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!
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.
Remember 2012? The Mayan calendar predicted the world would end in December. Doomsday Preppers premiered in February. The country was in an apocalypse mood, and thanks to Finelli, Springfield’s former Boy Scouts and ex–Tea Partiers came out of the shadows to mix it up with doctors and dentists. They had little else in common, but to borrow Finelli’s term, they were preparedness-minded. Springfield, MIss community was born.
I would add just a few things though, if you use creamer in your coffee add a few bottles of the powdered version, some dried fruits or a couple large bags of trail mix, pie fillings in a few fruit varieties (awesome in oats!), crackers are great for kids who won’t eat a tuna, spam or other canned meat sandwich but they may be willing to eat “lunchables” DIY of course!, and other all in one items like spaghetti O’s, canned stew, canned ravioli, and ramen. It may not be the healthiest solutions but if you need these items you will be exceptionally grateful you have them!
Because of its very high value-to-volume ratio, physical gold is stored and moved around very easily, but keeping substantial amounts at home can be ill-advised; theft is a very real risk, and most insurance policies will not adequately cover the loss. Safe deposit boxes at a local bank, available for around $20 a year, are usually a better alternative - although they come with some trade-offs; for example, the access to deposit boxes was restricted by the government during the Greek debt crisis in 2015. Non-bank storage services do not have that problem, but cost quite a bit more.
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.
Any bulk meat I have set aside is canned. If I find a good deal on chicken or even hamburger I can it.I don’t have to worry about a power outage and the loss of a very expensive food item. I know canning isn’t for everyone but the convience of going to the pantry and grabbing a jar of chicken for a salad already cubed and fully cooked has made it all worthwhile. A couple weeks ago I found several packs of italian sausage at the store marked down because it had one day to expiration. I bought what they had, several green peppers, a couple onions. I now have a meal in a jar. All cooked ready to go. throw em in a pan to brown them and warm it all up. Sandwich ready
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.
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A lot of preppers want to stockpile meat, and you can do this to a certain extent with an additional freezer. However, coupons for meat and produce are few and far between. Therefore, the following strategies will rarely work for amassing a meat stockpile. Try to keep your meat freezing separate from your coupon stockpiling, as the strategies for each are different. Also, do not try to stockpile any fresh produce or dairy, as the coupons for these are scarce as well, and you will be wasting your time in terms of expiration dates. Stick to canned produce and powdered milk, which can be acquired via coupons.
But unless someone starts asking me personal questions, I simply ignore everyone at the store and don’t ask them if they are prepping…I already know the answer. People will know, and there’s not a lot you can do about it. If asked, I simply say, I’ve been reading about emergencies happening with greater frequency around the globe and say that “I’m not going to get caught without at least some food and water” when it happens here. They don’t need to know I’m prepping for a month-long, six-month-long, or year-long, or multi-year-long event. We don’t keep all our food in our pantry and I’ve told my relations that what we have (be it beans or bullets) is no one else’s business–so keep your yap shut
Canned meat, veggies, or fruit. Storage life in excess of 20 years (regardless of "best by" dates). Tasty, relatively cheap (~200-300 kcal per dollar), and the choice is pretty broad. Fruits, veggies, and soups are not very energy-dense (~200 kcal per pound), making them impractical for hiking or bugging out; on the flip side, the syrup may provide some additional hydration. Meats fare much better, tipping the scales at around 1,500 kcal per pound. Canned foods are a good option for longer-term planning, provided that you have enough shelf space.
We keep getting away with all that goofiness, and that only serves to make us more certain that our own transgressions carry no serious risks. But government statistics tell a strikingly different tale: in the US alone, unintentional injuries result in 40 million ER visits and 100,000 deaths every year. Heck, accidental injury is the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 1 and 45 - far ahead of cancer, heart disease, gun violence, and other pop culture bogeymen. And the injuries themselves are very prosaic, too: all you see are falls, cuts, burns, vehicular collisions, poisonings, and so forth. The "idiots" we sometimes watch on Youtube are us. They just happen to have been caught on camera on the day their luck ran out, perhaps aided by downing a couple of beers.
Actually, the intent of the article was to help readers put together a starter cupboard of food storage items. I wanted things to be simple and uncomplicated without regard to how many mouths these items will feed for “XX” amount of time. So many online food storage calculators are way too overwhelming to deal with. Most of my readers need and want a starting point or simply a list they can go through to check against their existing food storage inventory so that they can fill in the gaps.
1. Something else to consider is a smart phone. My phone has a 32gig memory chip. It can holds LOTS of info. Some paperback books will be good to have. But even off the grid a phone can still access certain apps that have been downloade. I have about 50 books on my phone. A compass. Maps. I can draw a quick map or list with my stylis too. I can easily share documents and file by just tapping my phone on another smart phone. Take pictures and zoom in on them. Great to check progress walking and general references.… Read more »
Interestingly, the legal bar for claiming self-defense is typically no different whether you are using a less-lethal weapon or lethal force. But of course, the legal and psychological consequences of being wrong can be far more severe if you kill a person, versus just making their eyes itch. There are no easy answers, so do some soul-searching first. If you can't imagine killing another person to protect your family - and living with the consequences - don't get a knife or a gun.
When the average person thinks about doomsday preppers, they probably think of paranoid right-leaning wing nuts clinging to a small arsenal of guns and stockpiling toilet paper from Walmart in case their conspiracy theories come true. It's a fair assumption — many television depictions reflect that mind-set, though the fears vary from group to group. Some are afraid of government collapse, others fear a solar flare, still others are preparing for a race war they think is inevitable. When those are the dominant examples, it's easy to dismiss the practice as absurd and hysterical.
