacon.com/issues/fbi-warns-cyber-threat-electric-grid/). 12 Apr. 2016.

Vyse, Graham. “Ted Koppel: Homeland Security Chief ‘Ignorant’ on Threat to Grid.” InsideSources. 19 Mar. 2016. (http://www.insidesources.com/koppel-homeland/). 12 Apr. 2016.

Ted Koppel’s power grid cyber attack book…

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Project Prepper, Part 44: Backup Heating For House Update

Back on February 25, I started discussing backup heating for the house my girlfriend and I purchased in 2013. I blogged:

Last Friday, incredibly strong winds (max gust speed 62 mph) pummeled the Chicagoland area. Not surprisingly, we lost power for a few hours- along with the heat. As I lay in bed recovering from the flu and buried under the covers, I thought to myself, “It’s a good thing it isn’t that cold outside today considering its February in Chicago.”

Later on I started thinking about what my girlfriend and I would do if the electricity had been out for a longer stretch of time while the outside temperatures were more “seasonal.”

I decided to look into a backup heat source for the house once I was up and about again…

I initially thought a vent-free natural gas heater, installed on a basement wall adjacent to the utility room, was the solution. But as I wrote in my last “Project Prepper” entry:

I’m starting to like the idea of a natural gas-powered stationary (standby) generator above and beyond the vent-free heater. The standby generator would allow us to keep using the furnace to heat the house and run other essentials in the event of a power outage…

Now, our HVAC guy did come out to the house to discuss a new heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system for the structure- which my girlfriend and I subsequently agreed to purchase. But not before I confirmed the setup could be tied into a natural gas-powered stationary (standby) generator down the road. When asked if he knew someone qualified to install such a generator, he informed me his brother-in-law does such work. Nice.

In the meantime, while the Chicagoland winter was pretty tame this year (especially when compared to the last two), I’d still like to bridge the gap with some temporary backup heating setup until we can afford to buy a stationary generator. I’m leaning towards picking up a Big Buddy Portable Heater by Mr. Heater after reading a number of decent reviews about the product. From its “Description” page on the Mr. Heater website:

The Most Popular Portable Propane Heater in North America. This patented radiant 4,000-18,000 BTU Liquid Propane heater connects directly to two 1 lb. cylinders and is the perfect solution for heating enclosed spaces like cabins up to 400 sq. ft. An integrated fan increases the heating capacity of this unit, blending radiant and convection style heat to give you the best of both worlds. Two swivel regulators give you the ability to adapt usage from disposable cylinders to a remote gas supply with the purchase of a single hose and filter. To light the unit, simply push and rotate the knob. The built in Piezo sparking mechanism will take care of the rest. With the Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS) and accidental tip-over safety shut-off, you can be sure that you will enjoy years of comfortable indoor safe heat.

• 4,000, 9,000, or 18,000 BTU per hour
• For use with propane gas
• Heats up to 400 sq. ft.
• Single control start knob
• Hi-Med-Low heat settings
• Swivel regulators
• Automatic low oxygen shut-off system (ODS)
• Accidental tip-over safety shut-off
• Connects to two 1 lb. cylinders
• Connects to a 20 lb. cylinder with optional hose
• Fan operates on 4 – D batteries or AC adapter, both sold separately


“Big Buddy- Operation and Accessories”
YouTube Video

I like the fact that the device can be used for emergency home heating. From its product page on Amazon.com:

The Big Buddy Propane Heater by Mr. Heater is the latest evolution in portable heat-with the capacity to heat up to 400 square feet. It combines radiant heat comfort with fan-powered convection heat for maximum heating efficiency, providing safe, reliable heat anytime. Use it for emergency situations, workshops, garages, storage buildings, construction trailers, barns, tents, patios, porches, cabins, fishing shanties, truck caps, barns — anywhere you want to stay warm. May also be used inside your home in case of a power outage

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Some more research is required on my end. Still, it’s nice knowing there might be a temporary backup heating option available for the house until a stationary generator can be put into play.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 43: Standby Generator For Heat, Other Essentials

In last week’s “Project Prepper” post, I blogged about backup heating for the house my girlfriend and I purchased in 2013.

You may recall I talked about how strong winds knocked out power- and heat (electricity needed for furnace blower)- for a couple of hours late last month. I wrote:

Later on I started thinking about what my girlfriend and I would do if the electricity had been out for a longer stretch of time while the outside temperatures were more “seasonal.”

