Practical Prepping Blog

Preparations for a very uncertain future. . .

These People Also Thought: ‘It Could NEVER Happen Here.’

People reach out to take fruits and vegetables distributed for free by farmers during a protest against high production costs outside the Agriculture Ministry in Athens

As I see it, the BIGGEST regret most folks will have when the economy house-of-cards comes crashing down is that they did not have an adequate supply of food to get through the period of turmoil and chaos it will leave in its wake.  I’ve been preaching all sorts of prepping for a few years now and many people have responded positively.  For this I am very grateful and heartened.  If, however, you’ve been waiting for the ‘right time’ or that next bonus check to begin your food preps, for Pete’s sake, start it NOW.  Those people in that photograph do not live in a 3rd world country, or one ravaged by a natural disaster or war or famine, they live in Greece.  A modern country.  A member of NATO!  A country, however, ravaged by debt and ‘economic austerity imposed upon it by their European Union overlords.

The Greek Debt to GDP ratio is 160%.  That is to say that they owe 60% more in debt, that their entire economy produces.  Ha ha, what a joke of a country, eh?  Before you snicker too loudly, please realize that the US debt to GDP ratio is about 110%. Yes, that’s right:  We too, owe more in debt than our entire economy produces.  The only thing preventing pictures like the one above from being taken all across this country is the world’s mistaken and misplaced belief that the US dollar has some real value.  The milli-second that some country comes to its senses and proclaims that it no longer has faith in the US dollar – we’re screwed.  Financially, we will have become Greece.  Psssst:  The dirty little secret is that we ALREADY ARE GREECE!  Like I said, all it will take is for some kid in a crowd to proclaim that the ‘Emperor has no Clothes!!!’

To wit, I have recently begun the slow process of ‘upgrading’ my food stores from grocery store canned and packaged food to long-term freeze-dried, dehydrated meals.  This will be a slow process because it is expensive.  But, my foresight in stocking up about a years’ supply of food has bought me time to do the transition at my own pace.  Ideally, I will have a good supply of both types of stores, for variety’s sake.  I hope I have the time to complete the transition.  I’ll keep you posted.  In the mean time, I implore you to stock up on food now.  I have plenty of ideas on the subject in this blog if you’re a first time visitor.  Do not hesitate.  We are Greece/Greece is us.

Be Safe.

Be Prepared.

Practical Prepper 2013

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Food, Water, etc, My Opinion | , , | 2 Comments

Collapse of the Dollar – Yes It CAN Happen

Every once in a while, I come across an explanation of how the US Dollar, our fiat, based-on-nothing currency, could meet its sudden, yet inevitable demise.

Here is just such an explanation.

Are you prepared?

February 4, 2012 Posted by | My Opinion | , | Leave a comment

On Crossing The Firearms Rubicon

There seems to be a natural progression to the, for lack of a better term, Prepping Mindset.  That is to say, once a person gets into the mindset (and I consider that ‘mindset’ to be the realization that all is not well with the political/financial/economic system and the possibility one or more of those systems can significantly break down or even collapse in the near future and that you are obliged to prepare for such events), they similarly prioritize their or their families’ needs, then set about the process of obtaining what is necessary to meet those needs.  It all makes perfect sense once you accept the logical premise that the S*** can and very well might Hit The Fan in the not too distant future.  But, be advised, the decision-tree of prepping is fraught with peril.  A typical progression of prepping is illustrated below, along with the aforementioned peril.

Assuming that most people cannot or will not bug-out to their mountain redoubts, they begin their prepping by obtaining supplies of food and water.  Starting out modestly, as most people’s budgets do not permit them to purchase a years’ worth of freeze-dried food in one fell swoop.  They typically start with canned goods, legumes, pasta, soups, etc., and gallon jugs of water and simply build on that idea until a sufficient amount of food and water exists (that amount will differ from prepper to prepper). Your mileage may vary, as there are virtually infinite combinations of food and water storage methods available to the diligent prepper. Concurrent with that, the beginning prepper might begin obtaining supplies of needed medicines, both over-the-counter and prescriptions as I mentioned in my previous post on the subject.  From this point, the prepping decision tree branches out in many directions.  For example, do I need a water filter?  If so, what type, how many?  Do I have a means of cooking food if the power goes out (including the municipal natural gas supply)?  Do I need a solar oven, a firewood stove and lots of wood?  The decisions I have made on such matters have been outlined in great detail here on my blog, OPSEC permitting, but one decision, a crucial one, might (I submit, MUST) change the way the beginning prepper views his preparations for disaster – the purchase of firearms.

