I suspect that we dismiss such hazards not only because they seem surreal, but also because worrying about them makes us feel helpless and lost. What's more, we follow the same instincts to tune out far more pedestrian and avoidable risks; for example, most of us don't plan ahead for losing a job, for dealing with a week-long water outage, or for surviving the night if our home goes up in smoke.
Of course, marketable hobbies aside, some of the more determined preppers pursue interests such as martial arts, pro marksmanship, bushcraft, paramilitary combat tactics, and other extreme survival strategies. Such talents can be quite useful in a couple of plausible if unlikely scenarios - but their major disadvantage is that during a simple economic downturn, they won't put bread on the table or pay your bills. It's not unwise to give them some consideration, but be sure to balance it with more pragmatic skills.
protect the food – by separating the food into sealed smaller bags it protects them from the air and contaminates each time I open the bucket to get food out. I’ve noticed that the bulk popcorn gets less fluffy and a little crunchier over the years as there is more air in the bucket as the popcorn gets lower. When I buy new popcorn I will seal it in smaller bags to keep it fresher longer.
Tools may include cutting tools such as saws, axes and hatchets; mechanical advantage aids such as a pry bar or wrecking bar, ropes, pulleys, or a 'come-a-long" hand-operated winch; construction tools such as pliers, chisels, a hammer, screwdrivers, a hand-operated twist drill, vise grip pliers, glue, nails, nuts, bolts, and screws; mechanical repair tools such as an arc welder, an oxy-acetylene torch, a propane torch with a spark lighter, a solder iron and flux, wrench set, a nut driver, a tap and die set, a socket set, and a fire extinguisher. As well, some survivalists bring barterable items such as fishing line, liquid soap, insect repellent, light bulbs, can openers, extra fuels, motor oil, and ammunition.
This, of course, is easier said than done. We tend to scale up our living expenses in proportion to earned income, so even in the $100k+ bracket, people living paycheck-to-paycheck are not a rare sight. And it's usually not the big-ticket stuff that gets them: we're far more likely to overspend on all the smaller, habitual purchases, because their cumulative cost is less apparent - and potential savings are much easier to miss. The patterns to look for will depend on your lifestyle and on how much you make, but here are several suggestions for where to search for that 10%:
But in 1961 John F. Kennedy encouraged “every citizen” to help build fallout shelters, saying, in a televised address, “I know you would not want to do less.” In 1976, tapping into fear of inflation and the Arab oil embargo, a far-right publisher named Kurt Saxon launched The Survivor, an influential newsletter that celebrated forgotten pioneer skills. (Saxon claimed to have coined the term “survivalist.”) The growing literature on decline and self-protection included “How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years,” a 1979 best-seller, which advised collecting gold in the form of South African Krugerrands. The “doom boom,” as it became known, expanded under Ronald Reagan. The sociologist Richard G. Mitchell, Jr., a professor emeritus at Oregon State University, who spent twelve years studying survivalism, said, “During the Reagan era, we heard, for the first time in my life, and I’m seventy-four years old, from the highest authorities in the land that government has failed you, the collective institutional ways of solving problems and understanding society are no good. People said, ‘O.K., it’s flawed. What do I do now?’ ”
After 15 minutes, I was startled to discover that the cereal had puffed up into a Kashi-like multitude of grains, flecked with tiny pieces of apple, complete with green peel, that looked just-chopped. It didn’t taste as good as it appeared: Eyeballing a fourth of the bag had resulted in a poor distribution of seasoning, yielding a flavor I can only describe as water laced with traces of cinnamon and sugar, though subsequent attempts tasted better.
In the early ’80s on a job for the State Department to reinforce U.S. embassies and consulates following the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings, Pense says he and other government contractors around the U.S. converged on CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia. The consortium of engineers traded notes and decided that the U.S. power grid was vulnerable. Inadequate, Pense says, compared to everything that’s been hung on it, and that was three decades ago. Three high-altitude electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) could take the whole thing down. Like New York City’s 1977 blackout, looting and pillaging would rule the streets, and that’s if they can get the lights back on quickly enough—if the power stays off for too long, order is lost forever.
Those impulses are not as contradictory as they seem. Technology rewards the ability to imagine wildly different futures, Roy Bahat, the head of Bloomberg Beta, a San Francisco-based venture-capital firm, told me. “When you do that, it’s pretty common that you take things ad infinitum, and that leads you to utopias and dystopias,” he said. It can inspire radical optimism—such as the cryonics movement, which calls for freezing bodies at death in the hope that science will one day revive them—or bleak scenarios. Tim Chang, the venture capitalist who keeps his bags packed, told me, “My current state of mind is oscillating between optimism and sheer terror.”
