If you’ve been prepping for the Covid-19 pandemic recently, you’ve probably noticed a couple of things.
The stores are quickly running out of the supplies people want.
People are quickly running out of money.
Both of these things are important. Of course, if there are no supplies, you can’t buy what you need. But secondly, you need to still consider your budget. This situation with Covid-19 will be personally costly. At this point, we all still have bills to pay and your stockpile won’t do you much good when it’s sitting on the curb beside you because you couldn’t make your mortgage payment.
So while I advise doing everything you can to be prepared, I also encourage you NOT to go deeply into debt now of all times. People are getting laid off by the tens of thousands right now. Everything is changing.
We’re at a critical point right now when there’s a crisis bearing down on us and we want to get prepared. But there are very few supplies left on store shelves to buy and many of us don’t have much money left to spend. This does not mean there’s nothing you can do. In fact, you’re at one of the most crucial junctures of preparedness right now.
How to prep without buying more stuff
Here are some things you can do to prepare for the possibility of quarantine when you’ve put a halt to the frantic spending. Make yourself a checklist and get cracking.
Fill up all your containers with water. A Mason jar full of water takes up the same amount of space as an empty Mason jar. Go through your house and fill up every vessel you can with water.
Organize your supplies. If you bought a whole lot of stuff in a frenzy – and let’s be honest, a lot of us did – you may have them stacked in a precarious pile in some area of the house. Take the time to organize your food. You can go about this in different ways – put ingredients for meals together, put all the veggies in one area, all the grains in another area…however you decide to go about it, getting organized will help you see what you have on hand.
Make a menu. While you’re organizing your food stockpile, create some meal plans based on the supplies that you have.
Organize first aid and medical supplies. Put all your first aid, over-the-counter medications, prescription meds, and medical supplies together so you can see what you have. Think about how you can improvise anything you’re missing.
Organize other supplies. I keep my supplies in kits. I have a power outage kit with candles, lighters, flashlights, batteries, solar chargers, etc. I have a pandemic kit I created back in 2014 during the Ebola scare with masks, gloves, Tyvek suits, booties, and other things specific to a pandemic. I use big Rubbermaid tubs for these kits but you can use anything: cardboard boxes, even space on a shelf.
Do a home-security check. Go outside and take a walk around your house. Are there things that need to be addressed to make your home more secure? Do you need to trim back some shrubs to keep the area under windows visible? Should you secure downstairs windows so they can’t easily be raised up from the outside? Can you put a locking latch on the gate in the back yard? Does your shed need a lock on it? Focus on the small tasks you may have been putting off to make your home more secure.
Make a family security plan. Would your family members know what to do in the event of a home invasion? If not, you need to make a plan. Vulnerable family members need to get out of the way, and family members who are engaging the criminals need to know who is doing what so they don’t get in each other’s way. Place weapons and potential weapons in strategic areas around the home.
Figure out a long-term water plan. Where could you acquire water if no longer came from the taps? Identify places where you could get water – creeks, ponds, rivers, lakes, even fountains if you’re in the city. If there’s nothing like that, figure out how you could capture rainwater the most efficiently. Make sure you have a way to purify this water.
Take a look at your budget. Are there things you can cut right now to help you get better prepared for a long-term financial crisis? Slash unnecessary expenditures now. Call your insurance company for a better rate. Cancel subscription boxes.
Spend some time learning. If you’re already in lockdown, make the most of your time by learning new skills and acquiring knowledge. The best thing you can do right now is to subscribe to Selco’s Patreon that he’s running with his business partner Toby. It’s only $1 a month and the information on there is timely and PURE GOLD. Learn to make things, repair things, grow things, and take some time to look into old-fashioned solutions. This is a great time to pick up some new skills. Read some of those books in your to-read pile and check out how-to videos on YouTube.
Clean and do laundry. This may not sound like a prep at all, but in the unlikely event that the power is interrupted, it would really be bad to start out with a house that needs to be vacuumed and a sky-high pile of dirty laundry.
Assess your neighborhood. If it’s still okay to go for a walk (without coming in close contact with others) take a stroll around your immediate neighborhood. Identify resources, like creeks or fruit trees in the park. Think about which neighbors are more likely to be allies and which ones you expect could be troublesome. This isn’t something you need to act on now – you’re just gathering information.
When you complete these exercises you may find that there are a few things you still need to buy. At the time of this writing, you can probably still do that. The good news is, these things are unlikely to be the stuff that everyone else is buying in a frenzy – think about essential hardware, high-level medical supplies, and tools.
There’s a lot more to prepping than simply buying stuff and piling it into a closet. The time you spend now on non-purchase prepping is also very important. It’s a whole lot easier to think things through right now when you are calm and well-fed than it is to try and figure them out when you’re under stress. This isn’t the time to sit around streaming Netflix or doing a crossword puzzle. There’s a lot of work to be done before we reach the point that we can’t do anything more.
So close that Amazon window on your computer and get to work…
…Some people can’t get their doctors to prescribe a reasonable stockpile of essential medications, or they need regular access to a hospital for dialysis or some other life-saving service. Some don’t have an extra dollar to spend on food for later because they can’t cover food for today. Others can’t stay home even when they’re contagious because they’ll lose their job. And some are suffering from depression or other mental states that make it literally impossible to think about the future, much less plan for it.
Some of these have been issues for me in the past, and I’m just lucky those periods of my life were short. There are millions of people who live there permanently.
Systemic and personal barriers to other people’s preparedness affect me personally, even though my family is in pretty good shape. We live out in the country but we’re still surrounded by neighbors, and our fortunes will rise and fall with theirs. My family can only be as prepared as our neighborhood, our county, our state. Which is to say, not very prepared at all.
How I’m working on community preparedness
So instead of further addressing our personal preparedness with diminishing returns, I’m working on community preparedness. I’m not an elected official or a leader, just a private citizen, so the things I’m doing are friendly and neighborly things.
Before we got our little cold I did my friend’s monthly livestock feed run for her, saving her a day in the car so she can rest up and take care of things at home. Then, I took my elderly neighbors some extra eggs. I haven’t seen them in a while, and it’s to both of our advantages if they remember who I am. I reintroduced myself to my neighbor who just moved in, so he remembers who I am, too.
Of course, it’s safest to live in a tight network of preparedness-minded people with diverse and complementary skills who unconditionally support each other. But how many of us are actually achieving that right now?
It’s difficult to build and maintain that sort of situation in a nation where most people aren’t interested, and people are always moving. Some of my neighbors form a pretty good support group, but I also have neighbors I’m not close with. Knowing their names and faces is far better than not knowing.
Another thing I’m doing is giving extra money to my local food bank. In these times when all the headlines scream that unemployment is low and the economy is hearty, about 15% of my county is already leaning on the food bank, including lots of elderly people and families with small children. These are the people who can least afford a health problem or a wider financial disruption, and it’s ultimately better for me if they have access to the resources to stock up.
The greater the proportion of the population who can meet some of their needs in any emergency, be it a virus, a weather event or just a personal job loss, the more likely it is that any forthcoming disaster assistance can cover the remaining needs. More needs met equals less unrest (certainly not none, but less) and less unrest equals my family being safer (certainly not safe, but safer).
It’s easy to feel that because I’m all set, all those grasshoppers who won’t see to their own needs can suffer and it doesn’t affect me. But it isn’t true. I am safest when everyone is safest.
