Archive | sanitation RSS feed for this section

How To Survive Ebola, Part 2

15 Oct

In Part 1 of How To Survive Ebola, we looked two of the most important things you need to do to survive a viral plague. The most important was ISOLATION. You need to isolate your family from contact with others. I offered some guidelines about WHEN to isolate your family. That’s an important real world consideration.

A major outbreak of Ebola or any infectious disease won’t happen overnight. There won’t be a sudden event to warn you it’s time to isolate your family.

The transition time when you must isolate your family is particularly dangerous. Isolate too late and you risk bringing Ebola into your home. Isolate too early and you risk losing your job and burning through your valuable stocked resources before they’re really needed. This will be a theme of this post: The danger of transition periods and how to deal with them.

Even if you cannot achieve full isolation, the less contact your family has with others during a virus outbreak lessens your exposure. If you must, go to work, go shopping, run the necessary errands of life, but cut back on social activities where you’re exposed to large numbers of people needlessly.

Once your family is in a state of isolation during a MAJOR spreading of plague, IF you must venture out, I recommended wearing protective clothing. This is known as PPE or personal protective equipment. In layman’s terms, a plastic suit thingy. It’s important to match your PPE to the risk you face. This post from explains Ebola PPE in more detail.

ThoughfullyPrepping has a good post about realistic Ebola PPE for preppers.

This next resource isn’t required. It’s a guide (pdf file) for PPE for emergency responders. As with many government documents, it could be condensed to 1/10 the size!

In the book, I write about what I call a CULTURE OF SURVIVAL. It encompasses many things. You must have the right equipment. You must have the skills and training to most effectively use the equipment. You must have the correct mental attitude and knowledge of the situation you’re in. Only when these things come together do you have the best chances of survival.

The use of PPE against an infectious disease is a perfect example of this. If you follow poor procedure when donning or removing your PPE, you risk exposure to Ebola.

This graphic shows “suiting up” in PPE.

Removing your protective gear is even more critical. This is the chance for any Ebola on your suit, respirator, gloves or other equipment to get on you. Ebola currently cannot spread through the air (unless somebody sneezes a big goober in your face). Ebola can’t be transmitted through the skin. Ebola will strike through open wounds, the eyes, the nose and mouth, and sexual activity. Remember the post about attack vectors? These are some of Ebola’s attack vectors.

In our previous post, Equipped Cat reminded us we need to protect our animals from becoming infected. That led me to learn a bit more about Ebola. In Africa, other attack vectors are infected bush meat and bat bites. Equipped Cat is right. Isolation applies to your animals. How likely are we to be infected by mice or mosquitoes? I don’t know, but it’s a valid concern.

DECONTAMINATION is important. I suggest purchasing simple plant sprayers, filling them with a mixture of water and bleach, one cup of bleach to a bucket of water is fine, and spraying down your protective suit before removing it when you return from your expedition.

This bleach spray will kill Ebola on your suit and minimize the risk of becoming infected when you take the suit off. It will allow you to reuse your protective suit, which for most preppers will be a limited resource.

As individual family preppers, we don’t have the financial resources to dispose of our PPE after every use. We must balance what are called “best practices” with practical reality.

Aid organizations follow this same procedure on a larger scale with rooms where you walk in and are sprayed automatically, usually with some chlorine based solution, before you walk out.

Two nurses treating Ebola patients have died despite wearing protective equipment. It’s believed in one case the nurse inadvertently touched her nose while removing her gear. A bleach shower could have prevented this kind of infection.

Rubbing our nose or putting our hands up to our face is a natural thing we do without even thinking about it. Overcoming our natural tendencies is one of the most difficult things to learn when becoming indoctrinated in a particular culture of survival.

Don’t run from snarling dogs, don’t claw at a scuba mask underwater if you feel claustrophobic, and don’t put your hands up by your face when working with PPE and Ebola! Don’t become complacent just because you did something once before. Treat your hands like loaded weapons when removing PPE. Be slow and methodical.

Do you really need bleach? For me personally, yes. It’s one more layer of defense. Ideally, if you follow perfect procedure, you should be able to remove a hazmat suit contaminated with Ebola and you should be fine. This should even apply if somebody threw a bucket of infected vomit, diarrhea, and blood on your suit.

