The Organic Prepper: What 75 Preppers Learned During the Lockdown

This article from The Organic Prepper complies short takes from seventy-five preppers on what they have learned during this pandemic and lockdown. Some are only a sentence, while others are a full paragraph. Here’s What 75 Preppers Learned During the Lockdown

The lockdown that recently took place due to the pandemic was like a practice run for a bigger SHTF event. Many of our prepper theories played out and were accurate, while others weren’t as realistic as we thought beforehand.

People who weren’t preppers already learned a lot about why they would want to be better prepared in the future, but they weren’t the only ones who learned lessons. These preppers took a moment to answer questions about the lessons they learned during the lockdown. (Here’s an article about the things I learned.)

What did you learn about preparedness during the lockdown?

Trisha…

I learned two main things. First, I was very surprised at how strongly the isolation hit me. I am a person who is “energized” by interacting with other people. I knew that already, but I was shocked at how MUCH it affected me. Second, I got a taste of normalcy bias. I kept trying to see ways in which our situation was still “Normal”. As a school teacher of little ones for thirty years, I was pretty much used to switching into action immediately to deal with a crisis and putting my feelings on the back burner. So, I was shocked that it took me a couple of months to “accept” the changes in our lives and start looking for creative ways to make life work and meet our needs.

Maria…

I learned it is so important to pay attention to what’s going on and stay ahead of the crowd. My husband and I were able to stock up two weeks before everyone else panicked. I also learned my plan of being stocked up and shopping only for replacements is a great system. For example I have 3 jars of mayo on the shelf, when I open one I put it on the list to purchase next time and replenish. Same with Costco TP. Every time I shop there I grab one package. We didn’t even go through half our stock pile and I was able to leave it for those who really needed it. I also learned to listen to your instincts, inner voice, the spirit, God or whatever you call it. I listened every time and we have made it through very comfortably. Also, look for opportunities to help others prepare. I have gotten several people to prepare seriously because of staying ahead of everyone else. I couldn’t have done what I did with[out] Daisy and her spot on articles. Like I said earlier, they kept me two weeks ahead of the crowd.

Angela…

That individuals mental state can be intrusive to yours. For me-it preteen having her 1st period.

Annabel…

That things happen really fast. If you act when things happen it is too late. Act now.

Judith…

That prepping is far more than one type of crisis. Organization of preps is vitally important ( I am still not where I need to be). Having a list of recipes and items needed helps with how and what to shop for. Alternative sources for cooking, cleaning etc. are important.

Angela…

Being in a lockdown during the spring was great. House was cool and could bake. Once it got hot, there was no baking. Need to learn to bake more via the fire, not just cook.

Maya…

I had anticipated shortages like food, soap, TP, and PPEs, but I underestimated how short in supply durable consumer goods would be – like the fact that freezers would pretty much become extinct, all gardening supplies, etc. Luckily, I had stockpiled seeds (although this year I brought veggie starts because everything started late this year.) It took until June to get the raised bed kits (industrial area, it’s not safe to grow anything you want to eat in the ground). Canning jars have also become in short supply. I anticipated has shortages, which did not take place – in fact, gas became dirt cheap with nobody able to go anywhere. I did fail to anticipate that the border would be closed for half a year! Living in a border city, I tend to rely on the much cheaper US prices for many things. I really should not have put off dentist and eye appointments, or a haircut! I will get that attended to before the next wave of contamination and lock-downs. I am working now on beefing up food growing and preserving supplies. Desiccants, oxygen absorbers, Mylar bags, food grade buckets, canning lids, canning jars, and food saver bags are all likely to become harder to obtain as food prices rise and more people become aware of how to grow and preserve foods. I am also stocking up on organic fertilizers and indoor growing options. And sprouting seeds – I think I have at least 2 years’ worth of those…

Continue reading at The Organic Prepper by clicking here.

 

 

Organic Prepper: Have You Learned These Lessons?

