Good article! A few years ago, a medical condition for someone in my family required that I learn how to cook without high fat dairy, no corn products, no fish, and very low sodium. That means almost no packaged or processed foods, no fast food, almost no snack foods, no packaged flavor packets, no bottled flavorings…well you get the idea. Now I visit Costco a couple times a year for rice, beans, pasta, and meat. I grow almost all the vegetables we eat year round. Our grocery bills have gone way down. And now I actually know how to cook almost anything from scratch ingredients that I always have on hand in bulk. The foods many preppers stock up, are foods I never have in my house so I wouldn’t miss them if they suddenly became unavailable. In hind sight I’ve learned that “stuff” isn’t as important as skills. Trust me, cooking is a skill.
Don’t despair. This is your ultimate guide to becoming a prepper, complete with some assessments to help you figure out where you’re at right now, and the steps you need to take to get to where you need to be. Best of all, this is a guide that doesn’t require you to drop $11,298.36 (aka big bucks) today to become prepared in one fell swoop. Many of these to-dos are absolutely free!
And now, there are Democrats. Fear of the Trump administration is largely responsible for an urban and liberal renaissance within prepping; left-leaning Facebook groups and urban survivalism YouTube channels brim with freshly paranoid Americans who attend the same expos, talk the same shop and wipe with the same bulk supply of toilet paper as the conservatives who voted the other way. That said, I met no openly liberal preppers in Springfield.
It is fiendishly difficult to safeguard your belongings when you're not home. When dealing with opportunistic burglaries, a heavy, bolted-down safe, ideally ordered directly from a reputable manufacturer, is probably your best defensive tool. Against sophisticated adversaries on a targeted job, almost all bets are off; in such cases, operational security (section 3.5.3) is more important than any amount of high-tech gear.
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.
Shotguns. Long, heavy, large-bore weapons with tremendous stopping power, variously firing one large metal slug or a swarm of high-energy pellets; less-lethal rubber batons are also sometimes used for crowd or animal control. Aimed as easily as rifles, but because of the less ergonomic shapes of projectiles and their lower velocities, the effective range of a shotgun doesn't extend far beyond 100-200 yards. In places such as Australia or the UK, buying a shotgun is subject to fewer restrictions than other types of firearms.
Military MREs. I don't find them particularly tasty, but they are popular among preppers. A bit on the heavy side (usually around 1,100 kcal per pound). Portable warm food with a ton of different menus available - although for the best price, you usually need to buy a variety box and can't cherry-pick. Moderately expensive (~150 kcal per dollar). Shelf life around 5-7 years, depending on the manufacturer and on storage conditions. A good source is TheEpicenter.com.
Being a Diehard Prepper has been somewhat glamorized by the entertainment media. This serves to disillusion and discourage those who are unable to create this type of alternative life for themselves. But don’t despair! It’s important to understand that this is the absolute far end of the scale, and that this lifestyle isn’t necessary to weather the more ordinary storms that we are most likely to face.
When it comes to comfort and personal hygiene, I would also suggest stockpiling a carton of toilet paper, a pack of old-school soap bars, a bottle of no-rinse body wash and shampoo (to conserve water), some antiperspirant, toothpaste and a toothbrush, nail clippers or scissors, and several disposable razors. At home, such items can come handy only during prolonged emergencies; but as a part of your in-car kit, they are invaluable if you are ever stuck somewhere or forget to take your toiletries with you on a camping trip.
Light: It’s fine to have battery-powered flashlights for your home — provided you have some extra batteries around. We love this Mag-Lite XL200 LED flashlight because it’s tough and has multiple modes including SOS and dimmer timer. It’s a good idea to have crank-powered flashlights as well. And make sure you have candles, like this pack of six 115-hour emergency candles.
This is by no means an exhaustive or comprehensive list of the items available for your long term food storage program. You can tailor your program to your tastes and your budget. Remember the key elements are calories (LOTS), nutritional value (Vitamins and Minerals), storage life, storage space, and flavor. By consulting this list however, you can get a pretty good idea of how to get going on your program.