I decided to look into a backup heat source for the house once I was up and about again…

As we already use a natural gas furnace, I initially thought a vent-free natural gas heater would be a good backup heat source. Based on that initial research I did, I still think it is.

However, I’m starting to like the idea of a natural gas-powered stationary (standby) generator above and beyond the vent-free heater. The standby generator would allow us to keep using the furnace to heat the house and run other essentials in the event of a power outage. David Agrell reported on the Popular Mechanics website on January 25, 2013:

Standby generators offer a steadfast solution to extended outages. Unlike portable generators, they’re installed permanently on a concrete pad in your yard and will provide uninterrupted backup for days. That’s because they’re connected directly to your home’s electrical panel and powered by an external fuel supply, such as natural gas, liquid propane, or diesel. Smaller, air-cooled essential-circuit units… are slightly larger than portable generators and can energize just a few circuits at a time. Larger, liquid-cooled whole-house systems will do just as their name suggests—they’ll comfortably power an entire home…


“Standby Generator”
YouTube Video

According to the Generator Buying Guide (February 2016) on the Consumer Reports website, stationary generators range from roughly 5,000 to 20,000 watts and cost from $5,000 to $10,000. Yikes! Add to that the cost of professional installation. Plus there’s this from the folks over at Consumer Reports:

Guess What: You Need a Transfer Switch

What’s that, you say? Well, the short answer is that it links the stationary or portable generator to your circuit panel in one cable. Skipping it could cause appliances to fry, endanger utility workers, and damage the generator.

We recommend that you have a pro install it, and it could cost from $500 to $900, with labor…

Other items that might need to be addressed include:

• Maintenance
• Municipal ordinances
• Noise
• Physical placement

I get it. This would be somewhat of a complex and costly project to carry out.

Still, at first glance a natural gas-powered stationary (standby) generator looks to fit our anticipated needs better than just a vent-free heater for backup heating.

I’ll bring up the subject again after looking into it some more.

Stay tuned…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Agrell, David. “Should You Buy a Standby Generator?” Popular Mechanics. 25 Jan. 2013. (http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to/a8523/should-you-buy-a-standby-generator-14880060/). 3 Mar. 2016.

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Project Prepper, Part 42: Backup Heating For House

The last two “Project Prepper” posts consisted of a recap of what the series is all about and a status report for the project a little over three years in the works.

Today I want to move forward and talk about backup heating for the house my girlfriend and I purchased in 2013.

Last Friday, incredibly strong winds (max gust speed 62 mph) pummeled the Chicagoland area. Not surprisingly, we lost power for a few hours- along with the heat. As I lay in bed recovering from the flu and buried under the covers, I thought to myself, “It’s a good thing it isn’t that cold outside today considering its February in Chicago.”

Later on I started thinking about what my girlfriend and I would do if the electricity had been out for a longer stretch of time while the outside temperatures were more “seasonal.”

I decided to look into a backup heat source for the house once I was up and about again.

Fast forward to tonight. Currently, the structure is heated solely by an older natural gas furnace. And as I mentioned before, when the electricity goes, so do the comfy indoor temps.

Not good in these parts at this time of year.

Thankfully, I may have found a solution:

A vent-free natural gas heater


“Vent-Free Gas Heaters”
YouTube Video

I’m thinking of something along the lines of Mr. Heater’s Vent Free Blue Flame Natural Gas Heater (Model# MHVFB30NGT). From the Cleveland, Ohio-based heating product manufacturer’s website:

This Blue Flame 30,000 BTU Natural Gas Vent Free heater is the perfect supplemental heating solution even on the coldest days. This heater is conveniently equipped with a thermostat for superior control of the temperature in your space. Also, with a battery powered electronic ignition, starting it is a breeze – battery included. This unit can be permanently mounted to the wall or securely fastened to the floor with included mounting brackets and fasteners. A clean burning blue flame tube burner uses the natural convection of the burn to circulate warm comfortable air. With a factory standard Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS), rest assured this heater will provide you with years of comfortable and safe heat.

