Getting Home, Part the Last

This week, we take a peek into my GHB and my car kits.  I’ve covered the GHB before, but there have been a couple of fairly minor tweaks since then; I don’t think I’ve gone over the car kit much (beyond what we’ve covered in the last couple of posts).  Without further introduction:

My Get-Home Bag:

  • One MOLLE-style sling pack. For portable and modular things, I’m a fan of this system; while I generally avoid “tacti-cool,” but this is a good design.
  • One bottle pouch.  Again, it’s a MOLLE-system bag, which means that it’s probably a little overpriced, but it attaches nicely to the sling pack, and (if it came down to it) would attach to the ALICE-system backpack that makes up my BoB.
  • One 1-liter (32-oz) Nalgene bottle.  This fits nicely in the bottle pouch, above. If need be, I can stuff it full of other things–but then I need to figure out something else for when I go to fill it with water.  (And I don’t keep it filled; if it froze and cracked, I’d be left without, and risk rust on some of my other gear… I’ll risk taking a chance on having water available at such time as I need to set out with the GHB.)
  • One camping mug.  The style I’ve got snugs down nicely over a Nalgene bottle, saving on space.  And since it’s metal, it doubles as a cooking utensil (or for boiling questionable water…).
  • Firestarting gear.  This includes at least one firesteel, a lighter, and (believe it or not) flint and steel, with a bit of charcloth (which I really need to talk about, one day).
  • A decent multitool.  I like my Winchester, but Gerber and Leatherman are good ones, too.  Personal preference is the key, here.
  • Empty plastic bags.  I save a few of these from grocery trips.  Gallon zipper-bags are good, too.
  • A headlamp, and a flashlight. It’s possible to go crazy with all the different variations of  these; I recommend keeping it simple.  (Extra batteries are good, too.)
  • A compass, and a halfway decent map that at least shows the area around hour house–if you have a bit of a commute, like I do, I’d cover the distance from work to home.
  • A signal mirror. If nothing else, it’ll help with some minimal hygiene things, which is always good for morale.
  • A pen and small pad of paper.
  • Mylar emergency blankets. They’re useful, and are so cheap that it’s not difficult to pop one or two into pretty much any “survival” pack of whatever sort.
  • A Lifestraw, and some water purification tablets.  These go hand-in-hand with the Nalgene bottle and the cup.
  • A knife.  For the money, I like my Mora, as I’ve said before. Unless you’re fastidious about keeping up with your blades, I recommend the stainless steel blade, but they’re all inexpensive and functional.
  • A watch cap, and an extra pair of socks.
  • A cotton handkerchief. Good for rough water filtration, washing your hands, wiping the sweat off, or getting wet to keep you cool.
  • A first-aid kit. Something with the basics; the one I’ve linked is in a MOLLE-compatible pouch. (See? Told you it was a good system…)

And the car kit…  Really, you can’t go wrong with the list from the last post.  I’ll just reiterate some of the highlights, and add a couple of things. A folding shovel is a handy thing; in most cases, if you’ve got one, you can skip the bag-of-sand.  Spare socks, and a pair of hiking shoes (ideally, broken-in ones). Another flashlight, and batteries. Bottled water (changed out as necessary). Ponchos, blankets, and towels.  A car-care kit (jumper cables, tire patch kit, flares/reflectors, at a minimum).  I’d add a couple of collapsible bowls–I keep some in the vehicles anyway, for the odd case where the dogs come along on a ride.  Maybe another knife.  Possibly, depending on your local circumstances and personal preference, even a hatchet. (The linked one is small enough, and has a few added features–because if it can be multi-functional, why wouldn’t it be?) And in the winter, I add a 100-hour candle, for warmth if I stay in the car.