Have You Thought This Through?

Unlike the other comparatively trivial decisions, purchasing firearms for the purpose of protecting you and your family is a Rubicon that, once crossed, demands that the prepper decide well in advance that he/she is capable of using that firearm as deadly force to prevent harm to themselves or their family and is at peace with that decision.  For if you waver at all in your defensive actions with a firearm (due to indecision or misplaced sympathy or guilt) against persons that seek to do you harm, that moment of indecision could cost you any your family their lives.

But, that decision alone is NOT the peril I referred to above.  In my opinion, the peril comes from the many less obvious, but weighty decisions (less obvious than taking action to save the lives of you and your loved ones which is a no-brainer) you need to have made before deciding to employ a firearm for protection.  For example, what if several weeks into a financial collapse, when many supermarkets have long since stopped receiving re-supply, a group of people begin banging on your front door demanding food, stating that “if you don’t give it to us, we’ll come in and take it!”  No threat to your life was directly made, but you will have to have already decided what you will do if they break in to steal the only available food and water to keep you and your family alive.  What would you do?  They might not mean you any direct harm, but isn’t taking your food tantamount to sentencing you to death in an emergency situation?  Have you thought this through?  I would not presume to advise you or anyone on this matter as it is both a legal and moral question.  One which is better taken up with your God and/or the local authorities – presuming that there even are local authorities in a disaster situation.  Remember Katrina anyone?   But, if you accept the premise that things can go very badly very quickly, waiting until they kick down your front door to decide what to do is a good way to lose your food, water and your firearm and maybe your life.  Again, you need to have thought these scenarios through and discussed them with your family BEFORE you are confronted with them.

OK.  You’ve taken time to think through several dozen scenarios in which you will either use deadly force or not and have discussed those scenarios with your family, sought their advice, and even prayed on it.  Good.  Now, let me throw a hypothetical monkey wrench into the works.  What if the knock on the front door is a government agent advising you that your supply of food is against the newly passed ‘Food Hoarding Act’ whereby anyone possessing a ‘cache’ of food while others are starving is in violation of the Anti-Hoarding provision of the law and he is here to ‘legally’ confiscate it.  Do you give it to them ( ‘it’ meaning, the food, of course)?  What if the folks at the door are local police or DHS minions confiscating all firearms like New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagan ordered in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  Do you leave your family defenseless because folks in black uniforms have no qualms about violating your 2nd and 4th Amendment rights?  Are your preps worth dying for?  Are your guns?  Is your family?  Is Liberty?  Again, I cannot advise you on such matters.  I can only say that you must have decided in advance what you will do in such situations AND be at peace with those decisions.  The decisions are weighty ones – and, as I said, fraught with peril.

Have you thought this through?

Be Safe.  Be Prepared.

Practical Prepper 2011

December 28, 2011 Posted by | Firearms, My Opinion | , , | Leave a comment

On the ‘Normalcy Bias’ and Other Dangerous Illusions.

I watched a video the other evening.  A video that really disturbed me.  It was called simply, “Dissatisfaction With Government”, and it was found in the archives at GBTV.com, Glenn Beck’s TV network website.  I’ll share some interesting facts from the video with you, then tell you why they disturbed me so.

The video was about a recent Gallop Poll on public satisfaction with government.  This particular Gallop poll has been taken yearly since the early 1970s, so it has nearly four decades of data with which to examine trends.  It stated that around 2003, 59% of the country was generally satisfied with the way they were being governed with only 39% dissatisfied.  Mind you, this number is actually quite remarkable considering the partisan rancor that existed in the wake of the contested 2000 presidential election results.  Congressional approval was well over 50% in the same time period.  So what, you may say what’s so dangerous about those numbers?  Nothing.  But let’s fast-forward to 2011, shall we?