This week I’m reaching out gently to friends and family, especially those who are vulnerable because of asthma, pregnancy, age or other preexisting conditions. Because my anxiety about my own family is relatively low, I can speak to them in encouraging, soothing, practical ways, sharing information and urging them to get some extra food so they have the option to stay home, hopefully without stressing them out too much. A few people actually contacted me, and I was able to better answer their questions and listen to their feelings because I’m not panicking myself. They weren’t interested last week when I mentioned the virus offhandedly, but this week, they are.
People become receptive to preparedness on their own timelines.
You might have found in your personal conversations that people are uninterested or even scornful about your preparedness ideas. I’ve certainly found that. My dad was polite but not too excited about my thoughts during last winter’s ice storm. Now he’s been following the Covid-19 news, and all of a sudden he wants to talk more in-depth about water catchment, food storage, and communication if the cell service is ever disrupted.
His change of mind just goes to show that people have to become receptive all on their own. In my experience, all we ordinary private citizens can do is try to gently plant a seed of interest in preparedness topics, and then be there to water it when the circumstances are right. For a lot of previously uninterested people, those circumstances are right now, and they might be looking around for somebody to learn from. Groups you’re already a part of (such as clubs or churches) may also be more receptive now that they used to be.
I’m not suggesting giving them a guided tour of your storage, or anything else that compromises your own security, but something as simple as speaking quietly to group leaders, assisting them to support others…
Enola Gay at Paratus Familia has an article up on seeing danger and taking refuge in a time of unclear and contradictory public messaging – Actionable Intelligence.
Watching the news is a lesson in frustration. The media has cried wolf for so long that if this pandemic truly is “the end of the world as we know it”, we’re not going to believe it until it’s too late. There is no truly “actionable intelligence” coming from news reports or social media. One side says that the sky is falling and the other side says “move along, there’s nothing to see here”. Wisdom is in short supply.
We have seen (at least according to media outlets) lots of “stocking up” on key quarantine and hygiene essentials. Many people have been caught unawares, and are worried, even to the point of hysteria, that they don’t have enough to get they and their families through this crisis. I have a few thoughts on the concept of preparedness and Christianity…..
I absolutely believe that God is the author of life and sustains us from even before our very first breath. It is His providence that sees us through each day and provides hope for the future. However, He did give us biblical principles to live by and preparedness is one of many.
When God spoke to Noah, He told him to prepare for judgement. He gave him very specific instructions about building an ark, loading it with life sustaining food and preparing his family for the trials of the days ahead. Now, if anybody had a reason to doubt, it was Noah. For over 100 years, Noah works on the ark. I have no doubt there were many naysayers and hecklers, but Noah persevered. Noah built a boat in a world that had never seen rain, never seen a flood, never had even seen an “act of God”. What faith! God could have saved Noah and his family by “Divine Intervention”, but instead, He chose to have Noah prepared.
The story of Joseph may be an overused example of preparedness, but it is without a doubt a perfect picture of God’s faithfulness through preparedness. Once more, God could have chosen not to allow the famine, but instead He readied His servant Joseph to care for His people. What would have happened to the people Egypt and the surrounding areas had Joseph not heeded God’s voice?
The example of the ten virgins in Matthew, although directly relating to the returning of the bridegroom, is instructive in discerning the wise from the foolish. The wise virgins brought with them their lamps and their oil, conversely, the foolish virgins brought their lamps, but lacked the foresight to bring oil. My desire is to be known as wise rather than foolish!!
Another thought is that God always starts with something. When He made man, He started with dirt. When He made woman, He started with man. God instructed Elijah to have the widow feed him. She explained that she had only enough flour and oil for one loaf for she and her son, and then they would die. Elijah instructed her to feed him first and that her supplies would last. THEY DID!! She had something and God multiplied it. Even Jesus, with His very first miracle, started with something. He didn’t just conjure up wine for the wedding, He started with water. Later, at the Sermon on the Mount, He started with a few loaves and fishes, and fed 5000 men; not counting women and children. He used what was available and multiplied it. Those examples, at the very least, should spur to have SOMETHING. God, in His sovereignty, will use what we have – but we need to start with something. We don’t have to panic about not having everything we think we need, but we do need to make an effort to acquire SOMETHING.
And then we get into the Proverbs. They are a goldmine of preparedness advice:
Go to the any, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise. It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores it provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.
A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.
Proverbs 27:12 (this one is even mentioned twice)
The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.
Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer.
Proverbs 31 is one of my favorite chapters. It is like a job description for a Godly wife. A couple of verses really speak to me when it comes to preparedness. 31:15 “She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls”. 31:21 “When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in Scarlett”. 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come”. The Proverbs 31 woman provided food for her household. She did not wait for someone else to provide for her. She was not afraid of the cold, because she had already made sure that her household was well clothed. She laughed at the days to come. I think this is my favorite verse. For a woman, the only way that you can laugh at the days to come is if you feel that you have taken care of what needs to be taken care of. When you have laid in supplies, a part of you says “bring it on!”. Then you truly can laugh at the days to come.
As Christians, it is our responsibility to be wise stewards. How can we be a beacon of hope in a dark world, if we, ourselves are dependent upon the charity of others? How can we bring glory to God if we are stealing or cheating to survive? We must be like the prudent man who sees danger and takes refuge rather than the simple man who keeps going and suffers for it.
James Wesley Rawles is hunkered down at an undisclosed location west of the Rockies. “I’m not at liberty to say what state I live in,” he told MarketWatch via internet phone. “I live in the inland Northwest… more than two hours from any decent shopping. We could lock our gate and say goodbye to the world for two or three years and get along just fine.”
He’s on his ranch with a large family. “I’m not at liberty to discuss it,” says Rawles, a former U.S. Army Intelligence officer. “Let’s just say it is a very large family.”
Nobody knows for sure, but there may be many more preppers in the U.S. The term covers everything from “doomsday preppers” in the northern mountain states to people who just make sure to be stocked up at home in case of disaster.
Rawles, the author of the “Patriots” doomsday novels, and the website survivalblog.com, has been living at his undisclosed ranch since 2006. He is a messianic Christian and a controversial figure. “The general public is clueless,” Rawles. “I call them the GDP — the Generally Dumb Public.”
“I’ve been doing it my whole life,” says “Doc Montana,” a survivalist who asked that MarketWatch not share his real name. “[A] lot of urban people aren’t prepared for a disaster,” he adds.
Cobb, meanwhile, lives in a more mainstream environment in Wisconsin, where he works as a disaster preparedness consultant and a writer. “I’m not an ‘end of the world is coming’ kind of guy,” he says. “It isn’t a case of having to batten down the hatches because the zombies are going to get us. For me, preparedness is common sense. Be prepared for whatever life throws at you.”
Some preppers say the coronavirus was on their radar in January
Rawles says he and other preppers noticed that the commodities markets were flashing alarm signals about China long before Wall Street paid attention. “We started raising alarms about this in early January,” says Rawles. “The commodities markets essentially fell apart.”
Oil slumped, he pointed out. Copper, a key leading indicator of economic activity, plunged. The Baltic Dry Index, which tracks demand for global shipping, went south. He and many fellow preppers think the virus is likely to be a so-called “Black Swan event” — the term coined by author Nassim Taleb to describe major, sudden, and unpredictable shocks to the system.
Rawles, who says he is ready for his long-expected doomsday a scenario, says he holds his money in platinum, silver, and U.S. nickels, which he believes will be valuable because of their base metal content.
The WHO is calling coronavirus an ‘epidemic’ rather than a ‘pandemic.’
The definition of an epidemic and pandemic are somewhat vague. An epidemic refers to a surge in the number of cases of a disease, while a pandemic refers to a disease that has spread widely across countries and continents.
