Sure, you could go hardcore right from the start and prepare for a long-term disaster from day one but, as I said, there is a learning curve to this, and you want to minimize your mistakes. It’s much better to prepare for the layers I’m about to give you. But before we get into that, let me just give you the heads up on some of the most common mistakes:
During a prolonged blackout, keeping flashlights, radios, and cell phones running can become a challenge of its own. The most cost-effective approach is to stick to devices that can take regular AA, AAA, or PP3 (9V) batteries; modern alkaline cells have very long shelf lives (10 years), can be bought cheaply in bulk, and will do the trick for almost all portable electronics you can think of. Of course, modern power-hungry smartphones are a notable exception to this rule. For that, you can always try solar chargers ($50) - they work well, but are a bit fragile and may not perform too amazingly in wooded areas or on overcast days. You can also go for hand-crank generators ($30, labor-intensive) or AA power banks ($15, mixed reviews). But ultimately, also allow for the possibility of not being able to call others for a while.
As you read though this list, I hope you can visualize the number and variety of meals that can be made by mixing and matching the items listed in the kick-start plan. How about some rice, salsa and canned chicken cooked into a casserole in your cast iron skillet? Or pancakes topped with canned peaches and honey? Then there are pinto beans, combined with rice and corn and topped with a bit of Tabasco for a fiesta-style meal.
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.
Huffman has been a frequent attendee at Burning Man, the annual, clothing-optional festival in the Nevada desert, where artists mingle with moguls. He fell in love with one of its core principles, “radical self-reliance,” which he takes to mean “happy to help others, but not wanting to require others.” (Among survivalists, or “preppers,” as some call themselves, FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, stands for “Foolishly Expecting Meaningful Aid.”) Huffman has calculated that, in the event of a disaster, he would seek out some form of community: “Being around other people is a good thing. I also have this somewhat egotistical view that I’m a pretty good leader. I will probably be in charge, or at least not a slave, when push comes to shove.”
During his 45th Infantry Division, Pense taught field wiring, instructing G.I.s on setting poles and stringing wires to rig together a communications network from scratch. After the war, he was an electronics engineer in the private sector, sometimes on military contracts, learning the frailty of the nation’s power grid firsthand. On one government contract, he witnessed a nuclear warhead knock out power in Hawaii after detonating high above the Pacific.
For hardcore preppers convinced that they may be left with no access to food for a very long time, it would be also important to maintain a robust intake of protein; somewhere around 40-50 g per day is believed to be optimal, although you certainly don't need to observe it religiously. Ready-made protein-rich foods include some energy bars, most dry ration packets, some freeze-dried dinners, canned meat, and military MREs; smaller amounts can be found in some veggies, too. You can also stockpile protein powder - it's bland but relatively cheap ($1 per day). Freeze-dried scrambled eggs, powdered milk, and related products, including long shelf life canned or powdered cheeses and pancake mixes, work well, too. As mentioned earlier, protein and dietary fiber also have a well-established satiating effect, helping you maintain a balanced diet - which can otherwise be tricky when snacking on high-calorie foods. Oh: having some OTC multivitamins may be a good plan, especially to supplement vitamin C.
The food you store is only as good as the food storage container, and vice versa. The best food for long term storage are the foods that best resist rot. Food with low moisture content is the best for rot resistance, and those include beans, flours, grains, dried fruit, milk powder, and jerky. There are many other foods that store well, and as a prepper you will want to consider calories, protein, and nutrients. We list some containers below that come with food, so be sure to know the shelf life of what you are getting, the nutritional content, and the calories. It is best to keep an inventory of what you store so you can know when to cycle out expired or older items and replace them.
You’ll face different potential emergencies in different conditions and during different activities. For example, you aren’t likely to suffer a sprained ankle while kayaking across a bay, but you may suffer from a jellyfish sting. Accordingly, a pain-relieving gel would be more helpful than an ace bandage in your first aid kit. Additionally, you may need a tick-removal kit if your travels take you through a forest, but you’ll find that a sunburn cream is more helpful while traveling through a desert.