Today, that same poll, taken in October 2011, reveals that only 19% of those surveyed are satisfied with the way they are being governed, and a whopping 81% are dissatisfied.  I repeat:  81% of American are dissatisfied with the way they are being governed.  Those dissatisfied consist of 92% of polled Republicans and a surprising 65% of polled Democrats.  Dissatisfaction with Congress is similarly skewed with only 18% of those polled having any confidence at all of Congress’ ability to solve our problems – this month’s number is an incredible 9% approval rating for congress.  All this years’ numbers are record lows for the poll.  A revealing and chilling comparison shows that even during the height of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, BP’s disapproval rating never dipped below 16%.

This dissatisfaction gave birth to the Tea Party movement a few years back and has, more recently, spawned the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Now I know that Tea Party folks tend to feel they occupy the moral high-ground of anti-government sentiment, and in many ways, they do, but I would advise the TPers not to look down their noses too haughtily at the drum-beating, fist-hoisting rabble that is OWS.  They are a little late to the game, but they too, are part of that 81% that are dissatisfied with government and want to do something about it – just like the TPers.  Unfortunately, a significant number of them, assisted by outside forces, would replace this government with, at best, a Euro-Socialist nanny-state, or at worst, a dictatorship of the proletariat, ala Marx and Engels.  And therein, dear readers, is the source of my unease.

You see, while the Patriot movement and the OWS movement want many of the same things: an end to bank bailouts, corporate corruption, and do-nothing, lying politicians, but the means they choose to achieve those things and the ends they wish to achieve are diametrically opposite.  Patriots seek to re-establish a Constitutional Republic envisioned by our Founders, while a large segment of the OWS crowd look upon the US Constitution as an outdated document written by ancient, rich, privileged, white, slave owners, and want Social Justice via Socialism.  The two visions of our future are incompatible and irreconcilable.  Throw in an economic whirlwind precipitated by the imminent fall of the Euro as a viable currency and the inevitable spread of that economic contaigen here to the US, you have a recipe for an extremely volatile situation, to say the least.  And a possibilty of the unthinkable – conflict in the streets of America between proponents of the two disparate and polar opposite visions of America’s future.

To make matters worse, events in Iran (mysterious explosions at nuke and missile sites, murders of their nuke and missile scientists, the sacking of the British embassy in Tehran with the tacit blessing of the regime), Israel’s posturing about striking Iran’s nuclear facilities, the ascendency of anti-west Islamist parties in the countries participating in the ‘Arab Spring’, adding to the chaos.

Enter our enemy, the Normalcy Bias.  this is the dangerous part of our conscious mind that shelters our tender sensibilities, by ignoring the possibility of some horrendous event, like an economic collapse, loss of utilities, martial law and/or discounting the severity of its effects once it has occurred.  “Aw, you’re crazy,” they’ll say.  “That’ll never happen in a million years.”  It is a paralytic.  An opiate that prevents people from facing the possibility that such events have actually become likely in the very near future.  It is a dangerous thing in times like these.  Don’t fall victim to its seductive, siren song.  In this environment, it could lead to the endangerment of your self, your home, and, most importantly,  your family.

The very fact that you are a reader of the Practical Prepping Blog means that you, at least, have a curiosity about the prepper lifestyle (gosh, I hate that word, but am typing too hurriedly to find a suitable replacement) or are participating in it.  Good for you.  For I truly believe it is time to double down on your preps.  Make sure as much is in order as can be done in the next few weeks.  I don’t know about you, but I feel something evil this way comes.

I pray I’m wrong, but I prep in case I’m right.

Be Safe.  Be Prepared.  Pray for our country.

PP

November 29, 2011 Posted by | My Opinion, Security and Situational Awareness | , , | 5 Comments

Back To Prepping: Lookie What Brown Did For Me Today!

Canned Butter.  What will they think of next?

