Over the past couple of years I have had a few people, two in particular, hint to me that it would not be a bad idea to begin picking up a few extra non-perishable items on my weekly visits to Wal-Mart or the local grocery store. I began realizing, like most of the population, when me or my wife go to the store, we normally only pick up a "few things", or just enough to get us through the week. However, thanks to their continuous subtle remarks, and the assistance of the many fine web sites, this one being a major one, we have finally decided to actually start preparing for a real TEOTWAWKI and WTSHTF scenario. In only a couple of months, I feel one hundred times more prepared than before I started learning and made a choice to start living this life. Now let me state, I am no where close to the magnitude of preparedness we would like to be, with a single income and family of four, the money is hard to stretch to get all of the preparation items we would like. However, the fact that we are now at least no longer oblivious to the fact that not IF but when something of great magnitude will happen (EMP, Major Rapid Decline of the Dollar, really any number of unknowns) will happen, I know I sleep better with just the small adjustments we have and will continue to make.
Convincing The Spouse
I will be the first to admit that I was not sure how the wife would see my new outlook on life and what the future holds. We are a middle income family of four in a mid-western city with a population of a little over 500,000. We have always been able to go down the street for fuel or a couple miles to the local grocery store or a few miles to Wal-Mart. Now I have to get my wife to understand that in some time in the future, that gas station down the street will not have fuel in the tanks, and the local grocery store will not have food on the shelves, and the Wal-Mart will not have batteries. And so I associate it with something she understood. Since she for some crazy reason has gone out on "Black Friday" looking for the best deals, I associate what this would be like if you took the trampling at the Target store on Black Friday that killed a lady x10. In explaining to her, that scenes like this will be common when TSHTF, she begins to listen. And with the help of a few books and showing her some great survival sites, she is more than happy to join me in this life alteration.
Small Changes That Will Make a Big Difference
As with every single person or family, how you prepare will be different. My family is still in what I consider to be in the first stages of preparing, things we have begun doing or already have had in place include:
Batteries, Radios, and LED Flashlights
These are available from eBay, Wal-Mart, Harbor Freight, and many other sources. As far as flashlights go I have begun to rely solely on LED flashlights for many years now. I am a Fireman, and even in the darkest, smokiest conditions, I have found that Light Emitting Diodes (LED) bulbs far outperform traditional Halogen bulbs. This is not to even mention the extended battery life an LED light will give you. As far as batteries are concerned, I have not bought into the rechargeable batteries, not that I do not believe that these can be very beneficial in a worst case scenario, but I just have not yet invested in the solar powered equipment to charge them when/if the power grid goes down, plus factor in the fact that they do not hold a charge anywhere close to the amount of time a lithium battery does without continuous charging. I will continue to stockpile my traditional batteries. Radios will drawl minimum power from your batteries, and can/will give you vital information as to what is going on in the world, given the stations are still broadcasting
Five Gallon Food Grade Buckets
The ability to purchase fifty pounds of rice today for under twenty dollars, and be able to store it in a Mylar bag inside of a 5 gallon bucket that will last for 25-50 years seems like an insurance policy that not one of us can afford not to purchase. Let alone the uses these buckets will provide after the food inside has been used, for example; hauling and storing water, using as a toilet, using to start seedlings or covering plants from the cold, hauling fish, small game, berries. We must remember that once production of items such as these cease to exist, what we have, is all that that we will have. Once-used buckets are often available free from local and large chain bakeries. I have not been charged once for them.
Mylar Bags and Oxygen Absorbers
I found 10 large bags for 5 gallon buckets and 20, 1,000cc Oxygen Absorbers (2,000cc per 5 gallon bucket/pail) on eBay all for twenty dollars, total. These bags and O2 absorbers will not only kill and keep out any unwanted pests or bugs, but will extend the life of any food that it contains by many years.
Dried Beans, Rice, Pasta, Water, Canned Goods
You have to do your research here for the most product for the least amount of money, look for sales, and when you find them, load up! I for one can not go out and purchase two years worth of food in just one week, so this is an on-going process for me and my family. For example, my local grocery store is offering, ten cans of Chefboyardee products at 69 cents a can. ($6.90 for 10 cans.) That is about what a can of green beans or slice carrots costs, however, with these I am getting servings of vegetables, proteins, carbohydrates, calcium, and numerous other vitamins. I think I have found the perfect survival food! Plus, with an expiration date well into 2013, I know I would feel comfortable with my family eating them well after that date, this is a good long term storage food. Also, if you have not stored enough dog food for your K-9 friend, he or she will have no problem with cleaning up your left-overs, whether it be rice (one of the main ingredients in many "top brand" dog foods anyway, not that it's right, but it is one of the main ingredients in many) or half a can of raviolis (waste nothing). [JWR Adds: Whenever anyone mentions canned soup, chili, and ravioli in SurvivalBlog, I get letters that complain: "What about all that salt?" Well, relax: High Sodium Levels Protect Healthy Hearts, European Study Suggests. Yes, there are healthier foods available than Chefboyardee, but it sure beats eating your lawn.]
