Mapping the Water Supply

Securing a safe water supply is important to every entity in the world.  With changing weather patterns bringing droughts to regions normally the best farmlands, it is getting more frustrating for cities and states as they try to find water sources and negotiate prices and methods to transport water.

Coastal states have the ability to build desalinization plants, but landlocked states must rely on rivers, lakes and aquifers.  To this end there have been many man-made lakes and rivers dammed up for both water and electricity. 

Even after some rains, aquifers remain at levels below 50% or less in some areas of the United States, and around the world.  It takes many days of rain to replenish the water supply both above and below ground.

Because of this, it is important to know where water can be accessed and to keep up with the status of those locations on a weekly basis.  Aquifers serve not just one well but instead wells for entire cities, your wells may have water this week, but not have water next week under severe drought conditions.

One thing you can do is pay attention to EPA, state, and local water authority reports which list where contaminated ground water is already found.  Knowing water is already contaminated and what the contaminants are is a step in the right direction when choosing which places to eliminate as possible sources of fresh water in the future.

Mapping safe and unsafe water is an important part of being prepared.  Keep your map Map of the states of Mississippi, Louisiana, and the Arkansas Territory.up to date since water wells that are clean today may be contaminated next week; and contaminated wells today may be safe next year.  Similarly, it is important to realize that if your well is contaminated, it is possible that those adjacent to yours is contaminated too.  Generally, water wells within cities are likely contaminated with any number of lawn and garden, industrial or other chemicals and not fit for human or animal consumption.

Another thing important is to recognize what a water well looks like.  They are not all like the picturesque open top well, nor are they marked with rustic hand-pump wells.  Some have signs on them that read “city of $%^ pumping station” or “city of $%^ well”.  Some wells, particularly those in colder regions use submersible pumps and therefore may not have a cap visible from a distance.  Instead they are  capped with a slab of concrete or some other structure to keep people from falling inside.  In warmer climates, often there is a tank visible next to the well.  Many people decorate these with cute fake wells. Taking note of where these wells are could be important.  

One easy way to keep your map up to date is to laminate a map and use dry erase markers to make notations and changes.  Label the wells with the notations about the type of of contamination and what is required to make the water potable.  When the time comes that you need to take your water map with you, simply snap a picture of it with your tablet or cell phone, then when time permits, can use your photo to transfer it to a permanent map.  

Here are two links to get you started:

http://watersgeo.epa.gov/mwm/

http://www.epa.gov/region6/water/npdes/

Eye on the Tides: Climate Change Study Sends Shockwaves to Scientists Worldwide

A guest post by Jessica Watts

Global sea levels have risen by an estimated amount of between 10 and 20 cm in the last century. Even more worrying are the conclusions recently drawn by the National Geographic from a review of evidence gathered over the last 20 years. It’s suggested that the rate of change over that time is about double the average for the previous 80 years. It seems clear that the rate of change is accelerating.

What causes sea levels to rise?

The immediate causes of the rising levels are related to climate change, and they are believed to be twofold.

  • First, increasing surface temperatures have led to large areas of ice melting. Melting icebergs, like ice cubes in a glass of water, do not affect the overall volume of water. It’s the land-based ice which melts and slides into the sea that has a major effect, and it’s speeding up.
  • The other way climate change leads directly to rising sea levels is by the expansion of the water’s volume when it is heated. All materials increase in volume when their temperature goes up. Water is the same, and the vast area of the world’s oceans means that the effect is enormous.

The scientific consensus is that climate change and rising sea levels are naturally caused by the sun’s interaction with earth’s atmosphere. The process has been hampered due to pollution, but cleaner air in recent years is allowing the natural cycle to continue.
Nobody has the power to stop this process on their own, but we all bear a responsibility to do what we can. That includes looking at buying our fuel from greener sources, for example opting for an eco-tariff with your electricity supplier. Most electricity suppliers have green tariffs and they can often be used along with promotion codes in newly privatized areas.
What about the future?

It’s estimated that if all carbon emissions were to cease in 2016 (a practical impossibility) sea level would still rise by one meter by the end of the 21st century, because carbon lingers in the atmosphere. The changes we are seeing now are the result of activity years ago. It’s like turning round a tanker: the forward impetus continues long after the wheel has been turned.

