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This is the fifth in a series for the beginning prepper on how to get started Prepping. In part one of this series we covered defining your priorities and making sure you have a sufficient store of water. The second article covered planning for long-term food storage and selecting the best firearm for self-defense. In the third installment, we dealt with financial security and having appropriate medical supplies to treat basic injuries. The fourth installment begins to discuss backup power options and how your family can be ready with lifesaving power if the grid goes down.

Step 8 – Home Security

The stronger the door, the safer you will be.

So far we have dealt primarily with how to keep you alive from the standpoint of basic human needs. If an emergency situation occurs, you now have a plan to prepare to feed your family and make sure they have water. This outside of other factors will keep them alive.  We also delved into medical supplies for minor injuries that don’t necessarily require a physician’s care and plans for backup power to give you most of the major conveniences of life. At least we should be able to maintain a balance of health with these supplies.

We also got into Firearms in the second article, but this section will deal with the larger threat posed by disaster and that is keeping your home safe. Firearms are certainly a tool we can use, but your home is where most of you will be. This is your castle and there are bad guys out there who might try to take what you have or do harm to you because they don’t have the Rule of Law anymore to stop them. Having a plan for how to make your home as secure as possible is the next step you should prepare for.

Most of us don’t have an underground bunker. We live in subdivisions or cities. Our neighbors, whether we really know them or not are within rock throwing distance from us. Our homes are mostly built with wood or metal frames wrapped in Plywood and covered with siding. These are not castles with stone walls, high towers, a moat filled with starving crocodiles and a long wooden bridge separating us from intruders. Most modern homes can easily be broken into. Even if you don’t have to go through a door, the siding in most common homes can be punched in with a few strikes from a sledge-hammer. We have windows on just about every surface and cheaply made doors. If someone wants to get in, they don’t need a battering ram powered by 50 scruffy Vikings. They only need a little time and some basic tools.

So, knowing all of this, you might be asking yourself “What’s the point”? If your home is so easy to break into, why bother hiding in there and defending it? There are lots of good reasons.

Your home is a castle. It is actually your castle; it’s just that our ideal of castles has changed drastically over the years. Your home is the easiest place to seek shelter. It has most if not all of your supplies and offers familiar surroundings. Your home, whether it is paid for or not is yours and it is worth defending. Your home can keep your family safe from harm in a lot of circumstances and until you are forced to bug out, your home is the best place to be in an emergency.

There are a few relatively simple things you can do to keep your home more secure and keep bad people out or at least significantly delay them from getting in until you are ready for them.

Analyze weaknesses

The two most glaring weaknesses are the doors and windows. Can someone get in by punching a hole in your wall? Of course, but that is not the path of least resistance. In most scenarios, the opportunist is going to be looking for easy ways to get in and get what they want.

If I could have my dream home I would have a door about 6 inches thick mounted on vault hinges with metal plating on the outside. As it is, I don’t even know if my house would hold that door, but there are some tricks you can use to make your door more secure. For starters, a metal door with a metal door frame is much stronger than wood. The frame is only as strong as the screws holding it in though so extra-long screws give you more holding capacity. Your door bolt should be longer than normal as well.

Let’s say that you don’t have the budget to replace your exterior doors with the latest model from Castles R Us, what can you do? There probably isn’t a good way to keep people out of a cheap wooden door or one with decorative glass panels, but you can use as system like Bar-Ricade to give your doors extra rigidity and impact resistance. Another relatively cheap method is to hang cargo netting around the door frame. This will allow someone to enter, but the netting will keep them tripped up long enough for you to get there. Heavy cargo area nets for vehicles have a lot of give so they will spring and cause a good bit of havoc. This isn’t a good solution for every day security, but could save you vital seconds in a collapse type of scenario.

Windows are just about the easiest item to destroy if you are looking to break into someone’s home with a quickness. I think they are second only to large patio doors in terms of overall weakness. There are of course security windows out there, but they are very pricey. An aftermarket option would be security window film. 3M has a line of security window film that you may want to check out. This not only resists break-ins but can keep your windows from caving in heavy winds associated with tornadoes and hurricanes. AND, they can be tinted to keep your home cooler as well.

Even being able to delay people from getting into your home can give you a huge advantage. It might not prevent their intrusion but may just give you the time you need to get there with your trusty firearm and deal with the person.

Step 9 – Hygiene and Sanitation

Fancy Port-A-Potty

This is one of the most talked-about subjects (no seriously) when it comes to a grid-down type of scenario for a couple of reasons. These are really two separate subjects but they are so closely related I through them together. Hygiene is the practice of keeping yourself clean and disease-free. Sanitation is basically the removal of waste so that you can stay in good hygiene. Also known as the toilet paper dilemma.