• 30,000 BTU per hour
• For use with Natural Gas
• Heats up to 750 sq. ft.
• Blue flame burner for even convection heat
• Quiet integrated blower for gentle circulation of heated air
• Thermostat for automatic temperature control
• Automatic low oxygen shut-off system (ODS)
• Legs and wall mounting hardware included…

From the Amazon webpage for this family of Mr. Heater products:

Our Vent Free heaters need no external power, great for power outages and applications with no electricity…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Bingo. Just what I’m looking for.

And consider this from Rich M. over at the Off The Grid News website some time back while discussing a different natural gas-powered heater used in the home:

There are two huge advantages to using this type of heater. First of all, they don’t need electricity, and secondly, you don’t have to stockpile natural gas. Natural gas pumping stations provide their own power, so they will probably still be operating even if there is no electricity. About the only way that they can go down is if the gas pipes are damaged…

I’m pretty sure the above applies to the vent-free natural gas heaters too.

In a significant SHTF event, natural gas may or may not be flowing to the house unimpeded. Still, for reliable backup heating after a winter storm/other emergency knocks out the power- and main heating source- for several hours or more, this type of heater might fit the bill.

More research is necessary. As luck would have it, our HVAC guy is scheduled to stop by at the end of next week to talk about a different project. I’ll make it a point to ask him what he thinks about vent-free natural gas heaters as a backup heat source around these parts, and will report back to Survival And Prosperity readers with what was discussed.

Stay warm…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 41: 2016 Status Report

Last week in the “Project Prepper” series of posts I recapped what the series is all about for those who didn’t already know.

Today, I’m going to talk about where the project stands a little over three years in the works.

Originally, I decided my preparedness education and activities would focus on a prioritized list of six “innate survival needs” (hat-tip Jack Spirko @ The Survival Podcast). That included:

1. Security
2. Water
3. Food
4. Shelter
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy

In May 2015, I split up “Security” into “Physical Security” and “Financial Security” (following Spirko’s lead). The revised list now looks like this:

1. Physical Security
2. Financial Security
3. Water
4. Food
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy
7. Shelter

After its adoption I blogged on May 20, 2015:

“Physical Security” is still priority number one because I predict the push for more gun “control” will continue while crime simultaneously gets worse. “Financial Security” breaks into the list at number two because the most likely disaster I see on the horizon is an economic one. “Shelter” now brings up the rear as I’ve completed that move from my Chicago apartment to a house in the suburbs (plus there’s my family’s place in Wisconsin where I spend time).

In my last “status report” (December 10, 2014), I wrote:

Decent strides have been made in the area of security… Physical security on the exterior/interior of the new house has been improved, particularly with landscaping, lighting, and locks. Personal safety gear, supplies, and tools have been acquired, with training having commenced a few years back.

Concerning water, the foundation for an emergency water supply is now in place. While utilizing some water storage containers I had prior to this project, I’ve acquired additional containers. To maintain the quality of the water for an extended period of time, I purchased aerobic stabilized oxygen. I’ve also kept a couple of cases of bottled drinking water on hand, along with an emergency water containment system that holds up to 100 gallons of fresh water in a bathtub standing by in the wings. At present, my girlfriend and I have close to a week-and-a-half supply of emergency water each (based on federal government guidelines of one gallon per person per day). Even though this is significantly more than Uncle Sam’s 72-hour recommendation, I’m not comfortable with this amount.

Concerning food, the foundation for an emergency food supply is also in place. Taking advantage of price drops and gift cards, my girlfriend and I scored a relatively-inexpensive 1-week supply of high-quality freeze-dried meals each. Like with the water though, I’d like to increase that amount commensurate with the potential emergencies I’ve identified.

Concerning shelter, purchasing that house last spring was a pretty big “prep.” And it was certainly an improvement over the multi-family housing arrangement where my girlfriend and I used to live. As much as I love the city of Chicago and would have liked to stay in our northwest side neighborhood, my girlfriend and I are much better off here in a close-by suburb, all things considered.

Concerning sanitation/health, not much work has been done in this area yet. As health is concerned, I’ve acquired a good deal of basic first aid supplies and instructional material in the last couple of years. But it’s been too long since I’ve had any training in this area. It’s one of my goals in 2015 to complete an American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class and build a comprehensive first aid kit- as well as having the knowledge/skills to use it. In addition, while working around the house has been good for the body, I really need to improve my physical fitness. Not only will it help me cope with the difficult times I see coming down the pipeline, but hopefully it will keep me from having to rely on our floundering health care system as much as possible.

