Notes for Friday – January 20, 2017

Today is the birthday of Congressman Richard Henry Lee (1732–1794).

o o o

FYSA (For Your Situational Awareness), Forward Observer has started their battle tracking for the Inauguration, just like they did for the Ferguson riots. Check out the battle map and if you want to participate in this tracking effort to learn the process, scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the instructions. This is an excellent opportunity to see how a community can pull together and create real time intelligence that can benefit your decisions. (Note: You do not have to be local to Washington, DC to participate. Much of this intelligence is collected from online sources and vetted by the volunteers. You can do this from your normal computer.)

If you think this is valuable intel, you might consider supporting Forward Observer through a subscription to their intelligence briefings. They are having a sale right now on the annual subscription.

o o o

Today, we present Part three of a four part entry for Round 68 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $15,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate that is good for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chrome-lined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 20 Magpul PMAG 30-rd Magazines (a value of $300) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt; (an equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions),
  6. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  7. The Ark Institute is donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package (enough for two families of four) plus seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate (a $325 retail value),
  8. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  9. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Tactical Self-Contained 2-Series Solar Power Generator system from Always Empowered. This compact starter power system is packaged in a wheeled O.D. green EMP-shielded Pelican hard case (a $2,400 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  8. An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
  9. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
  10. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Third Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  3. A custom made Sage Grouse model utility/field knife from custom knife-maker Jon Kelly Designs, of Eureka, Montana,
  4. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  5. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  6. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  7. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  8. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a $125 Montie gear Gift certificate.,
  9. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value), and
  10. Fifteen LifeStraws from SafeCastle (a $300 value).
  11. A $250 gift certificate to Tober’s Traditions, makers of all natural (organic if possible) personal care products, such as soap, tooth powder, deodorant, sunscreen, lotion, and more.

Round 68 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Hurricane Preparedness Experience- Part 3, by N.K.

Cooking was interesting. I had a propane gas grill with two spare 20-lb cylinders, a dual-fuel Coleman camp stove, a couple of single-burner butane units, and the ability to build a fire in the backyard. The gas grill got used, because it was easiest. It did take a couple of days to learn how to cook more than simple camping meals on it. We have an old style coffee percolator for camping, and getting the heat to it correctly on the grill took some learning. Cooking on the grill was something we should have practiced before we needed it. A tip: The standard size propane tank for grills holds 20 lbs of propane, which is about 4½ gallons. Many exchange tanks are filled only to 15 lbs; it’s faster and easier to swap out an empty tank for a filled one, but I’ve found it less expensive to take the time to get them refilled to the full 20 lbs rather than exchanged for one with 25% less propane. The cost is nearly the same; you’re paying more for the convenience of a quick exchange. So, buying an empty spare tank for about $45 and refilling it will pay for itself quickly, if you use a grill a lot.

We put as much of our neighbors’ food in our fridge and freezer as would fit, and everyone fired up gas and charcoal grills to cook the rest and share the food before it spoiled. The neighborhood ate very well for the first couple of days. Steak or hamburgers for breakfast is a common occurrence when the power goes out.

Cleaning wasn’t much of an issue since county water service was uninterrupted, but most Florida houses have an electric water heater. In August, cold water in Florida isn’t really cold. It’s about 82F out of the spigot, but if you’re used to real hot showers that can be a shock. I had a single burner Zodi camping hot water shower, which adds about 30F to water. (I’ve since bought a spare, since two is one and one is none. This way we could have 105-108F showers, though it’s more like a lightly pressurized rinse; however, it does work. Don’t forget extra D-cell batteries for it.) The Zodi uses one pound propane cylinders to heat the water, so it must be used outdoors; we used it on the back porch, drawing water from a 5-gallon bucket. It’s been used on camping trips, so everyone was already experienced with it. I had enough spare 16-ounce propane cylinders to loan it to neighbors, each of whom I let develop their own solution for outdoor shower privacy. Depending on your circumstances, that’s something to include on your prep planning, along with extra cylinders or an adapter to refill 16-ounce cylinders from a 20 pound grill tank. Some 24-inch-long 1” PVC pipes stuck in the ground will accept lengths of ½-inch EMT (Electrical Metallic Tubing); some spring clamps, costing about $1 at Home Depot, will hold solar screening fabric or even bedsheets to the EMT to provide privacy.