A commenter last week chided me on not mentioning weapons, firearms in particular.  As stated in my reply, while I don’t have anything against them, I don’t keep one in my car.  There’s a lot of federal property and military installations near me, and the security guys frown hard on finding such things in cars during random inspections. Add to that the fact that I can almost throw rocks from my front porch into about eight different jurisdictions, all with differing firearms laws, many of which are contradictory and/or non-reciprocal, and I just don’t want to mess with it.  No, no guns in my car.  But you’ll note that I’ve got more than a few weapons there… And (bonus) they all double as multi-purpose tools.  In the scheme of things, if I’ve pulled my GHB, and grabbed whatever I could out of my car kit, and I’m walking home, it’s probably the early days of an emergency, and things aren’t likely to have gotten that desperate yet–and I’ll be headed away from major population centers, which does quite a bit to add to my safety in that instance.  And I’ve always preferred to avoid fights, if at all possible.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve got.  I may do a “homestead update” with my next post, but I’ll be keeping on with the Family Survival Planning Guide as well.  (Also, the nice folks at GamePlanExperts.com have asked me to review their Preparedness Score test; I’ll get to that at some point as my schedule allows, and talk about that in an upcoming post. In the meantime, I like their car kits; do check them out!)  What do you folks think, so far?  Is there anything I can clarify, or questions I can answer?  Ping me in the comments.

Posted in Critical Thought, Frugality, Gear, Lists, Planning | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Getting Home – The Emergency Car Kit

As I mentioned last time, this week we’re looking at car kits, but I diverge a little from the Family Survival Planning guide here.

They start out well enough, giving their reasoning for having kits in your car, being basically “it just makes sense, just in case.”  Anything from a “regular” disaster occurring while you’re traveling, to a car accident, to just about anything in between–odds are, you’re not *horribly* far away from your vehicle.  If you’re away from home when something occurs, you’re that much more vulnerable, with less of a safety net-having a kit in the car is a good backup.  And, if you’ve got one in your car, it’s hard to misplace.

I can’t exactly figure out just what they’re thinking, though, for some of this.  They mention having a backpack or the like to hold your car kit, so that if the need arises you can take the kit, and leave the car behind you… Then they just sort of leave it there.  I pretty much figure that almost any situation that has me using my vehicle kit is probably going to require me to leave the car at some point.  This affects what I put in the kit.

Some of their tips:

  • Make sure to pack extra clothes for warmth, weather-dependent for your area.  You may have to change these out, depending on the season.  Here, I am in complete agreement.
  • Maintain at least a half tank of gas at all times.  And here, I break from their thinking.  Oh, I like where they’re headed, but trying to maintain over a half tank of gas at all times would have me constantly at the gas station.  Personally, I try not to ever let the car get below a quarter tank of gas.  This is entirely up to personal preference, though.
  • Pack a kit for the typical number of people who are in your car.  Here, I diverge just a little–that number is wildly variable for me, ranging from “just me” up to as many as seven people.  Ultimately, I’d shoot for a happy medium–call it two, or (for the mathematically inclined) “half the car’s capacity, minus one.”

They also recommend having separate kits: a first aid kit, an auto emergency kit, and a severe weather emergency kit.  Personally, I combine them all, and add in a “get-home bag” (GHB), basically a smaller version of my BoB that lives in the car.  (Again, up to you.) They suggest having travel blankets–I like keeping at least two blankets, plus a towel or two.  Nothing huge, but it’s extremely useful when I take a dog to the vet (to limit fur and mud, and for if they get carsick).  And age-appropriate toys for kids, as necessary, are a good addition.  (Anecdotally, one of my vehicles, with my wife and kids, was hit by another car several years back; the toys and such kept the kids occupied while the police arrived and did the report, and while waiting for the tow truck, etc.)

The list also has a “car checklist,” which I think goes more towards maintaining a vehicle than being prepped, but I suppose additional reminders can’t hurt.  You need a working (mechanically sound) vehicle.  They again stress the half-tank of gas. They suggest using the trunk as a bit, metal supply cabinet, and replacing the vehicle’s battery every 2-3 years, whether it needs it or not.  The battery makes sense, if you envision sticking with the car for an extended period–wouldn’t do to have it die on you; you’ll need it for radio and possibly the heater.  I’m a bit iffy on using the trunk as a ‘supply cabinet,’ though.  I keep the contents of mine fairly tight, and it’s still a mess; if I were to use it as more general-purpose storage, it would be untenable.

