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Staying Under the Radar

December 12, 2008

In the event of a widespread, long-term disaster, I think it’s safe to say that the highways and byways of American will be teeming with people looking for food, water, shelter, medical help, and safety. It is a sad but true fact that these people are ignoring the opportunity, right now, to prepare for these coming events. It is also a sad but true fact that they will think that we who have prepared should provide for them. It’s just another product of a society that has completely forgotten what personal responsibility is. So accept the fact that others will want, indeed they will think that they have a right to, what is yours. You must protect what you have.

It is my opinion that the best way to protect what you have is to not let other people know that you have it. They can’t take away what they don’t know you have, so your first line of defense is to keep quiet about your preparations. For now, while all is well, don’t advertise the fact that you are prepared for disaster. Don’t show off your stored food, your guns, your ammo, your fuel supply, etc. Don’t tell your best friend. Don’t tell your children. If you do, the word will get out; and when disaster strikes, people will remember and expect their old buddy to take them in.

But if a disaster should occur, what do you do about the wandering masses that have fled from the cities and are scouring the countryside in search of supplies and refuge? The most important thing is to avoid attracting their attention. You want to limit, or better yet eliminate, anything that they can see, hear, or smell.

Hopefully you already live in the country, and hopefully you live out of site from highways and roads. If you don’t, even if you live in the middle of the city, you can do things to lower your visual profile. Blackout curtains are one simple, inexpensive thing that you can do to lower your visual profile. The light from candles, propane or oil lamps, or generator-powered lights is like a beacon telling strangers that you are there. I recommend blackout curtains even if you live in a secluded location. A lighted window is visible for miles on a dark night.

That wood stove or fireplace that you are planning on using for heat might not be such a good idea either. After all, what did the Indians use to signal to their comrades from miles away? The smoke would be less visible at night, and if I had to use a wood fire, that is the only time I would use it. Even at night the smell of the smoke will carry a long way. You would be far better off to use propane and/or kerosene to heat and cook with, at least for the first couple of months. A two-burner propane camp stove and a 20lb. bottle of propane will cook all of your meals for a month or more. Better yet, buy a propane kitchen stove. I installed one at my house, drilled a little hole through the wall, hooked on a metal flex line and regulator, and hooked it to a 20 lb. propane bottle. I keep half-a-dozen bottles in my fuel shed, and I use one about every 2 or 3 months. By the way, any modern gas range comes with an orifice for conversion to propane. You can do it yourself in about 5 minutes.

I do most of my heating with wood, but at the first sign of trouble I will switch over to my kerosene heater. These modern heaters are very efficient, but you must use K-1 grade kerosene in them, and you must make sure that your room is ventilated. I buy K-1 kerosene in five-gallon drums and keep about 20 gallons in my fuel shed. It burns clean with hardly any odor.

Sound is the final thing that you must watch out for. If you are going to use an electrical generator, make sure that it is well muffled. The factory-installed mufflers on most generators are not adequate. Leave the chainsaw and axe in the tool shed for the first couple of months. If you must cut wood, use a crosscut saw. It will be much quieter. Try not to discharge any firearms. If you have to hunt, try to stick with a .22 rifle loaded with .22 shorts or CB’s. They have a very low signature, but still have enough power to take squirrels, rabbits, and other small game. If you must shoot, use the old poacher’s trick and only fire one shot. Most people cannot tell where a single shot has come from. It is the second shot, the one that they are already listening for, that gives away your location. This may sound extreme, but keep your voice down. When conditions are right I can hear my neighbors talking on their front porch, and they live 1/2 mile away. It’s hard for city people to believe this, but in the country, the ambient sound level is so low that even a human voice carries for a long way.

Finally, keep good radio discipline. Monitor all that you want, but don’t broadcast unless it’s a dire emergency. If you must broadcast try to avoid using any language that would reveal your location. You never know who’s listening.

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