This layering is why two pairs of protective gloves are sometimes used. The outer layer of gloves is certainly contaminated. You don’t want to remove it with your bare hands. You remove it with one more protective layer. Each layer has less exposure. After removing PPE, it’s recommended you wash your hands.

If gloves are to be disposed of, you should roll them up inside out for disposal as removed touching as little of the outer part of the glove as possible. If gloves are to be reused, place them outside exposed in sunlight. Put them over a couple of sticks stuck in the ground. The UV light of the sun kills Ebola. Between bleach and UV light, take that Ebola!

This post has hit nearly 1,000 words and I’ve only touched on a fraction of what I planned to write, so in Part 3, we’ll continue with a discussion of incubation and quarantine. We’ll look at the rate at which Ebola is currently spreading in Africa and what plague would look like in America.

Charlie Palmer, author The Prepper Next Door

Dumb Survival Products & Survival Sanitation

5 Sep

This takes my award for “Dumb Survival Product of the Year.”
I love the Apartment Prepper Blog and free giveaways are great. I had to laugh though with this free give away: A cardboard toilet. Yes, folks, it’s a commercially made cardboard toilet for disaster preppers.

To enter to win: Answer the following question: “What is your biggest concern about hygiene in a disaster?”

My biggest concern is that I wouldn’t have adequate toiletry supplies and would need to poop in a cardboard box. Far too few preppers take pooping seriously. Blog after blog writes about guns, guns, guns. Me too. I’m guilty. How many have made SERIOUS preparations for sewage?

In my book, I write extensively about the sanitation arrangements made by people who must live with their systems daily without the benefits of social infrastructure. Look to people who live on small boats and people who live in RVs. How do they deal with waste? They must maintain their own infrastructure. People who maintain their own septic systems are another source of information for survival retreats. In the woods bugging out, look to the practices of backpackers. They don’t carry cardboard toilets.

In a long-term disaster, chemical toilets won’t keep going forever, but in the short-term, they’re one of the best solutions. How many RV’ers would use a cardboard box?

If you want to bag and dispose of human waste at home, you can line your regular toilet with strong garbage bags. Seal and dispose of the bags. If water is plentiful and your sewer is intact, you can manually add water to the toilet and flush away. Even if water supply lines are damaged or turned off, sewers should keep working during most short-term disasters.

As urban preppers we can tap into the experience of other people, not just preppers, who deal with waste disposal on a regular basis. No need to reinvent the…ah…cardboard toilet.

Bullets & Laundry

25 Sep

There are many rifle calibers called 7.62 mm times something. There is the powerful 7.62 mm x 51, which I just call the 7.62 NATO. There’s the 7.62 x 39 mm, the caliber of the AK-47. There’s the 7.62 x 54R, which is used in the Mosin Nagant, which judging from youtube videos, is surprisingly popular among preppers. The R doesn’t stand for Russian, but for Rimmed. There are other calibers commonly designated with a 7.62 mm size, but we’ve hit the main ones preppers use. The 30-06 is also a 30 caliber, obviously.

For rifle buffs, the plethora of 6.5 mm calibers was always fun and confusing. There was the 6.5×55 mm Swedish, the 6.5x54mm Mannlicher, and the 6.5x52mm Mannlicher-Carcano (Lee Harvey Oswald). There is also, apparently, a Dutch 6.5x53mm which I’ve also heard called the 6.5x53R, and the Russians contributed the 6.5x54R, which is the 7.62x54R necked down, although I’ve never seen one of those. Many newer 6.5 mm calibers exist.

My point: We need another 7.62 mm chambering. When the 7.62 NATO was developed, the goal was to equal the power of the 30-06. The project started with the 300 Savage. The neck was improved for automatic rifle feeding and the case made longer.

What I think would have been neat would have been a shorter version of the 7.62 mm NATO, made to match the overall length of the 300 Savage. Instead of aiming for the power level of the 30-06, accept a new autoloading caliber with the power level of about the 30-30. Just improve the neck. That would be a U.S. equivalent of about the Russian 7.62×39 mm. It would be adequate for most things.