Just received these 12 cans of Red Feather ‘Pure Creamery Butter’ from Healthy Harvest.  They had been on back order for some time, so the box I saw on my porch as I drove up to the house today merited a fist pump.  I mean what’s the use of storing flour and grain to make bread if you’ve got no butter to slap on it?  This canned butter is part of my long-term stock along with ‘several’ #10 cans of Mountain House and eFoods Direct freeze-dried food along with other long-term items stored in 5-gallon buckets in mylar bags.  I bring this up because I believe it is prudent to have both short-term – a few weeks of food/water in case of a hurricane or flood, or other localized disaster as well as a store of long-term food like vacuum/mylar bagged rice, beans, flour, pasta, etc., in case the SHTF or some other long-term emergency makes for food shortages.

I’ve been saying for a long time that you CANNOT count on your local grocery store to have enough stock to accomodate ‘panic-buying’ on the cusp of an emergency.  They all utilize ‘Just in time’ inventory protocol.  This means that they have just enough for a day or two and depend on a daily caravan of trucks to keep their inventory levels up.  Gone forever are the days of vast stockrooms filled to the rafters with countless cases of food.  So, if you think you’re going to need it during an emergency, buyit now if you can.  Or if not now, then ASAP.

Be safe.  Be prepared.

September 8, 2010 Posted by | Food, Water, etc, General | , , , | Leave a comment

Preps Dry Run: After Action Review (Part 2)

As the sunlight started to wane after dinner, Sheila and I retrieved some candles from the Bug-In Bin (BiB) and deployed them to areas of the house that did not have illumination from the few GFL lamps I ran off my solar power system, like the bathroom and living room.  I then stepped outside and restarted the genny after relocating it within the range of one of the motion detectors I have deployed in my backyard.  With my perimeter security system running all night on stored solar power, no  one was going to get within 10 feet of my little Honda without giving us ample warning.  I decided that I would keep the generator running on the ECO setting until it ran out of fuel.  To determine when that would occur, I plugged my computer’s battery backup into the current supplied by the Honda.  This will charge the batteries as well as tell me when the charging current stops with an annoying buzzer.

While we still had a little light left, Sheila said that we should each take a hot shower while the sun-heated water was still warm.  And a great idea it was!  Each of us armed with a towel and a small bottle of biodegradable ‘Camping Soap’ (green liquid soap available at Walmart, Bass Pro, et al.  Cheap, but very good stuff.), we hung our showers from a tall sea grape tree near the pool with steel ‘S – hooks’ from the garage and enjoyed a wonderful, warm shower (in our shorts and or bathing suits, of course).  Little luxuries like a warm shower in emergency situations helps to keep your sanity and break the monotony of living meagerly on your preps.  Had this been an actual emergency, though, I would have let Sheila have the first shower while I stood watch, then reversed the roles when she was done.  She’s a good shot and can hear better than me, so I would have no worries about being in the shower if trouble starts.

After drying off, we came inside and plugged a box fan into one of the genny outlets and let it blow on us as we watched some tv until Mark Levin came on the radio at 9PM.  I opened the fridge real quick and retrieved 2 bottles of water for us.  We discussed the evening’s sleeping arrangements and decided that we would sleep down in the ‘Florida Room’ – a kind of solidly enclosed patio with windows on three sides to allow the flow of breezes through the room.  Although I always feel kind of vulnerable sleeping in a room that only has solid walls (CBS) to about thigh-height and awning windows the rest of the way around the tree walls, the perimeter and home alarm provided enough security along with our yappy little Yorkie to allay my fears and bed down there.  A quick trip around the house to check the doors and blow out the candles, and soon we were lying in the fold-out bed of the Florida Room sofa listening to ‘The Great One’ as the fan kept us comfortably cool.  On the coffee table beside the bed, were my glasses, my 1911 and SureFire LED light.  I set my phone alarm for 7:00 AM and laid down.  Somewhere around 10:30, I reached over and shut the radio, kissed the wife, and set out to fall asleep.  Through the open windows I could hear the soft hum of the Honda as it purred away on ECO setting, sipping on the 1st gallon of gas I poured into it twelve hours ago.

