Foraging 1. The fortress preppers nightmare.

What is a fortress prepper?
That’s a person whose sole mission plan is to go into lock-down and only leave their facility when the emergency is over. Thus they are totally reliant on their stores and equipment they have built up over time.

Then everything goes wrong and they have to leave!
At that time (CBRN and climate contingent) they / you may have to evacuate without notice with just enough time to grab your BOB.

Now you are dispossessed,
Possibly in the hands of a government agency if you are really unlucky, so what are you going to do, apart from run like hell away from a saying “We are here to help you”?

The basic BOB is built round the premise that all you need is 72 hours of supplies before the ‘government’ will be ready to help you.

STOP LAUGHING, some actually think they will.

Anyway most of the weight you’ll carry SHOULD be made up of water, 6 litres per person.
(Rule of threes, you’ll start to suffer badly without adequate clean water after 3 days).

Whoa! The hard case preppers will be saying there is no need to carry 6 litres as you can find water and purify it on the go. So you can guarantee that?
Even in a CBRN scenario? You have a nice day now.

So what happens when the water runs out?
Some (of the above) will be thinking about solar stills, survival straws, Katadyn water filters, boiling, chemical purification and all that stuff, but here’s the thing.
If you were dispossessed because of a CBRN event or something like a flood, the very water you’re trying to drink may contain ‘nasties’ your high-tech novelties won’t filter out.

As an example think of the multitude of chemicals from industrial units.
As for radioactive iodides? Most of them boil at less than 100 Celsius so boiling and distilling won’t actually achieve a lot.

Right about then you’ve got to switch to foraging for what you will desperately need i.e. a source of uncontaminated, drinkable (potable) water.

So what’s foraging?
To search widely for food or provisions.
Using your knowledge and skillset to obtain what you need for survival.

Foraging used to be a frowned upon skill by fortress preppers and regarded as strictly for the bush craft fraternity.
Some see it as looting, which in an austere / disaster time, that’s probably what you’ll be judged as doing. So you’ve got to be more than a little careful.

Consider what happened in 2013.
Typhoon Haiyan hitting The Philippine chain of islands.
No immediate aid, infrastructure wreaked, government help not forthcoming, and people desperate for the basics started “looting”.
Only they weren’t looting were they? They were foraging for the basics of life .
What happened? Troops, police and US marines are deployed against them. De facto martial law is already in place. (Guardian)

Thus when I say “be more than a little careful”, I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

Foraging is not exclusively a rural thing.
You don’t have to bug out to forage.
After all if you are a fortress prepper, use it as a base while you go looking for what you’re running short of (preferably before you run out).

Only in a CBRN scenario,
The fish, fowl, and furry you carefully trap won’t tell you they are full of toxins and feeling really ill. Clear water can look safe even when loaded with chemicals and nasty particulates. Not forgetting anything else you are looking for and casually pick up.
Bit of a problem isn’t it?

Us living on a river some may think water is easy to source for us.
On the 42 miles of navigational water, there are 6 sewage treatment stations which with no electricity will fail, loads of industrial units, and farms. Why farms? They should all be careful about what they spray and use preventing it from entering the water courses. Some aren’t. As for animal effulent, PHEW!
There is also this wisdom from Sun Tzu..
If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.”
With all the consequences of those decaying bodies to deal with.

There are three main scenarios to think about,
One general moderator for all three, and a caution.

The scenarios are Rural, semi rural (suburbia), and city/township.
The moderator for all is what’s happened i.e. all three could be subject to CBRN and natural event considerations PLUS one other factor.

The Caution?
You won’t be the only one looking for items you need to survive or trying to stop you from “Looting”.

CBRN, A brief refresher.
I keep on talking about CBRN. It is generally taken as a military term but has migrated through the emergency services as they are exposed more and more to hazards.

CBRN. It isn’t just mans way of killing everything!
C=Chemical includes ‘made for war’ and what is used in industry.
Take a plating works. Top chemicals? HLC, Cyanide, Chromium, and Cadmium.
Not forgetting the products of bio matter.
i.e. Blue-green algae a.k.a. cyanobacteria have the ability to produce really nasty toxins.
B=Biological (man-made and natural) Pandemics or simply a contagious pathogen.
R=Radiological matter like radioactive isotopes), and
N= For the products of nuclear fissile material which may include fallout or even material from the nuclear industry, not forgetting Fukushima, still happily poisoning the oceans.

