Imagine the following scenario: an economic collapse has forced thousands of people outside of the cities throughout most of the world. Thousands of people without survival or tradable skills plague the countryside, and the number of gunfights one can hear about from their front porch is increasing. Those farms closer to the cities and main roads are forced to institute a 24/7 watch. Special taxes and ammunition scarcity add fuel to the fire.
Where you live is isolated, however, and there is nothing to be afraid of.
At least, so you think.
Getting in your diesel pickup, you drive a few minutes up to the place where the recent storm knocked down some old trees. They will be a good firewood source.
You start to cut the trees with the gasoline chainsaw. The chainsaw can get pretty loud, and to protect your ears, you’re wearing hearing protection. You don’t realize that three creepy-looking guys have surrounded you. One of them is halfway between you and your truck, where the shotgun is. The lookouts in the compound spotted them from a distance and tried to warn you some guys were roaming around, but the mobile radio was inside the truck, too, and the chainsaw noise masked the call.
It’s a nightmarish scenario. Don’t get caught in one of these.
You have to control your noise.
I know it’s almost impossible to be 100% silent in a compound. It’s just not going to happen, and we need to be realistic about our expectations. Tractors, generators, car engines, bike engines, ATV engines, snowmobile engines…everything with engines will make noise to a degree.
The last few days, we had severe power blackouts as many people were hit by the Caribbean storms. Heavy rain made some towers collapse. My family spent over 48 hours without power, other than my old car battery with two 13W solar charger.
The town was silent. The neighbor’s generator 300 meters (maybe more) away only lasted for one night. When I woke up the next day, there was not any noise. At all.
The silence in a world without electricity is impressive.
On a quiet night, in our mountain home, we can even listen to our closest neighbors, who live 150 meters away uphill. We could hear someone walking down the road, or even better, the dogs would catch it and start barking. Once the power goes out, something that happens fairly often during these windy, stormy months down here, the only entertainment we have is talking to each other.
Being simple countryside people, families here only light a couple of candles and keep on with their business as usual. They don’t care too much about the risks of being spotted. Not these days. Things are not as dangerous here as they once were, after all.
It’s funny, how even in the worst of the Argentinian crisis, we were actually fortunate that our garden was not producing as we had hoped it would. We mainly grew some coffee and limes. That was about it. I wonder what would have happened if our plants were productive amidst a famine. If we had chickens running everywhere, plenty of fruits on the trees, or some other valuable edibles, these may have been easily spotted.
Concealing your activities as much as you can when your nation collapses is the best idea. But when it involves noise, it’s hard.
I’ve been in some places where the level of productivity behind closed doors and high walls was outstanding. It’s almost a tradition nowadays in Venezuela to conceal businesses like workshops, car repair shops, and other businesses. Other countries would have these same shops out in the open. We’ve learned we can’t do that here.
Well, maybe this isn’t only something that Venezuela struggles with. I’ve noticed it’s standard practice in many other countries with a high crime rate.
Sound is associated with machines, and for a criminal, machines mean money these days.
Criminals like machines. These are things they can steal, disassemble, transport to some other place, reassemble, and sell to someone without too many questions. Sound means working people, maybe with cash in their pockets. Sound means a patron in charge, a great target for express kidnapping. The old style robbery of a mugging is not “in” these days. We now face the “new school” of crime.
Thieves now will take the family patron hostage and will “escort” him to empty his accounts, or, best case scenario, they will loot his entire business and home, leaving him and his family well tied up and alive for the next “harvesting” season.
Imagine what would happen in a world without the rule of law.
Eventually, people will learn the lesson and shoot an arrow, a stone, or whatever they can at someone trespassing. I know that many thugs send “scouts,” bold teenagers, to check who is there, what is on the property, and how many people, and will collect all the needed intel in ways that any military would do. And they will do it quietly.
If they get an attention call from the landowner, the theatrical play starts. With their best innocent, childish face, they will say, “Oh, we were just looking for some fallen fruit/vegetables…or were looking for our lost dog/cat/chicken/pig.”
They will then take all the information they have collected to the gang. Once the older ones have their guns cleaned, cocked and locked, they will also know how many people they will have to take care of at the target building. This happened in many haciendas here. It still happens. Owners, of anything, are vulnerable every day.
You have to understand the relationship between noise and distance.
Depending on the “pitch,” or how deep a sound is, the sound waves will travel further. This is why a bass drum’s noise will travel further than a triangle’s shrill note. Scientists have discovered that elephants generate infrasonic waves which are too “deep” of a sound for humans to hear, but they travel huge distances, allowing elephants to “talk” to other elephants. The features and traits of these extra-long sound waves allow them to reach such distances.
High-tone sounds do not travel as far, depending on ambient factors like humidity and others. You can read a good explanation of all this here, which I recommend so you can measure your “noise comfort zone” in your compound (Check the links at the bottom of the article, too).
I know my place is secluded enough that you need to know where it is to find it, but with the (still-to-be-rebuilt) generator or the machinery in the still-to-be-installed-workshop running, it should not be hard to realize where it is once the world goes silent. That is the reason I am using cellular concrete as a soundproofing material to get a noise reduction of up to 45 dB. It is not so hard to DIY it, and I highly suggest some prior testing so you can prepare your own “recipe.”
