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Winter SHTF Planning and Preparation

Currently enjoying the first real Winter storm of the season up here in Canada and I must say I really like it. Got me thinking about those things relating to Winter survival that are either not really talked about or, worse yet, ignored. I am assuming you do not have a massive solar array and geothermal power. I am also assuming you live in the snow belt meaning two to five months of Winter and arctic temperatures.

It is Snowing. A lot!

Here at work I just opened our Storm accommodation plan so staff can sleep overnight rather than risk life, limb, and fenders trying to get home as 20cm of snow falls (8 inches). They have the option to sleep in warm, dry, secure location and get a free meal voucher. Awesome deal but in SHTF when it snows hard it gets complex. Stay or go? I’d stay put until the obvious storm front has passed me by as I really will have no idea if the snow is stopping in an hour or going to keep dropping the next three days.

This means in the Winter season you always need to have a Winter bug in kit on you at all times you know you cannot easily get back to home base. You should always have a compass on you in SHTF as fog, rain, and snow can easily get you lost real fast even close to home base. This is my minimum gear I’d have on me if venturing any distance in the Winter season in Southern Ontario away from the home base.

  • Emergency bivvy bag. Many makes of these are available. Get an expensive one you can reuse. In SHTF you cannot reorder from Amazon easily.
  • Emergency stove and fuel. The goal here is to boil water for hot drinks and food and to get a bit of heat. I’d use my BioLite but a basic rocket stove made from an old number 10 tin can would work great. Carry fuel and ignition. Snow means getting a new supply might be impossible. The BioLite Wood Burning Campstove is expensive and heavy but really awesome on fuel usage and heat. It also charges a good light source (get the orange one not the blue version)
  • The clothes I’d be wearing would be Winter proofed. Look up and learn how to dress for Arctic temperatures. I’d have extra gloves, hat, socks, and leg/arm thermal wrapped in the pack as well.
  • Metal water container that can be used to boil water. Some emergency filters won’t work so well in minus temperatures however hard you suck on the ice!
  • Emergency shovel. Dig a hole and then a ditch around the base so water will run away from you. Consider covering it to make a snow cave. Know how to do this safely.
  • Those high calorie life boat rations, MREs, and wise food would also be great in this situation. I’d want 5000 Cal minimum but 10000 Cal would be safer. Candies and a couple of boil in the bag meals will help with variety.
  • A couple of Mylar survival blankets and a 6 by 10 piece of transparent plastic sheet. The better the survival shelter, the warmer you will be.
  • 50 feet of paracord.
  • Decent amount of duct tape
  • Folding saw and a knife in case fuel is available
  • Flash light that works without solar or batteries. Hand crank or squeeze (I use the BioLite for this one).
  • Sun glasses
  • Sun screen. I never use it except in the Winter. So easy to burn your face

At this point you are probably rolling your eyes but this kit is for my local conditions not for yours! Deep snow is a killer up here and will be much worse in SHTF. Mostly I won’t venture more than 2 miles from home base and this is my minimum carry is for extend trips beyond 10 miles in December through March. It would be a lot smaller for local sojourns. If you can safely get back to home base then get back to it. If unsure bug in and make camp until it is safe to walk home. What did I miss? What should I not carry? Let me know in the comments and why of course. I excluded snow shoes as I’d have them on if it had already snowed but would not carry them if it had not. I can make a pair using the folding saw, knife, and paracord if I had to.

Winter Storm in SHTF from your cozy bug in or bug out location

If you have prepped right and have been lucky then you should have adequate calories and comfort to survive the storm. If not then you are SOL. However these are some of my ideas that might be overlooked by some in SHTF.

Toilet Paper

I have loads of it but it will run out. The supply I have will be withdrawn from circulation after the first four weeks of SHTF. I will tell my girlfriend she has to let go of the past and embrace the now. Likely she will leave me at this point and I will have doubled my supply of white rice! The paper toilet paper will be strictly only for use if sick or in deep Winter (and her birthday. I’m not heartless). I have pre-cut a large supply of linen toilet ‘paper’ from old jeans and shirts. In the warmer months that is what is used to wipe and polish. In deep Winter the ability not to have to wash the toilet rags will be an awesome asset (pun intended) and avoid a real problem in arctic temperatures.

Fuel

For me this will be wood. I plan worse case and SHTF forever. You need about 5 cords of wood to get through the Winter here but around my bug in home I can collect wood for sure 10 months of the year so this can be reduced. At my bug out cottage that drops to about 8-9 months of the year. Sure I can hack down standing dead trees but realistically how many of them will be close to me abode after a few months? Wood gathering and storing will be a continual endeavor all year-long. Collect birch and ignition materials will also be a yearlong activity. However if I can avoid chopping and processing wood when it is below minus 10C then I absolutely will. Sure that makes for great looking prepper videos but to me it means they did not prep smart.