Selco at The Organic Prepper asks Have You Learned These Survival Lessons During the Pandemic?

There are some skills and strategies that survivalists and preppers keep bashing on over and over again as important ones for hard times.
Some of those are good, others are simply wrong, or miscalculated, or let’s say “built” on wrong the foundations for whatever reason.

There is nothing better than learning from your own experiences (other than maybe learning from other folks’ mistakes). We all went (and still going) trough very turbulent times, hard times, so let’s check which of those “strategies” you learned and already experienced, or simply check about those that you did not see yet, but that you might see in the future.

It really can happen anywhere

The core of my writing, teaching courses, and everything else – the core of my survival philosophy is that “it can happen anywhere“.
It is something that you need to adopt as a first step of understanding how the world of survival works, and actually if you cannot adopt words “it can happen anywhere” you’ll never be a survivalist.

Sure, you can call yourself a survivalist, but if you cannot comprehend the fact that “it can happen anywhere” you will never be fully ready.
There are numerous reasons why the S can hit the fan anywhere no matter in what kind of modern country and society you live, and actually there are numerous reasons why the “fall” can be deeper and more painful in more modern societies, but that is a topic for some other article.

The system is fragile.

I think you all by now understood how the system can be fragile in an unexpected situation, and it is true no matter how advanced the system is – it is fragile.

And no, for this particular revelation it is not important at all whether you support the political system that rules, favor a political party or not, or any other personal opinion about the “parts” of the system. Discussing and wasting time about why the system is fragile and why it failed to cope with properly handling the event is simply wasting time. No system is built for huge events, at least it is not built to sustain and cope with largescale events in a way that your lifestyle (freedoms, rights, way of living that you use to, etc.) will stay intact.

A large scale event will affect the system, and depending on the duration and severity of the event, it may do so to the point that the system actually disappears.

The greatest danger when SHTF

Tornadoes, asteroids, dirty bombs, viruses, pandemic, wars… you can not be ready for all of that, and if you concentrate efforts to be ready only for a particular scenario based on a particular danger in that scenario, you’ll very easily fall into the trap of forgetting something extremely important.

Prepping (when it comes to what danger you should prepare for) in your philosophy, should be the simple fact that you are preparing for danger from other people.

In most survival scenarios, other people will be an immediate threat or will become the greatest threat very soon after the event happens.
Yes I know, a tornado does not have anything human in its nature, but if a tornado or serious storm brings the city to halt, it will soon bring a situation where there are more people than resources. Without a system to control it, then those people fighting for resources will become your biggest problem, not the tornado.

So if you are prepping for serious weather only without taking into consideration that actually other people might become a bigger problem than the event, you are doing it wrong.

People carry viruses in a pandemic, weapons in war, hate in a political clash, or they need resources after an economic disaster. Start your prepping for every scenario with the consideration that “other people” will most likely become a problem and threat. At best, simply factor that you will be forced to deal with them, for example through trade, and plan your prepping philosophy from that point.

As I mentioned it is not only the fact that other people may become a threat. It is also the fact that you’ll be forced to interact with people on other levels (trade, negotiations, mutual agreements, alliances…).

It probably will not be a situation where you need to shoot everybody else. You’ll need to interact with those people, to live with those people around you under the new circumstances.

Timing is everything.

Survival could be explained as “being ahead of others”.

Do not mix this with up “looking different than others” which survivalists often think is necessary. It actually can be dangerous to look and act differently than others when the SHTF.

Being ahead of others is about being different, not necessarily looking different.

Timing and “being ahead of others” is not some complicated thing, because if you are into prepping you should already know that you need to keep an ear on the ground all the time and seek information that you can use in your favor before the majority of other folks get it. The run on supplies in America was a perfect example of this…(continues)

The Organic Prepper: What I Learned During the COVID Crisis

Daisy Luther at The Organic Prepper talks about lessons she’s learned during the pandemic – What I Learned During the COVID Crisis.

