Sane Prepping 101
Even though we are just getting started, I have been asked to get right into some of the how-to’s of preparedness for people who are new to the idea. This will be a high-level overview of the basics of preparation. It is important to not worry too much about trying to envision every possible scenario and assign mathematical probabilities. Leave that to the insurance people. Just start by thinking about what is important to life, what things you depend on every day, and what would you do if they suddenly became unavailable or difficult to obtain. Think about having to leave home on short notice for an indefinite period of time. What would you take with you? Do you know where to find it quickly? What things will you wish you had already done? How would you get through a short-term or long-term emergency if you had little or no outside help? Asking these questions will help you create your own personal list of things to do. We will go into detail on some of these later but here are a few basics to get started:
Gather Important Records
Get all of your important papers and records in order and keep them separate from other less important files. These should include deeds, titles, birth certificates, marriage license, bank accounts, insurance policies, stocks and bonds, and any other assets. These documents (paper copies) should be kept in a briefcase or some other file that you can take with you quickly. Keeping it in a fire-proof safe is not a bad idea. I also include DVD copies of family pictures and other documents I would not want to lose.
Financial preparedness means getting your finances in order to limit your risk in case of job loss, inflation, unforeseen expenses, or other setbacks. I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s book “Total Money Makeover”. He lays out in simple terms the how and why of getting out of debt and saving. The plan is simple but there is nothing easy about it. It requires hard choices and cutting expenses. The purpose is to eliminate debt so you can build savings which you can then use to build wealth. Many churches offer classes on this such as Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University”. See http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu/home/ for more info. If your church does not offer it, there may be others in your area that do and you may not have to be a member of the church to attend. Because of the uncertain times we are living in I also recommend having emergency cash kept in a safe place. You should also consider having some portion of your savings in the form of “real money” (gold or silver). For most people, coins such as Silver Eagles are a good way to start. More to come on this topic.
This may seem like common sense, but taking care of your health is probably the most important step. Some preppers put too much emphasis on accumulating “stuff” and not nearly enough on taking care of their own health. Begin by eliminating unhealthy habits. Then get into a regular diet and exercise program to get yourself in shape. This will help reduce future health problems and make you better able to deal with short term and long term emergency situations.
Put together a 72-hour emergency kit that you can take with you that contains everything you would need for a minimum of 3 days (or up to 7 days if you can). This should include non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, flashlights and extra batteries, hygiene supplies, etc. This idea does not come from some crazy “prepper” website, it comes from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). I would consider FEMA’s recommendations to be the bare minimum. Don’t think of it as what you will need until the government comes to rescue you. Think of it as what you will need until you are able to rescue yourself or to get to a safe location. Your emergency kit needs to be tailored for your specific needs.
See http://www.ready.gov/basic-disaster-supplies-kit for more info although there will be more things you will want to include.
Your food storage plan should include short term emergency food and water, a supply of staple grocery items, and long-term storage foods. I’ll have much more detail on this in future posts. There are also many good web sites devoted to this topic and online stores that specialize in specialize in food storage.
- Emergency Essentials offers a variety of storage foods and emergency supplies. They specialize in dehydrated and freeze-dried foods packed in #10 cans. http://beprepared.com/
- GoFoods offers high-quality easy prep meals that require minimal preparation and store easily. http://www.saneprepper.mygofoods.com/
My family and I will be “taste testing” some of these storage foods in the near future and I will let you know how we fare! Feel free to pass along any of your experiences with these items as well.
Water is one of the basic necessities of life. We assume that it will always be there when we turn on the tap because it always has been. What if you had to go several days with no water? Or what if water was available but not safe to drink? Make sure you have at least enough water for a few days and water jugs that can be refilled. You should also have some way to purify water that is of questionable quality. A standard refrigerator carbon filter is not sufficient for this. They are mainly designed to improve the taste of tap water. They will not remove bacteria or viruses any many harmful chemicals can pass right through. Water purification filters made by Berkey, Katadyn, and other companies are designed to filter out almost anything that would be found in fresh water with the exception of minerals. You can even use some of these every day for better quality water without having to buy bottled water.
In the event of a power outage (or gas outage if you have a gas stove) you will need to have some way to cook. A gas grill can suffice but make sure you have at least one or two extra fuel tanks as the primary one may be empty when you need it. Camp stoves, turkey fryers, and charcoal grills can also be used for emergency cooking. Remember to never use one of these indoors! Also have a fire extinguisher nearby.
Make sure you always have a number of flashlights and extra batteries around. The newer LED lights are a major improvement over the incandescent ones as they put out more light and the batteries last much longer with them. There are many inexpensive LED lanterns available as well. These make the old oil and gas lanterns almost obsolete and they are much safer to use. Make sure you also have a supply of batteries. These are less expensive when purchased in quantity at Sam’s or Costco. Rechargeable batteries and a solar battery charger will allow you to have emergency lighting for an extended period of time. Another option is to have a set of solar walkway lights which are inexpensive and found almost anywhere. They stay outside and charge during the day and can be brought inside at night if needed. You would need a number of them as they put out only a small amount of light. Long burning candles are another item that you should have. Don’t plan on using the slender dinner candles you put on your dining room table. Look for the special long burning emergency candles that are designed to burn 100 hours or more. If you can’t find them anywhere, pillar or jar candles will do just fine.
First-aid and medicines
A basic first-aid kit is a must. In addition, you should try to always have on-hand at least a basic supply of typical over-the-counter medicines such as pain relievers and others you may have needed in the past. If you have an ongoing need for prescription medications, it is a good idea to get them refilled as soon as possible and in the largest quantity available. Mail-order pharmacies will often provide a 90-day supply if your doctor approves. Don’t wait until you run out to get a refill!
Other Basic Necessities
Basic household items and hygiene products should always be kept on-hand. These would include paper products, soap, trash bags, etc. Hand sanitizer is good to have in case running water is unavailable. Trash bags (heavy-duty contractor type), aluminum foil, and duct tape have multiple uses in an emergency. Even if you don’t normally use paper plates and cups, they are good to have in an emergency where you may not have an easy way to wash dishes. All of these types of items can be stored indefinitely so stock-up whenever you can or when you find a sale. Buy in quantity so you always have a supply on-hand.
Having a weapon of some sort to defend yourself and your family, at least within your home, should be considered a basic necessity for anyone. Remember that the police can’t be everywhere at once. The main job of the police is not to stop crimes in progress but to investigate them after they happen. Don’t be an easy victim! Even if you live in a “nice” neighborhood, have at least one firearm and learn how to use it. There are MANY web sites out there with lots of differing opinions on what type of gun is best for which purpose. Most of these web sites are for people who have a lot of interest in and experience with guns. For those of you who would almost rather not have a gun, I would suggest a basic revolver in 38 Special caliber. They are easy to learn how to use, easy to load and clean, and easy to unload so that you can know for sure when it is in a safe condition. Even if you don’t plan to get a concealed carry permit, attend a safety class that includes range time so that you will be more familiar with the gun and able to handle it safely and use it effectively. If you have children in the home, there are small gun safes available that can be opened with the press of a few buttons, even in the dark. I would recommend using one of these rather than a trigger lock device which requires a key to open. If there is an intruder in your house, you may not have time to go find the key! A pump shotgun is also a good option especially if you live in an area where handguns are restricted. Make sure you have a supply of ammunition as well.
This of course is not something you need to buy, but sets of skills to develop for better overall self-sufficiency. Some basic ones would include first aid and CPR, cooking and baking, home repair, gardening, and self-defense. There are many other skills that would be handy to have in an emergency but we can’t all be experts on everything. Some skills can be learned from a book, others may require more hands-on experience. Look for local classes and clubs in your area or just take the time to learn some new skills (you can learn almost anything on YouTube).
Balance Your Life
This is the one thing I think some of the serious “preppers” forget to include on their lists. Don’t spend all of your time worrying about disasters, just make sure you get the important things done. Then get on with life, live with a purpose, and follow your dreams. Here are a few suggestions to balance things out from the “Sane Prepper” point of view:
- Put God first, family second, job third
- Know what you believe and why you believe it
- Take a stand for things you know are right
- Decide what things are most important in life
- Set priorities – remember you can’t do it all
- Take care of your health – you only get one body
- Prepare not just for yourself but to be able to help others also
- Be the best you can be at whatever you do
- Be prepared but don’t miss out on life! Enjoy every minute!
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”. – II Timothy 1:7