The next part of the list is for vehicle maintenance.  Either have a mechanic check on (and maintain) all of this, or (my preference) learn to do it yourself:

  • Battery
  • Antifreeze
  • Wipers and windshield fluid
  • Ignition system
  • Thermostat
  • Lights and hazards
  • Exhaust system
  • Heater
  • Brakes
  • Defroster
  • Adequate tire tread

They don’t mention oil, brake fluid (directly), power steering fluid, lube jobs, or any of the other myriad things.  The short version, though, is to keep up with the stuff under the hood, as well.

Finally, we get to their version of the Auto Emergency Kit, and the Emergency Kit for the Trunk.  (They don’t list a backpack; I use a MOLLE-style “sling” bag, with some extras strapped to the outside–but I’ll save the details on that for next time.)

  • Auto Emergency Kit
    • Bottled water
    • Sturdy walking shoes and socks
    • Poncho (here, or here)
    • First Aid kit and manual (I use this one, your mileage may vary)
    • ‘Sundry’ kit, with paper and pencil, a map, moist towelettes, plastic bags, and facial tissue
    • Flashlights and batteries
    • Energy foods or bars and/or trail mix
    • Ready-to-eat foods, with utensils to eat them if necessary
    • Radio and batteries
    • Space- or fleece blankets or sleeping bags
    • Cell phone charger
    • Small folding umbrella
  • Emergency Trunk Tools
    • Class-ABC fire extinguisher (like this one)
    • Shovel and tools (this set isn’t bad; shop around)
    • Waterproof matches and candles
    • Short rubber hose for siphoning (this kind will prevent a mouthful of fuel)
    • Bag of sand
    • Reflectors and flares
    • Jumper cables (get an “emergency kit” and cover much of the above, with an extra first-aid kit)

As I mentioned, I don’t necessarily agree 100% with everything here; the next post will look a bit at my actual car kit(s).  Stick around!

Posted in Gear, Lists, Planning, Skills and Practice | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Finishing Up the BoB

As promised, this week we’ll finish out our look at the Family Survival Planning 72-hour kit/Bug-Out-Bag.  This time through, I’ll be going over a few things I feel they missed, and briefly describing our “food kits.”  I do very much like the list thus far, but I a couple of minor tweaks would make me feel better about them.

First, a good addition would be a set of documents: copies of birth certificates, marriage licenses, driver’s licenses, insurance paperwork, mortgages, DD-214’s, and whatever else you can think of of that nature. I’m a bit of a tech junkie by nature, so I like the idea of having electronic copies on flash drives. However, for a variety of reasons (to include the legality of them, as well as EMP mitigation–if we’re going paranoid, let’s go all the way), I can’t recommend doing that. A far better way to go would be paper copies; make certain to get them properly certified (ask your insurance agent, or your bank, if they can certify copies of documents). Also, fairly recent maps of the local area. (Compasses and other navigation tools are useful, but they’re a whole other post.)

There are lots of different ways to make water safe(r) to drink. They listed the purification tablets, and I mentioned filters. If the water looks clean, is likely free of chemical contaminants, but may be biologically unsound, the SteriPen is an option (albeit a pricey one), as is a simple solar pasteurization technique (followed by additional filtering, if possible).

I mentioned having a complete change of clothes in the bag?  Don’t forget footwear.  I’ve got several changes of socks (one of the most important things out there), as well as a nice set of broken-in military-issue boots. I also keep the most recently replaced of my prescription glasses in the bag–not a necessity for everybody, but useful for an emergency.

I would also make sure to have spare batteries (I prefer rechargables) for anything in the bag that needs them, particularly flashlights. While you’re there, a foldable solar charger is a good supplement to the multi-source/crank radio.

Then there’s the food kit.  The contents of ours vary somewhat, depending on what we can find to put in them, and on our tastes at a given moment.  For a container, we use the containers from the packet-type laundry detergents (like this)–they only need a quick rinse to be “cleaned,” and have multiple uses beyond simply holding food in one space.

