In the past year, prepping has gone from an interesting concept to a way of life for us. There are countless resources for information, products and equipment available to the person who has an open calendar and a bottomless bank account. Unfortunately for the rest of us, even if we can carve out enough time to fully devote ourselves to prepping, we tend to find a large portion of supplies to be out of the realm of our current budget. And, with the economy in crisis, it doesn’t seem probable that the budget will be increasing anytime soon. In our case, money seems to be even tighter since I am not paid hourly and my husband is retired. We don’t have the option of getting overtime or holiday pay. It can be a daunting task to come up with ways to keep gathering preps when there is no extra cash on hand.
Jonathan Swift wrote: “Necessity is the mother of invention.” I believe that was never truer than for a cash poor individual/couple/family/group who is dedicated to preparing for disaster and protecting their loved ones. That being said, our household’s answer to this dilemma is Do-It-Yourself (DIY) prepping. When you commit to taking a step back and looking at what you already have with a new perspective, you will certainly be surprised at the resources you possess. The challenge is transforming those things into valuable prepping materials. This article will cover just a few of the endless possibilities for you to begin your end day preparations even during financial strain.
“Learn on how little man may live, and how small a portion nature requires.” – Lucanus (St. Luke)
First, I would like to cover household products that almost everyone has already, and uses that you may be unaware of that could come in handy during a disaster scenario.
From the kitchen: (uses other than the obvious one of cooking)
Baking soda: absorbs radiation and heavy metals, can be used as toothpaste, deodorant and hand cleaner, relieves insect bites and bee stings, is useful for washing dishes, cleans clothes, cleans batteries, cleans fruits and veggies, treats colds, flu and heartburn, soothes sunburn.
Honey: can be used as moisturizer and antiseptic, boosts energy, enhances vitamin A, improves blood flow, treats sore throats, coughs and burns, removes parasites when mixed with vinegar, relaxes nerves, heals diabetic ulcers, eases arthritis pain (see: cinnamon). Honey contains large amounts of vitamins and iron which help strengthen the immune system. The natural properties of honey make this one of the only foods that will never spoil! If at all possible, stock up on locally grown, organic varieties. This tends to alleviate allergies and increase potency when used as a health remedy.
Apple Cider Vinegar: ACV is rich in potassium, acetic acid, ash, and malic acid. These minerals are vital to our bodies for muscle growth, nerve impulse transmission, blood sugar regulation, maintaining proper PH levels and supporting the immune system with anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. ACV also has been found to regulate blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol, improve bowel function, heal yeast infections, reduce sinus infections, and protect against food poisoning.
Cinnamon: eases arthritis pain when mixed with honey and water (Mix one part honey to two parts lukewarm water and one teaspoon of cinnamon to form a paste. Massage gently into painful areas.) Helps cures bladder infections when mixed in a glass of water with a teaspoon of honey. This has also been found to relieve indigestion, gas and upset stomach. A cinnamon/honey mixture also aids in regulating blood sugar levels and can help with weight loss.
Shortening: Push a wick or even a piece of string into a tub of shortening and light the end. This will provide you with an astounding 45 days of light and warmth! When faced with having to travel long distances on foot, shortening can be used as a foot cream to prevent painful cracks and splits in overworked heels and toes.
Some of us have not yet mastered the art of canning to preserve foods. (I’m working on that one.) Thank goodness there are few simple ways to keep fresh stock on hand of foods that you may not expect can be stored for extended periods of time.
Eggs: Perhaps you are not zoned for chickens on your property. Unfortunately, it seems as though fresh eggs will not a feasible part of your available food stash after an apocalyptic event. Thankfully, that would be an incorrect assumption. There a couple of different methods for preserving eggs for a period of months to years. The quickest and simplest way is to rub each egg with a liberal coating of warmed mineral oil. They can also be rubbed with salted butter and nestled into a layer of salt, bran or dry oats. Yet another trick is to dip the eggs in paraffin. With all methods, it is crucial that you begin with fresh eggs! Purchasing from a regular grocery store is always a crap shoot since you have no idea how long the eggs have been in the delivery trucks or sitting on the shelf. It is highly recommended that you buy from a friend who has chickens, or possibly a local chicken farm or farmer’s market. It is also important to store the eggs small side down in a cool (not freezing), dry environment. Keep in a covered container. Eggs can be stacked as long as they are not touching one another. When stacking, provide a barrier between layers. Remember to flip the eggs once a month to preserve the integrity of the yolks.
Cheese: Hard cheeses can be preserved for up to twenty five years when coated with cheese wax. Dip into the wax several times, apply your label and then brush one final thin layer of wax over the cheese. (Do not use paraffin. Black or red cheese wax is recommended because it lets in the least amount of light. This can be purchased at specialty stores, health food stores or over the internet.)