The WHO has declared the coronavirus a “global health emergency,” the organization’s highest alert level.
As President Trump confirmed during last week’s press conference on the disease, the federal government does have contingency plans, even including quarantining cities, if it should get much worse.
Many preppers don’t believe the reassurances about the scale of the epidemic, least of all the information coming out of China.
They both agree on one thing: a worst-case scenario is the most likely outcome. Some, like Rawles, fear the worst from the coronavirus. He thinks it is “unstoppable” and “will be all over the planet in the next months.” Doc Montana believes the authorities are trying to warn people to get ready without causing a stampede.
But others are more philosophical and, perhaps, less apocalyptic. “There is so much goofy stuff that is floating around on social media,” says Cobb. “You don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong.” His take? “No. 1, don’t worry about what you don’t know. Worry about what you can control. As a practical matter, prepping for a pandemic isn’t that different from prepping for a sudden job loss or a power outage.”
‘Don’t worry about what you don’t know. Worry about what you can control.’
Most preppers are nothing if not dramatic, and they have a variety of terms to describe total disaster. Most of them are acronyms…
In the books that I’ve published in the past, I have made clear my faith and the importance of relying on God through hard times. In this chapter, I would like to discuss the biblical perspective on being prepared. When discussing biblical theology, I realize it can be as contentious an issue as which gun is best suited to a SHTF situation, but I feel it is an important discussion to have. The chapter below is MY OPINION and beliefs on the subject. If you are a believer and have a personal relationship with Jesus, then I want to make one point overwhelmingly clear: this chapter is a general guide. At no point does it take any precedence over what God is specifically calling you to do. Again, please pay heed to that still small voice that resides in each one of us and listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit to help guide your decision-making process through the hard times ahead.
I have had multiple discussions with my pastor on the subject and, as with all aspects of prepping and life, I am always willing to evolve my thinking and stance on the subject as new sound biblical information is put before me. Please feel free to contact me through my website and let me know what you believe on the subject. But before you do, please research and pray about it and don’t just take a one-sided stance for contentious purposes.
There are two sides to the biblical argument on prepping. There are the Christians who will cite stories, like those of Joseph, on being prepared for hard times, and there are the Christians who will cite the example of the Israelites fleeing Egypt and how God miraculously supplied their every need during forty years of wandering through the wilderness. So what should we, as Christians, do? Should we make advanced preparations or rely solely on God’s miraculous provisions if hard times were to come about? I believe the answer is actually both.
However, before I start discussing scripture on the subject, let me first remind you of the three main reasons people (including Christians) don’t prepare for hard times. The first is ignorance, that is to say, not being educated on the subject. The second is the “ostrich head in the sand” syndrome: it’s much more comfortable to hope it will never happen. And the third is (especially for Americans) the assumption that the government will come to their aid.
Educating yourself takes time and work, and the topic can be depressing (especially if you don’t have faith and a reliance on God to see you through). The mainstream media is NOT a good source and you have to dig for yourself to find any solid information. Remember, in November of 2014, Admiral Rodgers, the Director of Cyber Security for our nation, told Congress that what he fears the most is a cyber attack on our critical infrastructure (the electric grid) that could lead to massive loss of life and industry, that he believes it will happen in the very near future, and that they are completely unable to stop it. That is a huge revelation! Yet the mainstream media completely ignored that story. Be careful about what the media is feeding you and pray for discernment to see through the spin they put on stories to push their agenda. The information you need is out there, but not on the 6:00 Evening News.
Just because the media aren’t covering the threat does not mean that it won’t affect you and your family once it happens. And just because it is a frightening scenario and you’d rather just not think about it or just pretend it doesn’t exist, it does not lessen the severity of the impending societal breakdown. You can’t just “blink” and miss it. And banking on the military and FEMA to help not only you, but 300+ million additional starving people all at the same time? It’s seriously not even realistic to think that would work, even with full electrical and communication systems working. The threat of EMP and the vulnerability of the electric grid have been widely known in the government since the 1960s. That’s over forty years and ten presidential administrations (Republican and Democrat alike) that have done nothing to harden our critical infrastructure or protect the electric grid. It would only cost around $2-$4 billion dollars to harden the grid, which is less than what we give Pakistan in aid each year. The politicians don’t care! Voting for this doesn’t buy them any votes come election time because very few people are even aware that a threat exists. It’s hard for me to fathom as all the information is out there, yet no one is talking about it. I think it’s time for Christians to WRESTLE with this, rise up and take the lead.
I feel it is imperative that you educate yourself on the threat. What I mean by this is that if you are putting away tons of food and supplies for no specific reason, then you are a bit crazy. That is why “preppers” have been shown in a bad light by the media. The liberal media think that everything is going wonderfully in our rapidly growing technological society and that there is no threat to our food supply and no one needs a gun to protect himself because the police will protect you (when in truth they will usually show up ten minutes later to clean up the mess and call the coroner’s office for your dead body). Since the media have no interest in researching the threat, there obviously isn’t one and you’re crazy for putting some extra food in your basement.
Information and education on the subject is paramount before making decision. Researching the theology behind “prepping” is completely irrelevant if you don’t believe there are hard times ahead for our country. I strongly challenge you to spend AT LEAST a full day’s worth of time (over time if need be) looking at the evidence I put forth in on the likelihood of a grid-down scenario. That does not mean just read through what I wrote. Even though I put a lot of information on my website, it is literally the tip of the iceberg of evidence towards a grid-down scenario. Do your own research! Click on the hundreds of links I supply to government reports, news articles, and videos on the subject. Do your homework and pray about it before deciding if preparing for hard times makes sense for you and your family. I believe that the amount of evidence I put forth is irrefutable and if you don’t bury your head in the sand in fear, you will come to the same conclusions that I have about the undeniable threats that face this country in the near future. Once you have done that or if you are already convinced that hard times lay ahead for other reasons, then continue.
I have a close friend that I graduated high school with, whom I respect enormously and I know that he loves the Lord immensely. During a discussion a while back about my profession as an emergency preparedness consultant, he mentioned that his stance is not to worry about the future and he is going to just trust in God when the time comes. He also mentioned the story of the Israelites escaping Egypt in Exodus and how God supplied their every need. That challenged me a bit, and made me second guess myself. It forced me to research that story and pray and deliberate on it. Did I not have enough faith? Was I not trusting God to miraculously supply my family’s needs should the worst come to pass?
Here is what I’ve come to personally believe. First, God took the Israelites out of Egypt and into a “wilderness” to wander for 40 years. This area is essentially a desert. To this day it would be very hard to grow crops or raise livestock in this area of the Middle East, not to mention that there were approximately 3 million Israelites to be fed and watered each day. This is not a situation where the Israelites WERE capable of taking care of themselves. This was a situation where God led them to that place and only a miracle by God (manna) could sustain them and keep them alive, forcing them to wholly put their trust and faith in God. I believe this is a great example of how God can supply our needs miraculously when he chooses to do so.
If I were to go for a week-long backpacking trip in the dry desert of Arizona, I would take supplies for myself to make sure I would have enough food and water. I wouldn’t just head out with the shirt on my back and expect God to miraculously save me and feed me. I am not insinuating that he couldn’t, I am just saying that it would not be a wise decision on my part to test Him. I think God expects us to be smart and responsible in our decision-making processes. This leads to the preparedness side of the story. The Israelites were slaves and had no way to or even enough time to prepare for their quick departure out of Egypt. They didn’t have time to grow large crops and store away food to take with them or raise large quantities of livestock for their journey (not that the Egyptians would have let them do that anyway). This is an instance where God used many miracles to harden Pharaoh’s heart and let them escape the oppression of the Egyptians. God miraculously brought them out of the land of Egypt and miraculously provided for their needs. This is a wonderful story about God’s ability to do miraculous things to save His people. There is nothing in this story that I could find “against” preparing for hard times...
