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SHELTER SAVVY

PART V:  Incorporating Communications

by Hal Walter

Some people approach survival as though it were necessary to plunge from total mechanization and independence upon electric power into the primitive, rabbit-snaring level of existence. Avoiding this abrupt transition is one of the basic motivations for thorough preparation. Unless our society is rebuilt rapidly, which seems improbably, it would be reasonable to expect the gasoline supply to run out and the chain saw to be replaced by the buck saw, axe and old-fashioned sweat. Stored food supplies will dwindle, making basic agriculture an important part of any long-range plan. One of our sons is an archeologist specializing in the replications of stone artifacts and is expert in the basic survival techniques; starting a fire with sticks, snaring, foraging plants, butchering, tanning, etc. He is no purist, however, and fully agrees with our full-scale survival planning that makes use of the benefits of civilization.

Every survivalist should make sure that he has the basic tools: hammer, saws, crowbar, axes, wrenches, etc. If a backup generator is part of your plan, having basic power tools like a skill saw, sabre saw, band saw, drill and drill press would be a definite advantage. Another tool I would consider vital is an oxy/acetylene welding rig. It s true our tanks of gas won t last forever, but the ability to weld and cut metals will enable us to improvise many forms of needed equipment. Heavier and more complex equipment that depends upon a supply of gasoline or diesel fuel would be limited in utility after a nuclear attack that destroys most or our country s refineries.

Our basic hand-operated homemaker tools include a food grinder, large loom, grain mill and foot-treadle sewing machine. A good supply of all sizes of nails, screws and bolts is kept on hand, with several cases of the most commonly used nail sizes as backup. Useful tools that convert hand power into mechanical advantage would be wise to acquire; chain hoist, hydraulic jack, come-along winch and rope/pulley combinations.

While not absolutely essentially to survival, communication equipment can be extremely helpful in establishing orientation to the outside world after an attack, as well as assisting in local surveillance. (See more on Communications here.) There are several different levels of sophistication we have set up with which to operate out of our shelter:

1. Portable, battery-operated radio with short-wave band;

2. CB radios and walkie-talkies;

3. Ham radios, including 2-meter-band equipment;

4. Battery operated intercoms; and

5. Plug-and-talk, and FM intercom household system which operates only on 115v (AM would interfere too much with fluorescent lights).

 

Remember that the electromagnetic pulse effect (EMP) from an initial high-level nuclear explosion will most likely knock out all electronic and electrically operated equipment on your premises, most radio and TV transmitters across the country and almost all regional electricity-generating and transmission facilities. Especially vulnerable are solid-state units using transistors and semi-conductors.

In order to protect our radio equipment from EMP, we store all units in our shelter refrigerator. Disconnecting units from antennas and electrical outlets is a must, and the extra precaution of encasing vulnerable equipment in a metal-clad container is highly recommended. According to the few decipherable sentences in Bell Labs highly technical manual on EMP, it is helpful to encase your shelter with the interlocking steel rebar that is normally used to reinforce poured block or solid walls, as Bell Labs does for its telephone exchanges.

It is advised to disconnect the antenna from the CB units in your cars and to ground the antenna to the car body. We run our 40- and 80-meter Ham dipole antennas, along with our 2-meter antenna, down into the shelter; all are disconnected and grounded.

During normal times, we use our equipment only when necessary, after which it returns to storage. The ideal solution, of course, is to have backup pieces behind the vital units. My one vulnerable piece of radio gear now operating is a Kenwood R-1000 solid-state shortwave receiver that is hooked up to a 125 foot wire antenna and plugged into the 115v house circuit. The receiver is an ideal candidate for an EMP blowup. I use a 12v battery for radio standby along with a 15-foot piece of lightweight antenna wire for internal use when electrical storms threaten. In case of a nuclear attack warning, we would unhook the radio and chuck it into the nearest oven or refrigerator for protection. As an early-warning device for EMP (which in turn would provide 5 to 15 minutes warning after Soviet atmospheric detonation), I hung an electric blasting cap, with an extra 25 feet of wire attached, to a tree limb outside the bedroom window of the house.

Radio Shack sells a small intercom unit for campers that is powered by a small 9v battery. We use several of these units to connect our shelter with the closest surveillance points. To cover our perimeter, we use CB units and walkie-talkies, attaching the magnetic-base car antenna to the side of our shelter refrigerator. Our FM intercom system works through the house wiring circuits and could be used in emergencies when the generator is operating and hooked up to the house system.

Useful for silent transmission of signals would be a basic knowledge of Morse code. This is especially true in mountainous terrain where line-of-sight transmission using flags, mirrors or flashlights would be practical.

 

Other articles by Hal Walter