There are quite a few pop culture myths surrounding the dangers of nuclear incidents, contributing to a defeatist attitude among even some of the most hardened preppers. But in reality, such events are a lot more survivable than portrayed in fiction - and perhaps more importantly, the world that awaits the survivors would not necessarily be all that bleak. A good way to explore this topic is a book titled "Nuclear War Survival Skills". It sounds goofy, but it's been written by the folks who worked on the Manhattan Project, and is as close to scientific truth as you can get; plus, it is not copyrighted and can be downloaded for free.
Of course, some extreme preppers will settle for nothing less than a military-grade gas mask rated for chemical, biological, and nuclear warfare. While it is true that such masks offer much better protection against nerve agents and similar extremely harmful substances, it's not a likely concern in most parts of the world - and either way, it's doubtful that you would have enough time to suit up once the symptoms kick in.
“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.)
Tupperware: Sealable plastic bins have changed the world. If you are prepping food for your weekly meals, or transporting food to a friend’s house, plastic storage bins can get the job done. They are dirt cheap these days and are very easy to use. While they can leach, stain, and scratch, as long as you use it for short term storage as intended they are nearly unbeatable.
Plastic Bottles: With a little bit of cellophane, you can turn a two liter bottle into a great way to store rice, beans, sugar, or other pourable items. You will just need to make sure it is clean and thoroughly dry. Wash out the inside with dish soap and hot water. Add a few drops of bleach and then rinse it out and set it out to dry. Check that it is truly PET plastic by checking for the small PET triangle on the bottom of the bottle. When you fill it, put in an oxygen absorber half way up to help improve the shelf life even further. Two liter bottles hold a fair amount of food and are not as heavy as a five gallon bucket, which can make them easier to handle.
From looking at those stats, it might appear as if baby boomers are the least prepared for a doomsday disaster. But perhaps the reason they haven’t recently purchased any survival gear is that a lot of them have long been preparing for it: Baby boomers lead the way (41.28%) in terms of those who haven’t recently purchased survival gear because they already have it on hand. They’re followed by Gen Xers at 37.07% and millennials at 32.79%.
Many of these foods are simple meals that require you to add water and heat (such as MRE's, or Meals Ready to Eat). However, if you buy individual bulk ingredients you can create more of a gourmet pantry which allows you a much greater range of meals to prepare—powdered eggs, spices, all sorts of flours, honey, etc. These foods are not only great for food storage but also for camping trips, especially if your camp kitchen is serving a large crowd.
I just read your article, its great your helping folks out like this sharing your knowledge and experience. Ive been prepping now for about 5 years slowly growing our preps for our family but I noticed a couple of items I really think you should add to your list if you dont mind my suggestions. Not that I know anything you dont but if we all share ideas we can help each other. which is my first point. If you have a couple of friends you can trust, work with them and each work on specific lists to grow your… Read more »
This is a really comprehensive article on food prepping! I was very taken by your last item on “Edible Landscaping.” There is a natural antibacterial, antiviral product called “Sambucol,” that is a syrup (patented) made from black elderberries. There is another syrup similar called “Sambucus,” which is the botanical name for black elderberries. Not only do they taste delicious — like something to top your ice cream sundae with! — they are pretty amazing for coughs, colds, and flu. I am thinking that that might be a good thing to have growing in our yards when SHTF.
This is someone who has embraced the preparedness lifestyle with gusto. These preppers have supplies, knowledge, and skills but are seeking to fine tune their preps with advanced strategies for survival healthcare, living off-grid, and coping with civil unrest. They actively share their own personal experiences with others and offer tips and help other prepper-types learn and grow. I consider myself to be a Dedicated Prepper.
In addition to this list, may I refer you to the Weston Price Foundation and the book Nourishing Traditions? These two sources will help us to decide on the healthiest versions of all these foods; the end goal is to remain healthy and nourished so that we can enjoy all these things we store! Thanks for the article–it set my mental wheels to turning 🙂
Based on this crude but honest assessment of the general public's affinity for the common bicarbonate, you'd be surprised by how much survivalists are into it (#2 on the list of "things for preppers to hoard"). They must expect some pretty serious hankerings for tasty leavened baked goods, or they have extensive phobias about the funkiness of their nuke survival backup plans.
A thermometer that won't run out of juice. Responding to serious emergencies can be stressful and physically taxing, making it easy to catch nasty infections along the way. To know how bad things have gotten, it's good to have a reliable way to take body temperature; keep in mind that many low-cost axillary thermometers use LR41 batteries, and that you probably don't have any spares lying around. One good choice is this ($35). A traditional glass thermometer will also work, but is more fragile.