I’ve recently added a rechargeable hand-held shower unit, purchased on an Amazon Lightning Deal, to backup the two Zodis, and a 21-watt solar panel for recharging it. A 30-quart aluminum turkey frying pot can be used to heat water on the gas grill or even over a fire, if necessary. The big advantage is in winter a pot of water can be heated outdoors and then carried inside to be used in the tub with the rechargeable hand-held shower unit. Even in Florida, there are a few chilly days. Now that I’m no longer living in Florida, winter is a consideration.

With no electricity, garage door openers didn’t work, so during the day everyone left their garage doors up. That’s a security concern, but there were more than enough neighbors around helping each other that it wasn’t much of a concern. Almost all of my neighbors were gun owners and security-minded, so there wasn’t much worry about looting. In some areas there was, and had our neighborhood been so afflicted we would have had to come up with some sort of security plan.

Reviewing What We Learned From This Experience

Power came back on Thursday, and half a day was spent shifting back into “normal” mode. Here’s what we learned from the whole experience:

Organization is critical. Having all the tools and supplies is great but only if you can find them quickly and easily. I was pretty well organized but not nearly well enough. Flashlights, batteries, candles, and matches all in one large box was wrong. Trying to find and dig out what I needed was frustrating, and in some cases it got done in the dark, which was even more frustrating. We needed more headlamps. (BTW, using headlamps requires some practice. One develops a sort of “head twitch” to point the light where you’re looking; the habit of just moving your eyes doesn’t work too well.) Smaller latch-lid plastic boxes that you can see into, each with only one type of equipment in it and well labeled is the way to go. My extension cords, rarely used but suddenly needed immediately, were hanging behind garden tools that had to be moved, then put back out of the way when the cords were retrieved. That was poor planning there.

Practice your preps. The first couple of meals cooked on the gas grill were quite edible, and we quickly got better. However, cooking techniques and tools are different, especially coffee with a “cowboy percolator”. Camping experience helped a lot, but it would have been beneficial to practice occasionally by cooking a “regular” meal on the grill with pots and pans now and then. Showers with the Zodi were easy; alternatives to it might have been useful, but they hadn’t been planned for or practiced.

There’s a transition period no matter how much you practice; by the end of day three, we were experts in non-electric living, but we could have reached that point by the end of day one if we had practiced for it.

Contractor contacts need to be developed and cultivated. Roof replacements may come only every 20 years, but it’s a good idea to get to know a couple roofers and stay in contact, because sometimes repairs are needed urgently. The same applies to plumbers, electricians, carpenters, fence builders, et cetera who have expertise you may suddenly need. My fence was the only one still standing. It was 6X6 and 4X6 posts set three feet deep in concrete. Everyone else was scrambling to get their fences repaired ASAP, because Florida law requires swimming pools be in an enclosure.

Information about governmental services needed to be developed, maintained, and updated periodically. We never had a problem with water, but if county water stopped, I didn’t know where I could get potable water in quantity or how to transport it other than the 5-gallon jugs used for camping. By the time hurricane Jean hit, I had ten 7-gallon Aquatainers, a 150-gallon bladder for the pickup bed, and a list of places to get potable water in quantity. I also added a 50-foot hose rated for potable water that I obtained from an RV supply house, and a couple universal sill cock keys to operate any water faucet I found. In Florida, I was surrounded by neighbors with swimming pools. In my new location I’m not, so every three months I buy a 1-lb bag of calcium hypochlorite, also called pool shock, to make chlorine water treatment. It doesn’t store well over long periods and is very corrosive to metals, so with each new bag I give the old bag to a friend to use in his pool; that way the bag doesn’t deteriorate, and it’s $3 locally, which is inexpensive to have the ability to make enough chlorine to treat thousands of gallons of water.

Have disposable dinner ware products to minimize impact on limited water supplies. You don’t want to use valuable drinking and cooking water to clean plates and silverware.