The advantage of this new caliber (let’s call it the 308 Palmer) would be reduced recoil, the same reason so many rifle shooters love the family of 6.5mm rifles. I started thinking about this while leafing through the Grizzly ( catalog. If you spend a few thousand dollars to purchase one of their high-quality gunsmith lathes, they’ll toss in a free DVD about how to make a match grade barrel.

Making and rifling a barrel would be no small undertaking, but if I had the time and money, this would be a very cool project. Many preppers said they wanted a take-apart Ruger 10/22 years before Ruger came out with one.

In a world where you had complete design freedom, what ultimate survival gun would you design or like to see made? What features would you want to see incorporated into an existing design?

Although most preppers, myself included, won’t be building barrels anytime soon, for those who want to learn more about gunsmithing, the founder of has a nice Youtube channel. He has videos showing how to make and fit small gun parts.

In the book, I said some machinists make their own AR-15 receivers. A project that looks much easier (almost embarrassing easy for a serious metal smith) is bending and drilling a AK-47 receiver. This guy started with a blank that was already bent.

Gunsmithing skills aren’t necessary for a prepper who plans for short- and intermediate-term disasters. For many preppers, if half their weapons broke down, they’d have plenty of firepower left. But for long-term preppers, it’s one more thing you might want to study. It can be a fun hobby.

I stumbled upon this interview. A kid interviews his mom about her favorite preps. When asked what her favorite preps are, she replies: “…my dutch ovens, my 16×20 tent with a stove and water heater, the WonderWash, porta-potty and a tent to put it in, a way to shower with warm water, the Volcano II cooker and dutch oven table.”

You had me at porta-potty. How many preppers have twenty rifles, 10,000 rounds of ammo, and can generate their own electricity with solar power, but they plan to rely on a seat with a hole in it and a pair of folding legs as their main toilet?

The “WonderWash” was new to me, so I got to googling. It’s a tiny camp washing machine that is hand cranked. Here it is on youtube. It looked a bit fragile.

Other preppers on Youtube were busy planning for how to deal with laundry in a long-term crisis. LDS Prepper has this video. TNgun has this post.

When I get work clothing really grimy, greasy, and full of oil and other car fluids, I put it in a bucket and add Tide. Let it soak and then turn it over several times by hand. Then, ring it dry. Ringing it dry is a great forearm workout. I’d never put clothing that greasy into a washing machine. This wouldn’t be my preferred method for cleaning reusable diapers.

In a true long-term situation, I’d try to rig up something like this with an exercise bike. Pedaling your laundry clean would take far less energy than hand cranking it.

I must confess, I had a manual washboard and some sort of contraption that wrung water out of clothing, but in my plan to de-clutter, I tossed them out.

Best In Class Prepper Products Versus “Good Enough” (& A Maple Syrup Heist)

4 Sep

In my book, I go over many products. Some I say I wouldn’t spend the money on. That’s not to demean the products. If I didn’t think they had value, I wouldn’t have mentioned them at all. These products are high end and not everybody has the money to get them.

I read an article about the surge in the interest in prepping. A few people are paying big bucks to have their homes fortified and made more prepper-esque. The article said some people pay experts to plant gardens. What the…?

Paying somebody to plant a garden to become more self-sufficient makes no sense to me. The whole idea is to learn to garden. That’s where self-sufficiency comes from. Not paying somebody else to do it. Paying somebody to teach you something makes sense.

New preppers need to learn what is “good enough” or within their budget. You might want a Benelli shotgun, but maybe can only afford a Remington 870 Express pump. Your ideal bug out vehicle might be a Hummer or Ford F-150. But, you can only afford a used KIA or a mountain bike.

Tools are a good example. Professional mechanics prefer Snap On tools, MAC, Matco, SK, and a few other brands. Most of us need to settle for Craftsman or equivalent.

The wife won’t understand our spending $30,000 on tools so we can save a few bucks by fixing our car’s water pump. At a certain point, the gig is up—we just like buying tools. It’s important to learn where you can cheap out and where you can’t.

Ask any experienced mechanic and they’ll tell you to purchase good line wrenches. These are known as flare nut wrenches. In cars, there are many rigid lines connected with flare nuts. Flare fittings provide a tight leak-proof connection.

