Using Tech In Your Doomstead After TSHTF

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1_featured_tech_keyboard

1_computer_tshtfIs there a place for modern technology after TSHTF?  Some would argue that there isn’t, but I believe that modern tech offers significant advantages over those that don’t have it.  If you have a way to make electricity after the grid goes down and you have some high tech gizmos in your back pocket, you’ll be in a better position to survive and thrive because of it.  Before we go any further those of you who know me are going to say, “Holy cow!  Jarhead is saying use tech!” because most of you know how I feel about people’s reliance on GPS, smart phones, and other electronic gadgets.  Let me qualify this article by saying that I’m not a Luddite.  I happen to love technology because it gives us instant access to all the information in the world in the palm of your hand.  (Most of us watch cute kitten videos instead of reading Plato’s Republic though).  Having a piece of technology in your possession can sharply increase your odds of surviving or allow you to do something you might not be able to do without it, such as navigate through a city or see what’s over that hill without actually having to climb up and take a look.  However, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a backup for your systems and a backup of a backup for your important systems.  For example:  you should know how to read a map and compass or do math in case your GPS or spreadsheet doesn’t work.  But this article is about how to use technology as a force magnifier, so let’s get to it.

By Jarhead Survivor, a Contributing Author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog

Electronics are only as good as the grid of course, but if you have a solar array set up, windmill, or other way of naturally producing electricity you can still benefit from having some electronic devices around.  More on this later.

Potential Uses of Technology

3_network-cable-ethernet-computer-159304If communication is cut off  from the outside, you can still manage an internal network that would allow you to share information in your group.  If you can set up a network using TCP/IP (which stand for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol and is basically a way for computers to communicate), which most people do these days using a router inside your home, then you can have several devices talking to each other.  I won’t get into a networking class, but having your devices able to communicate with each other is a powerful tool.

Check Out: Weaponized Nanotechnology is a Huge Threat to Humanity

By the way – TCP/IP was developed by DARPA as a way for computers to communicate after a disaster such as a nuclear war.

Some things a computer would be good for is tracking crop schedules, how much food you have on hand, creating a database for parts such as nuts, bolts and the million other things that make up a compound, and you could keep track of the events in your compound for easy retrieval.

PDF’s (Printable Document Format’s) are great for storing and retrieving information.  You can have books on a million topics, but instead of a library the size of Nebraska you can keep everything on one hard drive for instant retrieval.  You might want to have the more important topics in book format as a backup, but you can never have too many books to reference!

Training videos are another option.  You can take videos with your phone on how to do certain things in your compound such as stand guard duty, change a tire, cook a meal, shoot a bow and arrow, clean a gun, etc, and make them available to members of your community.

If you have surveillance equipment it can be run from your laptops.  Small security webcams today use small amounts of electricity and it might be worthwhile to have a few cameras watching the front and back gates to let you know if there are unfriendly’s in the area.

Then there’s the entertainment factor to consider.  We New-Age Homo-sapiens love to be entertained and today that’s delivered through the phone in our pocket or via a tablet or laptop.  If you have movies downloaded to your laptop, tablet, or phone you don’t need to have an Internet connection in order watch it.  This does take up space on your storage, so choose your movies wisely!

If you wanted to get fancy and had the know-how you could always set up a server (you could use a laptop for this) that would stream media from inside the Doomstead.

Computers

2_laptopA laptop can have several uses.  As mentioned earlier you can use it to manage your inventory.  If you’re in a large compound or Doomstead, you’ll need some way to efficiently manage your materiel.  Sure, you could do it by hand and I encourage you to have a paper backup, but you can’t beat a search query on a database for finding whatever it is you’re looking for.

I would recommend laptops over desktops because they have less electrical overhead.  A desktop PC needs a monitor in addition to the CPU, which also consumes electricity.  Laptops also have internal batteries, so if the power goes out unexpectedly it will stay on and you won’t lose any data. The idea is to keep your energy usage at a minimum.

