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Preppers are a resourceful group of people and there aren’t too many dire situations we don’t have some type of prepared response for ready in our minds. Our plans and preparations for survival are expansive and limited in most cases only by our imaginations or our paycheck. You name the disaster and we have got the bases covered in terms survival kit, our basic needs, bug out plans and tactical DEFCON 1 defensive measures.

But there is still a large number of people in the world who simply don’t see the same value in preparing as preppers do. I personally think that number is coming down, but like everything else, there are degrees of urgency based upon your own situation and each individuals’ views of likely risks as you see them. I know friends who 4 years ago would laugh at the mere suggestion that our country could have anything approaching an economic collapse but who now, at least in conversations, agree that the future looks a little dimmer than even they had imagined. They can now freely admit that they have a sense that there will be bumps ahead, but disagree on how much you should worry about or prepare for any ‘potential’ disaster. They can acknowledge increased risks but they don’t feel inclined to do too much about it.

Then there are other people who never in a million years believe anything bad like economic collapse, pandemic, war or outright tyranny could happen in this our enlightened society. They also believe that the mere thought of bad people getting together to do bad things and not tell anyone (conspiracy) is a sign of mental illness. Sure they will agree that monstrous atrocities have happened in our collective past but rationalize that away because people were less educated, or concede it is limited today to a few violent places in third world countries. They will tell you that as a modern, interconnected world we are so much more thoughtful and considerate now. Rational discourse rules the day.

They have no doubt seen far too many Oscar award-winning, tear-jerking movies about bad people and bad situations to believe that any tragedy on a similar scope could befall us in these progressive times. These bad stuff deniers seem to have this view of the Star Trek ‘United Federation of Planets’ utopia where everyone gets along (usually) and there is peace and harmony across the cosmos if only the smart people (elites) are in charge. Sounds nice doesn’t it?

Well, even these people who have watched far too much TV and rely too heavily on the wizards of smart can admit that even if we don’t have Klingon battle cruisers outside our Solar system, you can have storms, both literal and figurative that wreak havoc with our peaceful civilization.

Even Prepping Deniers want a backup plan

Understanding that there are people like those I mentioned above out there, some of whom we are even related to, I wanted to try to put a less ominous spin on Prepping for the benefit of those who need some additional encouragement. You can still have some level of preparedness without going to the lengths that others of us choose to do. Granted, you are only going to be as prepared as the level of time and energy you put into it, but something is better than nothing.

denial

Even if you don’t believe anything bad can or will ever happen, wouldn’t you feel better with a just-in-case survival kit of items on hand?

To that end, I wanted to put together a list of common sense survival items to have on hand just in case, barring all logic and the goodwill of your fellow enlightened souls, something bad does happen and you are forced to rely on your own self for survival. These survival items are multi-purpose should be non-threatening to anyone out there. I won’t mention camouflage or firearms of any type today but I thought a simple list of items to go into a survival kit for not quite the end of the world could still come in handy to you out there someday.

This survival kit and the items below should be something that anyone can store in a closet of your home, nicely out-of-the-way and hidden from all your friends who would react with horror and derision at the mere hint you were taking any of this ‘prepping nonsense’ seriously. It may not be enough to keep you alive if we really do have a SHTF event, but it will help in many situations where it’s not quite the end of the world.

So for those of you who can foresee some minor inconveniences in life that are worked out shortly, but still want to be prepared, a little…. This list is for you.

Simple Survival Kit List

Backup Power – When the power goes out, it’s good to be able to replace that electricity isn’t it? You can do this in many ways according to how much you want to spend, but let’s assume that a whole home generator is not what you had in mind. Neither is a noisy portable generator. You can still have a fairly reliable source of backup power with a solar panel charging kit like the EnerPlex Kickr IV Portable Solar Charger. This set of panels allows you to roll it out and charge up your cell phone. Add something like Generatr S100 Portable Battery and you can charge a larger battery that will in turn recharge more devices. Another thing to consider with this is having extra batteries on hand should the power go out. I have Sony Eneloop rechargeable batteries but there are many other types of rechargeable batteries that I can use in almost all of my devices like radios and flashlights. I also have spare USB type batteries like a portable RavPower 16750mAh USB charger that sits fully charged. With this one unit, I can charge my iPhone 6 times.

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Blackouts happen all the time.

If all that fails, you can also purchase a simple 1000 W inverter to plug into your car’s adapter to provide power to larger appliances or recharge your batteries much faster. Just make sure you have extra fuel stored for your cars too.

Lighting – Even during the bright hours of the day, if you are stuck inside, you could be in the dark, literally. Flashlights are a must have for power outages even during the day. You can choose from a lot of options like a bright tactical flashlight to something you attach to your key-chain but for the best of both worlds I like a headlamp. This way I can have the light automatically shine where my eyes are pointed and my hands are free to do whatever task I need to. Have one source of light for every family member.

Money – When the power goes out, so too usually goes your ability to get money out of the bank or ATM or make purchases without cash. Almost all point of sale systems rely on electricity and now the internet. so having a small stash of cash on-hand makes pretty good sense. Just a couple hundred dollars could buy your family food, get a hotel room in another state or purchase gas to power your car. Make sure you keep some on you and some hidden at home. You can hide some spare emergency cash in between your phone and the phone case and always have a backup. Have at least $200 in cash where you can get to it. Smaller bills (20’s) are better.

Food – Who wants to go hungry during a power outage or short-term emergency? You can either keep more food stored at home, or purchase food for emergencies. The former will give you better tasting food, but the later requires a little less discipline. Storing extra food in your survival kit keeps everything in one place, but it does take up additional room. Ideally we wouldn’t lose that space to something you already have storage options for, but it may work out better this way.

Along with actually storing and having access to food to eat, you need a way to cook it unless you want to eat a lot of cold canned food. One of the better options I have found is simple freeze-dried camping meals. All you need for these is hot water which you can either heat over a fire outside or with a small camping stove like the JetBoil. Sure the freeze-dried meals aren’t going to be the healthiest options but for short-term situations like this they store nicely, pack a pretty decent amount of calories (make sure you check first) and are filling. I would much rather eat a warm packet of Mountain House Chili-Mac than eat a cold or even warm can of beans. Have enough meals for 5 days for each family member.

Water – Water is one of the trickier items if you consider it. It is all around us usually, but clean drinking water may be hard to come by at times. If the water isn’t coming from the faucet, you might need to find a source. Fortunately, in most climates, there is water around us in lakes, pools, hot-tubs, water heaters and streams. You should store one gallon of water per person per day. We have been going with 5 days so far, so plan accordingly.

Having water on-hand is the best, but just in case, you need a water filter too. For the most basic needs, you can boil water for a minute to kill any bacteria. Filters like the gravity filters from Platypus allow for a lot of water filtration plus carrying capacity in a short time. LifeStraw makes an individual option too that is cheaper, but you can’t filter a large amount of water using one of these easily. Compared to boiling, purification tablets and the LifeStraw, I prefer the gravity fed options best.

Pensioners

Do you have a supply on cash just in case the banks don’t let you in or the ATM machines aren’t working?

Shelter – We will assume that you have shelter since this is not quite the end of the world and heat isn’t something you can easily plan around without power. Cold is something that can be easily addressed with a little more preparation. For this a good three season sleeping bag is a nice item to have for each member of your family. Optionally, you can go with something like the puffy blanket from Rumpl which packs down small and will keep in body heat. Hats and gloves are good also.

CommunicationsA simple weather radio will help you stay in touch with what is going on and you can even use some of these to charge your portable devices and also see in the dark with the included flashlight. No, you won’t be able to communicate out, but you can stay informed.

How do you store your survival kit?

For most of the items mentioned above,  they will easily fit in a good-sized plastic tote. Something like Rubbermaid’s 48 Gallon Action Packer will allow you to store these items neatly away. You may need additional options for water since that takes up so much space but the rest of these items should fit fine.

That will get the most basic needs out-of-the-way, but what else could you store if you were really hoping to cover more bases?

Miscellaneous tools and gearA good sturdy knife is important as well as a multi-tool or at least a decent set of tools to work on items around the house. A nicely stocked first aid kit would be a good addition. Disposable lighters are always handy and are much easier to use that a fire striker.

Security – I said I wouldn’t mention guns, so you can use something like pepper spray or a tazer if you feel that your security would be helped by having something. I would tend to agree.

Mobility – The ability to pack all your gear into a bag would be another nice to have, but if you are talking about evacuating, we have moved well past the simple survival kit mentioned above. If you do decide something more robust is necessary, we have lots of articles on Final Prepper that can help you with that. Bikes are another consideration.

Hopefully the simple items above can help you out if you find yourself in an emergency that isn’t as dire as The End of the World As We Know it. As anyone who regularly reads this site should know, I strongly advocate much more serious and comprehensive methods, skills and supplies, but that isn’t for everyone. Maybe this will help or inspire those out there who still can’t see the point, but nevertheless want a little insurance.

Preppers are a resourceful group of people and there aren’t too many dire situations we don’t have some type of prepared response for ready in our minds.

Preparing for an uncertain future means many things to many different people.

To some it’s about storing bottled water and other essential items, while to others it’s about learning how to make a shelter and fire. Some people believe it’s mostly about securing their finances against market fluctuations, while others feel it’s about defending themselves and their property.

Regardless of what first comes to mind when you consider this important issue, we’re all going to have to eat after a disaster strikes. None of us will be able to survive the coming crisis without the vitamins and minerals that come from food. And that food must be packaged and stored properly if it’s going to remain nutritious for many years.

Of course, there are other factors involved in stockpiling survival food for the future. We’ll eat anything if we have to, but good-tasting food will make the situation much better, as will a significant amount of variety. The food also needs to be nourishing because a crisis will produce stress and we’ll need all the nutrients we can get to deal with that. With the electrical grid likely to be knocked out for a while following a disaster, the food we store should also be simple to prepare.

And despite how good our food tastes, how much variety we incorporate into our stockpile, how nutritious it is and how easy it is to prepare, it needs to be packaged and stored in a manner that will ensure its longevity. None of us knows how long it will be until a major emergency occurs, and none of us has any idea how long that emergency will last.

Let’s take a look at several long-term food storage components, starting with the most common mistakes people make when they begin their stockpiling process.

10 FOOD STORAGE ERRORS TO AVOID

Do you know who the biggest believers in the importance of storing food and water for emergencies are? It’s probably the victims of disasters that have occurred in this country over the past 15 years or so, including Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, tornadoes in Oklahoma, Alabama and elsewhere, and snowstorms in the Great Lakes regions.

gettyimages-452124739-1Few people would disagree that it’s a good idea to store emergency food and water, but the folks who are most convinced are the ones who wish they had been prepared for the tragedies they experienced. Many of them are now ready to face the next crisis because they realize from first-hand experience how crucial it is to be prepared.

What some people are not quite as sure about, however, are the best types of food to stockpile, as well as the strategies for storing it in a manner that will maximize its usage once it comes time to access it. There are many mistakes made in this area, and the downside is significant. A lot of hard work can go to waste because just when emergency food is needed most, people can discover that their stored food has gone bad.

There are a number of examples regarding how this can happen. Someone could have huge amounts of grains stored, for instance, but quickly learn that too much of a good thing is not really that good. Balance and variety are essential, and not merely for your digestive system. They are also a psychological help to you and your family, especially if the emergency situation lasts for days, weeks or months.

Another very important factor is the type of containers in which you store food. If there is exposure to air and moisture, it can ruin your food storage tactics. In addition, where you keep those containers is crucial because high temperatures and light can negatively influence vitamins, proteins and fats.

Other factors include your food’s nutritional quality and how frequently you rotate it. You also want to make certain that the majority of food you store does not require refrigeration because a power outage would spoil those foods quickly. Finally, keeping some food at multiple locations is important, because your home could be destroyed in a disaster, or you might not be able to get back to it right away.

Here are 10 common food storage mistakes:

1. Ignoring the importance of nutrition in stored food. This happens more frequently than one might think. Sometimes we’re so concerned about the volume of food we store that we forget about vitamin and mineral content.

2. Using sacks or other containers that are not airtight. This is wrong for a variety of reasons. Air and moisture will greatly decrease the shelf life of stored food. In addition, containers that are not airtight increase the chances that insects or critters might get into your food.

3. Failing to keep food containers in a dry, cool place. Moisture and heat are two of the worst enemies of stored food. The storage temperature for most food should be between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Failing to keep food containers out of the light. You definitely want to head to the
dark side when it comes to storing food. Light can deplete the vitamin content of food.

5. Storing too many items that need refrigeration. As mentioned, it’s very likely a crisis will include the loss of power, which means your refrigerated items will spoil quickly without a generator.

6. Failing to include enough variety. After a couple of days of eating the exact same thing, you and your family are going to want something different.

7. Failing to include at least a small percentage of “comfort” foods. In addition to satisfying your sweet tooth, comfort foods will give you and your family a big psychological lift in a crisis.

8. Failing to check expiration dates and rotate stored foods. In each container, organize food by expiration date. When an item’s expiration date is approaching, eat that food – or donate it to a shelter – and replace it with newer food.

9. Failing to keep your stockpile discreet. Advertising to others that you have a stash of survival food could make you vulnerable when a crisis hits. Keep your preparations on the down low.

