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A year of testing

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What follows is a stream-of-consciousness blog post on the events of 2020/2021 and general preparedness. Forgive me if I lurch from topic to topic without much logical progression.

It was almost exactly one year ago that Older Daughter and I took a quick trip to Seattle so she could interview with a nanny agency.

We returned home optimistic about her job prospects. Naturally we had no idea none whatever of what lay in store for the rest of the year. First the pandemic hit, then the economy tanked, then Seattle disintegrated into a hot mess of anarchy, then riots broke out all across the country, then shortages of everything from toilet paper to canning supplies occurred, then … then … then …

We the Lewis family also had a lot of changes during 2020, not least of which we moved away from our beloved home of 17 years and settled into a new and smaller place. Older Daughter peeled off and got an apartment on her own and is working two jobs. Younger Daughter deployed for six miserable months (no shore leave for any of the sailors) and is now land-based at her overseas duty station (until her next deployment, of course).

If the last year has done nothing else, it has tested a whole lot of people. That testing is still going on today, everything from the hundreds of thousands of small business either closed or struggling, to the current catastrophic situation in Texas (and to a lesser extent, Oregon).

As a result of the myriad issues America has faced in the last year, being prepared is more important than ever. I think we can all agree on that. What’s questionable is whether it’s possible, since so many people are struggling financially. (For those in compromised financial straits, Daisy Luther at The Organic Prepper and its sister site The Frugalite writes a lot about this issue. Her material is well worth reviewing.)

So when I saw an article this morning on Natural News entitled “Fifteen HARD lessons I learned from the ‘Texageddon’ blackouts and collapse of critical infrastructure,” I read it with interest.

I often get impatient with Natural News because it tends toward the “We’re all gonna die!” mindset, but this one was fairly good. The bulk of the advice is in the form of a podcast I didn’t bother listening to, but here are the 15 points synopsized down. My comments are italicized and (in parentheses).

• Survival is very physical. Expect to exert a lot of physical effort. (Agreed. We had a massive windstorm and subsequent power outage back in 2015, and it was very hard work indeed to maintain livestock, water, etc.)

• Culture matters. Don’t end up in a community without morals or ethics when it all hits the fan. (Easy to say, not necessarily easy to do. Not everyone can afford to live in an upscale zip code.)

• Convergence of two “black swan” disasters can wipe out your best plans, even if you have successfully prepped for any one (standalone) disaster. (Agreed. I’ve always maintained preparedness doesn’t make you immune to disaster; it just gives you a fighting chance.)

• Some of your preps will FAIL. It’s difficult to consider all possible scenarios, so count on failures striking without warning. (Agreed.Three is two, two is one, etc.)

• You need LAYERS of preparedness and “fall back” systems that are very low-tech and require nothing more than the laws of physics (gravity, chemistry, etc.). (That’s why I’ve always preferred low-tech options for preparedness.)

• No one is coming to help you. In many situations, no one can get to you even if they wanted to.

• Containers (buckets, barrels) are extremely important. Have lots of pre-stored water and fuel at all times.

• Bitcoin and crypto were all completely valueless and useless during the collapse, since they all rely on electricity. Gold, silver and cash worked fine, on the other hand. (Yay, at last someone gets it! I’ve always thought tangible assets were the way to go. Personally I prefer the “stock” market such as cattle and chickens.)

• You will likely experience injuries or mishaps due to new, unusual demands on your work activities. Practice safety and be prepared to deal with injuries yourself.

• Having lots of spare parts for plumbing. Standardize your pipe sizes and accessories. I have standardized on 1″ PEX pipe and all its fittings because PEX is very easy to cut, shape and rework. Plus it’s far more resistant to bursting, compared to PVC. (I take exception to this. We should all have “lots of spare parts” for plumbing? Really? Why not just have an extra house you can keep in your back pocket for any spare parts you need? What happened in Texas was unprecedented, and the whole plumbing issue is vastly more complicated than just what’s under your sink. In other words, while spare plumbing parts are great, this is a “hindsight is 2020″ recommendation that seems a little too pat and smacks of blaming the victim.)

• Investment in food is always a good investment, as prices will continue to climb. No one ever said during an emergency, “Gee, I wish I had less food here.”

• You can’t count on any government or institution or infrastructure to solve anything. Usually they just get in the way.

• You MUST have good lights and many backup batteries, or you will be sitting in the dark. You’ll need a good headlamp (I use the PETZL Nao+) and some good 18650-battery flashlights such as Nitecore. (I’m also a big proponent of kerosene lamps.)

• Guns and bullets are not needed in some survival scenarios, so balance your prepping. Don’t put all your money into ammo and fail to cover other important areas like emergency first aid. (Totally agree! There are too many “Rambo” preppers out there who think that because they have a bristling arsenal, that’s all they need to be prepared. What are they going to do shoot their way into a closed convenience store to steal what they need whenever the power goes out?)

• Think about what are stores of energy: Wood, diesel, gasoline, propane, water elevation, etc. Survival is a lot about energy management. (Agreed. To a minor extent, we’re facing that now in our new home. We’re still without the backups we need to stay comfortable during a grid-down situation.)

Anyway, that’s about all the rambling musings I have at the moment. Sorry to sound so incoherent.

Meanwhile, if you’re in Texas, Oregon, or any other location affected by the recent storms, please let us know how you’re doing and how you’re coping.



Source: http://www.rural-revolution.com/2021/02/a-year-of-testing.html


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