Tablets

1_tabletThe advantage of a tablet is that you can get some of the same functionality as a laptop with less electricity consumption.  Here’s an article from PC World a few years ago comparing laptop and tablets (RAM, Display, Storage, Battery Life, etc.)  Everything else aside if you’re looking at it from strictly a power consumption standpoint the tablet is probably your best option.

Related: Surefire Firepak Review

I won’t get into the technical details here because my experience is most people don’t care what kind of RAM a device has.  What matters is how much RAM it has and in the computing world more is better.  If you have an old laptop at home the one single best thing you can probably do to speed it up is to add more RAM to it.

Smartphones

At the low end of the power consumption scale is the smartphone.  Smaller screens, less processing power, but still handy even if you lose your cell connection.  Why?  Because your smartphone is essentially a small tablet when you strip away it’s cell phone capabilities.  You can run different apps on it and it uses less electricity.

Communications

A short wave radio could allow you to communicate long distances if have one.  During a crisis this might be an invaluable to find out what’s happening in the world. A good set of Walkie Talkies would be good for local communications.  An example would be an OP outside the camp communicating with a command center.

Energy

5_solar-panel-array-power-plant-electricity-power-159160As your ability to make electricity decreases so do the options for the electronics you’ll be able to run.  If you’re in a well set up doomsday bunker with generators and enough fuel to run for two years, you’ll be ok for awhile.  If you’re in a smaller community with just solar and/or wind and a battery bank to store the electricity you’ll want to be more conservative with your energy expenditure.

If you’re in a tipi (or tent) with a small solar panel and a deep cycle battery (this is basically my set up) then charging a tablet or cell phone would be pretty easy as long as the sun shines.  In this case you might want to build a solar energy generator.  The battery is relatively heavy, but once you have it in place it works great.  Or you could Make your own USB solar charger if you’ve just got a cell phone you want to keep charged.

None of this really matters if the SHTF event is some kind of Carrington Event or other EMP event like a nuclear war of course. If that’s the case, I hope you have suitable plans for light, cooking, acquiring water, self protection and all the other things we talk about on this blog.

Conclusion

If you have the ability to create electricity in your bug-out/bug-in location having a set of well thought technology devices on-hand could allow you to do things others can’t (like communicate long distance) giving you an edge over others.  The devices will be dependent on the amount of electricity you can generate, so keep that in mind during your planning phase.

What other uses are there for technology after TSHTF?  I’ve only scratched the surface here, so shout out your ideas below. Questions?  Comments?  Sound off below!

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Inferno: Ten Facts You Should Know About Fire

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fire_flame_facts_top_tenFire can be a beautiful thing to behold; knowing how to make fire is an essential skill that kick-started the next phase of human evolution, and it’s been keeping us alive ever since. As majestic as it is, fire is equally dangerous and will become deadly if unprepared. Fire can cross your path in several forms: As a way to create warmth; to send a signal; to prepare food and boil water; it can be as simple as lighting a cigarette or a campfire, or you can be faced with the wrong end of a ranging forest fire.

By Alex Coyne, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

Here’s what you should know about fire…

The three elements of fire.

This is basic high school science, yet something a lot of people discard when in an emergency. Fire needs heat, fuel and an oxidizing agent to burn. This is known as the Fire Triangle, and it’s vital when you’re making a fire or trying to kill one. (Fire needs 16% oxygen to burn; the air around us contains approximately 21%).

Have a fire starter kit.

Fire starter kits are cheap and there are thousands available for order on the internet; take a look at some of the options on Amazon.com and make sure that you have one as part of your survival kit. You’d rather have it and not need it, right?

If you make your own fire starters, do it carefully.

Many frugal survivalists prefer to make their own fire starter kits at home instead of buying them. That’s great, as long as you do it safely. (One of the most disastrous examples I’ve seen was an enthusiast who made his own portable kit in a small tin, then placed it next to the fire: It heated up, and the results should be relatively obvious. Store combustibles safely. It’s fire. Be careful).

Read Also: PureFire Tactical Survival Fire Starter

Don’t rely on matches.

