Information Collection for the Prepper – Part 4
by Anonymous 411
What if things really went crazy and you were in a situation in which you needed to scavenge? Would you know where to find the things you might need, like food, drugs, or water? This useful article will help you find and record the essential resources in your area – while the information is still easy to obtain. ~ Editor
You need to know where essential resources in your area are located. During a disaster you never know what you might need, so grab every bit of free information about where you live that might conceivably be useful after the SHTF while you still can.
GPS mapping may or may not be available to you during an emergency so we recommend that you obtain the following addresses on paper, but also in computer files. The maps presented in Part 3 will be very useful in navigating your way to these locations should your GPS not be working.
You should also compile the following lists into computer files and print them out. I recommend you use duckduckgo.com for Internet searching because they don’t track or save your searches. Given that the local telephone book no longer exists you can try yellowpages.com/ for many of these.
Put all the lists in one or more 3 ring binders with tabs as appropriate. Store all the lists and the maps in one place. Also, store these maps and lists on USB flash drives or miniSD cards as appropriate to your needs. See Part 2 of this series for computer storage suggestions. If your phone will allow you to do so, you should also store selected files on your smartphone along with the appropriate app to read them.
You can now download Wikipedia pages as PDF files. On the left menu of all Wikipedia pages, under Print/Export, is a link “Download as PDF”. This makes a less than perfect PDF but the quality is good enough to have the information stored on your computer.
This doesn’t give you an option where to download the file. The file is stored in your Download folder. On Windows Explorer, this is under Favorites (on my machine). You can drag or move the file from your download folder to whatever folder you want it in (easiest if you open two Windows Explorer windows, one opening the download folder and one opening the folder you want to put the files in. Then you just drag them from the download folder to the destination folder)
Here is a list of methods to search.
The lists below are broken out into these categories, but you may have to search for some items using more than one of the other methods listed. Especially mom and pop businesses. Some of the items on the below lists will be harder to find than other items.
- Wikipedia– Some people don’t like Wikipedia because articles can be edited by anybody so some of the articles might contain opinions or unpleasant facts. The information we are searching for is factual, not political, controversial, opinion, or history (although some articles will contain some history). Many of these Wikipedia articles will have links to the official website for the entity if there is one.
- Official Websites– These include federal and state agencies, city and county governments, chain stores of all types, utilities, and much, much more.
- com– or similar websites have replaced the local phone book that many of us once used to look up local businesses, government phone numbers, and individuals. Once names of organizations or businesses are found you can search for the official website.
- Internet Search for xxx “Near Me”– Use search engines like duckduckgo.com that don’t track your searches. You can search on just about any of the list items below, for example, “restaurants near me.”
- Drive Around and Look or Use Satellite Websites Mentioned Below– Some things you just aren’t going to find online so for these items you are going to have to get in the car and go look around or look on satellite websites. Be sure to write down the address, GPS coordinates, latitude and longitude, directions to or a descriptive location of these items when you find them. You can use the Windows Snipping Tool to copy portions of what’s on your computer screens, such as satellite images, maps, photos and more, and paste them in MS Word documents to save to PDF files.
Discussion of Table of Wikipedia.org Links Below
Choose the states you want to download from the table below. I recommend your home state and adjacent states as well as any states you may travel through to reach your retreat location. You should download the PDF of all of the Wikipedia pages in the table below, for your chosen states, and save the PDF in the appropriate folder.
All of these pages are “List of” pages. List of pages are simply a list of many links to other Wikipedia pages containing the actual information. For example, if your state is made up of 50 counties the List of Counties page will contain a link to each county. You should click each link and download each page and save to the appropriate folder discussed below.
If you haven’t yet read Part 3, please do so now. Part 3 discusses my recommended folder structure for storing the files I recommend you download. A recommended folder structure for Part 4, with additional folders added, is displayed below.
Figure 1: Recommended folder structure with additional folders needed for Part 4.
Where practical, I recommend putting the data you collect in the City/Town folder of the address of the location. I recommend this under the assumption that you may be in the field, whether on foot, bicycle or in a motor vehicle, when you need to look at this information on your tablet, that you know your current location on the map and that you are looking for the nearest of whatever type of facility you need.
For county-based items, like a county school systems, sheriff or other county-specific information, I would put that in the appropriate county folder. Put other state-level information, such as rivers, railroads, state highways, state legislators, etc. in the provided folders. Any other information should go into the Area Info folder in a new folder you may create for that information.
The Wikipedia pages for states, counties, cities, and towns all contain similar information. The latitude and longitude are given, as a link to a page containing links to numerous online map and satellite websites that pinpoint the location. Some of these sites are very useful. Many other types of information are included on the Wikipedia page when relevant, including: demographics, geography, infrastructure (typically transportation), education (including city and county school districts, private schools, colleges and universities), media (including newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations), economy (including major industries), climate, and history.
In the sidebar box at the right will be a link to the official website, if any, of the governmental entity. I recommend you copy the addresses of the official offices, police stations, fire stations, jails and any maintenance facilities given. After the SHTF, these locations may contain food, water, tools, weapons, and other potentially useful supplies or provide shelter. I recommend you copy the locations of all public (see List of School Districts) and private schools, colleges, and universities for the same reasons. These official websites will typically contain the names, contact info, biography, and sometimes photos of the elected leaders and officials such as the police chief (or sheriff if a county) and fire chief.
I recommend you copy and paste all of this information into an MS Word document and save as a PDF in the appropriate folder as described above.
