What Does PREPARED Stand For?

I received this in my email yesterday and thought it was worth sharing. The person who sent it to me cribbed it from a handout he received at a local event, though he didn’t state the actual source.

Being prepared is an essential part of being able to return your life and the life of your family back to normal as soon as possible whenever there is an emergency or disaster. Here is a basic acronym to help you remember some very important steps in being P.R.E.P.A.R.E.D.

P is for planning. You will need to take the necessary steps to have a plan in case of an emergency or a disaster.

R is for risk assessment. You will need to know the particular risks for your area, as well as the common everyday risks you or your family might encounter in an emergency or disaster.

E is for emergency contacts and communication. You will need to make sure that everyone in your family has the proper emergency contact information and be able to communicate with each other in a time of crisis.

P is for planning for alternate scenarios. Should your first plan encounter difficulties in being implemented, you will need a backup plan.

A is for assemble. Get your emergency supplies in place. It doesn’t matter if you are planning for a 72 hour period or even longer, as long as you have put together the basic items you will need for your own level of readiness.

R is for remembering. Remember the special needs of the elderly, infants in your family, your pets and people in your family or group with special medical needs.

E is for essentials. Don’t forget the basic items that you will need to survive a disaster or crisis. Water, food, shelter, first aid, and the ability to create a fire for warmth and cooking will all be essential.

D is for determination. Have the will and the determination to survive a crisis, a natural disaster or an emergency by being prepared in advance.

Planning Next Year’s Garden

A friend of mine showed me this site today. It is a chart showing recommendations on what to plant, and in what quantities, for a family of four.

I have no idea what the process was to determine those figures but most of them look pretty accurate from what I can tell. I share this with you now because you should already be thinking ahead to next year.

Take a look at that chart and pay particular attention to how much space you’ll need for each type of plant. To grow all this, you’re going to need a lot more than just a couple flower beds along the side of the house. So, if you’re plan is to just grow all your own food should there be some sort of collapse, you might want to give serious thought to how much land that is going to take.

Obviously, you’ll also need to adjust the quantities up or down based on not only the number of family members but preferences. Personally, I’m not a fan of beets so I’d probably not grow them. On the other hand, I like peas and beans so I’d likely plant a few more of each of those plants.

Don’t forget potatoes as well. They’re not listed on the chart but you’re going to want at least a few of those plants growing in barrels or some other container.

The time to plan for next year is now. Get out graph paper and sketch out your future garden beds. Figure out what will go where and when it should go in the ground. Do this now so you’re not scrambling when the time comes.

Perception is Reality

Did you watch the Packers vs. Seahawks game last night? Was that a debacle or what? These replacement refs really need to go. Apparently the new rule is you can receive the ball if you just catch the guy holding the ball.

Crappy calls all the way around. But, here’s the thing. The refs are making those calls based on their perspective, right or wrong. Each call is how they perceive the situation. For them, taking into account what they actually saw from where they stood, coupled with their knowledge of the rules of the game and their past experience with similar situations, it was a touchdown.

Perception = Reality

That’s true for each of us. Our worldview changes moment to moment, based on what our senses tell us and how we interpret those signals. The brain takes new information and compares it to what we’ve already experienced in the past. This interpretation shapes what we “know.”

Perception can also be shaped by outside influences. You can take the smartest guy in the world and if you tell him 100 times a day that he’s an idiot, sooner or later he is going to believe it. It isn’t true, of course, he’s a bloody genius. But, our minds have a way of conforming to what it is told to think, especially when it is told the same thing over and over. All of our life experiences shape who we are today, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The good news though is, you can change your perception. Think about where you are in life right now. Are you where you want to be? If not, then change it. Sit down and physically write the next chapter, if you will. Instead of letting someone else write your life story, with you just playing the part of you, be the writer.

Think about it like this. There are an awful lot of people out there who’d love to control your reality, aren’t there? If perception IS reality, then by changing your perception, you are in control.

We can only hope these NFL replacement refs get their realities changed in a hurry.

Unexpected Visitors

This is a topic that comes up for discussion on occasion when we talk about prepping. In fact, I mentioned it briefly here quite some time ago.

What do you do about folks who show up looking for your help after a disaster?

To my way of thinking, these people would fall into two different groups. The first group are those who you’d consider fellow preppers. They are the ones you’ve networked with over the years and for one reason or another, they lost some or all their preps in the disaster or aftermath. Maybe they suffered a house fire or they lost their home after a protracted battle with mutant zombie bikers. The point is, they did what they could to prep but lost it all.