On sanitation, an unforeseen (and somewhat costly) improvement was carried out late last year on our sewer line going from the house. I’ll spare readers the details, but a new cleanout was added on the front of the home, and with it, a check valve. Should the city’s sewer system fail for any reason (extended power grid failure?), the valve should prevent sewage from backing up into our house and through the toilets. At least, that’s how I understand it should work. When it comes to people having to “go to the bathroom” in an extended grid-down scenario and dealing with the waste, I’m already researching a number of possible solutions.

Finally, as energy is concerned, for short-term blackouts I’ve been looking at portable generators to use at first until my girlfriend and I can afford a standby generator that can be hooked up to the natural gas line coming into the house. I’m also exploring if we can’t utilize renewable sources of energy somehow. I really hope so, because it’s probably what we’ll be forced to turn to in a long-term grid-down situation. That being said, we are limited by what we can use due to our location in a major metropolitan area.

So that’s where I stand with “Project Prepper” as 2014 draws to a close. Decent progress has been made in tackling those “innate survival needs,” but there’s still a lot more work that needs to be done. Hopefully, time and money will be on my side in the new year.

“Hopefully, time and money will be on my side in the new year.”

Regrettably, “time and money” were not on my side. That being said, I was able to make some progress on “Project Prepper.” Going down that revised list of “innate survival needs”:

1. Physical Security: Additional lighting has been added around the property to illuminate the exterior of the house. More personal safety tools and gear have been acquired, along with training material purchased from affiliate marketing partner Paladin Press.

2. Financial Security: No progress, although efforts have been ongoing since 2004. More on this another time.

3. Water: Additional water storage containers have been purchased and acquired. I bought one Reliance Products Aqua-Pak 5 Gallon Rigid Water Container
via Amazon.com to try out (review forthcoming), and have been stockpiling empty 2-liter plastic bottles.

4. Food: Nothing’s been added to the existing emergency food supply. Although regular readers of Survival And Prosperity might remember the “experimental” food garden my girlfriend and I grew last year using heirloom seeds from My Patriot Supply’s Survival Seed Vault.

Cucumbersaurus Revisited

Cucumbersaurus Revisited: It was DELICIOUS, by the way

ANY CHARACTER HERE

Despite a number of rookie mistakes and other challenges, I’d say it was a success, and I can’t wait to grow another, more expanded one this year.

5. Sanitation and Health: I wasn’t able to take that American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class and build a comprehensive first aid kit in 2015 like I wanted to. I have started a new workout regimen though in an effort to improve my physical fitness. I blogged back on August 26, 2015:

As for the standards I’m shooting for, I’m leaning towards those embraced by Blackwater, Inc. Founder and former CEO Erik Prince talked about them in his recently published book entitled Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror:

Our employees may have been retired from the military, but Blackwater didn’t hire your typical “retiree.” After the eight-week Moyock training programs that turned those veterans into diplomatic security professionals, our final physical fitness test standards required men to run one and a half miles in less than ten minutes, forty-five seconds; execute twelve pull-ups in a row, seventy-five push-ups done in two one-minute sets, and seventy-five sit-ups in two one-minute sets; and drag a 175-pound dummy eighty feet in under one minute

(Editor: Bold added for emphasis)

6. Energy: No progress.

7. Shelter: No progress. But to be fair, the house in the Chicago suburbs was a pretty substantial prep.

I’m disappointed I didn’t accomplish more since that December 2014 status report. Particularly as I believe time is ticking before the “balloon goes up.” From this point on, I’ll need to get “time and money” back on my side to keep “Project Prepper” moving forward. I’m up to the challenge.