Around 3:35 in the morning, Sheila nudged me because she heard the buzzer on the battery backup in the den.  I got up and pressed the switch that kills the audible alarm and marveled on my way back to bed that the generator had run nearly 14 hours on a single gallon of gasoline.  Day-um!  A peek into the dark garage with the SureFire showed the upright freezer was at -12 F on the battery powered thermometer I have mounted to the side facing the door from the garage to the Florida Room.  It should hold out the heat until we get up in the morning, I thought, then went back to bed.  A cat passing near the now-silent generator set off the perimeter alarm at about 5:20.  After calling an ‘all-clear’ we went back to sleep for another hour and a half until my cell phone alarm jarred us awake.

Although the Dry Run was about over, we decided to make coffee using the camping stove again.  After clinking our cups together in a coffee toast to a successful conclusion of the simulated emergency, I went out to the backyard and turned the power back on again – until next summer when we do it again.

Be safe.  Be prepared.

September 1, 2010 Posted by | Food, Water, etc, Security and Situational Awareness | , , | Leave a comment

No Man Is An Island – Know Your Neighbors

The other day, while mowing the grass in my backyard, I watched my neighbor, Dave, who lives two doors north of me start building the fence along the back of his property he had been threatening to build for a few years now.  I admired his skill as I dutifully lead my mower up and back across my backyard grass and had to smile when I noticed he was building the wooden fence with eight-foot slats rather than the more conventional six foot variety.  Knowing Dave as I do, the additional height had a lot less to do with privacy than security.  After I finished the lawn and had a quick dip in the pool, I went over to Dave’s house to get a closer look at the fence, talk about the upcoming hurricane season and chat about how ‘ready’ we were if we we hit by a storm this year.  That’s when he told me that it wasn’t the weather-type storm he was worried about this year.  We both agreed that an economic storm was at least as likely to occur, then agreed that we would be there for each other if the financial SHTF.

Dave is a an Army vet.  He was a motor pool mechanic and welder in an Army base in Germany during the cold war and can fix anything that rolls (or doesn’t).  I not-so-jokingly refer to him as my ‘Left Flank ‘ and bought him 2 boxes of .30 cal for his M-1 carbine last Christmas to bolster his ammo cache.  How did I know he was a vet, and had an M-1 carbine, and was a ‘prepper’ like me?  I asked.  And that, dear reader, is the point of this blog post.

If things go south and, God forbid, we are forced to protect our families and possessions from those who wish us harm, your chances of success are greatly multiplied if you team-up with like minded neighbors willing to share the watch/patrol responsibilities.  But that cannot happen unless you first get to know enough of your neighbors and are lucky enough to have a few who have the foresight to see the wisdom in teaming-up with you.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I got to meet a lot of my neighbors that I had only previously just waved at, at a Christmas party I threw a few years back.   My wife and I opened our house to our neighbors by inviting them to bring a dish to a very informal party.  We had a great time, got to really  talk with several neighbors for the first time.  It was at that party that I discovered 4 other men on our block that were, to varying degrees, preppers and, shall we say, believers in the second amendment.

With summer coming, allow me to suggest that you hold a block BBQ or 4th of July party for your neighbors with an eye towards making connections necessary to organize like-minded neighbors, or, at the very least, to identify others on your block who own guns or like to shoot or visit the same blogs that you do.  It will be worth the time and expense incurred if you can connect up with a few people on your block if things get bad.

Be Safe.  Be Prepared.

May 29, 2010 Posted by | General, Security and Situational Awareness | | Leave a comment

Communications During Emergency Situations (Like WTSHTF)

Can you or any of your family members imagine a world without instant communications?  Without cell phones, text messages, satellite or cable news?  Without the internet?  Well, my assumption is that if you’re reading this blog, you’re at least curious about what you should be doing to prepare for a WTSHTF (When The S%*t Hits The Fan, for the uninitiated) event, and having a plan which takes into account the two important types of emergency communications is an important part of those preparations.

