A Prepping Primer: Five Basic Steps for New Preppers – Part 1

Too many beginning preppers don’t know where to start or focus on the wrong items. Learn from my experience and avoid stupid prepping mistakes.

I’ve been telling people to prep and talking preps here for 18 months, but there are still some people who want detailed instructions on what they should do. I believe that everyone’s preps should be customer tailored to their family size, their budget, their geographic location, their greatest fear, and a host of other variables. However, I’m going to work around that and present Five steps to being prepared for the end of the world as we know it.

Step One: Prepare to Survive Short-term Emergencies at Home

To start out, aim to have supplies that can support you for two weeks of disruption in your current home.

For example, nine days after Hurricane Ida roared through New Orleans, there were still 430,000 people without electricity. Your short-terms preps should be able to get you through an emergency like that. Unless you just moved to a new area, you should already know what to prepare for as many of the natural disasters recur every few years.

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After the Deep Freeze, we Experience the First Twinges of Spring

After a spate of cold days with temps dropping into the teens, we see the first signs of spring and we test our gravity-flow water system.

Today was the first day it felt like spring instead of winter. Temps were in the low 50s instead of the low 30s.

It isn’t spring, of course; it’s still February, but the promise of spring is in the air.

Where I grew up, the first flowers we would get were snowdrops and crocuses. None of those here, but I did spot the yellow flower pictured above. I don’t think it’s a dandelion, but if it is, I’ll take it; it’s still our first sign of spring.

So I did what every red-blooded American does on the first day of warm weather and I sighted in my new (to me) .308 rifle. It was only at 25 yards, but it gave me the excuse to break it down, clean it and lube it after the fact. Happily, it functioned fine which is always a bit of a concern when dealing with a used gun.

Now I just have to decide if it makes sense to get an optic for it. I guess I should try shooting at 200 yards to make that decision.

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How and Where to Get Your Water After the SHTF

So you have stored food, great! But how are you prepped for water? And what would you do without the sewer system? Keep reading for answers and options.

Now there’s one more thing people living in cities have to worry about: Having their water system hacked, which is what happened a week ago in Florida.  The hack was caught because an employee was sitting there at the screen, watching someone on the other end of the connection move his cursor around and program the system to dump excess chemicals into the drinking water. 

It wasn’t a sophisticated hack, but what if no one had been in front of that computer at the time?  It’s also a warning that having remote-viewing software like Team Viewer on your computer can leave your computer–and any system to which you are attached–open to hacking.

I haven’t been on city water since 1998, having lived in homes with wells and now a spring, so we’re safe from hacking of the water system, but we are in the minority.  The CDC says that 82 percent of the population relies on municipal water systems.  My guess is that when you consider people whose workplace uses city water, that number is even higher.

That raises the question about other utilities: Are sewer or waste water facilities protected?  What about natural gas?  Again, having a septic system and using propane protects many rural folks, but what if a malicious hacker started dumping raw sewer into waterways that normally receive only treated waste water?  Or what if they cut off natural gas to a major city in the North East on one of the coldest nights of the year?

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Moving Water Doesn’t Freeze, Except in Our Pipes

We are forced to make more repairs and improvements on our gravity-fed spring water thanks to freezing temperatures.

I cannot count how many times people have said to me “moving water doesn’t freeze.”  It seems to be a mantra around here where many people rely on gravity fed water systems.  Unfortunately, our spring-fed gravity-flow water system continues to prove that this is not the case.

After my post on February 6 saying that we still had water, my friend Karl and I climbed up the mountain and found TWO different places where the pipe had not only frozen but had split due to ice pressure and was leaking.  (I guess I spoke too soon.) One of the leaks was a rather robust squirt.  The other was a slower seep, but it was downhill from the fist leak, so it probably wasn’t getting the full force of the water.  At each place, we cut an eight or ten inch section out of the pipe to eliminate the hole and the surrounding weakness and bulging caused by the freezing.  Then we inserted a new coupling. I

By the time we got up there to do the repairs, it was in the low 40s for at least the third day in a row, but a surprising amount of ice remained in the pipe.  We ended up disconnecting one of the lowest connections and letting the ice out.  We do this by holding the pipe up and letting the water build up a good head.  Then when we put the pipe back down, the water pressure blasts out a bunch of ice.  By repeating this enough, and doing it when it is above freezing, the ice eventually all comes out like an ice gusher.

