Useful tips and advice for the rest of us. Don’t have lots of money? Just started prepping when it hits the fan? This guide is for you. Free of charge!
Tip #1: Bug-in
Chances are that you won’t be in such immediate danger (dirty bomb, lava about to engulf your house, spiders like in that Arachnaphobia movie) that you actually have to leave your home. Most likely the government will stop functioning or the power grid will be down for a long time. Of course, there is always risk of civil unrest, but that is not likely to effect your home. There is no switch that will turn your peace loving neighbors into homicidal maniacs. Most likely life will simply become more difficult. Ask yourself, how will I best be able to survive for a few years in this situation? Was the answer, out in the wilderness with no supplies? I’m not a big hunter myself, but I’ve heard how crowded it can get during hunting season. Now imagine that times ten. I’m just not seeing it. It would be a bad situation if it does happen. I put my money on a few running to the hills and coming home about two days later hoping their house with all the supplies they left hasn’t been ransacked. Even a beginning prepper will have some food, water, shelter and supplies at home. If you have to leave and can only take what can fit in your car, or worse yet, in your backpack, how long will you be able to survive. Check the G.O.O.D. section. There are many detailed articles on this point, and if you are a po’ boy like myself (hence you reading this article), you couldn’t afford a nice retreat in the hills anyhow, so stay where you’re at and lay low. It’s your best bet, and it won’t cost you a dime.
Tip #2: Water
Okay, so you’ve made the decision to stay home. Lucky you, you already have shelter. Now you need water. Even if you didn’t have the foresight to store a few hundred gallons, you still have a few options. Option 1: If time permits fill everything you can that will hold water. Those with two or thee bathtubs have an advantage here, but even if you live in a small apartment with only a shower, you still have this option. Fill every bowl and pitcher with water. That water tight bag you have to keep your stuff dry, guess what, it works in reverse. You can even use the water in the toilet tank (not the bowl, and be sure to purify) if you run out of every other supply. The idea here is not to have enough for two years, the idea is that everyone else around you won’t have water either and that means the population will either get water restored and you won’t have to worry about water anymore, or the population will decrease rapidly and you can come out of seclusion a month later and not worry about the hordes of people between you and the nearest lake or stream for a refill. Presumably by then you could also find a few good containers to bring back a good amount of water so you aren’t making trips to the water hole every day. Option 2: You don’t have time to fill containers. I assume here that water may stop flowing quickly or may be contaminated out of the tap. In that case you only have one good option, the hot water tank. Hoping of course that this hasn’t gotten contaminated as well. Remember here that water really means liquid. A few two liters of Coke will keep you alive just as well as anything else. If you still have the option to get to a grocery store, do it. If the bottled water is already cleared out, go for the juice, or the milk, or soda. In a pinch a few bags of oranges or the pre-squeezed lemon juice bottles would give you enough water content that you would survive (just make sure the food you eat is high in water content, eating food without drinking can cause you to dehydrate faster). As prepper Allen C. said in his article “Why I Hate Preppers”, we may actually have 25 days of food at the grocery store. Utilize this. Just remember a rush on the store is different from a normal shopping period and some things may well run out very fast. Don’t wait a week if it hits the fan and you don’t have supplies. You may have a timeframe to get to the store before everything runs out, but it may be a small one. This may necessitate tip 3.
Tip #3: Cash
Have some cash on hand. Bartering may become the norm in a while, but at first, if the stores are still open, cash might save your life. That lady at the checkout counter may be sweet as molasses, but she won’t make trades. If the power is down your credit cards may not work and the banks may not be open to withdraw cash. As we’re all po’ boys here I’m not talking much. Even $50 would be enough to buy food for a few weeks. More would be better of course, but don’t go crazy. Hyperinflation is always a concern, so after you pass a certain cash point start looking into silver or other tradable goods. Just because we couldn’t afford that ranch retreat doesn’t mean we po’ boys can’t have a few bills laying around for emergencies. Just remember, unless it is a true emergency don’t use that cash reserve. It would be a shame for it to hit the fan and you need some cash, but you used it to pay the pizza boy last week and haven’t replenished it yet.
Tip # 4: Food
Edible vegetation in your neighborhood, pets, stray or wild animals, your garden, bugs (earth worms…yum) or charity from neighbors more prepared are just a few places you may find food if you run out. If things get really desperate and stores have closed check break rooms at local employers, warehouses that ship food to stores and dumpsters (you may be surprised what people throw out). I don’t however recommend two things, hunting unless you are quite alone. 100 city boys with rifles all gunning for the same deer is a recipe for disaster, and cannibalism. I’m sure I don’t have to get into why I don’t recommend cannibalism. Just remember here that a little knowledge of possible food sources around you could save your life. This doesn’t, however, mean you should forego food storage. I still highly recommend a deep larder--at least a few months worth. It doesn’t have to cost much.