In my earlier posts, I covered many of the ways the electrical grid and with it nearly all means of electronic communication and news dissemination can be shut down.  Local TV and radio stations can probably continue to run for a few days or even weeks with back-up power generation, but in a true disaster situation, additional fuel for their generators, which requires it to be trucked in will probably not arrive before they run out of their stored fuel and fall silent.  The government might be able to establish some sort of emergency radio broadcast system in the absence of local AM/FM stations, but you still need equipment to tune it in in the absence of electricity – and hence, the necessity of an Emergency Communication Plan or ECP.

Ok, fine.  I need an ECP.  But what were those two important types of emergency communications you mentioned earlier?”

Oh yeah, one of those would be Outside World Communications, like news (both local and world news) and weather or .gov announcements and the other would be Group Communications, like neighborhood watch communication or the ability to alert you neighbor or other family members of an important bit of news or approaching danger.  Let’s talk about Outside World Communications first.

1.  Outside World Communications

Having lived through two major hurricanes in So. Florida (Andrew -’92 and Wilma -’05), I know a thing or two about how isolated you can feel when the television stations have gone silent and the electrical grid is a tangled, sparking mess of downed power poles, smoldering transformers and arcing wires.  News was at a premium during both of those events.  Imagine now that instead of a hurricane (a predictable storm whose path is known days in advance) causing the grid-down situation, it was a pandemic influenza, or terrorist attack, or a cyber-terrorism event aimed at our vulnerable electrical power generating and distributing infrastructure. The suddenness with which electrical means of news and information distribution would simply disappear would be stunning.  All normal means of obtaining that desperately needed information will have ceased operation.

CCrane Pocket SW Radio

The best way to avoid total information blackout is to have a battery powered short wave radio and either enough batteries to run it for weeks and even months, or the ability to recharge a set of rechargeable batteries using solar power.  [For more info on Solar Power, see my previous blog post on Perimeter Security.]  A battery powered short wave receiver will allow you to tune into both domestic and world sources of news and information in the absence of local electrical power.

On the right, is a picture of one such radio, a C Crane and Co Pocket SW Radio.  It’s one I’ve used for years and love it.  There are other brands available, though like Sony, Grundig, and even Radio Shack.  As stated, a SW radio is great for filling in missing information about the ‘big picture’ like world or national news, or even local news via AM/FM bands, but there are other important sources of information your SW radio is probably not capable of receiving like Police, Fire and EMT transmissions.  Uniden Trunktracker IVOne can gain valuable information about the state of lawlessness or peace in your neighborhood by monitoring these frequencies – which, by the way, is perfectly legal to do.  If you believe, like I do, that monitoring Police, Fire, and EMT radio traffic could be a valuable source of information during emergencies, then you should look to purchase a Police Band scanner like the Uniden Trunktracker IV pictured on the left next to my Ham Band 2-Meter walkie-talkie (more on that later).  Unlike less expensive police scanners, a ‘trunking’ scanner allows you to follow communications on modern trunked frequencies.  Again, there are several brands of ‘trunking’ scanners; Bearcat, Radio Shack, and Uniden all make decent trunking models.

Rounding out the devices needed to keep you informed of what’s happening in the ‘outside world’, is a weather radio.  But not just any weather radio.  You should look for one with a feature called SAME, or Specific Area Message Encoding.  SAME weather radios can be programmed with your postal code and thereby be able to receive emergency information aimed at your local area like the location of local water or food distribution centers, etc, in addition to their normal function of keeping you informed of severe weather in your area.  A photo of the SAME Weather Radio in use at the PP house appears below in the next section.

Continue reading

April 4, 2010 Posted by | Communication | , | 8 Comments

Electronic Perimeter Security In Emergency Situations

It was shortly after hurricane Wilma struck South Florida in 2005 (the same hurricane season that spawned Katrina, which was actually weaker than Wilma – for the record) that I started to think about seriously prepping for emergencies.  In the aftermath of that storm, my neighborhood was without electrical power for almost three weeks.  I vividly remember having to drive to get ice to keep our food from spoiling and waiting in line for bottled water as the water treatment plant was off-line for a period of time, necessitating a ‘boil water’ order..  I remember not having enough food or means to heat water for a shower or even batteries for my radios and flashlights, but the worst part of the lack of electricity was having no working  home burglar alarm system as we went to bed each night.  We would sleep with the windows wide open for ventilation (remember, I live in hot, muggy So. Florida where the nights are almost unbearable, even in October, without power or A/C) and feeling totally vulnerable to any hoodlum who would seek to sneak up to my 1st floor bedroom window, or that of my children, and poke a Glock (sideways, of course) through the screen at my wife and I asleep and oblivious to his approach.

