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.
Check dried goods: rice, flour, grains – frequently for bug infestation. You can mix food grade diatomaceous earth in with dried goods and it will kill pantry moths and weevils. It is safe for humans and pets (as long as it is food grade). It works by shredding the exoskeletons of any soft bodied bug. It is used in grain silos to keep bugs from infesting grain. You can probably get some through a feed store. Some garden centers carry it. You can also order it online, but check the shipping cost. Pantry moth larva and weevils can squeeze through some very tight fitting lids. We’ve been fooled often by them.
Also, include a good supply of the spices you like to cook with. These flavorings and spices allow you to do many creative things with your grains and beans. Without them you are severely limited. One of the best suggestions I can give you is buy a good food storage cookbook. Go through it and see what your family would really eat. Notice the ingredients as you do it. This will help you more than anything else to know what items to store.
Out in Colorado the local merchants were so up with this that they donated most all the supplies. we created fact sheets, handouts, recipes, Q&A, bring in other experts, maybe even offer door prizes ( we gave ball canning books 8.50 as door prize.) hands on folks prepped cleaned and bag. The extension office gave brochures, and goodies. They were held on Saturdays and were about 4 hours long.This can be expanded in many ways… and look how it’s helping. The folks who have to go to food banks don’t want too but don’t have the tools.
You can figure 25-30 years storage life for hard red wheat, stored at 60 degrees in a 55 gallon drum, using 1 pound of dry ice to drive out the oxygen (wait 24hrs for the dry ice to “melt” before sealing the drum). 400 pounds of wheat per drum equals 400 man-days of calories, and costs you about $100. Fill 3-4 barrels. It’s Cheap insurance. Add a barrel of Winter Rye for variety. Add a barrel of oats. Then a couple barrels of WHITE rice, and 2-3 barrels of pinto beans. (You need the beans to balance what’s missing from the grains. The beans may be harder to rehydrate after 10-12 years without a pressure cooker, but then you just grind up the dried beans, and bake them in your bread.) For around $1000, you can be prepared to feed your family for close to a decade, if you also garden, keep chickens, and have fruit trees and bushes. Honey is way too expensive to store on a dollar/calorie basis, but consider bee keeping. A drum takes up LESS than 2’X2’. And they stack nicely, at 33” tall. In a 2’X10′ strip along a basement wall, you can have 10 barrels with 4000 pounds of food. Hang a peg board in front of it, and you’ve got very useful space. If you can’t spare that much space in your basement, to protect the lives of your family, think Venezuela .
In the United States, about one in three adults is obese - that is, are overweight to the point where the condition likely interferes with their health or their daily lives. And while many folks in the prepper community tend to grossly overstate the importance of tip-top physical fitness, there is no denying that obesity is a very real foe. For example, among low-BMI individuals, the incidence of diabetes hovers around 1-4%, but the same number skyrockets to 50-80% for obese folks. Many other, serious metabolic and cardiovascular diseases follow the same curve - and can make it very difficult for the affected families to cope even with fairly prosaic and short-lived emergencies.
I giggled about your reason for not including wheat berries. I agree that many have few or no backing skills or how to make flour but…. I like the idea of wheat because if it is properly stored it can last 30 years and when I first started prepping I told my self that I wasn’t looking for a part time job rotating short lived stock. With my first 5 gal buckets of wheat (from a farmer friend) I also got a manual flour mill. Lots of fun and good exercise. I make some version of whole wheat bread every week. (Don’t want to be heavily invested in prepping and not know how to use what I got!) One season we had a complete wheat failure so I picked up a couple of buckets of soybeans. Another learning curve but eventually made pretty good bean dishes. Question for you and yours, during general internet research I found some articles on Trypsid inhibitor (TI)in beans and how it could be a real problem. Most of the articles appeared to be aimed at telling farmers to not feed soybeans directly (with out some processing) to pigs – in time it can kill them. The TI is neutralized when sufficiently heated. So the hours of boiling beans would take care of this condition but it doesn’t answer questions like:
Just because we are all gonna die does not mean we need to eat junk …. ditch that high carb and super processed junk food. There are many choices of decent food out there … particularly the foods packed by Mormon canneries. Do a google search for where to find the best deals. Really, get rid of the raman noodles, progresso soups, spagetti-o and other junk … you’ll have enough problems living through SHTF without killing you gut microbio ….
Do some research to make sure you are not wasting your time on implausible risks. How likely is it that you would have to face this particular danger, and how much damage can it conceivably cause? For example, do you live in a 100-year flood zone? In the path of tropical storms? In a high-crime neighborhood? Be sure to search around and study publicly available resources; reaching out to local emergency response organizations can be a good plan, too. Try to focus on reputable sources; the science in doomsday movies and on conspiracy websites seldom checks out.
17. Spices and Condiments. Adding some spices and condiments to your food storage pantry will allow you to vary the taste of your storage foods, thus mitigating some of the boredom that is likely to occur over time. The exact mix of spices and condiments is up to you but some suggestions include garlic, chili, Tabasco (hot sauce), salsa, oregano, thyme and black pepper. For a full list of the best prepper herbs and spices, check out the BDS guide here.
You'll find staples like powdered butter, freeze-dried meats, cereals, grains, pasta, fruits and vegetables, and baking ingredients. They also offer a great selection of entrees, including popular Mountain House meals like turkey tetrazzini, rice pilaf, and sweet and sour pork. Many of these are included in their emergency kits that will keep you fed for days or months at a time.
A tarp. For actual survival, a generic blue tarp from Lowe’s isn’t going to cut it. I’m looking for something that is specially designed to help you survive in winter, like [the Xenon winter tarp, $140 and the Old Man Winter by Wilderness Logistics, $160]. They can be used as a tent, as ground cover, to catch rainwater, to patch holes, for a trap, and even to drag back heavy animals.
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.
Religion, however, has everything to do with survivalism—there are things about your faith that affect the way you live, Fletch says, offering me an example. “Today, a great deal [on the menu] was the special you had,” he says. “Every one of the specials had pork in it. Well, depending on your belief system and where you’re coming from, Dan, you could’ve made several decisions about me.” He’s right; I could’ve thought he assumed the breakfast was on me, so he ordered the most expensive dish on the menu. And those assumptions, he says, can break up a group. “If 99 percent of the people in your group don’t eat pork, and you bring in some person eating a ham sandwich next to you, that’s going to cause some conflict.”
What’s on the list depends on which faction of preparedness you practice, pre-Y2K prepper and Seventh-day Adventist Church pastor Craig Wiles tells me. There are preppers, who anticipate an event like an ice storm or an EMP; there are survivalists, who arm themselves to face an enemy like a tyrannical government; and there are homesteaders, who grow their own food and practice self-sufficiency.
An American hedge-fund manager in his forties—tall, tanned, athletic—recently bought two houses in New Zealand and acquired local residency. He agreed to tell me about his thinking, if I would not publish his name. Brought up on the East Coast, he said, over coffee, that he expects America to face at least a decade of political turmoil, including racial tension, polarization, and a rapidly aging population. “The country has turned into the New York area, the California area, and then everyone else is wildly different in the middle,” he said. He worries that the economy will suffer if Washington scrambles to fund Social Security and Medicare for people who need it. “Do you default on that obligation? Or do you print more money to give to them? What does that do to the value of the dollar? It’s not a next-year problem, but it’s not fifty years away, either.”
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.
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.
15. 20 cans of Soup or Broth. The beauty of canned soups and canned broth is that they are a budget friendly. Soups are an all-in-one meal solution. All you need is a can opener and a spoon and you have a meal ready to go. For an extra satisfying meal, try using a can of soup as part of the cooking water for your rice. Yummy! For a guide to making your own bone broth, see Donna’s guide here.
If you have a spouse, walk them through your plans and make sure they can access the essential supplies and know how to use them in your absence. If you have children, give them the very basics as well. For example, in case of a fire, they should know the safest way out without having to wait for you; tell them how to react to home intrusions and medical emergencies, too.
This is true, Kat. Babe, it doesn’t even need to be a true crisis… There are lots of times your stash will come in handy. Unexpected company. Your kid telling you the night before the bake sale that he needs 3 dozen brownies to take to school the next morning. You get out of work late and are too tired to make a grocery run. Everyone in the family gets the flu and you can’t get to the store. The list goes on but the point is that you should be rotating, using and enjoying your stash as part of normal living. A cookbook you might find useful is “The Prepper’s Cookbook” by Tess Pennington. Lots of ideas for setting up your base stash and great recipes too.
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.
Hate to break it to you, but your dog probably has a better chance of making it through a total societal collapse than you do. A quick Internet search of "dog survives" lists everything from drowning to being shot, from bear attacks to war -- whereas the closest you've ever come to "surviving disaster" is getting your wisdom teeth pulled, and even then it was only with the help of a cadre of trained medical professionals and a carton of the strongest painkillers on Earth.
“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.)
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!
Quick and easy foods help you through times when you are psychologically or physically unable to prepare your basic storage items. No cook foods such as freeze-dried are wonderful since they require little preparation. MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat), such as many preparedness outlets carry, canned goods, etc. are also very good. Psychological Foods are the goodies – Jello, pudding, candy, etc. – you should add to your storage.
Peanut butter: High in protein, calories, and is very filling. Fun fact, peanut butter acts as a basis for a product called ‘plumpy nut’, which is given to children in the developing world suffering from malnutrition. This is because it is seriously rich in calories and contains the essential fats your body needs. Remember, in a survival situation, calories mean energy, and energy means survival.
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.
Call ahead to the meat dept.of your store and ask them if they can hold suet or fat for you, what days they ate most likely to have it in inventory, and whether or not it has to be special ordered in the quantity you need. You can also ask for meat trimmings as that is the extra fat that gets cut off the cuts being packaged for the sales floor. There’s often a lot of meat attached to these, and you can get them cheap.
Surviving a crisis situation is made easier by being properly prepared. Having a high quality, reliable emergency survival kit can make a significant difference in your ability to get through a crisis. At BePrepared.com, we have a full inventory of prepacked survival kits to handle any emergency -whether evacuation, severe weather events, or accidents.