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How we need to prepare


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Going dark

After the SHTF we will need to be very careful with OPSEC. One sure thing that will attract roaming survivors and looters is a light at night. It will show that not only is someone in residence but that person has access to equipment, at the minimum light. We need to keep our heads down more than that.

Ideally we would just block up the windows. Bricks, plasterboard or metal sheeting are ideal from a protection viewpoint but can easily draw attention to the house. It is clear that they have been boarded up. If this isn’t a problem and you may be open to attack then consider that option for your home. For most of us though it would likely make our homes look like a fortress and one with something worth protecting which we don’t want. What you need for general use is something that can be put up before you put a light on and can be taken down in the morning. We need to go back to WWII and look at blackout curtains.

Blackout curtains are easy enough to make. Ordinary curtains, even thick ones, usually light up, just look out of your window at night at other houses, and this will show that there is some light there and although they may not attract people miles away anyone close will see the light. You need to put a layer of either; blackout fabric which you can buy, thick fabric or thick bin bag liner, the suitable bags are used for rubble, to the reverse side. You can sew the two materials together. You could even use cardboard as a backing which could be glued. Obviously the cardboard version will not be able to be opened and closed as the blackout fabric and bags can be used where no other material is available in an emergency.

When measuring them make sure that they overlap at least 9 inches on all sides with the rod about the same distance above. Put the rod as close to the wall above the window you can and the sheet will then cover the window completely. A hook and a tie at the bottom will complete the fitting and offer protection from being accidentally knocked aside. 9 inches is probably overkill but will handle a brighter light if necessary without overspill.

Every time you fit them you must check they are working correctly and that the material has not been damaged, a seam opened or material slipped. One incorrect fitting could be your undoing.

Personally, I would look at putting a more permanent fixture upstairs where the will not face someone peering into the windows during the day. A wooden box about a foot deep and again 9 inches overlap that covers the windows yet allows them to look normal can be installed upstairs where people may be moving around during the day and could be seen over a distance. Downstairs the removable curtains can be put in place before people move around so they can get some fresh air and stretch their legs.

If they go outside though they will need to be careful of light escaping through the open doors but if this is a requirement then you need to make an air lock made from blackout curtains and a wooden frame that you walk through when you want to go out. Only thing is you can’t take lights with you so you had better be familiar with the terrain.

Think about your needs and buy what you need now.

6 comments to Going dark

  • half

    I have thermal curtains in the living room and they are excellent at blocking the light.

  • Skean Dhude

    Thermal curtains? Tell me more what do they do?

  • Luddite

    I have blackout curtains with a thermal lining and I use Velcro at the sides to ensure a light-tight fitting.

    In case you’re wondering why I have this pre-sitx, it’s because I have a home cinema, and the thermal lining because I have huge bay windows and it helps to retain heat in the winter.

    Heat could be another problem, as infra-red scopes are readily available these days, so the thermal barrier would help with that, too.

  • Skean Dhude

    Luddite,

    You are correct about the infra-red although like everyone else the bad guys will suffer from power issues.

    The thermal lining is a good idea to give the added bonus of a heat retainer.

    The velcro is a good idea. They didn’t have that in WWII. I think I’ll add these to the article.

  • Skvez

    Bricking up your windows can lead to condensation and mould issues. Most windows are designed to intentionally leak a little air.
    Sewing blackout material to the back of curtains that hang from a rail works fine if you want to block 95% of the light to hide your property from being seen from the air (WWII) but still lets light slip round the top and bottom of the curtains which will be seen by anyone walking down your street (especially if there are no other lights in the street).
    To blackout virtually all the light blackout curtains need to fit tightly against the walls of the window. I’ve heard of this being done with stick-on Velcro strips but I’ve had bad experiences with the repeatability of Velcro (after a couple of hundred connect/disconnect cycles the little loops break or the little hooks loose their curve).

    I’ve another idea that I want to test before I explain what it is but hopefully it will give the best of both worlds allowing you to see out while others can’t see in.

  • Skean Dhude

    Skvez,

    Houses can, and were, built with the ability to breath. Double glazing and insulation stopped that. Simply put vents in the bricks if that is the way you go.

    With the 9 inch overlap all around and the curtains close to the wall there is zero light coming out. I can’t even detect it with my IR camera although I can easily see leakage through doors, around curtains and through badly fitting window frames.

    Velcro does lose its grip over time but it does take a long time and way more than a hundred cycles in my experience. I would guess it would last longer than we needed to hide from predators. After all we are not going to be using them before an event and just sitting there ready to go does not wear them out. Keep them out of sunlight though, plastic perishes and don’t crush them either.

    I’m always interested in hearing new ideas and yours sounds interesting.

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