Sep 2017 – North Korea and You
As I watch the news on events in North Korea (or our relations with North Korea), I am unfortunately reminded of my grammar school days and our "duck and cover" drills in case of a nuclear attack. Luckily Mutually Assured Destruction (aka MAD) during the Cold War was actually an effective policy that prevented a nuclear war. But MAD assumed as Sting sang “I hope the Russians love their children too.” Now I worry that the "Dear Leader" of North Korea might actually be mad (the crazy mad not the angry mad) and wonder if we might see a nuclear event in the near future if one of his bad hair days pushes him over the top.
If you saw our earlier article about “Thinking the Unthinkable”, we went over a lot of basics regarding surviving the aftermath of a nuclear strike. Spoiler alert: number 1 planning factor should be not to live next to a potential target of a nuclear strike, you don’t want to be in the areas affected by deadly radiation, extreme heat from the fireball, or blast effects from the shock wave. Couple that article with our discussion of a Power Grid Failure – EMP and we are now ready to discuss the current state of affairs with North Korea.
The thing that bothers me the most about North Korea is that we could be hours or minutes away from a nation-wide catastrophe if the “Dear Leader” launches a nuke at the continental United States. This puts a little urgency into the amount of prepping that you may be currently planning.
I don’t want to spend a lot of time crying over spilt milk but as a result of decades of appeasement, North Korea (a country that can barely feed its own people / a country that appears to be a black void when viewed from space at night) also has a sophisticated offensive cyber attack capability (go read about the hack of Sony when they released The Interview) and now an Intercontinental Ballistic Missle Capability, with a… wait for it…. big hydrogen bomb bonus.
The sources I can find estimate that North Korea has anywhere from 15 to 50 nuclear warheads. The largest weapon they tested to date was a 10kt bomb in 2013 and then just last week (3 September 2017), they tested a hydrogen bomb with a yield of 100kt = ten times the size of their previous capability. Taking it to a new level…
Now personally, I don’t think that a war with North Korea will result in the loss of a dozen US cities, but I do worry about (and the Dear Leader has already mentioned) a EMP strike on the US have coast to coast impact on our way of life. Of course when he says that the US will suffer Ash and Darkness, this only makes me a little more apprehensive.
Go back to our discussion of the impact of an EMP event on the US as detailed by the EMP Commission in their report to Congress in 2008: an EMP event would take two years to recover from and 90% of the US population would die! Don’t take my word for it you can find the report on empcommission.org or look at Ted Koppel’s excellent book Lights Out.
Ok, when I first read that factoid (90%), I was saying to myself “That can’t be right, maybe they pushed the decimal point one to the right or they meant 20% or 30%” Nope, the report says 90%. So you would figure that the US Congress would get right on that and make sure that the country is not so vulnerable…
Guess again, nothing has been done so really it is going to be up to you to prepare yourself. And in this case, your imperative should be: what if I had to 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 power your home if the grid is down?
- Can you heat it or cool it?
- Can you cook food without power?
- Does your indoor plumbing work without power?
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
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 over 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.
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 mountain bikes with saddle bags for any longer movements or a small cart with large wheels 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 your bug out bag.
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.
Next time, I am going to talk about the post-SHTF scenarios: surviving tribal society.
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