The other day a friend mentioned that she had not watched an episode of Doomsday Preppers yet, but by simply watching the advertisement she could really see how some of those things could happen. I explained that the show has a tendency to show the more extreme people from the prepping community, but the topics that they worry about are usually valid and realistic scenarios that could happen.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all, she asked what she could do to protect herself and her two children. This is a valid question that many people ask every day. To make matters worse, there are a number of people out there who are looking to capitalize on the realization that we need to take responsibility for our own safety in the event that something happens. The survival business in 2013 was amazing as people spent over a billion dollars on buying the latest survival gear and items that people promised would make them safe. Sadly, many people wasted money as they bought items that did not really fit their situation or were not practical in their plans to start prepping.
There are way too many scenarios for a person to reasonably prepare for, but these key essentials will protect you initially and give you a better change to survive an emergency scenario.
Start Prepping by Coming Up with a Plan
The place that most people fail when it comes to prepping is failing to make a plan. The fancy AR-15 and tactical gear will not do you any good, if you do not have a plan on how and when it needs to be used.
Start making plans for those events that are likely to occur where you live. Events like a home fire are more likely to occur than civil war. You want to make sure that your entire family knows what needs to happen in the event of a fire. The same thing goes for a tornado.
Make a plan of where the family will go for safety and then have a drill so that the family is actively knows what to do. You can expand the plan out to make sure that in the event of a tornado, that there are survival items located in your shelter in place location. Your plan for every scenario should begin with the basics of what will happen and what the family will do if such an event occurs, but then you will need to keep adding layers of detail that include the supplies you will have on hand and what they should be used for. Discuss your plans with like minded people so that they can provide feedback on your plan. These people can reassure you that you have a good plan for the event or bring up additional things that you might not have thought about.
First Aid Kit
The first item that you need to acquire is a good first aid kit. Regardless of the type of emergency or survival scenario, the likely hood that someone will be injured is high. Your planning will become valuable here as you will already have a means to treat an injury readily available and will not be as dependent upon someone coming by to help you right away.
When you are starting out, it is easier to get a ready made kit that has the items needed to address the majority of situations that you will encounter. You want to make sure that it not only has adequate bandages, but make sure it contains a guide on first aid as well as antiseptic items that will help prevent an infection.
If you have a larger group or want to make the jump to a complete kit, you might consider a bigger kit like a first responder kit. These kits are a bit more advanced, but they have just about every time you need for most emergency situations.
The next item you need to have on hand is either fresh water or away to make water potable. Clean water is essential to survival as it can be used to clean wounds as well as to keep you hydrated. Storing water is always good, in the case of emergency situations but some scenarios it is better if you have a means to treat the water around you, like during a blizzard.
One of the easiest ways to make drinking water is with the LifeStraw. This handy little survival tool will filter out almost all bacteria and is used actively around the world to provide up to a 1000 gallons of water for people where clean water is not available.
For a larger group, you might consider getting an Aqua Pail that will filter up to a 1ooo gallons into a container. Sometimes people do not want to share a LifeStraw when drinking, so filtering a large amount of water at a time is more practical. With the Aqua Pail, you pour your unfiltered water into the top of their pail and it will clean the water and place it into a container that the Aqua Pail is sitting on.
Another handy item that people should have on hand is water storage bag like the one from waterBob. These bags provide a liner for your bathtub that will provide an easy way to store up to a 100 gallons of water. These are great to use when you know a natural disaster is coming that might keep you from having fresh water.
Food is one of those essential items that you can not go too long without. While not needed as soon as clean water, food is required to keep your body functioning and nourished as you wait out the disaster. Canned foods and peanut butter can easily and cheaply be an available food source until life can start to return to normal. You need to watch these items to make sure you are rotating them out as you buy more. You will want to make sure you have extra of these food items instead of just relying on what you currently have on hand. Every time there is news of a large snow storm, the local grocery stores always seem to be out of food items like bread and peanut butter so don’t plan on running to the store before the emergency situation hits as it is likely that it will be out.
I supplement our normal food stores with some ready to eat meals from eFoods and Emergency Essentials. Both are really good and tasty, so choose the one that offers you the lowest price for the items you are wanting. At this point you do not need to start prepping a year’s worth of food, so only get what you think you will need according to the plan you made.
Find a Source of Heat
It is amazing to see how many people do not think about a way to keep themselves warm during a survival situation. Starting out, you will not need to look at purchasing a large gas generator for your home, unless you live in the north and it gets mighty cold there. For those just starting prepping, you will want to focus more on solar and wool blankets.
Solar blankets are light weight and give off a surprising amount of heat that it collects from the sun. These are extremely portable and should also be part of your roadside kit in your car.
For the home, I prefer a nice wool blanket. Wool has the wonderful ability of providing warmth even if it is wet. You can’t get that from cotton.
Besides our blankets, I also have a Solo Stove that i can use to heat up a small area as well as cook food or boil water. The great thing about this stove is it uses twigs and small items for fuel so you do not need to stockpile a lot of wood.
One of the best examples that illustrates the the need to have a way to communicate is Hurricane Sandy. When the power went out, millions of people had no way to charge their cell phones which left them unable to communicate to loved ones.
There are various forms of communication that you should consider. At the basic level, there is the emergency weather radio. Ambient Weather puts out a great radio that uses a hand crank to provide power for when you need it and the batteries are dead. Not only does this radio provide you with emergency weather news, it contains a flashlight and cell phone charger.
The next step up is to have an emergency portable CB radio. While CB radios were popular in days past, the CB will allow you to contact emergency personal in the area without the need for a HAM license. This one from Midland will not only allow you to call for assistance, but it also serves as an emergency weather radio.
The other option is a small portable HAM radio. While you need to be authorized to transmit on the HAM radio, you can listen to emergency service news without any requirements.