It has been a scary week/month and with all that has happened, I think a few folks are waking up to things not being right in the world! You are on edge perhaps on the verge of panic on just how wrong things are and don’t have a clue what to do next. You may have made fun of some preppers/ survivalists as well as the tinfoil hat crowd and are starting to understand that maybe they are not crazy and it is you who has been blind to the truth. It’s okay, I won’t hold it against you and I won’t say I told you so. I remember when I was asleep and it took a pretty big shock to get me to wake up so I know what you are going through. I know it’s tough to admit you were wrong especially to yourself. Trust me you will feel better for it and now is the time to stop worrying about what you didn’t do in the past and get planning for your future.
First thing I want you to understand that all you are doing is starting to stack the odds of survival in your favor. Not one item or millions of items will guarantee your survival. The next thing is anyone can start stacking those odds in their favor no matter if they are rich or poor, healthy or disabled, young or old. You will have something you can work with and keep stacking those odds. Overall preppers tend to gather and store the stuff they need and survivalist tend to focus on skills they need to get the stuff. That’s a very broad breakdown and there is a lot of overlap but you need to understand that you will need both to stack the odds in your favor.
You will need to do an inventory of everything you have on hand. From food and water to mental outlook add in skills and talents. Survival is as much or more a spiritual/mental state of mind and the stuff you have on hand are only tools to accomplish the goal of survival. Take a good hard look at yourself physically and take into account any medical issues you have and be sure you have work a rounds and tools to deal with it. Make yourself as strong as your body will allow, I may have to use a walker but I walk 3-5 miles a day 5 days a week. You might be surprised how many “healthy” people who can’t do that walk. Get to work and if you have to start slow as you don’t want to injure your self and get moving.
Shelter starts with your clothing everything from socks to good clothing that can keep you warm or cool according to the season. You can die without adequate shelter from the elements in less than a day so making sure you have plenty of good sturdy clothing and shoes is a must. Thrift stores and yard sales are a great way to stock up for very little money. I prefer natural fibers like cotton for summer and wools for winter but many synthetic fibers like nylon, poly pro and Goretex can be a good choice especially for wind and water resistance. Next is having things like sleeping bags, blankets, tarps, tents that can help keep you dry and protected. Hopefully you will be able to shelter in your home or “Bug in” But the super storm Sandy as well as the Texas fertilizer plant explosion proved that you may have to evacuate. So having items on hand for a camping out for a few days can be used for disaster when you have to leave (Bug out) or shelter in place (Bug in).
The next critical item is safe drinking water. You can last 1-3 days without safe water to drink and you need to have it on hand and under your control. City water can stop working and both city water and wells can become contaminated if the power goes out. Many wells will only work if an electric pump is running. Do not depend on electricity or the city to provide you safe water in an emergency! Do not think you can go to a local river, stream or lake to gather water because everyone else in the area will be doing the same. Water is extremely heavy and you will not be able to carry 5 gallons over more than a short distance. So the best thing to do is store city or well water before you need it! One of the cheapest ways to store water is in used 1-3 liter soda bottles, just give them a good wash and refill. You can also buy the 5 gallon water jugs for “office coolers” at you local mega-mart or empty camp jugs you fill yourself. I like the blue water barrels in 15-60 gallon range for long term storage but the can be kind of expensive to start as well as big and heavy. I can tell you from my own tests that 1 gallon a day per person is not enough water for more than 3 days. Plan on 3-5 gallons per person per day over a week or more. It is a much more realistic amount when you add in cleaning, sanitation and laundry. To extend/resupply my water I’m using rain barrels, a really good water filter as well as chemical treatment like bleach and boiling the water. Add in some additional buckets and tarp to catch any rain water. Dishpans and tubs for recycling water for the garden and you might keep that garden growing. Which brings us to food.
You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on freeze dried food as your local mega-mart has all the long term food in bulk for great prices. White Rice, Beans, Grains, Honey, sugar, salt are some of the cheapest items in the store per serving and if stored properly can last 25-3000 years depending on the product. You will need to learn to cook from scratch but the internet is full of great recipes and recipe books are cheap to find and yard sales or thrift stores. You can grow at least some of your own food using pots, a raised bed to a standard backyard garden. Seeds are very cheap and you know what you put into your food. Check out my Start here $125.00 shopping list page and you might be surprised on how quickly and cheaply you can build up a good store of food for you and your family.
Now you will need a way to cook and heat water and there are two relatively cheap ways to go. A single burner butane stove or a camp stove or propane gas grill. If you have a charcoal grill good for you, as you already have a great way to cook. Remember if electricity stops gas and propane does not pump. So what you have on hand will have to last for the duration of the disaster. If you have a charcoal grill I recommend you get a charcoal chimney for starting your coals. They cost $13.00-20.00 and you will never have to buy charcoal lighting fluid again all you need is some paper soaked with a little cooking oil. With a good heavy wok you can cook on the chimney but you add a good dutch oven and you can cook just about anything on the grill. I think a good 8 quart/2 gallon stock pot or hot bath canner is a great addition to your cooking tools. You will be able to can most high acid fruits and veggies as well as boil up a good amount of water per day.
Lights: I love the look of Hurricane lamps and you can easily supply one via a gallon a kerosene and have a couple of hours of light per day for a month. Most of those lamps will do fine with Paraffin oil and while the paraffin oil is a bit more expensive it does not smell or put out as much fumes as kerosene. LED flashlights are very cheap and put out a lot of light with very little power use. You can get at least a few cheap flash lights at the local dollar for everyone in the family along with batteries for under $10.00. Think solar power on lights. I picked up some little solar lights that look like rocks and they are fairly bright for being charged on the kitchen window sill. I would not want to try and read with one of them but they make dandy night lights. The solar yard lights have improved and got a lot cheaper in the last few years and while the light is nice, every one of those lights comes with a rechargeable battery or two of usually double A batteries. I do have candles but an open flame is not always a good idea especially with children, pets or after a disaster.
Comfort items: Think no power and some folks will freak out a bit if the electronic umbilical cord is cut! Books, cards and board games will help. Add some crossword puzzles, word searches and plain puzzles can help keep minds and hands occupied. I like painting with water colors, no real talent it is just relaxing and fun. I have a couple of looms and notebooks for journals. Some people will hard time adjusting but having something to do will help them make the transition. Some folks may discover hidden talents and some will just fall apart. Expect it and don’t be surprised. Have some comfort rations like those little fun-size candy bars water enhancers like drink mixes, tang , cocoa, coffee and teas. Popcorn is a great snack that you can make salty, sweet or spicy depending or your pantry.
Prepping is simple that does not mean it it is easy. Buying stuff is the easiest part, working on yourself to be physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally prepared is hard. I know many folks will not believe me but it can also be a lot of fun learning new things, building skills and confidence in yourself. Sometimes you will hate that you woke up and would love to go back to being a sheep and being told what to think and do every day. Be a wolf! it’s tough and you will be hunted simply by being what you are and what you do.