Exercise in SHTF should be avoided and exercise in arctic temperatures should only be done in a life or death situation. Like the bears your plan should be to basically sleep through the worst of the Winter. Using wood from one or two years ago that has been stacked properly is a great idea but think for a moment. In SHTF you will probably use your entire stock of wood in the first year if you neglect to add to the supply each and every day. Like toilet paper you never, ever can store enough wood but try.

Fuel Storage

Fuel for me means wood. I do not expect gasoline or propane to be widely available in SHTF and do not construct my preps around anything that cannot be found or used 5 years down from the SHTF event(s). Wet wood needs to dry before use. Cold wood needs to be warmed before use as does kindling. You can, with effort, work around this but why even try? Your bug in or bug out place needs to be able to accommodate a large supply of wood and ignition material inside the place. Going outside in a storm is the last thing you will want to do and having an ample inside store means not opening the door and pre-warmed and dry wood. Have lots of mouse and rat traps as the critters love wood piles. In the Spring store wood at least 30 feet from your shelter. Have a wheelbarrow to help move wood and water around when there is no snow.

Water

If safe to drink then snow can easily be melted provided you have lots of wood available. Remember to add unfrozen water to the pan and add snow slowly in small amounts and stir. If can and will burn if you just dump it into the hot pan. You need to use a window or an additional chimney to direct the steam outside your shelter. Water vapor gets everywhere and moisture can kill you in SHTF. Bang a few empty cans together and use aluminum foil to funnel the rising steam into the cans. Have it open through a window and use bubble wrap and duct tape to seal. Block the inside end with cloth when not creating steam.

You should have a lot of treated water stored year round but remember to move it inside the warm room before freezing starts to occur.

Home is where the hearth is

One room is your home in the deep Winter. Heat that one room and use plastic sheets and Mylar to reflect heat back into the room and trap heat in the room. Bubble wrap should have been hoarded for all the windows before SHTF. Hand plastic sheets on both sides of all the doors and avoid using them as much as possible. Stack soil and wood around the outsides of that inner room to add insulation but make sure it is in trash bags and is dry.

Set up a tent inside this room to sleep in but, as with the plastic sheets make sure there is zero risk of a fire or a melting happening. Have several fire extinguishers and a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm inside this room as well. If you cannot set up adequate ventilation do not use anything other than the fireplace to cook in. I’m using the BioLite as well as the fireplace but with the additional ventilation system for steam described above.

Plan how to gather more fuel and food in the warmer months. Figure out how to preserve that food for the next Winter. Keep mentally busy as Winter is not a great time to wander around outside when snow is on the ground. It takes far too much energy to do so and has a lot of risks.

The Roof

Have a suitably angled roof for your worst case snow fall activity. Sure you can go up a ladder and sweep it off but I can tell you a lot of elderly males get spinal injuries each and every year in Ontario from doing that. Have your roof renewed more frequently than you need as roofers will be in short supply in SHTF.

Winter SHTF is not all suffering, eh?

Can you skate and do you have frozen rivers and lakes near you? For most of Ontario’s history travel in the Winter was easier than in the Summer and this will happen again a few years into SHTF as the bridges fall and the roads fail. Good time to go out and meet the neighbors. Winter is a wonderland and a great time to think about ice fishing.

Keep a supply of pre SHTF goodies hidden away and some tinsel. December 25th or as near as you guess the date to be wrap up some presents using newspaper and eat some decent food. Sing carols and make merry. This birthday and special day celebration is what makes suffering through SHTF worth while. Never neglect to think about how to make yourself happy in SHTF even if most days it will be as awful as the weather is right now.

By Huples

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No Gas for You

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By: Tom Chatham

The availability of fuels in society is what literally makes the wheels go around. The U.S. is addicted to petroleum products and we would find it hard to suddenly go without. Our fuel supplies and distribution system are just as fragile as our electrical grid and food supply chain and could be cut off for any number of reasons.

An EMP/CME, war or financial collapse are just some of the situations that could cut our supplies and leave the nation in a very bad situation. Without liquid fuels we won’t get to work, go to the grocery store, grow process and transport food, or mine and transport fuel such as coal to keep the power on. We may not be able to get shipments of goods from overseas such as food, clothing, building materials or oil. The sudden lack of fuel would shut down society as we know it.

In a technologically advanced country it is only prudent to have sufficient backup systems to enable society to continue functioning if a catastrophe should happen. Fuel is one of the linchpins of an advanced society and contingencies should be in place to replace conventional supplies in an emergency.