Everyone has either thought about or heard someone say “Stock up on toilet paper” and this seems like good advice, right? Who hasn’t been in the bathroom after a decent session of perusing the Readers Digest only to discover there is no toilet paper? Talk about a sinking feeling, but is this the end of the world? Certainly not, but TP is one of those things we consider necessities. Like water, this is something that most of us use every day and should be easy to stock up on, but is one of the first things we run low on. You don’t want your last-minute dash to the store to be for Toilet paper but in the bigger scheme of things, having plenty of Charmin is the least of your problems.

In the Pixar movie, Finding Nemo, they said: “All drains lead to the Ocean” and that isn’t quite right. All drains unless you are on septic lead to the water treatment plant. If for some reason, the drains get damaged or clogged or you don’t have any water to flush, the drains go nowhere. You need a plan for dealing with waste removal if this happens to you.

There are a lot of options for alternative toilet facilities from using your existing toilet to digging a cat hole or a slit trench. It all depends on your situation. If you have water to spare and the lines still work, you can use your toilets just as you would normally. All you need is a bucket of water to pour into the bowl and this will flush everything down just like nothing happened. For long term disasters, this may not be feasible and you may be forced to adopt more “natural” methods. Time of year has a great influence on what those methods will be also because not many people love the idea of going into the yard when it’s dark and freezing outside. The simplest method, in my opinion, is to have a 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat lid and some small trash bags. Cleanup is easy and you can stay in the comfort of your house.

Shower in a bag.

Hygiene is a little different but you should easily be able to stay clean enough to inhibit bacteria and germs with a few simple preparations. I would not count on just a bottle of hand sanitizer to keep you clean and fresh. Baby wipes are a simple and effective method to clean up that doesn’t require a lot of space to store and the wipes themselves can actually be thrown in the fire when you are done.

Camping showers make a great addition to preps as well as extra soap, toothpaste, and toothbrushes. With just a bit of advanced planning, you can give everyone a method of staying clean and healthy. Getting them to take a shower in the backyard might be a little trickier.

I hope this series was helpful and informative. I haven’t covered everything I know, but I feel these articles would give your average person a lot of great ideas to consider if they are new to prepping. Just covering the bases in these 5 articles could drastically change your ability to come through a lot of emergency situations in much better shape.

This is the fifth in a series for the beginning prepper on how to get started Prepping. In part one of this series we covered defining your priorities and making

This is the fourth in a series for the beginning prepper on how to get started Prepping. In part one of this series we covered defining your priorities and making sure you have a sufficient store of water. The second article covered planning for long term food storage and selecting the best firearm for self-defense. In the third installment, we dealt with financial security and having appropriate medical supplies to treat basic injuries. The fourth installment went a little longer than I anticipated so I will deal with Home Security and Communications in the next one.

Step 7 – Backup Power

As you begin to make preparations for your family, these articles are trying to help you begin to lay out a strategy that deals with preparedness items in a logical order of importance. As I said at the beginning, this assumes you have nothing right now which isn’t always the case. Most people to some extent have pieces of equipment around the house that can be the basis for an emergency survival kit but may not have assembled them before or thought of these disparate pieces as part of a single system. In looking at our priorities, we have addressed the basics of what you need to stay alive (food & water) as well as protect yourself (firearms). After these core items, we began to look at items that can give you an edge; where you don’t necessarily need these to live, but they could be vital in contributing in a good way to your personal survival experience.

Using our hypothetical disaster scenario, you are alive and have plenty of food and water to last you some duration. Power isn’t necessary in most cases, but it sure can make living much easier. In some cases, having power is vitally important to your survival. Diabetics who need insulin, for example, will need to have their medication cooled or else it goes bad quickly. If you are a type one diabetic and aren’t able to get insulin, your health is impacted immediately and death is unfortunately not far away.

Power is necessary for a lot of items in our homes and is a welcome comfort after a survival situation or short-term emergency. Power can help keep the food in your refrigerator fresh longer. This will allow you to eat what you have in the fridge and freezer potentially before dipping into your survival food stores. I have heard tons of stories of people during a long-term power outage having huge block parties where they grill up all of the steaks, chicken, and fish they had stored in their freezers. This at least allows you to get some use out of the food you have and it can be a huge morale booster.

Outside of the obvious requirements to keep your coolers running, there are different needs in the summer as opposed to winter. Actually, in winter, you are often able to let Mother Nature keep the food cold. If you have a chest type freezer, it is better to keep it as stocked as possible. A fully stocked freezer will keep the food colder for a longer period. The mass of frozen food is just expensive blocks of ice and when you don’t have a lot of dead air space in there, the food keeps itself cold for a couple of days minimum depending upon the insulation factor of the freezer obviously. A fully stocked freezer should keep meat safe for up to 72 hours. I haven’t experimented with this personally and hope not to, but the concept is sound.