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Pasta Primavera … wow! Huge hit. Generous amount of vegetables and a creamy Parmesan sauce. Unlike its competitors, the pasta in this dish isn’t mushy, but has a great, chewy texture in a surprisingly delicious sauce. All testers would eat this as a regular meal, and thought it would be good to just keep on hand as a pantry staple. “The kind of food that makes you hope the power goes out!”
I guess I have been taking a longer view. Any disaster will shut down delivery to stores so all fresh greens will stop. I remember that during the same period in history the Polynesian sailors were able to stay out at sea much longer than European sailors and didn’t know what scurvy was. They used bean sprouts to supplement their diet. Last Christmas I asked my wife for a bean sprouter. It has been a lot of fun playing with, eating and learning to work with a multitude of seeds. One interesting fact was that wheat sprouts have an interesting sweat taste. This got me gathering information about what makes good sprouting seeds and it seems that fresh and non-treated (as usually done by our commercial world) is the critical factor. It was about the same time I learned that one of my nearby farm friends has a crop of winter wheat being harvested this July and would have no problem giving me a 5 gal bucket. (@ ~$8.00 a bushel) So I started looking for a food grade bucket and learned that both Jewel and Dominics (grocery stores) go through a number of 5 and or 2.5 gal buckets weekly or daily, (labels usually describe cake icing) for free. Sometimes I have to clean the remnants out, but that’s not to hard and the price is right and they are food grade. I am excited to have fresh wheat and two uses for wheat. Opps I still need to get a flower mill. One step at a time. I have the buckets now.
So, let's start from the beginning! Throughout much of the recorded history, the monetary systems of the western world employed so-called commodity money, generally settling on coins minted out of silver or gold. The two metals were favored because of their nearly universal appeal, and because of their inherently constrained, labor-intensive supply. In this system, early prices likely reflected the worth of a particular good compared to the valuation of the coin as a non-monetary commodity. Over time, the exact "melt value" of the coins started to matter less, and the currency functioned as a more abstract medium of exchange - but its precious metal content stabilized the economy by ensuring that the coinage had an inherent and lasting value, even if the issuing state simply vanished from the map.
Steve Huffman, the thirty-three-year-old co-founder and C.E.O. of Reddit, which is valued at six hundred million dollars, was nearsighted until November, 2015, when he arranged to have laser eye surgery. He underwent the procedure not for the sake of convenience or appearance but, rather, for a reason he doesn’t usually talk much about: he hopes that it will improve his odds of surviving a disaster, whether natural or man-made. “If the world ends—and not even if the world ends, but if we have trouble—getting contacts or glasses is going to be a huge pain in the ass,” he told me recently. “Without them, I’m fucked.”
Unfortunately for preppers, the management of serious pain in an emergency situation is tricky: virtually all the potent painkillers have narcotic properties and are very illegal to buy or possess without a prescription. Fixing the underlying tooth problem can be similarly elusive: you need expert knowledge and a collection of expensive and bulky tools: high-speed drills, suction units, and so forth. In the end, the best preparedness strategy is just prevention: take good care of your mouth and stop by for a routine checkup at least once a year.
Honey is one food that never spoils! Although the look of your product will change somewhat over time, it will never actually spoil. It will begin to look yellow and cloudy instead of golden and clear and will get thicker and grainy over time, eventually looking white and hard. But, it is still good. In this form, the honey may have started the process of crystallizing.
It is hard learning to garden. I just put in my first huge garden a couple of years ago. One thing that I did learn…. is that there are many different ways to garden. There are many books at the library about different types of gardening and of course the internet has a wealth of knowledge. Everyone of course, thinks that their way is the best. Good luck with the garden.
In my home county, one of the most rural in Maryland and roughly an hour’s drive outside of Washington, DC, I organized a small meeting of a few people who consider themselves preppers and/or survivalists. The county might be described as 70% conservative and primarily Republican, and 30% liberal and primarily Democrat. Calvert County is a peninsula, 30 miles long and 9 miles wide, no point further than 5 miles from a navigable body of water (the Chesapeake Bay to the east and Patuxent River to the west). It’s mostly farms, parks and deer-filled woodland interspersed with a number of town centers and housing developments.