Tip #5: Hygiene
If basic services stop, lack of good hygiene could become the number one killer. That cut that becomes infected or your medication that you can’t get refilled may be more deadly than your desperate neighbor. We may all be using the latrine we dug in the back yard. If you can’t flush it keep it out of the house. Be extra careful to wash every little cut, then keep those cuts properly covered. This means bandages, antibiotic ointment and alcohol or something similar. First aid kits don’t have to be expensive and it’s a good idea to have one at home and in the car. You won’t need a bug out bag if your bugging in, but keep one in your get home bag. This parleys nicely into tip 6.
Tip #6: Get-Home-Bag
Here’s the situation. You’re at work or otherwise away from home. Public transit isn’t running and the roads are gridlocked even if you have a car. Your commute home just turned into a six hour ordeal. Who’s prepared to run a marathon tomorrow? Me neither. Having a get home bag can give you the vital supplies to make it back to home sweet home. Water, some high energy food, a knife or anything else your situation requires. If you work in a high-rise some paracord would be good. Even if you don’t it’s not bad to have on hand. Add a flashlight, fire starter or anything else you may need depending on your situation. Don’t, whatever you decide to pack, overload your get home bag. It’s better to have one bottle of water and 40 miles to go, than 50 lbs of gear and collapse after 5 miles. Speed and stealth may be more important in the moment than how hungry you are. You can go without food for a long time. A straw filter will same you lots of water weight and now is not the time to have all your survival books on you. You have a limited supply of energy and the more you carry the more you need. Don’t blow it all in the first half of the race and not get to the finish line. Simple is often better, and cheaper.
Tip #7: Peace of Mind
Don’t sweet all the fancy equipment that you can’t buy. You won’t need most of it anyway and what you can’t buy other people can’t buy either so at least you’re on level playing ground. If you are constantly worrying about doomsday or your neighbor who you think will shoot you, you may have a mental breakdown. Take a minute to de-stress and cope with the situation at hand. A clear mind is worth all the preps you can buy. Are you a high stress person? Find a good relaxation exercise. Not a high stress person, good, just remember in a bad situation you may be looking at a dead body for the first time, or forced to kill. Many things can cause mental stress and the more stressed out you are, the less likely that you are thinking clearly and will survive. Be mentally prepared for the worst, then when the not too good happens, you can handle it without issue.
Tip #8: Practice
To really get yourself mentally and physically prepared you need to test your limits and learn where your weaknesses are. Never fasted? Try it for a few days. Hunger is a powerful thing. You may just have a spiritual experience along the way. Try living without electricity for a week. Ride your bike to work. Live off only your food storage for a while. These things will do much more than educate you, they will prepare you for when you have no other choice. Many preconceived notions will fail and truth will become quickly apparent. The knowledge that it takes more time to do something than you thought or that you aren’t in as good shape as you used to be, may just be the crucial piece of information you need to get truly prepared. We also get better with practice. Those with military experience know practice will save your life if it hits the fan and you’re not left with time to think and plan.
Tip #9: Be Realistic
Everyone likes to think that the whole world will be trying to steal your stuff and kill you. Remember that everyone is in the same situation. If someone goes to a neighbor with a gun to steal their food; chances are the neighbor has a gun too and will use it. Will there be an increase in violence and clime, probably, will it be like Titanic, sudden chaos and almost everyone dies, not likely. Some disasters bring a whole lot of death with them, but they are not things that could effect the whole world at once. Things that would effect all of us are not likely to cause everyone to start running around shooting each other. We’ll all be too busy running for our lives. Stay grounded in your life and in your preps. A home made rocket may get you into orbit and save your life if the earth explodes, but when you’re dying a slow death alone in space you will wish you had never left. We as human beings have an immense ability to adapt to whatever situations come our way. Stay grounded, be realistic and you will be ready for whatever comes your way.
Tip #10: Don’t forget the rest of your life
Prepping can become an obsession and life isn’t stopping for you to get ready for tomorrow. If you don’t have it together now, that won’t change when it hits the fan. You are the person you are and if you can’t seem to keep things together now, how do you expect to later? Do you have health issues, marriage or job problems? The same set of skills that will allow you to survive and thrive when it hits the fan are the same as those that you used to solve problems now. Critical thinking, awareness of environment, planning and follow through to name a few. The best indicator of survival tomorrow is how you are doing today. Take a self assessment and see how you are doing. If you find something lacking, consider that your first task in prepping for tomorrow.
Always remember that your survival isn’t dependent on how much money you have. Nor is your piece of mind. Our greatest asset is our mind. Use it to it’s fullest and find ways to be prepared without taking out a loan, and if you do have some spare cash, use it to it’s fullest. Don’t forget your family and friends in your preps. Do more than just survive, save someone else.