As to what to put in them, here’s the contents of mine, as of last night:

  • Two vacuum-packed generous handfuls of beef jerky;
  • In a zip-up sandwich bag:
    • Three packets of instant oatmeal;
    • Two granola bars;
  • In a zip-up sandwich bag:
    • Two packets of instant hot cocoa;
    • Three individually-packed fruit leathers;
  • In a zip-up sandwich bag, a large handful of hard candies;
  • In a zip-up sandwich bag:
    • Four small boxes of raisins/craisins;
    • Eight packets of powdered energy drink mix;
  • One large pouch of a rice-and-pasta instant meal mix;
  • One can ravioli;
  • A zip-up sandwich bag with one or two dozen strike-on-pad matches, with the strike-pad in a separate bag;
  • A Bic-style lighter;
  • A three-pack of solid fuel tablets; and
  • A lightweight, fold-up stove.

I’ve also in the past had microwavable-style meal pouches. I won’t have a microwave, but if I can start a fire to heat them up, that’ll do. (For a cooking container, I like using the can from the ravioli–which does entail eating the ravioli first, but that’s a small price to pay.) Could I replace the whole thing with MREs?  Yes.  And while they would last longer, the variety isn’t necessarily there. Would the MREs have more daily calories? Yes, but this is designed to help me survive, not to do three days of hard labor–my plan includes less ‘bugging out,’ and more ‘bugging in.’ (And I keep two such food containers, one in the bag, and one on a shelf, ready to go.) Yes, I need to go through the container and replace some of the food items on a regular basis–but it gives me an excuse to check/update the other things in the BoB.

So there you have it.  The food kits are a constant work-in-progress, but then, the entire BoB is, to a large extent. As my plans for the bags change, so do the contents.  Any questions or comments?

My next post, in two weeks’ time, will examine the Get Home Bag, or car-kit.  I don’t agree with the Family Survival Planning folks completely, here, so I’ll be diverging from their script a bit.  I hope you’ll join me!

 

Posted in Food, Planning | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Prepping Lists Part Two, Again

Hi, folks!  I’m back with a rare “between-weeks” post, as we continue through the BoB list as provided by Family Survival Planning.  Last week, we covered Warmth & Shelter and Cooking, Heating, & Light.  Without further ado, let’s move on to this week’s topics.

As I go through what’s on the list and my recommendations, I’ll be linking to products on Amazon.  If you click the link and make the purchase, you help support my site (and preps) at no additional cost to you.  Don’t just purchase there, though–shop around.  If you find a better price on an item elsewhere, please buy it there, and save yourself the money.