A key to ensuring this type of time is to keep the freezer closed. Every time you open it, you are letting cold air out and warm air in. Chest freezers are better at keeping the cold air in because it settles to the bottom. Regular upright freezers lose air at the bottom every time you open the door. You can also increase the insulating capacity of your freezer by covering it in heavy blankets after the power goes out. Much more than 72 hours is probably not going to be possible though so you might find yourself hosting one of those block parties if you don’t have any backup power.

The two most common options for backup power are solar panels and generators. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages and a fully well-rounded approach would be to have both. These aren’t the only solutions of course as there are water and wind options, but those are not viable for most people unless you have near perfect conditions so I will focus on the two main sources.

Generators

Generators come in a wide variety of styles, power outputs and fuel choices. It isn’t uncommon to see generators fly off the shelves at the first sign of a major storm or immediately after a disaster. I have heard of unscrupulous people buying all of the generators at your local big box store and selling them for 4 times as much on the street to desperate individuals. I am all for capitalism, but you don’t want to be on the receiving end of this entrepreneurial spirit when I really need power.

Whichever generator you have it will need fuel and oil most likely and generators aren’t shy about using both. Their usefulness ends as soon as the fuel runs out and if you don’t have enough oil, the engine could seize so planning for storing fuel has to be considered equally with the decision to purchase a generator.

Your generator will be rated at certain wattage. The higher the wattage, the more devices you can power with your generator, but unless you have installed a huge 14,000 watt home generator you will have to be selective about what you are going to plug-in. Some appliances require extra power to start-up, while others maintain the same power requirements constantly.

To calculate your power needs correctly, you need to know which kind of load you are dealing with. (A load is defined as the device that you are powering.)  There are two kinds of loads, Resistive and Reactive.

Resistive loads are pretty simple:  they require the same amount of power to both start and run the equipment. Many resistive loads are involved in heating or making heat of some kind. Examples of resistive loads include light bulbs, coffee makers and toasters.

Reactive loads contain an electric motor, which requires additional power to start, but significantly less power to run once it gets going. Typically starting power is 3 times the amount of power to run the application.   Examples of reactive loads include refrigerators/freezers, Furnace fans, well pumps, and Air conditioners. Knowing how much power you are going to need is important when choosing your generator wattage and you can easily figure this out by purchasing an inexpensive appliance load tester at your local hardware store.

Unless money is not an issue, I would recommend getting a generator that will power a few devices but not count on your entire house being lit up with running AC in the middle of a summer power outage or winter storm. You should easily be able to run your refrigerator or freezer for a few hours during the day and power several lights, small appliances and charge your cell phones at night with a moderately priced generator. You can tie your generator into your home’s electrical system with a relatively simple kit, but you want to ensure that this is done in a way that doesn’t fry the electric company technician when they are working on your line.

A few other considerations on a generator are noise and safety. For obvious reasons, your generator should be in a well vented area. The engine spits out noxious gas just like your car, so don’t bring it into the house with you. If it is outside, it can be stolen though and this has been a problem in large disasters. You may want to consider having a way to bolt your generator down to a concrete surface. This brings up another issue of safety and that falls into OPSEC.

If you are looking at a total collapse of society, the noise from your generator will be heard from a pretty good distance away. We recently went through a minor power outage of only 4 hours, but when the electricity is off, it gets really quiet. After our power went off, I went outside and quickly heard two of my neighbors’ generators starting up. If you are worried that someone will know you have power, a generator’s noise makes this a less than ideal option.

Solar Power

Awesome Solar Panel set up!

On the other hand, noise is not something you have to worry about with solar power. You also don’t have to worry about storing fuel or oil and unless we really do face TEOTWAWKI (The End of The World As We Know It), the sun will keep on shining every day.

Solar panels have different needs than generators though as the power that is generated from the photovoltaic cells needs to be stored. As well as the solar panels, you will need a bank of batteries. The most commonly recommended batteries are Deep Cycle, lead-acid batteries. These are ideally suited for these applications because of their long, reliable life and low-cost of ownership.

Once you have panels sending power to your batteries you will need an inverter to convert that electricity back to 12V for use in your home. This is what you will plug your appliances into. There are kits you can purchase for about the same cost as a basic generator that have the panels and usually a cheap inverter. The batteries are extra and a good quality inverter is recommended. Also, with solar you have a little more set up than with a generator, but there are loads of advantages.

For starters, unless the sun has been blacked out by us humans hoping to keep the machines from taking over (cheesy Matrix reference) there will always be sunlight. Sure, the sun is supposed to gobble us all up at some point, but I am not worrying about 5 years from now much less 5 million years. This means that you should have an unlimited supply of fuel for your little photovoltaic cells to run on. This is superior to generators for the obvious reason that you can never store enough gasoline to last forever. Sunlight doesn’t usually blow up when it comes in contact with a stray spark either, so it is safer and wont go bad without using fuel additive treatments.

There is no noise to contend with using Solar Power and this helps you in two ways. First, it will prevent people from finding you that you didn’t want coming to dinner. Secondly, it will not be so noisy that you can’t hear what is going on around you. Win Win!