Getting prepared at a low cost has always been a popular topic. Now that people have started to worry about the looming coronavirus pandemic, those who are unprepared are looking at getting prepared for the possibility of being quarantined for two to four weeks. Some have looked into their cupboards and realized (especially those living in big cities like New York) that they have nothing stashed because they are used to just hopping out and picking up what they need. Some have more money than others, but if you’re trying to stock up in a short amount of time your budget is limited. Here is The Smart Survivalist with Low Cost Prepping — Your Survival on a Budget. Canned beans, rice, and pasta are low cost staples. Make sure you have access to water and store some if you have space in case of power outages or other interruptions to your home water supply.
If you are only preparing for a 2-4 week quarantine, you can get by without having a full array of nutrition. For a short duration, you’re only worried about getting enough calories to survive through the period. For example, a 25 pound of oatmeal provides about 37,000 calories (not including adding milk, sugar or other toppings) or enough for almost 19 days at 2,000 calories per day. But you’ll need to eat almost seven cups of dry oats per day to get that many calories. So think about how much you’ll need to eat to feel full and how many calories you’ll have per day. Canned beans tend to be rather high calorie per volume, so if you had oatmeal sometimes and beans other that would be more manageable from a caloric intake and fullness perspective. You may need to be creative to get a good variety of foods that fulfill your needs. And finally don’t forget hygiene products, too.
Low cost prepping is actually a doable task. We all should be prepared for the worst outcomes of today’s reality, but we don’t have to spend thousands of hard-earned dollars on survival equipment. It’s completely possible to just walk into Walmart, or Walmart’s counterpart in your country, and fill your survival list on a very small budget.
I’ve done my own research on this topic, and came up with a list of items that can make a big difference in disastrous events – yet each and every one of them does not cost more than five dollars. The items can be sorted into five important categories. I even took this research a few steps further and outlined ten of the cheapest and most useful of such items. And finally, I also discuss what necessary survival steps and techniques you can take without spending another penny…
All items on the low cost prepping list can be divided into 5 categories: first aid, water, food, hygiene items and emergency supplies. You might ask, do I need all of them? Well, a person can survive for 3 days without water, and as much as 3 weeks without food, but it would be a painful and probably lethal experience. And what if you are injured or running a fever? What if you are stuck on your roof for many days as your neighborhood is flooded?
As you can understand now, being fully prepared is a necessity. You will need the items that I am about to list, and trust me, I do not intend to suggest redundant or luxury items. These are the items that can be utilized when an actual disaster strikes, and all of them are on a budget. Just make sure you stock enough to last you at least a week. Also, before deciding on quantities, see how many members there are going to be in your group, and who they actually are. A child might need less food than a grown man…
s I mentioned earlier, you cannot survive for a long time without water. Fortunately, bottled water is cheap and non-perishable. You can stockpile as much as you need. You will need approximately 2 gallons for a person per day, which includes both drinking and sanitary needs. I would recommend buying even more than that, because you never know what might happen.
There is always the option of water purification, and I have written a thorough article about the best ways to purify water. Keep in mind, however, that some of the methods require additional investment, of time and/or money, while bottled water is always on a budget.
You can also stock on other low cost consumable liquids. Powdered milk costs less than $5, and one package is enough to prepare two gallons of milk. You can mix it with coffee and boiled water. Instant coffee and cappuccino mixes also cost under $5. This might not be your dreamy latte, but it’s something that can get you through a challenging day.
The total cost of products in the water category is no more than $30.
The most affordable and most reliable water filtering item is definitely LifeStraw (on Amazon). This award-winning tool has been globally recognized as a highly efficient water filter that allows you to drink any water directly. It’s ultralight, can be easly carried anywhere and nullifies the need for iodine tablets, as it removes 99.9999% of bacteries, parasites and pollutants. A trusty companion for every prepper and survivalist!…
Just like in case of water, you cannot survive without food. You need energy, nourishment, nutrients. For low cost prepping and for successful survival, we need to stockpile on food that costs less than $5 each and can last for years. It is also preferable to collect food that can be mixed with other food in order to create new dishes and break the monotony of identical dinners.
So first of all, there are cans. Canned goods can be your savior. You will need minerals and vitamins, but fresh vegetables and fruits expire quickly. The canned ones, however, can be consumed even if they are opened 2 years after they were packed. And these are the cans that I suggest to purchase:
Assorted beans. These can be chick peas, kidney beans, and several others. They fill you quickly and have tons of necessary protein.
Peas and carrots (a popular combination, and again a lot of protein)
Oranges or mandarins
Mac and cheese
Cheese ravioli in tomato sauce
Italian pasta beef ravioli
In addition, there are foods that are not necessarily canned, but they can last for a very long time.
Pasta. This is an underrated food. Sure, it might seem boring, but it’s very cheap, very filling and can be prepared in minutes. You can always mix it with sauce or other goods. All in all, it’s a great source of carbs and energy.
Instant pudding (get several packs)
Flour – really inexpensive, you can make bread from it.
Sugar and salt – just keep them in dry places, don’t let them get wet!
Raisins. Some don’t like them, but they are very nutritious.
Meatballs for pasta/spaghetti
Chicken pot pie soup
5 pound bags of rice. Rice (particularly white one) can be stored away for a long period of time without going bad. It is very filling, very cheap and has tons of carbs to energize you when you most need it.
Peanut butter – a great calories source. Your body needs certain fats, and peanut butter has them. It’s delicious, and it provides you with additional energy that is needed for your survival.
The total cost of food mentioned here is no more than $175…
Virology Down Under is a website run by Ian Mackay, a PhD in virology. The following article was written for the site by Jody Lanard and Peter Sandman who are experts in risk communication and have written about risks involved with Ebola, Swine Flu and Zika in addition to Coronavirus. In Past Time to Tell the Public: “It Will Probably Go Pandemic, and We Should All Prepare Now the authors discuss the fact that governments should already be telling people to get prepared for a pandemic and banned public gatherings. The time for trying to contain the virus is past and pandemic preparedness is upon us. Don’t expect the government to keep the virus from your door.
In addition to the dangers of the virus itself, people should be prepared for product shortages off all types if the coronavirus goes pandemic. There have already been reports of things like face masks, and some auto manufacturers have warned that factories will need to close because of a lack of parts from China. But there are more common everyday items that are at risk of shortage, too. For example, Procter & Gamble has warned that it may have supply problems with over 17,000 of its products because they are supplied through over 380 companies in China. Procter & Gamble is a huge supplier of consumer products including such brands as Charmin, Crest, Tide, Vicks, Gillette, Pampers, Always, Tampax, Pepto-Bismol, Olay, Old Spice, Secret, and many, many other common household names.
We are starting to hear from experts and officials who now believe a COVID-19 pandemic is more and more likely. They want to use the “P word,” and also start talking more about what communities and individuals can and should do to prepare. On February 22, Australian virologist Ian Mackay asked us for our thoughts on this phase of COVID-19 risk communication.
Here is our response.
Yes, it is past time to say “pandemic” – and to stop saying “stop”
It’s a good time to think about how to use the “P word” (pandemic) in talking about COVID-19. Or rather, it is past time.