Empty toilet paper rolls: Insert a wick an fill with melted wax for lightweight emergency candles. The rolls can also be used as yet another form of kindling for starting fires (see below for more fire starter info). Flatten and wrap with duct tape or string for a makeshift knife sheath, neatly organize rope or para-cord, use as “planters” for starting seedlings.
Old clothing: Everyone has a corner of the closet or dresser that holds clothing too stained or torn to be donated to charity. We tell ourselves we are saving them for rags, but the rag bag is overflowing already. What can be done with old T-shirts, socks and other cotton materials? Tear into strips and store as back up first aid! Eventually, depending on the length of time it takes to re-stock in an emergency situation, you may run out of gauze. These scraps can be used as bandages, tourniquets, washcloths, or face masks for filtering dust. In a pinch, large scraps can be sewn together to create blankets or coverings for extra warmth and shelter. Stuff a handful into the corner of your bug out bag to mark a trail or alert group members of your location if you end up traveling on foot.
Dryer lint: “Wait..what? Lint??” Absolutely. Dryer lint is the core of one of the simplest DIY fire starters to make. Begin by collecting the lint from your dryer. Loosely fill the sections of a cardboard (NOT Styrofoam!) egg carton, and pour melted wax into each well. Once set, cut the tray into bricks. To use, place under a bit of kindling and light the cardboard corners. These will burn nicely for 10-15 minutes. Store in a plastic zipper bag. (Use up old candle remnants if you don’t have canning wax on hand) Another easy method for making fire starters is to fill a mason jar half way with leftover wine bottle corks. Finish filling the jar with rubbing alcohol and allow to soak. Position a couple of these underneath your kindling, and you will soon be enjoying a warm fire.
Hair clippings: If you are supplementing your food preps with a garden, consider using hair clipping in two different ways. First, add to the compost pile. Hair is high in nitrogen and excellent for enriching the soil. Second, sprinkling hair around the perimeter of the garden will discourage critters from raiding your vegetable patch.
Soap slivers: Don’t throw away those tiny slivers of bar soap. Keep them until you have a good handful collected. Tie inside a thin washcloth, knot into a pantyhose foot, or insert into a mesh bag/bath mitt for a sudsy, exfoliating tool. Alternatively, recycle by melting down the shards with a little olive oil in a coffee cup. Dip a shaving brush in the mixture and sweep onto face for use as a low cost shaving soap.
Makeshift weapons/alternative weaponry:
Although a large majority of preppers own traditional weapons for home defense purposes, there are still people who choose not to include guns/knives/etc. in their arsenal. In such a case, what would you do to defend yourself or your family in the event of a physical attack? Look around you. No matter where you are standing at any given moment, it is most likely that there are a number of items within close proximity that could be used in self-defense. Even from my office chair, I can spot several things that would certainly put a hurtin’ on an intruder.
- Mini souvenir baseball bat (striking/thrusting)
- Large TV remote control (striking)
- Scissors (stabbing/slicing)
- Sharp edged picture frame (jabbing/slicing)
- Old style glass soda bottle (striking while intact or cutting if broken)
- Metal edged measuring ruler (slicing/cutting)
- Steel toe boots (kicking vital areas/stomping/crushing)
- Flashlight (striking)
- Screwdriver (stabbing/using as a yawara)
- Fishing pole (whipping/slicing) and yes, I have a fishing pole in my office.
I also know a woman who used a traditional weapon in a non-traditional way when her home was breached by an intruder. As he attempted to climb through her bedroom window, she stabbed him in the shoulder with a crossbow bolt. His injuries were serious enough that he immediately fled and was soon picked up at a local hospital.
Of course, it would benefit everyone to learn the basics of self-defense and mental focus. Wielding a weapon of any kind will only get you in trouble if you don’t have the courage or know-how to use it when the time comes. Additionally, there may come a time that you are faced with an opponent with bad intentions, and you have nothing at all to use as defense. This is when it is important to be skilled in hand to hand combat. Don’t let that intimidate you! There are many ways to take down an attacker that can make even the most petite person effective. Check your local community listings. Self-defense classes are readily available in most areas without significant monetary investment. This can also be a great bonding time for a family or couple who chooses to attend together. Remember to practice what you learn outside of the classroom. Run drills; act out scenarios. Keep your skills sharp and stay alive!
Although this article has only touched on a fraction of the information available in each category, you now have the opportunity to use these tips as a catalyst for developing your own creative preps. You do not need to be wealthy or have a genius IQ. It is not important that you possess a thousand acres of woodland or millions of rounds of ammunition. In order to adequately prepare for your family’s protection and well-being, you simply need a good plan, some creativity and a willingness to learn. I encourage you to get started today.
(Note: These methods have all been tried/tested/utilized by either me, my family or friends who follow a preparedness lifestyle.)