Matches are a go-to for many avid campers, but it could also be their biggest mistake. Yes, there are ways to light wet matches – take a look at this article on WikiHow to see how – but that is not a chance you can afford to take when it’s your survival being put at risk. You’ll very likely be safer with a flint fire starter kit.

Certain woods are poisonous when burned.

poison_sumacKnow how to identify different types of woods, and know which are poisonous when burned. Novice fire starters often collect any wood they can find for their fire, only to be told by the locals later that they should have stayed away from it – or, in the worst-case scenario, serious illness or death occurs. Some include Elder wood, poison Sumac, and poison oak. Illness or death can occur from fumes, and any food prepared over a poison-wood fire could kill you.

Know how to treat a burn.

Common remedies for treating a burn include the application of some sort of fat or oil: Mayonnaise, butter, cooking oil or margarine. DON’T. This literally adds fuel to the burn, and it can lead to anything from infection to grilling your burn wound like a steak. Emergency guides generally recommend immediate cooling of the burn until help can be found – cold, sterile water. Have burn gel as part of your emergency kit, always.

Putting out fires are different.

Depending on what kind of fire you’re looking at, the way you put it out differs. Never grab the nearest thing and throw it on the fire; in many cases, that’s going to be an accelerant like alcohol, petrol or paraffin. (Also, never pour water on an oil fire. You’ll turn a fire into an inferno). Have a fire extinguisher handy, and keep baking soda and sand nearby. Remember how fire has three elements? Remove its oxygen.

Related: Six Steps to Harden Your Home Against Fire

Don’t forget smoke inhalation.

top_facts_smoke_fireIn most house and forest fires, the cause of death isn’t being burned alive, but smoke inhalation. Symptoms can include a dry cough, dizziness, nausea and potentially coughing up blood. Go down, because heat travels upwards and smoke tends to be less dense at the bottom. Fire can also be dangerous in other ways, like falling debris and burning embers.

Burnt food is carcinogenic; keep an eye on that fire!

Hone your barbeque skills at home when you’re not in a survival situation: Learn the tricks behind fish versus chicken versus beef; you can even bake on an open fire if you know how. Keep in mind that when food burns, acrylamide forms – this is a carcinogenic and obviously dangerous to your health.

Putting out camp and food fires are essential.

Put simply and in the words of an anthropomorphic bear, only you can prevent forest fires. Always make sure your fire is properly extinguished (and a fire that looks dead isn’t always), never leave a fire unattended and don’t put your tents, sleeping bags, gear or combustibles too close to the fire. Sand is your best friend for putting out smaller fires, so always keep a bucket or two nearby.

Send us your best fire starting tips for in the field (or at home) through the comments.

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Our Growing Dependence On Electronics

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Pokemon Go Survival Tips

If you’ve been to a shopping center or a mall lately you’ve probably noticed how many people these days are totally plugged Pokemon Go Survival Tipsinto their phones or other electronic gadgets.  It is even worse today now that the Pokemon Go craze has hit the world like a tidal wave.  I was in the big city of Augusta, Maine recently, which isn’t that big, and was reminded of how many people are constantly plugged into their toys.  Kids, young adults, and increasingly even the Baby Boomers are getting attached to their phones.

By Jarhead Survivor

cell phone

Wicked “Smaht” Phone

Don’t get me wrong, I love my smart phone too or “wicked smaht phone” as we say here in Maine.  It has my calendar, social media, weather, Google, and all the awesome things that make this day and age so damned busy.  Over the last year I’ve found myself with my face in its screen more and more.  Facebook, Messenger (that insidious Facebook messaging app,) and Snapchat.  What I found was that my ability to concentrate was going to hell because of all the instant gratification I was giving myself.  I’d be working on something, Messenger would ding, and I’d immediately pick it up to see who was saying what.  We have a group of people that all hang out together and when we can’t get together we go back and forth on Messenger.

Over the last couple of weeks I haven’t looked at Messenger or Facebook at all.  I uninstalled Snapchat.  Oddly enough I don’t feel as driven up as I used to.  Once I turned off the dinging sound and stopped other notifications coming in it was like someone gave me an extra hour or two every day for other things – like writing this blog post.  Not to mention my stress level dropped to what I would consider “normal” levels with our current crazy lives.