So you can do what you can to reduce your own carbon foot-print, and vote for leaders who will act responsibly towards future generations, but a rise in temperatures and sea level is still inevitable. The human race will have to adapt to changing conditions.

The US East coast

Sea shores will be riskier habitats than they are now, with storms and surges being vastly more destructive. The rate at which sea level is rising along the East coast of the USA is four times the average global rate, probably because of the slowing of Atlantic currents.

Even a rise at the average global rate will be enough to transform the Texas coast-line by the end of the century. Galveston is visibly in danger now, and will be mostly under water by the end of the century with the one meter sea level rise which is conservatively predicted.

Author Bio:
Jessica Watts is a retired marine biologist and Houston native. An avid blogger, she likes to spread the word on protecting our oceans and planet by blogging online. Visit the Tara Energy in Houston website for more saving ideas.

Communications in times of Trouble

Planning for the future is something everyone needs to do. However, for those of us who believe very hard times are ahead, our plans seem of greater importance. What about food stocks? How long will it last you and your family? Are you prepared if we lose electricity? What about heat? Do you have an alternative heat source? What if the disaster is man-made and brings major chaos to our country? Are you ready for that? If either arises, do you have a network of like-minded people who can help you defend yourself, your family and your property? These are all questions this blog speaks about.  But do you have a communication system for contacting them if you need help or they need your assistance? In a natural disaster usually land lines and cell phones go down. In a national problem, communications will probably be shut down.

In a recent conversation with a friend who is in total agreement with our way of thinking over the state of affairs in our country, we realized most people will not have a sanctuary they can turn to. (In my book Flee to the Mountains a refuge is built and people move to the small city away from all population centers when things turned bad.) So my friend and I talked about alternatives. What can we do to prepare to help one another? Neighborhood watch will not cut it. There are many who are not like-minded in these groups. Sure they want to protect their homes, but what happens if the stores are cleaned out? If others know you have food stored, many will turn on you in a flash.

We need to come up with a plan of action for those who are on the same wavelength as we are.  So where to start. Communication comes to mind first. It is important for your group to have a way to reach each other.  Shortwave radios, hand-held radios with a good range or CB would fit the bill.  You need to make sure everyone in your group has one or preferably more. You need to predetermine the channel so everyone is on the same one should the need for contact arise. In addition, you need to test your system of communication using a code or phrase to identify yourselves. You don’t want outsiders to have the ability to transmit false information.

Next, those who have land and the ability to raise gardens, cows, pigs, chickens etc. need to be protected. (Your ability to provide food will be extremely important. Helping them in their work should be something everyone in our group is willing to do. They cannot and should not increase their work load to help feed others without help from others in your group. Sharing the fruits of your labors is one of the ways you will be working together.) Patrolling will be of great importance. It won’t do any good to do the hard work if someone can come in and steal it.

Regular meetings in advance are recommended and a course of action set for every possible set of problems that might arise. Brainstorming together will allow everyone to talk about the options and pitfalls. From here, decisions can be made that will benefit everyone.

It’s important to start now. Don’t wait until things get bad…have your plan of action ready ahead of time. In the next few blogs, I will continue to suggest ideas for your preparations.

Beginners Need to Plan for Off Grid Living

Recently I received an email asking for advice.  It got me to thinking about people who want to live off the grid but have no idea where to start.  It can be overwhelming to think of all the things a person needs to learn before they can become off grid and independent.

The person who sent the email will be buying undeveloped land and wants to start out being off grid all the way.  This is a plus for them since they are not already tied to some property  they might not be able to modify because of where they live.

Because each family has similar and unique needs, it is important to evaluate all those needs before land is purchased.  Persons with medical conditions which will require frequent medical attention or may have life threatening attack probably should not choose to live 120 miles to the nearest hospital.  The longer it takes for an ambulance to arrive, the lower the survival rate for some emergencies.

With that being said, what you need depends on both your lifestyle, number of people and the ages of those who will be living in your home.   Factoring in how usage might change as people age.  You can get a rough estimate by gathering the annual usage statement for water and electricity.  Remember, older people often like a home that is warmer than a healthy 30 year old.

