George and I enjoy reading books that inform us on homesteading and preparedness. Recently we both read One Second After by William R. Forstchen.
I’m not spoiling anything by telling you that the book is about a man and his family trying to survive after an EMP. You might wonder what this has to do with homesteading. Well, homesteading is about being self-sufficient, which is both knowing how to provide for as many necessities as possible on our own, and having the supplies to take care of yourself during an emergency. The book highlights how much homesteading can help when on page 258 the protagonist muses “food, bulk food, just a fifty-pound bag of rice or flour, shoes, batteries… dog food, a water filter so they didn’t have to boil what they now pulled out of the swamp green pool… I should have had those on hand.”
The book did a great job of characterizing what we would have to deal with after an EMP, thinking of many aspects. While an EMP probably isn’t the number one thing you’re preparing for, I would say that the dynamics we see in play in the book would be present to a lesser extent during other emergencies, such as an earthquake, snowstorm, tornado, hurricane, civil unrest, etc. I would group the challenges presented in the book into three categories: security, food and water, and medicine.
In the book the community must deal with mobs as well as small groups of looters. People must protect their families and their valuables, including crops. There is community security to consider, as well as individual home security. The book outlines the use of firearms for security, as well as creating barricades with what’s on hand, which in the case of an EMP would be cars that no longer work. Community security is something that they struggle with in the book.
Food and Water
The book highlights the need to have food and water stored, and seeds to grow more food. Grocery stores would quickly run out of food without trucks bringing supplies several times a week. We use coupons and stock up on nonperishable food when it’s a good deal, so if we couldn’t buy anything at the store for a week or two, we would still have food. I don’t know the likelihood of a situation where food shortages would last long enough to require growing food, but how hard is it to buy a seed survival bank?
We purchased a few of these with a Groupon. We plan on growing with the seeds, and then saving the seeds we get from the plants. Which reminds me: homesteading also helps prepare us for food shortages as we already garden. We know how to grow our own food, and soon we’ll be able to harvest enough to start canning.
The book also highlights the need to have enough food for your pets. Just like you want to always have at least a week’s worth of food on hand for you, it’s a good idea to never get too low on pet food, either.
In a long-term situation, some people would think that they would provide for their pets, and themselves, through hunting. But the book highlights that everyone else is doing the same thing, too. So soon there aren’t many squirrels, rabbits, or deer running around when everyone’s hunting without limits. Having a domesticated food crop such as chickens or rabbits isn’t really touched upon in the book, but I imagine it would be a huge help in a long-term emergency situation.
Regarding water, the issues of water for drinking, bathing, and sanitation are a challenge. The protagonist has a pool that he uses as a water source for a while. We have water stored, which you can read about doing here, We also have rain barrels, which we have written about in several posts. We are able to use the water from the rain barrels on a daily basis, and they would be a good source of water in an emergency. You might think that you could get water from a nearby stream, but consider the work of hauling it back to your house. We have these rain barrels full of water just outside our back door, which is very convenient. Either way, having clean buckets on hand is a must.
The issue of water was a very real concern for many in our area during the recent power outages. We met a family that lives on a farm, and has well water. Their well only has an electric pump, though. So with the power out, they could not get any water from the well. They were using water in rain barrels on their farm to wash, fill their baby’s pool to keep him cool, etc. It is possible to install a manual pump as backup on a well, as The Southern Agrarian writes about here.
The protagonist’s daughter is an insulin-dependent diabetic, so the challenge of a medicine shortage is brought to the forefront. Of course anyone who takes prescription medication should have extra on hand in case of emergency. The book also shows the need to consider special storage requirements for the medicine; if your medicine needs to be refrigerated, like insulin does, perhaps it’s worth it to have a power supply and a small refrigerator. Even for those of us who don’t require prescriptions, though, the helpfulness of having everyday medications on hand is highlighted. Antibiotics, disinfectant, bandages, vitamins, pain relievers are all in short supply, and very much needed, in the book.
George and I would highly recommend this book. It was well written and captivating. It also is thought-provoking and could help people prepare themselves for an emergency situation.