How do you make your weapons silent?
I am going to avoid giving any advice on the use of silent weapons other than the obvious. I am not qualified for this. I’m sorry if this is disappointing, but OPSEC is paramount down here. Even regular thugs have some degree of military training, and this is a globally increasing trend. Use this to your favor; a few cracked skulls without noticeable noise should make wonders to keep the marauders away if they are smart enough. If they are not, and they come back for revenge…Oh, well…
“A silent workshop? Yeah, right…”
An angle grinder or a disc cutter will make enough noise to be evident from many meters away if they are in the open. Usually, in a workshop, the noise will bounce around and will be more audible in some directions than in others. Always use ear protection: inner plugs and sound-dampening earphones. They’re a system that works together…and your hearing will be a crucial survival tool once SHTF!
The better advice would be to use some common sense. If you can soundproof your workshop on the cheap, do it without hesitation. Use some free time now before you have to do it in a rush after your nation is in the toilet. Cardboard egg trays covering the walls will dampen the sound a lot. They’re not pretty to look at, but they are very effective. Just paint it to make it look a bit better.
Air tools may be quieter, but there are some other considerations for long-term use, like the shelf life of the hoses. Modern air hoses, albeit rugged and durable, use chemicals to keep them flexible and airtight. However, I like to plan for the next 50/60 years. In my mind, my concern for future generations is the horizon I would like to cover. I would like that my grandson(s) and granddaughter(s) can say, “Jee. Grampa thought about a lot of things”.
(Want to know more about emergency evacuations? Check out our free QUICKSTART Guide.)
How do you silence a generator?
Let us elaborate a little bit on this. I am talking about liquid-fuel generators here. There are great electric ones out there, but I want to focus on what you likely have in your garage. One piece of advice from this link is to install the generator far away from the dwelling quarters. No bueno.
You may need to get there in a rush for an emergency and check what is happening there without leaving your home. I already have the place for our generator. It’s not that far away (my cabin surroundings are not too extensive, maybe you saw it in my channel already). It will be in a housing dug out in the hillside, with the exhaust pointing straight up and enough space around for maintenance. I will have a direct view from my second floor. A good steel door will keep it safe.
Earth is an excellent sound dampener, also.
(Dirt is free, that is why it is my favorite!)
Remember that if you build a shelter for your generator, the sound will bounce into the walls and look for an exit. Usually, this sound escapes through the roof and/or the openings. If you build a cinder block shelter for your generator close to the main housing, fill the hollow space inside the cinder blocks with dirt. If you want to make it rocket-proof, use cement then, or cellular cement, which has even better soundproofing properties. This is kind of a waste unless you are waiting for a foreign power invasion but to each one their own. After 2020 and the way geopolitics is going…
Remember your generator housing will need ventilation to keep the generator running cool and allow venting of the fumes.
You may want to try before applying the cement, only stacking the cinder blocks and checking the gaps between each block to see what seems to work better to dampen the sound.
Not everything is a disadvantage. After a few months, your hearing will be so accustomed to silence that you will listen to the lowest of noises.
Use proper isolators for the skid of your generator!
Read the manual: every manufacturer will direct the owner to use rubber or wood as a platform for your generator. And if yours is portable, getting it on a frame and rubber wheels will make for a dual purpose.
If you are a DIY kind of guy, this will help: How To Soundproof A Portable Generator – Workshopedia.
And PLEASE! be very careful with where you place your portable generator.
The fumes must be conducted away from your location. In my home, the most suitable place would be the front porch. However, my house is in a position where the air comes from this direction. Thus, I cannot drop the thing in there and start it. My backyard is enclosed, too, and airflow is somehow restricted. It’s all just a couple of meters wide, 7 meters long inside, like 2.5 meters high. I will have to run a pipe high enough so the fumes go over the wall and catch the winds coming from the front of the house. However, I have been working on this already and found a couple of solutions that you will see once it is in place.
If you are not a builder, then you may want to check the market for products like this: Generator Enclosures, a company I do not have any commercial relationship with.
If there is plenty of silence around your compound, you could set up some noise/movement detectors. These types of electronics should work for decades, be easy to repair, and are affordable. Again, for DIY people, check this link.
Some companies in the field are these:
Silence after SHTF is quite an extensive topic.
When the rest of the world is in silence, a compound with illumination, food, and noise, will be a target. Even worse, it is very likely that your neighbors will be the attackers. I have seen it happen. Building a soundproof basement with all the modern comforts, even a good sound system to listen to music or movies without the meth-heads ten blocks away finding out about it will surely pay for itself.
Keep safe, stay tuned, and tell us your tips in the comment section below. Is keeping the noise down something you have considered? Are there other purveyors of noise not mentioned in this article? Let’s discuss it.
Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has an old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Jose and his younger kid are currently back in Venezuela, after the intention of setting up a new life in another country didn’t go well. The SARSCOV2 re-shaped the labor market and South American economy so he decided to give it a try to homestead in the mountains, and make a living as best as possible. But this time in his own land, and surrounded by family, friends and acquaintances, with all the gear and equipment collected, as the initial plan was.