Pense was born in the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. He was 5 years old when the bombs fell over Pearl Harbor. His food was rationed. He got bronchiectasis during Black Sunday as an infant and “forgot to tell” the Army so he could serve; he stayed in the service until the doctors found out. He’s a product of a generation when people were prepared, not because it was stylish or social, but because it was what you had to do. He tells me all this as his still-strong arm puts another log on the fire, and I can’t help but wonder what the world will be like when resilient people like him are gone.
Everyone in California is waiting for "The Big One," an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 or greater that will destroy infrastructure and cause mass panic. Yet when I moved to the Bay Area from the East Coast, I discovered that since most of the people I knew were making do with small apartments and ever-increasing rent, having supplies on hand for a natural disaster required a space premium that many couldn't afford. I began to put together an earthquake kit that would not only serve my household (which over the years fluctuated from one to three other people) but also my neighborhood, if needed. Even with all that work, I didn't consider myself a prepper, just someone who heeded the Red Cross's warnings.
Jim Cobb is the author of Prepper's Home Defense (2012) and Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness (2013). He has been a prepper for most of his life and has worked almost twenty years in the security management and investigation fields. He also is the owner and lead trainer for DisasterPrepConsultants.com. Jim's primary home online is found at SurvivalWeekly.com. He lives and works in the Upper Midwest, sequestered in a fortified bunker with his lovely wife and their adolescent weapons of mass destruction.
Before I headed back to Wichita, we stopped at Hall’s latest project—a second underground complex, in a silo twenty-five miles away. As we pulled up, a crane loomed overhead, hoisting debris from deep below the surface. The complex will contain three times the living space of the original, in part because the garage will be moved to a separate structure. Among other additions, it will have a bowling alley and L.E.D. windows as large as French doors, to create a feeling of openness.
We have several of the shelves from Costco/ Sam’s Club. They are great! Put the thin bar across the front of your shelves, not the back. We have some shelves from Thrive Life that rotate the food for you too. Love those! Bought on Black Friday sales. In the end, do what works for you and you budget and space. Ours has changed many times over the years.
“One misconception about prepping is that you’re always thinking there’s going to be some kind of epic disaster,” she told me over the phone from Virginia. “The most common disaster that we prep for, or that happens to us, is a financial problem.” A longtime single mother, Luther said her interest in food storage grew out of a period of “abject poverty” following the 2008 recession. Lisa Bedford, a Texas-based writer who runs the site The Survival Mom, told me she got into disaster preparedness around the same time, when she wasn’t sure if her husband’s construction business would survive the downturn. (Bedford also works as an independent consultant for Thrive Life, meaning that she promotes their products online, and receives a commission on purchases from customers she refers to the company, as well as a discount on products she buys herself.)
The commercial wire shelves on big casters I got on Wish.com. I purchased (3) 5 shelf shelve sets. My 5 gallon buckets of sugar, wheat, oats, pasta, beans, rice, pancake mix, powdered milk, powdered eggs, and homemade cake/brownies. I can homemade pasta sauce, chicken chunks, beef chunks, and pork chunks. Hamburger is cooked and dehydrated for skillet meals. I have 5 gallons of raw honey, 2 gallons of molasses. Buy cases of canned veggies when they go on sale and put together zip lock bags of bread ingredients stored in 5 gallon buckets since baked bread is a staple for meals.
When bands of marauders start roaming the streets, how are you going to keep them out? Tear down a few walls, says Timothy Ferraro, a twenty-five-year construction veteran who's thought about this situation plenty while watching The Walking Dead. "Assuming the attackers don't have a battering ram, you should be able to keep them out using the lumber and drywall already in your home," he says.
Many food products will market themselves around a 4 week / 30-32 day / 1 month timeline for one person. Which was fine for us, because we standardize against two weeks but assume that an average household is two people. So it’s easy to buy a “30-day supply for one person” — assuming the calories per day are appropriate — and use it as a two-week supply for two people.
Now, a word of caution: beware of debt. Many of us are taught that owing money is normal, even desirable; indeed, for middle-class folks, some forms of indebtedness may be difficult to avoid. But unnecessarily accrued debt cuts into your bottom line in two insidious ways. First of all, monthly installment payments limit your flexibility in an emergency - so if your income shrinks, your savings will be depleted at a merciless and non-negotiable rate. Secondly, high-interest loans, such as credit cards, amount to giving out a good chunk of your income without earning anything useful in return. They are akin to voluntarily accepting a pay cut.
That spirit of self-sufficiency runs through the history of American food culture. Lydia Maria Child’s 1829 manual The Frugal Housewife, one of the first American cookbooks ever published, instructed women to contribute to their family’s finances by making sure no scrap of food was wasted: “Nothing should be thrown away so long as it is possible to make any use of it, however trifling that use may be.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints* encourages members to keep a three-month food supply on hand at all times, and even sells dehydrated food products on its official website. This Mormon connection may be why Utah is such a freeze-dried food hub: Of 21 freeze-dried food companies I counted online, 16 were from the state, and Bedford told me she first learned about long-term food storage by reading blogs by Mormon women.
