Prepper's Guide to prepping in Alaska

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Prepper's guide to prepping in Alaska

So you want to live off grid in Alaska?
You are never more than about ten miles from living off grid if
you live in Alaska. The wilderness is practically your backyard and
it's perhaps the last frontier.

Earthquakes, tidal waves,
tsunamis, snow storms, grizzly and
polar bear attacks ~ there's lots to consider if you're thinking of
living off grid in Alaska. Are you thinking of going it alone?

There's no better place to start your homework than to watch Dick
Proenneke set up his homestead in Alaska in the video below.
"Alone in the Wilderness" is a somber-toned documentary, but it
will hook you into living the off grid dream in Alaska:
Storm proof matches burn under water
Composgting Toilet System
Nature head composting toilet
Prepping Supplies that are not food
nine reasons to love a Big Berkey
37 foods to hoard before crisis
Thinking of prepping off grid in Alaska?
Above, one Ketchikan family, featured on National Geographic's Doomsday
Preppers, built a tank to survive a tsunami.

#4: Volcanoes.
Another hazard not often considered when preppers think of
moving to Alaska to set up an off-grid lifestyle is the volcanic

Alaska is home to more than 100 volcanoes, many active! More
80% of all active volcanoes in the U.S are in Alaska.
Anchorage Alaska is in proximity to active volcanoes, which
means ash hazards are a significant threat.

#5: Flooding.
The 2009 Alaska floods were just one of the significant floods in
Alaska. There was the  Koyukuk River Flod in 1994, the 1995
South-Central Alaska flood, and the Yukon River Ice Jam flood in
May 2013, just to name a few. The National Weather Service
explains about the
types of flooding and how to protect yourself.

  • Rivers change direction or intensity of flow. In the movie
    Into the Wild, pictured right, you will learn how quickly rivers
    and streams can change their course.

Everyone lives in a flood zone and Alaska in particular has some
worrisome flooding.

#6: Fishing and hunting.
In the true story of Christopher McCandless who went "Into the
wild" of Alaska to put civilization and his privileged education
behind, you will learn how difficult it is to process meat in Alaska
and how difficult it is to live off the vegetation if you go it alone.
Regarding the fishing and hunting, it's important to know how
quickly the flies will get to your meat if you don't first have a
smoke ready. It will be inedible and your work for naught if you
don't learn this important lesson.

  • Fishing: Did you know that many of Alaska's lakes have no
    fish at all? You'd better not waste your time until you know.
    Of course the most popular of fish is the salmon. Get used
    to smoked salmon, cured salmon, salmon jerky, and salmon
    candy. Next up in popularity is the King Crab and the halibut.
    The ocean has plenty to offer if you have the means and
    fortitude to give it a go. What's the deadliest catch? Crab
    fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world!
    Locals enjoy whale and the blubber, seal meat as well as
    walrus. Akutaq is a whipped fat dish mixed with snow and
    berries that can help you survive the winters. You just may
    need to give this Eskimo ice cream a go if you want to live
    off-grid in Alaska and learn from the natives.

  • Hunting: Bring your bear spray as the grizzly population is
    alive and well in Alaska. There are black bears and grizzly
    brown bears. Yes, there also are polar bears in Alaska, but in
    just two communities: Kaktovik and Barrow. And while you're
    at it, consider eating bear meat like the locals. You will find
    hunting revolves around bear, caribou, elk, and moose.
    Reindeer is not native to Alaska, though you may be able to
    get some sausage to stock up on in town.

#7: Food storage.
Given that you may need to have fly to get to a grocery store,
food is of utmost importance if you live in Alaska. You need to
think of food storage not only as part of your prepping plan, but
as your overall existence.

While every prepper's pantry maintains a food storage of favorite
shelf stable foods, you would be wise to bulk up on extra storage
grains, pasta, and beans if you live in Alaska. For variety, add
freeze dried meals.

You will likely want to make your own sourdough bread in Alaska!
This tradition in Alaska started with the Klondike Gold Rush.

Dick Proenneke had this to say about food: "
I learned something
from the big game animals. Their food is pretty much the same
from day to day. I don't vary my fare too much either, and I've
never felt better in my life. I don't confuse my digestive system, I
just season simple food with hunger.''

#8: Foraging.
You will be able to forage berries and a few wild vegetables, such
fiddlehead ferns in Alaska; however, most of your foraging in
the wild will be hunting and fishing. Also, you really won't be able
to forage unless you have a local expert train you the berries you
can eat. If it's red, you have a 50% chance of eating it and being

Want to be a prepper who finds his own doomsday? See the
movie "Into the Wild" movie and you'll not want to risk eating
vegetation, even with a reference guide, or you may reach an
early doom.

So what can you find in Alaska to forage?
The Pacific Northwest offers a veritable feast for foragers,
according to Douglas Deur, author of
Pacific Northwest Foraging,
which details 120 wild and flavorful edibles from Alaska
blueberries to wild hazelnuts. According to the book, the forests,
meadows, streambanks, and even the weedy margins of
neighborhoods are home to an abundance of delicious wild edible
plants. The author promises that you will "Discover wild lilies with
their peppery flowers, buds, and seeds and use them in your
spring salads. Select sweet, succulent thistles or the shoots of
invasive Himalayan blackberries and Japanese knotweed to add
wonderful flavor to hearty soups."

Fruits to forage in Alaska...
Remember that the bears already know the best spots to get the

  • Cranberries: You'll find two varieties:
  • Low bush cranberies. These are actually lingonberries!
  • High bush cranberies are a bit different from the
    cranberries you buy at the store.

  • Salmonberries. No, these aren't roe! Salmonberries are a
    yellowish orange fruit and look a lot like raspberries.

  • Watermelon berries. Watermelon berries

  • Wild Blueberries. Wild blueberries from Alaska are smaller
    and sweeter than the blueberries you may know.

Vegetables to forage in Alaska...

  • Fiddleheads. Always cook Fiddleheads before consuming,
    and eat only in moderate amounts to see how your body

  • Roots, stems and leaves. You may have to learn from the
    locals how to forage for roots and cook them up in soups and
    stews. You have likely never tried iitat, marallat, negaasget,
    or uutngungsaat, nor would you know how to forage for them
    in Alaska with out help from the natives.

#9: Garbage.
Bears love garbage, so you'll need a bear proof garbage can to
keep them from coming back. Designed to keep bears and other
wildlife out of your garbage, the Kodiak TuffBoxx Grizzly for
garbage will hold about 6 bags of garbage, or can be used for
many other outdoor storage uses.

#10: Gardening
Every prepper has one hand in the garden and it's no different
just because you live in Alaska. With a greenhouse anything is

You may be surprised at the vegetables you can grow in Alaska,
even without a green house:
  • Beets
  • Cabbages
  • Potatoes
  • Squash

#11: Medical attention.
Even in good times you may not have access to the medical help
you need and this could be a deal breaker for many preppers. You
may need to rely on help from natives from the Tlingit or Haida
tribes for a natural remedy instead of doctor's prescription.

You must be self-reliant and acknowledge that medical rescue is
never coming. To this end, there are many things you can do:

  1. Learn how to use
  2. Take a CPR class
  3. Stay healthy, my friend!
  4. Don't get old (that's what finally took out Dick Proenneke
    and he lived his final days)

#12: Mosquitoes (the state bird).
You'll have to live with the problem of mosquitoes in Alaska ~
swarms of them. In the thick of it, you may not be able to talk or
eat, and you'll have to develop a thick skin and formulate your
own remedies and repellents. For sure you'll want to wear long
sleeved shirts and pants to cover up.

Mosquitoes in Alaska are like nothing you've ever seen in the rest
of the United States. They are man killing size (or so says the
legend). The
Tlingit tribe mosquito folklore of how mosquitoes
came to be is a shocking tale. Locals like to joke with tourists
that the mosquitoes are the state bird.

They are a nuisance, but while they are rather large and
bothersome they thankfully don't carry disease. Those kinds of
mosquitoes prefer warmer regions of the country, like Florida and
Hawaii. At least that's some comfort!

While there are
many natural ways to repel mosquitoes, you
won't be able to use many of them in Alaska. Citronella essential
oil for example, will repel mosquitoes but will attract the bears.
Also, if you have dogs, you will need to wipe them down upon
entry into the homestead ~ one of the blood sucking stow-aways
could be buried in fur and let loose in the house if you're not

#13: Navigation.
You may be too old to join the scouting community, but you're
never too old to learn the art of navigation. In fact, you'd better
be an expert navigator if you live in Alaska.

#14: Outhouses.
You'd better get used to the idea of using an outhouse or two or
three! It's a part of everyday life in Alaska. Why three outhouses?
You may need to have a backup outhouse or an outhouse
reserved for composting. You may as well get used to digging
new outhouse holes.

Men in Alaska don't usually use outhouses for number one. They
use the bushes. Why waste your precious outhouse hole with that
when you can mark your territory?

Lucky for you outhouses don't stink in Alaska. Stinky outhouses
come from mostly the festering heat. On the flip side, you'll have
to deal with frigid runs to the outhouse no matter the weather if
you don't have an alternate plan.
Consider a composting a toilet!

#15: Running water.
Running water is very expensive in Alaska. Locals pay for hot
showers or forgo them as long as they can. You'll need a cistern.

You will find treated drinking water delivered to a single service
connection in villages. In these locations, people use their own
containers to collect drinking water. This service level, which
exists in about 36 villages, doesn't provide drinking water to
homes. There are no wastewater removal services from homes
and as a result health hazards exist in Alaska because there are
no running water and flush toilets.

#16: Self Reliance.
If you want to live off-grid you'll need a snowmobile load of self
reliance. Dick Proenneke was a former diesel mechanic and heavy-
equipment operator who didn't even start his off grid existence
until he was 52! He had served the Navy during World War II.

#17: Well water.
If you want a well in Alaska, you'll need to research driller's logs
for existing wells on nearby developed properties. Anchorage has
very specific requirements about where you can locate your well.
You must have adequate distance from the following:

  • Private sewer service line: 25 feet
  • Curtain drain (subsurface drain used to lower the water
    table): 25 feet
  • Fuel storage tank: 25 feet
  • Public sewer line: 75 feet
  • Public sewer manhole or cleanout: 100 feet
  • Septic tank or drainfield: 100 feet
  • Animal feet lots, shelters, and containment areas (such as a
    horse corral): 50 feet
  • Solid waste holding tank: 75 feet
  • Other sources of potential contamination (this is not well
    defined): 75 feet
  • Manure/Excrement Storage: 100 feet

You are responsible for your own well water, so says the Alaska
Department of Environmental Conservation. It is the
responsibility of the private water well owner to sample and have
their well water tested. If you are the owner, test it annually.

If you have a well, then you have more reason than ever to test
your water - it's perhaps the most important reason to test water
as your well water may have pollutants, pesticides, contaminants,
bacteria, heavy metals and even radon!

If you have a household well, you alone are responsible for
keeping it safe. Private water supplies benefit most from regular
testing as it establishes a record of water quality. A record is
helpful to help establish a baseline and resolve an potential
problems associated if someone damages your water supply.

What's more if your well is too close to a septic tank, you have
more to worry about. If your well water is too close to the septic
tank, you'd better order a water test to be sure bacteria doesn't
form. You see, in a septic tank, heavy solids settle to the bottom
forming a layer of sludge. The bacteria cannot completely break
down all of the sludge, so occasionally you must pump it out or
risk contaminated water.

#18: Water testing.
Alaskans often have private water sources and have more
problems with water quality than most.
Testing water is of
utmost importance if you're a prepper living off-grid in Alaska.
Poor water quality can come from naturally occurring minerals,
animal waste, sewer and septic infiltration and poorly installed or
degraded water systems.
Fecal Coliform Bacteria is a typical
problem in Alaska water quality because of urban runoff.

  • Special note about water testing: Peppers in Nome and
    Dutch Harbor Alaska should test water for Cesium, a
    radioactive isotope contaminant.

Happy endings...
The truth about Alaska is that you need to have some skills that
go beyond books and you need a constant supply of preps
delivered. Dick Proenneke arranged annual provisions and
supplemented with fish, berries and a rare hunt. The true story,
Into the Wild also demonstrates dependency on civilization. In
the cautionary tale of idealism gone awry, "Alexander
Supertramp" leaves behind family, friends and his education to
venture to the wilds of Alaska with little provisions or experience:
only books. Both men are hard to forget.

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Prepare to live happily ever after with us at - the emergency
preparedness Web site of prepping, survival,
homesteading, and self-reliance.
Above, Alone in the Wilderness is a moving documentary of Dick Proenneke,
a self-sufficient craftsman, who left civilization to forge a solitary life deep in
the wilds of Alaska in the 1950s.

Prepping from Alaska
If you're thinking of prepping in Alaska, and maybe doing it alone,
you'd be wise to do your research. There's lots to consider. Some
preppers give it a go for five years and return to their home state.
Others aim to make it 30-years or more in the wilderness, like
Dick Proenneke, who thrived in the lifestyle until his golden years.
If you're thinking of giving it a go, then start with these truths
about Alaska....

Before you pack your bugout bags for Alaska, consider these
important facts about off-grid living:

#1: Criminals.
One of the things that makes Alaska a dangerous place to live
isn't what you might think. It's not the grizzly bears or the harsh
winters. It's the criminals!

Truth be told
Alaska tends to attract criminals and you shouldn't
expect to wait for Alaska State Troopers to arrive in your village
quickly or at all if you're in trouble. You're on your own as you
would have been in the wild, wild west.

In rural villages,
there's little protection even for Alaska Natives.
Self reliance is something everyone living in Alaska, prepper or
not, needs to acknowledge. You will need to know how to protect
yourself from strangers.

#2: Daylight and depression.
Extreme daylight (or lack thereof) in Alaska are two factors for
preppers living in Alaska. You'll either get too much daylight or
not enough. This may cause problems in sleep, depression and
proper vitamin intake:

  • Too much sun. You'll have sun all summer long as the sun
    never fully sets, so you'll need to create a dark space to
    have a more restful night's sleep. You may be surprised that
    weather can be in the 90s. You'll get the most sun in Alaska
    in June (288 hours).

  • Not enough sun. In winter, the darkness will drive you mad
    with just a few hours of light. The lack of light will cause
    depression, so you will need to make the most of daylight to
    absorb the sun's rays from which you can absorb Vitamin D.  
    A sign you don't have enough Vitamin D is if you feel
    sluggish and have brain fog. Sun-starved preppers in Alaska
    will benefit from stocking up on a Vitamin D supplements.
    You will get the least amount of sun in December (just 49

#3: Earthquakes and Tsunamis.
If you want to live off-grid in Alaska, you'd better get prepared for
earthquakes and tsunamis.

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