This requires a great deal of research, but it can pay, big time. Let’s take our example from before. A $1.00 coupon on a purchase of $5.00 means you have to spend $4.00 under normal circumstances. Let’s say, however, that one week, your store is having a sale on that item. Instead of it being $5.00, it is on sale for $3.50. Then, you use your $1.00 coupon on this sale price, bringing your overall purchase price down to $2.50. That’s 50% off, something we normally would consider a great deal! Now, let’s say that it is also double coupon week. This would mean that the purchase price would be $1.50. Triple coupon week? You get the picture.
You can mitigate this to some degree by throwing some of these types of food into your everyday menus now. I know these things aren’t quite as healthy as the fresh foods we have the privilege to enjoy daily right now, but if you feel like you are truly going to need to rely on some of these items at some point, by sampling the foods, you can find your family’s favorites and stock up on those.
Never put all your eggs in one basket. Store dehydrated and/or freeze dried foods as well as home canned and “store bought” canned goods. These varieties will help to balance out your cooking options and even add a variety of textures and flavors. Another take on this point, is to not store all of your food storage in one location. Instead of having all of your food storage in one location, it may be wise to have other hiding locations. False walls, under floor boards, another building on your property, at your emergency bug out location or even a storage facility.
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.
You’ll obviously need to tailor your survival kit to the number of people who will depend upon it. If you are going out for a solo camping trip, you won’t need as many supplies as if you are heading out with an 8-person team. The number of people depending on the kit won’t affect some of the items in the kit, but it will affect others. For example, you’ll only need one fire starter, no matter how many people are in your party. By contrast, you’ll obviously need to adjust how many space blankets are included with the kit, depending on the size of the group.
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.
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.
Finelli sits across from me at the food court picnic table inside the Sam’s Club on Sunshine Street, where he requested we meet. The retired computer systems designer-turned–radio show host and homesteader has salt and pepper hair, wears a plaid shirt and jeans and carries a .45-caliber automatic firearm on his person (he won’t say where). Below his strong jawline hangs a leather bag full of crushed sapphire, meant to enhance his overall health.
I think in addition to dry beans, rice and such, that I would have some home canned versions of these in case water is at a premium. Beans, rice, quinoa, etc., require lots of water, and if it is in short supply you are going to be in trouble. Having HOME canned versions of these will mean that until water is more readily available, you can eat and have protein available to you. I’ve heard of others ‘canning’ water, too!
In fact, one of the most significant health consequences of nuclear accidents is also very easy to manage: it's the release of copious amounts of radioactive iodine, a short-lived substance that gets absorbed by the thyroid gland. To deal with this issue, people in the affected areas are typically offered potassium iodide pills; this temporarily saturates thyroid and prevents any further uptake of iodine for a couple of days or weeks. Such tablets are available over-the-counter and dirt cheap ($7), so it's not a bad idea to have some at hand.
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.
Doug owns a rock hauling business in Tennessee and plans to bug-in with his family in his underground bunker. Doug, whose line of work has earned him the nickname "Rockman", also plans to use a hillside full of boulders as a defense to ward off potential threats. He is also stockpiling coins minted before the 1970s because of their higher silver content, which makes them useful for bartering. Jeff Flaningham is a single, Wisconsin native, who is looking for woman who will live with him in his decommissioned SM-65 Atlas missile silo located in rural central Kansas in the event of a catastrophic event. During the program, Jeff goes on dates with three women he has met through an online dating service. He then arranges a second date with one of them, Stephanie, to go visit his missile silo.
It's no wonder that all this vivid imagery keeps many preppers preoccupied with civilization-ending events. Some of their worries are based on patently absurd or exaggerated science; some are valid, but rather unlikely to materialize within the span of our lives; and many others boil down to interesting but somewhat idle speculation, devoid of quantifiable risk or historical precedent.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables is a slow and gradual process, requiring at least one growing season and one harvesting season. Approach this in a smart way by purchasing a packet of seasonally relevant seeds when you first begin, which can be as little as $1. Alternatively you could also buy one of our Heirloom survival seed vaults which contains hundreds of great seeds with 20+ vegetables. Grow them continuously and then jar or pickle them when the time comes to harvest. Pickled foods that are well-sealed and kept at temperatures below 75 degrees can last up to three years. In addition to this, grow herbs for medicinal and taste purposes. Once you invest a couple of dollars here and there to growing food—even small amounts in your kitchen—it is truly a great return on investment requiring only a few dollars and some sweat equity.
You can tour this slice of underground history today. After the Southwicks visited the bunker recently, they said they felt even more strongly about the need to prepare. Their family reflects a new preparedness instinct that has been growing since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After that shock, the government urged people to store food, buy duct tape and roll water barrels into their basements.
The funny thing about disasters is that they seldom unfold precisely as planned. Perhaps you will lose a job and get robbed the same week. Perhaps in the middle of a prolonged outage, you will find out that some of your emergency supplies have been misplaced, damaged, or spoiled. Maybe your plan to walk a mile to get drinking water from a river will get foiled by a broken limb. And maybe a brilliant home defense strategy will prove worthless when standing eye to eye with an angry mob of rioters armed with rocks.
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When I am going through a grocery store gathering survival food, I get some strange looks from people close enough to hear me muttering under my breath as I discount items. Phrases like “not enough calories”, “needs more fat”, not enough carbs”, and the like roll off my tongue frequently. The truth of the matter is that what we consider to be a healthy diet in normal times is probably inadequate in a high stress, very active, crisis situation. There is a reason we like carbs, and fats, and sugars, and that reason is our body needs these things. The human palate developed in times when being physically active and dealing with life threatening events was the norm, and when a steady supply of food was not a guarantee. Hence the urge to get all we can when we can, which leads to rampant obesity in modern sedentary times but is adaptive to survival in harder times.
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.