Simplify your lifestyle. Kitchen (or bathroom) counters cluttered with stuff are a real pain in the dark. You’ll find yourself operating very differently without electricity, and neatness everywhere counts. Develop storage/usage techniques to make using stuff easy while keeping it out out the way. A particular peeve: having only one manual can opener in the kitchen without a very firm rule to always put it back in the same drawer. Now, every drawer has a manual can opener. They’re inexpensive. Also, whenever I get a case or three of Mountain House from Safecastle (a Survivalblog affiliate), I tape a couple P-51 GI-style openers (which are larger than the P-38) inside the box lids and keep a couple P-51s in each personal and vehicle emergency kit. A bag of 100 is about $30+shipping from Sportsman’s Guide and is almost a lifetime supply.

Mental diversions. Games, especially card games, help give everyone a short “mental vacation” from the stress. It’s difficult to read much with only limited light, but board games and playing cards work well. Scrabble is very well suited to semi-dark entertainment. (No, it didn’t seem at all strange to see people wearing headlamps playing Scrabble and Monopoly, at least not by day four.)

Neighborhood planning and sharing. We all came together, as did thousands of neighborhoods across Central and South Florida after Charlie, and we worked well together. We needed to communicate more before the hurricane and develop skill sharing and better plans. Monthly backyard “pot luck” barbecues are great ways to get everyone together.

Outdoor lighting. With no street or porch lights doing anything outside after dark, outdoor lighting was nearly impossible. I had a couple 500-watt halogen flood lamps and some 1/2” and 3/4” EMT (Electrical Metallic Tubing), which comes in 10-foot lengths. “Beam clamps” from your home center’s electrical department are threaded for attaching lights with bolts and allow clamping the floodlight(s) to the 1/2” EMT, which can be placed over a steel stake driven into the ground, to get the lights 10 feet up, or higher if you insert the 1/2” EMT into the 3/4” and drill and bolt them together. The EU3000 watt Honda weighs about 150 pounds without fuel, so carrying it around wasn’t an option. When hurricane Frances was forecast, I bought a 24 inch X 48 inch 4-wheeled garden cart from Lowe’s (about $65 then) so I could more easily roll it into the garage for security. It still took two hefty people to put it on the cart, though. (Honda now has EU3000 models that come with wheels and a handle to make them more portable.) Without good wheels under it for portability, think good extension cords, not cheapies. Higher amperage rated cords– 12 gauge (20 amps) and 10 gauge (30 amps)– will be expensive, but they’re very much worth it to avoid voltage drop over distance. I’ve since added a Honda 2000 watt generator* as an “unlimited distance extension cord.” Weighing just 50 pounds, I can carry it one handed, plus Honda has a wiring kit to link two generators together to double output; check RV (recreational vehicle) forums for info on how to make your own wiring kit and external fuel tanks to extend running time. Knowing what I know now, I would have gotten a pair of EU2000s instead of the EU3000; it’s about the same cost, just as quiet, more portable, and a pair lines up with the “two is one, one is none” prepper philosophy.

I’ve since replaced the 500 watt halogen flood lamps with 60 watt LED flood lamps. (Thank you, Amazon Gold Box sales!) They’re about the same physical size, the same light (about 4,000 lumens) and almost 90% less wattage draw. I kept several spare bulbs for the halogen units, because they’re fragile; a couple spare LED lights are more expensive than the bulbs but worth it, I think. You’ll have to make your custom cords for either. I used inexpensive 3-wire 25-foot 16 gauge extension cords, cut the female connector off, and wired them up myself.

Letter Re: Hurricane Preparedness

HJL,
That was a great article about his experience and some practical advice [for hurricane preparedness]. For those interested in a possible simpler solution a product named “Generlink” at www.generlink.com is available. It is a collar that fits behind your meter at the power pole, and it allows you to control your power usage through your current breaker panel. The only cord needed is between the Generlink collar and the generator. As long as the power pole where your meter is located is intact and you have underground wiring to the house, you should be okay. It’s worth a look. – A.K.

Economics and Investing:

Student Debt Payback Far Worse Than Believed – G.G.

o o o

Nobel Prize winner says US should “get rid of currency” – DSV

o o o

How To Tell If Gold’s Rally Is For Real

o o o

Dollar dips on less-hawkish Yellen, awaits Trump inauguration

o o o

SurvivalBlog and its editors are not paid investment counselors or advisers. Please see our Provisos page for details.