I have since made several changes and upgrades to the electronic means I employ to increase my Situational Awareness (SA), that is, my ability to monitor what is happening around the perimeter of my home – even when the neighborhood’s power is out.  What follows is my description of what I have done.  Is my system the best or the only solution to the perimeter security dilemma?  Of course not, but you can use my ideas as a starting point to devise your own home security plan.

1.  Powering The System When the SHTF!

No planning session regarding electronic means of perimeter security and intrusion alarms should begin without a well-thought-out plan for how you will power those systems in the WCS (Worst Case Scenario) – a grid-down situation.  As I described in the introduction, So. Fla. has its share of power outages due to hurricanes or severe thunderstorms.  Like many folks who choose to live down here, I have a generator (2 actually) that will supply about 45 days of electricity for approx. 12 hours/day – enough to keep my meat freezers running as well as a small emergency wall mounted air conditioner to make those August nights bearable, on my present supply of stored fuel.

I do not, however, plan on using the generator to power my security equipment.  The main reasons being that 1.  I do not plan to run my generator 24/7 in order to save fuel, and 2.  What would I do when (not if) the fuel eventually runs out?  The answer:  Solar PowerI needed a reliable supply of electricity for my security systems if the SHTF, not a temporary one like a generator.  The solar-electric system I cobbled together has worked flawlessly for me for several years now.  It consists of 1 Kyocera 64 watt solar panel (now mounted on a pole), 4 deep-cycle 6V Energizer golf cart batteries (from Sam’s Club) wired together in series and parallel to produce an output of 12V, a BZ-Products Solar Charge Controller and a Sunforce pure sine wave 1000watt power inverter.  Now, before you say, “That sounds too complicated for me.  I know nothing about electricity.”  Proof that it can be done easily by someone who knows little to nothing about electricity is that I cobbled this system together by myself.  Plans for wiring the panel and the batteries as well as tools for figuring out how much power you will be needing based on what you wish to run can be found all over the internet.  I made good use of them as I researched my system.

Here, briefly, is how it works:  The solar panel, on a sunny day,  puts out about 4 amps of power through a device called a charge controller and into the storage batteries.  The controller is there to make sure that the batteries are not overcharged and damaged.  The power inverter converts the 12V DC power to 120V, in other words, wall voltage.  The ‘pure sine wave’ part of the inverter description refers to the shape of the wave generated by the inverter.  Some devices, like my laptop, need pure sine waves to run properly, while others like lights and fans do not.  While more expensive than regular inverters, a sine wave inverter is a good investment if you plan on running more than just lights and fans – like me.  While the sun is out, your devices will pull power directly from the solar panel through the inverter.  During the night, the charge controller switches the power source to the batteries.  My batteries have enough to power my entire security system, a few compact fluorescent lights, and other important items.  Will it run my A/C and HD tv?  No.  I designed it to fit my budget and to keep my perimeter security up and running if the grid goes down, and it does that very well.

2.  Perimeter Intrusion Detection

“OK, so I’ve got a fail-safe means of supplying emergency electrical power.  What should I get next?”

Well, before you hear that boot trying to kick your front door down in the middle of the night, it would have been nice to have had ample warning of the ‘guest’s’ approach, so that you might have time to prepare an ample reception for him – perhaps the 12-gauge variety.  That’s what a perimeter alarm affords you – TIME. Mine is on all the time, especially when my wife is home alone so she is always aware when someone is approaching the house.  It consists of 6 wireless motion detectors and a base unit powered by the solar power system.  The system I selected can be programmed to play a short message you record associated with each of the six zone sensors.  For example: when a car pulls in my driveway or a person approaches the front of my house, the Zone 1 alarm says: “Front door.  Someone’s approaching the front door.”  At the present time I’m using the Voice Alert system with 6 zone sensors and I’m very pleased with it.

