Oh, one more thing: when trying to reform your fiscal habits, it can be useful to think of money as a unit of debt owed to you by the society, awarded in exchange for your hard work (or as a consequence of some other fortuitous event). Despite the popular saying, when allocated wisely, that money can buy you safety, comfort, influence, or true friendship and happiness. It would be foolish to squander it on trinkets - just as it would be foolish to take it with you to the grave. My advice is simple: make every transaction count.
Prepping is more about planning, knowledge, and skills than actually purchasing a lot of useless gadgets. I walked away from the consumer lifestyle many years ago and now live on an off-grid homestead. That said, there are always items that preparedness-minded people, like myself, keep their eyes open for. We are always looking for good deals on all things canning, such as jars, lids, pressure canners, and water bath canners. Or perhaps a higher-ticket item, such as a food dehydrator.
In fact, even in situations that don't unfold in such a dramatic way, sketching out a plan can help you optimize spending and spot potential problems early on. For example, there may be little merit to stockpiling 50 lbs of rice if you can't possibly store enough water to cook it all. But then, a quick look at the map may reveal that there is a freshwater reservoir within a biking distance of your home. Great - maybe all you need is a bike basket and a pair of spare inner tubes.
In arctic or alpine areas, survival kits may have additional cold weather clothing (winter hats and gloves), sleeping bags, chemical "hand warmer" packets, sun glasses/snow goggles, snowshoes, a collapsible shovel, a snare wire for small animals, a frying pan, a camp stove, camp stove fuel, a space blanket, matches, a whistle, a compass, tinder, medical equipment, a flint strike, a wire saw, extra socks and a tent designed for arctic use.
Huffman has been a frequent attendee at Burning Man, the annual, clothing-optional festival in the Nevada desert, where artists mingle with moguls. He fell in love with one of its core principles, “radical self-reliance,” which he takes to mean “happy to help others, but not wanting to require others.” (Among survivalists, or “preppers,” as some call themselves, FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, stands for “Foolishly Expecting Meaningful Aid.”) Huffman has calculated that, in the event of a disaster, he would seek out some form of community: “Being around other people is a good thing. I also have this somewhat egotistical view that I’m a pretty good leader. I will probably be in charge, or at least not a slave, when push comes to shove.”
Once you’ve considered what you’re at risk for, we’re going to shelve that information for a bit. The federal government provides some good starting points for considering how to protect yourself (you’ll want to do a lot of research later about how to be safe and survive that scenario). We’re going to move on to a personal assessment of what you currently have.
Are you keen to learn how to use a bow, it’s an art form in itself and actually more complicated than many people believe. It’s not just a case of pulling the bowstring back and shooting. You have to think about how you are standing, where you pull the bowstring back to (known as anchor points), how you release the arrow. And finally what your arms do after the arrow has left the bow.
...where would I go? Is the location sufficiently far away to be unaffected by the event you're running away from? If you are driving, will you have enough gas to get there? (Again, would it help to have a habit of keeping the tank at least half full?) Are the roads likely to be congested or blocked? How many people will think of exactly the same location? What if the destination proves to be inaccessible, overcrowded, or unsafe?
However, a few unintentional similarities to the Quiverfull movement doesn't mean that preppers can't still care about safe sex. Hunting, canning, and digging your own latrines does nothing to make the threat of an STD less real. After all, gonorrhea and genital warts are going to be a whole lot harder to treat without reliable access to medical care. And there must be at least a few survivalists out there rational enough not to want to endure the horrors of premodern pregnancy and birth unless absolutely necessary.
While lurking on a prepper discussion thread on Tea Party Community, a social network marketed as a conservative alternative to Facebook, I once saw a rousing discussion about navigating the tricky business of armed combat while confined to a mobility scooter. In that particular hypothetical scenario, individuals were discussing the best ways to kill NATO peacekeeping forces. These are real people, and they live in your city. You've seen them around, buying groceries or waiting in line at the DMV—just doing regular old human activities. The only difference is that these people look at society and see the death throes of something grotesque, and they imagine that it is likely enough that they will find themselves thrown into a new mode of living, something primal and vicious and, let's face it, potentially invigorating.