It is important to help people understand that while you think – if you do think so – that this is going to be pandemic in terms of becoming very widespread, no one knows yet how much severe disease there will be around the world over short periods of time. “Will it be a mild, or moderate, or severe pandemic? Too soon to say, but at the moment, there are some tentative signs that….”
The most crucial (and overdue) risk communication task for the next few days is to help people visualize their communities when “keeping it out” – containment – is no longer relevant. The P word is a good way to launch this message.
But the P word alone won’t help the public understand what’s about to change: the end of most quarantines, travel restrictions, contact tracing, and other measures designed to keep “them” from infecting “us,” and the switch to measures like canceling mass events designed to keep us from infecting each other.
We are near-certain that the desperate-sounding last-ditch containment messaging of recent days is contributing to a massive global misperception about the near-term future. The theme of WHO’s and many governments’ messages – that the “window of opportunity” to stop spread of the virus is closing – is like the famous cover page of Nevil Shute’s On the Beach: “There is still time … Brother.”
For weeks we have been trying to get officials to talk early about the main goal of containment: to slow the spread of the virus, not to stop it. And to explain that containment efforts would eventually end. And to help people learn about “after containment.” This risk communication has not happened yet in most places.
One horrible effect of this continued “stop the pandemic” daydream masquerading as a policy goal: It is driving counter-productive and outrage-inducing measures by many countries against travelers from other countries, even their own citizens back from other countries. But possibly more horrible: The messaging is driving resources toward “stopping,” and away from the main potential benefit of containment – slowing the spread of the pandemic and thereby buying a little more time to prepare for what’s coming.
We hope that governments and healthcare institutions are using this time wisely. We know that ordinary citizens are not being asked to do so. In most countries – including our United States and your Australia – ordinary citizens have not been asked to prepare. Instead, they have been led to expect that their governments will keep the virus from their doors.
Take the risk of scaring people
Whenever we introduce the word “pandemic,” it’s important to validate that it’s a scary word – both to experts and to non-experts – because it justifiably contains the implication of something potentially really bad, and definitely really disruptive, for an unknown period of time. This implication is true and unavoidable, even if the overall pattern of disease ends up being mild, like the 2009-10 “swine flu” pandemic.
Validate also that some people may accuse you of fear-mongering. And respond that hiding your strong professional opinion about this pandemic-to-be would be immoral, or not in keeping with your commitment to transparency, or unforgivably unprofessional, or derelict in your duty to warn, or whatever feels truest in your heart.
It may help to consider the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” fallacy. Feel free to say that “Jody Lanard and Peter Sandman say” that officials or experts – in this case YOU – are “darned if you do anddamned if you don’t.” You’re only darned if you warn about something that turns out minor. But you’re damned, and rightly so, if you fail to warn about something that turns out serious.
It’s simply not true, in principle or in practice, that you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t! Over-alarming risk messages are far more forgivable than over-reassuring ones.
Push people to prepare, and guide their prep
This is the most culpable neglected messaging in many countries at this point.
The main readiness stuff we routinely see from official and expert sources is either “DON’T get ready!” (masks), or “Do what we’ve always told you to do!” (hand hygiene and non-mask respiratory etiquette).
The general public, and many categories of civil society, are not actively being recruited to do anything different in the face of COVID-19 approaching.
A fair number of health care workers and communication officers tell us their hospitals and healthcare systems are just barely communicating about COVID-19. They want to be involved in how to prepare for “business not as usual.” We’re guessing that many hospital managements are in fact preparing for COVID-19, but we worry that they’re doing it too quietly, without enough effort to prepare their staff.
Lots of businesses, especially smaller ones, are doing off-the-cuff pre-pandemic planning. Several trade journals have articles about how specific industries should prepare for a likely pandemic. Around February 10, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted interim guidance for businesses. But we have seen almost nothing in mainstream media citing this guidance, or recommending business continuity strategies like urgent cross-training so that core functions won’t be derailed because certain key employees are out sick, for instance.
Pandemic planning research suggests that employees are likeliest to say they will show up for work during a pandemic if three specs are met – if they think their family is reasonably safe; if they think their employer is being candid with them about the situation; and if they have a pandemic-specific job assignment in addition to or different from their routine “peacetime” assignment.
Hardly any officials are telling civil society and the general public how to get ready for this pandemic.
Even officials who say very alarming things about the prospects of a pandemic mostly focus on how their agencies are preparing, not on how the people they misperceive as “audience” should prepare. “Audience” is the wrong frame. We are all stakeholders, and we don’t just want to hear what officials are doing. We want to hear what we can do too.
We want – and need – to hear advice like this:
Try to get a few extra months’ worth of prescription meds, if possible.
Think through now how we will take care of sick family members while trying not to get infected.
Cross-train key staff at work so one person’s absence won’t derail our organization’s ability to function.
Practice touching our faces less. So how about a face-counter app like the step-counters so many of us use?
Replace handshakes with elbow-bumps (the “Ebola handshake”).
Start building harm-reduction habits like pushing elevator buttons with a knuckle instead of a fingertip.
There is so much for people to do, and to practice doing in advance.
Preparedness is emotional too
Suggesting things people can do to prepare for a possible hard time to come doesn’t just get them better prepared logistically. It also helps get them better prepared emotionally. It helps get them through the Oh My God (OMG) moment everyone needs to have, and needs to get through, preferably without being accused of hysteria.
It is better to get through this OMG moment now rather than later.
Offering people a list of preparedness steps to choose among means that those who are worried and feeling helpless can better bear their worry, and those who are beyond worry and deep into denial can better face their worry.
Yet another benefit: The more people who are making preparedness efforts, the more connected to each other they feel. Pandemic preparedness should be a communitarian experience. When a colleague offers you an elbow bump instead of a handshake, your mind goes to those lists of preparedness recommendations you’ve been seeing, and you feel part of a community that’s getting ready together.
This OMG realization that we have termed the “adjustment reaction” (see http://www.psandman.com/col/teachable.htm) is a step that is hard to skip on the way to the new normal. Going through it before a crisis is full-blown is more conducive to resilience, coping, and rational response than going through it mid-crisis. Officials make a mistake when they sugarcoat alarming information, postponing the public’s adjustment reaction in the vain hope that they can avoid it altogether.
Specific pandemic preparedness messages
Below are links to specific preparedness messaging we drafted for a possible H5N1 pandemic. The links are all from our 2007 website column What to Say When a Pandemic Looks Imminent: Messaging for WHO Phases Four and Five. Each item is in two parts – a draft message (a summary sentence followed by a few paragraphs of elaboration), then a risk communication discussion of why we think it’s an appropriate pre-pandemic message. Because these were written with H5N1 in mind, the pandemic they contemplate is more severe and less likely than the one we contemplate today. So some changes may be called for – but frankly, in our judgment, not many.
One of the scariest messaging failures in the developed world is not telling people vividly about what the end of containment will look like, for instance the end of contact-tracing and most quarantines.
The FAQs on the Singapore Ministry of Health webpage (https://www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19/faqs) can serve as a model that other developed countries can adapt to start talking to their publics about this now, to reduce the shock and anger when governments stop trying to contain all identified cases.
What’s working for us
We’d like to share with you some of our recent everyday life experiences in talking about pandemic preparedness with people who perceive us as a bit knowledgeable about what may be on the horizon. Some of this overlaps with the more generic comments above.