Solar panels and the hardware associated with them can be mounted to a roof which makes them harder, but not impossible to steal. I have seen several applications where the panels are mounted to a pole in the yard. This makes installation easier, but they can just as easily be uninstalled by the bad guys at night while you are sleeping under the soft noise of your fan powered by your batteries.

Solar isn’t perfect though. The panels are all made differently so there are quality issues to be aware of. Also, to be truly efficient, the solar panels need to adjust daily for the suns movement or more precisely, the earth’s movement in relation to the sun. Additionally, the panels need to be very clean or else they do not receive as much light and their power output is reduced. Also, the panels can be damaged by rocks, strong winds, hail or falling branches. Once damaged, there won’t be too many options for repair.

The most perfect scenario in my mind is one in which you have both options. Ideally, a tri-fuel generator that has a natural gas hook-up, with a backup propane tank and one hundred gallons of gas feeding to your daisy-chained battery bank of 20 deep cycle batteries for cloudy days. On sunny days, your 5,250-watt solar panels feeding into the same batteries giving you the best of both worlds. Maybe you can swing this, but most of us can’t.

The reality might be more like a used 4,500-watt generator and 20 gallons of gas with an RV set up 140-watt panel and two batteries. We all have to start somewhere and there isn’t anything wrong with that. Research which options work best for you and then take care of your back-up power needs.

This is the fourth in a series for the beginning prepper on how to get started Prepping. In part one of this series we covered defining your priorities and making

This is the third in a series for the beginning prepper on how to get started Prepping. In part one of this series we covered defining your Priorities and making sure you have a sufficient store of water. The second article covered planning for long term food storage and selecting the best firearm for self defense.

Step 5 – Financial Security

I chose to add financial security as the next most important consideration because unless there is no concept of money or value of goods anymore, you will need some form of currency in which to trade for services or goods. When everything goes south, in almost every scenario, money can still buy you out of a jam so to be dependent on getting your money if it is stored somewhere else is a huge liability. Financial Security used to mean owning stocks and bonds or having T-bills or a really nice 401K or pension fund. Recent events have shown that all of these vehicles are prone to risk and by risk, I mean outright theft. You need to have a plan that falls outside of the norm for society, because if society collapses, you want to have your own source of wealth that you can access regardless of what is going on in the financial markets. I have broken this into three areas.

Emergency Fund – I think everyone needs to have some money that they can get their hands on quickly and no I am not talking about the ATM at the bank down the street. For a wide variety of reasons, you can’t count on banks to either have or be willing to let you access your money anymore.  You only have to look at the dozens of bank failures this year alone, or the recent bank crisis in Cyprus where banks shut down for almost two weeks and no one was allowed to take their money out. As long as your money is in someone else’ hands, they control whether or not you can access it and when. This puts you at the mercy of the holder of your money’s good will. Trust is fine and dandy until one party fails to live up to their promise.

Without going into all of the details of fractional reserves or high volume trading (which I can’t coherently explain anyway), I will simply recommend you have a fairly decent portion of money where you can get access to it whenever you want. I would suggest several thousand dollars if possible. Why this much? You may have to live on this money and nothing else if you are unable to get your money from a bank for weeks. Think of this reserve of cash as your monetary survival kit. If for some reason, the banks are closed but the grocery stores are still open accepting cash, you want to be able to purchase items you need. I know that ideally, you would have everything, but look at this as another layer of protection. Another example where cash might help you is bribing people for access of favors. I know this goes against most peoples morals, but if you can bribe a corrupt official to turn a blind eye instead of throwing you in jail, what will you do?

There are a lot of places you can hide your money but this, as with banks isn’t completely risk free. Even if you have money saved and can access it, our money could be worthless due to an economic collapse and even thousands of dollars won’t be able to buy you a loaf of bread. This is exactly what happened in the Wiemar Republic of Germany after World War I.  Regardless, I personally would rather have the money just in case. If we have an economic collapse, I think the cost of everything will skyrocket first so you may need to pay more for necessities. Having a fairly large supply of cash could come in handy. There are a lot of people who say you should have small bills and change and I think that would be good if you are faced with some type of emergency that happens and our economy is still functioning relatively normal. If the economy goes bust, it may cost several hundreds of dollars for a few gallons of gas. You really never know what could happen, so again, having a supply of cash could help you. The trick is to put his money away in a safe place and not use it for the family vacation to Disney World.

Long Term Hedge against inflation – Assuming you have been paying even 1% attention to the global economic news, the policies of the Federal Reserve, the IMF and its ripple effects in other countries, you may question the security that the experts in our financial system are claiming to have preserved. If you are concerned about an economic collapse, I would seriously suggest you hold some physical gold or silver. The benefits of precious metals are well documented out there and this is not something that can be artificially inflated or deflated with a printing press. Research whether this is a good option for you and if it is, make sure you hold those metals in your hands. Having them stored with another company is just as useless as having money in a bank. If you don’t have it in your hands, they can refuse to give you access to what should be rightfully yours. I really think the days of storing money in mattresses or coffee cans might be making a return on some level.  I don’t suggest this is where you hide money, but having physical possession of your asserts in a liquid form certainly seems safer in a lot of ways now.

