A guide to self reliant living












1. Food

2. Manna

3. Water

4. Sanitation

5. Medical,

6. Kerosene heaters and cookers

7. Lighting

8. Wood
cooking and heating

9. Communi-cations

10. Essential

11. Home
built items

12. Electrical; generators
and power

13. War preparedness

14. Gardening


Miles Stair's SURVIVAL










Miles Stair's SURVIVAL



PART 1V:  First Steps Toward Self-Sufficiency

by Hal Walter

To minimize dependence on the power company, and to avoid relying on just one system, we have installed a complex of secondary setups to provide our shelter with water, heating, electricity, sanitation and air filtration and ventilation.

First, we were fortunate in that our property had two flowing springs which would enable us to exploit gravity flow for our water supply. After obtaining a permit from the Forest Service, we had our contractor tie into a spring about 800 feet behind and above the home site. Next he installed large chimney tiles leading from the underground spring outlet into an underground 1000 gallon collecting tank. This tank, situated above the home and shelter feeds into them via gravity flow through a line buried 5 feet underground to protect against freezing. The system maintains a constant pressure of about 35 pounds in our lines and, in the years it has been installed, has always supplied us with water, even in two severe drought years when nearby ranches and homes were dry.

An alternate measure would be to bring a well up into the basement area or shelter and provide a hand-pumping capability, as we did with a previous shelter. Or, you might consider installing an outside holding tank above shelter level to provide gravity flow. Other methods using large storage tanks and solar heating can be adapted, too. For backup water filtration, stock such supplies as sterile sand, diatomaceous earth (used for swimming-pool filters), activated charcoal, iodine crystals and bleach.

For home heating, we have installed an underground, 1,500-gallon propane tank. This insures an adequate supply over the winter months when the tanks are not accessible for refill. For the past two years we have used the propane only to heat water, thereby reserving an excellent backup. Our local supplier assured us that propane would last indefinitely stored underground, unlike gasoline which requires either regular rotation or an expensive additive to prevent deterioration. We do have a small supply of gasoline - 250 gallons - for use with the chain saw, log splitter, cycles and other small motors. Both the propane and gasoline are piped underground from the storage tanks to the shelter to allow emergency use without outside exposure.

Operating off the propane is a 4,500 watt Honda generator which allows us, in power outages and other emergencies, to run two freezers, low-wattage lights and other appliances. Our normal lighting is from 115 v, wall-switched ceiling lights. In an emergency lighting situation they can be run off the generator through a special switch box hooked up to the regular utility box. To parallel the 115v setup, a 12 volt system has been hooked to a battery in the shelter. There are also flashlights, propane gas lights, Coleman and kerosene lanterns and candles throughout the basement area and shelter. Batteries for flashlights, portable radios, walkie-talkies, Geiger counters, dosimeter chargers and other units are rechargeable Ni-Cads, recharged every four to six weeks. In an emergency, these batteries could be recharged by the generator or solar power.

For refrigeration, our domestic gas/electric unit can operate off the propane. In case EMP knocks out our motors, we have two older, disconnected freezers on standby. We also have a cold room for hanging deer, elk or beef during the six or seven winter months.

In addition, propane operates our two burner portable counter top stove and a Primus three-burner camp stove. In the basement area are an old-fashioned iron Majestic woodstove and a large propane gas stove.

Connected to our home septic system are the shelter toilet, shelter floor drain and sink drain. Chemical deodorant and a 50-foot plumber s "snake" are kept in the shelter. An extra, portable toilet is installed in a corner of the entrance hall and can be shut off with two plywood doors for privacy, as can the primary shelter toilet. The portable unit can be emptied into the regular toilet without leaving the shelter.

Most shelter drawing in old civil-defense manuals indicate that, if your shelter is located in a basement, you do not have to provide filtered ventilation. In my opinion, this is a dangerous assumption. I recommend providing a filtered air supply at all times, whether drawn from outside or from the home. Our three-inch air intake pipe and three one-inch air outlet pipes are balanced so that a positive air pressure can be maintained with our hand-operated blower. Air is first filtered by various barriers in the home, then fed into the shelter through the basement area. An additional barrier at our fireplace chimney of hollow concrete blocks. In an emergency, the fireplace dampers and glass screens would be sealed shut. Stoking up a fire in the fireplace or the woodstove would also create an updraft to prevent fallout from descending through the chimney, as well as serve heating or cooking needs.

To aid in external decontamination, cement slabs have been poured slanting away from the house, to provide drainage as well as patio and driveway space. Roof overhangs can also be designed to keep fallout away from the base of the home. In addition, we have put a sprinkler on our roof that can be controlled from the basement area, for protection against fallout and forest fires.

Our shelter is secured with a metal warehouse door, mortared into the block walls and faced with a 1/8" steel plate. For backup to the regular lock you can install a deadbolt, or, as we did, a cross-bolt barrier on the outside basement doors.

Other articles by Hal Walter