Becoming self-sufficient during a financial meltdown is difficult enough, but trying to convince reluctant loved ones to prepare can be doubly frustrating. It’s hard to understand how anyone wouldn’t want to start stockpiling their pantries after watching the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, and more recently the devastating floods in Pakistan. We all watched the newsreels; millions of homeless and hungry fighting for a spot in breadlines. If that isn’t reason enough, the U.S. continues to be threatened with nuclear attack. Meanwhile, most of us are hanging by a gossamer thread between solvency and financial ruin. We see the reason for preparedness. Why can’t our loved ones?
If the evening news hasn’t spurred those closest to you into action, try mentioning some demographic numbers. Larry Matlack, president of the American Agriculture Movement expressed his concerns with the following statement: “Our concern is that the U.S. has nothing else in our emergency food pantry. There is no cheese, no butter, no dry milk powder, no grains or anything else left in reserve. The only thing left in the entire Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) inventory will be 2.7 million bushels of wheat which is about enough wheat to make 1⁄2 of a loaf of bread for each of the 300 million people in America.”
If Mr. Matlak’s statement doesn’t wake people up to he fact that the US does not have the resources to feed the hungry should a calamity occur, then you might mention that
China and Indonesia are importing a large portion of their grain and corn demands from the U.S., along with alarming skyrocketing energy prices, an ever-weakening U.S. dollar, and a trade imbalance that appears to be largely ignored.
As reported by Business Week, nearly every food staple has seen a double-digit percentage since 2007, including a 38% hike for a dozen eggs, to $2.16, and a 19% jump, to $1.78, for a loaf of white bread, according to data from the American Farm Bureau. With Americans spending 15% of their household income on food and drinks, rising grocery prices have spurred consumers to turn to bulk food versus typically consumer-packaged counterparts, at a 35% savings.
Not all Americans are willing to risk going hungry should the efforts of the administration and the Federal Reserve fall flat, as is being warned of over the past several weeks. The National Gardening Association reports that in 2009 some 43 million U.S. households grew vegetables, fruits, or herbs—an increase of 7 million from 2008 with an estimated 21% being first-time gardeners.
Hopefully, these facts will push your loved ones towards preparedness. If so, the prudent thing to do is point them in the right direction for success. Few of us have the cash flow to rush out and buy the food storage and goods it takes to weather a crisis. On top of that it can be confusing, filled with a landmine of potential failures.
Here are a few tips you can pass on to your loved one to kick-start their preparedness. My preparedness steps were done with a pocketbook that whimpered each and every time I added to my preparedness stash. But before sharing how I prepared, it’s only fair to mention that I was not interested in learning how to hunt bear with a bowie knife, field dress a deer, roll my own ammo, or learn to change out the fan belt on a CJ7. I’m leaving that to my brother, bless him. But for anyone looking for advice from a frugal gourmet, meets a kinder, gentler Davy Crockett, then the following might be of help:
One: It helps to think of yourself as temporarily penniless, because that is basically what you will be until your list is complete. But remember; just the fact that you can prepare is a miracle that is worth praise.
Two: Take stock of your living conditions that does not include wishful thinking. If you live in a city with no yard to grow vegetables, where personal safety may be at risk, survival basically boils down to a plan B. The best solution would be relocating to a rural or wilderness setting as soon as possible, even if it means you must rent. Baring that, you might start looking for a get-away cabin, somewhere to flee to during troubled times. But if the cost is too prohibitive another alternative is to join forces with family members or friends already living in a rural area. It isn’t always a matter of money. Most of us have skills that are every bit as important as money. If you’re skilled at hunting or fishing, you have a valuable asset to contribute! The same goes for medical training, gardening, home canning, or handyman expertise.
For those who can’t do any of the above, the next-best approach is to research a safer location that is near enough to your location to reach when calamity strikes. There are negatives attached to this approach, as with a crisis comes looting and mayhem. Because of this, many will be forced to flee the city, and it stands to reason some of them will show up at your chosen location.
Your exit plan, whether it is to take off to a cabin in the woods, or join loved ones, or to flee to a nearby location, should include contingencies for gridlock. Folks will run out of gas and have car problems, meaning they will abandon their vehicles, clogging the roadways. This writer believes planning ahead should include electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack—a situation that will render many vehicles [within the affected footprint] useless and will take out electrical in the effected area. There are ways to protect vehicles, radios, and other survival goods from the effects of EMP, and a search on the Internet will bring you to those sites, but for most of us, it’s wisest to plan for the worst. It’s impossible to know exactly what a crisis will entail, but gridlocked roadways are a given, so make plans for getting to a safe place without benefit of a car.
