The most basic element of prepping is for those small emergencies, so start there. Light, water, food, and some simple entertainment to keep you from going stir crazy. Note: the situation can turn out much worse if you are caught away from home and I’ll cover that in a future article, but for now we’ll stick to the basics.
Now there are literally thousands of prepper sites that teach advances survival techniques for surviving a zombie apocalypse, this isn’t one of them. My wife and I have been working to prepare for what are the most likely scenarios then slowly building from there. There are hundreds of published lists of ‘Must hoard items!’ but unfortunately they too often start with ‘buy 5 20lb bags of rice.’ Well, rice is good and all, but again, start with the basics; buy what you eat. Every time you go to the grocery store buy a little extra of something you use everyday or every week, something preferably with a decent shelf life. Note: the ‘Best By Date’ on most products is just that, it’s quality begins to deteriorate after that time but isn’t necessarily bad. Set aside a small area in your home or apartment to store up these goodies for a rainy day. Personally I use a sharpie to write the ‘Best By Date’ on the outside of what I store for easy reference. Personally we started our stash with canned fruit, high in natural sugar for energy, no cooking necessary, just open and eat. Again, it’s something we eat all the time. Buy what you eat. Simple right? We’ll go deeper into long term storage in a later article, but this is where the journey begins.
Yes, lots of water. We need about a gallon per person per day for basic consumption. We drink a lot of bottled water at my house so, to start simple, we stockpile cases of bottled water. Again, buy what you use. Yes, we have advanced to other types of water storage, but for now let’s keep it simple. A typical case of water contains about 3 gallons of water, so with some simple math we can figure that a case of water will get 2 people through about a day and a half. Again, this is the bare minimum to survive and doesn’t account for cooking, re-hydrating foods, washing up, or even flushing the toilet – bare minimum. We typically keep 10-12 cases on hand. At about $3 case, 30 bucks gets you a good start on your journey to preparedness. Note: a long term power outage or major flooding often shuts down the local water supply or makes your tap water unsafe to drink. Buy water!
Let there be light!
It’s happened to me and I’m pretty sure it’s happened to you. You’re going about your day when something takes down the power; lightening strike, tree limb or maybe a felon on his way home from work plows into a pole, who knows, but the result is the same – darkness. Sitting in the dark; no light, no computer, no fun. What now? Where are those candles? We do have candles right?
Now usually the power will be back on shortly and life will quickly return to normal, but what if it’s out for an extended period of time? Living deep in the hills of Tennessee and being the very last house on that part of the grid I’ve experienced probably a few more blackouts than most, but fortunately nothing of a prolonged nature. Unfortunately in our current society most people have little more than ketchup and a 12 pack of soda in their fridge and are completely unprepared for any disruption of normal life. What if that little blackout turns out to be more than a few hours; what if its a few days or even a week? Would you know what to do, would you have the supplies to get through? This is where your prepping pays off.
A power outage during the day isn’t a really big deal, but that can change quickly after nightfall. So first and foremost you need light! I have taken a varied approach, taking to heart the old adage of ‘two is one and one is none.’ Yes, candles are great and I have a nice stash of them, but they have several limitations and can be dangerous and should obviously not be left unattended. Ever try to go to the bathroom by candlelight? No fun! A couple of good flashlights or headlamps are essential for getting around a darkened home, but I’ve found that a couple of battery powered LED lanterns are an absolute must. There are tons of them out there, but I recently bought a 4 pack of Etekcity camping lanterns from Amazon that are cheap, bright, and run for hours on 3 AA batteries. Oh yea, batteries and lots of them, but be sure to buy the ones with extended shelf life. Oh, and rechargeable batteries and a couple of solar chargers will keep those lights on a lot longer. Yes, I still have that old generator, but with plenty of other lighting options I can save that for keeping the refrigerator and freezer running.
Boredom. We live in a society that is constantly bombarded with news and entertainment, so the silence we experience in a blackout can be deafening. You should definitely invest in a weather radio, I like the Red Cross Hand Crank NOAA Radio that can also charge your cell phone. Books are great if you like to read, but Netflix junkies like us might need something more. Personally, a portable, rechargeable DVD player and a flash drive full of movies does the trick.
So what good is having a nice stash of food and water if some goon or goons can knock you over the head and take it? No, you don’t have to be Rambo to buy a gun and learn how to use it, it’s basic common sense. If you don’t own one, buy one; buy one and learn to use it.There are lots of sources out there that will tell you ‘buy a shotgun’ or the ‘AR-15 is must.’ So how do you know what to really buy? Simple, the most effective gun for self defense is the one you will actually use! Most gun ranges allow you to rent guns, so try out a few, find what fits you. If you’re 5’1″ like my wife then a 12 gauge shotgun is not the right choice, if you’re 6’5″ 300 lbs then a little .380 Auto is probably not the gun for you. Oh, and don’t forget to stock up a few extra boxes of ammo!