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Imho, (for the most part) nothing bores children more than having to read stale history and math books. The oral tradition of learning history and math is probably The Best way. Combine that with actually doing something and you have a winning hand, i.e. counting sticks or making other calculations as you all collect firewood or dig tiger traps. Make learning into a fun challenge = that’s your challenge. Don’t try and substitute a book for that.
Pets can also be part of your security. Our mutt protects our hens. She has killed two possums who got into the chicken run and a fox that was attempting to dig it’s way in. She is also an excellent alarm system. Our hens aren’t pets so eventually they will be food after they egg laying days are over with. Our cat is an excellent mouser and seems a little perverted since she seems to enjoy it to the point of ignoring all else when she senses one in the house. The only pet we have that I consider useless is the Quaker parrot. The rest of them we plan to store feed for.
Awesome article. Really useful tool for assessing where I am in the process. And planning the next step. Once again, Gaye, you give us the important information without the fear. Some walk away from the fear and don’t get started. Some, such as me, rush headlong into the fear and then have a panic attack. So the fear is not productive. I appreciate your style.
Gale, you’re right about the bug eggs. I know it’s a little skeevy to think about but *nearly all* grain products (whole wheat berries, biscuit mix, pasta, cornmeal, anything) already have bug eggs in them. That’s what the dry ice is for; it helps stave off rancidity and it also prevents (ew) hatching! Or you can freeze the items for a week and then store long-term, but that’s a lot more trouble than it sounds like and doesn’t help prolong shelf life.
Today, we see such worries as absurd. It's not that life-altering disasters are rare: every year, we hear about millions of people displaced by wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, or floods. Heck, not a decade goes by without at least one first-class democracy lapsing into armed conflict or fiscal disarray. But having grown up in a period of unprecedented prosperity and calm, we take our way of life for granted - and find it difficult to believe that an episode of bad weather or a currency crisis could destroy almost everything we worked for to date.
During the dinner rush, the Pizza Hut on Glenstone Avenue is a kinetic juxtaposition: fast-moving people behind the counter, slow-moving people in front of it. Carbohydrate osmosis, I assumed. Earlier that afternoon in the Starbucks down the road, Randall told me Andrew:’s meetup group might be here. He’d been hosting meetups in the gymnasium of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Belview Avenue, but the church disinvited the preppers after clergy leader and RN Janis Hall witnessed Andrew: deliver a scathing diatribe against modern medicine. But here, judging by the veterans’ hats, overalls and waistband cell phone holsters crowding the salad bar, I knew I was in the right place.
Recently, I spoke on the phone with Tyler Allen, a real-estate developer in Lake Mary, Florida, who told me that he paid three million dollars for one of Hall’s condos. Allen said he worries that America faces a future of “social conflict” and government efforts to deceive the public. He suspects that the Ebola virus was allowed to enter the country in order to weaken the population. When I asked how friends usually respond to his ideas, he said, “The natural reaction that you get most of the time is for them to laugh, because it scares them.” But, he added, “my credibility has gone through the roof. Ten years ago, this just seemed crazy that all this was going to happen: the social unrest and the cultural divide in the country, the race-baiting and the hate-mongering.” I asked how he planned to get to Kansas from Florida in a crisis. “If a dirty bomb goes off in Miami, everybody’s going to go in their house and congregate in bars, just glued to the TV. Well, you’ve got forty-eight hours to get the hell out of there.”
181. Animal husbandry – Caring for animals, how to raise them and breed them is animal husbandry. Chickens, goats, cattle, horses, for whatever reason can provide milk, eggs, transportation, carry loads, etc … and proper care is something that must be learned. Chickens are a great place to start. Get 3-5 chickens, a proper chicken coop, then some feed and you are good to go. Craigslist is a quick place to find baby chicks for sale. Did I mention your reward is delicious eggs everyday! Hint: The Leghorn breed lay the most eggs …
David Sarti, a YouTube "firearms instructor" and self-taught survivalist, is prepared for an electrical grid failure; Kellene Bishop of Utah has stocked only the finest gourmet survival foods in preparation for financial collapse; Kathy Harrison, "the Doris Day of Doom", has prepared her local community for a New Madrid earthquake; Dennis Evers brings the family together to survive global chaos caused by hyperinflation.
