Okay, so you’ve decided that times are definitely changing, and not for the better. You’ve decided that perhaps the country, if not the world, seems like it is on some sort of crash course correction. You’re anxious, because you know you and your family are simply not prepared for what you believe may be coming or, at a minimum, you don’t believe you’re prepared enough.
It’s okay. Take a breath. Relax.
This article will not only give you some peace of mind but practical guidance on how to actually get started getting started down the road to better preparing yourself and your loved ones for those unforeseen man-made or natural disasters. As always, you should begin to research this yourself, but our goal here is to get you pointed in the right direction with some fundamentals on prepping.
Step one: Your list of ‘lists’
The first thing you’ll need to do is simply get organized. Now, when things are calm and there is no pressing emergency – because trying to do this after disaster has struck is too late.
For that, you’ll need a list of lists (hat tip SurvivalBlog.com), and then begin prioritizing them. Here are a few to consider:
* Food list – there are plenty of emergency storable food suppliers in the U.S. and many are easily accessible online. Search for them and research their products carefully; pay particular attention to whether or not you’ll have to reconstitute meals with water (if they are freeze-dried, for instance) and how long they can be stored (get products that will last at least 15 years).
* Medical needs list – do you or anyone in your family have to take special medications? Stock up, if you can.
* First aid list – bandages, band aids, antibiotic creams, sunburn creams, aspirin/ibuprofen/Tylenol, OTC allergy medications, minor suture equipment, nasal spray, rubbing alcohol, peroxide, etc. Do you have allergies? Are you sensitive to certain plants/animals? Do you sunburn easily?
* Weapons and Ammunition list – You don’t need an arsenal, just a few reliable weapons that you can become proficient with (common calibers are best – check at your local gun stores and ask them what they sell most), plus a minimum of 1,000 rounds each for each weapon, stored in military ammunition containers with the rubber seal intact, plus 10 each additional boxes of local, popular rifle and pistol calibers, for bartering (more on that below).
* Fuel list – this should include kerosene and other fuels you will need to power equipment and/or heating devices.
* Water list – storage and retrieval; this would include water purification devices and tablets. Keep in mind you will need about 2 gallons of water per person per day to stay adequately hydrated; more in the summer months. Also, food that must be reconstituted using water means you’ll need more water just to eat.
* Small tools list – digging, harvesting, planting of a garden; filling of sandbags; chopping of wood.
* Emergency technology list: solar-powered radio; non-soap steel wool and 9v batteries (for starting fires – check out this video); compass and/or GPS.
* Barter and charity list – this will include items that you can use to either help people or trade for things. This can include ammunition, small containers (half pints) of alcohol, disposable lighters, waterproof matches, and coined currency (not paper money).
* Personal hygiene list – toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, fingernail clippers, toilet paper, handy wipes, etc.
There are more things to consider as well, and much of this depends on whether you have a fallback location where you can stockpile most of what you’ll need (and you should, either one you own or a place owned by another family in which you have a pre-arrangement), but this basic list of lists will get you started.
One thing to consider is packaging; the easiest way is to purchase plastic storage tubs with lids and vacuum-sealed plastic bags because these hold a lot of items and are easily stackable for storage. Unless you’re storing lightweight products like toilet paper and bandages, don’t get the larger sizes of storage contain because they will be difficult to carry and many vehicles are too small to stow them. Smaller storage containers allow you to diversify your provisions into subgroups, too.
Step 2: Getting started getting your stuff
Once you’ve got an idea about what you’re going to need, you must set about obtaining it. Most of us are not millionaires so it is not practical to think that you can purchase all you will need all at once. If you have the means, then of course, do so, but if not, the best way to obtain your supplies is to set aside a weekly budget for them and then prioritize what you need most. You won’t believe how much you will be able to obtain in just a few months’ times.
And be realistic about your budget; spending too much each week will take away from what you need to live in the here and now; spending too little, however, could mean you’ll wind up with far less gear than what you’ll need if the unexpected happens sooner rather than later.
Start this week.
Also, start visiting blogs and websites that discuss survival and preparedness. One great site is Survival Life.
Step 3: Train, learn, and practice
You can have all of the supplies and tools in the world but they won’t do you much good if you don’t know how to use them.
You may already have some skills – perhaps you’ve had medical training or you’re a frequent shooter – that’s good. That puts you ahead of others. But for those skills you have not yet mastered, now is the time to begin learning them.
Take classes if you can; formal training is always a plus. And once you receive your initial training, practice what you have learned. Make a little time each evening to do so and do so as a family; it’s a great way to spend quality time while becoming more proficient in a valuable skill that could save your life later.
Go out of your way to learn “the hard stuff,” because if you don’t challenge yourself to do so now, while you have time, you won’t get an opportunity to do so after stuff hits the fan.
