Snowy Saturday Spud & Karma
Being military among the civilians

Preparedness Week: Some Thoughts

Continuing what has become both a repost and a bit of an expansion of some previous preparedness posts. You can find an archive of all of them here, and I would also urge you to go back and read the "fundamental" posts and -- especially -- the comments here, here, and here; and the post on walking home and Monday's post on looking after yourself is here. Tuesday's post on room kits is here. Wednesday's post was actually a two-fer looking at car kits and power. Thursday's post is actually several posts, combined into one looking at packs, snivel gear, and more. Friday's post is another several combined into one dealing with packs, cans, and protection. Saturday's post deals with paperwork, from lists to wills.

I would say final thoughts, but such is an impossibility. There are always further thoughts, refinements, and lessons learned. Here are some thoughts you should keep in mind in regards preparedness.

1. You don't have to do it all at once. While there are some things you should get early, a lot of things can be built up over time. It can be as simple as getting two large packs of TP instead of one, two boxes of tissues instead of one, and building up a good supply of such over time. It can be as simple as waiting for the grocery store to run a 10 for 10 sale on canned goods, and buying some for storage then. What matters is building up so that you can go a week or longer without outside supply in an emergency.

2. Not all disasters are Ragnarok. Your planning should include the small scale, such as an unexpected bout of the flu. One of the Rubbermaid containers I have holds various nostrums for dealing with such, and I make sure (after getting caught out one time) that my pantry has both ginger ale and a certain lemon-lime soda along with crackers and such. If you can handle the large, it means you are better prepared to handle the small.

3. Rotate that stock. Yep, you went and got all that stuff, but now it is approaching the end of shelf life so now what? Well, this is a huge argument against doing it all at once -- the need to do large outlay every couple of years. Instead, build up and rotate out the stock. Keep it fresh and in date. What to do with the old? Well, I donate to various charities before it goes out of date, so it gets used and I get an itemizable deduction.

4. Think portable as much as possible. While I do live in one of those areas where people are likely to head to, rather than away from, I also have identified several things that might require me to bug out. So, as many of my supplies are readily transportable as possible. Yes, I do have a good supply of potable water, the majority in 2.5 gal. containers (and some in .5L bottles) so that I can take as much as possible with me if I do have to bug out. Buying bulk is great, and when I do it that which is for storage gets broken down into smaller packages and vacuum sealed or otherwise set for long-term storage. Smaller packages also are much more likely to be useful, or to be used before they can go bad, in a disaster.

5. Think multi-use. While there are some things in life that have one and only one use, most things can have multiple uses. Make your supplies and preparations have as many uses as possible. Again, it doesn't have to be a major disaster, or even a minor, to have some bit of preparation come in handy. A former girlfriend and I cheerfully made use of the church key, can opener, and other delights that took up a small space in the glovebox to open up and prepare an on-the-road picnic as we were driving a long distance. The vacuum meal seal system keeps my coffee fresh, seals up leftovers, seals up old papers and records for storage, as well as sealing up items for the emergency stash. Make what you have work for you in as many ways as possible -- self-sufficiency multi-tasking rocks.

6. Think about pets. Friend and Mentor P out at Wolf Park reminds me that I should be pointing out preparations for pets in vehicles and in planning. If you have pets and have a car kit, are there things in the kit for the care and feeding of said pet? Gear for controlling or securing as needed, as in a spare leash and/or harness? If you have emergency supplies at home, have you set aside food and meds for the pets as well? Are they covered in your evacuation plans? Think long and hard about such, for leaving them to die slowly and/or alone is NOT an option; and, if you are not prepared to either take them with you or do what is necessary, then you should not have them. Period. As for me, the reminder has caused me to place some extra food in the vehicle in the form of treats from a local maker. Nice thing is, they are like a well-done and dry oat cake/cookie and as such can be consumed by either the dog or me. Yes, I have tried them (a long day out doing for and with the wolves) and they aren't bad. The dog also has her own secure storage of kibble.

7. Have some trade goods. Maj. Z in comments earlier pointed out that trade goods are needed. Think about your addictions, from coffee to alcohol, and set aside some extra. Vacuum sealed coffee can be stored for ten or more years provided the seal holds, and, yes, I do have some set aside for trade (or desperation use) as needed. I also have other items, from fishing gear to salt, that are intended for trade in an emergency. I also have the means to help ensure it is a trade and not a "give or else" that is employed, and urge you to do the same.

8. Partner. Find some neighbors or others that have items or strengths you don't and join up with them. It can be as minor as simply having them agree that in the event of fire or whatever that your family well meet up at their place, or it can be as involved as a group prepared for the very worst. If you go with a group, check them out and be comfortable with them. One of my favorite stories in this regard was someone I knew who I would put in the preparedness category who looked into joining up with a more survivalist group. They told this person no, that they didn't have X number and type of weapons and X amount of ammo, so no go. The response was along the lines of "Well, I have Y weapons, enough ammo to defend myself and what I have, I also have a years supply of TP -- and you are going to have an awful hard time wiping your a** with all those bullets..." My understanding is that they conceeded the point and engaged in some reconsideration...

9. Read up, train up. There are a lot of good books out there, but I particularly recommend the Boy Scout Manual (at least the older versions, haven't read the latest), the Boy Scout Field Manual, Alas Babylon by Pat Frank (lots of good food for thought), and The Rackham Files and Pulling Through by Dean Ing. Alas Babylon and Triumph by Philip Wylie had a strong impact on me when I was quite young, and helped me take the Boy Scout motto towards practical preparedness. In addition, make use of opportunities to learn. Often workplaces and other organizations offer free or reduced-cost classes on first aid, CPR, and similar things; so, make use of them. Want to learn more about the outdoors or butchering? Well, zoos, wildlife rescue, private wildlife or research centers often need volunteers to help, and they often are quite willing to train you to butcher animals. Not to mention that some of the staff there knows and are willing to teach track recognition, tracking, stalking, and other such outdoor skills. Heck, volunteer with Scouting so as to make a difference in young lives even as you learn. The opportunities to read and learn are there, make the most of them.

10. Spread it around. If you have everything in one central place, it can be taken out by a single disaster; so, avoid single-point failures. I have supplies distributed throughout the lair, so that the loss of any one part to storm or such does not take out all. It also means that, as with valuables, they might get some but they aren't likely to find it all. If you have friends or relatives you trust and/or care about, see about tucking some stuff away at their place. Look into keeping some stuff at the office that doesn't violate work policies. Think about where you frequently travel and where you might can cache things along the way or at destinations (with permission).

There is more, but this does constitute a good start.