10. Storing all the food in one location. This is the classic case of putting all your eggs in one basket. If your home is destroyed in a disaster, you’ll be glad you kept food and water at a secondary location.

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Some folks believe that freeze-drying is the way to go with long-term food storage. While it’s effective, it’s also very expensive and strips the food of some of its vital nutrients.

Another common technique in the food storage industry is the cheaper “rapid dehydration” method that sucks all the water out quickly. But it can also pull out flavor and nutrients. Low-heat dehydration is a proven technique that keeps flavor and nutrition locked in, and that food will last just as long as freeze-drying without costing an arm and a leg.

Two main advantages to dehydrating food are that it can stay fresher longer and can be stored and transported more easily. Water in food can carry bacteria, which will make that food go bad sooner, and it also weighs down that food.

If you are a do-it-yourselfer, dehydrating food would be a great way to prepare it for your stockpile. It will be more compact and easier to store as you keep it at home, and it will be lighter and more easily packed if you need to bug out. And anytime you want a quick and nutritious meal prior to a crisis situation, all you have to do is rehydrate it and eat it without having to bother looking for an expiration date.

Figure on dehydrated meat lasting only about two months, but many dehydrated fruits and vegetables will be good for a year or so. If you dehydrate herbs, they can probably last for several years.

In order to dehydrate some of your food, you can either use an oven set at a low temperature or invest in a modern, electronic dehydrator. That way, you can make food with an expiration of one month last about 12 months. You don’t want to go much beyond a year in most cases because at that point, even though the water has been removed, it’s likely the nutrients will start breaking down.

Regardless, storage is the key. Once you’ve dehydrated various foods, place them in airtight, plastic containers such as Mylar bags. You may think you’ve squeezed all of the oxygen out of a bag, but there is probably a small amount left, so use an oxygen absorber.

As far as rehydrating that food is concerned, all you have to do in most cases is place it in boiling water and stir, providing a little time for it to thicken.

THE IMPORTANCE OF TASTE

Yes, we will eat anything if we’re starving, but consuming foods that don’t taste good to us is a real challenge. Just when we need that food the most, tasteless food could be tough to swallow – literally and figuratively.

Make sure that the food you put into long-term storage includes top-quality ingredients. Think of the recipes that have proven to be your family’s favorites through the years, and focus on them.

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF NUTRITION

Everybody knows it’s important to eat food that’s good for you. Well, that’s going to become even more important after the stuff hits the fan. Being able to perform at peak capacity under pressure will be essential when we’re dealing with a crisis, and eating healthy food will go a long toward accomplishing that goal.

Be certain that your survival food is jam-packed with nutritional value, preferably food that takes 100 percent non-GMO fruits and vegetables as
its starting point and ideally food that is grown, harvested and made from scratch here in America.
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THE IMPORTANCE OF VARIETY

Have you ever noticed that many foods taste great if you haven’t had them for a while, but not quite as good if you ate them recently and definitely not as good if you ate them yesterday? Our taste buds – not to mention our minds – react differently to foods based on how long it’s been since we’ve eaten them.

Variety in survival food is extremely important… for taste, for nutritional value and for the psychological effect. Make sure you stockpile a nice variety of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, not to mention snacks and desserts. These foods might include oatmeal, powdered milk, soups, stews, rice, pastas, potatoes, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PACKAGING

Another key factor to consider with long-term food storage is packaging. There’s not much point in stockpiling survival food if your food isn’t going to survive. It needs to stay good for a long time.

It’s vital to keep air and moisture out and to have a durable package that can take a few bumps over the years without bursting. The best way to ensure that result is to use space-age Mylar packaging that gets placed inside airtight containers, so look for sealed Mylar pouches with less than 2 percent oxygen content.

Mylar is what NASA uses in spacesuits to protect astronauts from solar-thermal radiation. So, you know your food will be protected against all the elements Mother Nature could throw at it. This barrier against air, moisture and light – the three things that will destroy food over time – is possible even with re-sealable pouches.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SIMPLICITY

Now, none of that time-consuming packaging process makes any sense if it doesn’t contain great-tasting, nutritious food capable of lasting a long time and that is simple for you to prepare. A majority of your stockpiled survival food should require only boiling water, simmering and serving.

WHAT ABOUT CANNED FOOD?

Some survival websites will tell you that canned food is very good for long-term storage, while others will tell you it’s not. Although it can have some drawbacks – weight and portability, for example – canned food is probably better than many people think… especially if you’re hunkered down and don’t have to lug it around.

While you would not want to live exclusively on canned foods, they have their place, especially when one is on a tight budget. Many folks are living paycheck to paycheck during these rough economic times. They barely have enough money to feed themselves and their families, let alone stock up on foods that can sometimes be expensive.

As a more economical option for part of your emergency food supply, put together a stockpile of canned foods. Many of the same foods that people eat on a regular basis are available in canned form, including vegetables, soups, meats, fish, stews, beans, pasta and many more. Canned foods can be nutritious and rich in protein, which people will need for keeping up their strength when they’re dealing with a crisis.

Of course, there is the issue of shelf life when it comes to canned food. Cans also take up a lot of space, and they are heavy. If you have to grab your emergency food supply quickly and head out the door, cans are not your ideal choice. In addition, epoxy resins containing Bisphenol A (BPA) are frequently used as coatings on the insides of cans, which has raised some health concerns. And while it’s extremely rare, some people have contracted botulism from canned food.

But below are seven reasons why you might want to consider having at least some canned food in your survival stash:

1. Price. When you purchase items in bulk, you can save up to 75 percent by acquiring most canned foods rather than freeze-dried or dehydrated foods. Even if you’re not able to buy in bulk, you will still save money with canned foods.

2. Long Lasting. Many canned foods have a shelf life of between one and several years. You should still rotate your supply occasionally and eat the food if the expiration date is getting close, but there’s peace of mind knowing that most canned foods last a long time.

3. Variety. People will eat the same thing over and over again if they’re hungry enough, but everyone appreciates having choices. You can acquire a wide variety of canned foods that should keep pretty much everybody in the family happy for a while.

4. Calories. The last thing you should be worrying about in a survival situation is weight watching. So what if some canned foods are high in calories? Focus on what will be important in that situation, not on how you’re thinking right now. You’re going to need those extra calories when you’re in survival mode.

5. Water. There’s very little water in freeze-dried and dehydrated foods (although there is usually a small amount), but most canned foods contain the water that will make preparation easier. Yes, that also makes them heavier, but that shouldn’t matter if you’re able to stay put to ride out a crisis situation.

6. Familiarity. Most families normally eat foods such as chicken, beef, ham, fish, vegetables, stews, beans and pasta, all of which are available in canned form, plus many more. In a time of crisis, familiarity will go a long way to “normalizing” what you and your fellow family members are going through.

7. Safe Storage. Bugs and rodents can sometimes infiltrate boxes and bags, but seldom do they break through a can.

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

Regardless what kind of food you stockpile and how you store it, do whatever you can to keep survival food (and other essentials) in more than one location. Those who have gathered large amounts of bottled water, canned food, toiletries and a host of can openers, flashlights, batteries, radios, blankets, clothing, first-aid kits and weapons need to keep a portion of those items in multiple locations.

A home is a great place to stockpile food, and that’s where many people keep their largest supplies because that’s where they and their families are most likely to be when the stuff hits the fan. And even if they’re not home at that exact moment, they will probably be in a position to return there shortly.

Homes are not only where most people keep the majority of their emergency supplies, but also where they’ve spent time and money to secure their belongings. If a breakdown in society occurs following a disaster, they want to be as prepared as possible to protect their families and possessions.

But what if their homes are destroyed or severely damaged by whatever crisis occurs? If that’s the only place where we have our emergency goods including food stockpiled – and we either can’t get to them or they’ve been destroyed by the disaster – we will have wasted a huge amount of time and money preparing for the exact scenario in which we find ourselves.

It is absolutely essential that you keep supplies in multiple locations. If you have a year’s supply of goods at home, keep six months’ worth in at least one other place. If you have six months’ worth of goods at home, store at least three months’ worth at a secondary location.

Now the question becomes, exactly where should your second and perhaps third locations be? There are several important factors to consider. For one, these other locations need to be close enough to get to, yet far enough away that they’re unlikely to be affected by the same disaster that just did a number on your home.

Just as important, these locations have to offer the same features that your home does – a cool, dry place where food and water won’t be negatively affected by sunlight, moisture and extreme temperatures.

Of course, it’s up to you to decide where those second and possibly third locations will be, but among the possibilities are a storage unit that you can rent, a root cellar or storage bunker on your property but away from your house, inside a separate building that you own in town, within a building that a trusted friend owns, or buried in a remote area where only you would think to look.

Finally, as all good preppers know, don’t advertise the fact that you have stockpiled food and water in your home and at other locations. People
will remember that, and you could have some unwelcome visitors following a disaster.

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INCLUDE COMFORT FOODS IN YOUR SUPPLY

The word “comfort” sure is comforting, isn’t it? When you think of that word, you might imagine lying in a hammock on a warm summer day, or relaxing on a porch with a beverage on a pleasant evening, or sitting by the fireplace with a cup of coffee when it’s cold outside.

Yes, it’s important to keep your body healthy by eating nutritious food that will provide you with the energy you need. That will be especially true during a crisis when you might be on the move and when your stress level will be higher.

But giving your family members and yourself an emotional lift once in a while with some foods you and they love will do wonders for everyone’s state of mind. And you can’t underestimate the value of keeping attitudes upbeat at a time when depression could easily set in.

So, what is meant by comfort foods? Anything that goes down easy, tastes great, is easy to prepare and reminds you of a time when things were better. Are most of them “healthy” and “natural?” Probably not, although some are. Some are probably high in calories and carbohydrates, and some include a little too much sugar.

But if a vast majority of the foods you are consuming are nutritious, you can afford to eat a snack once in a while that may be better for your attitude than it is for your cholesterol level.

If you asked 15 different people to list their top 15 comfort foods, you’d probably get 15 different lists. But there would certainly be some overlap. Here’s one list that comes to mind.

Hard candies. Some people’s favorites are caramel and butterscotch, but you might prefer cherry, root beer, butter rum or other flavors.

Chocolate pudding. This might be the universal kid-favorite comfort food, but adults love it, too.

Popcorn. You don’t have to be watching a movie to enjoy it, but it’s difficult to watch a movie without it.

Pizza. Are you kidding? Few people don’t like pizza, despite the great debate about which is better – thin crust or deep dish.

Mac and cheese. Another item that few kids will turn down. Many children love it when mom adds hot dog slices to their mac and cheese plate.

Candy bars. Yes, there’s too much sugar. But you don’t have to live off of them. But once in a while, a Three Musketeers, Snickers or Milky Way really hits the spot.

Peanut butter. Most people use this as a spread, but have you ever put a spoonful in your mouth and just savored it?

Hot chocolate. There should be a federal law requiring parents to serve this when their kids come in from playing in the snow.

Honey-coated banana chips. Those who’ve never tried them before rave about them after finally tasting them.

Freeze-dried yogurt bites. Ditto.

Granola bars. These are almost too healthy to count as comfort foods, but they’re included because they taste great and are so easy to open and pop in your mouth.

Trail mix. Dried fruits and nuts are tasty, and many enjoy the kind of trail mix that cheats by including M&Ms and chocolate chips.

Coffee or tea. For some folks, coffee is not a comfort food; it’s an absolute necessity. For others, it could be a pleasant reminder of more normal times.

Hostess Twinkies and Cupcakes. A nutritionist just rolled over in her grave, but as long as you don’t fill an entire bug-out bag with them, you’re probably OK.

WHAT ABOUT PET FOOD STORAGE?

Regardless of whether a disaster causes us and our families to hunker down or bug out, our pets are going to stay with us and receive as much care as we are capable of providing them. These furry creatures are part of the family and are treated that way.

Now, you might keep much of your family’s emergency food supply in space-age Mylar bags, which is a great idea because you may want that food to last a very long time. But most of your animals are probably not going to live another 25 years, crisis or no.

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THE BAGS ARE LOADED

There’s good news for you. The bags in which your pets’ dry food are sold are perfectly capable of keeping that food fresh for a couple of years. The only thing to be concerned about here is making sure there are no rips or tears in the bags before you purchase them.

But just because you don’t need to remove your pets’ food from those bags and place it in Mylar bags doesn’t mean you can just toss the bags into the crawlspace and forget about them.

Give a mouse or another rodent access to a bag made of paper and he won’t need long to scratch his way in. Unless your goal is to keep mice happy and healthy following a crisis, this is not the way to go.

USE AIRTIGHT CONTAINERS

You need to pack your pets’ dry food bags in airtight plastic containers then place those containers in a cool, dark place, away from sunlight. And once you open a bag, the oxidation process will start, so make sure to use all of its contents within six months at the most.

Also, you need to rotate this pet food periodically. If the expiration dates on the bags are difficult to read, write the date that you placed it in storage on the bag with a black Sharpie. Then use the oldest food each time, assuming it has not expired.

One note to consider here. If you feed your pets “natural” dry food, you may be giving them something that is healthier for them than “regular” pet food. But due to its lack of preservatives, natural pet food will not last as long.

CONSIDER CANS

Many people prefer dry pet food to canned food, but canned food does have the advantage of lasting longer… sometimes up to five years. The storage principle is the same here. Keep it in a cool, dry place. Although cans are much more difficult to infiltrate than bags, you should still keep them in an airtight container.

FREEZE-DRIED OPTION

Another option is freeze-dried pet food. Assuming nearly all of the moisture has been removed, it should stay good for a number of years. But the plastic packages it normally comes in are not meant for long-term storage, so transfer the food to Mylar bags and then store them in airtight containers. Toss an oxygen absorber into the container while you’re at it.

HOMEMADE NEEDS HOMEWORK

For you DIYers who make your own pet food, you’re probably doing your pets a favor by feeding them a diet that does not contain additives and preservatives. But as with store-bought “natural” dog food, you really need to do your homework before canning that food in order to figure out how long it will stay good.

CONCLUSION

Whether you build your own food stockpile or purchase a ready-made solution, the bottom line is you actually have to do it, not just talk about it. And when you do, make sure it’s stored in a manner that will ensure its value and longevity. Then and only then can you rest easy, knowing you’ve done what you could to prepare for whatever comes your way.

Preparing for an uncertain future means many things to many different people. To some it’s about storing bottled water and other essential items, while to others it’s about learning how to

In a disaster our first instinct is to move as quickly as possible to safety or to the closest approximation we have to our ideal of safe. For me, if anything happens my goal is to get back to my home as quickly as possible. I have supplies at home specifically designed to help me and my family handle the aftermath of almost any emergency and logically this is our first/main rally point in any crisis. No matter where I am if something happens I will be working immediately to make it back to reunite with the rest of my family. My get home plan is my first priority if I am away unless there is something that prevents me from reaching home. This is less of an issue if I am with my family and we are together, but I like most of you spend a good part of my day away from home.

We like to speak of the ideal of heavily stocked survival retreats located on hundreds of acres of land in the boonies only accessible via a dirt road and after crossing several water hazards. That is the ideal maybe, but almost none of us, when you start looking at the numbers live anything near that type of lifestyle. Are there people who live in remote areas? Of course, but for most of us, our survival retreat is our home in the suburbs or semi-rural areas still easily accessible by plenty of roads with a Walmart within a short drive. Even more live in the cities where our neighbors are practically on top of us. Most of us who call ourselves preppers do not live year round at a retreat taking care of livestock, building barns and furniture from trees we felled and wood shaped with hand tools. Most of us work a job for someone else in an area that is anything but remote and that is almost always away from home. I personally want the retreat, but unless my life changes drastically that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. For me right now, I am where I am so I plan to make the best of it. If something happens I will be heading to my home.

There are multiple strategies for travel needed with the unexpected emergency but the variables start adding up when you consider all the permutations of what the emergency could be and where you are at the time. Today I want to talk about how you can begin to prepare for a situation where you are at work and your goal is to get back home to your family, your supplies and your castle. In a lot of cases you have to plan for situations that are out of the norm. The first plan of course would be to simply hop in our cars and drive home, but what if the roads were blocked? What if you couldn’t even reach your car? You should make a plan now for getting back home in alternate ways and plan for travel that isn’t ideal.

My Get Home Bag of choice right now.

How will you get home?

Before we can really start discussing how to get home, you have to take into consideration how far away home is. For the purposes of this article, I will use the example of a typical work day. For most of us that means we leave home in the morning, go to work and return home the same day. I have written articles on getting home from much further distances, but for this article we’ll assume you aren’t on the other end of the country, you are at your regular day job.

One of the first things I recommend thinking about is a Get Home Bag for anyone who works more than a few miles from home. I personally use the Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack right now pictured on the right. A get home bag has been called by a lot of other names, but it is simply a bag with basic supplies that you might need in order to walk back to your home. This is not the same as a bug out bag, but the concepts are related. All of these bags are simply containers for some essentials you might need in an emergency situation. My Get Home Bag is stored in the trunk of my car and has very basic items because on an average day I am not more than 15 miles away from home. I have spare water, some food in the form of a Mainstay bar, work gloves, lighter, paracord, ammo, multi-tool, headlamp and dust mask along with some blood stopper bandages. Could I pack more in there? Of course but I try to lean toward the minimal side on these bags and focus more on what I really could need versus what would be nice to have. For example, I don’t have a compass because I know my town and where my home is. I don’t have hand sanitizer because that is the last thing I am going to worry about. I don’t have a radio because I should be home in a few hours tops but I do have a ham radio in my car that is mobile. Your get home bag should have what you would expect to need on your trek home.

But what if my car is blocked or I can’t get to my car? What if the parking deck that my car sits in all day is shaken to the ground by an earthquake or an explosion? That is when the absolutely prepared person would grab their back up bag from their desk. I don’t have a bag in my desk and really I don’t live far enough from work that I don’t think I could make it back even without a bag. Couldn’t I leave my Get Home Bag in my desk at work and eliminate that problem? Sure but what if my office is closed or blown up or for some other reason I can’t get back to my desk? For me, the trunk of my car is the safest bet that will be with more more often than my desk drawer and if that doesn’t work out I will adapt. One thing you don’t want to have to adapt to are the elements though. I carry rain gear on days when there is a chance of rain even if I don’t plan on going outside. Cold weather is the same thing. Its easy to leave home and think that you will just be in the car, but what if you are forced to walk? Dress for the weather outside, not the weather inside.

Another aspect of making it back home is to have footwear up to the challenge. I have written before about how so many people wear flip-flops everywhere they go now and I shudder to think about what it would be like in a real disaster to have virtually no protection on my feet. As well as my Get Home Bag I have a pair of sturdy work boots in my car. I never wear flip-flops but if for some bizarre reason I have a John McClain moment and am caught with my shoes off I will have a backup.

Carry your Every Day Carry – EDC

Another aspect of my preps is my EDC or Every Day Carry items that I have on my person at all times when I am away from home. For me, my EDC consists of a concealed handgun, handkerchief, multi-tool, flashlight, knife and water. My water bottle is in my backpack with my computer, but I always have that with me. These items augment what I have in my Get Home Bag and I try to religiously make sure they are on me. If I am walking out the door to work I have an almost perfect track record of taking all of my EDC gear, but it is the odd times where my outfit choices are different when this falls down. Going to the pool for example, I have been known to change things up due to necessity and some of my gear stays in the car as opposed to poolside.

With my EDC gear it is always in my pockets or my bag, but how many of you have gone to the bathroom without your cell phone? How many have run down to the corner store without your car keys? What if something prevented you from getting back to your desk or work location and the only way you had to get into your car was several floors up, or under rubble? I try to take my keys and cell phone with me anytime I leave my desk so that I will have this option if needed.

Plan more than one route back home

Where I live, there isn’t a tremendous amount of traffic so I routinely take the same route to and from work. This is the quickest way for me to travel, but in an emergency, roads could be blocked and impassable. If needed, I can take alternate roads, but in some cases that might make my trip longer by taking me further away from home to route back to a good road. Alternately you could cut through the woods or neighborhoods but this isn’t always faster. In some situations, it might be a bad idea to cut through someone’s yard and you could find yourself in an altercation you didn’t need to get in. What if your travel takes you through a rough part of town? You would necessarily want to avoid those areas at this time so that you don’t become the victim of a predator. It helps to know the area you live in well enough and in some cases to perform what I call Neighborhood Recon to scope out alternate routes and identify obstacles ahead of time. Could you make it through the swamp that is in the woods? Maybe, but would you want to?

Have a communication plan with your family

In a disaster, cellular communications might be down and who has land lines anymore? You used to find a phone booth on every corner but now they are nonexistent where I live. My communication plan is really meant to address a lack of communication I can foresee in a disaster. My family knows what my plans are and that is to come home. I might be delayed but I will stick to the plan. In the event that some crisis hits and my family is not in immediate danger from staying put at our home, they are supposed to wait for me to arrive. Depending on the crisis this could be several hours to a day, possibly overnight. Does your family know what your plans are? More importantly, do they know what to do if you never show up?

What are your plans for making it back home in an emergency if your trusty vehicle isn’t available?

In a disaster our first instinct is to move as quickly as possible to safety or to the closest approximation we have to our ideal of safe. For me, if

Large earthquakes continue to wreak havoc across the United States and abroad, and the U.S. Geological Survey has increased the likelihood that the “Big One” will hit California within the next few decades.

In addition to earthquakes, the CDC warns of other deadly disasters, like tsunamis, wildfires, extreme winter weather and infectious diseases. Meantime, the State Department seems to constantly be issuing new warnings about terrorist threats to Americans.

Catastrophe can strike at any moment. Are you prepared? Are your kids? You need to evaluate your current survival plan and update your emergency preparedness kit. You don’t want to be caught without some of these must have items to survive disaster.

It’s also a great time to educate your kids on survival preparedness and practice your family disaster plan. Involve your kids in putting together and packing their personal bug out bag. Here is everything you should include in your kids’ emergency pack.

Backpack Essentials

Begin with an ordinary school backpack that is not obnoxiously huge and doesn’t stand out. It should be comfortable and not too heavy for your child, because they may have to travel long distances on foot. Let your child choose the bag to help them take ownership of it. Update the pack every six months to ensure all contents are fresh.

Hydration:
(Water is an absolute must for your bag, in addition to these essentials:)

  • Water Purification tablets
  • Canteen
  • Water pouches
  • Water filter
  • Pedialyte powder

Food:
(Enough to last three days, including the following:)

  • Protein/energy bars
  • Dehydrated meals
  • Snacks (gum, hard candy)

lost-child

It’s also a great time to educate your kids on survival preparedness and practice your family disaster plan. Involve your kids in putting together and packing their personal bug out bag.

Clothing/Hygiene Products:
(Depends on location and climate. Have the following:)

  • Climate-friendly clothing (gloves, hat, coat if necessary)
  • Change of clothing and underwear
  • Poncho
  • Socks
  • Spare glasses/sunglasses
  • Hygiene kit that includes wipes, toothbrush and paste, hand wash
  • Pocket tissue packs
  • Chapstick
  • Extra medication as needed

Survival Items:
(Parents can carry the majority of survival items, but kids should have a few in case of separation, including:)

  • Small flashlight or headlamp
  • Survival whistle
  • Small first aid kit (you can carry the big one)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Swiss Army knife for older kids
  • Emergency glow sticks
  • N95 Respirator Dust Mask
  • Emergency blanket
  • Pepper spray
  • Cash

Entertainment/ Comfort Items:

  • Stuffed bear or toy
  • Playing cards
  • Brain games and activities
  • Football
  • Coloring book and crayons

Information and Communication

Laminate emergency contact information, including parents’ names, phone numbers and a home address. Also include information for a few close relatives or friends, while including a photo of your child and his or her family members and friends to serve as identification.

Map out directions to different chosen bug-out locations in case your child gets separated from you, and put copies in their packs.

Pack a prepaid mobile phone or satellite phone to ensure they will be in communication with someone at all times.

Related – Outrageous Ways to Charge Your Phone During a Blackout

Practice

Stocking up on supplies is easy. But when the time comes to grab the packs and go, it’s best if the family has run through certain scenarios to know exactly where to go and how to get there.

Practice test runs to the mapped out locations you’ve chosen to retreat to when a disaster strikes and be sure the kids could make it there on their own.

The threat of natural and man-made disasters is real, but having supplies and a survival plan will put you ahead of the pack when running for the hills. Get your kids involved so everyone makes it out alive.

On a different note, here’s some other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)
Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)
Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)
Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)
The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)
The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

Catastrophe can strike at any moment. Are you prepared? Are your kids? You need to evaluate your current survival plan.

Sanity is important. Really. It’s easy to think that in a disaster we’ll just make do because we won’t have any choice. That’s adding a lot of stress to our bodies and minds in an already stressful situation.

People die and are brutalized as a result of today’s stresses, and various reactions to them. We are not all going to be immune should something occur – income loss, natural disaster, or nation-altering event. However, we can make some sanity-saving preparations to ease those stresses rather than increase them.

Curtains

We’re used to a great deal of privacy in most Western cultures. It’s no longer the norm to have 3+ generations in a single household. It’s no longer the norm to have even a nuclear family live without separate bedrooms and usually at least one family room to choose from and “getaway”.

People make it through boomerang children and sudden house sharing. Flipside: Consider how many conflicts (and separations) occur when folks retire. Sometimes, two people are “suddenly” exposed to each other 24/7/365 and discover they actually only liked each other in small doses.

When we share tighter spaces or share with more people than usual, conflicts tend to arise. Being able to retain even a minor visual escape from fidgets and from annoyances can be huge.

Cubbies can be arranged for tiny reading nooks, as well as to create smaller rooms or block off a bunk to provide some escape space. All we need to maintain some privacy and individual space are some sheets or fabric, and some screws, screw-in hooks, or some heavy-duty staples. You might also want to snag something like garden mesh or tulle that can be doubled up to provide a visual barrier but not block as much airflow.

Ear Plugs

As with getting out of sight, getting away from sounds can be enormously sanity-saving. The earplugs fit a variety of canals, fluff out fast, aren’t scratchy, and you can sleep on your side. They can also be used in conjunction with over-the-ear and around-the-ear headsets, which can further reduce the intrusion of outside noises.

Music & Headsets

Many of us like music, but don’t want to hear somebody learning to play the harmonica and singing may require those earplugs. Within my family, various infidels think Skillet is a pan, Pitbull is a breed, Celtic Woman is plural, FFDP=5FDP, and it’s normal to howl to country music. There’s audio torture in there for pretty much everybody.

Happily, we have options that will allow us to all dance to the beat of our own drummers.

There are umpteen music and video download services for smartphones or tablets. MP3 players have become wicked inexpensive. Phones are media storage devices, giving those old electronics we replace frequently new life. Terabyte external hard drives not much bigger than a wallet, fit compactly in Ziploc and EMP boxes and shields

Even more happily, there are these handy things called “headsets”. This is different from earbuds. Headsets go over your ears or fit all the way around the ear, sealing off even more of the outside world. Plus, you can wear earplugs with a headset.

You’ll want to make sure you’re also stocking multiple power options. There are rocket stoves that can produce electricity. Small solar chargers are inexpensive. Some are barely bigger than an old flip phone, some are the size of smartphones and tablets, and some that are still in the $20-$50 range take up the space of a laptop – some of which expand to 2-3x times that for collection. Most will handle cell phones and mp3 players easily.

Cough Drops & Syrup

It may seem ridiculous, but somebody repeatedly hacking really will get on others’ nerves. It can also be disruptive to sleep – theirs and others’. Sleep deprivation is one of those things that generates emotional outbursts and bad decisions. It’s an easy fix.

Books, Games & Entertainment

Don’t ignore entertainments just because you think you’ll be working and then sleeping, and won’t need light or distractions. We watched and listened to stories and played sports and games even during pretty tough, lean periods of history.

There are compact card versions of a lot of board games, quickie fun like Man Bites Dog, and games like Qwixx that can cross purpose into Farkle, Yahtzee, and other dice games with some pre-printed instructions. We can create holiday, seasonal, and educational versions of Pictionary, Last Word, BINGO, and Scattergories. (Budget extender: home-print prompts and draw for letters instead of buying the game/alphabet die.) Notebook-sized dry erase boards provide reusable playing and scorekeeping.

Books run the gamut from the usual suspects (crosswords, Sudoku, search-a-word, “Brain Busters”) to fiction in line with family’s TV or gaming interests. Large-print versions will be easier to read in dim light. Some of the free papers in front of supermarkets have a puzzle page (don’t forget to snag the next addition for answers, and pencils).

There’s nothing wrong with adding books to our electronic media, but have some hardcopies.

Places like Oriental Trading Co. can be great for nabbing tiny jigsaw puzzles, finger-fidgets, all kinds of crafts, brain teasers, small activities, dominos, and bead mazes, for less than $5-$10 per lot of 4-24. Watch for their free shipping with no purchase limit specials ahead of holidays.

You can have jigsaw puzzles made out of favorite photos, or print your own. A dozen with their pictures fit in a shirt box. Some Nerf or airsoft guns and home-printed targets can make for an all-ages pirate or zombie party. Indoor bowling sets, non-pokey dartboards, mini indoor basketball goals, homemade bean-bag tosses, and similar are all ways to keep boredom and stress from boiling over even if we’re not trapped by weather or in a bunker/compound situation.

If there are adults and adolescents, don’t forget the condoms. Especially if you don’t plan for other entertainments.

Vices

For some, books, games, movies, music, and the internet are vices. For others, it’s nicotine or booze, chocolate or caffeine, popcorn or chips. Some people are pretty well addicted to their sports, watching or playing. Socializing and shopping will be a hard loss for others.

Loss leads to stress, and we’re already looking at stressful situations. We can either add to losses, or mitigate some. People “Jonesing is only going to further stress them and those around them.

Vices can absolutely be poor choices, especially in contained spaces. Still, weigh them out. Some aren’t so bad. Many addiction vices can be stocked for an initial transition period. Other types can be stocked to be a once-in-a-while treat or easily, inexpensively indulged.

Cool-Downs

Heat can be the straw that breaks a camel’s back. Heat can also cause actual medical stress, so combating it checks extra boxes.

One easy, fairly inexpensive helper are battery-operated fans. Some of them are tiny little AA and AAA mini’s we clip to strollers and dashboards. Box fans come in 6”-10” and 12”-20” ranges, running off 4-8 AA or 1-4 C or D batteries. Many can now be charged directly via USB.

Some of them generate a fair bit of breeze, which can help tremendously with perceived temperature. Even the less-effective ones can help a little. You can increase effectiveness by sticking something cool or cold in front of them, like a frozen water bottle, wet sponge, or one of those crack-cool ice packs (especially wrapped in a damp cloth).

Dunk-snap bandanas and soak-activated neck coolers (those start to get slimy after multiple uses) can also help significantly.

Exercise

The loss of friends and family, the loss of purpose after losing a job or retiring, loss of social outlets, and injuries already cause people to spiral into depression. It’s a common problem as-is, and is fairly guaranteed to increase if our worlds are ripped away. Anything that can fight it will be a big help – exercise is one of those things.

Exercise also helps with stress. It’s going to be a necessary outlet for active folks who are suddenly “trapped”. It allows some to release some of their frustrations – some, not everyone. It can also ease anxiety.

Physical therapy and senior citizen exercises can be helpful even for young, healthy bodies. We can leave mat space for calisthenics and Pilates, have chairs sturdy enough for exercise props, and stock resistance bands. There’s also the option of sticking a bike on a rack – which has the advantages of potentially being connected to a grinder, a laundry machine, or a generator. Hand bikes, rowers, or reclining bikes have their own advantages.

I personally wouldn’t install a boxing bag or treadmill somewhere everybody has to hear it getting pounded, since that’s only going to create more conflict and frustration.

Dealing with Conflicts

Anytime you increase stress, problems are going to start showing up. It’s not like preexisting issues go away, either. Especially in situations where you’re doubling-up in homes, living in RV or camping conditions, or in a bunker-barracks scenario, conflicts are going to arise.

Study, train, and stock material related to anger management, stress, grief processing, PTSD, forgiveness, passive-aggressive tendencies, abuse/assault, compromise, divorce, loss specifically related to parents and kids and miscarriages, for-real conflict resolution, and both assertiveness and sensitivity training. Get training on listening – specifically listening to family members – for as many as can attend.

We see divorces, PTSD, business partnership dissolutions, and family meltdowns every day. Thinking that high-stress will only bring our people closer, not crack some and create fissures, is delusional.

Sensitivities

Sensory Processing/ Perception Disorder can manifest in a range of ways. Some “feel” and “see” certain sounds – sometimes like corduroy rubbing in the ear, or that awful sensation of a pencil eraser’s metal scraping paper and desk. I don’t actually recognize background noises – clocks ticking, ceiling fans whirring, dogs panting, conversations behind a door, and rubbing of a callous are as prominent to me as face-to-face words. It has advantages and frustrations.

Other common and regularly undiagnosed sensitivities include misophonia (triggered by picking at nails, whistling breath, chewing, sucking on teeth, flicking and tapping pencils, thumbing pages of books) and misokenisia (many of the same, plus twiddling thumbs, jerking feet, bouncing knees, etc., especially when the repetitive motion is at the verge of peripheral vision).

It’s not just “get over it” territory or being appalled by bad table manners and fidgets. The mis-wired brain triggers extreme flight-fight reactions. It can make sufferers want to cry, scream, or stab someone. People have grit their teeth so hard they crack fillings, and dug nails so hard into their own thighs and earlobes that they draw blood.

Providing escapes and being cognizant of bad habits, sensitivities to bad habits, and finding resolutions is going to be important. Especially since being trapped for a long winter already causes people to go postal (hello, cabin fever) and so many people have weapons handy.

Other sensitivities to note now, especially for tight, closed quarters, are things like somebody wheezing from Vick’s or Aspercreme, somebody sneezing and sniffling until aerosol deodorizers dissipate (and that person not covering their mouth/nose properly), regular detergents making somebody itch, improper hand washing (“Gross!” & “Don’t touch food/dishes!” tiffs), and the smell of certain cleaners turning somebody’s stomach. There’s usually a work-around.

Anytime there’s nowhere to flee – trapped together by a hurricane or frigid weather, or in a bunker-type situation – the reaction to stressors is going to be to fight.

Pay attention, learn sensitivities ahead of time, and figure out ways to prevent and mitigate them. Distractions and mini-escapes will help tremendously.

Sanity is important. Really. It’s easy to think that in a disaster we’ll just make do because we won’t have any choice. That’s adding a lot of stress to our

Prepping is something that takes time, some level of commitment and usually finds its roots in some motivating reason or lifestyle characteristics. Preppers intentionally work toward a goal or measurement that can be held up to life for comparison. By preparing to have food stored over the winter, you may have a measurement of how long you can feed your family with those foods you are storing away. Food storage is just one example, but being prepared to a level that most would agree is some measure above their peers, takes work and it is so easy to make excuses to get out of that work.

Prepping follows life and comes, at least in my instance, in phases. There are times when I am more motivated by events in the news to get prepared. There are days when I have a little extra money and I can spend it on some piece of gear I have been meaning to acquire and there are times when I don’t really do anything that you can say would be a common trait of a prepper. I just exist and go about my day like anyone else.

There are phases to everything in life and certainly you can’t stay in a state of high alert all the time or you would eventually burn out. I plan on writing about that topic soon, but for this post I wanted to talk about the excuses people make to not start prepping in the first place. These comforting snippets we say either because we believe them to be true or use them as our get out of jail free card. By simply saying a problem doesn’t, exist we absolve ourselves of any guilt we might feel by doing nothing. It is far easier to say words than to act and today I wanted to try to address some of the excuses for not prepping that I have heard in the brief time I have been doing this.

The audience for these excuses are anyone who thinks prepping or getting prepared for emergencies in life is foolish.

Nothing will ever happen to me – This excuse has several evil step sisters and believe it or not some people believe that you can rely on the bible to escape having to do anything. If you believe something bad will happen to you, you obviously don’t have faith do you? I do have faith but I believe God gives us many things we can use to protect our lives. God has absolute control over everything I believe but he also gave us free will. We can choose to jump off a cliff and I am pretty sure anyone who tries that will die. An often quoted verse from the Bible is Proverbs 22:3 which says:

The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

I know how simple it is to pull a verse out of the Bible, devoid of all context and frame it in a way to match your argument, but this one for me seems consistent with so many other stories, parables and lessons from the Bible. God does intervene in the lives of people, but he also tells them what to do and expects them to follow suit in order to save themselves. Bad things happen all the time and I don’t think it is foolish to guard yourself against danger. If you can see problems happening down the road that could cause you harm and you do nothing about it, you will likely pay the price – one way or another.

The government will come to my rescue – This excuse for not prepping should be the one that anyone with half a brain would know is false. Government was not made to come and fly you off the roof of your home if it floods. You were given reason, logic and intelligence of self-preservation, if nothing else that should be guiding you to safety. Counting on the Government to save you is a waste of time in my opinion and I don’t want to wait around on anyone for the safety of my family. If a bad guy comes to my door, kicks it in and comes inside and says he is going to kill me and rape my wife do you think I am going to be calling 911?

Prepping is multi-faceted, but the core issue is taking responsibility for your own health and safety into your own hands. Don’t expect the government to show up and put you on a boat to happy town. You should have been prepared enough to get out-of-town before you needed to.

The banks will never close in America – They didn’t close in Greece or Cyprus did they? The banks most certainly didn’t close in Argentina either in 2002. Banks certainly wouldn’t have any reason not to give you the money you deposited with them because they are good honest people who have your own interests at heart. Yeah, if you believe that, I have some ocean front property in Arizona to sell you. Banks are if nothing else, in this business to make a profit. Some would say they are making obscene profits and I don’t dispute that but what I do know is they don’t have to give you your money. Ever.

When you deposit your money in a bank, they consider your money theirs and you as an uninsured creditor. You are simply loaning them the money, they get to do whatever they please and if they lose your money due to shady business practices, oh well. Too bad. Don’t believe for a second that if something goes south in the world of finance, that you have any guarantee of access to your money. They may open up in a couple of weeks if they are forced to close and only allow you to get out a small amount each week. Don’t let this happen to you. Make sure you have alternate plans for at least some portion of your finances.

What could possibly go wrong?

There is no way the super markets will ever run out of food – Super markets depend on deliveries of food. They don’t make those pretty bottles, cans and bags in the back room. Just like they don’t make clothes in the store in the mall you go to. When the supply is gone, it has to be replenished. Some people get hung up on the amount of days that a typical grocery store has worth of food on hand. I have heard three days of food as a good guideline and for normal shopping that is probably right. When you go into the store, you will see how many packages of bread of the type you like to eat, maybe 2 dozen packages? What if that store was filled with hundreds of people in one day? How long do you think that food would last?

The grocery store should not be your last resort for food. The grocery store should augment the supply you already have at home which should be more than enough to eat for at least one month. I recommend a year, but you have to start somewhere. You don’t want to be the person walking into the grocery store after panic buying and complaining that there is no food. You won’t win any prizes for guessing incorrectly how much food they have on hand.

The government would never take your guns – I have two words for you, Martial Law. It was most recently implemented in a large-scale during hurricane Katrina and when that happened, they went door to door and confiscated firearms from law-abiding people. They didn’t go into crack town and take the guns away from the gangs, they took them from little old ladies. With the right reason, the government already has laws/orders on the books to confiscate firearms and if you think that could never happen, you must also think the government writes fairy-tales down to amuse themselves. Don’t believe me, just look at the video below.


You might think no person needs guns and that is fine if that is your belief, but I want to have something I can protect myself with. The only reason to take guns away from law-abiding citizens is to remove their ability to fight back. You may also think that the government doesn’t seem worried about anything and they would tell us if we were in trouble. I don’t think that is the case.

I will point out just some of the more interesting Executive Orders that are on the books currently. I am not saying which administration wrote these, but they are still current, so the government has some idea that bad times are possible or else, why the need for the following?

  • EXECUTIVE ORDER 10990 allows the government to take over all modes of transportation and control of highways and seaports.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER 10995 allows the government to seize and control the communication media.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER 10997 allows the government to take over all electrical power, gas, petroleum, fuels and minerals.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER 10998 allows the government to take over all food resources and farms.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11000 allows the government to mobilize civilians into work brigades under government supervision.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11001 allows the government to take over all health, education and welfare functions.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11002 designates the Postmaster General to operate a national registration of all persons.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11003 allows the government to take over all airports and aircraft, including commercial aircraft.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11004 allows the Housing and Finance Authority to relocate communities, build new housing with public funds, designate areas to be abandoned, and establish new locations for populations.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11005 allows the government to take over railroads, inland waterways and public storage facilities.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11051 specifies the responsibility of the Office of Emergency Planning and gives authorization to put all Executive Orders into effect in times of increased international tensions and economic or financial crisis.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11310 grants authority to the Department of Justice to enforce the plans set out in Executive Orders, to institute industrial support, to establish judicial and legislative liaison, to control all aliens, to operate penal and correctional institutions, and to advise and assist the President.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11049 assigns emergency preparedness function to federal departments and agencies, consolidating 21 operative Executive Orders issued over a fifteen year period.
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11921 allows the Federal Emergency Preparedness Agency to develop plans to establish control over the mechanisms of production and distribution, of energy sources, wages, salaries, credit and the flow of money in U.S. financial institution in any undefined national emergency. It also provides that when a state of emergency is declared by the President, Congress cannot review the action for six months. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has broad powers in every aspect of the nation.

I can hear someone saying now – “Well, of course the government is in control of those things, I mean they are the government right”? Read it again and take a look at the topics covered by these Executive Orders. The government has plans for things going so bad that they will have to come in and control every aspect of our lives. They see the potential for disaster. Shouldn’t you?

FEMA recommends three days’ worth of food so that should be enough – The last time we had a good winter storm, the roads weren’t cleared near my home for a week. Yes, we got out but that was a simple storm. What if something really bad happens? Do you think three days is enough? What if the power is out during that same storm for 5 days? Would you want to trust that no matter what the situation was, that it would be over, all sorted out, cleaned up and back to normal in three days?

FEMA’s recommendations in my opinion are better than nothing, but they should not be considered all you need. You need to plan for feeding your family forever, not just for three days. Granted, we can’t put millions of pounds of food in our homes, but they still don’t have New Orleans back to the way it was before Katrina. Sure you can buy groceries now, but do you want to take the risk that three days is all you need?

I don’t have money to spend on prepping supplies – What do you spend your money on? Do you get your nails done? Do you pay hundreds of dollars for satellite TV? What about that Xbox? How many times a week do you get a $4 coffee? Are you paying for some music download service so you can hear all of the Johnny Mathis you want anytime, anywhere?

Most of us spend money we don’t need to spend on some luxuries and I do it too, but I have made preparations for my family. I did sacrifice on some of the things I wanted so I could have supplies to keep my family fed, with clean water and shelter and security if our house disappeared tomorrow. Life is all about priorities for most of what we do. If you can look at your family while they are starving and say, sorry Johnny, I had to have the Prime Time ESPN package so I couldn’t buy any more groceries for you, that is on your head.

I don’t have room for extra food in my house – Unless you are living in a van down by the river, you have room. If you don’t have room, get rid of some of the stuff in your house. You can store food under beds, in bookshelves, in your kitchen cabinets, in hall closets, under your kid’s beds, behind the chairs in the living room. There are places to put food if you are looking and not having any place to store food is no excuse. Do you have room for that flat screen TV?

I don’t want people to think I am crazy – I don’t want to see my family hurt or suffering. I don’t care what people think about me as long as my family is safe and alive. I would happily be the brunt of a million jokes than have to look at my family and apologize for not doing what I could to take care of them.

Even if you are completely alone, what do you care what anyone thinks about you? You brush your teeth so you don’t get cavities I hope. You have health insurance if you get sick and car insurance if you get in a wreck. Why is having a little insurance for other emergencies so crazy? Get over yourself and start taking steps to be prepared or you could end up dead. Yes, if you don’t do anything to help yourself, if you keep your head in the sand you might be caught up in a world you don’t like. The worst thing that could happen to preppers if we are wrong is that we spent some money on food that lasts 25 years or guns we never have to use. Which side of that reality do you want to be on?

I am not perfect and I wouldn’t hold my preps up as the end all be all, but I am on that journey toward preparedness. I like to think I am pretty far down that road and I am just trying to get as many others on the path as possible. What do you have to lose besides your life?

Prepping is something that takes time, some level of commitment and usually finds its roots in some motivating reason or lifestyle characteristics. Preppers intentionally work toward a goal or measurement

Everyone has a personal bias they bring to any situation they are placed in. Your mental baggage is formed in part by who you are (your life experiences, how you were raised, personal beliefs or principles) and what you think you know (skills, training, history, and evidence) combined with the various factors of the situation or how it relates to you in terms of personal risk/reward. Put 6 people in a room and catch the room on fire, you will have 6 different responses at least internally to what each individual is thinking and is capable of doing. Or at least that is what I think.

I do believe that for whatever reason – and I know smarter people than I have studied and diagrammed this out millions of times – that each of us has our own opinion based upon, for lack of a more scientific term, what we feel in our gut. How our gut gets programmed is a science arrived at by the specific disciplines I mentioned above more or less I believe and maybe 1 part supernatural, but regardless of how we get to what we are; each of us brings our own perspective to everything we do. It is no different with potential threats we all consider when we are talking about SHTF and how best to prepare for those threats as we see them in our own minds. What is our gut telling us about the various threats and how should we react knowing what we think we know and dealing within the realities of our current lives?

All of this is to say that we all have different opinions on what is important. We all make our own determinations as to what is reasonable for us individually and each of us comes to the subject of prepping, with respect to the threats we visualize, from a different point of view. How in a world of so many various viewpoints and opinions, advantages and limitations can anyone say they have a concrete step by step plan for all people that will guarantee safety and security without fail?

The bottom line is you can’t.

I take with a grain of salt anyone who proposes to sell you a 10-step program that promises to solve all your problems. You should look at the information on Final Prepper the same way if we start doing that. Even from my own perspective, I speak in generalities more often than some people are comfortable with because I believe that you have to make the best decisions for yourself and your family based on what your gut is telling you. I can share areas of consideration that I can argue make sense, but I can’t make the specific detailed decisions for you because I am not you. I don’t know what you know. I don’t live where you live. I may never go through the same things you go through and I may not act the way you would act when confronted with the same information.

Too often we look for the easy way out and I am just as guilty of doing this as anyone from time to time myself. We just want a magic box of preparedness that we can stash in the closet that will give us everything we need. We don’t want to think about what is in that magic box and we don’t want it to take up too much space or require us to pay attention to it from time to time. We just want someone to send us the box that will do anything we need it to if we have a disaster. People want to be prepared just by owning a “kit” and then having that box checked, we can go on with our lives. Preparedness to me isn’t just about having stuff (your survival kit), it is taking steps in a direction that puts you on a path to preparedness that you are constantly traveling. The destination is never reached.

I don’t believe there is any magic kit of preparedness that you can purchase. There isn’t a single list of prepper supplies that will cover any and every contingency that you could ever be faced with but I do believe there is a strategy you can follow that can guide you down the right path towards being better prepared for any crisis. So absent the rationale of the specific threat itself which we might all disagree with; what do we all as humans need to do to be prepared for any crisis that we face from Alien invasion to Zombies? (Note to the new reader to Final Prpper, that signifies A to Z… not that I only believe in highly improbable events)

Physical health and ability are just as important as having the gear.

Are you physically prepared for any crisis?

I can’t imagine that too many people would argue with the statement that a physically healthy individual is better prepared to handle any crisis. I have discussed this on Final Prepper before and this isn’t a new topic by any stretch on prepping blogs, but I see so many people who are out of shape but believe they are going to be running through the woods with a giant overloaded bug out bag on their backs. Have you gone to almost any store and looked at the overall physical health of people? I would say that where I live, a majority are toting an extra 100 pounds on their mid-section. I shouldn’t need to pull up statistics on obesity in the US, but survival in great measure depends on strength, endurance and the need for hard work and movement. If any of these are difficult to do on a normal day, how do you feel it will be when it is raining aliens from another planet?

All joking about aliens aside, even if you have the latest bulletproof vest, survival rifle and all the tactical battle gear in the world, that doesn’t mean you are prepared as well as possible to survive. Even if you have 500 cases of the best freeze dried food on the planet, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a heart attack carrying it up the stairs. If you aren’t able to run a couple of miles, carry that bug out bag for a few days or work hard in your yard all weekend without pulling something or being laid up the next week with body pains; you should consider how this might affect your overall chances at surviving anything.

This is not directed at the more senior of us out there who may have age related health issues, but if you are a 30 year old man who can’t do any push ups, couldn’t run 2 miles to save your life, but have spent thousands of dollars on the must-have prepper gear you should stop and think about getting physically prepared now. If the crap hits the fan chances are you won’t be able to do a Jillian Michaels workout in your living room fast enough to get in shape before you need to.

Are you mentally prepared for any crisis?

I think the mental angle of preparedness is more important than just about any other aspect of prepping when you consider everything that goes into forming, executing and possibly modifying your preparedness plan. Going back to what I said at the start of this article, you can’t simply buy a ton of gear, lock that in a safe and call yourself prepared. There is a mental component to analyzing data that changes daily. Certainly having supplies stored up is a component, but mentally you have to work through the problems of figuring out what supplies you might need and in what quantities. You will have to adjust for your own environment so that could involve researching alternatives and there is your own reality. You may have small children that require different approaches than an older teen for example might need. Prepping is a lot of thought and it is this process of research and a lot of trial and error that has informed my prepping plans more than any book.

In addition to knowledge, mentally you have to consider the various outcomes possible from some of these scenarios you are preparing for. It doesn’t matter if you have the best handgun in the world. If someone comes to your home intent on harming you or taking your supplies, are you prepared to use that handgun? What good is stocking up in the first place and purchasing a weapon for security unless you have made the mental decisions about what you will do if ever placed in that situation? In the end it will boil down to what you actually do and your mental preparations need to take this into consideration. The magic box isn’t going to think for you.

Are you logistically prepared for any crisis?

I saved this for last because it is less important in most respects than the other two in my opinion. I believe knowledge trumps stuff, but stuff can and will benefit you. It is very important to have water on hand for example, but without it, the person who will be better prepared is the person who can go get water, disinfect it and live when it runs out. These two people are both capable of obtaining water for at least the short-term and that may be all that is necessary. Another way of looking at this is the person who doesn’t have any water stored, but is able to go out and acquire it may be putting themselves at greater risk that the person who has it stored at home.

A well-rounded prepper should both know how to make do without supplies and ideally have those supplies at their disposal when they are needed. This gets into subjects like food storage, having a garden that is producing, having first aid supplies and self-defensive weapons. I am not advocating having a lot of “stuff” without knowing how to make it work for you, but if you do have a fully stocked pantry, a working garden or livestock that you can depend on for food if the stores are no longer working, you may have an advantage over the person who knows how to create a snare to trap small game; at least initially. Long-term Daniel Boone will be better prepared, but in the short-term I wouldn’t advocate relying entirely on your ability to acquire food in the forests.

In addition to supplies, you may have to move. Are you prepared to leave your home if needed? I know my personal plan is to shelter-in-place, but I know that can change. If it does, my family has prepared to go on foot. We have options should my perfect disaster situation not work out like I hope. Going back to mental preparation, this backup planning and strategizing will help you.

Prepping gets distilled down to simple lists and advice, but there are tons of things to think about. I personally think the act of thinking about the various topics benefits each of us. Certainly conversations on this blog inform others so I welcome the dialog.

Have you thought outside of your magic box?

Everyone has a personal bias they bring to any situation they are placed in. Your mental baggage is formed in part by who you are (your life experiences, how you

 

Practical Preparedness – Planning by Prevalence

When we jump on preparedness sites, sometimes we’re immediately struck by the enormous loads of things to buy, do, and learn. We immediately start hearing about WROL, battle rifles, ammo counts in the thousands, pressure canners, INCH/BOB bags and locations, pace count, and primitive skills. World- and nation-altering events such as nuclear war, internet-ending viruses, Nibiru, Agenda 21 and NWO, and the like pop up. They all have their places, but sometimes things get missed and it can make for a very overwhelming introduction. It can make it hard to prioritize where to spend our time and financial budgets even for those with experience and years of exposure to the prepared mindset.

To make it a little easier to prioritize, we can work in stages. We can look at what is most likely to occur in the near future and our lifetimes, and use that information to help us decide where to focus our time, efforts and resources.

Zone-Ring Systems

In permaculture, planning is based on zones. The basic premise is that you start at 0 or 1 with the self or home, and move outward through 2-4 and eventually into Zone 5. The inner rings have the most immediate contact with the resident, while the outer rings are visited less frequently. Other systems also use similar ring concepts of involvement, frequency and impact.

The same can be applied to preparedness, just like we modified a Health Wheel to fit our particular interests and needs. In this case, instead of looking at the frequency with which we’ll make contact with an area, we’ll be looking at the frequency with which things occur and impact our worlds.

Like permaculture, I’ve gone with five general categories. In this case, they are: Daily, Seasonal/Annual, 5-10 Year, Generational, & Lifetime/Eventually/Maybe. There are some examples for the average Western World resident. Later in the article there’s a few tips for planning for and around those most and least-prevalent scenarios.

Zone 1/First Ring – Daily Occurrences

A layoff can be just as devastating as a zombie invasion if you aren’t prepared.

Daily emergencies are those that strike somebody somewhere every single day in our English-reading modern life. While some affect larger groups, these tend to be personal or family related items. They’re the kinds of things the neighbors might not even notice. Some examples are:

  • Layoff, cut hours, cut wages
  • Major bills (roof, medical, HVAC, veterinary)
  • House fire
  • Major injury/developing disability
  • Theft, burglary, mugging
  • Vehicular accident & malfunction (temporarily removing transportation)
  • Temporary power outages (hours to 1-3 days)
  • Personal physical altercation (mugging, home invasion, the drunk at a bar, date rape)
  • Missing person(s), family death

When considering the financial aspects of preparedness, also consider the things that might not affect jobs, but do affect our income and-or our ability to offset daily costs. For instance, an injury that prevents gardening and picking up overtime or a second job as a stocker, pipe-fitter, or forklift driver, or a developing disability that renders an arm/hand weak or unusable and prevents needlepoint, canine grooming, or weaving.

Zone 2/Second Ring – Seasonal/Annual Occurrences

These are the things we can consult our Almanacs and insurance companies to consider. They regularly tend to affect a larger number of people. It might be a block or a street in some cases, parts of a town or county, or might impact a whole state if not a region. They’d be things like…

River ice jam flooding

 

  • Busted water mains
  • Boil/No-Boil water orders
  • Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes
  • Wind & thunderstorms
  • Wildfire
  • Significant or extreme snowfall
  • Summer drought
  • Temporary outages (2-5 days)
  • River ice lockups and floods
  • Active shooter or bomb threat, terrorist events

Let’s hope that last stays firmly in the “annual” category or shifts back to the third prevalence ring for most of us. Let’s also acknowledge that in some places and nations, it’s already more common to be caught in crossfire of some sort than it is to live peaceful lives, and for some of them, it’s as or almost as common as paying monthly bills or going out to eat.

Zone 3/Third Ring – 5-10 Year Occurrences

These are the things that happen regularly, but infrequently. Some occur on cycles. Some, as with the natural disasters above, are a nearly predictable cycle. Some aren’t really predictable, per se, but as with tornadoes in one of the nations’ tornado alley or hurricane-prone areas, you learn to expect them. We can expect them to affect a larger area or more people in many cases.

  • Natural Disasters from above
  • Mudslides
  • Major industrial or business closures/layoffs
  • Drought (personal & widespread impacts)
  • Widespread livestock illnesses (such as the avian diseases that pop up regularly)
  • Temporary outages (3-14 days)
  • Changing life phases (child-birth & toddlers, school-age kids, driving-age youths, empty nests, retirements)
  • Fuel cost cycles

Zone 4/Fourth Ring – Generational Occurrences

The span covered by the term “generation” tends to change if you use the strictest definitions. Most account for a generation to cover about 20-30 years. Some examples of things that very much tend to be generational include:

  • Major wars (mental & physical disabilities, income effects good & bad)
  • Recessions, depressions
  • Fuel cost cycles (more extreme)
  • Serious multi-year “weird” weather (droughts, floods, late or early springs)
  • 25- & 50-year flood levels
  • Some diseases

Zone 5/Fifth Ring – Lifetime/Eventual/Possible Occurrences

A lot of these are going to affect not just a region, not just one nation, but many. In some nations and regions, they may fall under the fourth ring of prevalence instead of the fifth. Some of these are also the big-fear “gotcha’s” or clickbait types that seem to draw folks in. Some are truly believed in, and I try not to judge people on what they believe. Poles have shifted in the past, Yellowstone has erupted, we’ve had serious solar effects on power, and asteroids have struck our earth. Will they happen again in our lifetime or eventually? Some almost certainly. Some are a firm “maybe”. Some are … possible.

  • Great Depression
  • Devastating Midwest seismic activity
  • National or global pandemics in the Western world
  • Major Ring of Fire activity
  • Significant volcanic eruptions (the atmosphere-blocking ash type)
  • Major global climate change (for the hotter or colder)
  • EMP, devastating solar activity
  • Nation-crippling electronic-based virus(es)

Alternative Scale Systems

Like permacuture’s zoning, the business world can also give us some scale systems to apply. High-probability, high-reward, urgent-response items are given priority, while lower-chance and less-likely risks are tended to later. We can create the same for our preparedness.

Another way to look at the five rings would be to apply a timespan for event duration. Perhaps 3-7 days, then 3-6 weeks, 3 months, 6-12 months, and 18-months+.

Like using prevalence, using time spans creates a measurable scale that works off a “most likely” basis. Most of us, at some point inside 1-5 years, will have some sort of financial upheaval or power outage that makes the supplies in the first few rings useful.

Ensuring we have everything we need to cook, clean, stay warm (or cool), and pay bills for those periods will keep us more balanced in our preparedness, and make us better prepared for the things that are MOST likely to occur in our near future and our lifetimes.

Applying Prevalence Rings

It’s inarguable that if you’re ready for the New World Order to freeze the planet and then send out FLIR drones to drop nuclear bombs in the midst of a planned or unplanned foreign-nation bank account hack while satellites are inaccessible due to solar storms’ interference, you’re pretty much good.

That’s not a particularly practical place to start and it might not be the best plan for resource allocation unless everything else really is covered.

There are a world’s worth of things that occur on a small-scale, inside homes and towns, that happen a lot more frequently than the dinosaurs and mega-mammals die out.

I see an awful lot of people hyped on one thing that can go wrong and might one day go wrong, but they exclude all kinds of things that do actually happen.

They forget that we sometimes have disasters that mean daily life is taking place all around us, or in the rest of the county, state, nation and world. They neglect fire extinguishers and smoke detectors for the sexy-cool aspects of preparedness like the rifles and Rambo knives.

Fact is, most of us will experience something from the first tier or two in our lives at least once, and for some of us, they’re regular parts of life.

In many cases of upheaval and crisis, we’re still going to want electricity, most likely.

We will still have a job or need to find a new one, will still be expected to present ourselves showered and with money to receive services, will still have doctor’s appointments, hunting and squatting in county-state-national parks will still be frowned on, and combat gear in the streets will still be the exception rather than the rule.

In some cases, the duration of our life-altering events might only be a few hours or days. However, in many parts of the world, those hours or days can be seriously inconvenient if not downright deadly. The ability to keep a CPAP machine running, repair a down or wrecked vehicle, and continue on with life after a squirrel invasion or a tree comes down is just as important as defending the home from looters and making beeswax candles.

Being able to repel the zombie horde does me little good if my vehicle is in poor repair on a daily basis and leaves me stranded on my way to work. 5K-10K rounds of ammo times my 7 platforms sounds nice, unless I don’t keep oil, coolant, jumper cables and fix-a-flat or a mini air compressor in my vehicle so I can limp my way home to them safely – on a daily basis.

Prioritizing instead of jumping willy-nilly – and tracking instead of continuing to add to whatever my favorite prep stash is – can help prevent daily disasters from truly causing upheaval.

Overlap Between Rings

The nice thing about seriously assessing what is likely to go wrong based on prevalence in the past is that we can sometimes make just little twitches.

We don’t have to be ready for all-out neighborhood wars over food, grazing rights, and tickets to the Earth Arks to create that overlap.

A bug-out bag serves as a shelter-in-place kit as well as a “standard” wildfire or hurricane evac kit. Having a month or two of food (or far more) means we can also weather a big bill because we can skip buying groceries.

Image: How’s your insurance coverage?

Preparing by Prevalence

Resources like the Ready.gov site and our insurance carriers can help us determine what goes wrong in our area. We might be well served making maps using the information they give us about regular, fifty-year and hundred-year floods, wind storms, and snow/hurricane routes to apply to our walk-out and drive-out plans.

We can also use their information – like, what is the number-one thing that causes job-loss or vehicle and home damage in our area – to make sure we’re buffered against it.

  Practical Preparedness – Planning by Prevalence When we jump on preparedness sites, sometimes we’re immediately struck by the enormous loads of things to buy, do, and learn. We immediately start hearing

Disasters, both big and small, bring on a range of emotions. These emotions can include fear, confusion, uncertainty, anger, and others. Include with those emotions the possibility of danger and dealing with a situation you may not have dealt with before and you could experience panic.

What is panic? It is a state of emotional being that causes you to act uncontrollably, freeze, shut down and/or react in a dangerous or illogical manner. In other words, it means you are unable to think well enough to act properly. Panic is not going to help you in a disaster situation.

In this article, I will help you learn how to recognize panic, combat the onset of panic, and react in a logical and helpful manner in spite of your initial emotional state. With some practice, you can prepare now so that when emergencies happen, you will be able to lead and less likely to panic later.

Panic is an extreme state of fear, terror, dread, horror, anxiety, etc. It will either cause a bad reaction to a situation, or even worse, to freeze and not react at all. We’ve all been uneasy, anxious, or afraid. Panic is an extreme onset of these emotions. If your mind is racing, your body is tensed, your heart is beating extremely fast, and you can’t think straight, you are well on the road to panic. So, what can you do?

If you feel panicky, stop and take a deep breath. Calm yourself and think through the situation. Determine your priorities and then act. Easier said than done, for certain, but there is a three-step process to help you with situations you can reasonably expect. You must Predict, Prepare, and Practice.

PREDICT future scenarios

Determine situations and scenarios that may occur, from most likely to least likely (i.e. severe weather and nuclear war, as two possible extremes). List them out in order from most likely to least likely. Then decide what your reaction should be. Once you have decided what your reaction should be, decide what you will need to react to that situation. For instance, for severe weather, have appropriate clothing and know where the best place in your work, home, etc., is for you to shelter from that weather.

PREPARE now to keep family safe

For each of the scenarios you predicted above, determine what you will need to act appropriately. For instance, in the severe weather scenario, have appropriate clothing where you can get to it. Whether this is warm clothing, rain gear, rubber boots or other gear, obtain it and put it where you might need it. You may wish to place some gear in the trunk of your car for commuting or trips. You may want to pre-position extra gear at work or keep an emergency poncho in your briefcase or backpack. The point, get what you need and put it where you need it. A warm coat and gloves left at home, do you no good if a blizzard hits while you are at work.

PRACTICE situations you may face

This is a critical thing to holding down panic. For each of the scenarios above, practice what you would do. For severe weather, have a tornado drill and have your family all go to the safest room in your home. For a fire at work, take a walk down the emergency escape route (as long as you don’t trigger any alarms). For things you absolutely cannot practice, think through the scenario and decide what to do ahead of time. You can’t practice for every possible situation, but if you spend the time practicing for likely scenarios, you will practice keeping calm and thinking through the situation, then acting accordingly. You’ll find that even in scenarios you may have never practiced, you’ll be much calmer, and a calm person makes better decisions. That brings up the importance of preparedness training.

Do your family members, employees and associates know what to do in the case of an emergency? Sure, you’ve probably done a fire drill or two, but what about other emergencies or disasters? Are you always going to evacuate the building like you would for a fire? Probably not.

In some emergencies you’re safer if you stay inside, at least temporarily. For example, what if a chemical spill happens near your building or home? If you just run out into the street, you may run right into the fumes. Emergency responders can help you decide which way to evacuate, and when is safest. If there is civil unrest or a riot going on out in the street, you may want to wait until it subsides or the police direct you to safety. The same thing applies to terrorist attacks, as you don’t want to evacuate your building right into the line of fire.

In other types of emergencies, you won’t have time to evacuate the building. Do your family members or employees know what to do if a Tornado approaches, or if an earthquake occurs? Knowing where to go ahead of time can make the difference between safety and possible life-threatening injuries.

The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster

Staying in place is generally a good strategy when there is more danger outside than inside. Staying inside is known as “sheltering in-place.” Sheltering in-place is usually a temporary method of staying safe until the danger subsides. For example, if a tornado warning is in effect for your location, it is safer to shelter in-place until the danger passes and the warning is cancelled or expires. Also, the place to shelter is not next to a big plate-glass window!

Still, there are emergencies where it is absolutely advisable to get out of the building as expeditiously as possible, such as a fire or gas leak.

The point is, the time to decide what to do is definitely not when the emergency occurs. You should think through the different types of emergencies and what your best course of action is for each. This is where emergency preparedness training comes into play. If you take the time to inform your family members, neighbors, or employees, you can ensure their safety, and therefore your own.

Everyone should be trained on what to do for each type of emergency. They should be taught in which emergencies to evacuate and where to meet up to ensure everyone got out safely. This will help the first-responders know if they have to rescue anyone and how many there are.