The problem with a lose flare nut wrench or one that expands is that you can strip the nut. Because a flare is on the end of the line, you can’t just slide on another flare nut and be on your merry way. Oh, no.

You need to replace the entire line. Perhaps you can cut a bit of line off, put a new flare nut on and bend the line a bit. Either way, you need to re-flare a line. You might get lucky and be able to buy prefabricated lines.

Some line connections are difficult to reach and a useful tool is the crowfoot flare nut wrench. When I wrote my book, I went to and looked for the model numbers of their crowfoot line wrench sets (metric and SAE). These use to represent great value. I saw the reviews said they were now made in China. The price hadn’t dropped. I went over to Northern Tool and found an inexpensive set with good reviews. I figured it was the same set. I ordered one and it looked nice enough.

Today, I used one of these low-end crowfoot wrenches for about the fourth time. I turned it and it rode over the nut jamming tightly in place. I twisted it off, praying I didn’t snap the line. It worked OK. The line even sealed. Yippee!

A professional mechanic wouldn’t put up with this on a daily basis. He’d order a high-quality set. (Snap On, 210FRHMA is the 10-19mm crowfoot set; 207SFRH is the SAE set). But if you can’t afford that, it’s better to have a cheap set than no set at all when you need it.

Most preppers need to budget. We can’t get everything we want. Some of us need to budget more than others. Deciding where to spend the bucks is a personal decision. Learning where to spend the money is a skill.

Charlie P., author, The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning

What I learned From Charlie In The Prepper Next Door (on

Heist at Canada’s Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve. Strategic maple syrup reserves?

Yankee Prepper on Youtube showing off his new maple syrup:

Making Maple Syrup (Part 1):

Making Maple Syrup (Part 2):

Ohio State University Fact Sheet about maple syrup

How To Tap Maple Trees and Make Maple Syrup (4 page pdf from University of Maine Extension.)

In the book, I briefly mentioned Hantavirus and why control of mice populations is imperative in a disaster. Hantavirus has a lethality of between 30 and 50%. Fortunately, it’s extremely rare. There was a recent “outbreak” at Yosemite park.

Here is a wonderfully written article “How Nervous Should I Be About Hantavirus?” on

National Institute of Health on Hantavirus

CDC on Hantavirus
Really nice pdf about Hantavirus from the CDC.

This is a Youtube link to “Frontier House” (from PBS). Several families go back to pioneer conditions to see what life was like. I linked to youtube, because it’s a five part series.

Here’s a nice blog post about visiting historic Fort Snelling.  I stumbled upon this looking for the recipe to Fort Snelling’s Rock Candy. Did the soldiers really make rock candy? Or is it just a tourist thing?

Here’s a link to making rock candy.

I’ve always liked rifles that easily break into two parts. Ruger is now offering their best-selling 10/22 in a takedown format. I didn’t see a wooden stock version of it, drat. Ruger should bring back the 44 magnum Deerslayer in a takedown format, with a wooden stock.

217,000 residents in Jefferson and Orleans parishes went without power for four days after hurricane Isaac. Some residents didn’t have water.

Residents in Mississippi were also affected.

Emergency Water Shutoff, Sharkbite Fittings, And Mice

9 Aug

In my book, I emphasize it’s important for preppers to learn a bit about home repair so that we can deal with basic emergencies. The usual advice if you spring a major plumbing leak inside your home is to turn off the water. Then, call a plumber or fix the problem yourself, with the water turned off.

Every homeowner should know where the basic turnoff valve is for their water supply. It’s usually located near the water meter. The newer shutoffs have a little lever that might rust. It can be replaced if it rusts out completely. If necessary, a vice grip can be used to turn the stem of a shutoff valve. Many modern water meters have shutoff valves on each side. This is great. If one fails to stop the flow, you have one more to go to.

What if you can’t turn off the water? What if it keeps gushing out? The valve has failed. Even a slight trickle of water is enough to make sweat soldering repairs difficult. Here are some tricks to help you out.

