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.
Having a medium-size bucket ($8) at home is a must, too. If you own a bicycle and are expecting to use it in emergencies, it would be wise to throw in a bike tool ($20), several tire levers ($5), a patch kit ($5), one or two spare tubes ($10), and a portable pump ($10). Finally, for those who are worried about the decidedly unlikely prospect of having to escape home and fight off radscorpions in the wilderness, a a lightweight hatchet ($25), a folding saw ($20), a larger fixed-blade knife ($24), a folding shovel ($25), a compass ($9), and some matches or a lighter in a waterproof container can come handy in several ways.
If you are trekking through the Yukon or trying to cross the Darien gap, you may find it necessary to wait weeks for help to reach you in a survival situation; but if you are just heading off to your local state park, emergency rescuers could probably reach you in a matter of hours. You’ll want to factor this consideration into your kit-building decisions. If you can expect to wait long periods before help will arrive, you’ll need more supplies than if you are heading out to an easily accessed area. Nevertheless, it is always wise to have the supplies to last longer than you think you’ll need them.
There are plenty of horror stories of people going bankrupt from trying to use coupons, or of people ending up with a lifetime supply of Rice-a-Roni and toothbrushes and nothing else. What if I told you, though, that it is in fact possible to amass a significant, well-diversified stockpile for free using coupons? While it may seem too good to be true, it is possible. But, successful couponing requires a lot more skill and strategy than meets the eye, and the intelligent prepper will do his or her research before jumping into the coupon world to avoid some of the potential foibles mentioned above.
Shelter: You can make basic shelters with cordage and a tarp. Tarps are very useful in a range of situations. Try this Ozark Trail 8’x10’ camo and green tarp. We need to do more research before determining whether hammocks or tents are better for most people, so sign up for our email newsletter to stay updated if you’re interested in a more dedicated BOB shelter. In the meantime, we love these Kammock Roo hammocks that are about the size of a melon. (For a cordage recommendation, see “Tools,” below.)
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.
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.
Despite the trauma, I kept going to protests. I felt grimly determined, and as I kept going, I became more desensitized to the chaos. My medic bag evolved into something more suited for treating the effects of police brutality than simply a place to keep extra snacks and water on hand. I learned from other medics how police often target medics and organizers for arrest in order to destabilize and demoralize the entire group, and I grimly prepared for an inevitable attack or arrest.
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!
If there was anything my freeze-dried food experiment taught me, it was how lucky I was to be able to walk down the street and buy a sandwich whenever I wanted to—but also how far I was from being self-reliant in the more quotidian sense. If freeze-dried meals are becoming increasingly popular in America, then maybe it’s because many of us realize that if something really bad happened, we wouldn’t know the first thing about surviving for a week on the ingredients lying around in our pantry. But as we continue to be bombarded by headlines foreshadowing epic floods, economic collapse, and nuclear escalation, there’s nothing wrong with finding a little peace of mind in a bag of dehydrated Chicken A La King.