Also Read: Death By GPS

Have I given up using my cell phone for everything?  Not when it comes to education or listening to music.  I like the ability to read anywhere with the Kindle app.  I love listening to podcasts on my ride to and from work, so there’s an hour a day of otherwise idle time that I’m learning something.  Awesome!  I also have a pretty good library of music I listen to – everything from Classical to Rap.  (But I still mostly listen to Pink Floyd.)

The difference is that I’m back in charge of my phone instead of it being in charge of me.  With no dings or beeps coming from it every five minutes or less I no longer have the Pavlovian reflex to drop whatever I’m doing and see who’s doing what.  Now, you’re only as connected as you allow yourself to be, of course.  The choice is totally up to you.pen and notebook

Disconnect!

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.” Henry David Thoreau

As you can see disconnecting from civilization is hardly a new concept.  Thoreau talked about it back in the 1800′s and I’d be willing to bet many people in a changing society often looked to the wilderness with longing in their hearts with the desire to slip the constraints of civilization.

I’ve tried to have conversations with folks when their text alert was going off constantly, their email was dinging, and Facebook was chirping telling them there’s a vital comment on their latest humorous post that needs liking.  To say it’s frustrating is an understatement and I’m sure you’ve all had that same experience.

Related: Setting Up A Back Up Generator

I usually go out in the woods at least once a week and that’s a perfect time for me to unplug.  It’s nice to put the phone down and just listen to the wind blowing through the trees.  My young kids – four and seven – like to come out with me and they climb trees, play with sticks, dig around in the dirt, ask if they can play with the fire and generally do what kids are supposed to do in nature.  It’s awesome.laptop

If you haven’t done it lately give it a try.  Head out to the woods, or park, or whatever you have available to you, turn your phone off, or better yet leave it at home, and connect with a family member or friend, or just sit there and listen to the wind blow or the rain fall.  It’s a great experience and I think it’s something we all need from time to time.

Situational Awareness

People love their earbuds.  And truth be told if you want to listen to loud music I’d just as soon you put in your earbuds and listen to it that way; however, when you do you take away your ability to hear what’s going on around you effectively cutting your situational awareness down to nothing.  If you listen to loud music and read Facebook (or whatever social media you’re into) at the same time you’ve effectively turned into a zombie shambling down the side of the road without the ability to see or hear.  Have you ever seen people walking down the side of the road with their backs to traffic and plugged in so that they can’t hear that trailer-truck sneaking up behind them?

Also Read: DIY Solar USB Charger

The other day I listened to a podcast about visual intelligence where Amy Herman discussed this very topic.  (Listen to the podcast here.)  She told a story about how she was waiting to get on the subway and a man who had obvious mental problems was walking up and down the platform talking to himself.  Then he took out a knife and cut himself before going back to having his one way conversation.  Meanwhile people stood around plugged into their phones not realizing the potential danger literally right next to them.  When the train pulled up they all got on the same car together oblivious of the threat boarding with them.  She walked down to the other end of the train and avoided what might have been a bad situation.

If you do feel the need to plug in to your phone, instead of using the two earbuds and blasting at full power I would suggest using a Bluetooth ear piece instead.  These little guys fit in your ear leaving one ear free to hear what’s going on around you.  They don’t have the cable either so you can leave it holstered on your hip, or stored in your purse or backpack, so that if danger does appear suddenly you have both hands free to react without fear of dropping your phone or having your hands tied up.  Listen at a reasonable volume and you’ll still be aware of what’s going on around you (although still somewhat diminished) and you’ll be able to hear and assess danger in your environment.  Cheap bluetooth earbuds start at around $25 and are well worth the investment.  bluetooth earbud

The Dark Side

Another facet of using a Smartphone is that you no longer have any privacy.  Guess what?  When you use Facebook and the GPS to post a selfie of you drinking a beer at the local watering hole some people see it don’t think it’s anywhere near as cool as you do.  I’ve read stories where people posted pictures or videos of themselves driving drunk and got busted because their friends reported it.  Now that’s just plain stupid, both the drunk driving and the posting of it.