…Here are the things I’ve learned.

Trust your instincts.

I began writing about this virus back in January when it was announced that the entire city of Wuhan was being locked down and millions of people were under stay at home orders. With that many people under a mandatory lockdown, I was firmly convinced that this had potential global ramifications.

I had come back from Europe to attend a funeral in early January and was supposed to return on January 28th. After doing the research for the article mentioned above, I rescheduled my flight for March 28th and settled in with my youngest daughter at her apartment to help out with the bills. We immediately began stocking up.

A lot of folks at that time said I was crazy – a few here on my website but more so on other sites that republished my work. I’m no stranger to being called crazy – I’m in the preparedness industry and I like guns, so right there, the mainstream media sees me as a lunatic. It no longer bothers me and I was convinced that this was going to be a big deal.

Every day from January 23rd to the present, I’ve spent hours researching as this pandemic has unfolded. I sincerely wish that I had not been correct, but here we are, still in lockdown in many parts of the country.

You can prepare fast if you’re aware before other folks are.

I had sold or donated nearly everything that my daughters didn’t want before I took off on an open-ended trip to Europe last fall. The other items were divided up between my two girls. So while the daughter with whom I stayed still had a few things, like firearms, water filters, etc., the stockpile was pretty much gone.

By the end of January, I was pretty sure that we were going to see mandatory quarantines or lockdowns here and I began stocking up. It’s important to note that at this point, you could still buy anything you wanted or needed. I grabbed some extra masks and gloves but most of my focus was on food and other everyday supplies. By the end of February, I was pretty content with the amount of supplies we had. I had spent as little as possible on “right now food” and focused most of my budget on shelf-stable items like canned goods, pasta, and rice.

For about $600, we accumulated a supply that would see us through a minimum of 3 months without leaving the house. I figured, if it turned out that I had overreacted, my daughter would use the food anyway.

I also started a personal spending freeze at the end of January. If it wasn’t an item we needed to become better prepared, I didn’t spend a dime. I was able to put back a few months’ worth of expenses while still stocking up. It helped that my daughter was living thrifty in a less expensive apartment with utilities included. I was very concerned about things like cash flow and it turns out, this has been a huge problem for a lot of people.

You can’t always have the “ideal” situation.

There were a lot of things about my situation that were less than ideal. But that’s probably true in a lot of cases. You just have to adapt to the reality of your situation instead of endlessly wishing it was different or feeling that it’s hopeless. “Less than ideal” does not mean that all hope is lost.

First, there was the situation of living arrangements. I have a daughter in Canada and a daughter in the US. My older daughter in Canada has been working longer and was better established. My younger daughter, who lives in the US, was new to the workforce and didn’t have a lot of money so I stayed with her to help out financially. Her apartment is in a lower-middle-class residential area of the city where she works. Thankfully, it is a two-bedroom and I only brought with me two suitcases.

Living in an apartment without much of a yard during this kind of event is not something I would have chosen, given time to seek alternatives. But we all know this crept up fast. Moving was not an option. I focused on hardening the apartment with plywood to put up at the windows, tripwires that could be set up quickly if needed, and sturdier locks. We got some quarantine warning signs that we could post if all hell broke loose as a potential deterrent, and I set up spotlights in the front yard. Currently, they face the stairs to the front door, but in a bad situation, they could be turned around to illuminate anyone coming up to the house instead.

I bought more ammo for our firearms and we sat down together to work through potential scenarios. We developed a “fatal funnel” in the front hallway and added “stumbling blocks” in the front hall that could be shoved in front of the door to slow down an advance. (Just cardboard boxes filled with hardcover books – nothing fancy.)

We made friends with the other family who lives in the building while maintaining our OPSEC. It’s always good to have allies and they have a better line of sight from their upper apartment.