Bartering supplies – Assuming there is a giant cataclysm of society where the SHTF in a big way, money even gold might not be depended on but people will still want to trade goods for services. Bartering has been foreseen as what could potentially be the method that people choose to conduct commerce in a future dystopian society. Bartering is not without risks but if you have supplies you can trade others then you will have a form of currency. Ideas for bartering are household cleaning supplies, cigarettes, alcohol, tools, ammunition; pretty much anything that will be of value to those who are just trying to survive. I wouldn’t plan on selling your X-box if there is no power.

I do imagine that eventually in a total collapse, groups will form and bartering will be more common. This is an extremely dark view of society. You can also look at supplies you store to barter as a resource to give away in charity. Some people have suggested small care packages that you can hand out to people who are very down on their luck. For natural disasters, this could be small food, medical and hygiene items. In a end of the world scenario these will be worth just as much as cash to someone.

Step 6 – Medical Supplies

As we begin to prepare our homes and families for surviving after an emergency, whether natural or man-made, wars or famine, a highly important consideration is staying healthy. The biggest threat to health, notwithstanding a plague type of incident is injuries and infections. If emergency services are overwhelmed during a disaster, you may have to be your own first line of defense on medical care as well. Having the supplies you need to treat mild to major injuries could be the difference between life and death.

Humans are incredibly resilient creatures and our bodies have the capacity to heal themselves in a large variety of circumstances. What you need to consider are how you can apply first aid to your family or group in the absence of the family doctor, calls to 911, trips to the emergency room or the local clinic down the street. My first aid supplies are mainly focused on stopping blood loss and treating infection so that any wounds can heal.

I have seen hundreds of first aid kits on the market out there and even own a few myself that claim to have 250 pieces of lifesaving gear. This sounds great until you look deeper and find that 150 of those pieces are band aids and another 25 or so are things like aspirin. While these kits are great for the car or as general use on vacations or to have around the house, these are not something that will do you much good in a total collapse scenario. I do have some of these first aid kits, but they aren’t what I am depending on if all hell breaks loose.

If you look at what soldiers carry into battle, you will get a good indication of two primary threats they are worried about. The IFAK which stands for Improved First Aid Kit or sometimes Individual First Aid Kit is fairly small and each soldier wears one on their gear. The main items are a combat tourniquet and a nasopharyngeal airway tube. The Army knows that the two main killers are loss of blood and not being able to breathe. You will see a couple of bandages in here, but no band aids. No anti-itch cream, no moist towelettes.

Soldiers in the military have the benefit of highly trained medics and a rear area with trauma doctors. In a real emergency you likely won’t have those luxuries. Knowing how to perform basic lifesaving will be a tremendous advantage. If possible, take a wilderness first aid course, advanced CPR or survival first aid. This will give you some training and experience with saving lives. You won’t know how to do surgery, but just getting someone stable, stopping a major blood loss or clearing an airway could save a life.

For the first aid kit, I have two major kits. The first is a wilderness first aid kit that I purchased online. This has more supplies than the basic first aid kits you get for your car, but I augmented this with a field surgery kit, extra bandages, blood clot and blood stopper tourniquets. This is for the house. My other kit is a Combat Lifesaver kit complete with all of the gear and supplies that comes with it. I also added extra blood stoppers, and sutures to this kit but it was pretty stocked already. This was a nice find at a gun show about a year ago. Since we are on that subject, you can usually find tons of first aid gear and supplies at a gun show relatively cheaply. This bag goes with me on any car trips.

Reference materials in the form of medical manuals are also something to get now. You don’t want to rely on a web site to show you how to suture a wound or treat a sucking chest wound when a family member is slowly drowning in their own blood. I also bought a book titled Emergency War Surgery as a reference. This is not something I have memorized by any stretch, but could be used as a reference guide if needed. With these supplies, some training and a little help you should be able to stabilize most blood loss injuries. I would also recommend stocking up on antibiotics. Topical ointments work well for minor skin lacerations, but more serious infections will require real antibiotics.

Some prepping websites advocate the use of fish antibiotics. I don’t doubt this could work well enough to fight infection, but urge you to do your own research on this to decide if this route makes sense for you. There are also a ton of natural remedies so the resource section of your library should include a book on using herbs and flowers to make medicines or treatments for a wide variety of ailments.

Lastly, if you have medications that you need to live, now is the time to stock up. You may have to speak with your doctor regarding a longer prescription but even this will run out if the disaster is wide spread or lengthy.

In Part 4 we will discuss the rest of the basic options which will cover Fuel and Backup Power as well as Home Security.