Somewhat counterintuitively, saving money is not just about cutting down expenses; seeing a higher balance on a checking account tends to instinctively make us less frugal, too. To counter this trend, I found it helpful to set up a small, daily transfer to a savings account, in an amount that blends in with daily purchases - say, $10 or so. This method takes much less planning and mental discipline than trying to make one big deposit every month. And hey - when you are comfortable with $10, you can painlessly test the limits by gently ramping the amount up.
Couple other points on related or recent articles: I read the link on how you reorganized your bugout bag. Very helpful. The process never seems to be finished because I keep learning more. So this time I have dumped all my items into a large tote. After the dust settles I want to lay it all out on the bed or floor and study what I have. I’m still working with the weight constraint. No more than 20-25 pounds absolute max. This number sounds low, but it is not. Load the bag and go for a short hike. The weight will become a reality and you’ll know what you can handle.
My one consideration/recommendation. Consider ‘splitting’ your bag. I carry ‘the essentials’ in a ‘belt-kit’ (packed in the top bag for easy immediate donning, never to be taken off) – the very basic items I ‘must’ have at all times if SHTF (if you get separated from your bag). The rest is in a(n) (unnoticeable in city street/office) duffle/shoulder bag that is configurable to change to a ‘normal rucksack’ (with waist-belt too) – as someone who has carried many loads you will ‘really’ appreciate that ability if you must carry for any length of time.
One final item that you may want to consider adding to your kit is a “cheat sheet.” A cheat sheet should include any information that may be of value in a survival situation. This may include first-aid procedures, a list of geographical references for navigating without a map, instructions for tying various knots or a list of edible fruits in the area. You’ll likely want to print out such a list and then have it laminated to protect it. However, it will be easier to pack several small cards rather than a single large card, if your list ends up being rather long.
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.
Forums and Facebook groups are littered with the same fundamental questions asked over and over again, but they often give incomplete, conflicting, or even dangerous answers. Then we’d read a blog where the author did some quick googling and cranked out a post just to get some traffic. Or we’d have to dig through crazy propaganda and extreme political opinions in the hopes of finding good advice. It drove us mad — we just wanted the facts and straightforward answers!
Preppers Survive gets quite a few emails each month. My favorite emails are from newbie Preppers because they have an intensity and an urgency in their comments and questions. This intense urgency is how I felt when I first started prepping. I laboriously looked for articles on prepping for beginners. It felt like it haunted my every waking thought for months. I have been prepping for eight years and have learned many lessons over the years. Perhaps a universal lesson I’ve learned is that there is no magic formula!
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.
Storing food is one of the best ways you can be prepared. The best prepper food storage containers are the ones that preppers have been using for decades and are tried and true. Some have been around for centuries and others only a few decades. Storing food has always been one of the cornerstones of prepping and preparedness. As supply chains become more and more reliant on ‘just in time’ delivery there are less resources available to help when disasters or catastrophes strike. When this happens, food supplies can easily be disrupted and leave a lot of people hungry and looking for food. Keeping food stored is one of the most cost-effective ways to be prepared for these events, and having the proper food storage containers can ensure your success and survival. Whether you are increasing your pantry size or starting a long term food storage supply, the type of prepper food storage containers you use can make all the difference.
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.
When doing a mixed container, I put the Ziploc bag with various condiments from Taco Bell and other places, salt, pepper, hot sauce soup mixes and lots of things which can be put in the cracks and crevices in there. Also, put in the Ziploc with matches( in a small spice bottle) a couple of boxcutters and a manual can opener. Sam’s had tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, etc. for three dollars and change per #10 can.
If you're doing something that's morally reprehensible or socially unwelcome, you are greatly increasing the odds of getting hurt. It doesn't matter if you think it's perfectly legal: if you are a monumental and malicious jerk, a bored prosecutor will probably dream up a felony charge to hit you with. Or perhaps they won't, but one of the people you wronged will lose it and take justice into their own hands. In other words, if you want to escape harm, don't mess with others out of malice, jealousy, boredom, or for petty personal gain.
Cigarettes will also be hugely useful for starting fires and saving coals (as any fan of post-apocalyptic literature knows, this is of great importance). The filters can be used to clean water, although you'll need the patience of Stephen Baldwin to pull it off. If you do manage to live for longer than a few weeks without plumbing and Internet, you'll be able to protect your budding prepper garden by soaking cigarette butts in water and spraying the resulting chemical-laden tobacco juice on your produce. This is a technique already in use by people too impatient to wait for the apocalypse, though it is ironic and entertaining that they consider using cigarette-butt sludge a "natural" way to ward off pests.