Sometimes, you can't avoid a confrontation. Figure out how to react if somebody asks you to get into a car, demands cash, or barges into your occupied home. It would be a complete shock for you, but they have probably done it before - so you gotta rehearse if you want to have the upper hand. Even if they have a weapon trained on you, it's a game of confidence and wits, not just physical force.
Great article. Very informative and insightful. I also think learning how to store the right food most especially for leaner times is very important. For me canning is the best way to store food. But make sure that you can your food the right way. It is also a proven fact that canning as a way of storing and preserving different kinds of foods has been done since the 1800’s.
Mindset is everything. Mental preparation comes first. I would change number 12 to number 1 and say,”practice, practice, practice…”. A wilderness solo for a few days (after you “practice, practice, practice…” for a while) will cause a dramatic change in your self reliance level. It did mine and that’s why almost everything I acquire has multiple possible uses. For instance, my business card case is metal and has possibilities as a weapon and a signaling mirror. “Wildwood Wisdom” by Ellsworth Jaeger is a good place to start. He shows how to “think” survival like no one else.
Read up on the safety rules pertaining to your weekend hobbies and to your daytime job; ask others about their horror stories, too. Be very careful around select power tools, such as chainsaws, table saws, angle grinders, lathes, and nail guns - they have quite a penchant for taking fingers off and eyes out. (Table saws in particular are responsible for about 30,000 serious injuries annually, or about 40% of all workshop accidents.)
In fact, the influx had begun well before Trump’s victory. In the first ten months of 2016, foreigners bought nearly fourteen hundred square miles of land in New Zealand, more than quadruple what they bought in the same period the previous year, according to the government. American buyers were second only to Australians. The U.S. government does not keep a tally of Americans who own second or third homes overseas. Much as Switzerland once drew Americans with the promise of secrecy, and Uruguay tempted them with private banks, New Zealand offers security and distance. In the past six years, nearly a thousand foreigners have acquired residency there under programs that mandate certain types of investment of at least a million dollars.
The FDA is making significant changes to nutritional label laws that are rolling out over 2017 to 2018. Because some manufacturers have changed early and others haven’t, in some cases we couldn’t be as apples-to-apples in our data analysis as we’d like, particularly around vitamins and minerals. So we did some backdoor math by judging the amount of fruits and vegetables in each meal.
We tried the $85 Instant Loaded Potato & Cheesy Broccoli Soup from Simpli Prepare because soup might be an easy way to supplement the main survival meals. Packaged the same way as the shakes, with shaker bottle and algae oil, and with the same directions. Vendor confirmed this is meant to be a “just add water” product, not a simmer and serve hot sort of thing, and suggests using hot water from the tap if possible.
As mentioned earlier, water outages can create an unpleasant problem with the disposal of human waste. While a bucket with a trash bag can be used as an impromptu toilet, to keep the conditions sanitary, some form of waste treatment is a must. A cheap option is pouring a layer of clumping (bentonite-based) kitty litter over it after every use; other budget solutions include cement and lime. More expensive choices are gelling agents and RV waste digestants.
Judging by that rationale—“people are not going to take care of you”—the impulse to prep is as much a response to governmental failings as it is to apocalyptic fantasies. During Hurricane Harvey, Houston residents relied on the “Cajun Navy”—generous volunteers with boats—to evacuate them. After Hurricane Maria, a Harvard study found that the Trump Administration’s neglect of Puerto Rico caused four thousand six hundred and sixty-five deaths, many because of interruptions to medical care. And, this week, as historic fires engulfed huge areas of California, the President accused the state of “gross mismanagement of the forests.” Charles, outlining his vision of a doomsday scenario, says, “It’s when law enforcement stops going to work, that’s when the breakdown begins. Now you’re talking about a free-for-all, every-man-for-themselves kind of deal.” Whether or not the apocalypse comes, it seems like that breakdown is already under way.
A rubber mallet is a great tool to have to seal food grade buckets. Place the lid in its place on the filled bucket, and whack the lid into place around the perimeter of the lid. Once you have secured the lid, you can test for a good seal by picking the bucket up by the lid. The weight of the food stored is a pretty good test for whether the lid is securely attached.