While we have the ability to create several different types of fuel locally in an emergency, most of them require a feedstock that we must grow and process before they can be used. Fuels such as alcohol and bio-diesel are good for emergencies but will be difficult to acquire in many places such as urban areas where the crops cannot be grown in sufficient quantity to be viable. Even if these fuels were produced in rural areas in quantity, we would still need to use a considerable percentage of the fuel for transport to other areas just as we need to burn petroleum for transport of gas and diesel today. A more widely available source of fuel needs to be used to insure availability in most areas.

The most widely available source of fuel that we have is wood. It can be used in many different ways from wood stoves for heat to producing steam power to producer gas for vehicles and generators. Wood is a versatile fuel that can be used on site in its raw form with little modification and can be procured almost anywhere from locally available sources.

The most prominent use of wood fuel today is for heating. Those that have a wood stove and a supply of wood have the ability to produce heat to stay warm and cook food when other forms of power are not available. These capabilities are tremendous in themselves when times of crisis arrive but with a few additions to your wood burning accessories you can increase your capabilities many times.

A wood gas production unit burns wood in an oxygen starved environment to create a flammable gas that can be used to run most gasoline engines. These units can be of moderate size and provide the fuel needed to run a car or generator when needed. A unit can be attached to the rear of a vehicle to provide power for road use to enable transportation when no liquid fuels are available otherwise. The use on agricultural equipment can assure the continued production of food products to insure a supply of food for the population. Wood chips provide the fuel for the unit and 16 to 20 pounds of wood will equal about one gallon of gasoline. In a fuel emergency this type of unit can help to provide transportation and electricity reducing the hardships you will be facing.

An old truck with a producer gas system can provide you with many capabilities while keeping your investment relatively low. Not only can this vehicle provide you with transportation but with a few additional items, can provide you with a backup power source. The addition of a few deep cycle batteries to the cargo area of the vehicle connected together and connected to the vehicles charging system utilizing a battery isolator, they can be connected to a power inverter to provide AC power to your home in a limited way. This system will allow you to not only have emergency transportation but limited power as well.

As mentioned earlier, a fuel disruption can also cause a power disruption if it continues for very long. This can put you in a very difficult position unless you have sufficient backup systems to provide for your needs. This one system can provide many uses while depending on only one fuel source that is locally available in most cases. In an urban environment where a wood stove and firewood can be used, this system is a logical fit to enhance your resources. Where a wood stove cannot be used, a vehicle equipped with the system outlined can be kept anywhere a typical vehicle can be kept. The amount of wood fuel will be limited but can enable you the ability to relocate when others can not.

An enhanced system where a slide in camper is placed on the truck and battery storage is located under the truck bed and the producer gas system is located on a swingout carrier on the rear bumper can provide you with a portable shelter, transportation and power unit all in one. In an urban environment, a unit such as this can make a prolonged disruption of fuel and power a more survivable event by allowing relocation to a less dangerous area while maintaining a reasonable living standard.

While supplies can be cut off in disasters they can also be cut off on purpose in some cases. A terrorist action targeting production and distribution systems can happen at any time and even the government might cut supplies if they wish to restrict movement by the population in any way. While it is possible to store large quantities of fuel it is also required in many places to notify the local authorities of this storage due to fire regulations which may result in them confiscating your fuel in crisis situations. The storage of wood is not as regulated in many cases and allows the stocking of fuel reserves without much notice from locals.

The ability to restock your fuel supply from multiple sources frees you from the limiting factors placed on society by energy sources, regulations and people in general. A producer gas system will allow you the flexibility to take advantage of opportunities that the general public will not. While others will be reeling from shortages, you will remain mobile and well supplied with power.

The ability to fuel your vehicle may also open up job opportunities during a shortage. Products will still be needed by the population and being able to transport some of those products can earn you a regular income and the ability to provide yourself with free fuel will make you very competitive in the transport market.

Where might you get a supply of wood if you own no woodlot? You can buy it of course in the form of cord wood which can also supply a wood stove. You may be able to get a free supply from neighbors in the form of tree limbs and cuttings. Another source is the many tree cutters that clear the power lines around the nation. They cut and chip truckloads every day and must dispose of the chips somewhere. You may be able to get an ample supply just for asking. Having a few hand tools to cut limbs for fuel from local sources is advisable should you find yourself on the road and in need of fuel in an emergency evacuation.

This fuel source has the ability to replace the current fuels we require and provide unlimited energy for independent homesteads in emergency as well as normal circumstances. The ability to produce local energy on a sustainable basis provides the nation with security in many forms that cannot and should not be dismissed for the sake of convenience. The availability of cheap, renewable energy sources at the local level will be necessary in years to come if our energy situation changes drastically in a negative way.