1. We’ve found it useful to tell friends and family to try to get ahead on their medical prescriptions if they can, in case of very predictable supply chain disruptions, and so they won’t have to go out to the pharmacy at a time when there may be long lines of sick people. This helps them in a practical sense, but it also makes them visualize – often for the first time – how a pandemic may impact them in their everyday lives, even if they don’t actually catch COVID-19. It simultaneously gives them a small “Oh my God” moment (an emotional rehearsal about the future) – and something to do about it right away to help them get through the adjustment reaction.
2. We also recommend that people might want to slowly (so no one will accuse them of panic-buying) start to stock up on enough non-perishable food to last their households through several weeks of social distancing at home during an intense wave of transmission in their community. This too seems to get through emotionally, as well as being useful logistically.
3. Three other recommendations that we feel have gone over well with our friends and acquaintances:
Suggesting practical organizational things they and their organizations can do to get ready, such as cross-training to mitigate absenteeism.
Suggesting that people make plans for childcare when they are sick, or when their child is sick.
4. And the example we like the best, because it gives every single person an immediate action that they can take over and over: Right now, today, start practicing not touching your face when you are out and about! You probably won’t be able to do it perfectly, but you can greatly reduce the frequency of potential self-inoculation. You can even institute a buddy system, where friends and colleagues are asked to remind each other when someone scratches her eyelid or rubs his nose. As we noted earlier, someone should develop a face-touching app – instead of a step-counting app to encourage you to walk more, how about an app to encourage you to auto-inoculate less! And track your progress, and compete with your friends, even!
The last message on our list – to practice and try to form a new habit – has several immediate and longer-term benefits.
Having something genuinely useful to do can bind anxiety or reduce apathy. You feel less helpless and less passive.
And you can see yourself improving.
And you can work on your new habit alone, and also in a pro-social communitarian way. Others can help you do it, and you can help them.
And it yields real harm reduction! It is arguably the endpoint of what washing your hands is for, and it helps when you can’t wash your hands out in the world.
Like all good pandemic preparedness recommendations, it helps you rehearse emotionally, as well as logistically.
The bottom line
Every single official we know is having multiple “Oh my God” moments, as new COVID-19 developments occur and new findings emerge. OMG – there is a fair amount of transmission by infected people with mild or subclinical cases! OMG – there is a high viral load early on in nasal and pharyngeal samples! OMG – the Diamond Princess, how can that have been allowed to happen! And on and on.
Officials help each other through those moments. They go home and tell their families and friends, sharing the OMG sensation. And then what do they tell the public? That they understand that “people are concerned” (as if they themselves weren’t alarmed), but “the risk is low and there’s nothing you need to do now.”
Ian, it sounds like you want to argue on behalf of preparedness. Encouraging all stakeholders to prepare logistically should start now, if not sooner. And you are in a position not just to encourage logistical preparedness, but also to encourage government sources and other experts like yourself to do the same. Perhaps even more important, in our judgment: You can try to encourage emotional preparedness, and try to encourage other official and expert sources to encourage emotional preparedness – guiding people’s OMG adjustment reactions instead of trying to stamp them out.
This post attempts to gather some resources and information for businesses to make a pandemic preparedness plan. Every business will be a bit different – what applies to a city government will not be the same for a family run espresso bar. In the case of a pandemic, you will need to deal with the possibility of quarantined employees and customers, protecting the health of employees against the possibility of infectious customers, dealing with travel restrictions, possible death of key employees, communication difficulties, and much more. It’s best to at least have an idea of what sorts of problems your business may face before it actually faces them. While the current coronavirus is not epidemic in the US as of yet, you can learn a lot about business effects just by paying attention to what is happening in China and elsewhere.
As part of the planning process you need to:
identify core services, and what is needed to maintain the supply chain
identify staffing arrangements, such as telecommuting, succession planning and cross-skilling
protect the health of staff
develop a communications strategy for employees, customers and suppliers
consider financial implications, such as cash flow, cost increases and insurance
Prudent employers will assemble a pandemic team and plan if they have not done so already. The pandemic team should develop a coordinated and efficient pandemic response plan so that the needed public health information is gathered and transmitted; the communications to managers and employees about operations, cleaning protocols, leave and benefits is consistent and effective; and anticipated disruptions managed effectively while avoiding litigation risks and panic within the workplace.
The pandemic plan should provide pre-established means of communication and planning including:
Operational alternatives to shift production to unaffected areas and mitigate disruptions from quarantines and high absenteeism;
Education of employees on basic health precautions at work and at home, not reporting to work when sick or exposed, leaving work promptly when symptoms occur, and mechanisms for tracking who is ready to return to work or obtaining employee releases to return to work;
Implementing increased prevention and transmission precautions by increased cleaning protocols, disposal of employee tissues and cleaning up after sick employees;
Selection of safety equipment for key personnel possibly including masks, gloves and cleaning supplies and equipment, and the educational requirements for its application, use, removal, and disposal;
Redesign of procedures and operations to limit the face to face interactions of employees in group meetings, lines at time clock, cafeteria, elevators, etc.
Education of management concerning employee communications, transmitting self-disclosed infection information from employees, sending employees home who want to stay at work, and communicating with employees too scared to report.
Develop and communicate travel restrictions to any known infected areas.
Specific assignments for an emergency response team should include the following in the event that further response is necessary:
coordinating with federal, state and local authorities in control of public health and safety in case of quarantines and inoculation efforts;
developing and implementing evacuation procedures if they become necessary;
preparing facility shutdown check-lists;
identifying key personnel whose presence is important to continue vital company functions; and
determining methods for communicating effectively with employees.
Having knowledge of infectious diseases and how to treat them is very important, but you’ll be more effective in preventing their spread by having some supplies. Which supplies? That all depends on the nature of the disease itself and the risk that the healthy population will be exposed to it.
Before you can be a successful caregiver and heal the sick in an epidemic, you must avoid becoming one of its victims. Viruses can be very contagious (like the airborne common cold) and have a low fatality rate. Alternatively, a disease may have a high fatality rate (like Ebola) and be less contagious (it’s not officially thought to be airborne). Rarely, a really infectious agent may be both very contagious and lethal (like The Pneumonic Plague in the Middle Ages).
In a truly virulent outbreak, healthcare providers are at serious risk. During the Ebola epidemic of 2014, being a medical worker was one of the principal ways to get (and die of) the disease. In 2020, the physician who first tried to warn the world of the coronavirus COVID-19 epidemic was, unfortunately, also one of its casualties.
Because of the risk to medical workers, strict protocols regarding what items a caregiver should wear are formulated and constantly modified based on new scientific evidence. A uniform way to to don (put on) and doff (take off) equipment is very important in safeguarding healthcare providers
PROTECTIVE GEAR TO WEAR
Here is what we think you should wear if you are taking care of a highly contagious patient. First, we’ll discuss which armor would give you the most protection. You should have…
• Coveralls (with head and shoe covers; some come with hoods and booties built-in)
• Masks (N95 or N100)
• Goggles or face shields (to be used with, not instead of, masks)
• Nitrile Gloves
Shoe covers and built-in attached booties alone do not give you enough protection. Rubber boots should be worn and can be sanitized between patient encounters.
ABOUT FACE MASKS
Medical masks are evaluated based, partially, on their ability to serve as a barrier to very small particles that might contain bacteria or viruses. Masks are tested at an air flow rate that approximates human breathing, coughing, and sneezing. The quality of a mask is determined by its ability to tightly fit the average human face. The most commonly available face masks use ear loops or ties to fix them in place, and are fabricated of “melt-blown” coated fabric (a significant upgrade over woven cotton or gauze)…
In another example of the importance of being prepared and the importance of community, some residents who live along US Highway 2 have been stranded in their homes and without electricity since last Friday as over three feet of snow fell in the area. Miles of the highway are still closed, but WSDOT was able to open a portion of the road and community volunteers have been bringing supplies to some.
