For many people, prepping has become a part of their lives. In fact, every day more and more people are prepping. But what exactly are they prepping for? As I ask people this question, some have varied answers but most don't know. They simply feel a need to prep for something that is inevitably coming. So I've gathered some thoughts on what a person might be prepping for and things to take into consideration...
First of all, a person should take into consideration of the most possible scenario that could happen with their family. Some of these things may include job loss, illness/major injury to family member, etc. These happen to people on a daily basis and are not "extreme" by any means. Even those who do not "prep" know these difficulties are just a part of life. The possible scenarios then continue down a road of most possible to more extreme scenarios, like Armageddon. Here is a list of possible things to consider:
- Job loss
- Illness, injury to family member, death of provider or caretaker
- Natural disaster (flood, tornado, hurricane, etc)
- Natural plague (disease in crops or animals, famines, droughts, etc)
- Biological or natural diseases/plagues within human population
- Strikes or other hinderances in shipping, trucking or air transportation of needed goods/services
- Important resource problems (oil pipeline breaks, refinery explosions/failures, fuel shortages)
- Terrorist attack(s) either on large or small scales
- Local or national riots by gangs or extreme organizations with destructive motivations
- Economic collapse (or on a smaller scale: recession, depression, etc)
- Government collapse or large scale physical struggle for political power by force
- EMPs (either natural from solar flares or man-made by high atmospheric nuclear detonations)
- Foreign invasion on US soil
- Complete world-wide turmoil and chaos
So the question is, how does one prepare for these things? Surprisingly, prepping for these is more similar than you might expect, with a few differences between each. But to start out, plan on the most realistic scenarios.
In the last few years, more and more people have experienced the unfortunate dilemma of job loss and the effects of it on their families. This can challenge and tax the basic needs of a family. Simple things like food and shelter are suddenly at risk if precautions haven't been taken. If they have, a family may be able to continue to function and live for 6 months or longer without any drastic changes until new sources of income can be obtained. Consider the following goals for basic preparedness:
- 3 month food reserve - This is food used from week to week during "normal" periods of a family's life and would allow the family to not have to go to the store for groceries for 90 days (excluding fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, etc... which you could plan around via canned fruits, vegetables and powdered milk)
- 6 months financial reserve - This is money in the bank saved for a rainy day. This is the amount to pay the monthly bills and not extra "fun" activities. This is necessary living funds to pay mortgage, electricity, car payments, gas, etc. Although this may be difficult, a little at a time can make a big difference and accumulate fast. Some sacrificing may be necessary to accomplish this goal. The idea is to be able to pay your bills for 6 months or more (ideally) and not lose your home or other necessities.
- Long-term food storage - Long term food storage (1 or more years) of basic food staples has been taught by religious groups (such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints... or LDS) for well over a hundred years. These basics like rice, wheat, beans, sugar, salt, cooking oil, etc. are things that will keep a person alive and well in dire circumstances. They can also extend the rations of better foods. For instance, if you have some dehydrated/freeze dried food storage (like Mountain House), you can turn a 2-person meal into a 4 to 6-person meal by adding a bunch of rice to it.
- Water storage - Water storage is a difficult thing as it takes up a lot of room. But several weeks minimum is possible via empty soda pop bottles, 5 gallon water jugs and 55 gallon barrels. Couple this with the means to filter water (tablets, filters, boiling components, bleach, etc) and possible external water sources and you're on the right track. And don't forget other possible short term reserves like the Water Bob (storage bag the shape of your bathtub), hot water heater (flush often to maintain clean water) and the water pipes in your home (learn how to drain the pipes to the lowest point for water accumulation.
- Knowledge - The knowledge of how to use these things is of course necessary and shouldn't be overlooked. Learn, practice and re-practice today so when the knowledge is needed, you're ready!
Once you have done the basics listed above, you can extend your preps to cover more possibilities. Many of the extended preparedness items are things you'd use in camping and recreational activities and are good to have anyways. Some are not used as often and may be beyond what is normally used. But even those items are almost always able to be utilized and enjoyed during camping trips and other activities. Some of these may be:
- Alternative cooking methods - If your normal cooking devices are not available for whatever reason (microwave, stove, oven) then other methods may be needed. These include both the devices needed, the fuels to utilize them and knowledge of how to cook with them. For example:
- Dutch ovens - Cast iron pots (and I'll add pans too) that last lifetimes if properly cared for. I use mine all the time and particularly like the Lodge brands.
- Ceramic painted pots, pans, cups, plates - These can be used for boiling water for cooking/purification, cooking, cleaning, etc. Some are higher quality than others, so be observant.
- Fuels - Propane, charcoal, wood, kerosene, gasoline, etc.
- Stoves - Propane burners, emergency wood/charcoal (like Rocket Stoves), tri-fuel (like Volcano), kerosene stoves, bi-fuel stoves (take white gas and gasoline), sun ovens (like All American Sun Oven), etc.
- Alternative lighting - If you have no electricity, you'll need alternative lighting methods so you can see. These might include kerosene lanterns (both standard and aladdin style), candles, oil lamps (rancid cooking oil, cotton mop strands and bailing wire can be used), battery operated lights (rechargeable batteries and solar battery charger recommended), etc. High quality flashlights with rechargeable batteries (either AA or AAA) are very important. Multiple light sources are recommended. You'll probably be going to bed and waking up earlier, utilizing the daylight for activities and darkness for sleep.
