by Hugh James Latimer, Survival Blog:
I had a recent experience of traveling into a situation where everyone else was leaving due to Hurricane Irma. I learned some valuable lessons during the process.
Homes in Both Florida and Midwest
My home is in Florida, and my bug out location is in the Midwest. I spend most of my time during the summer at the BOL due to the climate, the gardening opportunities, and most of all the simple peace and quiet living. Two weeks ago, Hurricane Irma was seven days out in the Atlantic and on a track that may bring it closer to Florida. When this happens, it’s time to load up needed items and travel home to secure everything and also to be there for the aftermath if there is anything to clean up and repair.
My Florida home is a log home. It’s well built to withstand the winds of a hurricane, but it’s not so great if the power is out for weeks in that humidity. Mold can be an issue for any home in Florida, and wood homes seem to draw moisture first. Part of my everyday living and being prepared is the notion that having two places means twice the work, twice the cost, and lots of travel in between. All of this is possible on a small budget if you think things through.
My Travel Vehicle and Contents
My travel vehicle is a 10 year old one ton GMC dually. It has an enclosed topper with a locking (as in padlock) back top glass. The side and rear window are blacked out to keep anyone from viewing all the contents. The truck has been well maintained, though it has over 200K miles, and looks very common on the highway or in a parking lot. The fuel mileage is reasonable no matter the load, and it will pull any trailer. It also can remain loaded down with tools, supplies, and spares at all times so you are reasonably prepared for situations when traveling across country, like I do often, or just out for the day.
Yes, I’m fortunate to be able to fix whatever usually happens, but that came from learning, preparing, and keeping the right things in the vehicle. Some people carry a credit card for situations and expect someone else to resolve the problem. I choose not to and instead be self sufficient. You can scale the supplies and spares to fit any car, truck, or even motorcycle as required. Match your skills and try and learn each year.
Necessary Items to Address Common Issues
The bottom line is having the necessary items to address common issues when traveling in a situation when help or a credit card might not resolve things.
I carry the following at minimum:
- Two spare tires matched to what is currently on the truck, plus the jacks, blocks, and tools necessary to change them.
- Spare oil transmission and fuel filters along with the proper fluids and lubricants.
- A serpentine belt and fuel filter assy also as there are “known frequent failures” on my truck regardless of recent replacement.
- Forty gallons of diesel in jerry cans, plus a spout and a funnel that fits the angle to fill the truck.
- Potable water in bottles and a five gal potable water jerry can.
- Portable lighting, because many bad things happen after dark.
- Complete set of hand tools for side of the road repairs, and on and on.
Hundreds of Pounds of Stuff in Topper Covered Bed
Yes, I carry about 800 lbs of stuff in the topper covered bed. But like I said earlier, the truck will haul it, and it makes things easier when problems arise. Scale it to your ability and vehicle. Prepping is not about having everything for every situation. For me, it’s about having the right level of whatever to meet my needs and the way I live.
Power Was An Issue
On this trip, I knew power in Florida would be an issue. Tree damage would also be prevalent. I had to bring a small cargo trailer with me to haul what I needed. The trailer has add on industrial truck hinges, door locks (padlock) ventilation side windows, and an opening vent in the roof. It’s just 5×10 but rugged, reinforced, and I’m able to leave it unattended for a short time anywhere without fear of anyone having an easy time to break into. Again, it’s clean and well maintained. Law enforcement never gives my truck or trailer a second look. Bad hombres that I spot looking, think twice. It’s well balanced for my needs and how I want to be perceived, while still hauling the goods so to speak.
Remember your trailer needs serviced after every trip. Check the lugs, grease the wheel bearings, check lights, et cetera. It’s far easier to replace bearings in the backyard on a weekend than on the side of the interstate in the rain or heat. I loaded two generators– one Honda 3000eu and a big Onan 6500KW for the home A/C, if needed. Remember, portable generators are not for replacing your homes electric no matter how large the gen set may be. Unless you have a pre-wired transfer switch in the home, a 22kw gen set, and two weeks of fuel, there is no way to have on demand electric like what you’re used to. Pick the few basic items you need electric for. Accept it will only be for a few hours a day due to fuel availability, and go from there.
The Small Honda Generator
The small Honda was for a fan, charging cell phones or tool batteries, and a light at night. It would power a small dorm fridge or very small room A/C if needed, but that’s it. It’s quiet, stealthy, very fuel efficient, and could provide the basics all night when no one else had electric.
The Big, Loud, Obnoxious Onan Generator
The big, loud, obnoxious Onan generator was to be wired in to the home A/C package unit, if needed. It was not for the house system but the individual AC unit. You can kill lineman with electric back feeds, so never attach a gen set to your home’s wiring. Only after a week or so of no power would I do that to run the whole house AC for a few hours a day to remove moisture. You don’t open windows in Florida in the summer if you can help it. There’s too much moisture in the air, and it permeates everything in your home, and you will never get rid of it in a power compromised situation. You will have mold. I also brought proper sized extension cords.
I chose two coolers– one super large for ice storage, and a smaller one for in the house to use as the “replacement fridge”. I purchased Ice and filled the large cooler before I left the farm up north, knowing ice may be in short supply when I got to Florida. It was a good thing I did. With the hurricane seven days out, there was no ice to be found and very little available over the next week and a half.
You must wrap the large ice storage cooler with insulation of some type to keep ice in a hot climate regardless of how good the cooler is. I used heavy moving pads that they use to wrap furniture, and my initial ice supply lasted 12 days! Yes, you do have to drain the water every other day to maintain the ice. Remember, in the past, people would cut ice blocks from frozen ponds during winter, store in earthen coolers (ice houses) covered in thick layers of sawdust, and then they had ice in their drinks in the dead of summer. Planning ice storage and use is more intensive than just buying a cooler and few bags of ice. Educate yourself on this, and you will appreciate the rewards greatly.
DeWalt Battery Operated Hand Tools
Having a set of battery operated hand tools makes sense if you’re a prepper. I chose the DeWalt line of 20v saws, drills, and impact driver. The flashlight is one of the best. The 20v batteries charge quickly and last a long time. You must be able to cut wood, metal, and other things, and also drill and have a means to drive bits and small sockets. They’re inexpensive to own and very valuable in all situations.
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