In the US, long guns are subject to fewer restrictions than handguns, chiefly because of their negligible role in street crime; that said, "assault weapons" - i.e., semi-automatic rifles with scary-looking cosmetic features, such as barrel shrouds or forward grips - have been a subject of recurring moral panics and various state- or municipality-level restrictions and bans.
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Most shotguns pack a substantial amount of recoil and can easily bruise your shoulder - although lower-powered loads or smaller-gauge variants (e.g., 20 ga) can be operated by small-framed or younger shooters. Capacity typically ranges from 2 to 8 shells. A very affordable, popular, and reliable type of a shotgun is pump-action (reloaded by racking the slide); two of the best-known examples are Remington 870 and Mossberg 590.
Chapter 1 talks about things we have learned from historical events that can help us prevent future repeats. Jim discusses, at length, pandemics, famine, economic collapse and other freak occurrences, their impact on society, and how we handled those situations. Speculating an EMP, he says it could occur either by nuclear detonation, or a geomagnetic storm sent via the sun. If you don’t think either of these things are possible, I urge you to research both. Both are more possible than you may imagine. The chapter ends with information on war and terrorism, covering information from Pearl Harbor to 9/11.
An American hedge-fund manager in his forties—tall, tanned, athletic—recently bought two houses in New Zealand and acquired local residency. He agreed to tell me about his thinking, if I would not publish his name. Brought up on the East Coast, he said, over coffee, that he expects America to face at least a decade of political turmoil, including racial tension, polarization, and a rapidly aging population. “The country has turned into the New York area, the California area, and then everyone else is wildly different in the middle,” he said. He worries that the economy will suffer if Washington scrambles to fund Social Security and Medicare for people who need it. “Do you default on that obligation? Or do you print more money to give to them? What does that do to the value of the dollar? It’s not a next-year problem, but it’s not fifty years away, either.”
You can figure 25-30 years storage life for hard red wheat, stored at 60 degrees in a 55 gallon drum, using 1 pound of dry ice to drive out the oxygen (wait 24hrs for the dry ice to “melt” before sealing the drum). 400 pounds of wheat per drum equals 400 man-days of calories, and costs you about $100. Fill 3-4 barrels. It’s Cheap insurance. Add a barrel of Winter Rye for variety. Add a barrel of oats. Then a couple barrels of WHITE rice, and 2-3 barrels of pinto beans. (You need the beans to balance what’s missing from the grains. The beans may be harder to rehydrate after 10-12 years without a pressure cooker, but then you just grind up the dried beans, and bake them in your bread.) For around $1000, you can be prepared to feed your family for close to a decade, if you also garden, keep chickens, and have fruit trees and bushes. Honey is way too expensive to store on a dollar/calorie basis, but consider bee keeping. A drum takes up LESS than 2’X2’. And they stack nicely, at 33” tall. In a 2’X10′ strip along a basement wall, you can have 10 barrels with 4000 pounds of food. Hang a peg board in front of it, and you’ve got very useful space. If you can’t spare that much space in your basement, to protect the lives of your family, think Venezuela .
In all likelihood, if you are obese or slowly getting there, you know quite well that losing some weight is not really the hard part: if you were to stop eating for a week, you would likely shed 5-10 pounds or more. But it would be a miserable experience, and one almost guaranteed to be followed by an even faster rebound. So, the real challenge of weight management is coming up with a long-term strategy that does not amount to torture - and does not leave you constantly craving for familiar foods.
I used to focus only on preparing for earthquakes and other natural disasters. That changed in 2011 when I went to my first protest, an Occupy Oakland action, with a medic bag. I didn't know yet that I'd be out there for hours, so I didn't have supplies I consider basic now — food, caffeine, extra smokes, insoles for my combat boots. I didn't know how aggressive the police would be, and the handkerchief around my neck was more for a punk look than medical necessity. I hadn't received formal training to be a street medic; I just happened to know first aid and CPR and wanted to help. I carried a 15-pound bag on my back, full of medical supplies, mainly gauze and tape but also things like tourniquets that I hoped I wouldn't have to use. I was scared — I'd had rubber bullets shot at me the night before — but I was determined to drop off water to the protesters and make sure that people had sterile supplies.
