December 2017 - What Keeps Me Awake at Night: North Korea Dec 15,2017

Special Environment ( TEOTWAWKI )

December 2017 – What Keeps Me Awake at Night:  North Korea


I last wrote about North Korea in September, but this situation just seems to persist.  I have been tempted to write something on this subject nearly every week but I have don’t want to be a fear monger or end up being a Cassandra (the girl in Greek mythology that was cursed to see the future and have nobody believe her).  Since September the North Koreans have continued to do ballistic missle tests and it now appears that they could strike Washington DC.  Additionally, they are striving to develop a ballistic submarine capability which if achieved, makes the need for 10,000 km ranges unnecessary, they would just sail up to the coast and let them fly.

I am again going to refer you to our previous article “Thinking the Unthinkable”, where we went over a lot of basics regarding surviving the aftermath of a nuclear strike.

North Korea looms large in my mind as it puts us potentially hours or minutes away from a nation-wide catastrophe.  I don’t think North Korea can defeat America militarily but the potential for war keeps getting higher and higher.  If we end up in a war with the “Dear Leader,” we will feel the pain of war as we have never experienced since the Civil War, conflict within the continental United States.  This should put some urgency into the amount of prepping that you may be currently planning. 

My expected scenario would be that North Korea lobs a couple of missiles at the US (they don’t have all that many with the range capability) most likely at major population centers like DC, New York, LA, or Chicago.  But if they get a missile to hit any major city, it would be an enormous psychological victory for them and a huge psychological defeat for America.  I fully expect that North Korea would be a slag glazed parking lot as a result but hundreds of thousands or maybe even millions of Americans would be casualties in this scenario and the impact would be devastating.  The other scenario would be that North Korea attempts to do a high altitude EMP burst with potentially huge impact on our economy as discussed in the article Power Grid Failure – EMP (find it here: or the subject of Ted Koppel’s excellent book “Lights Out”. 


My last scenario would be that Russia or China piggy back on any North Korea attack either deliberately or through tragic miscalculation and we end up with a nuclear exchange among the super powers.

In the last two scenarios, your imperative should be:  how would you survive indefinitely starting tomorrow?  If you are like me, there would be a lot to do now.

Shelter:  assuming your home is not physically damaged during the attack, you should be out of the elements but

  • Can you heat or cool your home if the grid is down?  In cold weather you might have to close down portions of your home and restrict usage to just a couple of rooms.
  • Can you cook food without power?  Is there a source of wood or charcoal nearby that you can use?
  • Does your indoor plumbing work without power?  My system works by gravity but if your system goes to a lift station, you might see sewage back up through your toilets or sink drains.  You would have to plug them to prevent this.
  • Think of all the things electronic that we fill our lives with (entertainment) and what would you do without those? (Gasp!  We may have to talk to each other….)

You should have an alternate way of accomplishing each of these tasks in the absence of a power grid.  Power:  solar or wind would be my choices over a fuel-powered generator.  But depending on the size of your system – you may find you have to restrict which appliances you can use at any given time.

Heating or cooling:  a wood burning stove, solar air exchanger, ground heat exchanger (which might be a means of cooling your home too)

Cooking:  again the wood burning stove can be a two-fer in this case but do you might have to dig a fire pit outside or place a brick oven in a dirty kitchen outside.  I plan on purchasing a sun oven in addition.

Plumbing:  get ready to carry water…  assuming you don’t live in the desert and you don’t have a well, look at a rain catchment system so you at least have a supply of non-potable water.  And you might want to dig that latrine or outhouse in the back yard.

Lighting:  with the grid down, is your day going to end when the sun goes down?  It is if you don’t have some means of lighting up a room.  There are plenty of solar powered devices for lighting but even rechargeable battery operated devices are fine.  Otherwise you are back to candles and lanterns once the sun goes down.

Food:  have you established at least some capability to grow food on your own land?  Plant some fruit bearing trees or bushes around your place, start some garden beds and see how much of your diet you can harvest for yourself.  Staples would be potatoes, wheat or grain, and corn.  Rabbit hutch, chicken coop (or ducks), some goats = meat, eggs, milk (and other dairy products).  If it is spring time – think about starting your Honey Bee hives = now you would have something sweet.

Food storage:  while you can pack your pantry with non-perishables, you might need a root cellar (which if you expand it out could be your fallout shelter) to store produce.  What are the things you might not be able to grow on your own?  Stock up on those items.

Composting:  start a compost pile, waste not / want not.

Defense:  guns and ammo.

  • Handguns are for close quarters defense
  • Shotguns have hunting and close quarters defense utility
  • Rifles are you reach out and touch something capability
  • Cover and concealment – look at your home or safe haven from the outside in.  You want to deny cover and concealment to attackers and maximize it for defenders.
  • Communications:  will you have a means to coordinate with others for defense? 
  • Community:  what other like-minded people can you cooperate with after TSHTF?

Mobility:  you might still need to get around to forage, to conduct recon, or make a movement.  You always have your LPCs (Leather Personnel Carriers = boots) but you might want to have dirt bikes (the pedal powered type) with saddle bags for any longer movements or a small cart to pull behind you to increase the stuff you can bring with you on the move.  Otherwise you are limited to what you can carry in a ruck or in buckets.

Medical:  I am going to include hygiene in this section as you should be focusing on prevention over treatment. 

  • Think over the essentials of your personal grooming – anything that you can make for yourself?  If you can’t make it, stock up on it.
  • Hand washing:  proven to be the most effective method of preventing the spread of diseases and infections.  Have plenty of soap.
  • Washing your clothes – imagine you don’t have a washer and dryer.  You are going to be surprised at how much work washing your own clothes by hand can be.  What non-electric work-saving devices can help you do this easier?  Wash basin, washboard, wringer, clothes line?
  • What do you need to clean your home?  If you can’t make it, stock up on it.
  • First Aid:  while you will need a good First Aid kit, you should also be getting some First Aid training now.  Do you have any medical references?  What doctors or dentists live near you?

In Summary:  I don’t know what is going to happen with North Korea in the coming days, weeks, months.  But the potential for this to amp into overdrive with no notice means you need to be prioritizing your prep for the long term right now.


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