Voice Alert Base Station

Zone 1 Motion Sensor

I consider this system to be indispensable in that it warns us when anyone gets within a certain distance from our house.  On a normal day, it tells my wife that I’ve pulled in the driveway, or the mailman has come, or any number of innocuous arrivals of family and/or neighbors.  But, it really shines at night, when you’re laying in your bed and the aforementioned dirtbag is sneaking up to your back door or bedroom window.  It eliminates the element of surprise for anyone who would approach your house to do you harm.  And having it running off the solar power system means you’re protected, even if the power should go out when you’re asleep – again, something that happens often in So. Florida, especially during the rainy season.

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March 28, 2010 Posted by | Security and Situational Awareness | , , , | 1 Comment

Opinion: A Chilling Deja-Vu.

Some years ago I was at a drag strip in Hollywood, Florida.  I had brought my two young nephews to watch a wheel-standing school bus race against another wheel-standing vehicle with a fiberglass body shaped and painted to look like an Army tank – turret and all.  Great stuff for 10 and 12-year-olds.  Behind the vehicles, a huge crowd had gathered to watch the cars blast down the quarter-mile track.  When the two vehicles finished their raucous burnouts, replete with obligatory fire and smoke, my over-excited nephews dragged me out of the grandstands and to the chain link fence that separated the track from the spectators for a closer view.  Their fingers nervously gripping the fence, mouths agape in wonder, I watched as my nephews, Robert and Ralphy, shrieked with delight as the two vehicles leaped  from the starting line, front wheels majestically in the air, hemi engines emitting an ear-rattling roar.  Then, suddenly, as quickly as the race had begun, it ended with both vehicles slamming their front wheels back on to the asphalt, their drivers frantically undoing their safety harnesses, and leaping out of the roof escape hatches designed for a quick exit in case of a fire, and scampering across the track to the safety of the guard rail barrier.

But there was no fire.

In a few moments, we were at last able to see what the drivers had seen from the moment the aborted race began.  At first, it was just a pair of headlights approaching the starting line from the far end of the track, then, as the lights drew closer, you could see that it was a car; a black Firebird, flying down the track the wrong way at well over 100 mph.  The crowd, myself and my nephews included, were transfixed.  We could only watch as the car plowed into the crowd of spectators behind the starting line and eventually slammed into the concrete barrier.  The sound of the engine, the flying bodies, the brutal smash of car into reinforced concrete, are all memories that will haunt me forever,  But the most amazing thing about the incident was the oppressive and massive silence that hung in the air and froze everyone into a temporary, but acute paralysis.  No one moved.  It seemed like no one breathed.  Time stood still while our brains tried in vain to cope with the magnitude what we had all just seen.

I believe the country is experiencing a similar awe and near paralysis as I write this.  I believe that most Americans instinctively know that the Health Care vote on Sunday was a rubicon-crossing of sorts, but are still in that suspended state of disbelief.  Not sure exactly what happened, but knowing it was bad – very bad.  I feel an uneasy calm on the part of patriotic Americans who are not exactly sure how to respond to this usurpation of their God-given liberty by a cabal of socialist criminals.  After all, patriots are never the ones to race out into the streets chanting and holding up obscene placards while spitting on the police.  That is the province of the left and always has been.  Still, I fear for what may happen when patriots, once again can gather their wits and shake off the disbelief.

I pray for the hand of Providence that guided the Founders of this great republic to once again guide us and lend us counsel.  Now is not the time for revenge or rash, pointless violence or mischief.  It is not yet the time to choose between the ballot box and ammo box.  I believe we need to concentrate our efforts towards voting the globalist progressive, socialists  out of office and electing as many patriots as we can so we can forestall any more erosion of what is left of our liberties.  We need to also concentrate on the state level, where the real battle against this marxist behemoth will play out.  Write call, or fax (or all three) the AG of your state and demand he/she take steps to block implementation.  I believe change must first be given the opportunity to play out at the ballot box before other solutions should be brought into play.

God Help Us.

March 26, 2010 Posted by | My Opinion | , | Leave a comment

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