- Camping equipment - If you had to get out of town, whether due to losing your home or the city being unsafe to be in, you'll need protection from the elements for yourself and your family. These thing may include (in addition to other items listed above and below):
- Good quality 4-season tent - Because emergencies do not always just happen during good weather and because there's not always a timeline, it is important to have a tent that will work during summer and winter conditions. A good canvas wall tent with stove is highly recommended. Know how to set them up, make basic repairs and utilize environment to your advantage.
- Sleeping bags/cots - A good quality, warm sleeping bag is necessary. This doesn't have to be expensive, but just prepared wisely. Keeping warm is not an option, but a necessity for yourself and your family during the cold winter nights (see Keeping Warm When Camping). The cots are a great addition not only for comfort, but to keep you off the cold ground and to allow more storage under your sleeping space in a potentially limited living space.
- Fire Starting methods - Having the long-term tools and knowledge of how to start fires is critical. It is not only important for keeping warm, but also for cooking and for the general emotional therapy it provides in the evenings. This important component cannot be emphasized enough (see The Last Firestarting Kit You'll Ever Need!).
- Food procurement - Knowing how to obtain food from places other than the shelves of the local grocery store is important. This includes both meat (trapping, snaring, hunting, fishing, etc) and vegetation gathering (roots, berries, leaves, grasses, seeds, etc). Know what plants are edible, which are dangerous and which can be used as alternative medicine. Knowing how to prepare these things is also important. And an understanding of skinning, preparing and utilizing animals is a necessary skill. Added to that is the knowledge of tanning hides, using sinew for thread, making tools out of bones, etc. Utilizing resources will be critical when things get bad.
- First Aid - First aid is an important aspect of preparedness which can also be a great skill set during every day life before an emergency. Today we can usually get in the car and drive to the doctor, hospital or even just call 911 when an emergency happens. But what if there are no hospitals available. If you had to rely on your current knowledge, how would you fair? This is a scary thought for many, but a reality of life which is better to prepare for than suffer the unprepared results. If you are new to first aid, start with a basic CPR class. Then move on to another topic. Continue to progress a little at a time and before you realize it, you'll have a great deal of information to fall back on.
- Self Defense - One of the most ignored aspects of preparedness is self defense. There may be some situations when this may not be as important as others (such as job loss, illness and injury, etc). However, during more extreme situations that involve more than just yourself and your immediate family, self defense is a top priority. Any time the normal rule of law is stressed (riots, economic or govt collapse, natural or man-made disasters, etc), basic necessities of life are limited (food, water, fuel), or any other situation where there is a lack of accountability and basic needs are threatened, a large part of society will change it's value system. In other words, a father who is an otherwise law abiding citizen may turn to crime to obtain food for himself and his family. It is said that society is 9 meals from anarchy. That means that if food is cut off for whatever reason, law and order would cease in society. It would turn to a world of dog-eat-dog and of fending for one's self. Extreme measures and hostile situations would immediately follow. If you don't have a means of self defense for both your lives and your preparedness supplies, they will be up for grabs from whomever feels the need to take it from you. Prepare accordingly through ample training and supplies. Practice, practice, practice and be prepared!
- Transportation - If you had to "head for the hills" due to the city or area where you live being unsafe to stay, do you have appropriate transportation to transport your family and critical supplies? Too many people today have a compact car which is great on gas mileage, but completely useless if you have to bug out. Consider your needs based upon your personal situation, where you live, your family size, etc. and determine if you have what you need or if you might want to consider a bigger 4x4 vehicle, a trailer to transport supplies, etc. This is a very personal decision, but one needing to be considered.
- Training - Knowledge is one of the most important parts of preparation. There are possibilities of losing everything you have in terms of preparedness. But knowledge is something that can't be taken. And knowledge put to practice and kept up to date cannot be lost. This knowledge can encompass all aspects of the information above, plus more. There is a great variety of training from people like Kelly Alwood that encompass things from Urban Escape and Evasion (getting out of a hostile city situation, escaping kidnappings, etc), Wilderness Survival, Firearm training, Lockpicking, Bugging Out, SAR (Search and Rescue), Tracking, Trapping, EMT, Rappelling and many, many more. These classes are from someone who have done these things long-term and knows what he's talking about through experience and training. Find someone like this to get your training and practice your training. In addition to that, perhaps get CERT certified so you'll know how to be a resource during an emergency in your community that doesn't require you to leave. Or join your Search and Rescue (SAR) team so that you can be of assistance to others while you learn new skills. Just do something!
- Self Reliance - Learn how to be more self reliant. Today society is far too dependent upon others for survival. The last few decades we have lost even the basic knowledge of survival. Things like gardening, sewing, backyard meat and food production (chickens, rabbits, etc), home repairs and basic construction, etc. are no longer basic knowledge. This is very dangerous because not only are we putting basic needs into the hands of others, we are leaving ourselves very vulnerable for when something does happen. We don't need to be experts in all things, but a little knowledge of the basics of life are very important. And understanding and participating in these things can be very fulfilling and bring families closer together. And if your location and space allow it, perhaps find some more things to add (ducks, tilapia, bee keeping, goats, cows, etc.). Start somewhere and build on as time, money and needs arise.
All the different aspects could go on and on and even fill up volumes of books. This blog's purpose is to just get you thinking about situations you may need to prepare for and then different aspects of that preparedness. And although it is impossible to prepare for all situations, you can prepare for many. Hopefully you've gotten a few good ideas of where you can start, expand or fine tune your preps. Find things you'd enjoy or have interest in and start there. Turn preparedness into a fun adventure instead of dreary work. You'll find that not only will you be at greater ease as you increase your preps, but you'll also be better prepared to handle whatever situation may arise so your family will be able to not just survive, but thrive during hard times.
Enjoy the journey!