Guns and Ammunition
Having a means to protect your family, your shelter, and your food will be paramount. You do not want to be easy prey for the hundreds of thousands that have not been preparing. Trust me, these people will be everywhere, the same people that are so adjusted to the government making sure everything is in order, and the same people that think food just magically appears on the shelves and fuel is always in the pumps. When the food is not on the shelves, and no fuel comes out of the pumps, they will eventually go to desperate measures to attain these things, especially the food. I would also like to add that I have some friends that continually tell me which guns that I should have because when TSHTF this is what everyone else will be using because these guns are so common, and I am going to want to be able to take their ammunition that is laying around, but every time I hear this, one of my favorite quotes from the movie We Were Soldiers comes to mind: Lt. Colonel Hal Moore: I think you oughta get yourself an M16.
Sergeant Major Basil Plumley: Sir, if the time comes I need one, there'll be plenty lying on the ground."
Security / Dogs -
In relation to security, better than an alarm system, with the exception that they do not require electricity or power. I have also found that the majority of criminals these days look at alarm system decals or actual systems as nothing more than maybe a nuisance. Even if your alarm system is connected to a monitoring system, the alarm first has to be sent to the alarm company, the company then has to try to contact you for your "security word/phrase" to find out if this is a false alarm, then, after multiple attempts of not being able to contact you, they then contact your local 9-1-1 system, who then has to contact a beat officer in your area, then, this beat officer, whom is complacent of "system alarms" because he has made hundreds of security alarm calls which 99.99% of the time are false, takes his time getting to your residence because his Standard Operating Procedures (S.O.P.s) do not allow him to run red light and siren to your residence. How long do you think this all takes? Trust me, a good watch dog is worth a hundred "monitored" security systems
High Power Pellet Gun
A decent high powered BB and/or pellet gun will easily shoot 1,000 feet per second on the low side, easily hard enough to kill a bird, squirrel, or rabbit with the right placement (especially with a Polymag Predator pellet). Memories of picking off birds and squirrels (food) as a youngster has made me decide to add this gun to my list. Add in the fact that ammo for one of these guns is extremely inexpensive. This gun will also serve me well teaching my sons to shoot. As well as the quietness of this tool while hunting, not to alert anyone nearby, makes it a nice addition.
Fishing Throw Nets
I already love to fish and have plenty of gear, and after some thought, decided to buy a couple more throw nets. We have a water source near, and if TSHTF, I will be fishing to supplement feeding my family. I'm not going to be out there looking for an exciting top water bite, especially early on I will want to get there, pull some fish out, and get back. I have a couple of 6' throw nets (opens to a 12' diameter) that I have caught everything from small Shad and Bluegill, to over three pound Bass and much larger Carp. It is quick and efficient. Many times while catching bait or just practicing throwing this net thirty or forty feet away from a friend or my wife that is fishing with a rod and reel, I get called a cheater because while they are catching nothing, I am pulling in net after net full of fish. However, these nets definitely take some practice, throwing them is easy, getting them to open up to a nice circular pattern to entrap the fish is another story. Put me and my net up against anyone and their rod and real for five or ten minutes, and I guarantee I will come away with more fish then them. Many more fish. Get one now, and learn how and where to throw it.
Matches, lighters, magnesium fire starters, once TSHTF, and it will, these will fly off of the shelves. Simple items like these, that people walk by everyday will become scarce in the future. I recently purchased a decent full tang knife with fire starting capabilities on Ebay for only $10, things like this will be worth their weight in gold. How else are you going to boil that water to make it safe to drink, or cook that 200lbs of dried beans and 200lbs of rice in your food storage?
I work at a Firehouse that has been there for 30 years, and we still use the same iron skillets they did when the Firehouse was opened, this is where I began using iron skillets. They are virtually unbreakable, and would also work very well in a solar powered oven since they are black in color. At home we have multiple that we use in everyday cooking (10" and 12" Pans, Pots (Dutch Ovens), Tortilla Warmers), easy to clean, and everlasting. Once you start using iron cookware, you will never go back to your old stuff, try it.
Life Saving References
There are so many good survival books out there now, don't rely on the internet to be there when TSHTF. Print your favorite articles and guides, but hard copies are a must have. The information in these books will be priceless, they will be your new guides to modern day living.
I know I have left more than a few things out, but this is just some of the initial important things (to us) we wanted to start with. The list will honestly never end, and this is something that you have to continually monitor and add to. Best of luck friends, and I'll see you on the other side of civilization as we know it. - St. Croix