Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Crisis Preparation Advice from the Experts
I recently solicited input from the wise and grizzled crisis preppers at the well-known TB2K discussion forum (timebomb2000.com). OK, so some of them aren't quite gray yet, but these folks, young or old, do take their readiness seriously.
This is the first of at least two blog articles coming out of the comments we collected. Thank you to each of these folks for providing their insights (and for allowing me some editorial leeway here) ...
Preparing for Crises Need Not Break the Bank
RC: You don't need to buy a bunch of expensive "survival" gear. Start with keeping enough food and water on hand to keep your family self-sufficient if normal supplies are cut off for any reason. You can do this by buying the foods your family normally eats which can keep for long periods of time. So if your family normally eats cereal, buy more cereal when it's on sale. If you normally eat oatmeal, buy lots of oatmeal when it's on sale.
If you want to be more methodical, plan out a few menus using just these foods, and figure out how much you would need for each meal (i.e., for breakfast, you would need one cup of oatmeal, one can of fruit, or whatever). Then, add up the quantities of each item. If you planned two days worth of meals, then multiply it by 7 and you'll know how much you need for two weeks. Multiply it by 15 and you'll know what you need for a month. This way, you will know approximately how many days supply you have on hand.
Tanstaafl: I tell people to start with the gear they'd need to camp out for a week--backpack, boots, sleeping bag, cooking kit, tent, water container and water filter, etc., combined with the standard stuff the Red Cross suggests everyone have. After that, you start getting into specific scenarios which require more specialized preps.
Or Spend What You're Comfortable With
Jmurman: My real start in crisis preparedness arose out of concerns about hurricanes and major snowstorms here in the Mid-Atlantic. I bought a generator and extra gas cans along with the proper cords. Next I began to set aside foods, batteries, and medicines. I started with small goals, like what would it take to be sufficient for 3 days. That grew to a week and then a month. It really is a nice feeling to have supplies on hand to be able to get through tough times, although I am in no way finished.
Jerry: To start out, I would suggest getting a month of food together with provisions for water. My first purchases were 50 pounds of pinto beans, 30 pounds of basmati rice, and a camping water filter with silver iodide. It was all less than $100.00 and provided more than a month of survival-grade food and water. As I progressed, I started filling in other needs and buying protein in cans while on sale. The chunky soups in 20 oz cans have basic nutrition (and flavor!) to boost the rice and beans, and when bought on sale can be quite reasonable. My thought has always been that in a pinch, one of those cans would be a meal for a day. Be conscious of calories contained in each can you buy ... vegetable soup with 100 calories is not a good value when compared to Campbell's New England clam chowder at 460 calories per can.
Consider that there are different levels of system and services failure that are possible in our modern world. Prepare with an eye toward different sustainability periods. Stocking supplies for one month is far easier than for 3 months, which is easier than 6, 9 or 12 months, etc. Eventually you might stop thinking temporary or stop-gap preparedness and start talking lifestyle and location changes to where natural resources become assets.
As one starts preparing for longer periods, more potential needs become apparent and should be included as one can afford ... things such as a multiband battery powered radio, medical supplies, a solar panel and deep cycle battery, a small inverter, freeze dried/dehydrated food, treats, ammunition, firearms, non-powder powered projectiles like crossbow and arrows, BB or pellet rifle, wrist mounted sling shot with steel balls, fishing gear, garden seeds, books on survival skills, the list goes on and on and can be intimidating and overwhelming. But one step at a time will do it. Good luck, think before you step, and make conscious decisions.
The Important Thing is to Get Started
Laurelayn: When someone is just beginning to think of getting prepared and is short on resources, a good place to suggest as a starting point is to think of things they use on a regular basis: non-perishible items like canned soups and sauces, ketchup, dry goods like pastas and rice. And whenever they go grocery shopping, just pick up one or two extra, especially if there is a good sale on them, and stash them away.
Pastas, beans, and rice should be put in a good freezer type ziplock to keep bugs out and will keep for quite a while in a dark cool place. This way many people can justify it in their own minds as a good way to just have daily things on hand and save time and money in the process. I have found it a good way to get some of my friends and family to at least have a little extra something on hand. In one case a friend liked the convenience so much she has developed quite an inventory. I don't emphasize it as "prepping" so much as just being a smart shopper.
Renegade: People should realize that "prepping" is not some wacko survivalist thing. When you pay your car insurance, you're prepping with money in case of a wreck. Same thing for home insurance. Basic sustenance is more important than a vehicle. Do what you and your family are comfortable with. There are needs ... and there are wants. If you give up a want now and then and put those resources into needs (preps), you'll be "insured" for the bad times.
Still to come ... how some folks became involved in crisis preparedness.