Preparedness for Beginners

So you finally decided its time to stock up?

The mere fact that you are reading this means that you have an interest in preparing for yourself and those that you care about around you. It seems like a daunting task in the beginning but it does not have to be that way.

The very term “survivalist” conjures up images of groups hiding out in their bunkers with a stash of weapons and food waiting for the world as we know it to end so they can emerge and fight the zombie hoards in a Road Warrior future. Glamorous Hollywood type scenario? Yes. Close to reality? Probably not.

The truth of the matter is the fact that Survivalism has become mainstream. We hear about it from the government, the media and even our employers in some cases. Those that have stocked up on food and other essentials are no longer considered the social outcasts that they were portrayed as by the media in the 80′s and 90′s, they are nothing more than folks that know that a rainy day can come at any time when least expected.

Taking the time to prepare for yourself and those around you can be a pretty painless process; it only requires a change in your fundamental mindset on daily life. You have to really ask yourself what you would do when certain things that you take for granted on a daily basis were to be removed. Think about it, there are many things that we take for granted in our daily lives that would cause a serious impact to your life if they were suddenly unavailable. It has happened, and continues to happen to people around the globe on a daily basis. Many have died because they did not know what to do and had not taken the time to prepare for unforetold disasters whether natural or man made.

What would you really do if any of the following were to be unavailable for an extended period in your life, say a month?
- Electricity
- Water
- Natural Gas
- Gasoline and other petroleum fuels
- Banking / ATM?s
- Food on the supermarket shelves
- Your home

I think you get the point. The reality is that this can happen, just ask any of the displaced survivors of hurricane Katrina! Loosing everything without a backup plan doesn’t sound like an ideal vacation to me.

Location, Location, Location?

Its been said before and its what really matters. Where you choose to live has everything to do with the hazards that will present themselves, and how best to avoid them. Urban, suburban and rural areas, as well as regional location, all have contributing factors to how you should prepare and the problems that you may face. Take the time to evaluate the natural hazards that are likely to occur in you area, it may just save you from being displaced from your home or even your life.

For my family I chose a very rural area to live, this is not for everyone whether you can and don’t want to or just plain can’t. When we moved out in the boonies from the city there were many things to consider, just the fact that emergency services are forty minutes away on a good day was a major item to consider. Restoration of other utilities (the only two that we have, phone and electricity) can also take much longer in a rural environment.

Bottom line, make sure that you evaluate the area that you live in carefully and identify the hazards before a problem comes to you.

Storing Away the Basics

Although it may seem a daunting task it is really not that difficult or expensive to do. One of the most basic things that you can do to start your journey is to start with food and water. While it would be nice to be able to afford to go out and purchase a years worth of food at the drop of a hat, it is not very realistic for most budgets. Procuring extras for the pantry is pretty easy to do on a limited budget and you’ll be surprised how fast it accumulates!

If you are starting out from scratch the grocery store is a great place to begin. I found that shopping the sales was really the way to go. When there are good deals on foods that will last in the pantry I generally buy one for the kitchen and two for the pantry, even if it is one for the kitchen and one for the pantry you can’t go wrong.

Even though I tend to buy a lot of canned goods and other mixes that only require water to prepare, there is one important fact to keep in mind. Buy what you eat and eat what you buy! There can be nothing worse that getting stuck on a diet of stuff that you have never tried and find that it’s a gastric disaster.

Stick with what you know, most canned goods are plenty edible well past their expiration dates, we have opened forgotten cans from our pantry that were more than three years past their expiration date and are still here to tell about it. If stored properly most packaged foods will store just as well. Remember, the cooler the better. It does not have to be refrigerated, any area that remains at 40-60F with low humidity is ideal. Our pantry is a 4′X15′ walk in closet that stays right around 62F is the door is kept closed.

Don’t forget the other basics, non-edible staples of any household are the most often overlooked. Bar soap, deodorant, toothpaste, bleach, diswashing soap, and even more importantly, toilet paper are the most commonly overlooked items to store. Think about it, stuck at home for a month and only two rolls of TP! Newsprint is a poor substitute for the real thing?

A good place to start would be to keep a list of all the things that you buy at the grocery store for a month, you may not buy the same things every trip, but it will give you a good idea of the types of things that you consume on a daily basis and have to replace. These are the items that you should be buying extra of when the budget permits.

To Bulk or Not To Bulk

Bulk foods are a wonderful way to inexpensively build a good stock of food for emergencies, but the important part is that you know how to use it! Let’s face it, a five gallon bucket of wheat is not going to do you much good it you do not know how to process it or have to tools to do so. Another important thing to consider is whether or not you are willing to package it yourself; doing it yourself can save over half of the cost.

Bulk foodstuffs that are readily storable for many years are the way that many who take preparedness seriously have chosen, no wonder when we have uncovered grain and honey in Egyptian tombs that is still perfectly viable thousands of years later. Taking the raw components and turning them into a finished product is where the work and skill that you supply comes into play.

Let’s face it, there are just not that many people these days that know how to produce a whole meal from scratch without using something from a box or can. Yes, canned and other prepared foods have their place, but they have taken a dominating position in today’s modern lifestyle. Taking the raw product and turning it into dinner is far more work that people today are willing to perform, we have a whole generation on our hands that can’t cook much of anything without a microwave.

If you decide that the route of bulk “beans and rice” is for you, one of the first things that you are going to want to get is a good quality grain mill. Trust me when I say “you get what you pay for”, the last thing that you need is to have a poor quality grain mill take a dump on you when you need it the most.

Ok, so I bought a bunch of bags of rice, beans, wheat and other bulk foods, now what? Good question, the simple answer is to package it for long term storage. The easiest method that I am aware of the works reliably is using mylar bags in five gallon buckets with oxygen absorbers, there is a huge amount of information about the process on the Walton Feed website (http://waltonfeed.com/). We have buckets that were packed by a friend of ours this way prior to 2000 that their contents are as fresh as the day they were packed!

Disaster Kits / Go Bags

There are a thousand and one different variations on this theme. The best advise that I can give is to think really hard about what you would need to survive for at least 48 hours with nothing but the clothes on you back and the contents of your backpack or bag with no outside help.

I am not going to cover specific content lists, just the importance of having a bag like this available to you at all times. Remember disasters will always strike when you are least expecting them, and more than likely you won?t be at home when it happens.

I maintain a kit that I carry with me in my vehicle; I know others that bring their kits in with them at their workplace itself! I have also made sure that the other members of my household also have similar bags that they always have with them, the one thing that all of our kits have in common is that they are geared at supplying us until we can get home.

For more information on these kits search Google for ?Bug Out Bag? or ?Disaster Kit?.

Bottom Line

I hope that this information has been useful and has spurred you into deeper thought. Remember preparedness is a way of life, not a weekend hobby to be taken up at a moments notice. It can mean the difference between life and death for you and your family.

If you are not prepared, you are a liability to yourself, to your family, and to everyone around you.


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