Pairing coupons with sales is the only way to save real money. It also is the only way that you can get things for free, or get paid for purchasing items. If an item is usually $2.00, it is on sale for $1.00, and you have a $1.00 coupon, that item is free! However, if an item is usually $2.00, it is on sale for $1.00, you have a $1.00 coupon, and it is also double coupon week, some stores will actually pay you that $1.00 difference! This is the key to getting your stockpile for free. If you shop at stores with good coupon policies and you take advantage of sales, you can acquire all the items you need for your stockpile without spending anything! As you can see, pairing coupons with sales, and using all potential promotions to your advantage, can make all of the difference.
Now I am obviously a big fan of couponing, but it can come at a price. One of the classic dilemmas about couponing is whether or not to use a coupon on a brand-name item, or to just buy the store-brand item. This decision will almost always be circumstantial. Sometimes, the store-brand item will be a better deal than the brand-name plus coupon. If you are new to couponing, it can be quite frustrating, as it seems like you are spending more money than you did before just to get all of the deals. This may be true, and it may cause you to want to switch to store-brand items. While this is not always a bad idea, as inexperienced couponers can end up spending a lot of money, make sure you do the comparison to find the better deal. Also, always remember, particularly for a stockpile, that timing matters! The store-brand may be the better deal this week, but next week might be double coupon week, meaning you could get that item for free next week as opposed to paying a little for the store-brand this week. Doing your research on a case-by-case basis and remaining patient are keys for amassing a completely free stockpile.
It is critical that you be able to control your environment in an emergency. The place to start is your home. If you live in an area where it gets very cold in the winter (as in you HAVE to run a heater to survive) then the most critical thing for you is going to be able to heat your home – or rather a section (at least one bedroom) of it. You’ll want to have a kerosene heater to keep a warm spot in your home. Here’s a good place to start learning about heating your home in an emergency.
I would like to add something, not necessarily to the list, but more like “food for thought” ideas that could very well save you and your family’s life. Living in the South, you “will almost” grow up around some natural disasters, whether it be a hurricane or tornado, most of us here take “prepping” very serious..and we learn a lot from those disasters also (I.e. Hurricane Katrina). I grew up around great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, other relatives and friends, who have a garden, almost for the entire year. Learning to can and freeze food was as natural as brushing your teeth! During the summer, when school is out, we shelled peas, shuck corn(yeah say that fast!), canned beans and tomatoes, picked berries, smashed berries, and, on occasion, churned butter! I wish I had a dollar for every pea I shelled! I be richer than Midas! Knowing these “techniques” can make a huge difference in feeding your family for several months without electricity. There have been lots of times when we would get lunch or diner straight out of the garden, washed and prepped, cooked, and on the plate in a couple of hours. No storage. No refrigeration! Scraps of food went into the garden or compost. And you can cook this stuff straight over an open fire. Two words…”cast iron”…it is a very good investment…it is great to use anywhere…open fire or stove! You don’t have to wash cast iron(I know it does sound gross, but believe it or not, that is the “beauty” of cast iron)..you wipe it out and keep it seasoned. You can cook anything in cast iron, from biscuits…to a cake! People with cast iron can cook almost forever! I would view it as essential. Enough about the garden.
In shopping malls, on mass transit, and in other crowded settings, don't carry your most precious valuables in front or back pockets; a purse is also a clear no-no. Inner pockets of jackets, and breast- or knee-level pockets of pants and shirts, are much harder to muck with. Discreet, slim waist packs or under-the-garments neck wallets work even better. Emphasize to your friends that you are wearing such fashion accessories only ironically; who knows, maybe you will start a trend.
I stored Flour, Sugar (white & Brown) along with yeast, baking soda/powder and crisco. My plan is to use a Bread machine to make bread. I have a large generator to power essential items. I also have a small generator (very quite) to power things during night time hours or my camper that has an oven we could use in an emergency. The best thing you can do now is to sit down and go thru some various scenarios in your head with varying degrees of severity. Then, write it all down on paper in note/bullet statement format. When you’re stressed-out is not the time to formulate a plan.
41. Storage Tanks – Water storage tanks are important and can be anything from 1 gallon jugs to 50 gallon barrels or 2000+ gallon water tanks. An important concept is to have a ‘dirty’ water tank and a ‘clean’ water tank. So if you need to collect water from a nearby pond or river, you can store it first in the dirty tank and then filter it to the clean tank.
During a catastrophe, there may be an extended period of time where you need to sustain yourself. For these situations, we offer 3-day personal survivor kits, as well as larger kits for families. Kits are ready to go when emergencies strike and are filled with the supplies you need for fire-starting, tending to medical situations, and ensuring you can get the nutrition you need when food or clean water is not accessible. Our prepacked emergency survival kits are perfect for storing in your car, basement, closet, or cabin to ensure you always have access to life-saving supplies.