In addition, train your family members or employees on when not to evacuate. Examples include earthquakes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, etc. They should also know where, in particular, to shelter. For tornadoes, an interior, windowless room on the lowest floor is best. For earthquakes, however, choose a sturdy door-frame or shelter under a sturdy, non-glass desk or table.

The whole point of this article is to emphasize that everyone must be trained to:

  1. Understand the dangers and hazards that may occur in their location
  2. Know what to do in each particular case, including where to go
  3. Actually practice what to do in these situations.

The way to do this is to work through a Basic Plan for your business or organization, including your personal organization, your family. Then practice it!

Remember the three Ps: Predict, Prepare and Practice! Doing these things will help you learn how to keep from panicking. Perform the three Ps as much as you can, and you will be in a much better position to hold down panic and act accordingly. It may just save lives!

Disasters, both big and small, bring on a range of emotions. These emotions can include fear, confusion, uncertainty, anger, and others. Include with those emotions the possibility of danger and

Do you have an awesome bug out vehicle already sitting in the garage of your remote bunker somewhere miles away from the nearest highway? Do you have a fully stocked Bug Out Bag crammed under your desk at work with all the supplies you need including 200 feet of rope to shimmy down the windows of your 8th floor office? Do you have an entire craftsman tool cabinet full of medical supplies loaded up and ready to roll into action? If your AR-15’s are all oiled and neatly stacked in the family safe, if your camouflage is pressed and neatly hanging in the closet and everyone knows where their favorite flavors of MRE’s are, but nobody knows the reason for these supplies, you might have a problem.

As preppers we can easily tick off a lot of needs. We need to prepare. I need to get additional tactical training. Our family needs more medical and first aid training, not to mention a larger garden. We need to be more self-sufficient. We need to know more about living off the land and on and on. Like I said in other posts, prepping is a lifestyle not a destination so I don’t have too much faith that the Needs in my life will ever go away. I should always need something if only to learn more, give more and think more. Needs only stop when you stop living and I don’t plan to do that anytime soon, but what we need to do before almost any other prepping activity is just that. PLAN. It is great if you have that gear I mentioned above, but if the SHTF, do you have a SHTF Plan?

Why do you need to have a plan?

Having a SHTF Plan for what you would actually do if the SHTF is the very first thing you need to do and it will accomplish a couple of things. First, it will help you take into consideration your current state and responsibilities. Most of the preppers I talk to have some driving idea that makes them want to be better prepared for whatever life throws at them. It could be they are worried about an Economic Collapse, or it could be something as simple as a winter storm. All of the people you see at the grocery store right before a big storm want generally the same thing that preppers want. The only difference is that they wait till the last minute to do anything about it. These last minute shoppers who wipe out the grocery store shelves are thinking about the storm and how they need to prepare just like you and me. The lesson I am trying to preach is that we know storms come every year. We know that the power could go out. It could get really hard without some of our normal conveniences and we need to plan for that well ahead of time. Having a plan will help you think of all these things that the people grabbing the last gallons of milk off the shelf are thinking of, but you will have the benefit of doing it while you are calm and the lights are still on.

The second thing a SHTF Plan will do is give you a checklist that you can use to both purchase supplies you need or plan on amounts of items you should have stocked up appropriate to the amount of people you are preparing for. Which leads to the second point.

Who should be included in your SHTF Plan?

Most of us aren’t single bachelors or bachelorettes. Humans are social people for the most part so when we talk about taking care of ourselves during a crisis, there is almost always someone else involved. This might be a girlfriend or boyfriend, parent, children, sibling or elder relative. It might just be your best buddy Joe. When you start to put everything you need to account for in your SHTF Plan you will also need to expand the scope out to the others in your prepping circle of influence. Water is one of the first items to check off on this plan but you need to take into consideration how many people will be using that water. Fortunately, water is just about the easiest survival prep that you can plan for. One gallon of water per person, per day. So for 4 people for 1 week you would need to set aside (4 X 7 = 28) gallons. The amount of water you need to store should be the first and easiest thing in the plan in terms of supplies.

For myself, I have a family. We also have 2 relatives within a short distance so I am already planning on my family plus 2. Then you have to consider pets and other relatives that might show up if the disaster allows and timing is right so my plan could have to adjust to an additional 8 people if I was truly prepared. In reality, I have started with my immediate family and I am building up from there so the extra 8 is a goal, but not yet a reality. The point is that having a plan will help you come up with these numbers.

It may be that your SHTF plan involves others at a different bug out location. In this case, the food and water requirements might need to be allocated differently and as opposed to storing these all at your present location; caches at your alternate location or hidden along the route might be needed. In this situation the plan will likely involve several families and be much more collaborative than a simple plan you scratch out on the back of a notebook.

Where are you planning to go if the SHTF?

Since we mentioned an alternate bug out location above, the plan will obviously need to take that into consideration for two main reasons. First, who will be at this location you are planning to go to and how will you get there. The first part is usually when we get into trouble as larger groups start to intermingle because it is hard to stay civil in a high stress environment and even harder to accept rules that you might disagree with. Tempers can flare and in a situation where your plan is to bug out with Joe and his family to his hunting cabin in the woods you could be in for a nasty surprise. Joe’s wife Lisa might have told three of her friends who all show up with their families and plan on eating the supplies you and Joe have stocked up.

To be equitable, Joe could be the problem too. Once you show up, Joe might not be as accommodating as he once was. If the stress and fear is high enough, Joe might greet you with a sawed off shotgun and tell you to turn your fully loaded suburban around. Anything like this can happen regardless of any plans you have made with Joe, your oldest buddy since kindergarten even with a plan. Having a plan isn’t going to guarantee that people won’t change their minds. The best SHTF Plan in the world won’t keep you from getting double-crossed, but the sooner you and Joe can agree on a plan and the longer that your family and Joe’s family works on, discusses and debates the plan, the better off you will be.

If your plan is to shelter in place, then you usually only have to worry about the disaster coming to your street. This could be the weather/event or it could be your neighbors that you have to consider. Which leads to…

What do you need to consider if the SHTF?

This is the real meat and potatoes of the plan and isn’t easily constrained to a paragraph or two. For me, I lump almost everything survival related that I “need” into 4 main categories; Water, Food, Shelter and Security. My survival plan takes all of these into account based upon how many people I need to consider in my plan and where we are planning to be then multiplies those figures by the duration I am planning to be prepared for. This is just the baseline, but it is something you can easily build off of because the essentials are there.

So, let’s say you have to take care of 4 people and you are planning on sheltering in place. You live in a decent sized city, but not a large metropolitan area and you want a plan to initially cover 1 month of not being able to access any other supplies. You would know that at a minimum you would need 120 gallons of water to keep 4 people alive and healthy for 30 days. Next you would need to plan on 30 days’ worth of food for 4 people taking various considerations like food storage if the power goes out. Depending upon where you live and the time of year, shelter could be a very real concern. If you lost power or the ability to heat your home in the middle of winter, what would you need to do?

Assuming you check the box on the essentials, you have to consider security. If you are living through an emergency that lasts 30 days, there will be others that are living through that emergency too. There will be people who haven’t made any preparations to survive for a month without daily trips to the store. There will be yet others who simply want to take what you have and it is possible with the right circumstances that you could have to defend your home and protect your family from these people.

Security is another large subject, but we cover a lot of those aspects on Final Prepper so I won’t go into specifics here.  I would recommend you have something in the way of security to deal with the potential for these situations and add this to your SHTF plan.

How will you take care of X if the SHTF?

Dwight Eisenhower said “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”  Are you going to be able to plan for every conceivable option? Are you going to develop the most perfect prepper checklist in the world that accounts for every single variable known and unknown to man? No. What you can do is start with a good plan though and the sheer act of planning will open your eyes to a lot of different potentials. For me personally, I have discounted a lot of different scenarios from happening to me and haven’t planned specifically for them because I don’t believe there is a high likelihood of anything similar happening to us where we are at this time.

Planning has given me the opportunity to make these mental arguments with myself and discuss things with my spouse. We have had the ability to think about things in a way that I wouldn’t be able to as easily or as effectively do in a crisis mode. If there was a genuine crisis, I would revert to action based upon the preparations that we have already made. Most of us would do the same but the good thing about the plan is that I have already had these thought exercises. I have already stored away provisions that could be used in any number of different emergencies and we have thought about a thousand what-ifs already. Even if a disaster I wasn’t expecting occurred, the plan would be what we could fall back on. If everything failed and the plan had to be thrown out, we would still have the experience of thinking through the problems we could encounter if the SHTF and that would give us a huge advantage over others who wait until the last minute. Make a plan now and I guarantee that your life will be easier no matter what life throws at you.

Do you have an awesome bug out vehicle already sitting in the garage of your remote bunker somewhere miles away from the nearest highway? Do you have a fully stocked

The central tenet of prepper websites is the unflinching belief that you need to be prepared for unexpected events. That statement on its face seems to be able to stand on its own, without receiving too much argument from anyone. Really who would say that it is ever better to be unprepared for disasters or catastrophic events? Common sense backs us believers up so the “be prepared” part of prepping is easy to digest and safe for almost everyone to get on board with. It is when we start discussing the “what” you should “be prepared” for that causes the splits, arguments and name calling. The physical act of being prepared no longer makes sense to certain people if the “what” is not something they either believe would ever happen  or care about personally. As long as you are prepping for something they can see happening, or view as rational you aren’t crazy, but as soon as you mention something they find odd or out on the fringe, you have lost them and they get to discount everything you say from there on out.

At least that is what I have been able to observe over the years I have been prepping and if I am being honest, somewhere in the back of my mind I do this too, but on a much different level. There are some prepper motivations that I think are highly unlikely myself and when I hear people prepping for these events, I usually cock my head a little sideways and look at them with that patronizing smile on my face that I have been on the receiving end of as well. If you tell me you are prepping for an alien invasion then I might look at you slightly differently.

On the other hand, there is a broader universe of events I do consider valid or at least more possible than I did when I started prepping. I might draw the line at some of the outer ranges of unlikely events, but I think that most of the reasons people give for prepping aren’t that insane to me anymore. Events that to your average soccer mom might seem like sheer lunacy; I like to think I can look at with a more open mind and see the possibilities from the perspective of the prepper who believes these events could happen. Maybe it is because I blog about prepping topics almost daily that I can appreciate the viewpoints of my audience a little more than the average non prepper person, but I like to think that it isn’t simply that I am trying to be more inclusive for the sake of readership; it’s just that I believe that I don’t know everything and I certainly don’t have all the answers. Who am I to say anyone is crazy?

Will the real Survival Experts please stand up

All of the arguing around the best way to go about prepping invariably begins because one or more people believe that someone doesn’t know what they are talking about. I guess another way of putting it is that some people think they know more or possess more qualifications than the person that holds the beliefs they disagree with. This is most evidenced in 3 main prepping areas. Firearms, Government abuse and the Economic woes.

There have been countless articles written about firearms from the perspective of the hobbyist, hunter, soldier, law enforcement, instructor, target shooter and yes, the prepper. I have written a few pieces myself on various subjects like the best gun for home defense and the top 5 firearms you need to get your hands on now. Both of these articles have spawned a great discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of each in numerous scenarios. Additionally, they have both been linked from other websites and re-posted on other blogs and forums. Most of the time, the comments are great, but it never fails that there are at least a few people when it comes to articles like this who say words to the effect that “sounds like it was written by an internet expert”.

Before I go on I should say that I do not consider myself an expert on anything and I am pretty sure I have not positioned myself as an expert at anything I have written or commented on. I do have experience and military training, but I don’t believe I puff out my chest about any of my credentials and try to go out of my way in saying what my experience is on any given subject in advance.

That being said, I wonder what qualifications the people who make comments like this have. Surely, to denigrate someone’s opinion from the safety of a forum post or comment field must mean that your knowledge or skills are vastly superior and that may very well be the case but does it matter? It caused me to wonder two things though. First, who are the survival experts we should be listening to? Who would be qualified to tell anyone the best firearms to have in all circumstances if the grid went down? Would someone who was a police officer be an expert? Would someone who has been on a Reality TV show and can eat bugs be an expert? Surely, anyone who has written a book would be qualified, right? Any soldier who has been overseas in conflict would be an expert, without question, correct? I know there are people who have been around guns a lot more than I have. There are people who can break down an AK47 and put it back together blindfolded, hanging upside down in a sewer after not eating for 7 days. I know a guy who has run a survival blog for years so everything he says must be absolutely correct, right? Those people are the real experts, aren’t they?

I think on most prepper topics it comes down to what you are talking about , how many opinions people have on the subject at hand and whether or not they agree or disagree with what you are saying. Some topics are virtually never controversial on the other hand. Take canning for instance. Canning is pretty simple and there are a few things you have to know and do, but the overall process is the same for the same vegetables generally speaking. If someone is going to argue with what you are saying about how you can, they will usually point to some factoid about how the process will or won’t work. Using a different example of the fear of impending Government tyranny let’s say, we are talking about hypothetical scenarios almost 100% of the time. In many cases, these are events that have not happened, but many can see the writing on the wall based upon current events and historical precedent. What can or will happen is anyone’s guess and our best guess is what each of us brings to the table based upon our experiences and information at the present time. You have guesses from writers, bloggers and people everywhere in the comments of various forums. You will have people who steadfastly disagree with what you are saying for a whole host of reasons. At this point you become the idiot because they don’t believe what you do. You are officially an internet expert.

Who is qualified to give prepping advice?

Don’t get me wrong, I think the survival gurus have some very specialized skills that we can all learn from , but those are usually from the perspective of getting stranded or lost in the wilderness. That is probably one of the most avoidable fates I can think of with a little planning and on some level, their type of survival is not what we are talking about when we are discussing the subject of prepping.

I think the best resources to go to for the broader subject of prepping present a wide spectrum of thought and information about a variety of topics that we can logically envision needing to know about when times get tough. This is rarely to mandate one and only one way to do anything, but provide a lot of different information so that you can choose what works for you. When it comes to any warnings, a good source of information will explain situations they see happening and usually offer up some rationale for why they believe the way they do. Does this mean that everything they say is 100% accurate? We will never know unless the event they were talking about comes to pass. It doesn’t mean that what they say is wrong simply because I or anyone else disagrees with it either. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen if it hasn’t yet or “Experts say it is highly unlikely”, thank you very much Doomsday Preppers. The real experts, not the internet kind have been wrong before.

In lieu of someone who has physically been through every single imaginable event known to the prepping universe and can speak to every conceivable situation on gear and recommendations, someone like Selco who survived through the Balkan war comes to mind. He has a one year in hell course that describes what he lived through and if you want to point to someone who could come close to being called an expert (in SHTF living in the Balkans during that conflict) my vote would be for him. For the rest of us internet experts who have never come close to anything like that, we are all giving our best guesses based upon our training and experiences and common sense. You know what? We won’t all be wrong either.

There is no college degree for Prepping. Prepping isn’t something you can apprentice in and after many years work your way up to your Master Prepper license that can sit framed on your living room wall. There really is no right way or wrong way to prep and nobody knows what the future holds. Most of the people who call themselves preppers are trying to prepare for a single something but what they do and how they prepare might be different than what you do if the disaster is different. If they live in a country that doesn’t allow guns, they might view how you prep as abnormal when you talk about stocking up on ammo. If you live in the country and are prepping to survive a tornado, what you do will be different than a city dweller preparing for riots. Everything depends on the disaster. Prepping by its very nature gets you prepared for a myriad of events you may not have ever dreamed of. It is the diversity of preparedness that will strengthen your family’s ability to weather unexpected events safely with as little disruption as possible. There is no way to reasonably cover every conceivable natural or man-made event that could happen to you, but regardless of what happens, if you have the basics of survival, your family will be so much better off. Who cares if aliens never land as long as you have supplies and a plan to survive when the next hurricane comes ashore? It doesn’t matter what actually lands that poses a threat, as long as you are prepared.

What should you focus on?

I think the best advice I as a non-expert can give you is to focus on what isn’t arguable. Focus on what your family as human beings need to live and that is water, food, shelter and security. If you have that taken care of, the event that causes you to rely on those preps is secondary. I do have a lot of people who will back me up on this one though. The survival and gun forum experts might have something to say, but we will leave that for my next post on firearms.

Thank you for reading; I’ll try my best never to steer you wrong.

The central tenet of prepper websites is the unflinching belief that you need to be prepared for unexpected events. That statement on its face seems to be able to stand

 

“Lost” is a word I dread. For most of us, the worst day of our lives is the day we lose a loved one. Not death. As callous as it may sound, when a loved one dies, we know where they are. Lost. I’ve been out of volunteering with animal rescue and CERT/SAR for nearly a decade, but the word can still make my stomach clinch. Losing a loved one creates questions that haunt us. We see tens of thousands of losses every single day, even in the most advanced of nations, with all of technology at our disposal. Seniors walk away befuddled. Kids disappear – from backyards, sidewalks, school trips, and camping. Spouses or friends leave and never return. We never know what happened to many of them. For some, pets also make the list of loved ones, and while the loss may not be as devastating and life changing as the loss of a human friend or sibling, it’s not something they want brushed off.

Nothing will ever prepare us for the emotions that come from truly losing someone we love, although there are books and support groups that can help. It wouldn’t hurt to do some research, because the immediate aftermath and especially a lengthy search of even just days can lead to some ugly stews of emotions that rip apart couples and families sometimes. There are things we can prepare, however, that increase our chances of getting a loved one back. A lot of them revolve around making it faster to get information out. The tips below will help you begin the process of preparing for the worst day so that you will be better equipped to come through with everyone intact.

Preparing for the Worst – Make a binder

No instruction about a binder or file is ever going to be as popular or fun or sexy as talking 5.56 bullet weight or go-faster tactical gear, canning, or the ubiquitous bug-out bag. Make one anyway. In it, keep:

  • USB drive with saved files
  • Printed photos
  • Printed “missing” posters and handouts
  • Posters and handouts with photos in place but blanks left for items like contact information and the description
  • Blank posters that can be set up for anyone, anywhere

Have additional photos of scars, tattoos, birthmarks, brands, unique coloration patches, oddball hoofs or markings, etc. saved in a file, saved in an email, and printed (it can be 3×4” oversized thumbnails on standard letter-sized sheets).

Create lists of faxes and emails ahead of time, and possibly an additional file for the physical addresses for:

  • Hospitals
  • Rescues
  • Veterinary clinics
  • Homeless shelters
  • Animal control
  • Police stations (local, county, and state, and the nearest metro area or areas)

Don’t forget bordering states and counties, or the state and counties you’ll be traveling through to get to a bug-out location. Don’t forget the authorities for domestic and foreign travel, and the embassy, although you might exclude some of the hospitals and shelters for traveling.

It wouldn’t hurt to include blood type, friends’ numbers and addresses, and vehicle make, model, color and tag numbers for each person as well.

missing-sandy-shelter

Keep your binder in your vehicle. If there are three vehicles, make three binders – we spend a fortune on coffee, fast food, wifi, movies, and gear we’ll almost never need in most lifetimes; we can afford the printing. Ideally, also keep a binder in an off-site location like a trusted friend in a state with few natural disasters but at least not in the same flood and fire zone where you park and live.

Make a small folder with some printed photos and posters and possibly some wallet-sized handout cards to put in the bugout/72-hour bag of every adult over 110 pounds.

Set up an email account

You can add this one to your spring-forward, fall-back checklist with the smoke detector checks: Set up a special email account with an easy to remember username and password (“[email protected]”, password: Missing2016).

Send yourself a separate email with each family member and pets’ name as the subject, and applicable photos and the standard information about each. Log in, update the files with recent photos, especially of young children that change so much every six months in those first few years. Attach ready-to-go missing posters in jpg and pdf format, and the list of faxes and emails to send it to – hospitals and authorities for humans, shelters and animal control for animals (you might also include law enforcement if there’s a chance they were stolen). You might even include the PowerPoint or word doc that you’re using to edit.for-the-worst-blank-missing

Make sure you’re not the only one who can open it. Make sure your family or a friend knows it’s there in case you’re incapacitated in the accident or tornado where your toddler or dog disappear, or where your spouse or father are disoriented from a head injury and walk off to find help, then don’t reappear.

I’m told that cell and wifi service is now at a point that we will never again see another day like 9/11 where you can’t get calls through – and there’s always the text option. I don’t rely on that, though. I know that landlines go down, too, but if I’m on my last bar of energy, I’m calling somebody on a landline, giving them the account and passwords even on a voice mail, and then I’m sending a text to everyone I know to get them to open those accounts and send emails out to the list included in each. After that, that’s when I start with my own device. And I’m memorizing the three landline numbers of people who I trust, so that if I don’t have my smart phone or a signal or book, I can still make that phone call.

Because, yeah, paranoid is a word that would apply. There are some other words that apply, though.

Katrina and Sandy are two of them. So are “Loma Prieta”. “House fire” would be two more, along with “spring break”. “Oso, Washington, 2014” would be three. “2010 Tennessee/Queensland floods” apply. Moving away from stuff that has actually happened, a regional power loss with signal disruption would be an example of a what-if. So would a stolen bag/phone/vehicle or damaged phone during an emergency or disaster, a mall visit, or a trip to another country. I can also get my mother started on media while I deal with cops, or divide the lists among people who can just log in and get them without doings searches.

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Flooding in Colorado.

The faster we are able to get photos and information out, the better off our family and furry friends will be if we lose them – however we lost them. If I can get to any phone, media and authorities can better help me find my loved ones because a backup system is in place.

What to include on posters – and when

Standard information for posters and police reports include age – I prefer using a birth-date for these so that it remains applicable and doesn’t need updated every six months for adults, but go with it if you’re hand-writing or filing these out fresh, or include both. Hair and eye color can be changed, but tend to be standard. Height is standard as well, but has more impact for adults because kids grow so fast (although people can be really bad at estimating others’ heights). Weight fluctuates, but go ahead and include it, especially if it’s different *now* than when a picture was taken. Also include build – bulky, pudgy, fat, skinny, and lithe as well as small, medium/average or large.

Include tattoos, scars and birthmarks in descriptions. Keep a list and inform authorities of dental work, implants, replacements, and previously broken bones – things that will show on an x-ray.

During the first hours of a search, clothing is important. Pay attention. Know if a jacket, purse, or briefcase is missing so you have that item to look for. It may very well be in a vehicle, on the back of an office chair, or in a locker, but it may also be laying at the edge of woods or the door/gate of an evacuation shelter or compound, or on a sidewalk. If identified, a dropped can give searchers a place to refine and focus. Likewise, a senile senior who took a hat and briefcase might be seeing Detroit or Small Town, USA, even as they wander in the woods, but if they habitually walked or biked to work, a diner, church, or a particular bus, knowing the pattern can give searchers somewhere to immediately check and can sometimes lead to a fast return. Finding the briefcase can narrow the search area.

After the first days or week, clothing becomes less important to the search efforts, especially coats and outerwear. It’s already on record and will be used as part of an initial ID or area check should a body or article be found, but it can drop off your posters. After the first week or two, save room on those for the things that don’t change.

dogs-shelter

There are still pets that have no home from Katrina.

The same applies to collars if a dog was absolutely stolen from a vehicle or yard, but otherwise, for animals, sure, go ahead and leave in their collar, harness or halter descriptions, especially if it’s unique. If it’s red nylon, say so. Don’t take up too much room in the description for those items, though, especially if there’s something else like flattened and worn-down canine teeth, a patch of fur that runs backwards, a spot that looks like Texas, or if “Fido” is more commonly called “Boog” or “Spaz” – that information is of more use to rescuers and people on the streets.

If you’re using the provided posters, go ahead and print out some that are just blank so that information can be tailored and so that you can have a fresh one available for a dog you pick up or a new partner, or if a spouse has changed their appearance drastically from the last image. If no photo is available, you can always use that space for the basic description, and add details in the smaller area.

Give yourself options

Leave the contact information blank on some of the handouts and the forms’ tear-offs. That way if you’re in a grid-down situation or traveling and something happens to the primary contact’s phone, you can pencil in others.

The same goes for leaving the description blank. It’ll take 10 minutes to fill them out if you hand off the 2-5 fully printed versions, but it’ll be a lot cleaner and neater to write them in than scratch information out, especially for the poster tear-offs and the quarter-page handouts.

Of course, that also means you want a black and blue colored pencil (it’s harder to erase and doesn’t smear as much as graphite or ink) and an ultra fine point permanent marker, and you’ll want those in a separate Ziploc from your USB stick.

Buy loved ones a better chance

Some aren’t wild about having their kids’ fingerprints and DNA taken at safety fairs and school fairs. Unfortunately, that delays ruling out or confirming the identity of a body or if there’s debate about who somebody belongs to. If you’re not going to go the route of filing those so they’re already available to law enforcement, consider getting an at-home kit to do them yourself.

petrescue_jpg

Most importantly, get the authorities involved as early as possible. Don’t screw around because “they’re just…” or somebody’s going to be mad, because you panic that you took your eyes off a kid or a gate’s open. If you saw a van and now the dog’s missing, call. If somebody should have been home or given you the call that they’re back from packing 2-4 hours ago, call. And for the sake of your child or senior, for damn sure call 10-15 minutes after you shout in the backyard or have them paged at the Smithsonian with no response. Give the cops and SAR teams a fighting chance to save them.

Lost

“Lost” is a heartbreaking word for everyone involved. Our modern world and conveniences can’t prevent it. It happened in the old days, too, and we can expect it to keep happening – pets, children, seniors. “Missing” sucks enormously. The imagination takes over and haunts us when a loved one goes missing. Unfortunately, it’s an epidemic as prevalent as cancer and obesity and abuse. 80-90K people are missing at any given moment, 500-750K cases reported a year. 10 million cats, dogs and equines go missing or are stolen every single year.

The first hours are absolutely critical. The younger the person, the more critical the very first handful of hours. Almost all of us have some scorching hot days or some really nasty frigid, windy, wet days when we opt not to go out through our year. We can use them to gather information, take some fresh photos, and make our loved ones a little more likely to come home to us.

We prepare to cart them away from the ravenous hordes on wilderness treks and in souped up BOVs. We prepare to defend them with firearms and primitive weapons. We prepare feed them. Isn’t it worth it to spend a day twice a year doing what we can to get them back from a fate that strikes daily, big cities and tiny towns?

  “Lost” is a word I dread. For most of us, the worst day of our lives is the day we lose a loved one. Not death. As callous as it