Normally, I would have bought loads of organic food and preserved it myself, but early in the crisis, there was still a question of whether or not we’d have power throughout the emergency and there simply wasn’t enough time at this late date. My stockpile is not ideal – lots of storebought canned goods and carbs like pasta and rice – but it’s filling and versatile.  And most of all, it’s what was readily available. I was able to grab cases of canned fruits and vegetables and canned ravioli when it was cheap and abundant.

So while it isn’t our normal diet or even our normal preps, we’re fortunate to have it. We’ve continued to hit the store weekly for foods that are more “normal” but can easily shift to the stockpile if it becomes necessary.

As you can see there are a lot of things that aren’t ideal from a prepper’s point of view, but when disaster strikes, you have to adapt. So if your situation isn’t perfect, don’t just throw your hands up in the air and give up – ADAPT…(continues)

Click here to continue reading at The Organic Prepper.

Peak Prosperity: Survival Learnings from a California Fire Evacuee

Today’s survival lesson comes from Peak Prosperity‘s Adam Taggart enumerating some of his lessons learned from mandatory evacuation from California fires.

As I type this, there are over 16 large wildfires currently burning across northern and southern California. Hundreds of thousands of residents have been displaced. Millions are without power.

My hometown of Sebastopol, CA underwent mandatory evacuation at 4am Saturday night. I jumped into the car, along with our life essentials and our pets, joining the 200,000 souls displaced from Sonoma County this weekend.

Even though I write about preparedness for a living, fleeing your home in the dead of night with a raging inferno clearly visible on the horizon drives home certain lessons more effectively than any other means.

I’d like to share those learnings with you, as they’re true for any sort of emergency: natural (fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, blizzard, etc), financial (market crash, currency crisis) or social (revolution, civil unrest, etc).

And I’d like you to be as prepared as possible should one of those happen to you, which is statistically likely.

Your survival, and that of your loved ones, may depend on it.

No Plan Survives First Contact With Reality

As mentioned, I’ve spent years advising readers on the importance of preparation. Emergency preparedness is Step Zero of the guide I’ve written on resilient living — literally the first chapter.

So, yes, I had a pre-designed bug-out plan in place when the evacuation warning was issued. My wife and I had long ago made lists of the essentials we’d take with us if forced to flee on short notice (the Santa Rosa fires of 2017 had reinforced the wisdom of this). Everything on these lists was in an easy-to-grab location.

The only problem was, we were 300 miles away.

Reality Rule #1: You Will Be Caught By Surprise

There are too many variables that accompany an unforeseen disaster to anticipate all of them. Your plan has to retain enough flexibility to adapt to the unforeseen.

In my case, we were down at Parents’ Weekend at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, where my older daughter recently started her freshman year.

As the text alerts warning of the growing fire risk started furiously arriving, we monitored them closely, reluctant to leave the festivities and our time with our daughter. But once the evacuation warning came across, we knew it was serious enough to merit the 6-hour mad dash home to rescue what we could.

The upside of that long drive was that it gave us time to alter our bug-out plan according to the unfolding situation. We decided my wife and younger daughter would go directly to safety; that reduced the lives at risk in the fire zone down to just 1 (mine). And I used the phone to line up neighbors who could grab our stuff should I not be able to make it home in time.

The learning here is: Leave plenty of room in your plan for the unexpected. If its success depends on everything unfolding exactly as you predict, it’s worthless to you.

Reality Rule #2: Things Will Happen Faster Than You’re Ready For

Once an emergency is in full swing, things start happening more quickly than you can process well.

Even if developments are unfolding in the way you’ve anticipated, they come at an uncomfortably fast rate that adrenaline, anxiety and fatigue make even more challenging to deal with.

Just as The Crash Course chapter on Compounding explains how exponential problems unfold too fast to avoid once they become visible, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed or caught off-guard by the pace required to deal with a disaster.

The Kincade fire started at 9:30pm the night before I left Sebastopol for Cal Poly. When I went to bed that night it was a mere 300 acres in size. Two days later it was 25,000 acres. (it’s currently at 66,000 acres).

