History has shown that empires, nations, societies, and individuals all pass, and that the events of our lives can be, and oftentimes are, very uncertain.
About a year ago, my wife and I read the novel One Second After by William Forstchen. While this book is a fictional account of a catastrophic event and the resulting collapse of civilized society, it may depict a disturbingly accurate account of events that could occur in a real-life catastrophe in the near future. Reading this book resulted in a complete shift in our mindset and caused us to re-evaluate our pursuit of the “American Dream.” It opened our eyes to the realities that the near future may consist of issues far more serious than retirement and buying our dream home. While these things are still important, they are not the only factors to consider, or even necessarily the most important factors to consider.
Thus began our journey towards preparing our family for a future event that will change the lifestyles and priorities of our society.
Initially, we read blogs, books, magazine articles, and many other sources of information to educate ourselves in the necessities of preparedness. We immediately discovered that a person could spend a lifetime researching and learning, and still not know everything there is to know about prepping for a variety of catastrophic circumstances. We also discovered that prepping is costly, both in time and money.
As we began making plans, lists, and gathering supplies, my wife and I discovered that we each had a mindset unique to us. This difference was, and is an obstacle that has to be overcome and collaborated in order to maximize the effectiveness of our preparations.
For example, I am a Law Enforcement Officer in a small, rural town in the Rocky Mountains. I am also an avid outdoorsman, survivalist, and gun enthusiast. These qualities tend to guide my mind towards preparing a “bug out” location in the mountains, far away from human populations, and living off the land. It also causes me to consider tactical preparations as a primary issue. While there are some positive things to be said for this, I have learned that there is far more to prepping than living off the land and shooting the bad guys.
My wife on the other hand, is a stay at home mom who home schools our two children and keeps the home. Her mindset is to prepare our home to be a safe haven, well stocked with the necessities to survive. She tends a garden, cans food, sews, cooks, collects and stores food and water, and makes plans to “hunker down” and thrive on our collected resources in our “bug in” home.
These very different mindsets are both important, but must be melded in a manner that creates a balance. This, along with a limited budget, made it imperative that we prioritize our preparations by order of immediate importance. To successfully accomplish this prioritization, there are several factors to consider.
Factor #1 – What circumstances are you preparing for?
People prep for many reasons. In our minds, the most logical preparations take into consideration a wide variety of realistic circumstances, and prioritize the supplies and skills that will prepare you for many different circumstances. For example, if you prepare exclusively for a worldwide pandemic, but do not prepare for a complete collapse of our current society, your family may starve to death. This is along the same lines as the commonly quoted idiom, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Our personal opinion is that there are numerous circumstances that may lead to the collapse of our society, creating a shortage of necessities, and a breakdown of civil order. Therefore, because it covers such a broad spectrum of circumstances, it makes sense to us to be prepared for that situation. When those preps are complete, then narrow down your continuing preps for a particular situation. We scour web sites such as www.survivalblog.com, www.preppingtosurvive.com, www.americanpreppersnetwork.com, and www.shtfblog.com for useful and practical prepping information.
Factor #2 – Financial limitations.
Prepping is not cheap. You could spend infinite amounts of money preparing for the end of the world as we know it, but, if you are like my family, you do not have infinite financial resources. Thus, you must carefully prioritize, plan, and shop in a manner that maximizes the financial resources that are presently available to you. For example, if you don’t presently have the financial ability to purchase a solar power system to power your home, you may have enough money to purchase a large supply of non-hybrid seeds, enabling you to plant a garden. The point is, purchase necessities of survival when you can, and plan to save up your money for the large expense items. We visit internet sites such as www.preppingonabudget.com, and www.prepareyourselftosurvive.com for information and ideas on prepping with a limited budget.
Factor #3 – Organization
When my wife and I first began prepping, we had all kinds of great ideas, priorities, and purchases which we wanted to implement. What we quickly discovered was that we often times were making something an immediate priority when there were other items or skills which were a more pressing priority. We decided to get organized and began to make lists of what items and skills we needed for our preparations. What we then discovered, is that these lists are always growing, and that, while having a list is great, the items and skills on the lists must be prioritized by order of importance, and must be adaptable to ever changing circumstances. This organization requires time and effort to create and maintain, but will ultimately result in a more efficient preparedness plan. This organization and planning is unique to each individual and family, but there are innumerable web sites on the internet that provide insight and opinions into this topic.
Factor #4 – What is truly important?
This is a question that can also be relatively unique to each family or individual. With that being said, there are several factors that are universally important. These factors are: clean water, shelter, and food. It is our personal opinion that these necessities should be prioritized in above order because, while you can live for a while without food, you can’t survive without water for very long, and shelter may be just as important, depending on the situation. Other factors may be relative to a person’s marital situation or geographic location, but every human on earth requires these needs be met. That will never change, so make these a #1 priority. Beyond these necessities, each individual and/or family must decide for themselves what preparations are most important. One family’s plan may not be the best plan for the family next door. The point is, meet the necessities first, then prioritize and implement the other preparations. There are many great books and web sites devoted to these topics. One web site we have found particularly helpful is www.shelfreliance.com, and our favorite book so far has been JWR's How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It.
Factor #5 – Who are you prepping for?
This is a very important issue to think about. Are you prepping for your family? You’re extended family? You’re friends or neighbors? Or all of the above? The point is, when these people come knocking at your door and looking for help, what are you going to do? This needs to be thought out and planned for so that when the time comes, you are not caught unprepared. Personally, my wife and I feel that the more people we educate on this topic, the less people there are that will be knocking on our door (or knocking down our door), looking for help.
Factor #6 - Learn what you can.
There are almost unlimited resources to assist you in preparedness. Make use of as many resources as possible. Learn from other people’s mistakes or successes, and do the best you can to avoid making mistakes of your own. Remember, knowledge and wisdom are two different things, but both can help you survive and thrive in a bad situation.
My wife and I are still very new to the world of preparedness. We learn new things every day and struggle with balancing prepping with living our lives in way that does not require us to stress or obsess to the point of unhealthy mental strain.
Prepping can be exhausting and stressful. Or it can be rewarding, exciting, and fun. Be diligent, but don’t be militaristic. Include your entire family and work at your preparations at a pace which best suits your family. Find ways to make your prepping fun and adventuresome. Prepping can be used to bond families together.
Our world is ever changing and we must adapt to, and overcome the challenges that arise with these changes if we are to survive them. If you wait until the last minute and don’t plan for the unexpected, you may find yourself unprepared to face the potentially life altering, or life threatening circumstances you may encounter. Better to be prepared and not need to be, than to be unprepared when necessity strikes!
Good luck and happy prepping.