Taking stock of living conditions includes a critical eye to available storage space for food and water storage. It should be pointed out, however, that no one has enough space for long-term water storage, yet water is the single-most important item in a survival plan.
The following are methods to keep stored water safe for drinking:
- Chlorine bleach (make certain it contains a 5.25% solution of sodium hypochlorite without soap, additives, or phosphates). The ratio is 1/8 teaspoon of chlorine bleach for each gallon of water.
- 2% Tincture of Iodine requires 12 drops for each gallon of water. Warning: pregnant women, those suffering with thyroid disease, and those who have had an allergic reaction to iodine should consult a physician before use.
Once you’ve stored a few weeks worth of water, you’re work isn’t done. You must scout for a water source in your area for the time when you run out of stored water or set up a water containment system if your climate supports one. This should be done right away, before a crisis. In an emergency, even a stagnant pond can provide safe drinking water, provided you use a good water filter. I recommend either a Berkey or a Katadyn water filter. They are the top brands on the market.
Those living in rural settings should plan ahead for a dependable water source as well. During a crisis, the electrical grid may go down, and in such a scenario, even well water will not be available, as your well pump will be inoperable. If you’re fortunate enough to have a well, a manual hand pump is an important item to have on hand to draw water. If you’re handy, it’s possible to make one and the instructions can be found on survivalblog as well as other sites on the Internet.
Next you will want to plan for food storage. Starting small is fine. Most of us don’t have the cash flow to purchase what we will need in one gigantic shopping spree. To strive for one year’s worth of food is a prudent approach, and there are many food calculator sites that offer advice on recommended amounts. Before getting started, take stock of the storage space you have available. Do you have the room to store canned, bulk, and dehydrated foods? Just as important; do you feel your location will be safe during a long term crisis? If your answer was no to either of these questions, then MRE’s (meals ready to eat) may be your solution. They have the benefit of portability and they take up less storage space. Another huge benefit is they do not require cooking, so they don’t generate cooking odors—something to be avoided when looters are lurking.
For those that live in a rural setting, your choice in food storage is more a matter of choice and budget, which leads to the third tip.
Three: Prepare for a worst-case scenario. By practicing this, it’s much more likely you’ll be able to weather whatever comes your way.
For anyone who relies on prescription medicine, preparations for a worst-case scenario should include a discussion with your doctor for emergency prescriptions. Many survival/preparedness sites offer lists of other medicines you will want to put aside—stock up!
Strive to set up a survival plan that is as renewable as possible, meaning a wood heat stove or a fireplace insert for heat rather than depending upon the utility company. In a crisis, it is possible utilities will not be available for the short-term, and quite possibly, the long-term. The same goes for cooking. A propane camp stove is good only as long as your supply of propane holds out. For this reason, before you begin to purchase survival goods, think about how our forefathers lived before electricity and the luxury of automobiles. If you must, watch reruns of Little
House on the Prairie Series. You never saw Laura Ingalls go without, did you? With a mindset of renewable resources, a wood-burning cook stove is an excellent solution for meal preparation and can be purchased in used, workable condition for a few hundred dollars. They are also a reliable heat source for smaller spaces. If your location happens to be larger, you can partition off an area with heavy blankets that will provide a warm sleeping space during colder months. An alternative for those who live in rural areas is cooking over a fire pit. There are excellent cookbooks on cooking with cast iron cookware and for baking. Investigate cast iron dutch ovens and reflective ovens. However you approach it, it’s important to stop viewing electricity, propane, natural gas, or running tap water as a given. It isn’t! Prepare for a worst-case scenario.
Four: Prioritize, research, and learn everything you can about preparedness. That way, you will be able to get prepared sooner with fewer mistakes. A good example of what I mean by ‘mistakes’ would be purchasing an electric wheat grinder for stored wheat buds you’ve put aside for flour. If the electrical grid goes down, an electric wheat grinder would render stored wheat useless.
There is no such thing as too much knowledge when it comes to preparedness. The bad news is that preparedness has many facets, each one important to survival. The good news is the information you need can be found on the Internet for free, such as SurvivalBlog.com This is where you can get information on food and water storage, recipes, safety, and gardening—all with excellent tips on cost savings. Get involved and ask questions. Most people on survival/preparedness sites are happy to help.
There will be occasions when nothing but a good, informative book will do. Some that come to mind are books on first aid, gardening specific to your climate zone, a thorough book on wild edible and medicinal plants, preparing/preserving wild game, and home canning.