It went from “nothing to worry about” to “get out NOW!” in less than 48 hours.

Watching who fared well during the evacuation and who didn’t , those who took action early out of a healthy sense of caution had much more success than those who initially brushed off the potential seriousness of the situation.

Here’s how much of a difference timely action made:

The ‘evacuation warning’ advisory became a ‘mandatory evacuation’ order at 4am on Saturday night. My car was ready to go and I was on the road out of town within 5 minutes.

Several friends of mine left home just 45 minutes after I did. By that time, the fleeing traffic made the roads essentially immobile. My friends had to turn back to ride things out in their homes, simply hoping for the best.

So I’m reminded of the old time-management axiom: If you can’t be on time, be early. In a developing crisis, set your tolerance level for uncertainty to “low”. Take defensive measures as soon as you detect the whiff of increasing risk; it’s far more preferable to walk back a premature maneuver than to realize it’s too late to act.

Reality Rule #3: You Will Make Mistakes

Related to Rule #2 above, you’re going to bungle parts of the plan. Stress, uncertainty and fatigue alone pretty much guarantee it.

You’re going to forget things or make some wrong choices.

Case in point: as I was evacuating, the plan was to take a less-traveled back route, in order to reduce the odds of getting stuck in traffic. But, racing in the dark and checking in on the phone with numerous friends and neighbors, muscle memory took over and I found myself headed to the main road of town. Too late to turn back, I sat at the turn on, waiting for someone in the line of cars to let me in.

It then hit me that perhaps no one might. Folks were panicked. Would someone be willing to slow down to let me go ahead of them?

Obviously someone did, or I wouldn’t be typing this. But that mistake put everything else I’d done correctly beforehand in jeopardy.

So, as the decisions start to come fast and furious, your key priority is to ensure that you’re focused on making sure the few really important decisions are made well, and that the balls that get dropped won’t be ones that put your safety at risk.

Forget to pack food for the cat? No big deal, you’ll find something suitable later on. Miss your time window to evacuate, as my friends did? That could cost you your life.

Reality Rule #4: When Stressed, All You Care About Is People & Pets

A good bug-out plan covers preparing to take essential clothes, food & water, medications, key documents, communications & lighting gear, personal protection, and irreplaceable mementos.

But when the stakes escalate, you quickly don’t care about any of those. It’s only living things — people, pets & livestock — that you’re focused on.

The rest, while valuable to have in an evacuation, is ultimately replaceable or non-essential.

I very well might have rolled the dice and stayed down at Cal Poly if it weren’t for the cat. But family is family, no matter how furry. I just couldn’t leave her to face an uncertain fate. And I believe strongly you’ll feel the same about any people or pets in your life — it’s a primal, tribal pull to take care of our own. If you don’t plan for it, it will override whatever other priorities you think you may have.

So prioritize accordingly. Build your primary and contingency plans with the security of people and animals first in mind. If there’s time for the rest, great. But if not, at least you secured what’s most important (by far)…

Click here to continue reading at Peak Prosperity.

WRSA: Unprepared People Can Kill You

From a Pat Hines comment over at Western Rifle Shooters Association, describing one man’s Hurricane Michael incident, this short story shows how people who are mentally or physically prepared can be a danger to everyone involved. Edited for language.

“4 of us men (out of a hallway full of people) were desperately trying to tie doors shut in the shelter in the middle of a category 5 hurricane, with a 140-160 mph wind ripping down the breezeway right in front of it in a storm of debris, doing its best to suck those doors open, which would have resulted in people being sucked out.

We need to cut cord, so I produce a Leatherman. Two people gasp, “I didn’t think you were supposed to have THOSE THINGS in a school!”

In sheer disbelief, but in the interests of not escalating the situation, I went with my second-best response of “It’s a tool, not a knife, just a set of pliers with an auxiliary blade,” rather than my first instinct of, “Who gives a ****, you ****ing idiot! What are they gonna do, expel me?”