  • Water & Hygiene Items
    • 12 – Five-year Shelf-Life Drinking Water Pouches, 4.2 oz. each. (I’m not fond of the idea of packing out water; being on the relatively wet Eastern Seaboard, I’d rather filter the water that’s widely available. If you’re out in the Western deserts, this may be viable for you.)
    • 1 – 2.5 gallon Water Carrier, to be filled prior to an evacuation. (This makes a little more sense than the pouches, although you’d still end up hauling 20 pounds of water. Your mileage may vary.)
    • 10 – U.S. Military MICROPUR Water Purification Tablets. (Link is to a Katadyn-brand 30-pack. We’ve got LifeStraws and a hiking-style pump filter, but these are lightweight enough to add to the list.)
    • 1 – Small Roll Tissue Packet. (I’m not certain if it’s what they had in mind, but we’ve got some dry, pre-soaped cleansing cloths, as well as a few travel packets of tissues.)
    • 3 – Sanitary Disposable Toilet Bags.
    • 1 – Soft Toilet Tissue Roll. (I like having a roll or two of degradable toilet paper in the packs.)
    • 4 – Clothes Wrap Bags. (We keep a change of clothing in roll-up travel bags, and have some DrySacks as well.)
    • 1 – Small Bar of Soap.
    • 2 – Toothbrushes.
    • 1 – Tube of Toothpaste (travel size).
    • 1 – Hair Comb.
    • 18 – Wet Wipe Towelettes. (See the Tissue Packet, above. I’ve had problems with the packets of wet-wipes drying out.)
  • First-Aid
    • 1 – Deluxe First-Aid Kit with 60 Essential First Aid Items. (Awfully specific. I like the Northbound Train kits, but shop around, and find one you like.)
    • 1 – First Aid Book. (Again, shop around. Also, look into first-aid training for the adults in your group; check the local Red Cross, YMCA, and other organizations.)
    • 4 – Surgical Latex Gloves. (The link is to 10-mil, heavy-duty surgical gloves. Look around, if you want lighter-weight ones, but these are good enough to limit bee-stings; as such, they’re less likely to rip at inopportune moments.)
    • 5 – Sanitary Napkins. (Many uses, besides the obvious. Likewise for tampons–pick your favorite.)
    • 2 – Ceralyte Electrolyte Drink. (Or your favorite brand.)
  • Food Items
    • 6 – MRE Complete Meal Units, or freeze-dried food pouches. (Next week, I hope to go over the “food kit” we’ve assembled for our BoBs.  MREs are, if nothing else, simple to find, and don’t require much thinking about.)
    • 1 – 3600 Calorie Emergency Cookie Rations. (I assume they mean something like these. It’s certainly calories, and will keep body and soul together for a while. Can’t promise anything for the taste, but if it’s an emergency…)
    • 1 – Bag of High Energy Candy. (Again, I don’t know exactly what they mean, specifically. I’d go with something in the “hard sugar” category, that won’t spoil or go bad, and won’t melt or otherwise get sticky.)
    • 6 – Emergen-C Energy Drink Packets. (Or, your favorite brand of powdered drink mix.)
  • Miscellaneous Survival Items
    • 1 – Premium Heavy-Duty Nylon 3-Way Carrying Storage Bag. (Not specific enough, this time.  I think they mean a messenger-type bag, but can’t be certain.)
    • 1 – Solar Dynamo AM/FM Radio with 4-Way Power. (These I’m more familiar with. I like the Kaito KA500 series, or its relatives. Shop around, though, and see what you prefer.)
    • 1 – Military Quality Tri-Folding Emergency Shovel. (We’ve got entrenching shovels in our vehicle emergency kits, but I can see their use in a BoB. I’m just concerned over the extra weight.)
    • 1 – 50′ Paracord. (This is pretty ubiquitous. It has its uses, yes, but I’m still a little baffled by the cult following this stuff has.  If you’re going to get some, make sure it’s mil-spec type III or type IV, to ensure an adequate weight rating for anything you’d want to do with it.)
    • 14 – Potassium Iodide Tablets, for radiation emergencies. (In my opinion, this is verging over into paranoia. On the other hand, they’re inexpensive and lightweight, and have long shelf lives. Your call.)
    • 1 – Emergency Survival Whistle. (There’s many types out there; this almost becomes a fashion choice.)
    • 1 – Small Sewing Kit with Needle, Thread, & Buttons.
    • 1 – Swiss Type 15 Function Pocket Knife. (Or a Leatherman, or Gerber Tool, or other similar multi-tool.)
    • 1 – Pair of Leather Gloves. (Pick your brand and style.)
    • 2 – Hospital Grade N95 Folding Surgical Masks. (My only quibble is that I’d have put these up in First Aid.)
    • 1 – Notepad.
    • 1 – Writing Pen.
    • 1 – Pencil.
    • 1 – Deck of Playing Cards.

And that’s their BoB.  Whew!  What a list.  Next week, I’ll go over things that they don’t have, and talk about our pre-packed “food kits.”  Until then!

Posted in Lists, Monthly Special, Planning | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Prepping Lists, Part Two – the BoB

We’ll continue this week (and next–it’s a big list, so I’m going to post a little more frequently for a short while) with the Family Survival Planning complete book of lists.  This time around, it’s the “Bug-Out-Bag,” or 72-hour kit. This is absolutely a good place to start “serious” preps, beyond the basics of putting aside a few extra cans of food and some bottled water in the pantry.