Search the internet for suitable locations in your state to put up windmills.  If there isn’t going to be enough wind, you won’t be able to Wind is important to living off grid.generate electricity.  Your windmill should be taller than any trees that might be near it for maximum output.  That being said, some generators will work at  wind speeds as low as 4 mph.  The department of energy put out this wind map. Solar panels to be roof mounted need to face the proper direction.  That determines the direction your home will face too.  
Choose your contractor wisely.  One who doesn’t know about off grid housing is probably not for you.  Quiz him.  Ask him questions that beginners wouldn’t know. The contractor who is building your house, if he is reputable, should be able to finish your home with those things in mind.  Perhaps with solar panels and wind generators included.

If you have not purchased the land, you will need to be sure to put a condition on the land purchase that the water and soil tests within acceptable levels of contaminants.  Likely the seller will want you to pay for those tests, but check with the local land office to see if there are tests on record.  

Given the water and soil test return a safe result, a water purification system will still be necessary for household use of Hand water pumps are important to off grid planning.well water.  The cost of having a well drilled on your property will not be cheap.  The deeper the well, the more it costs.  The more water you want to pull from the well per day, the more the cost.  There might even be a need for two wells if you are watering livestock.  Don’t fool yourself, cows drink a great deal of water.  Be sure to have a hand pump ready in case your pump stops working.  If you are moving to a community, you need to check the local laws because some cities don’t allow private wells.

If you are not going to be hooked up to city sewer services, you will need to consider what kind of septic system you want. Get a good one, and larger than suggested.  Having guests for a long period of time will increase the demands on your septic system significantly.  If you plan for two people, and some event causes another couple to move in, the demands on the septic system, and water resources, have just doubled.  Be sure to place the location of your septic system according to which direction the water will flow once it leaves the septic system.  
Do not put trees near a septic system because the roots will clog up the system and you may have to dig up your yard and have it routed out.  Look at mature trees of the type you want because what you see above ground is what you will see below.  Where the yard grows the best is where to put your garden.  
If you purchase land with maple trees, you will be able to tap the trees and sell the syrup for a good price.  We have friends who do it every year.  Some years they sell it and some years they have just enough for their use depending on annual rainfall.  The same holds true for fruit trees, if there are any on the land, you can sell the produce for money as well put up the harvest for the year by canning and making jams and jellies.
Try to get flat land, with no rocks.  If you get rocky ground, gardening will be difficult at best.  Removing rocks from the soil is tedious and time consuming.  Fortunately, you only have to do it once.  Try to look up online the regions you are interested in in terms of geology of the area.  This will tell you where good soil is and where the land is rocky and difficult for gardening.
Before you decide what kind of house to build, check out land prices.  The better the quality of land, the more expensive the acres are.  Five acres can make a great homestead to raise food for your family and to sell in farmer’s markets.
If you are going to go full off grid, consider livestock.  You might be able to include barns and what kinds of housing and fencing for your animals.  Remember to consider the winter months in your state.  Some animals might have to have at least some heat in winter.
The worst thing people do is not plan before they buy land and build.  Once you find out how much it all costs to get started, you might decide you want to build a much smaller home than anticipated, or maybe even buy a modular or pre-built home.  Some people even choose a mobile home because of the amount of space for the money.  It is best to dream big and then bring it back into the budget.
Lastly, don’t let all the planning issues overwhelm you.  Take it one step at a time.  Choose and buy land one year.  If you aren’t ready to build or move, you can at least decide where the house is going to be located. Which makes it the optimum time to plant your fruit trees.  Do just a little as time goes and you will see in a few short years you will be living off grid and be independent.
By no means is this intended to be a road map for every person who wants to become independent and off grid.  This is strictly a narrative on how to get started.  Everyone who wants to get off grid has to get started some how.  Hopefully this will at least give you some food for thought and some good ideas.  Good luck!

Solar Collectors are Getting Closer

While we can all build a solar collector, their use for large quantities of electricity generation has been problematic at best.  But, like all good scientists and engineers, these guys keep plugging at it.  The next generation will be converting solar energy to heat and then to electricity.

They are addressing issues of dirt, dust, and etching.  The issues of heat-stress on metals is being worked out too.  Doesn’t it make you wish it were your shop?  The only thing they are doing wrong is outsourcing to other countries.  Enjoy this 11 minute video!