At home, be very alert around deep fryers and pots of boiling water. Wear eye protection when working with drain cleaners, bleach, and other caustic substances. Learn about the overdose risks of paracetamol (ibuprofen is a much safer pick) and take a critical look at your prescription drugs. If you're ever doing DIY electrical work, learn how to do it properly, and get a non-contact voltage probe to double-check for live wires before you touch anything.
Handguns. This category encompasses a wide selection of small, lower-powered firearms that can be easily carried without attracting attention. Most have a fairly modest stopping power, so-so ballistics, and require quite a bit of practice to accurately hit anything more than 10 yards away. A telling statistic is that in shootouts, the police have a hit rate somewhere between 10% and 30%; contrary to what some gun control supporters claim, an average policeman does not get that much practice, and probably trains less than your typical gun enthusiast - but these numbers are still something to keep in mind.
I can a bunch of meat. I stock up when its on sale then freeze and when I have a slow day (lol) I thaw it and start canning. It is SO much cheaper than canned chicken or beef from the store!!! I also have a generator for my fridge and freezer so if we were going to be with out power for long my plan is to start canning as fast as possible. You can also dehydrate fruits and veggies that you would normally freeze (berries, spinach, almost anything) but that would need to be done before the outage of course.
Being from the south, we eat a lot of cornbread, so I would have to add cornmeal to this list. I think that cornbread would be an excellent option for a grid down situation. It’s very simple to make, cornmeal, and water, plus salt or any extra veggies you may have. I would also add dry pasta, and oil, for cooking and seasoning your cast iron. I may have missed this, but what about peroxide and alcohol? But you thought of a lot of things I never would have. Great list!
Handheld FRS/GMRS radios. Many preppers obsess about long-distance communications, but in a typical emergency, chatting with people 100 miles away is not a priority. In contrast, a hand-held two-way radio can be very useful for keeping in touch with your friends and family during any prolonged outage. Again, pick a device that accepts the kind of batteries you can stockpile cheaply. Expect a range of 2-3 miles in rural regions, and less than a mile in highly urbanized areas - no matter what the manufacturer claims. With all that in mind, Olympia R500 ($55) is a good choice.
Braxton and Kara Southwick from Utah offer a tour of a declassified bunker. They will star in the upcoming National Geographic Channel show 'Doomsday Preppers,' featuring Americans stockpiling for the end of the world. NGC conducted an online survey with 1,040 people to find out how they would spend their final days. Here are some of the results. By Tim Loehrke, USA TODAY
Hello Ryan. My experience has been that the more that you can keep air (oxygen) away from your food the longer the shelf life. I like to seal packaged food into larger mylar bags with an oxygen packet, then I seal the bag. I store these mylar bags in a 5 gallon bucket with lid. Wal Mart has these buckets for sale that cost $2.97 and the lid is $1.12. I personally like having a few barriers between my food and mice, bugs…etc. Let us know what you decide to do!
No heating in the middle of a particularly nasty winter can be problematic, too - although it's mostly a matter of comfort, not survival. In most places, with robust shelter and adequate clothing, bedding, and food, it's fairly hard to freeze to death at home (but note that the cold may make some infections or medical conditions worse; you may have to worry about frozen water pipes, too). The situation can become a lot more dire if you are on foot in the middle of nowhere, so truly hardcore, wilderness-minded preppers may have something to ponder about; but hauling a sufficient amount of fuel is typically impractical to begin with, so their best bet would be warm clothing, improvised shelter, and the ability to build a fire. We'll talk about that in the section that deals with camping supplies.
Food storage should be an integral part of any prepper’s contingency plans. The best prepper food storage containers should not be overlooked if you want your food stores to last. Storing your food in the right containers can give you peace of mind when it comes to your family’s sustenance. If you are starting from scratch, start small and work your way up. I personally prefer to rotate out my pantry using the first in, first out (FIFO) inventory technique. This ensures that I don’t have much food expire (if any) and gives me good visibility of what I actually have stored. Whether you stash your food for 15 years, or rotate your supply every 6 months- the right prepper food storage containers can give you a leg up with your shelf life. Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
I strongly disagree with several of the conclusions in this book, such as focusing almost completely on getting to stay in your home, the attitude of 'don't bother worrying about storing food for more than a couple months', etc. I'm just not happy about payin for a book that basically gives me someone's opinions along with incorrect data (veg oils do NOT last longer than other types, for one) and tells me what other books to buy.