Patience is wearing thin for residents impacted by the closure of US Highway 2 near Skykomish. Most living in the area have been without electricity since 2 p.m. Friday.
Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) opened a portion of US 2 on Wednesday at 2 p.m. for local access to Skykomish for people living between Money Creek tunnel and Skykomish. US 2 remains closed between Skykomish and the Stevens Pass summit.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 10,” said Baring resident Charlie Preston. “It’s hell.”
But help arrived Wednesday when WSDOT escorted a group of volunteers across US 2 with supplies donated by community members for residents stranded by the closure.
“We’ve got like four trucks packed full right now with more coming. Everything from pellets for pellet stoves, gas for generators, diesel, the normal amenities that everybody needs,” volunteer Dave Mergenthaler said. “Food, bread, milk, tons of water, anything and everything we could gather between last night and this morning is going up.”
“This is the type of help that just warms you when nothing else does,” said one resident when the help arrived.
Some residents have posted videos showing at least three feet of snow on the ground. Mergenthaler said some people have been trapped in their homes for days.
“We don’t have news, we don’t have phones, we don’t have internet. We’re totally isolated,” said Preston. “I don’t know if the governor has called this an emergency. If he hasn’t, he needs to. We need all the help we can get.”
It´s a good moment to remind you all: adding a good gas mask (one for each family member) and after bought, everyone must learn how to wear it in a hurry, and do it properly. This can make an important difference. Small children are going to be the most severely affected. Seen it happening in Caracas. Guards attacked a hospital. Jeez. If you´re hunkering down adults must take turns to monitor the surroundings (AND. DON´T. OPEN. THE. CURTAINS).
A face covered with a gas mask sticking out an apartment window is very likely to be targeted. So don´t do that. “Regular” “Normal” people do not have gas masks. But we know this is a good tool. Perhaps some drops of Valerian herb essence in a cup of water will help with those nerves, something I strongly recommend. Just put some music, and grab a book while installing yourself in an observation post that allows you to check to see what´s happening outside. If you have (as I indeed have recommended in some previous articles) to have an array of 2 or 3 remote cameras to see what´s happening outside without sticking the nose outside of a window, this is the moment to use them. Quietly and unnoticed. This will work as a means to calm down yours, too.
Don´t leave your place unless it´s extremely necessary.
I´m sure someone thinking they´re smart cookie will call me Mr. Obvious and other stupidities. But try to dialogue with your (non-prepper) wife once the food is gone and her rattle is shaking as if there´s no tomorrow. Trust me, the streets are not going to be safer once this rattling starts. Jokes apart, not because you don´t see anything from your window doesn´t mean something is NOT coming your way.
If you feel the need to make it to the supermarket 4 miles away with the best prices, maybe you can get there. Maybe you could even buy your stuff if the place hasn´t been looted. And maybe, too, a turmoil gets between you and your home and can´t be surrounded. You could get yourself into trouble just because. No need to do it. Keep your place supplied, be creative and use your brains. What I mean is, if the water, power or phone gets cut off, it´s stupid to leave the place believing that you´re going to make it to their offices to make a claim. I know there is plenty of people that would do this. So don´t call me Cap. Obvious. You´ll be underestimating the endless human potential for dumbness.
OK now, let´s elaborate a little bit. Suppose you are in your apartment in downtown Chile. On the second floor. Going higher in one of the countries of the Fire Belt is not wise. Anyway, tear gas is starting to feel. You pull out your gas masks, or even your swimming glasses and a cloth soaked in vinegar over your mouth. The 3 supermarkets nearby have been looted. Not just looted, they have been destroyed. Cashier machines, transport belts, even the shelves island have been demolished. Some reports have told that even factories have been burned. Senseless, irrational violence. And you don´t have where to buy fresh vegetables, nor fruit. You have still water and power.
But it´s here where our preppings are going to shine and your kids will learn that it pays off to play squirrel, at the end of the day.
Your horizontal freezer is filled up with supplies. Your pantry is stocked from floor to roof with canned vegetables, beans, pasta and whatnot, enough for six months. You have toilet paper to wipe off an entire primary school battalion for one year (if you have children under 10 you know how they go through toilet paper FAST). Toothpaste, shampoo, and soap? No problem. That couple of cases of beer is still safe under your bed.
One of my friends informs me that in Chile his job was not affected. He could attend to his office, just walking carefully…and a cab every now and then. The train is not functional. There are massive demonstrations. When these start, people just leave the office and go home. Usually, the turmoil starts when these people reach a certain point…
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)…
This lengthy piece comes from Mountain Guerrilla blog‘s Patreon page. This one is a public posting, so no Patreon membership is required to read it. Some people get turned off by the way John Mosby writes; try to get past it. Mosby consistently writes insightful commentary. You may not like what he says, but think about it before rejecting it, and you may find your mind changing. In this article, Mosby talks about supposedly prepared people who ended up not being prepared for simple disasters and the kinds of things you can do to be self-sufficient in a way that makes you prepared for these short term disasters.
One of the things I’ve spent a lot of time and bandwidth on is pointing out the inanity of focusing preparedness on some potential future cataclysmic event that will bring about The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI)… like overnight, total economic meltdown leading to a catastrophic failure of modern society, EMP or CMP destroying the electrical grid, terrorists detonating “dirty bombs” in multiple major metropolitan centers, zombie or other pandemic disease outbreaks, and the like are cool to theorize about. The problem is, they’re cool to theorize and fantasize about because they are so unlikely.
That’s not to say that it wouldn’t be super convenient. That sounds facile, but it really isn’t. Sure, the idea that “90% die-off” of the American population being “convenient” seems ridiculous. The idea that spending the rest of your life in a tooth-and-claw fight for sustenance and survival would be “convenient” seems like something a testosterone-poisoned teenage boy would claim. The reality is however, compared to the reality we are facing, the popular images of “TEOTWAWKI” are exactly that: they’re convenient.
You wake up one morning, and nobody, anywhere, has any electricity. The banks and banking computers no longer work, so nobody, anywhere, has any money left, and those who did have a couple hundred or thousand in cash, stuffed into a pair of underwear, are … out of luck, because every quickly realizes that cash is valueless. You no longer have to worry about soccer practice, band recitals, or math tutors, for Little Suzie and Sam, because it’s time to crawl into the Crye Multicam jammies you bought, strap on your plate carrier, load and zero your 1970s vintage, Belgian-made FN/FAL with wood furniture (because real men carry rifles made of wood and steel, by Gawd!) and iron sights, and prepared to defend hearth and home, and the virtue of the little Missus!
No more fighting about what’s for supper, and whether we should eat at home, or go out, because we’re going to be living on beans and rice for the next year. No more worrying about who is watching what on television, because the power grid is down, and the satellites got fried by the CME too, so there’s no DirecTV, even if you did have a generator to hook the television up to. No more worries about making it to the gym to work out, and try to treadmill that “freshman fifteen” you put on your first year of college….twenty years ago, because it’s going to be physical labor from now until you die, trying to gather supplies, and cut and split wood.
No more dealing with attorneys to battle it out with the neighbor over the boundary dispute because one of you built the privacy fence incorrectly. Now, you can just smoke check the dude with a thirty caliber round from your FAL, because the police are no longer working. It’s not like you have to worry about him fighting back, because he’s “sheeple,” and you’re pretty sure he doesn’t even own a gun. You’ve certainly never seen him carrying one, and he doesn’t have any cool guy gun bumper stickers on his truck, like you do.