More next week…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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REI Survival-Related Classes In The Chicago Area For October Thru Mid-November

Chicago-area readers- below are survival-related classes from REI this October thru mid-November:

Map and Compass Navigation Basics, Oakbrook REI (west suburbs- Oakbrook Terrace), October 6, 6:30-8:30 PM, $30 member/$50 non-member, 4 spots left
Introductory to Backcountry Skills Class, Deer Grove Forest Preserve- Grove 5 (northwest suburbs- Palatine), October 11, 9 AM-2 PM, $60 member/$80 non-member, 8 spots left
Prepare for the Unexpected: Urban Emergency Preparedness, Northbrook REI (north suburbs- Northbrook), October 15, 7-8:30 PM, Free, 22 spots left
Wilderness Survival: 3-Season Skills, Palos Forest Preserve- Wolf Rd. Woods (southwest suburbs- Willow Springs), October 17, 9 AM-2 PM, $65 member/$85 non-member, 3 spots left
Zombie Preparedness- Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse, Oakbrook REI (west suburbs- Oakbrook Terrace), October 23, 7-8:30 PM, Free, 18 spots left
Backcountry Navigation with a Map & Compass- Level 1, Deer Grove Forest Preserve- Grove 5 (northwest suburbs- Palatine), October 24, 9 AM-2 PM, $60 member/$80 non-member, 11 spots left
Map and Compass Navigation Basics, Lincoln Park REI (city north- Chicago), October 29, 6:30-8:30 PM, $30 member/$50 non-member, 9 spots left
Zombie Preparedness- Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse, Schaumburg REI (northwest suburbs- Schaumburg), October 30, 7-8:30 PM, Free, 3 spots left
Wilderness Survival: 3-Season Skills, Blackwell Forest Preserve- Silver Lake Boat Launch (west suburbs- Warrenville), October 31, 9 AM-2 PM, $65 member/$85 non-member, 12 spots left
Wilderness First Aid with WMI and REI, Edgebrook Woods – Mathew Bieszczat Volunteer Resource Center (city northwest- Chicago), November 14, 9AM, to November 15, 6 PM, $225 member/$255 non-member, 15 spots left

REI membership is still available for only a one-time fee of $20. For more information about REI, visit their website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: Posting of information about any third-party instruction is not to be construed as being a recommendation from Survival And Prosperity and its editor, unless specifically indicated. I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Friday, October 2nd, 2015 Emergencies, Health, Preparedness, Training No Comments

Fire By Friction, Land Navigation Classes In Chicago Area This October, November

I spotted the following local survival-related training opportunities on Dabble.co (online marketplace “for fun & affordable classes in the community”) this morning:

Fire by Friction with Robert Reed
Impress your friends and be self-reliant!

Class Info

This is a must have skill for anyone seeking to be self-reliant!

This course will teach you not only how to build a fire that will start in just about any weather, but how to do it using nothing more than a few pieces of wood and some string. By the end of this course you will understand how to properly prep a fire, make a tinder birds nest, and most importantly how to spin out an ember and blow it into a raging fire.

Skills to be covered:

*The bow drill kit fundamentals
*Collecting fire material
*Forming a birds nest
*Prepping the fire
*Using the kit to spin an ember
*Blowing an ember into a flame

Come learn the amazing skill that is sure to impress anyone – yourself included! After all, you will have just created…FIRE!

According to Dabble, the class will be held on Sunday, October 4, from 1 to 3 pm out in West Chicago.

At the time I type this, there are only 3 spots left.

Cost is only $30 to attend.

There’s also this class from Mr. Reed in early November:

Land Navigation with Robert Reed
Camping for Beginners Classes in Chicago

Class Info

From reading a topographical map to improvising a compass in the wild, this course will teach you what you need to know about wilderness navigation.

Each student will learn about the different types of compasses, the different types of topographical maps, and natural methods of finding direction. By the end of this course, you will be confident in your ability to take an azimuth using your compass, how to apply that to a topographical map and how to combine the two skills to finding a control point.

Skills to be covered:

Topographical Map Reading
Universal Traverse Mercator –UTM
Using a compass
Different types of compasses
Pacing to track distance
Finding control points
Navigating without a compass
Trail plotting

According to Dabble, this class will be taught Saturday, November 7, from 12 to 3 PM in Raceway Woods in Carpentersville.

At the time I type this, there are only 2 spots left.

Once again, cost is only $30 to attend.

For more information about the Fire by Friction class and/or to enroll, head over to the Dabble website here. Likewise with Land Navigation here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: Posting of information about any third-party instruction is not to be construed as being a recommendation from Survival And Prosperity and its editor, unless specifically indicated. I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 Emergencies, Fire, Preparedness, Training No Comments
Survival And Prosperity
Est. 2010, Chicagoland, USA
Christopher E. Hill, Editor

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RSS Chris Hill’s Other Blog: Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes

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