The second group are those family and friends who ignored your advice. They are the grasshoppers to your ant, as it were. You talked until you were blue in the face and they ignored you, made fun of you, talked behind your back about how weird you had gotten. Now, the crisis you always warned about has actually come to pass and, knowing you were a prepper, they’ve come to you with their hands out, pleading for assistance.

What do you do when people you know come calling unexpectedly? Really, would they be unexpected to begin with? I mean, we all have certain family and friends who have made it quite clear that they aren’t going to prep but will instead just head to your house in the event of a disaster, right?

What do we do with these folks? Those who are/were preppers, do we treat them differently? What if your mother or father show up? Even if you didn’t have anything extra, could you turn them away?

One idea that I’ve discussed here is having small “charity” survival kits to hand out. This could, of course, blow up in your face. I mean, where do you draw the line?

Personally, I have a few close friends who are preppers and, were they to show up empty handed, I’d do whatever I could to help them. I also have a few family members who I wouldn’t consider preppers but whose skills sets and such would certainly be welcome, provided I had the space and supplies to provide for them.

I also know several people who I sincerely hope don’t remember how to find my house.

This is something you should discuss with your immediate family and retreat group (if applicable) ahead of time. Make the decisions now, before you really need to do so.

Getting Started, Part 1 – The Basics

I had a request from a reader to discuss a bit on how to get started with prepping. It can indeed seem overwhelming when you’re just starting out. There’s so much to do, where does one begin?

As with many other aspects of life, it depends. For example, look at your budget. If you are independently wealthy and looking for a personal guide into the world of prepping, please email me direct. On the other hand, if you’re like the rest of us and have little money to spare, keep reading.

Start by setting aside extra food and water. Don’t worry right now about going out and buying specially packaged long-term foods. Just buy a bit more of what you already eat. If, for example, canned vegetables are on sale 5/$2.00 and you’d normally get five, pick up 10. To a degree, you’re playing the odds here. The chances of a short-term emergency happening, one that would require you to dig into your storage, is a lot more likely to happen than a long-term societal collapse situation. The idea is to stock up on things that will get you through if you were unable to go grocery shopping for a few days or weeks.

For water, store at least one gallon of water for each person in your family per day of the anticipated crisis. Start by putting aside enough for a couple days, then add to it gradually. Personally, I like to use the 7 gallon containers you can buy at sporting goods stores that are made for this purpose. While heavy, I can manage to move them around without too much trouble and it is easier than shifting around 2L bottles.

Next on the list is first aid and hygiene. Put together a decent first aid kit, keeping mind both the most likely injuries and illnesses you’re going to face as well as your own capabilities. It makes little sense to me to go out and buy a surgical kit if you have not the first clue how to use it. Stick with things like adhesive bandages, gauze pads of various sizes, elastic wraps, burn cream, antibiotic ointment, and pain relievers. Add in your favorite OTC meds for things like stomach upset. You’re not looking to do major surgery here, just keep people reasonably healthy until the crisis has passed.

Portable light is important. You have to be able to see what you’re doing, don’t you? LED flashlights are generally brighter and consume less energy than old fashioned flashlights. LED headlamps are great for when you’re doing necessary chores.

An area that is sometimes overlooked is entertainment. Netflix isn’t going to do you much good during a power outage. Invest in a few board games, decks of cards, and other such timeless activities.

In a later post, we’ll discuss this further, talking about things like bug out bags, evac kits, and making plans.

Biblical Darwinism

One of the most common arguments we hear against prepping is that God will provide and protect the person from whatever calamities may be headed our way. My good friend Rick Rourke, owner of the Survival Retreat Yahoo Group, calls this Biblical Darwinism. He defines this term as following Bible based advice to the extent that it violates common sense and perhaps leads to demise.

This is perhaps best illustrated in this oft told joke.

One day, a massive storm rolls into a small town and the rain begins to flood the town. As the water rises, the preacher in the small church falls to his knees to pray. Soon, one of the townsfolk comes by in a small boat and says, “Preacher, hop in! The water is rising fast!”

The preacher replies, “I’m fine. If I need any help, the Lord will take care of me.”

The water continues to rise and the preacher soon seeks safety on the church roof. A short time later, another member of his congregation comes by in a boat. He hollers to the preacher, “C’mon and jump in! The levee is gonna break soon and we need to get you out of here!”

Again the preacher replies, “If I need any help, the Lord will take care of me.”

It isn’t too much longer and the preacher is clinging to the church steeple, with flood waters swirling around. A National Guard helicopter swoops down. One of the Guardsmen calls to him through a megaphone. “Preacher, grab this ladder! We’ll save you!”