Yet that’s not the bottom line as really there is no bottom line.
Consider 9/11.
When the twin towers fell, loads of debris was aerosol’ed into the air and it contained all kinds of hazardous debris. Asbestos was only a tiny bit of the huge list of materials. Personal protection 101 calls for a dust mask, N 99 or FFP 3 minimum to protect your lungs, BUT what about the fallout of all those nasties washed from their landing point into the water courses by rain. Now you’re filtering water like mad and trying to stop chemical contaminates.

Not easy is it?

Note:- The military have portable ways of ‘cleansing’ water in bulk.
A three stage approach of ceramic filtration including passing water through an activated carbon filter, Reverse osmosis pump, and finally ion exchange filters. Each stage reduces the likelihood of toxins passing through BUT NO SYSTEM, even this combined system is ever 100% effective. Add a touch of chlorine and all may taste nice, look good, but still have trace poisons within it.

As said, it’s a bit of a problem isn’t it?
There could be rain and water everywhere and you can’t easily use any of it.
So what’s safe to drink without too much treatment?
That’s the $64 question and will bring you into conflict if you are not careful.
Here is a basic list to be going on with.

  • Unopened bottled water. Sounds simple doesn’t it.
    Purified before it was bottled and, despite the purists saying plastic bottles contain dangerous chemicals that leech into the water, it’s probably the main thing to look for.
  • Covered Sources
    1. Toilet faucets.
      While most have lids, they will usually have a vent or overfill pipe going to the outside. Possible source of contamination? Maybe.
    2. Cold water tanks in houses.
      Same thing, if sealed well they might be OK. Same overfill pipe.
    3. Hot water tanks and hot taps. May again be OK.
      BUT ONLY IF you can stop the tank from refilling as you drain them.
    4. Cold Taps. There are two trains of thoughts here.
      If the event has just happened and hadn’t disturbed the pipes (difficult to know), you will be able to draw water from them until the pressure goes. The caveat there is you haven’t got a clue who “up the pipe” left a tap on and by drawing water you could be sucking in contaminates.
    5. Covered reservoirs.
      This one is fraught with danger as they get a feed from somewhere.
      You won’t know where from or the condition of that water.
      Some will say you will only be taking a little.
      Conventional wisdom says there is no minimum level for contaminates despite what the Government say is safe.
    6. Covered Wells.
      Definitely one to leave unless you can act instantly.
      Wells are usually fed by ground water or underground streams.
      You will have absolutely no idea what is going on there.

So, initially that’s my thoughts on water.
Boil it, chemical it if you like, distillation is optional.
Ultimately getting rid of some dissolved chemicals and radio iodides for the average person in an austere scenario is going to be nigh on impossible.

And finally.
Lots of talk, and I’ve not actually spoken about HOW TO FORAGE.
That’s coming later.
Right now I recommend you think about and concentrate on obtaining pure drinkable water as a priority because (The rule of threes) once you run out of what you are carrying, you’ll only have three more days before your cognitive and physical performance will decline dramatically.

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12 Responses to Foraging 1. The fortress preppers nightmare.

  1. equippedcat says:

    3 days after you run out of water, you will be dead or at least incapacitated, so yes, your cognitive and physical performance could be considered to have “declined dramatically”. However, it is not a binary process, it is a continuing progression starting right after you sip your last drop. As time goes on without water, your cognitive and physical performance WILL decline, more and more rapidly, to where you will be significantly affected within two days or even less.

    I suppose it might be a good idea to have a “TDS” meter (Total Dissolved Solids) (small and cheap) in an EMP resistant bag. This will tell you “how much” non-water is in a sample of water, which is not as good as “what” is in there, but is better than knowing nothing. For instance, my fish tank reads over 400, tap water 220 and “purified” water 17. Pure water would read 0.

    • I try not to overcomplicate things.

      From experience, 24 hours without enough water and I’ve got the headache from hell. 48 hours and I’m thinking more about cold beer than what is going on.

      2 days and I’m not concentrating a lot about anything other than water!.

      Would I drink sand after three days? Probably not but it’s going to take a formidible barrier to stop me getting what I need.

  2. equippedcat says:

    Another nice thing to have is a radiation meter, which tend to not be as small and nowhere near as cheap. Still you can get one which fits into both a pocket and a $100 bill which should be adequate to sense dangerous levels of radiation in a sample of water (or anything else).

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