And I have bought various pantry sized cans of sauces to increase flavor and nutrition. Alfredo sauce, tomato sauce, mild hot sauce, and Italian seasoning mix come to mind immediately. Since those cans are so well sealed, I don’t bother putting them in the buckets. I also have some #10 cans of cheese sauce powder (think boxed Mac and cheese) since I couldn’t find it in a pantry can, but I store lots of ziplock freezer bags (both quart and gallon sizes) and can use my silica packs to keep it fresher – hopefully long enough to use it up. Cheese sauce over pasta, rice or broccoli will be a nice change of taste when things get boring.
Buckets are great, but rats can chew through them. Store them where you think you can protect them from rodents. Also, plastic is somewhat air permeable, so mylar bag inserts are a really good idea. For basics, the LDS site is the best. You can get flour, wheat, beans, rice, sugar and some pasta already processed in #10 cans and boxed by the 6 can case. All my beds are on these case lot boxes so they take up zero extra room in my house. The prices are extremely reasonable since the church only covers its cost. I wouldn’t store anything in garbage cans just because the sheer weight of the thing will be prohibitive…unless you have a forklift lying around!
If a crisis persists for a long enough period of time, it is very difficult to have an extended comprehensive food stock pile. Having the ability to grow vegetables is a great supplement to your stored foods. Be sure to have varieties that do well in your area, in your soil, and that you know how to grow. Have seeds for medicinal herbs and flavorful spices as well.
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.
While lurking on a prepper discussion thread on Tea Party Community, a social network marketed as a conservative alternative to Facebook, I once saw a rousing discussion about navigating the tricky business of armed combat while confined to a mobility scooter. In that particular hypothetical scenario, individuals were discussing the best ways to kill NATO peacekeeping forces. These are real people, and they live in your city. You've seen them around, buying groceries or waiting in line at the DMV—just doing regular old human activities. The only difference is that these people look at society and see the death throes of something grotesque, and they imagine that it is likely enough that they will find themselves thrown into a new mode of living, something primal and vicious and, let's face it, potentially invigorating.
We liked the Rice Pilaf because it had actual vegetable content! Whole peas and large slices of carrot. No other company has this much vegetable content, not even Mountain House. With chicken broth, white rice, and a surprising addition of orzo, this meal was excellent, especially with some of the freeze-dried chicken included in the Premier bucket.
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Jim: do you have a book about surviving in the woods? I understand your recommendation to avoid gong it alone, but simply cannot stomach the idea of crapping in a bucket in a boarded up house, surrounded by humans in survival mode who are just waiting for the opportunity to kill me and my daughter and take everything we have.... The diseases that people have, ugh just all of it. We are woods people! Always will be. Far far away from others, far far away from help too... Sigh.
Be in this for the long haul. Effortlessly losing 1-2 lbs per week while slowly developing better habits is far more meaningful than starving yourself for a month to get immediate but short-lived results. Get an accurate bathroom scale, take daily measurements first thing in the morning, calculate key milestones, and put it all in a spreadsheet to keep yourself honest and motivated. It will probably take 6-9 months to get the outcome you want; daily or weekly weight fluctuations are almost completely meaningless, but you should be seeing a consistent and predictable biweekly drop.
But you don't generally thread it throughout the entire guide. In the case of the 2012 guide, for example, I was eventually asked to explain the Nibiru cataclysm theory but to avoid addressing it until the last chapter. That's because when the world didn't end in 2012—and at least part of Dimitri knew it wouldn't—you'd be able to easily take out the section on Nibiru theory and insert a new chapter about whatever the hot new doomsday theory is, which these days appears to be the threat of an electromagnetic pulse.
The communications equipment may include a multi-band receiver/scanner, a citizens band (CB) radio, portable "walkie-talkies" with rechargeable batteries, and a portable battery-powered television. The power supplies may include a diesel or gasoline generator with a one-month fuel supply, an auto battery and charger, extension cord, flashlights, rechargeable batteries (with recharger), an electric multi meter, and a test light. Defense items include a revolver, semi-automatic pistol, rifle, shotgun, ammunition, mace or pepper spray, and a large knife such as a KA-BAR or a bowie knife.