Odds ‘n Sods:

On this inaugural day, a parting gift for Obama: Video – Time To Say Goodbye (parody) – D.S.

o o o

Following up on the Veritas videos posted a couple of days ago: After Exposé, Anarchist Group Scales Back Plans to Blockade Roads, Disrupt Inauguration – BMM

o o o

Thinking that building your retreat is beyond your grasp? – Single mom builds 3,500-square-foot home by watching YouTube tutorials – H.L.

o o o

For those that live in places like Kalifornia or other anti-gun locations: How to Turn 12 Everyday Items Into Improvised Weapons – H.L.

(HJL’s Comment: Good suggestions, except for the hornet spray. Don’t bother with that one. Pepper spray performs better and won’t get you in as much legal trouble. In an emergency, you utilize what you have, but don’t plan for that one.)

o o o

Lasers are nice, but identifying your target in the dark when it’s your own home is paramount. This video sent in by Reader T.J. covers some flashlight techniques that are useful to know.

Notes for Thursday – January 19, 2017

January 19th is the birthday of the late Carla Emery (born 1939, died October 11, 2005). She is well known in self-sufficency circles as the author of The Encyclopedia of Country Living. (This book re-released in a 40th Anniversary edition.)

o o o

Seed for Security is having a sale with 20% off of their Super Survival Pack. This Pack includes 4 lbs. of survival seeds and 2 pints of healthful grains. All of their seed is heirloom, non GMO, and none is hybrid. Their 4 page detailed Seed Saving Guide is included. They are also including 6 metallized Polybags with each Pack ordered, enabling you to try your hand at seed saving. This offer is for a limited time.

o o o

Today, we present another entry for Round 68 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $15,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate that is good for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chrome-lined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 20 Magpul PMAG 30-rd Magazines (a value of $300) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt; (an equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions),
  6. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  7. The Ark Institute is donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package (enough for two families of four) plus seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate (a $325 retail value),
  8. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  9. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Tactical Self-Contained 2-Series Solar Power Generator system from Always Empowered. This compact starter power system is packaged in a wheeled O.D. green EMP-shielded Pelican hard case (a $2,400 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  8. An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
  9. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
  10. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Third Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  3. A custom made Sage Grouse model utility/field knife from custom knife-maker Jon Kelly Designs, of Eureka, Montana,
  4. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  5. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  6. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  7. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  8. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a $125 Montie gear Gift certificate.,
  9. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value), and
  10. Fifteen LifeStraws from SafeCastle (a $300 value).
  11. A $250 gift certificate to Tober’s Traditions, makers of all natural (organic if possible) personal care products, such as soap, tooth powder, deodorant, sunscreen, lotion, and more.

Round 68 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Hurricane Preparedness Experience- Part 2, by N.K.

I had drinking water because my subdivision was on the county water system which never went down, nor was there any boil water alert for our area. Part of the reason for this was the emergency planning done by county government to ensure water got delivered at full volume and pressure to fire hydrants during weather emergencies, and there’s backup power for pumps to accomplish this. Since hydrants and houses are on the same system, we coasted on local government’s emergency preps. Life and planning really is different in hurricane country.

If water ran short, I had some options. Half the houses in my neighborhood had swimming pools, so a supply of buckets could provide toilet flushing water. Drinking and cooking water was another story. (Pool water plus filtration by something like a Berkey system could produce drinking water, especially if aeration was performed to reduce chlorine content.) I always kept several cases of bottled water on hand, usually 6-8 cases each with 15 one-liter bottles; however, that would go quickly in the heat, especially when also used for cooking and dish washing. I quickly added disposable plates, cups, and utensils to my preps.

Because Florida is flat, gravity flow for sewage is a problem, making underground sanitary pumping stations, called lift stations, common. My 460-home subdivision is served by a pair of 4,000 gallon underground tanks, which pump along with others to a county sewage treatment station about five miles away. The pumps are electric, which don’t operate without power, so the county emergency plan called for a septic tank service company to pump out those underground tanks until electrical power was restored. I spoke with the driver who said their trucks had 2,000 gallon tanks and they were figuring on two or three trips a day to keep our underground tanks from overflowing. His outfit was also contracted to service other subdivisions, so he was planning on 18-hour days. The county did not issue any requests to limit water use, although with no power for TV or radios, it would not have been heard everywhere, so it appears the septic pumping truck strategy is a successful one.