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Prepper Diary January 16: Preparing for the Storm

More winter weather is headed our way as the blizzard that struck the Midwest travels east, promising snow and plunging temperatures.

It’s been a busy couple of days on the Pickled Prepper Property as we prepare for the coming storm.

Now you can interpret that as the metaphorical storm brought on by Inauguration Day or the physical storm that the Weather Channel has named “Winter Storm Malcom,” but the truth is that our preps are pretty much the same for either one: Stock up, batten down, and prepare to ride it out.

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Our Latest Water Problem was Slipperier than I Thought

I set off up the mountain to fix our water supply only to find the problem was more complicated than expected.

As I mentioned, our spring-fed gravity-flow water system stopped again on Tuesday night, so on Wednesday, I packed up my repair kit, which you can see in the photo did contain my propane torch to soften up the black PE pipe that carries our water down the mountain.  I strapped on my kneepads, my .357 revolver for bear protection, and my Cold Steel Recon knife, put on my insulated hiking boots and set off.

Having done this a couple weeks ago, I felt pretty confident that I’d diagnose and fix the problem in less than an hour.  Ha!  Man plans and god laughs.  It was not to be.

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Prepper Diary January 14: More Water Woes and Log Splitting Choices

I get to look forward to another chilly, muddy adventure climbing a mountain to repair or spring-fed water system.

Around 10:30 on Tuesday, I noticed that the water pressure had started to drop again.  That means I have to climb the mountain tomorrow, locate and repair the leak.

Having done this before, I have no issues with it.  I am well equipped with spare parts.  This time, I am going to bring the propane torch and if inserting the replacement fitting is as easy as I have been led to believe it is with a bit of heating, I will re-do my original repair as well.

The good news is that tomorrow will be the warmest day of the week.   The bad news is that it will probably be the muddiest as well.

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Prepper Diary December 29: We Repair our Water System

Disasters never seem to happen when the weather is nice. We have to climb the mountain to repair our water system on a cold, wet, foggy day.

We ran out of water on Monday.

The water coming out of our faucets literally slowed down and then fell to a trickle.

I noticed while washing up after breakfast.  My wife had been doing laundry all morning, so I suggested she stop and we wait an hour to see if the water pressure recovered.

Nope.  An hour later and the water had stopped entirely.

All our water comes out of a spring, runs down a black polyethylene (PE) pipe to a storage tank.  A buried pipe brings the water from the tank down the 160 vertical feet to our house, giving us fresh, clean mountain spring water.  Something had clearly gone wrong with this system.

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How to Develop a Gravity-Fed Spring Water System Like Ours

Our gravity-fed water system gives us free, clean water even when the power is out or in a post-SHTF situation.

I’ve mentioned that our new prepper property has a gravity-fed water supply is that it provides water even when the electricity is out.  Here’s the promised article on how it works.

Most rural properties, including the last two I have lived in, use wells for their water.  When the power goes out, the pump doesn’t work unless you have solar or a generator.  With gravity-fed water, we get full-power, high-quality, clean drinking water from a system that requires no electricity and uses no pressure tank or other moving parts that can wear our or break.

We can do this because our prepper property on about 20 acres on the side of a mountain and by getting water from a source uphill from the house, it can be delivered to the home via gravity.

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Quarantine Day 42 – Well Pumps and Pressure Tanks

Our quarantine doldrums were interrupted by problems with our water supply.

The last two days we have been dealing with well-related problems, which means less time for all the reading and binge watching I was planning on doing. Ah hell, who am I kidding?  We appreciated the interruption to our normally dull quarantine schedule, even if it meant buying a new pressure tank.

On something like 7,999 days out of 8,000, getting drinking water from a well is great.  You get plenty of water and don’t have to pay any sewer or water fees.  Once every 10 or 20 years, however, something wears out and you have to spend a chunk of change to replace parts.  For us, that day was today.

The good news is that we didn’t have to touch the well pump, which is 300 feet down a hole. As you can imagine, pulling it out and replacing it is neither easy nor cheap.

We ended up replacing the pressure tank and the electronic pressure switch.  They were from 1992 and 1998, respectively, so you can see how a good well doesn’t cost you anything for years, but then zaps you several hundred bucks every couple of decades.  To me, it’s well worth it. 

And this is just the excuse I needed to cover the subject of wells, well pumps and pressure tanks, because every prepper knows that water is important to survival.

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