In addition to such immediately necessary supplies, some prepper guides recommend purchasing sutures, along with tissue forceps and hemostatic clamps. Such equipment may be useful for neatly closing major wounds in situations where bandages won't do - but suturing correctly requires a fair amount of practice and know-how. For gnarly cuts, skin staplers or skin closure strips + benzoin swabs tend to involve less hassle - and are harder to mess up.
I also found that I absolutely detest the rating system that Practical Preppers apply at the end of every segment. Not because they may or may not be right about aspects of that individual's preparedness, but becuase they fit that rating into a "box". Many preppers have to think outside the box, due to circumstances, finances, whatever, but the rating system seems to ignore that. In a few cases, even I found it insulting. I know they carried it over into season 2, but I'm hoping that if there is a season 3 that either gets changed or dropped entirely.
I just wanted to thank you for your prepping site. I still consider myself a “newbie” even though I have been collecting necessary prepping items for over a year. It can get a little overwhelming looking through all the information that is on the Internet regarding prepping and survival. I posted a link on my Facebook page. And I “Liked” your Facebook page. Thanks again.
For habitual snacking in front of a computer or a TV, see if you can substantially reduce calories while still sticking to satiating and tasty treats. This can be easier than it sounds: say, helping yourself to a nice serving of salted popcorn (110 kcal), preparing a cup of buttery mashed potatoes (110 kcal), grabbing some quick oatmeal (130 kcal), or sipping some hot instant chicken soup (50-80 kcal), is an excellent alternative to Cheetos, M&Ms, or even supposedly healthy peanuts (easily 600-800 kcal). If you enjoy pickles or raw sauerkraut, they are extremely low-calorie, so have as much as you want; in the same vein, carrots are a pretty guilt-free choice. Chewing gum can keep you occupied between meals, and if you are downing multiple cans of sugary drinks a day, artificially-sweetened sodas offer a good alternative.
I spent most of the $500 on these food storage items: brown rice, white rice, pasta noodles, pinto beans, black beans, potato flakes, popcorn, buckwheat hot cereal, oats, cornmeal, flour, salt, and sugar. The rest of the money I used on freeze-dried meat & veggies. I also used some of the money to buy 5-gallon buckets to store the food in and 5-gallon water containers.
Communication: Radio is still the best way to get emergency info. Unfortunately we’ve had a lot of bad experiences with the $20 to $70 “emergency radios” commonly available on Amazon. Poor reception, awful durability, bloated with unneeded features, etc. So we’re not going to make a recommendation until we’ve done a full product review, but if you’re looking anyway, Kaito and Eton are the two most common brands.
Mary lives on what I would call a family compound, with 4 generations represented. Half of the food they consume is from produce and animals they have on their property, and they keep stores of preserved food along with other supplies in the basements or storm cellars of the five homes on their eighty-plus acres. Mary is mostly concerned about weathering some kind of general social collapse, whether economic or racial in nature. “I’m mostly just worried that things were just too good for too long,” she says. “We live in the best country in the world. Everywhere else you look, there are wars happening where they live or right next door. But we have it great here, and now it just feels like we’re getting ready to come apart at the seams.”
15. Red Feather Butter – What can be better than canned cheese than canned butter! Red Feather Butter, coming all the way from New Zealand, is another must have for your storage needs with an equally long shelf life. Not powdered or freeze dried but real creamy butter made from pasteurized cream and salt. Butter & cooking go hand-in-hand, give it a try be sure to have some stocked.
I can't claim to have good advice for people who are already in a tough spot: if your household earnings are well below median, you may simply have no disposable income to build a personal safety net. But for most other folks, the ability to prepare for the zero-income contingency is well within reach - and it would be unwise not to give it a go. Sure, even a lifetime of belt-tightening won't make the average middle-class family fabulously rich. But rainy-day funds work in a different way: their purpose is to get you through a rough spell, not to pay for a mansion or a fancy car. Since the amount needed is directly proportional to how much you currently make, it makes relatively little difference if your household brings in $70k or $140k a year. Either way, if you set aside 10% of every post-tax paycheck, you should have a 6-month financial safety net established within 3 years and a change.