Of the six houses immediately adjacent to mine, only one had a generator when Charlie struck; when Jean hit seven weeks later, only one did not have a generator. I actually had two– a 3000 watt Honda EU3000i and a 6500 watt Honda ES6500. The 6500 was a leftover from living in a more rural area where it was needed to run the well pump during occasional power outages. I loaned the 6500 to a neighbor, and it wound up powering refrigerators and a few fans in hers and two adjacent houses.

The lesson here is how valuable long, large gauge extension cords can be. I have a pair of custom made 125-foot long cords made with 8-4 SO cord (rated at 40 amps) equipped with the correct 4-pin locking plug (NEMA L14-30P) for the ES6500, and custom adapters to convert the 230 volts from the generator to a pair of 115 volt circuits using NEMA 5-20R standard household receptacles. (Amazon has commercially manufactured adapters to do the same thing, about $42.) The ES6500 also has two 20 amp NEMA 5-20R receptacles that will take standard household plugs of 15 amp (NEMA 5-15P) or 20 amp (NEMA 5-20P) capacity. I also have commercially available 100-foot extension cords– one in 12 gauge and one in 10 gauge, and multi-outlet adapters for each, allowing up to eight connections. In NEMA specs, the “R” means female receptacle, the “P” means male plug. 20 amp rated plugs are different from 15 amp rated ones; the 20 amp plugs have the oversized neutral prong rotated 90 degrees to prevent overloading a 15 amp circuit by connecting a device requiring 20 amps to a 15 amp rated outlet; 15 amp plugs will fit into a 20 amp outlet but not the reverse. Standard 3-prong 15 amp male plugs (NEMA 5-15P) are also polarized by having oversized neutral prongs to prevent connecting a device in a manner that puts the hot current on the neutral side; this assumes the outlet is also wired correctly.

I built the custom multi-outlet adapters using 4-gang steel receptacle boxes to hold four duplex (double outlet) receptacles and connect with 25 feet of 10-3 SO cord (30 amp rating); the input cord has a standard 15 amp male plug (NEMA 5-15P) so it can be used anywhere there are standard 15 amp-rated outlets, and the receptacle box has three standard duplex 20 amp receptacles and one 20 amp GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacle in the box. I oversized the cord and outlet capacity for extra safety, but I did not put a 20-amp circuit breaker into the receptacle box because if it started causing problems I didn’t want to deal with rewiring the box when I really needed to keep it in use. The GFCI supplies power to itself and one duplex receptacle, and two receptacles are wired to not have GFCI protection. If you assemble multi-outlet boxes this way, make sure the non-GFCI-protected receptacles are very clearly identified. I used white receptacles for the GFCI and GFCI-protected ones, and red for the non-protected, plus ¾-inch wide orange stick-on labels from my label maker. I put the 4-gang box on a piece of ¾ plywood about 6” longer and wider than the steel box to make it more stable and less likely to be turned over and added an LED pilot light so you can tell with a glance if the box is powered; several manufacturers now make a two-outlet GFCI receptacle with an LED night light, which would replace the pilot light and also provide some dim but useful area lighting. A 7/16” hole in each corner of the plywood allows using one or two 3/8” landscape spikes to anchor it, and a 1” hole in the center of the end opposite the input cable allows hanging it. Commercial heavy-duty multi-outlet units are available, but I haven’t seen any that are split between GFCI and non-GFCI receptacles. The key here is to plan how you’ll safely distribute power from your generator, especially if it’s being used outdoors.

My 3000 watt Honda (an ultra quiet EU3000i) met all my power needs: refrigerator, chest freezer, whole house fan and night time window air conditioner. I had already tested the refrigerator and chest freezer to see how long they could go without power. I adjusted the refrigerator/freezer control to maximum and adjusted daily the refrigerator section control to see how cold you can get it without freezing food and gave the fridge 12-24 hours between adjustments without opening the door(s) to get good measurements. A handy tool is a $24 Accurite wireless refrigerator/freezer thermometer from Amazon. I learned I could leave my refrigerator unplugged for 6 ½ hours before internal temperatures rose enough to jeopardize food storage; the freezer section, which settled in at -15F, never rose above +12F, and the fridge, which settled in at +33F reached +49F. When plugged back in it will take 30-45 minutes to start cooling down again, and temperatures will continue to rise a couple degrees until then, so keep the “fragile foods” in the coldest part of the fridge. Move the temperature sensor around during testing to see where the coldest and warmest spots are. Opening the fridge door once will cost almost two hours of unpowered cold time, so keep the door closed. When re-powering them, the fridge ran for about 2 ½ hours before reaching its minimum set temperature; the chest freezer ran a little over an hour. I’ve thought about getting some 1”-2” thick foam insulation panels and cutting them to fit against the outside of the fridge and freezer to add another hour or two to the “off” time; foil-faced R-Max brand, which is polyisocyanurate with an R value of about 6.4 per inch, is easily available locally, as is polystyrene which has about half the R value. If you do this, make sure you don’t block air flow to the compressor area when the fridge is powered on; temporary use is probably okay, but foam insulation is highly flammable and permanent installs require covering with fire resistant wallboard.