 

How Preppers can Keep Their Dental Health and Save Money

Dental Health**Today’s article about dental health is written by Dr. GrumpyMarine, a U.S. dentist.**

I am Dr. GrumpyMarine.  I spent thirteen months dodging bullets in Viet Nam, that made me a little paranoid.  Becoming a prepper naturally followed. 

I will be giving you some advice about what you can buy at a drug store before the lights go out.  In addition, I will be giving you some practical advice on avoiding oral pain and discomfort.
But you don’t want to be in the aftermath of a hurricane with roads out and no electricity with a severe toothache!  Prevention is the only practical answer.  Most people think that if there is no pain or symptoms . . . everything is OK.  Not so, the main dental emergencies are caused by decay invading into the tooth’s nerve or by periodontal disease, finally causing puss that does not drain.  Even if you have stockpiled antibiotics, these problems will not be cured.  You will need to see a dentist eventually to extract the tooth or do even more expensive procedures.  Suffering is bad enough that some people consider suicide!
So to be a good prepper you need to invest some money at the dental office.  Ask your neighbors for a referral.  After an exam get the basic treatment.  You don’t always need the most expensive crowns, just get rid of infected teeth and gum tissue.   I will go into alternative treatment later.
What can you buy at the drug store to prepare?  Not much.  For sores benzocaine is the active ingredient that temporarily gives you relief.  The other item is temporary cement that will help keep loose fillings and crowns that have may have come loose.  This cement contains ingredients that will sooth the tooth and maybe give you a month of relief.  Don’t chew on the repair, it is weak cement!  Both of these items are found in a drug store’s dental section for less than ten dollars.

Next time I will tell you how to have healthier gums (mouthwash won’t help).

 

 

Sequestering: How Will it Affect Preppers?

It seems everyone is waiting to see if  congress and the president are going to allow sequestering on Friday.  In two previous articles about this topic, States Show Concern about Automatic Budget Cuts Effects and Sequestering:  What’s Really on the  List? we discuss the history of sequestering and the causes of the current situation. In the last in the series we will look at how sequestering may affect Preppers.  For the purposes of this discussion, preppers are those who will be affected primary, secondary or tertiary levels of government furloughs.  The primary level are those who will be furloughed or other wise unemployed immediately.  Secondary and tertiary levels will field the difficulties as business and government agencies react to the budget cuts.

Preppers who have these resources set aside will not lose their homes or run out of cash immediately:

  • financial resources set aside for emergencies will be able to meet their financial needs until those resources run out
  • a food supply set aside for this purpose.  Using it will decrease financial drains.
  • alternate sources of electricity
  • alternate source for heat
  • a supply of medicines

Some parts of the family lifestyle will change and others will not.

  • The furloughed family member(s) will have extra time to spend with family and friend as well as working on those prepping projects they didn’t have time fore.
  • Homeschoolers won’t notice the cuts on educational spending.  The education of their children will continue as it always has.
  • Families will immediately decide how to use the available food resources and may choose not to use water resources.

Since many rural Prepper families have alternate forms of electricity and heat, their primary concern will be financial resources.   All furloughed personnel will want to maximize income during this period.  People will file for unemployment because in many cases they are not allowed to hold other jobs. The furlough shifts the burden of paying government employees to the states in terms of filing for unemployment benefits.

Furloughs in the past have been conducted in such a way that government shut down for a week and then for an additional 22 days under President Clinton.  Both of those furloughs took place during the holiday season.  This was just enough time off to make it difficult for people to get unemployment benefits and make the holidays of the families more difficult.

Given all the implications of a furlough, whether they be for a week or a month, this situation exemplifies why one should prepare for an emergency.   Even our own government can cause emergency situations for families.  Prepared families will simply buckle down and play monopoly and go sledding with their children.  When it’s over they will replenish their cash supply as quickly as possible.

 

Getting Prepared: A Primer for Beginners Series, part 10

 

Assessing your utility usage is easier than you might think.

Being prepared means having alternate sources of energy.When you start to get prepared you grab your last twelve electric bills, and if you use fuel oil, natural gas or propane, grab those bills too.  What’s important is to figure out how much energy you use for heating, cooling and everyday use. For some climates, it might be difficult to figure out since you go right from heating to cooling and no real break in between.  Or like here, back and forth between heating and cooling several times even in the same month.  It is important to to understand your power usage, no matter which climate.