This is the third in a series for the beginning prepper on how to get started Prepping. In part one of this series we covered defining your Priorities and making

This is the second in a series for the beginning prepper on how to get started Prepping. If you want to read part 1, you can view that article here. In the first article, we covered defining your Priorities and making sure you have a sufficient store of water.

Step 3 – Food Storage

Now that you have water taken care of, the next thing you should take care of is food. Food is the number one thing that most people simply do not have enough of. In the not too distant past, most had their own gardens, canned their own foods, got milk and cheese from the local farmer or dairy if they didn’t raise it themselves and our diet was much different.

Since the advent of bigger cities, grocery stores, refrigeration and processed foods, our knowledge, and dependence upon nature to provide us food has quickly disappeared. The local farms have disappeared as they have been purchased and combined into approximately 5 national conglomerates that provide almost all of the food in grocery stores today. Grocery stores themselves have evolved from local family-run stores to national chains with complex distribution systems and warehouses. Your local grocery store relies on trucks shipping food in every few days to maintain inventory and this system right here is one that is highly prone to disruption.

The average family doesn’t have a 5 day supply of food on hand. We have become accustomed to running to the store to buy what we need for the week or even an individual meal. In the case of a disaster or inclement weather being forecast, the first things to disappear from the grocery shelves are food . This is partly due to panic, but mostly because people simply don’t have enough food to last them comfortably through the duration of whatever event is anticipated.

At the first sign of some impending crisis, the store shelves are wiped out within hours or days. It might start out as simply a trip to get a gallon of milk or some chicken but quickly turns into a full-on buying frenzy as shoppers see the quickly dwindling supplies and the faces of other worried shoppers in the crowded store.

This should not happen to you.

Food is something that you are always going to need and there are several strategies for stocking up on food items that you can use depending on your preference. For most people, the simplest option is to buy more of what you use every day. Groceries aren’t cheap and I hated the idea of spending extra on groceries but I could see the value and benefit in having a stocked pantry.

We started with our normal grocery store run and began to add more of the items we eat a lot of. Items like spaghetti sauce, noodles, canned tuna and chicken, beans, coffee and tea, soups and canned vegetables were something we already ate, so we just added more. The trick is to buy extra food when you go to the store and not simply buy food when you are out of a particular item. If you can add a couple of cans to what you normally purchase, you will start to see the amounts you have increased. You will need to ensure you have some system to rotate your food storage because you don’t want to have a bunch of cans of grossly out of date food when you need it the most.

This book teaches you everything from the soil up. Click on it for details.

Purchasing more store-bought food is great for short-term, but for longer-term preparedness, it is good to supplement with freeze-dried food or dehydrated foods sealed in Mylar bags and stored in heavy-duty food grade buckets. These food items will typically last years and can be your reserve supply of food that you don’t have to worry about rotating as much. There are a lot of suppliers of long term food that you can find out there and if you have the money and would rather purchase your food and forget about it (for a long time) then this may be a good option. I recommend having a balance between the two types of food. Store-bought foods that you already eat everyday and freeze-dried so that you have the most flexibility.

Lastly and I might say, more importantly, you need to plan for self-sufficiency when it comes to your food. If we have some catastrophe that lasts a very long time, you will run out of food. What if the grocery stores are never going to be operable again? What if you have purchased a 2 year supply of freeze-dried food, but the disaster or event lasts longer than two years? What if 20 family members show up to your house and start eating your supplies?

Having a working garden now will be the best thing you can do to augment your store purchases with healthy fresh foods and it will allow you to continue feeding yourself if for some reason we can’t rely on grocery stores in the future. I know this is a very bleak sounding future, but not something that is out of the realm of possibility. It is important to purchase and store heirloom seeds for your garden and learn how to harvest and keep seeds from your vegetables, but it is even more important to start your garden now. Gardening is not goof-proof and it is foolish to believe that you can go into your back yard, dig up some dirt, plant some seeds and feed your family. If this is your plan, they will likely starve before the first fruits are visible.

Healthy soil – healthy plants – healthy you. 

Try your hand at gardening now so you have the area, experience and hopefully crops that will feed your family all year. This will be a fairly decent sized undertaking for a family of 4 people. If you plan to feed a larger family, a garden can’t wait. Gardening takes preparation and tools that you may not be able to acquire if the grid goes down for some reason. If you are worried about the impending disaster, do you think you will remember to run to the hardware store and buy shovels, rakes, and hoes? Do you realize how long certain vegetables take to fully mature so that you can harvest them? What if some disaster happens in the middle of winter? You will not be able to start a garden for several months and you won’t get food out of that garden for many more months. Gardening is not a suitable quick solution to food needs, but it is probably the best long term solution and this should be something you consider if you have a means to create a garden on your property.

If you have the ability, raising your own livestock will give you just one more advantage when it comes to feeding your family. Raising chickens for eggs or rabbits for meat are two of the simplest ways to augment your long-term food supply.