19. Coconut Oil – What substitutes for cooking oil, butter, & health salve? Coconut oil! Most cooking oils will go rancid in a very short time. However, extra virgin coconut oil can last 2-4 years if stored properly. It has many uses including cooking, dry skin, energy boost, reduces inflammation, and even heals diaper rash, but my favorite is to use it for popping popcorn. Gives it a nice buttery flavor.
15. 20 cans of Soup or Broth. The beauty of canned soups and canned broth is that they are a budget friendly. Soups are an all-in-one meal solution. All you need is a can opener and a spoon and you have a meal ready to go. For an extra satisfying meal, try using a can of soup as part of the cooking water for your rice. Yummy! For a guide to making your own bone broth, see Donna’s guide here.
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By and large, all of my clients seemed like nice, normal people, at least via e-mail and on the phone—I never met a single one in person. But in the end, the longer we worked together, the more comfortable the clients tended to become in expressing their more extreme opinions, as if they'd been holding them in. Often, professional decorum (and with it, sometimes basic grammar and spelling) degraded as time went on.
At a rate of 4%, inflation will halve the purchasing power of your savings in about 17 years; at 6%, the process will take just 11 years and a change. Worse yet, depending on your location and lifestyle choices, the inflation rate you experience can be much higher than the nation-wide government numbers imply. For example, the skyrocketing housing prices in the SF Bay Area have halved the purchasing power of some renters and would-be homeowners in a matter of five years or so.
Once you get going, it will be easy to lose track of what you already have. The best way to overcome the state of confusion you will experience six months down the road is to start keeping track of your stored items now – from the beginning. Use a spiral notebook, a computer spreadsheet, or a clipboard and a pad of paper. Update your inventory with the item and date of purchase as it goes into storage and of course, mark it off as it rotates out.
If all goes well, your rainy-day fund will eventually grow big enough for you to face a wonderful and important question: how do I keep all that capital safe? Although it may seem like a remote concern, events such as bank collapses, market crashes, and currency devaluations happen all over the world with near-clockwork regularity - and there are few things more infuriating and disenfranchising than finding out that the fruits of many years of your labor have been wiped out by a market panic or an administrative decree.
Restaurants & taxis. Many young, urban-dwelling folks frequently dine at restaurants, go to clubs, or take cabs around town. If that sounds like you, don't give it up, but scale back slightly by designating several days a week strictly for public transport and home food. Contemporary frozen dinners can be surprisingly tasty, and Netflix has some good shows.
There are other ways to absorb the anxieties of our time. “If I had a billion dollars, I wouldn’t buy a bunker,” Elli Kaplan, the C.E.O. of the digital health startup Neurotrack, told me. “I would reinvest in civil society and civil innovation. My view is you figure out even smarter ways to make sure that something terrible doesn’t happen.” Kaplan, who worked in the White House under Bill Clinton, was appalled by Trump’s victory, but said that it galvanized her in a different way: “Even in my deepest fear, I say, ‘Our union is stronger than this.’ ”
Liz – I’m not normally one to call someone out… But… You’re WRONG! The body ABSOLUTELY cannot survive without carbohydrates. Scientifically impossible! You might want to have a full blood workup done and an exhaustive vitamin panel. No way, no how, you’ve been on a meet and water diet for a year! After a couple of weeks your body would go into ketosis. Not long after that, absence of Carbs would start to affect brain function. Not sure what you’re trying to accomplish with your comment, but you’re “advice” will be sending people to the hospital!
Ah, one more thing: for you car kit, I recommend getting some ibuprofen and caffeine pills ($8). Sure, if you are getting sleepy, you should pull over and get some rest - but if you really can't, caffeine can help you stay alert. Note that it's possible to overdose; the symptoms are typically just very unpleasant, but in rare cases, can be life-threatening.
And why shouldn’t they? National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers doesn’t exactly help viewers understand the plight of the average prepper, the one without 60 guns, scuba diving equipment, a bunker and an armored personnel carrier. “I knew going into it that they would try to sensationalize a lot of stuff,” says Allen, a Springfield, Missouri survivalist who refused to divulge his last name; he appeared on the show in 2012 showing off his aquaponics setup. “If Doomsday Preppers had shown typical preppers on a typical day, it would’ve been pretty boring.”
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