Friday, June 20, 2008

How to Survive The Coming Apocalypse (Part IV)

I know I said every Wednesday...but better late than never I always say. This part of the Survive the Apocalypse series is centered around energy. When I say energy I am speaking of fire, electricity and heat.


For the short term prepper one of the most important things you can invest in is a generator. I recently purchased a Coleman Powermate 5000. A generator like this is not meant to be a long term solution by any means. If I were looking for something heavy duty and practical for the long term it would definitely be diesel or propane powered. What a generator like this will do is get you through a period of up to a few weeks if your power is out...such as in the case of a major hurricane. A generator doesn't need to be run 24hrs. a day and that should help you spread the fuel out over a longer time. They also run longer if you keep the load on the generator under its maximum capacity. My generator will run for around 12 hours on a 6 gallon tank if I keep the load at around 50 percent of it's capacity.

A picture of my generator is below:

I keep the fuel tank full along with 2 and 1/2 ounces of Stabil to keep the fuel fresh. I also take the generator out at least once a month and run it for 5 minutes to keep everything lubed and prevent hard starts. This leads me to talk about how your are going to keep your generator running. Make sure you have an ample supply of whatever fuel you generator uses on hand, whether it is gasoline, diesel or propane have a supply to get you through at least a week or two.

My experience is with gasoline so my main point to make on that is gas breaks down. If you store any kind of gas make sure you add fuel stabilizer to it to slow that breakdown process. Make sure you store it in approved containers and be wary of fumes. Gasoline fumes are EXTREMELY flammable so it best to store your gas away from your main dwelling. I keep about 25 gallons on hand and rotate it frequently.

Please make sure YOU NEVER RUN A GENERATOR INSIDE YOUR HOUSE...the reason being you will die from carbon monoxide poisoning. I am paranoid in that sense because CO is colorless and doesn't smell. When I run the generator (even outside) I have a CO detector (battery powered) I will keep in the area we sleep in.
If you have a lot of devices that are battery powered make sure you have an ample supply of those. I keep several dozen AA, AAA and 9 volt batteries on hand ALWAYS remembering to rotate the old one to the front as batteries do weaken over time. There are a few exceptions like CR123's which have a 10 year shelf life. I have seen some folks put some VERY nice solar setups together. They are still relatively expensive if you want decent amperage. I plan on doing something like this in the near future with some panels and deep cycle batteries. The biggest costs are the panels and the controllers/inverters. It does not pay to go cheap on those and for heavens sake don't use car batteries in your bank...always use deep cycle or marine batteries.


I live in the south but if I lived in a colder climate I would definitely have either a fireplace (wood burning...NOT GAS) or a wood burning stove to heat my house in the event that the juice stopped flowing. I would also have several cords of wood (seasoned) available for fuel. If your not lucky enough to have either of those they make some nice propane heaters that could be used to heat areas of your shelter. Space type heaters always demand caution because if you are careless your entire house will be a wood burning stove. In the event you have nothing...make sure you have wool blankets and high quality cold weather clothing because it will be as cold inside your house as it is outside in fairly short order.

Speaking of fire make sure you have several ways of creating fire available. I have a dozen butane lighters as well as several hundred matches available. I also have a Swedish Fire Steel as a backup. I have ignited my camp stove with this no problem and when I go camping I force myself to use it to start fires so I have become quite proficient with it. BTW dryer lint makes excellent fire starter, so ask whomever does your laundry to save that stuff...this is also the reason you need to get your dryer vent cleaned at least once a year...think giant wood burning stove again.

Cooking can be challenging in a disaster situation. I suggest you invest in a good quality grill like a Weber (propane or charcoal) and if you go propane have 2 or 3 extra tanks. If you go Charcoal store several LARGE bags as well as lighter fluid. I also have a small propane powered camp grill and a isobutane powered single burner to fall back on as well, I keep about a dozen of each type of fuel stored and my wife and I could cook for a few weeks just with those...not including my Weber which I have 2 spare tanks for. If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace or wood burning stove you can certainly use those to cook as well.

This stuff demands some planning because once the power or gas go out it will be too late to run to Wal-Mart because everyone is going to have the same idea as you. If you think about what I have written and do some simple planning you could last several weeks on your own and be able to function quite nicely.

The next segment of the series will focus on defense...everyone's favorite topic.

...that is all.

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  1. Nice buncha stuff you got there. I would get some magnesium fire starters as well. They'll work no matter what the conditions are. Me, I sold my gennie about 6 months ago (stupid, stupid, STUPID!!!) Oh well. I'm tryin' to set myself up to be independent of electricity as much as possible. Keep up the good work!