You can read more about how you can stock up 30 days of food for your family in this article.

Step 4 – Firearms for self-defense

So by now, you should have a plan for water and food to last you through most normal emergencies, the next shoe to drop in a SHTF scenario is to plan for security. This is simply common sense to most people and I am often asked what the best gun for home defense is. I surmise this is because people know like I said in the first part, that in a disaster; the rules get thrown out the window quickly and you may be left to defend yourself against looters or people who just want to take advantage of the situation. If you are really prepared with enough survival equipment and disaster supplies to last you through the emergency, chances are that you could become a target for people who did not plan.

Human nature is funny, but it is predictable in a lot of instances. Desperate people do desperate things. A mother who has starving children will do things for their benefit that she never would otherwise. In the same capacity, a father who has a sick or starving family will act with their interests above all else, including his. This can lead to incredibly dangerous encounters and it is a good idea to anticipate these and plan for them.

Having a selection of good firearms and being trained in their use is going to give you a greater ability to defend your family and your possessions in a true collapse or grid-down type of disaster. I think that anyone who does not have a means to defend themselves will eventually become the victim of some form of theft or violence. History is just too full of examples of this type of atrocity happening to otherwise good people. My philosophy in cases like this is to pray for the best and prepare for the worst.

If you don’t have any firearms at all, the current political climate and government meddling may have stirred in you a sense of angst to acquire some means of defending yourself with a firearm. You could be on the other end of the spectrum and believe that all guns should be banned and people should all just “get along”.

There is no real reason for me to try and change the opinion of any true pacifist. I will only say that no law ever stopped a lawbreaker. The only people who won’t carry guns if you make a law are the law-abiding citizens and it is foolish to believe that a law will stop either guns or violence from being tools used by bad people.

For the rest of you out there who want a firearm, I would recommend you read our article on the Best firearm for self-defense and if you have the means, I wouldn’t stop there. Once you have the most basic method of defending yourself, you should expand and our post on the Top 5 firearms you need to get your hands on now offers a pretty good argument for and the specific types of firearms I think each family should optimally have to weather a total societal collapse or a power outage of a few days.

Ammunition is the next important thing to get because without bullets, those firearms you purchased for self-defense will be just about worthless. As of right now, Ammo prices are incredibly high and inventories are low. This makes finding ammo hard because everyone is out there looking to replace and augment what they already have. If you are just starting, I would have no less than 2 boxes of hollow-point ammo for any handguns regardless of the cost. You just have to bite the bullet (no pun intended) and get enough for basic protection. Shotgun ammo is still in relatively good supply so make sure to stock up on shotgun ammo as much as possible. You will probably never regret spending money on guns or ammo if you ever get to the point of needing them for security. You will definitely regret not having anything.

Later on in Part 3 we will discuss the rest of the basic options which will cover Financial Security, Medical Supplies and Fuel for Backup Power.


Here are 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)

This is the second in a series for the beginning prepper on how to get started Prepping. If you want to read part 1, you can view that article here.

I have been asked before by friends how I got started with prepping. It seems the concept can be pretty daunting at first for some people. I can understand how it is when you start to think of the literally hundreds of important items that you need to consider for your family. My first list of “needs” took up an entire sheet of paper. On first glance, this undertaking can appear to be a giant behemoth and some people throw their hands up immediately and give in. I have heard excuses from not having enough money to not knowing where to start. While I agree that some prepper items require money (sometimes a lot!) often there are alternatives to spending a ton of money, but knowing where to start should never be an issue.

The uncertainty of knowing where to begin prepping could stem from the motivation that is driving you toward emergency preparedness. If your desire to be prepared is driven by some external threat that seems real and tangible like living in Tornado Alley, the starting point might be easier to find. If the motivation to be more prepared is due to what I would call common sense; which is telling you to be prepared for anything, the sense of urgency being lower in some cases might make the choices about where to start and what to do more complex.

In this article, which will be broken into a few different parts,  I will try to lay out what I consider is a basic guideline for how to start prepping with a list of areas that I have placed in order of importance. This is just an example of one methodology, but your personal needs, resources or experience might shuffle some of these around. This list was designed for the perspective of the person who is brand spanking new to prepping and is looking for a template of sorts they can follow to get their homes prepared for most emergency situations listed above (within reason). This does not address bugging out but is designed primarily for sheltering in place. My wife loves lists and something like this breaks everything into nice little chunks that is easier to digest and then she can cross off one at a time, so this type of list is designed for people like her.

