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Emergency Preparedness, Self Sufficiency, & Survival

Updated on December 21, 2011

Whether you believe the United States of America is on the verge of severe economic breakdown where food and other necessities will be hard to get, you believe that preparedness in case of natural disaster just makes sense, or you simply like the idea of being self sufficient, we all agree that hoarding food and creating a home space that is as independent of the grid as possible is a smart thing to do. But what should you do? How far should you take it? Well, that’s completely up to you and how much money you want to spend or work you want to do. A totally self sufficient home stuffed to the brim with groceries is ideal but probably not practical for most people. A good rule would be to have anywhere from 6 months to 2 years of supplies. So you can see how expensive this could get unless you’re one of those extreme couponers. But no matter how prepared you want to be, you should find a few helpful tips in this article.

The most important thing you need to have on hand is water or a way to get water without having to rely on your city. This water needs to be potable or can be made potable via filters or purification tablets. You will die very fast if you do not have water. And you will need a lot of water. So if you don’t have a well with tank or nearby river, I recommend setting up a rain harvesting or catchment system on your home. Don’t get a 55 gallon drum and think that’s enough. Get a 5,000 gallon tank or two or three. There are several ways to construct this system and you can find examples in books and on the internet. Until you set up a system, remember that you can use water from your water heater and toilet tank in emergencies.

The second most important thing you can do for these purposes is to collect a large assortment of food. Most people call this a stock pile. But you must remember that this food is to be saved in the event of crisis so avoid stealing from the pantry. What food you get is of course dependent on what you and your family will eat. No sense in buying several cases of beets when no one in the family likes beets. I believe food items that are ready to eat or edible without cooking or refrigeration are the best. My reason is simple. In the event of an emergency the chances are good that you won’t have electricity, gas, or water. This would include can foods (yes, a lot of people won’t eat cold canned beans but they will when they are starving), nuts, nut butters, dried fruit, beef jerky, crackers, nutritious chips, canned cheese, and so on. If you can acquire MRE’s (Meals Ready To Eat) then you will have an assortment of goodies. Also, try to hoard healthy food because your body will simply perform better.

If you can cook without utilities like on a wood stove and you have a source of water, you should consider getting oatmeal, rice, pasta, dried beans, supplies for making bread, powdered milk, powdered or freeze dried anything. You get the picture. Get what you will eat and what will not spoil. There are several companies out there that offer bulk survival foods so look those up on the internet for suggestions. Unless you have a solar system in your home and your appliances run off of that or you have a cold cellar, keeping refrigerated or frozen goods is setting yourself up for loss. And remember to have several manual can openers or you could end up with a lot of food you can’t get in to.

If you have a green thumb, you should have a vegetable garden. You could also plant fruit and nut trees. You should learn how to dry and/or can your produce for storage. Likewise, you can forage for wild foods like onions, garlic, herbs, pine nuts, pine needle tea, mushrooms, honey, maple syrup, and so on. Get a reference book for your area however and know how to properly identify what you are about to eat or you may kill yourself.

I suggest this next idea with a heavy but realistic heart. Learn how to hunt and fish and how to process and store your meat. Even a vegetarian like me will eat meat if faced with starvation. Have plenty of hunting and fishing supplies on hand.

In addition, don’t forget to stock up on your pet’s food, your medications, toiletries, and anything you use often and can’t live without. Learn CPR and first aid. Keep those items on hand.

Assuming your home is of sound construction (if not, get it that way), the third most important thing to have is a way to keep yourself warm. The most obvious solution is a wood stove, not gas, not pellet, not electric but wood. Wood is abundant and most times free whether it’s logs, furniture, lumber, cardboard, or paper. There is always something to burn and fire makes heat. Stock pile wood for the stove and stay warm. Do not rely on the utility companies for gas or electricity. And don’t forget the matches, lighters, and flint. Likewise, have plenty of warm clothing.

Now that you have water, food, shelter, and heat, you’re going to want lights. You can use lanterns, candles, or flashlights but the best way to get electricity is from the sun or wind. Have a solar or wind system in place to operate a few lights and gadgets. Once again, there are many books and websites with information on how to do this. Having electricity is something we all take for granted and you don’t know how much you miss it until it’s gone. Some people have generators for this purpose but they are noisy and require oil, gas, and maintenance. How are you going to stock pile that much gas and given gas prices these days, a solar system will pay it back in no time. You may also want to consider a solar oven for cooking food. They are not inexpensive but they will give you a self sufficient way of cooking.

Other things to consider having on hand are firearms. You’ve got all that stuff, are living well when others are suffering, and you need to be able to protect it and your family. Learn how to safely use and store a firearm and you will not have to be afraid of it. You could also consider getting a couple of guard dogs if you are willing to take care of them properly. Have a non motorized mode of transportation a.k.a a bicycle. If there is no gas, your car is useless. Some people say to hoard cash and gold but to me, you can’t eat cash or gold, well not realistically. But, it wouldn’t hurt to keep some on hand. You should be sure to have a variety of tools and know how to fix the things around your house. And unless you have some kind of radio system where you can talk to your friends and family, communication could be nil. If your cell phone company ceases to operate, your cell phone ceases to operate. However if that doesn’t happen, be sure to have a way to charge your cell phone without relying on the electric company. You can use your car battery as long as it’s good or you can get a solar charger. Get plenty of books, magazines, movies, music, and other forms of entertainment. Long winter nights when hunkered down seem even longer and after the chores are done, you’re going to want to relax. Think about all the things you use and then think about how you are going to continue to use them.

These are only a few things you can do to preserve your way of life when faced with chaos. It’s unlikely you will ever need such resources and some people say that if things get that bad who’s going to want to stay around for it? But basically, preparedness just makes sense. No one knows what will happen in the future whether it’s a devastating earthquake or societal melt down. It’s a lot of work to create and maintain a self sufficient home chock-ful of food and necessities but when faced with doing without, it’s well worth it. Not only will you and your family be comfortable, you will have the pride and satisfaction of knowing you are independent.

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