There are a few makers of ultra high efficiency freezers and refrigerators. SunDanzer is one that I’ve seen at a preparedness Expo. They are hyper-insulated and designed to run from photovoltaic solar systems. They’re small, about 8 cubic feet, and expensive, around $1100 plus shipping, but they never need connection to the power grid. RVs use propane-powered refrigerators, and a couple companies are still making propane fridges for residential use, more common decades ago before the U.S. rural electrification got underway in the 1930s. I’m in the “thinking” stages for a major remodel, and solar panels and batteries will be part of that, as will replacing my 115 volt freezer with a 12-volt ultra efficient one, like a SunDanzer, to be run entirely from solar. A propane fridge is also an option but would require permanent certified gas plumbing in the walls.

A tip: a Kill-A-Watt is a measurement tool that will allow you to determine actual wattage draw of your appliances. It costs about $20 at Amazon, or check with your public library. Mine offers them on a free two week loan, just like a book. You’ll find that the very brief (1-3 seconds) starting current draw on appliances with motors, called “locked rotor current”, will be about 4-5 times running current. This may require a slightly larger generator, or at least disconnecting some loads to allow an appliance to start more easily. Belkin makes a similar unit that is in two parts. The plug and the display are separated by a 3-foot cable, making it easier to use in tight spaces where the Kill-A-Watt might not fit or the display might not be visible. (One trick is to plug the Kill-A-Watt between two extension cords.) They present the same data but in slightly different format. I own both and other than not having to use an extension cord in tight spaces with the Belkin, I haven’t seen a significant difference between them.

My EU3000 could run the fridge, the freezer, and a 550 watt whole house fan easily, along with a couple oscillating fans to help dry the carpeting. At night I closed the house up for security, set a 5,000 BTU air conditioner in the window of a back bedroom, plugged in a dehumidifier to help dry the carpets, and the “night watch duty schedule” included alternating power distribution between the fridge and freezer, with the oscillating fans left running. I ran the 3000 for about 15 hours a day on three gallons of gasoline. That consumption was low because it’s a small generator and wasn’t loaded over half load except for the brief seconds when the compressor in the fridge, freezer, or window AC kicked on. I kept a Kill-A-Watt plugged into the connection to the generator to monitor current draw and make sure I wasn’t overloading the generator.

People tend to buy larger generators than they really need, which means they need more fuel. Three gallons per day still meant carrying two 5-gallon cans to a working gas station every third day. For 5½ days without power it wasn’t a big deal, but for a prolonged powerless period it would have been. Check the maintenance schedule for your generator. Most specify oil changes every 24 operating hours. I changed the oil in the EU3000 every third, about 30 operating hours, using Amsoil synthetic oil. For generator size planning, total up the wattage of those electrical devices you need to operate. Remember, need is not want.

The whole house fan was a used 30-inch industrial exhaust fan bought from a dry cleaner going out of business. I equipped it with a 25 foot cord, safety screening, and some adjustable brackets to secure it to one of the bedroom windows. It moved about 7500 CFM (cubic feet per minute) so when it was on there was always plenty of air moving through the house.

About that air conditioner, do not underestimate the value of having one cool room in which to get 6-8 hours of restful sleep. Yes, there will be grumbling when the whole family has to sleep in one room, but a few folding cots and sleeping bag pads will help with that. Nighttime August temps in Central and South Florida are often still 80F as late as 11PM, with humidity to match. One room with a temperature of 70-72F and low humidity is worth its weight in gold.