Because of water pressure, it’s really tough to put a cap over a gushing torrent. But, you can put an open valve over it. Let the water run through the valve rather than fight it. (Think of this as plumbing judo: You go with the flow rather than oppose it with brute force.) Secure the valve to the pipe. Then, shut the valve. This youtube video (from OldKid888) shows you how you can block the flow of water out of a pipe with a Sharkbite fitting:

Here’s another video about Sharkbite fittings:

I briefly mention Sharkbite fittings in the book. They’re an alternative to sweat soldering copper in an emergency. To use one of these, you’d first want to cut the copper pipe clean with a pipe cutter (a very useful thing to have). The cutter is better than a hacksaw because it makes a clean cut, and the blade won’t get bombarded by water as you cut, in cuts from the outside in. (if this is to be a permanent repair, you might want to use a small deburring tool to clean the inside of the new cut. The good news: You won’t need to shower after deburring!) Then, push the fitting onto the copper to secure it.

If you can work your way back to a clean fitting or threaded pipe, you can use the same trick on galvanized pipe, using a threaded valve and a pipe nipple and some teflon tape or pipe dope.

When water companies want to replace a main valve but don’t want to turn off the water to the house at the B-box under the street, they sometimes use pipe freeze kits. These kits use liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide to freeze the water in the pipe before the valve to be replaced.

In The Prepper Next Door, we talk about the yin of freezing pipes: it’s usually a bad thing you want to prevent. I guess this is the yang part, freezing water creates a plug to help you. It’s a good thing. The freeze only gives you a short time to make the repair or you need to keep adding cooling material. To use a freeze kit, the valve must slow the water flow sufficiently for the ice plug to form. This won’t work on an all-out gusher.

I found three nice videos about using pipe freeze kits. (Not that I’m recommending you go out and purchase one of these. They’re expensive, and you probably won’t need it. But, it shows you one more way to stop water flow. One guy is a professional maintenance man who is using a pipe freeze kit for his first time to stop the flow in a major supply line in an apartment building filled with people. Love his comment: “Hope this works or I’ll be looking for a new job.”)

(maintenance guy at apartment)

The farthest point away from your house you can turn off the water without affecting other homes is the B-box or Buffalo box. For city folks, if you look at your sidewalk, you might see a small metal cover with a pentagon-shaped bolt. The pentagon shape is designed to deter homeowners and others from shutting off the water at the B-box. Underneath it, several feet down below the frost line, is a valve to shut off the water. To reach the valve, you’d need a special, expensive wrench.

While you can purchase curb keys and wrenches, most local governments seriously frown on homeowners messing with this valve. Many communities don’t even let plumbers mess with this valve. Some cities impose heavy fines. Others have a “you break it, you bought it” policy. If you mess with it and something goes wrong, the city will bill you for the repair. They’ll show up with four trucks, two bulldozers, and eight guys all on union time. As a homeowner, I’d never mess with the valve at the B-box!

Even a small trickle of water can make sweat soldering copper pipes difficult. Water in the hot pipes vaporizes and pushes itself out between the pipe and fitting. This means your soldering won’t hold.

The old school trick to block off water was to bunch up some bread and force it into the pipe. It will stop the water for a bit but eventually harmlessly work its way out. For more serious drips, there are gizmos to stop the water flow long enough to solder a joint. These won’t stop a gusher.

This is a video presentation by one of the companies making a water-stop soldering gizmo:

Here’s a link to the pipe repair clamps I mentioned in the book. They come in different sizes. For the typical homeowner, if you have on for 1/2″ pipe and one for 3/4″ pipe, you’re probably all set.

In the chapter about sanitation, I discuss mice. Here’s the Youtube video I referred to about the 1993 Australian mouse plague. You can find the video on other channels too:

Here’s a nice video about making a 5 gallon bucket mouse trap:

I didn’t mean for this post to get so long, but wanted to share a few video links readers might like. I wanted to mention one thing I forgot to include in the book. We just talked about emergency plumbing and we talked about mice. Now I want to talk about emergency plumbing and mice.

No. I’m not going to say something silly, like you can plug up a pipe and stop a leak by stuffing in a dead mouse. One piping material for making emergency plumbing repairs is PEX. In general, I like PEX. One downside: mice are able to easily nibble through PEX. Unlike copper, PEX doesn’t corrode. If you’re PEX starts leaking in all sorts of odd places, mice might be to blame. Well, you can’t really blame them, they’re just rodents.

Charlie P, author, The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning.