I was thinking about stuff like this the other day. The small stuff that we often take for granted – but which will be taken away from us if the S does hit the F. Stuff like being able to shave. So, I decided to add razor blades – especially the cheap disposable type, which you can buy in bulk quantities at very low cost – and also shaving cream – to my stock-up list. I now have enough to keep The Beard at bay for at least a year – maybe two, if I am careful.
Then I got to thinking about car preps. If the S does hit the F, it won’t be possible to head down to the local NAPA. Which is why it might be good to have the following stuff on hand at home:
People know gas (and diesel) will be harder to find – maybe impossible to find – if the S hit the F. And even if you home-brew or otherwise obtain fuel, eventually, your vehicles – and generators, tractors and power equipment – will need new filters. And fresh oil. Otherwise, they’ll eventually fail – no matter how much fuel you have stocked up (or make). Having extra filters and oil on hand to do a changeout for each vehicle you own at least twice (which ought o be sufficient to ride out a 2-3 year ordeal, at least) is probably a very smart prep. It’s also a no-risk one – because even if the S does not hit the F, you will eventually need to change the oil/filter – and oil/filters don’t go bad (as stored food sometimes does). Worst case, you’ve saved yourself some money by buying stuff now (at lower cost) than it will probably cost you a year from now.
Make sure they’re up to date – and do all you can to keep them charged up, so that if the grid goes down, your batteries will still be ok for at least a couple of months’ worth of use. I rotate three trickle chargers among my fleet of vehicles and equipment so that each one is kept ready-to-go. This saves me hassle – as well as money. If you have multiple vehicles, you’ll know that batteries can get expensive. Doing whatever you can to make them last as long possible – S hitting the F or not – is just common sense.
* Tires -
The rubber that hits the road is the result of a complex – and fragile – chain of technological processes, all of which may be impaired or crippled by the S hitting the F. Tires are a petroleum-based product, for one. Imagine the effect of a major war in the Middle East on the price – and availability – of any product that is petroleum dependent. Your bug-out vehicle is only as good as its tires. Make sure they are good tires – no physical damage, plenty of tread. Ideally, new – or at least, not old. Some people keep a bug-out vehicle “just sitting” for a SHTF scenario. But if it’s been sitting for years, you might find out you’re not buggin’ out – on account of flat/dry-rotted tires. Don’t let that happen to you. A set of fresh “meats” might be worth more than a pocketful of silver coins if things go sour.
* Basic Maintenance -
Routine stuff – belts, hoses, brake pads (and brake fluid) spark plugs and air filters – it’s a really good idea to take care of this before you really need to take care of it. As with engine oil/filters, buying ahead of time – so you have these items on hand, in your garage – will mean one less thing to sweat if things do get hairy. The S may not hit the F head-on. It might be a glancing blow – enough to cause horrendous economic problems (price inflation and shortages) such that the parts that are easy (and cheap) to acquire today could be not-easy to acquire (and far from cheap) tomorrow.
Fuel type – and storage – is a subject of much discussion among people trying to prepare for the possibility of a short-term (or medium-long term) economic-societal disconnect. Let’s take a look at some of the issues – and problems.
Most vehicles (and portable generators) run on gas, which is a highly refined as well as not very stable product – meaning, it doesn’t have a very long shelf life. It is designed to be used fairly quickly – days/weeks after having been refined. It is imperative, therefore, to treat (and store) the fuel in such a way as to maximize its shelf-life. Most people know about Sta-Bil “red” – the fuel stabilizer sold at just about every parts place and Wal-Mart across the country. But you’ll want to buy some Sta-Bil “green” – the lesser-known marine-grade stuff. I wrote a detailed article about that here. It costs a little more, but it’s hard to put a value on having fresh fuel – and a generator that starts when you desperately need it to. Like when you need to power the well pump that brings drinking water up from 200 feet beneath your house.
* Diesel -
It is less refined than gas – though that is changing, courtesy of government “low sulfur” fuel mandates. However, you can realistically expect diesel to last longer than gas – and if you buy red-dyed off-road diesel for just-in-case, it ought to last a very long time indeed, if stored in a sealed container and kept in a temperature controlled environment. Even then, it’s a very good idea to buy some anti-algae additive and mix that in with your fuel cache.
* Natural gas/propane -
The main advantage here is almost indefinite shelf-life. Suburbanites may find their gas lines have been turned off in a S hitting the F situation, but this will not affect portable storage units (such as the ones that you use with backyard gas grills) or the larger tanks for home heating use common in rural areas. It is possible to rig a car to run on either fuel – though you will need specialized parts as well as the knowledge to install them correctly. More important – in a S hitting the F situation – will be your ability to heat food (and yourself) as well as to power a generator.
I did an article a few months ago about converting a standard portable gas-engined generator to operate on gasoline and CNG or propane; see here for that. Doing this conversion is fairly easy and fairly cheap – less than $200 for most kits. If you do the conversion – and store up 100 lbs. or so of fuel – you’ll have less to worry about if the S hits the F. And less to worry about if it doesn’t – because the CNG/propane isn’t going to go bad on you.
Throw it in the Woods?