It’s a good idea to establish a nighttime watch schedule; everyone in one closed room with an air conditioner running won’t hear break in attempts; two hours on watch is about right, shared among responsible family members, and a watch schedule allows managing power distribution from the generator. With power out, it’s really dark, alarm systems don’t work, and there are some people who seek to take advantage of those conditions. Secure your generator with heavy chains or cables and locks. Quite a few got stolen because with widespread power outages generators became very valuable. Thieves often substituted a cheap lawnmower, so the residents still heard a running gas engine. I put a failed circuit alarm, which cost about $35 at Amazon, in the extension cord to the air conditioner; cutting the power would produce a smoke detector-like screech to alert and wake whomever wasn’t on watch. One advantage to an ultra quiet generator was the EU3000 couldn’t be heard over any of our neighbor’s generators, so it was less likely to attract thieves’ attention, and the AC was in a window not visible or audible from the street.

Why didn’t I keep the AC running during the day? We had the whole house fan to move air when the generator was running to cool the fridge and freezer, and controlling which windows were open created good breezes through the house. With no electricity, life shifted to up-at-dawn, bed-at-dark mode. During daylight hours everyone was working on cleanup and repair, either at home or helping a neighbor.

For after dark lighting there were flashlights, a couple old style wick kerosene lanterns, a couple of headlamps, candles that didn’t get used, and two Aladdin mantle lamps, which are terrific lamps. I’ve since bought two more Aladdin mantle lamps plus spare mantles, wicks, and chimneys. They’re expensive, but Aladdins are worth it. I’ve since also added extra headlamps, equipped each vehicle with them, and placed a few in strategic locations around the house.

When you’re dealing with the prospect of several days of involuntary darkness, move some furniture out of the way so people moving around in the dark won’t bump into it. Make sure you don’t block or hinder access to windows or doors.

Letter Re: Seeking Silver Half Dollars

Hugh,

Yes, this is true. Most banks do not have any halves on hand. It’s been a few years since they have even been minted for circulation. Ordering a box of $500 is the minimum, and they will expect you to take the box. Some banks even have $1000 min to order. Some banks do not want to be bothered at all. Most likely a bank that you [regularly] bank with will order them, and then you have to dispose [of them]! The bank you order them from will not want them back. Maybe the first time, but not thereafter. So spending them [back into circulation] is a way to use them. That’s just my experience‎. – DSV

Economics and Investing:

Conference Video: The Gold/Silver Ratio – Mike Maloney & David Morgan

o o o

It is noteworthy that President DJT has gone on record as stating that the U.S. Dollar is “too strong” and therefore “hurting exports”. So it is safe to assume that he will pursue weaker Dollar policies. The prospect of these policies is already showing influence in the FOREX market. Be ready for an interest rate crisis and then a Dollar crisis, folks! Hedge into silver, and perhaps a bit into Swiss Francs. The easiest way to do that is to convert most of any lingering positive PayPal balance that you might have into Swiss Francs. That can be done with just a couple of mouse clicks. – JWR

o o o

Davos Elites Call For a Ban on Physical Cash… in the US. – B.B.

o o o

This data proves US stocks aren’t as healthy as we’ve been told

o o o

SurvivalBlog and its editors are not paid investment counselors or advisers. Please see our Provisos page for details.

Odds ‘n Sods:

An observation: As of January 3rd of last year, The Oregonian newspaper estimated that there were “20 to 25” Bundy-led occupiers spending nights at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Also in early January, 2016, I heard the figure of 22 individuals, provided by a vlogger who had visited the encampment to conduct interviews. In recent months Gary Hunt’s website has publicized the fact that at least SEVEN of those individuals were contemporaneously active Federal informants. He has named all seven of them, quoting court discovery documents. The ratio of 7 to 22 does not bode well for the Patriot movement. Clearly, the only safety is in forming very small cellular Leaderless Resistance groups that are comprised ONLY of close, long-time friends and relatives. – JWR

o o o

Incredible plans unveiled for world’s first ‘floating city’ in the middle of the Pacific Ocean

o o o

Over at Mises Wire, a fascinating piece: No Country Should Be Bigger Than This

o o o

Breaking the Censorship: How to Obtain an IP Address (for Windows users)

o o o

Here is a useful piece over at Commander Zero’s blog: Vacuum packaging clothes