Starting any new project, large or small, can be daunting. Unlike other projects, however, family preparedness and prepping can literally save your life if not your sanity. I have created a beginners roadmap for going forward as I develop each topic in detail in the Twelve Months of Prepping Series, complete with actionable steps that you can take to become a prepper of the highest order while doing so with grace, optimism, and hope.
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.
By January, 2015, Johnson was sounding the alarm: the tensions produced by acute income inequality were becoming so pronounced that some of the world’s wealthiest people were taking steps to protect themselves. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Johnson told the audience, “I know hedge-fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway.”
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.
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.
Mylar bags & Oxygen Absorbers: What I love about Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers is they protect against every single one of the food storage enemies. Prices do vary but for the most part, they are inexpensive and easy to keep on hand. And while you can seal them up with a FoodSaver, some tubing and a common clothes iron, I find it infinitely easier with a cheap hair straightening iron that you can pick up $20 or less.
With all this out of the way, let's get back to a gadget mentioned a bit earlier in this guide: Geiger counters. Unless you're an emergency responder, you may not really need one. That said, such a device could conceivably help you stay informed and keep your family and friends at ease - and I don't mean just the remote possibility of a nuclear war. Consider all the bogus rumors of contaminated water and food in the aftermath of Fukushima; a radiation meter could have put any such speculation to rest.
Sooner or later, you may find yourself unable to access your bank deposits for a couple of days or weeks. It could be a matter of IT trouble at your bank, of a lost wallet, or of being a victim of identity theft. Heck, take Greece or Cyprus: when the confidence in the nation's financial institutions is shattered, it's easy to get caught up in government-imposed bank closures and withdrawal controls. (Folks in the United States may also recall the forced closure of Washington Mutual in 2008, or several state-level "bank holidays" imposed to combat bank runs during the savings & loan crisis back in the 80s.)
Just as importantly, our innate nutritional instincts can be badly misguided, too: for example, contrary to common wisdom, bananas are not really healthier than potatoes, and the bulk nutritional qualities of a glass of apple juice are pretty close to those of a can of Sprite. Heck, good ol' butter has fewer calories than olive or coconut oil, so a "healthy" bruschetta is not far off from a less-reputable southern delicacy: deep-fried butter on a stick. It gets better: a supposedly nutritious burrito from Chipotle easily packs four times as many calories as a greasy burger from McDonald's, while a loaded coffee at Starbucks is about the same as downing two hot dogs with a heaping side of mashed potatoes to boot. The end result is a truly abysmal track record for most weight loss regimes; the long-term success rate for people who try to slim down is estimated to be somewhere between 5 and 20%.
For experienced preppers like Daisy Luther, founder of the blog The Organic Prepper and the online survival goods store Preppers Market, ready-to-go freeze-dried meals are more of a last line of defense than anything else. Though she insists these products “have their place,” her version of long-term food storage sounds more like a way of life, a process of slowly building up a pantry that will enable her to feed her family as healthfully and economically as possible. Sometimes that means stocking up on the freeze-dried stuff, or buying whatever’s on sale at the supermarket; but it’s also about living in sync with the seasons, growing food in her own garden and using timetested home preservation methods—like canning and dehydrating—to ensure she always has food on hand.
No one can remember every single detail about every single subject. As practiced and skilled as you may be, there will always be a situation where you either forgot or just plain do not know. Build up a survival library. Binders full of paper are good but so are electronic readers and tablets that can easily be powered using inexpensive solar chargers.
“Next thing I see is, they hanged the colored boy, ’cause they caught him stealing. And they had established, I think, about 1,000 trees in the forest out in Mark Twain to hang people from if they catch them stealing or whatever. And I had a big dog—my dog died of bone cancer of all things two years ago. Buddy was half-Rottweiler, half-German shepherd. He was a dog, and he was with me in this. And I also have a police riot gun, a 12-gauge, that holds eight magnum shells. So I’m seeing all this stuff happening, and then I look around, and my dog’s gone. So I picked up my shotgun and went to look for my dog, and I found five men, and they were already skinning him to eat.”
This prepper is planning for a major apocalypse and devotes considerable time and energy to ensuring that he or she will prevail. The Diehard Prepper may have a well-stocked bug out retreat where they can live out their days if the end of the world should come. They may also be highly secretive and unwilling to share what they have and what they know for OPSEC reasons.
Forgetting to store spices, salt, oil and basic condiments that are needed for your food storage. How will your famous spaghetti sauce taste without Italian seasoning, salt, olive oil and that pinch of sugar? Beans are a great staple to have on hand and can be seasoned in a variety of ways using salt, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, soy sauce, ground red pepper and more.
When writing this document, describe your "ideal" scenario, but also think about all the complications that may crop up and derail your plan. For example, what if both you and your spouse die, but your children survive? Or, who should get what share of the money if your spouse is badly hurt and can't resume caring for the kids, so they end up in the custody of a relative? What if your designated executor or custodian is unable or unwilling to perform the duties? And in an extreme case, if there are no surviving relatives, do you have any favorite charity?
Typically, survival kits are designed to help you get through a situation in which help cannot be secured. However, if you equip yourself with a satellite phone you can contact help from anywhere on the planet. In other situations, a pre-paid cell phone or two-way radio (be sure to find out the frequency the local ranger station or emergency responders use) may be all that you need to contact help when you need it most.
They are part of a burgeoning "prepper" movement that believes preparing for the end of civilization is more rational than ridiculing those who do. Once viewed largely as a practice by survivalists on the fringe, prepping has achieved cohesion and community in the Internet age through best-selling writers, bloggers, risk assessors, conspiracy theorists and companies that cater to preppers' needs.
As for the appropriate calorie intake: almost all adults can function normally on 1,500 calories a day for extended periods of time, although they will slowly lose weight (probably not more than half a pound a week). If you are skinny or if you're aiming for surviving many months with no access to other food, budgeting 2,000-2,200 kcal per day is a safer bet. Since you would have to exercise portion control, it pays to focus on satiating foods: high-fiber, high-protein, or high-fat.
In addition, the kits may contain typical individual "survival kit" items, such as nylon tarps, extra clothes and coats, blankets, sleeping bags, matches or other fire starting equipment, a compass and maps, flashlights, toilet paper, soap, a pocket knife and bowie knife, a fishing kit, a portable camping stove, a power inverter, backpack, paper and pencil, a signaling mirror, whistle, cable saw, bleach, insect repellent, magnifying glass, rope and nylon cord, pulleys, and a pistol and ammunition.