There are several other water purification techniques, including iodine, various types of filters, or even ridiculously expensive desalination systems. The recent Flint water crisis highlights the value of permanently installed and well-maintained RO units. But for short-term survival, my take is that most of the filtration systems targeted at preppers increase costs without offering clear-cut benefits. And really, don't overthink it: if the choice is between dehydration and drinking straight from a scummy pond, drink from the pond.
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.
Your list may be completely different from mine, but I believe the items contained in this list of supplies will be common to most people and more importantly will be required if you are going to be as prepared as possible if the manure hits the hydro-electric powered oscillating air current distribution device. This list is not all-encompassing either. I am probably not going to have blacksmith supplies or leather working tools although I can see the use in each of those. This list is going to be for the average person to get by if we have a SHTF event, not start a new life in the wild west. Please let me know what additional items you would recommend and I’ll keep this list updated so you can print it out whenever you need to purchase items or want to build your supplies out.
Still, if you are worried about the situation changing for the worse, repellents such as DEET and picaridin can provide the first line of defense. Beyond that, more radical solutions may include electric bug zappers (especially when coupled with mosquito attractants, such as octenol or lactic acid), permethrin or pyrethrin insecticide sprays (applied to clothes or to the perimeter), mesh jackets, window screens, and bed nets. For crawling insects, borax and diatomaceous earth can act as a deadly barrier, too.
I made the mistake of trying to wake people up to my concept of what the country was coming to. My view of shtf and how i thought it was going to happen. I also told people about my prepping and how i believed it would help. Now i’m pretty sure if anything did occur i would have a few or more uninvited guests. The one guy literally said “Im coming to your house if shit goes down” No the hell you aren’t. I tell people these things so they will prepare themselves. Or help them awaken to the things… Read more »
For muggings, keeping several $10 or $20 bills in your front pocket (and having real valuables somewhere else) can be enough to send them on their way; in busy locations, you should also be able to just ignore the mugger and briskly walk away. For more serious incidents, it may be useful to respond with something that is non-threatening but catches the assailant off guard. Simply feigning a panic attack or initiating a startling conversation ("hey, are you a friend of CJ? Pretty sure we've met last year!") can throw them off balance - allowing you to fight back or get away. Of course, you also need a plan for that next step; that's where your running skills, your bare-hands self-defense talents, or your weapons proficiency can come into play. But again, you need to actively practice and develop approaches that have a chance of working in real life; there's no verbal diversion strategy in the world that would give you enough time to fumble through your purse to find an old, gummed up can of pepper spray.
I find surplus ammo cans to be a good storage container with a little work. The large 81mm mortar cans are even capable of holding firearms (Broken down). Most of the cans I get might need some TLC, but making sure the gasket is still intact and usable is a must. I bead blast them to remove any outside and inside rust or corrosion, then repaint them using appliance epoxy (much harder to chip and peel than regular enamel paint).I use several coats (minimum of 3). Depending upon the intended use, I will line the can with 1/2″ closed cell foam. Using a metal can for a Faraday requires some additional work. The top has to be integral to the body. That requires copper tape over the gasket and a ground wire between the can body and lid. I have one can filled with dried rice and beans, that’s been in the ground for 6 years now. I dig it up once a year to check it and it remains bug free and intact still. Metal has one big advantage over the plastic as it is rodent proof. Some very good tips and advice in this column.
Freeze-dried food is nothing new. As early as the 13th century, the ancient Quechua and Aymara people of Bolivia and Peru pioneered a form of the process by exposing potatoes to the freezing temperatures of the Andes overnight, then drying them in the sun. In 1937, Nestlé used industrial technology to create the world’s first freeze-dried coffee, and in the 60s and 70s, the US military shipped freeze-dried food rations to the troops in Vietnam.
Stocking a survival kit is a very personal procedure. Your life may depend on your choices at some point, so you’ll want to ponder the potential disasters you may face and do your best to assemble the items that will help you survive. But, if you start with the items listed above, add in those which will address your personal needs and carry them in a sensible container, you’ll likely keep yourself alive and return home with a great story.