Some skills you will need to learn include firearms proficiency, gardening techniques, self-defense, basic infantry tactics, leadership training, and even some psychology; during prolonged periods of civil unrest and breakdown, the human behavior you are accustomed to will largely disappear and be replaced by a survivalist mentality that some psychological education will teach you to anticipate and be able to deal with.
Step 4: Reflect on what may be coming
Here are some additional thoughts about human nature, a prolonged situation of lawlessness, and gear that you should consider:
* Most people are “sheep” and will follow the herd, but some people are wolves who prey on sheep. Others like you and, perhaps, many of your friends, are more like sheepdogs; you want to help protect the sheep. You can do that, but understand and realize your limitations. In the end, you can only take care of so many people. Besides, you and your family are the most important thing. Just know that, while there is protection and strength in numbers of sheepdogs, there can also be wolves.
* The vast majority of people will take the path of least resistance when “stuff” happens. For instance, most people will jump into the family roadster with a cooler, maybe a pistol and no plan except to make for the nearest highway, as if no one else had thought of that. You, on the other hand, won’t, because you will have planned for your escape and will (hopefully) have gotten out before the collapse. You will have planned to use lightly traveled back roads to move around to a pre-ordained rally point. At that rally point you will have already stashed a number of items from your lists above. And you will have made it to your rally point in a lightly packed bug-out bag that includes a weapon and basic provisions for a few days for you and your family.
* Lighter, less densely populated areas are generally safer than densely packed urban environments, but people will flee them en masse. As the emergency worsens (and lengthens in duration) they will become increasingly desperate – desperate for what you have. Which brings me to the next point…
* Be prepared to use lethal force. It’s not something you can just “decide” to do; you have to think about it now, before the emergency, because you won’t want to wrangle with this mentally if a situation arises where you and yours are being threatened because hesitating then could cost you dearly. Always choose diplomacy and negotiation first, but if you cannot resolve the issue peacefully or diplomatically, you must be mentally and physically prepared to act.
* A long-term chaotic situation where there is a collapse of the civil society will bring about different rules of societal behavior. What is considered improper, illegal or off-limits now will not be then; what is considered appropriate, compassionate and lawful now won’t be then. Even best friends and long-time neighbors will turn hostile when they are hungry, cold, scared, etc., and unable to take care of themselves. The path of least resistance includes obtaining your stuff, and they’ll do it by force if necessary.
Still, you want to do your part to help restore the civil society, so practicing the Ten Commandments is the best way to restore morality to an immoral, anarchic situation. Another good axiom: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Just be prepared to defend yourself if these principles fail.
* You will be surprised to find what you can barter with and barter for. Civilians who survived Serbian occupation and depredation during the Bosnia war in the early 1990s found that the most obscure things – like disposable cigarette lighters – became highly coveted possessions (can’t light a fire in the winter with good intentions). Small amounts of liquor (like half-pints) were often traded for 30 rounds of ammo, and so forth. As stated in your list of lists above, you should stockpile some items specifically for barter purposes.
* Don’t buy tools (firearms, for instance) and then neglect to learn how to properly use them. Gear is useless if you can’t operate it or utilize it effectively. Make sure you dedicate some time and effort into learning your gear: how it fits, how it operates and what makes it most effective. After all, you will have to rely on it in a protracted societal collapse situation. If you can afford some advanced firearms training, get it; become more than just a little skilled at medical care, and so on. Gardening is a great skill to learn as well. And put some time in at a firing range.
* There is something to be said for redundancy: Get more than one of what you need; things break or they simply fail to operate or they become lost. Get the best quality you can affort; Walmart may sell some cool things, but if you want your gear to last – and you do – nothing is more durable than military gear. There are surplus stores all over the place and if you don’t have one in your area, there are a number of online sellers of quality military-grade items. Think Gortex; it’s the best waterproof material out there, and yes, things will get wet at some point (including you and your family).
* Find a retreat and visit it frequently. You don’t want to “wonder where” to go when disaster strikes; also, you don’t want to stockpile your retreat, only to discover when you really need it that your site has been pilfered or disturbed. You want a solid plan – but more than one. You need a Plan A, B and C.
* Be as charitable as you can, but always remember your first responsibility is to yourself and your family. You should want to help as many people as possible, but supplies only go so far – and charity begins at home.
* Plan on the government getting nastier as the disaster wears on, even to the point of becoming downright unfriendly. Don’t go into a situation involving a government agency or the military expecting to have your rights violated, but as time wears on and societal breakdown becomes more complete, just remember that government entities exist to protect government, first and foremost – and that’s federal, state and local governments (though local PDs and sheriff’s departments tend to be more mindful of their citizens).
In the end, the more isolated you can keep yourself, the better. Don’t go looking for trouble, and be in a place where trouble will have a hard time finding you.
In these calmer times, read what you can about preparedness; find out what you don’t know and learn it. In an emergency situation, there is nothing more reliable than being able to react to it as though it were second nature.
Liberty is everything; be prepared to defend your own.