It turns out that my daughter and I were the only ones with knives in the place. Go figure.

Meanwhile, a woman is asking, “But how can the rescue squad get to us if the doors are tied?”

“The rescue isn’t coming until the wind stops and it’s over, lady, and we’ll untie it then.” The “if any of us are still alive to do it, and if not, it won’t matter, will it?” was left unsaid.

Another woman was whining, “You need to leave those doors open; it’s hot and stuffy in here, and we need a breeze.” No, I’m not lying.

She kept complaining about it to anyone who would listen, until she was finally silenced by a rawboned redneck woman who suddenly shouted, “B****, there are little kids in here handling this **** better than you are! If you don’t shut the hell up right now, I’m going to knock the **** out of you!”

End of complaints.

Lessons learned:
1. Be prepared with basic tools (like knives).
2. Something like 90% of people are passive observers in an emergency, only a few will take action without being told directly, and tiny number are so incredibly stupid their mere presence can threaten the survival of the entire group.
3. The best way to deal with that tiny percentage is with the real threat of violence, complete with the full intention of following it up if necessary.” – Gregory Kay

Emphasis added.

ARRL: 2017 Hurricane Season After-Action Report

The ARRL released their after-action report on the 2017 hurricane season. Click here to download the pdf. (11MB file)  This is actually a bunch of separate reports glommed together, so it doesn’t read very smoothly. Much of it does not get into very good detail on what went wrong and what could be improved, but it looks like they spent more time on that at the ARRL level rather than the responder level.

From the Puerto Rico response, what amateur radio equipment did you need but not have?

Items mentioned included electrical tape/duct tape, volt-ohm meter, cable ties, SO-239 connectors, insulators, soldering iron, 50′ runs of coax and barrel connectors, mini mag-mount VHF/UHF antenna, VHF/UHF J-pole antenna, compass, headset with boom mic and footswitch, extension cords, power strips, hook-up wire, wire strippers, end-fed antenna, cheat sheets for radios.
From the Puerto Rico response, what did you add to your kit and where did you get it?
Generally, additional equipment was acquired through the Red Cross, FEMA, fire stations, local radio amateurs, or home improvement stores. Items acquired were left with the Red Cross in San Juan. Items included: Extension cords, antenna wire, car battery, hex nuts (used as weights for antennas), rope, notepads, pens, markers, electrical tape, crimpers, wire connectors, pulleys, shackle, slingshot, power strip, coax seal, HP OfficeJet printer, printer paper, headphones, batteries, terminals, PVC pipe, hose clamps, tape measure, power inverter.
The key observations offered on lessons learned included (Puerto Rico):
  • Clearer chain of command
  • ARRL representation at the staging point
  • Deployable VHF repeaters
  • Better screening of volunteers
  • Screen out those who have no experience in Amateur Radio disaster communications
  • Screen out those who have no experience in the needed forms of communications
  • Factor in personality to the screening process; some personalities are not suitable for such deployments
  • ARRL needs to provide education to Red Cross on the capabilities of Amateur Radio
  • ARRL representative on site during deployment (at JFO/EOC)
  • Form a national response cadre that is pre-screened for deployments such as this
  • Smaller and lighter Ham Aid kits
  • Encourage radio amateurs to volunteer with Red Cross Disaster Services Technology
  • Language was a barrier; being bilingual is important
  • Clearly defined list of capabilities of all deployed volunteers
  • Substantive pre-deployment briefing
  • Substantive debriefing
  • Better net structure
What do we need to change? (Irma and Maria)
  • Radios worked well. Possibly replace Icom IC-7200s with IC-7300s for consistency and ease of use.
  • Make sure every radio is digital-capable, with all needed cables and accessories.
  • Vetting process.
  • Improve training, especially with digital communications.
  • Multiple band antennas or several antennas for individual bands.