Step 1 – Priorities

First things first, before you do anything it is important to understand a few things. This is also known as “So you want to be prepared, now what?” For me, it started with a gut feeling for lack of a better word back in 2008. I have said before that I believe someone was trying to get my attention so I started to listen. There was no driving natural threat like earthquakes or hurricanes, wildfires or mudslides that prompted me. I do not worry about the poles shifting too much or aliens attacking from planet Niburu (look that one up) but I did have a sense that society as we know it now is too fragile. Within this fragile society we are dependent upon systems and processes that are created to address the problem of Just in Time inventory management and if those systems break down, so does society. When society breaks down, so do people. When people break down, all hell breaks loose.  As Gerald Celente says; “(when) People Lose Everything, They Have Nothing Left to Lose, And They Lose It.”

The example that gets used pretty frequently is natural disasters so I will stick with that for a moment. Looking back at Hurricane Sandy or Hurricane Katrina, the people in both of those situations saw how quickly society could come crashing down. In both Katrina and Sandy, gas shortages, grocery stores wiped clean and looting happened almost overnight. Power outages, of course, happened right away and within 24 hours people’s lives were turned upside down.

Now, imagine your family and what you would be faced with if you were in a similar situation. But I don’t live anywhere near the ocean you say. OK, now forget about tornadoes earthquakes, fires, nuclear meltdowns, comets with aliens living in them and all of the other natural disasters. What if there is a major fluctuation with the price of gas and the grocery stores are no longer filled by the trucks that drive down the street every day? What if the trucks were rolling, but with the high price of gas, they were only able to come half as often as they were in the past? What if there is a terrorist attack at the port of Los Angeles and shipments are delayed for months? What if there is a stupid basketball game that doesn’t go right and there is rioting on your street? What if the police declare martial law because a bad guy is running around and they prevent you from going out of your house for days or weeks?

The point I am trying to make is that there shouldn’t be one single reason you are preparing for. You should want to be prepared for anything. The chances of any single event happening to you are too small, but the chance of something happening at all that could disrupt your life is much higher. To understand what you need to be prepared for, think less about the event that could cause disruption and more about the potential for disruption and what you would need to live comfortably through that disruption.

Water is easy to store now and it will be there when you need it. These containers stack to reduce storage needs.

There is a saying called the rule of 3’s and it goes like this. A person can live 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food. We will use these as a guideline for prepping going forward. In some cases, the rule of threes can drive what you need to focus on.

Step 2 – Water

Assuming for a minute that you can breathe and have or can obtain shelter easily we will skip over to water. Water is an obvious necessity, it is probably the easiest survival item to procure before any disaster and yet most people still don’t have enough of it to last the normal duration of what we might call your “usual” disaster. Without trying to be funny, a normal disaster is not measured in hours or days. At a minimum, if you are faced with a severe emergency like a tornado, hurricane or earthquake, services and life as you knew it probably won’t return to normal for several weeks. To verify this just look at the people who lived through Katrina and Sandy. There are people still that can’t go back into their homes and this happened back in October of 2012. At the time of this writing, that is 7 months ago and Sandy was only a Category 1 hurricane. Imagine the destruction had it been much stronger.

A good rule of thumb for water storage is to have one gallon per person per day. This includes cooking and cleaning, but that amount could change depending on the weather, the health of the individual and the physical activity they are participating. Still, one gallon is a good rule and it is simple to figure out. I like nice round numbers.

For every person in your home, you should plan on storing a gallon each for as many days as you can envision needing clean water. FEMA recommends 72 hours’ worth or three days. The general concept is that you need a 72 hour kit for each person for survival. I think that in order to be well prepared a minimum should be three times that amount. For a 4 person home, you would need to store 4 X 9 = 36 gallons of water.  That is a great start, but having twice as much that would be even better. Twice as much would be closer to 21 days which works out nicely with your 3 weeks of food so now for that same family we are looking at 84 gallons of water.

For water storage, the problem is space for most people. If you have a large basement or storage building, storing a couple of hundred gallons of extra water is easy. In an apartment, this is not the same because you will usually only have a small closet and some pantry space if you are lucky.  Regardless of your situation, water is an essential aspect of planning and should be one of the first items you consider for your survival kit.

For storing water, it is easier and more space-efficient to store at least 5-gallon jugs of water as opposed to a case of individual bottles. There are plenty of relatively inexpensive options at your local big-box stores or online. Just search for 5-gallon water storage and you will have plenty to choose from. For those with more space, 50-gallon barrels are ideal. Because I don’t have the storage space I incorporated two 50 gallon barrels as rain barrels outside attached to my gutters. This water will need to be treated, but if it rains I can have a fresh 100 gallons fairly easily. For inside the house, I went with 5-gallon because that made the most sense for our available space. We got ours from the Ready store and they stack easily which helps with space.

The bottom line is getting some water stored for yourself and your family. It’s easy and doesn’t take any preparation at all.

You can read more about storage and water treatment options in our article that deals specifically with water.

Later on in Part 2 we will discuss the rest of the basic options which will cover Food Storage, Firearms for Self Defense and Financial Security.

I have been asked before by friends how I got started with prepping. It seems the concept can be pretty daunting at first for some people. I can understand how