  2. Some great tips except for the brand of generator. That company went belly-up and left a mess in their wake. Now you have retail stores that are selling the units and failing to tell people that there are no more parts being made for the units and the warranty is pretty much non-existent. There are some good internet sites like Tool Fetch that offer units by companies who are still in business and have good warranties.

  3. I was not recommeding that particular generator. I am suggesting folks get "a generator"...I don't have enough experience with generators to offer a valid opinion on a brand. I got a good deal on that generator and I am not so worried about warranties or anything. If I really needed part I would go directly to the manufacterer of the engine (Robin)/Subaru. Most folks I have talked too have had their Powermates for years without too many issues and when they did they were usually out of warranty at that point. --Knocks on wood--...

  4. Generators:

    You can't store much gasoline at all without violating local fire codes or your homeowner's insurance.

    Be sure to check - 25 gallons of gasoline might well be pushing those limits.

    For long term (weeks not days) a diesel genset is the better choice.

    Chinese-made portable 5500W diesel gensets are around $1000 on ebay and are more fuel-efficient than gasoline gensets. (some paint variations, but obviously the same unit)

    Diesel is ssfe and easy to store - get yourself a standard heating oil tank (275 gallon, IIRC), but have it filled with on-road diesel instead of heating oil.

    For the most fuel-efficient diesel genset, you could get build an old-style "lister" diesel genset.

    Ragnar Benson, in one of his books, talks about how he runs his homebuilt diesel genset only 1 hour/day to meet daily electrical needs (burns all of 1 quart of diesel)

  5. Batteries:

    1. Strive for commonality with just a few battery sizes - using battery adapters, AA cells easily replace C cells, and can be used as D cells in a pinch.

    AAA cells have only about 1/3 the capacity of AA cells - avoid equipment that uses AAA cells (buy AAA lithium if you must have it)

    2. For non-rechargeables, I've gone with AA lithiums - 15 year shelf life, no leaks (consumer alkalines from all brands have eventually leaked)

    If you stick with alkaline batteries, buy the industrial brands for less chance of leakage (Duracell Procell, Energizer Industrial).

    9V lithium for things like smoke detectors.

    All of the above are much cheaper off ebay than at retail.

    3. Rechargeables

    AA NiMH low self-discharge like Eneloop ("C" and "D" NiMH rechargeables are too expensive to be practical)

    Plenty of battery adapters off ebay for your AA rechargeables.

    At least 2 AA "smart" chargers from somewhere like Thomas Distributing.

    again, avoid AAA rechargeables if possible, thoush they are available.

  6. I store my gas outside in a shed away from my house. The only gas stored in my garage is the 2 gallon can I use to fill the mower and the gas actualliy in the generator...I look at it this way...when the pumps runs dry after a hurricane, is the local fire dept going to provide me with gas for my generator? How about my insurance company? The point you make Bill is an excellent one BUT I do warn folks of the danger of gas fumes and that they should store gasoline outside away from their home. I look at it this way...I have more gas stored in my garage when I park my pickup and my wife's SUV in there.

    I also do mention that for long term, heavy duty usage diesel is the better choice as well (propane too)

    Thanks for you input!

  7. Gensets are great but should be low on the list.
    guns+ ammo
    medical stuff
    (in no particular order)

    and then look toward stuff like power (aside from a flashlight or two)

  8. A generator remains essential if you want to "shelter in place" for more than a few days.

    It allows you to run a well pump, keep food from spoiling, run a fossil-fired furnace if it's cold, or run fans and a small A/C if you live in a hot climate like the OP and I.

    Imagine cleaning up after a hurricane here in the south and then having to try to go to sleep in a house with an inside temperature of 100+ F.

    Generators also let you use normal lighting instead of an Aladdin or kerosene lamp.

    I cringe whenever I see a self-reliance site blithely talk about lighting up a kerosene or white gas-fueled lantern for emergency lighting inside the house.

    Not only do they generate enormous amounts of heat, but using one of those inside is an enormous fire hazard (think of all the decorative Aladdin lanterns with *glass* bodies)

    No way a home sized fire extinguisher will be putting out the fire if you accidentally knock over one of those.

    Again, check for local codes & insurance limits when storing fuel - insurance companies will cancel homeowner's insurance when a house sits vacant for 30 days.

  9. When are you going to finish this survive the apocalypse series? It's been almost a year.

  10. There's some realistic info in these 5 threads, but a lot of it is unrealistic and will attract attention and get you killed.

    For some real world reading on sheltering in place see this guy's narrative on living through katrina in new orleans:

    Also, for some great generator info, see:

  11. "When are you going to finish this survive the apocalypse series? It's been almost a year.", yeah I agree this comment. Lucky guys


  12. I would also recommend getting a one burner camp stove that will fit in your B.O.B. they sell a multi-fuel stoves that have kits to run coleman fuel, gas, ect...