Other than stripping away your own privacy the government also has the ability to track every movement you make.  I’m not saying they do… but I’m not saying they don’t either.  I don’t want to launch into a long paranoid discourse of how “Big Brother” is reading every text you send, checking out the movies you’re watching, or listening to your phone conversations, but they certainly could if they wanted to.

Ever hear of someone getting lost in the woods and they find them by pinging their cell phone.  It ain’t that hard to do folks.  Even if your phone is turned off it will still return a signal, so don’t think by turning off your phone you’re slipping off the grid.  The ability to spy on smartphone communications is too shiny a toy for many folks in law enforcement to resist.  Now someone will say, “Aww, Jarhead, you’re just being paranoid, dude!  People can’t do that sci-fi stuff!”

Ever heard of Stingray?  That’s the code name for a secret technology used by police to trick your cell phone into thinking it’s connecting to a legitimate cell tower, when in fact it’s really a device being used by the police.  Check out this story of how a guy named Rigmaiden discovered it and exposed it (click here).

What Happens After TEOTWAWKI?

All this talk of unplugging from the matrix is great, but what happens when TSHTF?  As you know it wouldn’t take much to turn that communications device into a piece of plastic and dead electronic chips.microsoft surface keyboard

Increasingly, we are using our smart phones for more than just simple communications.  We bank with them, shop with them, learn on them, get entertainment from them, rely on them for navigation, get our news from them, keep our schedules on them, and so on.  I’ve come to rely on my phone for many things, but I always try to keep paper backups or local copies of the important stuff.

Now imagine if all of a sudden there were no more electronics.  Let’s say North Korea hit us with a few nuclear airbursts and destroyed 80% of our electronic grid with a well timed EMP burst.  First of all, our entire culture is now run with computers.  Nearly every facet of your day to day life relies on a computer chip of some kind.  Everything from turning on your stove to starting your car requires a computer of some sort today.  All of a sudden our whole society is brought to its knees with a few well timed nukes.

If you’ve seen the movie “American Blackout” or read the book “Lights Out” by Ted Koppel, you can get a good idea of what we could expect with a grid down scenario.  The scary thing is that I’m not sure they went deep enough into what might actually happen.  Second of all,  a good percentage of our population has come to rely heavily on these devices and will now have to turn elsewhere for their information, communication, and entertainment.  Initially we’ll all have to find ways to cope without our electronic nanny attached to our belts.

How to Prepare

Other than doing what we’re doing, which is prepping for an event like this, there’s not much we can do about the first scenario.  Most scenarios we prepare for all have to do with the grid going down.  Hunker down, protect yourself and your family, and ride it out is about the best we can do.

The second scenario – the one where everybody is going through phone withdrawal and trying to figure out how to operate in a society without instant communication and gratification -will be a different kind of hardship. Luckily we can prepare for that one a little better simply by unplugging once in awhile. I like to play guitar, draw, read books, and play with my kids as well as practice my wilderness skills.  It would suck without the electronics, but I’d get used to it fast enough.  After all, I lived through the 80’s when there were no cellular gadgets or personal computers.

Also Read: Off Grid Mobile Phone

Now, it’s true I’m painting this picture with a broad brush and a good many people out there aren’t dependent on a cell phone.   But in the developed countries it’s unusual for people *not* to have a smartphone these days.windows logo

Again, I’m not bashing people who own a phone or tablet, but I am suggesting you take a little time now and then to explore nature the way it was meant to be experienced.  Let your kids go out and get dirty.  Take them into the woods and let them see spiders, and trees, and all that nature has to offer.  My two kids love being outside.  I even take them out in the winter on showshoes.  If you’ve never seen a four year old on shoeshoes I invite you into the forest with us next year when we have three feet of snow on the ground again.  It’s awesome to see and my seven year old is like an old pro on them.  So the question is are you prepared to unplug?  Try it for a day and see how it feels.

Photos by:
Jarhead
Pokemon Go

Questions?  Comments?
Sound off below!
-Jarhead Survivor

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