The links to the state Senate and House of Representatives sites will contain the names, contact info, biography, and sometimes photos of these elected leaders, which I recommend you copy. The links to water resources will provide you with the size and location of these geographic barriers to travel and sources for water and fishing. Be sure to check the state environmental agencies to determine which water resources are too polluted to use. The links to the infrastructure list will also provide valuable information I recommend you download all linked Wikipedia pages here as well.
When visiting official websites, whether it be for a government agency, hospital, store or business or other facilities, I recommend you copy and paste the following information from the website into a Word document and save the Word document in a PDF file in the appropriate folder. If the website refers to the physical location the appropriate folder would be the city/town folder of the location, or county folder if not in a city or town. Those items, such as rivers, that exist in multiple counties should be stored on the state level.
- A link to the homepage of the website
- Name of the company, facility or agency
- Street addresses of all locations and facilities. This is especially important for schools, fire station and police, sheriff and state police/highway patrol precinct locations.
- Using the Windows Snipping Tool copy any maps to these locations
- Photo of the facility, if available
- The leadership and staff of the facility, if available, with contact information, photos and biographies when available
- Departments with contact information
If you find any broken links, please list them in the comments section.
Additional Information You Can Seek Out
- What’s within your metro area(30-50 miles of your home, work and bugout location and all points in-between) – addresses, phone, fax: com nearby places pointsnearme.com
- Your state’s public utility commissionregulates all utilities (electric power, water, natural gas, telephone, etc.) and the names of all the utilities they regulate should be listed on the commission’s official website. Here is a List of Public Utilities Commissions. While most water companies should be listed on the official websites listed above, here is a very incomplete List of United States water companies. Here is an interesting article on Drinking water supply and sanitation in the United States
Covered in Information Collection for the Prepper – Part 3
- USGS Quadrangle topographical maps
- County highway maps
- Detail street maps (in case you have to bugout on foot or bicycle or take an alternate route in your car)
- Airports, airfields, including private fields
Additional Links – State, County or City/Town Official Websites
- National Guard National Guard state’s websites listing links to Wikipedia page for all states national guard
- Colleges & Universities com
- Vocational / technical school facilities
- Highway Patrol/State Police Highway Patrol State Police
- Military Facilities Wikipedia starting list
- Fire stations (city, county, volunteer) net
- Police stations (city, county sheriff), and training facilities com
- Local parks org
- Libraries List of the Largest Libraries in the United States, com – no links but includes addresseslib-web.org – slow
- Hospitals com
- State Legislators State Legislature Websites
- Emergency Operations Centers
- Public and Private Schools Category: Lists of schools in the United States
Go to Entity Official Website and Search their Locations Page
- Ham radio repeaters The ARRL Repeater Directory 2018
- Harbors List of Ports in the United States, United States Container Ports
- National parks, forests, etc. National Park Service
- Grocery stores List of supermarket chains in the U.S.
- Drug stores List of pharmacies, com WalgreensCVS Rite Aid
- Lodging com
- Gas stations, convenience stores BP List of Convenience Store Chains, List of Automotive Fuel Retailers
- Large chain stores List of superstores, Walmart TargetCostco
- Banks com
- Gun, hunting & fishing stores, police supply houses Bass Pro Shops/Dicks Sporting Goods/Academy Sports
- Walk-in/Urgent Case Medical Clinics
- Building supply stores Lowe’sand Home Depot
- Red Cross
- Salvation Army
- Radio & TV stations, studio and transmitter locations, frequencies/channels FM Radio Stations/AM Radio Stations/TV Stations
- Post offices US Postal Service
Search Yellowpages.com or old telephone books. They can be used to find business/entity names and then find and go to the official websites. Find mom and pop stores this way.
- Battery, solar power and electrical supply houses Batteries + BulbsInterstate Batteries
- Hardware stores
- Restaurants List of fast food restaurant chainsfast food restaurants
- Plumbing supply houses
- Lumber sawmills and yards sawmills in US
- Physical Therapy Clinics
- Daycare Centers
- Nursing Homes
- Veterinarian Clinics
- Hospice Centers
- Health Food Stores
- Thrift Stores
- Dollar stores
- Government agencies
Drive Around and Look or Use the Satellite Websites Mentioned Above
- Electrical generation plants List of United States Electric Companies
- Gasoline refineries and storage facilities List of Oil Refineries
- Water processing plants and storage facilities (water towers and standpipes)
- Sewer processing plants and holding ponds
- Locations where food crops are grown, including orchards
- Electrical substations
- Natural gas facilities List of U.S. Natural Gas Companies
- Manufacturing plants
- Food processing and manufacturing plants
- Industrial Buildings and Manufacturing Facilities
- Locations of natural resourcesin your state
- Additional resources specific to your area
- Friends, neighbors & relatives
- Your doctor’s offices, homes if possible
- Fellow club members & other contacts
Here is an article with other locations: 9 Places to Scavenge After SHTF
The Information Specialist series
Parts 1 through 4 of this series together form a single, coherent plan for gathering and using geographical information. If you haven’t read all four parts, you should, because only in reading all of them will you get the full scope of the plan.
- Part 1: Why Every Prepper Group Needs an Information Specialist (and How to Start Collecting Information)
- Part 2: How & Where Can Preppers Store All That Information?
- Part 3: The Essential Maps That Preppers Need (Many of them are FREE!)
Be on the lookout for Part 5: Communications.