Preparing for the Economic Crash, pt 1

I emailed the link for my post on the “Crash of 2008” to all my family and friends, as I want them to be aware of what’s coming and what they can do to prepare.  One of my family members wrote back asking questions about various topics, some from previous emails that I’ve sent to them.  The below addresses those questions (and more), as I think everyone can benefit from these concerns.

“… do you think it’s necessary to get a tent? Do you anticipate the need to leave the house and go somewhere to camp out?”

I think a tent is a really good thing to have, not because of the pending crash, but there are a lot of things that can happen to your home that would preclude you from staying in it, even if temporarily.  For example, if your house is damaged by a hurricane, tornado or earthquake, you may have to wait for the building inspectors to clear it for occupancy.  Having a tent gives you the option of “camping” in your yard instead of having to stay elsewhere.

Some people have been forced out of their homes and onto the street because they lost their house due to financial difficulty.  There were a string of news articles a couple of months ago about people in California having to live out of their cars.  Having a tent may mean the difference between being homeless and having someplace to stay.  When I got wiped out in a major flood in ’96, I lived in a tent in a friend’s backyard.  It was a lot better than being homeless.

“We can always use our outside grill for cooking…”

True, but grills are really inefficient at cooking.  They’re great when you can easily replace or refill the propane tank, but when you’re looking at a survival situation you want that propane to last as long as possible; you don’t know when you’ll be able to get more.  That propane can be put to better use in a Coleman stove or similar unit.  I have a Coleman Dual-Fuel camping stove that I converted to run on propane, so now it is a Tri-Fuel stove.  All that’s needed are a few extra parts.  I’ll try to put that up on a page soon.

“… water is low …”

You need water.  There is no easy way around this, unless you have your own well (and even then, it’s not easy to keep it going with no grid power).  Water is heavy and bulky, but without it, you die.  On the other hand, it’s one of the easiest preparations you can do.  You can use anything from a 5-gallon camping jug to a 55-gallon plastic drum (food grade).  Fill it up, put some bleach in it, and it will store for a year or longer (Add 16 drops (about 1/4 teaspoon) of 5.25% hypochlorite bleach per gallon of water).  Plan on a minimum of 1 gallon per person per day.

“… the fireplace … that would be our only alternative source for heat should the furnace not be able to work…”

Unless the fireplace is specifically designed for heat generation, most fireplaces simply make the rest of the house colder, as it drafts all the warm air up the chimney.  It’s better than nothing when there’s no power and it’s freezing or below outside, but you should probably plan on using that room as your main room to keep warm.  Make sure you have materials on hand to make that room as small and cozy as possible so the fireplace will have a better chance of warming up the area.  Even if you have to hang blankets from the ceiling, it will help keep in the heat better.  Depending on how cheap wood is, just keeping the fireplace stoked with wood is a lot better than nothing.

If you can, see about adding a small Franklin Stove to your place.  They’re a lot more efficient than a fireplace.  You could probably heat most of the house with one of those, even if it meant that your pipes didn’t freeze in the rest of the house.

Make sure you take into account that you have fresh air and your chimney is not blocked.  It would be a good idea to have to Carbon Dioxide detector – one that runs on batteries and not grid power. You could also look into a kerosene heater, but note that you’ll need to store kerosene and you’ll have to figure out how much to store based on how efficient it is.

“We keep looking for a generator, a big one, so it can keep most things in the house running…”

Generators are nice, but to be honest, they’re not as nice as you think they would be.  Yes, they can power your entire house, if you got one big enough, but there are some issues that must be considered.  First, a big generator is a fuel hog.  Take a look at the fuel efficiency ratings and then do some math.  Even if it only used 1/2 gallon per hour (not likely for a big generator), you would need 12 gallons per day.  For a month, you would need to store 360 gallons of fuel.  Of course, you don’t have to run it all the time, but if you’re planning on running it to keep your fridge and freezer cold, you’ll need at least 4 hours every day (probably more).  That’s still 60 gallons of storage.

Then, there’s the noise.  When you fire that up, everyone in your neighborhood is going to know you have a generator.  And, if they don’t have power either, they’re going to come over with an extension cord and ask you if they can plug it in.  It only gets worse from there.

Seriously consider what you need a generator for, then look at the smaller “whisper quiet” models and see if they’ll do what you want.  If you think generators are expensive, I won’t even suggest solar panels.

“No gold, no silver, some ammo.”

Getting gold and silver now is really difficult.  I recommend it, but it’s not an utmost importance at this point; there are other things that you can put your money in that will also retain value.  One thing you would use gold and silver for is “trading” with someone else when the dollar is worthless.  Some other items that have good barter values include: alcohol, cigarettes, .22LR ammo, TP, OTC meds, etc.

If you’re short on any ammo for a defensive weapon, get it now.  Since the election, gun and ammo sales have gone through the roof.  You might have to wait until the panic subsides a bit before you can find some, but get it while you can, as it’s only going to get scarcer.  No need to go hog-wild with this.  A few hundred rounds of each caliber should be sufficient (all bets are off for zombies). Wal-mart seems to be keeping up with the demand, so check there too (I’m not sure if Wal-marts sell ammo where you’re at, though).

Also, make sure that all your gun are in good repair and working order.  Get anything fixed now that needs to be fixed.

Above all else, start making plans.  Put to paper what you’re plan(s) are for dealing with certain events.  What are you going to do if you lose your job?  Your investments?  What if … the house burns down?  … the power goes out? … the power stays out? … there is no food on grocery store shelves?  etc.

— Rob

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