The preacher hollers back, “No need! If I need any help, the Lord will take care of me!”

It isn’t too much longer and the preacher finds himself standing at the Pearly Gates. He is irate and demands to see God. “What is troubling you, my son?” asks God.

Shaking his finger at Him in defiance, the preacher says, “What happened? Why didn’t you protect me? All my life I’ve lived in accordance with Your wishes and this is how you repay my devotion?”

God replies, “Son, I sent you two boats and a helicopter. What more did you want?”

Here’s how I look at the whole “God will protect me” argument against prepping. I’m a Christian and fully believe God does have a plan. I also believe God has blessed us with the ability to make our own choices and, to a large degree, make our own destinies. Life is a gift and we should fight to protect and honor that gift.

I’m not nearly as well versed (no pun intended) with the Bible as many of my readers probably are. But, I know of absolutely no verse that boils down to, “You just sit there with your XBox/Playstation/Wii and God will take care of everything.”

Historically speaking, individuals, families, even large tribes survived the lean years by having set food and supplies aside when such things were plentiful. As a general rule, people didn’t let things go to waste. To look at it in Biblical terms, if God were to bless you with a bumper crop one year, wouldn’t it be sinful to let the excess sit and rot?

If you are a religious sort, I encourage you to continue your devotion to God. But temper it with common sense and practicality. Do not fall victim to Biblical Darwinism.

Items Commonly Missing in Bug Out Bags

Preppers talk a lot about bug out bags. Honestly, I think this is at least partially because they can be fun to put together. Plus, there is just something deeply reassuring about having one or more of them ready to go. Due in part to my writing endeavors, as well as just plain curiosity, I read a LOT of articles about bug out bags. A lot of them are just rehashed information copied from somewhere else. There’s really no way around that in the online world today.

Even accounting for that, most lists are just about the same as any other. That stands to reason, I guess, since we all have the same basic needs that are to be met by the bug out bag contents, right?

What I do find interesting though are some of the things that are usually missing from these bug out bag lists. Things that, to my way of thinking, are just common sense.

–Socks. Have you ever spent a few days on the road with nothing other than what you can carry on your back? Ever gone hiking in the rain? Spending any amount of time in wet socks is a whole lot of no fun. Doing it for hours on end can be brutal. Extra socks weigh just about nothing, though they do have a bit of bulk to them. Toss two or three pair into a zipping plastic bag. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

–Gloves. This is something a lot of us manly men overlook. The fact is though that blisters can get infected rather quickly. Your hands are two of your most important tools. Protect them.

–Cook set. For many preppers, they have absolutely no plans of “camping” when on a bug out. Their sole purpose is to get home or to a safe location as quickly as possible. I happen to be among those who have that plan. But, with that said, we plan ahead to avoid problems, don’t we? A small cook set doesn’t weigh that much and will be of great help in preparing that fish you caught or squirrel you managed to take down with a slingshot. Sure, you can and should learn how to cook food using nothing more than sticks and such but a cook set will make life easier.

–A lighter or two. In the various bug out bag content lists, I always see things like a magnesium striker or spark steel. But wouldn’t it just be easier to use a lighter? I’m not saying you shouldn’t have alternate methods of lighting a fire. What I am saying is, why make the job harder than it needs to be?

–Maps and compass. Yes, you should know by heart several different routes to get to your destination. But a map of the area and a decent compass will help you tremendously if you end up having to go cross country.

What things do you have in your kits that you feel are often overlooked by most people?

What’s In Your Trunk?

One of the very first topics I addressed on this blog was vehicle emergency kits.  As I did back then, I feel they are an important component of any overall prepping plan.

While the primary purpose and focus of a vehicle emergency kit is to provide you with the tools and supplies necessary to facilitate simple repairs, I also feel they should contain a few things to help augment your get home bag.  The reasoning behind the latter is there may be times you’ve taken your get home bag out and forgotten to replace it.  By having at least some additional food and such in your vehicle emergency kit, you have a backup, just in case.

The bulk of the vehicle emergency kit will be the tools and supplies for repair work.

  • Wrenches (standard and metric)
  • Socket set (standard and metric)
  • Variety of slotted, Phillips, and Torx screwdrivers
  • Pliers and channel locks
  • Hammer
  • Hose clamps
  • Spare fuses
  • Fix-a-Flat
  • Duct tape
  • Sharp knife
  • A couple quarts of oil
  • A gallon of water
  • Flashlight
  • Work gloves

I also suggest you invest in a copy of a good repair manual for each of your vehicles, such as those done by Chilton.  Keep the manual with your vehicle emergency kit.

A blanket or two will certainly be welcome at almost all times of the year, should you need to bed down for a few hours.  Extra clothing will be nice in case you end up spilling gas, oil, or something on you as well as if you’ve for some reason hit the road wearing clothes that are inappropriate for the season.

A bit of food and a liter or two of clean water will help stave off hunger and thirst while you wait for help.  This can be particularly important when small children are involved.  Having a snack or two for them will reduce your stress as well as theirs.  Consider tossing in a couple of age appropriate books and activities for them as well.

Don’t forget to have a car charger for your cell phone.  Without it, good old Murphy is sure to make an appearance and the time you really need your cell is the time you forgot to charge it and the battery is just about dead.

Maps of the area will be very helpful should you need to strike out on food to get assistance.  More than one stranded traveler has walked several miles in the wrong direction, only to later find out help was really just around the next bend.

Any time you are heading out on a lengthy road trip, make sure people know where you are headed, the basic route you plan to take, and when you are expected to arrive.  If something happens along the way and you don’t make it to your destination as expected, people will then know where to look.

While we’re at it, always make sure you have your current registration and insurance information available, just in case you get pulled over.  Even if those things are current, if you don’t have the necessary paperwork to prove it, you may end up having to go to court to get the ticket dismissed.

Another use for snare wire

I came across this idea in a recent issue of Backwoodsman Magazine. For me at least, it was a complete and total DUH moment. I’d not thought of this use for snare wire before but it is an excellent example of thinking outside the box.

Side note: I only just recently started picking up Backwoodsman and I have to say, I feel like I’ve been missing out the last several years. If anyone happens to have a stash of back issues they want to get rid of, trade, or sell, give me a shout.

Most of us have at least a bit of fishing gear in our kits, right? Some line and a few hooks if nothing else. What is sometimes forgotten are sinkers. The sinker plays an integral role in fishing. It pulls the bait down to the fish, rather than letting it float on or near the surface. Granted, depending on what you’re fishing for, letting the bait rest on the water might be ideal. But generally, in a survival situation you’re after things like panfish, which are easily caught. The sinker engages in something like a tug of war with your float (a small piece of wood if nothing else) to keep the bait suspended in the water.

If you find yourself needing to get dinner out of a lake, you can make a serviceable sinker out of a rock and some snare wire. Find a rock of suitable weight, bearing in mind that it will likely be larger in size than a comparably weighted sinker since lead is much heavier than rock. Wrap snare wire around the rock several times, spacing out the wrap a bit so you encompass most of the rock, and finish it off by making a loop with the wire. What works well is to pinch the wire so you have a bend about a half inch long, then continue wrapping the wire a few times. Then, take that bend and twist it into a closed loop.

Feed your fishing line through the loop and tie the line to the sinker four inches or so from the hook. You may have to experiment a bit with the improvised floats and different rocks to get a combination that will work well but really, it sounds harder than it really is.

I realize split shot sinkers are very small and easy to toss into a fishing kit but if you have your line break or lose those sinkers in some other way, this is a great improvised solution.

Common Prepping Mistakes: Wearing blinders

This is probably the number one mistake I see preppers make and it doesn’t matter if they are brand new to prepping or have been at it for years. Honestly, I think it is part of human nature.

I don’t think an argument can be made against the idea that full-scale prepping is a huge endeavor. I mean, look at this list of some of the main categories of prepping.

First aid
Fire making

Each of those main categories has several sub-categories too, like under Food, we’d put short-term storage, long-term storage, gardening, and home preservation as well as a few others.

Because prepping is so all-encompassing, we tend to put on blinders from time to time. We zero in on one aspect, one category, and the others fall to the wayside for a while.

I see this happen most frequently with security concerns. Firearms are cool and sexy so they often get more attention than perhaps they’re really worth. I mean, what’s more fun for most people, reorganizing the pantry or sending lead down the range for an afternoon? What is the more exciting purchase, a new Berkey or a new handgun?

Obviously you can’t do everything all at the same time so you have to learn how to prioritize. But with that prioritization, you have to give equal attention to all categories. What might help is to develop a schedule of sorts. For example, the first Monday of every month, you go through your kitchen pantry and make sure all items are being rotated properly and perhaps develop your meal plans for the month taking that into account. Every morning, take out the oldest 2L bottle of water from storage, use it for plants or pets, and replace it with fresh water.

The point is, take off the blinders and make sure you’re paying attention to ALL your preps, not just the fun stuff.