We call them “72-hour kits” because they contain everything one person needs to get by for 72 hours, even if they have pretty much nothing else. In the prepping/survival world at large, folks call them “Bug-Out-Bags,” or BoBs, indicating that these are their packed, ready-to-go bags that they can grab and go if they need to, well, “bug out,” for whatever reason.  They’ll either keep you alive until help comes, or help you reach a “Bug-Out-Location,” depending on your plan.  (You do have a plan, right?)

Where to begin with the BoB?  As mentioned in the last installment, first consider the most likely scenarios that would require a BoB.  (“House fire” is pretty universal; start there, and build out.)  Think about what you’d need for those emergencies.  Second, “shop your home.”  You’ve probably already got the makings of a BoB–the “big stuff,” any way–around your house or apartment.  (The publication mentions wanting a “BoB” in the car–I consider that a “GHB,” or “Get-Home-Bag,” plus an in-vehicle emergency kit.  That’ll be another week.)

As I go through what’s on the list and my recommendations, I’ll be linking to products on Amazon.  If you click the link and make the purchase, you help support my site (and preps) at no additional cost to you.  Don’t just purchase there, though–shop around.  If you find a better price on an item elsewhere, please buy it there, and save yourself the money.

First on the list of things, but fairly low on the priority list, is a container–the “bag” part of the BoB.  Why “lower in priority”?  Well, you’d most likely be better off having your preps, but having to carry them in a sheet tied into a makeshift sack, than having the best bag money can buy, but nothing in it…  For starters, you can use a run-of-the-mill backpack, or a suitcase, or even a plastic bin. Over time, as you realize just how much room you need, and how much things weigh, you can adjust.  (For what it’s worth, my wife and I both have military-surplus large Alice Packs with frames. They’re water resistant, have plenty of room, lots of pouches/pockets, and are easy to expand.)

The remainder of the checklist covers a “2-person 72-hour bag;” I’ll be comparing its contents with those of mine and my wife’s combined:

  • Warmth and Shelter
    • 1 – two-person 8′ tube tent.  (We’re content enough to sleep under the stars, or rig a poncho, or build a lean-to.)
    • 1 – Wool Emergency Blanket.  (We use fleece sleeping bag liners; they’re compact and warm.)
    • 2 – Survival Sleeping Bags. (Liners, as above.)
    • 1 – Emergency Rescue Blanket, yellow.  (I assume to double as a signal? We don’t have one of these.)
    • 2 – Compact Emergency Space Blankets. (These we have, two per pack.  If you want more, here’s a link to a 12-pack.)
    • 2 – Emergency Ponchos.  (We also have these; they keep the rain off, and can double as a makeshift tent. That’s a link to a 4-pack; if you can find and fit heavier-weight ones, that’s probably for the better.)
  • Cooking, Heating, and Light
    • 1 – 36-hour Emergency Candle. (I prefer the 115-hour liquid paraffin varieties; you get more hours of light for the money, and they won’t melt if left in a hot car.)
    • 1 – Deluxe Quality Flashlight. (Not certain what makes for “Deluxe Quality.” I’ve got a small LED flashlight, with white and red light; you can get brighter or otherwise “fancier” ones, though. ‘Headlights’ are also useful for providing hands-free light.)
    • 2 – Flashlight batteries.  (No link here; this will depend on your flashlight.  For a variety of reasons, I recommend having a full set of rechargeables for all of your stuff, in addition to your “basic” batteries.)
    • 2 – twelve-hour Instant Light Sticks. (“Chem-lights” to most of the world. They’re inexpensive, I guess; I like these solar-charging things. They give more light, and appeal to my inner technophile.)
    • 1 – Adjustable Heat/Cooking Stove, with fuel. (I assume they mean something like these. We’ve got similar, plus extra fuel tablets.)
    • 2 – Sierra Cups for Drinking & Heating Water. (Those are good; I’ve got this one, though, which fits over/around a 1L Nalgene bottle.)
    • 48 – Waterproof Matches. (Or a simple Bic lighter, or flint-and-steel, or fire-striker. Up to you, and your desire/ability to get a fire started.)
    • 4 – Emergency 18hr Body Heat-Packs. (We don’t have any of these, but they’re a good idea, and are going on my list…)

That’s all I want to tackle for today, to keep this from getting too unwieldy.  Coming up: Hygiene, Water, Food, and “Miscellaneous,” plus a bit more commentary about my BoBs, and a few things I have that aren’t on the list.  Comments, questions, and such are welcome!  Do please stick around!