Yeah, it would be convenient.
Reality is dirtier, and far, far less convenient. Reality is PG&E shutting down the power grid to millions of people, for weeks, because they’re worried about lack of infrastructure maintenance causing runaway wildfires. Reality is those wildfires happening anyway, and closing down your “Bug Out” route, because of traffic congestion, as everybody else tries to flee the dangers at the same time.
Reality is a tornado sweeping across two counties, knocking power out to thousands of homes, and sending 300 year old oak trees through roofs, and blowing barns and sheds into the next township. Reality is the electric company subsequently telling you that, “Yeah, your power is going to be out for awhile, because we’ve got several hundred miles of line to replace, and you’re at the bottom of the priority list. Oh, you have a newborn baby? A disabled grandmother living at home? Not our problem. Sorry.”
Reality is a winter storm blowing in and knocking out the power for the next week, as temperatures plummet to single digits, and nobody in your subdivision has a wood stove for back-up, because covenants in the HOA agreement.
Reality is what happened to parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas this summer, when the Arkansas River flooded to historic record levels, and destroyed entire communities worth of homes.
I have a friend who lost power recently. Their power was out for a week. They ended up going and staying with family, because the weather was cold, and they didn’t have any back-up systems in place at the house. Dude is one of the most all-around competent, handy, people I’ve ever known. He’s a super hard worker, self-employed, and has dozens of employees. He’s genuinely, just an all-around competent dude.
This friend has tens of thousands of dollars worth of guns. He wears a concealed pistol everywhere he goes, and he keeps a rifle locked up, inside the cab of his truck, along with a plate carrier, “just in case.”
I asked him, “Why do you carry a gun?”
“Well, because there are bad people in the world, and I can’t rely on the police to be on hand to protect me and my wife and kid!” He’s right. It’s a really good answer. It’s solid. It’s legitimate.
“Cool. So, why don’t you have a back-up generator wired to the house? Why don’t you have a woodstove in the house, and a couple cords of wood in the backyard? What if, instead of a storm knocking out the power for a few days, this had been THE EVENT? What if your family had lost power too?”
He didn’t have an answer. Most people I’ve had similar discussions with, over the years, haven’t had answers…
Many of us spend far more of our waking hours away from home, busy with work, school, or chauffeuring our kids to their various activities. Because of this, a vehicle emergency kit is vital. In recent winters, there were two notable situations during which a well-stocked kit would have been beneficial. During one scenario, a freak snowstorm struck the Atlanta, Georgia area. Because weather like this is such a rarity, the area was completely unprepared, officials didn’t have the experience or equipment needed to deal with it, and traffic gridlocked almost immediately. Hundreds of people were stranded as the freeway turned into a scene reminiscent of The Walking Dead, with bumper-to-bumper vehicles at a standstill. Those without food and water in their vehicles went hungry, and many people ran out of gas as they tried to keep warm. No matter how comfortable you are with winter driving, in a situation like this, you are at the mercy of others who may not be so experienced.
The take-home preparedness point here is that it doesn’t matter how great of a driver you are in the snow, whether or not you have moved to the tropics from your winter chalet in Antarctica, or whether you have huge knobby tires and 4WD. Over-confidence in your own ability can cause people to forget about the lack of skills that other folks have. Many times, people end up in a crisis situation through no fault of their own and are at the mercy of other people who have no idea what they are doing. (source)
The next situation had a lot more potential for a tragic ending, had it not been for the survival skills of a father of 4 small children. A family of six had taken off for a day of snowy adventure when their Jeep flipped over in a remote part of the Seven Troughs mountain range in Northwestern Nevada. James Glanton, a miner and experienced hunter, kept his family alive and unscathed for two days in the frigid wilderness using only the items from his vehicle and the environment. Due to his survival skills and the things he had on hand, none of the family members so much as suffered frostbite while awaiting rescue. You can learn more about the hero dad’s resourcefulness HERE.
Before adding any preps to your vehicle, make sure that it is well maintained because not having a breakdown in the first place is a better plan than surviving the breakdown. Change your oil as recommended, keep your fluids topped up, and keep your tires in good condition, replacing them when needed. As well, particularly when poor weather is imminent, be sure to keep your fuel level above the halfway point. If you happen to get stranded, being able to run your vehicle for increments of time will help keep you warm. Build a relationship with a mechanic you can trust, and pre-empt issues before they become vehicle failures at the worst possible time.
What’s in my vehicle emergency kit?
Disaster can strike when you least expect it, so now is the time to put together a kit that can see you through a variety of situations. I drive an SUV, and I keep the following gear in the back at all times. You can modify this list for your amount of space, your environment, the seasons, and your particular skill set. Some people who are adept at living off the land may scale this down, while other people may feel it isn’t enough. I make small modifications between my cold weather kit and my warm-weather kit, but the basics remain the same. While you should have the supplies available to set off on foot, in many cases, the safer course of action is to stay with your vehicle and wait for assistance.
Some people feel that having a cell phone means they can just call for assistance. While this is a great plan, and you should have a communications device, it should never be your only plan. What if there is no signal in your area or if cell service has been interrupted? What if you simply forgot to charge your phone? In any scenario, calling for help should never be your only plan. You should always be prepared to save yourself.
My SUV is small, but I manage to fit a substantial amount of gear in it, still leaving plenty of room for occupants. The tub on the right hand side just has a couple of things in the bottom and serves two purposes. It keeps the other tubs from sliding around, and it contains shopping bags after a trip to the grocery store. You can also place purchases on top of the other containers if necessary. I have two 18 gallon totes and a smaller 10-gallon tote, with individual components in small containers within them.
I use old Altoids containers for small items like band-aids and alcohol wipes. They stand up far better than the flimsy cardboard boxes those items come in. (Also, that means we get to have Altoids.)
It’s sort of hard to see but in the photo above, the container is a stocking hat for warmth and a waterproof hat that will also provide some sun protection. Inside the container are two pairs of socks, a rain poncho, a Berkey sport bottle (it can purify up to 100 gallons of water), and a space blanket. Each of these is topped off with a hoodie in warmer weather. In the winter, gloves and scarves replace the hoodie.
Obviously, THIS is not the Taj Mahal of tents. But it fits easily into a backpack and would be sufficient for day-to-day emergencies in warmer weather. In the winter, and anytime we are going further from home, we have a bigger sturdier tent that we put in the vehicle. This would be used in the event that we were stranded but for some reason, unable to use the vehicle for shelter. Generally speaking, your vehicle will provide better shelter and safety than a tent.
All of the above mini-kits go into one big 18-gallon tote.
Also included are a few different types of rope, a compass, a road atlas (I like the kind that are spiral-bound), WD-40, duct tape, and a 4 pack of toilet paper. There is room for 2 warm blankets folded on top.
I use a separate smaller container for food and hygiene items.
Our food kit contains graham crackers with peanut butter, pop-top cans of soup, pop-top cans of fruit, antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, garbage bags, spoons, forks, a survival guide, and plastic dishes. Not shown: ziplock bags of dog food in single servings…
Washingtonians can join them today by registering for the 2019 Great Washington ShakeOut. As of the first week of October, 1.24 million Washingtonians have registered to take part. Participating is a great way for your family or organization to be prepared to survive and recover quickly from big earthquakes– wherever you live, work, or travel. Learn tips on how to get 2 Weeks Ready and craft your own emergency kits here.
Start here to be included in the 2019 Washington ShakeOut!