Five: Pinch every penny as if your life depended on it! If you’ve never clipped a coupon, then rush, don’t walk, to your computer to locate grocery circulars for your areas grocers. Never a coupon clipper until four years ago, I learned it’s possible to save upwards of 90% by shopping sales and coupon clipping! It’s also important to find out when your local grocers hold their flat sales—on average you’ll save at least 50% on canned goods. Look for grocers that sell bulk foods and spices. This typically saves at least 35%, and many times, much more.
Don’t forget to check with local growers—most are happy to sell to the public, many times at a 50% savings or more. Here in North Idaho, I was able to save 70% on a large wheat purchase over the next cheapest price at a grocer’s that sold in bulk. I also got to meet some great people in the bargain.
Bulk foods are best stored in food grade buckets with tight lids. They can be purchased for around $7, new. Many times, buckets can be found at restaurants, pizzerias, bakeries, and delicatessens for free. Just be certain any buckets you collect contained only food items and not chemicals or anything else that would render the buckets unsafe for food storage. Mark all buckets, number 10 cans, and canned goods with the date of purchase with indelible marker. That way, items nearing the end of their shelf life can be consumed, and then replaced. Many survival/preparedness sites offer detailed lists of the shelf life of foods.
Six; Don’t ignore physical and physiological wellness. If you’re like the majority of Americans and are out of shape, consider a ½ hour walk or a daily workout. That way, the extra physical demands that come with survival will be easier to handle.
For anyone who has not taken a CPR or first aide class recently, now is the time to sign up for one. In a crisis, it is likely that medical help will not be available, or if it is, it may arrive too late. Get your loved ones to join you. Should the worst happen, there will be more than one in your group who can administer help.
Be sure to educate yourself on disaster preparedness in the event of a nuclear attack. There are tactical steps to take that will ensure your and your loved ones safety. All it takes is educating yourself via the Internet—including SurvivalBlog.
Taking a self-defense course is also advisable. During a time of unrest, it is important to have the tools to disarm an attacker, allowing you to get away safely.
Physiological well-being includes familiar foods and why many survival and food storage sites recommend that comfort food be included in your food storage plan. There is a big difference between surviving and thriving. Keeping comfort foods on hand such as popcorn, trail mix, cakes, and cookies will offer a sense of stability during difficult times, especially for the very young and the elderly.
Plan for entertainment. Stocking craft items such as paper, coloring books, crayons, pens, pencils, and finger paints for young children will give them a feeling of normalcy during trying times—especially if television, video games, and the Internet are not available. Games and reading material are also worthwhile to set aside. Recently, my local library held a sale on children’s books that were being replaced for 10 cents each. For a few dollars, there is now a full bookshelf that will help entertain the children in our group.
Seven: Plan for the long term. One years worth of food storage is an excellent start, but in a protracted crisis, it’s best to be prepared for the long haul. Few of us can afford to put aside more than one year’s food storage, nor do most of us have the storage space. For that reason, investing in heirloom garden seed, home canning supplies, and preparedness items such as a good tree-felling axe is important in the event of a long-term crisis.
If your loved ones are convinced they will not be able to afford to prepare, let me offer my circumstance as an example. I am a single woman living in Northern Idaho—a place of great beauty, but pitiful with regards to income potential. I began preparing four years ago, researching everything I could find on preparedness with expediency and cost effectiveness at the forefront.
Today, four years after starting my preparedness program, I have relocated from the city to a cabin on seven acres with plenty of land for gardening. Its location is as far away from potential looting as possible in an area of small-hold ranchers and farmers that are no strangers to self-sufficiency and protecting their homesteads. In the event of a crisis, the twenty-two immediate and extended family members I’ve provided for may be packed in like sardines in this modest cabin, but we will be safe and have the tools to survive a long-term crisis.
There’s an antique wood-burning cook stove in my kitchen, waiting for a time when it’s needed, preserved cheese hanging from the rafters of my rustic kitchen, and eggs preserved in a vat of water glass (something the ‘experts’ say is impossible). Outside there are six cords of seasoned firewood for heat and cooking when the time comes.
Not everything is ideal. I haven’t been able to afford a root cellar, so food storage remains is in a storage shed that meets basic requirements; a cool, dark, moisture-free environment. I still don’t have the Country Living Grain Mill that is at the very top of my wish list, but I do have a much less expensive one that was recommended on several survival sites. Once I’ve saved for a grain mill, I plan to buy a 4-wheeler for transportation.
Like many preppers, I doubt I will ever feel completely prepared. But what I do have is a safe place for my family when the time comes with a well with a manual hand pump, and I am blessed with neighbors who will have each other’s backs when the time comes.
The bottom line is that with sacrifice and a can-do attitude anyone can prepare. But time’s wasting, folks, and if you have determined it’s time to prepare, the time to start is now!