Posted in Critical Thought, Gear, Lists, Planning | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

A… Beginning?

Here we are, on the eve of a new administration.  It’s certainly got more than a few people alarmed, for a variety of reasons. And many people new to the prepping world are taking their first steps towards becoming ready for whatever emergencies life throws their way–be it a natural disaster (hurricane, earthquake, tornado, fire, flood, or what-have-you) or a man-made one (war, economic collapse, etc).  As promised in my last post, I’ve been looking over ways to get people started.

In my scouring of the web, I ran across the Family Survival Planning people, and bit the bullet to purchase some of their offerings.  I was pleasantly surprised!  They seem to be much less alarmist than many (read: almost not at all), and in going through some of their offerings, I found quite a bit to like. (I should note, while we’re here, that I’m not affiliated with them in any way, shape, or form.)

What I’d like to do, then, is loosely stick to their “Complete Book of Prepping Lists.”  It’s available from their site–in fact, at the time of this writing, signing up for their newsletter will get you a copy–and chock full of good stuff.  (And, as my long-time readers know, I’m a sucker for a good list.)

So, for this week, I’d like to go over the first list in their book: the Top 10 List for Preparedness on a Budget.

  1. Plan.  Just one word, and they’ve already started down a road I like.  What they mean is to think about what sorts of disasters can happen in your area.  Likely events for the Florida coast are very different in many respects from likely events in the North Central Plains, or from the mountains in Northern California.
  2. Create a personalized list. Take a look at your personal circumstances, situation, and needs. Examine commercially available “emergency kits,” and think about whether they will fit your situation, or lack items, or vastly overshoot your needs.  Do you have pets? Do you have chronic conditions? Are you taking care of elderly parents? Children?  Consider all of these things.
  3. Budget.  Treat prepping items as a ‘normal’ expense.  Most people don’t have the money to throw at getting a full kit together in one fell swoop. (And I’d venture that most of those who get everything all at once aren’t thoroughly going through steps one and two…)  Set aside a little each month to go towards your preps, or to improving them.  Buy one ‘extra’ can of something every time you hit the grocery store.  Even with small steps, things start progressing quickly.
  4. Save. Buy the best items that you can afford, but don’t go overboard. Shop sales. Clip coupons. Don’t be afraid to buy used. And be sure to maintain the things you have, to avoid the expense necessary in buying them again, or shelling out for repairs.
  5. Store. Make sure your containers are proper for what you’re putting away. The original list focuses on water (no need for bottled, but make sure your water containers are safe and disinfected), but I’d extend this out to your food storage, as well.  (We’ll be talking storage in a later post, I’m sure.)
  6. Request prepping items as gifts.  Your mileage may vary with this one… I have a relative who regularly ignores suggestions, and buys cheaply-built knock-off versions of what you’ve asked for.  Perhaps gift cards would be better?  Then you could spend them however you need.
  7. Think ahead. See? I really like these people.  Strategic shopping, to save money. Don’t try to buy all your bread, milk, and toilet paper right before the big storm hits–you’ll be fighting everybody else, and prices may well have gone up.  Use lists, to avoid stress and panic (and impulse buys).
  8. Review. Check your insurance policies (at least) annually. I’d throw in any other significant paperwork, medical records, and the like. When was the last time your vehicle had an oil change?  Going over these things regularly will catch problems early, before they grow into disasters of their own.
  9. Update. Keep contact lists up-to-date. Update emergency supply inventories. Knowing that your info is accurate will remove a source of stress.
  10. Trade one night out to fund your kit.  As the original list points out, one night out for a family of four could cost as much as one 72-hour kit.  Think about spending an evening in, playing board games or something, and putting the money you save towards your preps.