The information you need is:

  • Highest usage in winter
  • Lowest usage in winter
  • Average usage in winter
  • Highest usage in summer
  • Lowest usage in summer
  • Average usage in summer
  • Annual average usage

The four forms of home energy have advantages and disadvantages.  Fuel oil and propane require someone to deliver the product to your storage tanks.  Electricity comes down the lines and natural gas is pumped down the pipes to your home and hooks up directly to your home.  That’s why we love them so much.  No work involved!

After TSHTF, if you want to continue to use the other forms of energy, you will need to store it in tanks.  Tanks are expensive.  Tanks will eventually rust away.  Filling the tanks are expensive.  And, if the situation remains for a long duration, the tanks will eventually be empty.

Only one energy source is renewable for free.

Electricity.  You can store it indefinitely with little risk of explosion.  You can use wind or solar energy to gather electricity and store in battery banks.  Granted, getting set up is not free.  But, once you get your system set up, you never have to pay for electricity again, and you can sell it to the power companies and they must buy it.  Use all the energy you want, sell the rest.  If you run short one month, you can still use theirs.

Some people elect to use their “normal” supply of energy now while stocking up on wood or other sources of energy to have on hand when TSHTF.  This is certainly commendable and encouraged.

Now that you know what options are available to you, how much energy you need at peak times, and under which conditions you will want to use gas, fuel oil, or electricity, you can begin to plan accordingly.  We will talk about how to set up energy systems and use less energy in another series.

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Getting Prepared: A Primer for Beginners, part 8

Prepared Engine?Welcome back for part 8 of the “Getting Prepared: A Primer for Beginners” series.  Today we talk about your inventory of engines and motors.

The main thing to remember about engines and motors is that they essentially have one purpose.

To convert thermal and electrical energy to produce force or motion.  Thermal energy is converted into electricity.   Work can be converted into electrical energy as well.

How many lawn mowers do you own?  If the mower craps out, keep the engine.  It will be useful for a variety of things from go-carts to generating electricity.  Of course you will want to remove the governor  for some purposes.  That old Evenrude?  There have got to be ways to utilize it for alternative purposes.   A really big mixer comes to mind!   I’m sure you can think of other things to do with them.

Treadmill motors can be converted to generate electricity on a windmill.  You can re-purpose almost any electric motor for some more useful purpose.  Your biggest limitation is your imagination.

The most important thing to remember is not to let any appliance motor nor any combustion engine out of your house until you have verified it is worthless.  Then I would think long and hard about if I wanted to dismantle it and use it for pricey scrap metal for everything from cash to reloads.

Now that you know you can use your old motors and engines, let them figure into your plan for generating your own electricity and other projects which require force or motion.  Once you know how you want to use the engine, research how to make it work for you.  But remember, if you don’t find anyone who has done what you are planning, you can still do it.  Find a way.  Figure it out.  The more you try, the better off you are in the long run.  Then you will be the one with the plan.

Along with the engines and motors, figure out how much fuel you have on hand as well as how much fuel you currently have the capacity to store.  If you choose to turn some of these motors into generators, be sure to factor the fuel supply they will need to meet your needs and keep your battery bank charged.  We’ll post more about electricity storage in another post.

Happy Prepping!

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Everyone’s a Prepper at Heart

Who doesn’t want free electricity?  Who doesn’t want to know that their food supply is taken care of?  Everyone wants to be independent, don’t they?  I know we do.  Why should we pay for something we can get for zero cash if we just put forth a little effort now and then?  Why should we continue to put food in our children that is questionable at best?

If you have made any effort at all to tackling those issues, you are a prepper at heart.  Yes, you are.  Don’t shake your head at me.  I know you like more Prepper lifestyle can save money.money in your pocket at the end of the week.  Depending on your location, you can tackle most of these issues.

While it is true that people living in rural or suburban areas have the easier prepping atmosphere, there are still things you can and should do.  Maybe you can’t get free electricity because you live in a high-rise apartment building in NYC, but you can make your apartment as energy efficient as possible.  The acre of garden is out, but you might be able to plant a garden on your balcony, on the roof, and all year long inside your apartment.  Doing both of these things will give you more money in your pocket at the end of the week.  How nice will it be to pick your own beautiful red bell pepper instead of paying $5.00 for one in January?