And there it is!  A simple list of things to get us started.  About the only thing I might add would be a step between “2” and “3”: shop what you’ve already got on hand. You might be surprised how much of a decent kit you can throw together using just things you’d forgotten you have.  That pup-tent and sleeping bag you got because you thought you were going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, but which are now gathering dust in the back of the closet?  Perfect for the kit!

The next installment is on the 72-hour kit or Bug-Out-Bag (“BoB”); I’ve discussed them before, but it would be good to go over them again–and it’s high time I went through mine once more for updates.  Please stick around!  (And if you’ve got your own recommendations, I’d love to see them in the comments!)

Posted in Lists, Planning | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Fresh Start

Welcome back!  And, to those of you newly following since I was mentioned in the BBC article, welcome!

I’ve been taking a break for the better part of two months.  I hope and trust that everyone had a happy and safe holiday period.  Now I’m rested up, and ready to take on whatever fate throws my way.  (Buckle up–it looks like it’s going to be a bumpy ride!)

Before I really get deep into more prepping discussions, I thought it would be good to lay a few ‘ground rules’ here, and temper expectations just a little.

Generally, I try to post every other Thursday.  This means that I’m most often typing a given entry up on the Wednesday evening prior.  (Yes, bad blogger–I should have several posts written at a time, “canned” and ready for use in case of emergency.  That I don’t is probably one of the subtler ironies of this blog…)  I could argue that it’s my way of keeping “up-to-date,” so that I can include late-breaking news, if need be.  In reality, Real Life(tm) often intrudes on my best-laid plans, so I often don’t get around to it that early.  Pick your reason.

I’m open to letting folks of whatever stripe–left, right, center, libertarian, whatever–post comments.  I certainly won’t agree with everybody–but that’s one of the joys of us being individuals, don’t you think?  All I ask  is that you keep it civil, and that you make an attempt at coherent, grammatically correct writing.  If your “comment” runs to a couple of hundred words, and you use either ALL CAPS or no caps at all, especially if you use no punctuation (or use it wildly incorrectly), I’ll probably not allow the post.  If your post is basically an unhinged rant, disconnected from all reality, ditto.  For the civility, don’t be rude.  You can disagree, but my comments section isn’t the place to try to convince others… If that’s what you want to try, you’re welcome to start your own blog. (I’m told that WordPress is a good hosting site, and it’s free…)

I do occasionally review things–books, gadgets, other blogs, news articles.  I don’t get paid to do it, nor do I receive anything from the authors/manufacturers/retailers for doing it.  I’m not against receiving things to review; I merely haven’t yet.  Any equipment manufacturers interested in letting me “play” with some of their gear, my email is in the “about me” section.  One thing I do participate in is the Amazon Associates program; most times, a link to a piece of gear or a book goes through them, and I get a small percentage of your sale.  Let me be clear, though, I absolutely do not depend on that for any significant portion of my income.  I have a day job.  The (very small, to date) ‘residuals’ pay for me to get more preps done.

All that being said, watching the political fireworks (such as they are) since the election has me a bit torn.  Do I want to shift into overdrive, and get as much long-term prepping done as I can, while I can?  Or just leave things to advance at their current rate, and grab the popcorn to watch the spectacle?  (For what it’s worth, while I am trying to speed things up a bit, there are only so many dollars and so many hours…)

We’ve been continuing “Electricity-Free Fridays,” difficult as that may be at times.  We’ve got the garden planned for the spring (and the fall, too, for that matter).  The hens are laying.  The grains are growing.  Over the coming months, I intend to walk through a few “starting points” for those who are just beginning. I hope to nudge a few folks into some “outside-the-box” thinking (my wife can’t go through the electrical department at the hardware store without coming up with three or four other-than-intended uses for the stuff there). And I hope to discuss what’s going on with the nation, and the world, a bit, as well.  Please, stick around and join the fun!

Posted in Community, News, Planning | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments