Looters & FEMA & Bears, oh my!

Emma again –

Did you know that the government now has the “right” to enter your house without your permission and take all your food and stored water? That’s right! Mr. Obama signed an Executive Order giving FEMA the right to confiscate (steal) your food, water, equipment, and energy sources for “the protection and betterment of National Security.” Here’s the link if you want to read it for yourself: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/16/executive-ordernational-defense-resources-preparedness  So how can you protect yourself from this hijacking of your supplies? There are several solutions to this threat.

If It Were a Snake It Would Have Bitten You!

When I was a kid my mother would send me to look for things for her in a closet or in the basement. A lot of the time I couldn’t locate the item. Mama would walk up, pull the item out from right in front of me, and say, “If it were a snake it would have bitten you.” Oddly, the more obvious a hiding spot is the less likely someone will discover it. It sounds crazy but a lot of times the best way to hide something is to hide it right under the noses of those searching. Some people put canned goods inside furniture or (yes, it’s true) in hollowed out books.

It Was In The Last Place I Looked!

When people say this I always think, “Of course it was because when you found it you stopped looking!” By storing identical items in several places you reduce the chance that searchers will find all of them.

It Was Right Under Your Feet!

You can consider an underground hiding spot. Use landscaping or even the natural terrain to hide your underground stash. You’ll want to be sure to dig in a spot and at a time when people can’t watch you create your underground compartment. If you use your landscaping to hide your stores you should make it look like nothing there is meant to be moved. Put a large landscape rock or really big pot with a plant in it over the compartment. If you use the natural terrain be sure to carefully note where the stash is buried. Don’t use obvious marks or try to just remember exactly where you’ve buried the compartment. You don’t want others figuring it out and you don’t want to forget precisely where you hid your stores. Be sure you protect anything you store underground from the weather, insects, and animals. Use watertight and airtight containers. Heavy duty plastic sheets will keep out insects and hardware cloth will keep out any critters. Immediately after burying your stores try to make that area look just like the ground around it. Make the dirt look as undisturbed as you can, add leaves, or whatever else is natural for the ground in that area.

Where’s Waldo?

Walk into a room in your house and think, “Where would I look for Waldo in this room?” Of course, in this case, Waldo is your supplies. The spots that come to mind immediately are ones to cross off your list of hiding places. You’re looking for spots that others won’t instantly consider.Think about building a wall in front of a wall. The space between becomes storage. A wall in front of a wall in the back of a closet is an excellent spot to hide your supplies. Closets can give you a lot of room to store things behind a false wall.The same can be done at the backs of kitchen cupboards. A false back to each cupboard with a hidden hinge or lock will give you a lot of storage space. Just be sure not to make the storage area so deep it becomes obvious there’s a hiding spot. But you can stack a lot of 14.5 oz. cans or boxes of soup in a reasonable space.

Did Someone Call a Plumber?

For small items like batteries, first aid items, etc. you want to hide stash tubes are a great idea. Using your home’s plumbing and HVAC equipment you can disguise your stash tubes as just part of the house. Check out the pipes in your house and figure out where you can add some that will look like part of the plumbing.

Burglar

There’s a movie from way back in 1987 (yes, Kids, there were movies way back then) about a female burglar. At one point in the movie the police are trying to break into her apartment. Her attention to detail prior to this event keeps the police at bay for a long time. And while they’re trying to get in she’s got time to make a sandwich and go to her hidden, soundproof room. If you have the resources and the space, a hidden room can be the ultimate hiding spot for your stores. You need to consider a few things. The room would have to be built in such a way as not to be obvious. It can’t throw off the dimensions of the surrounding room(s). You have to ensure that it won’t be found if the searchers tap on the outer wall. If you can’t soundproof it like in the movie you can at least use insulation and a couple of old mattresses so that a knock on the wall doesn’t produce a give-away hollow sound.

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

You can disguise your stores by hiding them as “trash.” Just fill a bunch of cardboard boxes in your basement or attic with what looks like the junk a family usually collects over the years. After going through a few boxes of old clothes, greeting cards and pictures, holiday decorations, and other “junk” searchers will assume that all the boxes are equally useless.

Time is On My Side

If it takes you a long time to hide your supplies it’s also going to take someone a long time to find them. In a zombie apocalypse people are going to be in a hurry. Even the government agents aren’t going to spend days searching your home when they have many, many others to get through. Protect yourself and your family by making it too difficult and too time-consuming for them to locate your stash.

Two is One, One is None

While canning last year I dropped the little plastic utensil used to get bubbles out of the jars. I had to stop and wash it right in the middle of the job. It wasn’t a big deal but I realized that having a back-up set of canning tools would save me time. This also applies to your stores. If at all possible, have two or three stores of identical items. Store food, water, energy sources, medical/dental items, and everything else you have prepped in each location. I realize this may be cost prohibitive but try to have redundant supplies. If one stash is located you’ll have one or two others to fall back on. Don’t hide only one kind of thing in one spot. If searchers locate only batteries or first aid supplies in one hiding place they’re going to know you have other items hidden elsewhere and they’ll keep looking. And never tell neighbors, friends or kids where you’ve hidden your supplies. People will turn on each other in a crisis and children aren’t usually good at keeping secrets. If someone does come to try to steal your supplies it’s best to have only one person talk to them (if talking is even an option). Government agents are trained to use your voice, body language, and other clues against you. The fewer people giving them these clues, the better.

Nothin’ Up My Sleeve

Magicians use diversion to do their tricks. You can use diversion to trick those people trying to grab your supplies. Keep a small supply of items that you can “unwillingly” give up to them. Don’t just show them. That’s a give-away that there’s more to be found. But by providing “clues” you can direct their attention away from the real stash and onto the one you want them to have. By “trying not to look” at a certain thing you’ll be sure to draw their attention to it. For example, stash some canned food and bottled water under a bed and then try to draw them away from the bed. That will pique their interest in the bed. Don’t over act. Sweat it as though that’s really your stash. If they think they’ve broken you into revealing your stash they’ll stop looking. Remember the places you crossed off your list because they were too easy to find? Use those for your decoy stash. You can use hiding places like a vent that you intentionally leave a screw hanging from or hide canned goods and water behind books on a shelf. You can even just leave your panty full so that it looks as if you’re not hiding anything. Be sure that losing the diversionary supplies doesn’t really hurt. This means have plenty of identical supplies well hidden. When your “stash” is taken act distressed. If losing your food and water doesn’t seem to bother you it won’t take a rocket scientist to figure out you’ve got more. Be careful not to give away your redundant supplies by talking too much or with body language. Be a little nervous. That’s perfectly normal when people are confiscating the food and water meant for your family.

Live to Fight Another Day

Above all, remember that giving up your supplies is preferable to being shot by looters or dragged away by government agents. Even if you don’t have redundant supplies stashed elsewhere your life is still your most important asset. Hopefully you’ve spent time learning survival skills that will allow you to keep your family going. As I wrote in an earlier post the survivor’s attitude is the most important thing to develop. Be prepared to give up some of your supplies to protect others but also be prepared to give it all up to protect your family.

The Survivor’s Attitude

Emma here –

When John was first diagnosed with cancer both his medical and radiation oncologists told him his attitude would have a huge impact on his survival. During the months of his chemotherapy and radiation I saw many patients and noticed that some took on cancer as just another thing to get checked off their list while others clearly had a defeated attitude. Of course those who clearly expected to beat their cancer had bad days but, overall, it was clear they had the mindset that they were going to beat the disease and move on with their lives. Thank God, John was one of those people.

While John was undergoing treatment we had to make several trips to the emergency room and the E.R. doctors and nurses told me that people who survived horrible accidents, gunshots, and other life-threatening conditions all seem to have the same attitude. They’re simply convinced they’re going to live.

So how do you develop a survival attitude? Well, part of it is simple determination. When our boys were little more than toddlers I signed them up for ice skating lessons. The teacher had the kids sit on 5 gallon buckets and use their feet to scoot around on the ice. This was to protect the kids from falls. But our boys were determined not to use the buckets. They fell a lot in the beginning but they wouldn’t sit on those buckets! They were skating rings around the other little ones in short order all because they didn’t want to sit. They wanted to skate! Their determination to succeed is why they succeeded.

We hear stories all the time about people in incredibly dangerous situations who have survived in spite of what seem like impossible odds. Remember the movie about the man who cut off his own arm to escape the rocks he was pinned between? It took almost incomprehensible determination and the attitude that he was going to do whatever it took to survive. There are people who have had their cars crash into ravines, out of sight from passersby, who, in spite of being injured and having no food for days and even weeks, were found alive. These people were thrust into situations that could have ended their lives but they instantly became survivors. Giving up is an easy option. Even when people know death will be the outcome, choose to throw in the towel. But surviving in spite of overwhelming odds can be done.

A couple of weeks ago John and I rented the movie “Lone Survivor.” If you aren’t familiar with the story it’s about the real Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell who, along with a four man team, was sent to kill a Taliban leader in Afghanistan. The team was spotted and an incredibly intense, days long firefight broke out. Marcus was the lone survivor of the SEAL team. He had overcome incredible odds and survived. He wasn’t without serious injuries but he came home.

Navy SEAL training is the toughest training in the world. The men are subjected to conditions that are meant to break them both physically and mentally. But they have an “out.” They can simply ring a bell to quit. It’s right in the middle of the training compound. Then the candidate just takes off his helmet liner and puts it in line with those of others who have rung the bell. They are shipped off base very quickly. They don’t even have to worry about a job because they are given other positions within the Navy. But ringing that bell is something that, no matter how much physical and mental anguish they’re facing, no candidate wants to do. Those who make it through have an iron-clad “never quit” attitude.

These men have something in common with the ordinary person who makes it through extraordinary circumstances. They all have the never quit mindset and they all think about making it through, not the next hour, or day, or week. They think about making it through the next minute. That’s all. Just one minute.

A little over 15 years ago I had to have a spinal tap. The doctor messed up and, although I’d gone to the emergency room for a severe headache, I came out a cripple. I was in a wheelchair for years. Most of my doctors said I’d be able to walk “a little” but would be confined to the chair for most of my days. This was unacceptable to me. I had teenaged sons at that time. I love to garden. We had dogs to play with and walk. There was no way I was going to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.

I decided that, no matter how much pain I was in, I was going to walk again. I started out just going from my bed to the bathroom. From there I learned to get to the kitchen sans wheels. It wasn’t fast and it definitely wasn’t without pain but I got to the point I could garden by dragging myself along the flower beds. Now I have a prolific vegetable garden, I preserve food for the family, cook and clean like any other housewife except that I still have to take frequent breaks. I play with my grand kids and our dogs. I was even able to take care of John all through his cancer treatments and beyond. It hurts like hell and sometimes I want to just ignore the dogs, the garden, the house, and even John. But I don’t. The pain is sometimes to the point I think I can’t take it but every time that happens I get through it. I do it one minute at a time. I’m not fighting the Taliban and no one is shooting at me but I’m surviving my circumstances. And that’s the kind of survival attitude I know I’ll be able to draw on in the event of a tornado, a massive solar storm or a zombie apocalypse.

This isn’t to say I don’t plan for the long-term. My vegetable garden and canning are long-term planning. But I’m doing it right now. Everything is minute by minute. When you think of it that’s how we all accomplish things.

The biggest threat to accomplishing any task is looking at how big it is and how tough it will be to do it. Ignore that part. Set your goals then work on them in manageable chunks. What’s the first thing you need to do? If you’re planning a garden you first need a spot for it. Pick one. Then, when that task is done, get the area ready. Choose the vegetables you want to grow. Buy seeds. Do each task as if the end goal is just getting that particular task completed. Before long you’ve accomplished your ultimate goal.

If you can’t accomplish a specific task, figure out why you can’t. Is it finances? Figure out a way to increase your income or do it cheaper. Do you lack knowledge to complete it? Figure out the best source for increasing your knowledge be it the Internet, the library, or the old lady down the road. If you don’t have certain skills either learn them or find someone willing to work with you who has those abilities.

Successful people, no matter what line of work they’re in, have one thing in common. They don’t give up. They never let a task beat them. They just keep on even if they make mistakes and have to start over. They don’t think of things as mistakes. They think of them as having learned how NOT to do the task.

You can train yourself to do what you may now think of as impossible. In this process you’ll learn not just what you can do but who you are. Start learning things you’ve never done and didn’t think you could do. Each time you do this you’re increasing both your abilities and your confidence. And when you truly need to survive you will have access to your survivor’s attitude and a slew of skills you can use to save yourself and your family.

Water – A Detailed Look

It’s the most important thing after air. We need it to survive, to cook, to take care of personal hygiene, and to clean. If your normal source of water suddenly disappeared would you be ready?

How Much?

The general rule of thumb is that you’ll need one gallon of water per person per day. Half a gallon is used for drinking and the other half is used for hygiene. That number will go up depending on a whole host of factors. If you live in a hot climate or have pregnant or nursing women in your group, you’ll want to store more water. And you need to add more water if you have pets, unless you’re willing to watch them die of thirst. You also need additional water for cooking. We’ll start with a gallon a day per person as the general rule.

So the question becomes, how many days worth of water should you store? Well that depends on how prepared you want to be for varying degrees of disaster. FEMA recommends that everyone have enough water to last three days should your regular water source be disrupted. Three days of water should be enough to get you through the periods of water shut-off or contamination that can happen during natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, and ice storms.Three days is a good starting point but water access can be down for much longer than that even during “usual” emergencies.

Most people who are preparing for “minor” emergencies suggest that you have at least two weeks’ worth of water on hand. So for a single person, that’s 14 gallons of water. For a family of four, that would mean you’d need 56 gallons of water. Whether you decide to store more than the two-week minimum depends on a few things. For many people, finding space in their home or apartment to store enough water for two weeks is a challenge, so trying to find room for a month might not be feasible. Even if space isn’t an issue, the upfront costs for long-term water storage can be cost prohibitive.

If you can’t immediately buy a month or year supply just start off with the two-week supply. You can add to it as space and money allow. Be sure to consider special needs of your family. If you have a baby on formula you’ll need extra water for both preparing bottles and for cleaning those bottles. John and I both take medications that cause us to drink water continuously all day (and night) long. That means we’re going to need a lot more than the “average” gallon a day. Take a few days to determine how much water you actually use during the day. How many glasses does each family member consume? How much do you use for cooking, cleaning, and pets? Base your two week supply on your actual consumption.

Long-Term Water Storage Solutions

You’ll need a safe container in which to store it. It’s best to use food-grade plastic bottles. You can also use glass bottles so long as they haven’t stored non-food items. I don’t use glass because I don’t want to lose my water because it’s spilled on the floor with tiny shards of glass floating in it. Another option is stainless steel but you won’t be able to treat your stored water with chlorine Chlorine corrodes stainless steel. And no matter what you choose to store water in you need to be sure you can seal it to keep out everything you don’t want in your water.

Two-Week Water Storage Options

Store-Bought Bottled Water. The easiest, albeit somewhat more expensive way to reach your two week quota is to simply buy packaged bottled water. You start right out with clean water that’s well-sealed, food-grade plastic bottles. Individual bottles are great if you need to bug out and have to carry water with you. It’s also a great option if you have limited space. We buy Great Value (Walmart) water in bottles that contain 1 pint 0.9 oz. Averaging one case gives us about 4 gallons of water or enough to last one person 4 days. Since we use so much bottled water daily it’s not a problem to pick up a couple of extra cases.
3-cases-water

Empty Soda/Water/Gatorade Bottles. I also like to fill empty plastic 2 liter bottles and those gallon size Hawaiian Punch bottles. I always check that the bottles are PETE and clean them with bleach, rinsing them thoroughly, before re-filling with water.

5-7-Gallon Water Jugs. These jugs are made from sturdy, food-grade plastic. The plastic is usually a dark blue which restricts light and helps prevent algae growth. If you’ve ever had a fish tank near a sunny window you know that algae loves sunlight. The jugs are typically stack-able, so they are easy to store. Their smallish size also makes for easy transport in case you need to leave your home base but they’re not good if you’re not transporting in a vehicle as each gallon weighs about 8.344 lbs. (not including container). You’re not going to hike across the city hauling almost 42 lbs. to have 5 gallons of water.

5 gallon jug with spigot

One Month or More Water Storage Options

A good thing to invest in is the waterBOB® This is a water containment system that holds up to 100 gallons of fresh drinking water in any standard bathtub. It is constructed of heavy duty food grade plastic, and keeps water fresh and clean for drinking, cooking, washing for up to 16 weeks. Simply filling your tub with water isn’t going to keep it clean. In fact, unless you sanitize your tub and then keep it tightly covered, it’s not really where you want to get your drinking water from anyway. Filling a waterBOB® takes about 20 minutes. It comes with a siphon pump so filling jugs or pitchers is easy. It’s affordable at about $20 and I recommend getting one for every tub in your house. It shouldn’t, however, be the only source of water you plan to have. Twenty minutes may be longer than you actually have water flowing. Please note that the fluffy towels and candles are not part of the package.

waterbob

55 gallon water barrels are a good choice if you have space. They’re made from sturdy food-grade plastic and have bungs at the top that can be sealed super tight in order to protect your water from contamination. The plastic is also BPA-free and UV-resistant. Each 55 gallon barrel will provide a family of four with about 27 days of water.

There are considerations with these barrels. They take up a bit of space so they’re not right if you live in an apartment or don’t have the space for them in your home. They are a bit pricey. Each barrel will set you back about $93 for the combo that includes a bung, a gas wrench, and an emergency siphon. A full barrel weighs in at 440 lbs. You’re not going to fill one up and then move it around and you definitely aren’t going to carry it on your back.

07910_55 Gallon Water Barrel Kit-500x500

My wishlist includes the (http://beprepared.com/320-gallon-ultimate-water-reserve-combo.html) 320 gallon ultimate water reserve combo. This package includes 6 Aqua Mira water treatment packages, and one 50-ft hose designed for drinking water. It’s made with BPA-free plastic. It includes lead-free spigots and vent cap for easy dispensing and rotating your water. The plastic has been enhanced with UV resistant properties (more sun protection!) to increase the life of your water and the life of the barrel itself.The barrels are stack-able (up to 2 high) and fit through standard doors. It’s expensive at about $800 but it’s something I’d give up other things to own.

Storing Water in 55-Gallon Barrels

It’s recommended that you store all water off the floor of a basement or garage. Chemicals from the concrete could leech into your water. Just place the containers on pallets or 2×4’s. While you may not need to treat the water if you have a municipal source (which is already treated) you should if you have a well. While water doesn’t “spoil” you want to keep out contamination so be sure to seal the bung as tightly as you can.

Rain Barrels. If you use Facebook you know there have been a lot of posts about many states making collecting rainwater illegal. Conversely, some states encourage and even give awards for collecting rainwater. I’m not going to get into an in-depth review of which rules apply to which states. You can look up your state here: http://www.enlight-inc.com/blog/?p=1036 I live in a state that encourages rainwater collection for things like watering gardens and lawns. And, in emergencies, it’s possible to use the water once you have properly filtered and cleaned it. Some people collect rainwater thinking they’ll use it for hygiene purposes in an emergency without cleaning it but I advise you not to try to clean anything, including yourself, with untreated rainwater.
Rainwater harvesting is a budget friendly way to add to your long-term water storage. Be sure to cover the rain barrel(s) with fine mesh to keep out large debris. You should also add some kind of mesh to the downspout if you’re running it directly into the rain barrel. You’ll still need to treat the water but this will save time you’d otherwise waste pulling out leaves, pine needles, etc.

rain-barrel

Rainwater Cisterns. These cisterns are basically giant holding containers for rain water. Water cistern systems range from 1,400 gallons to 12,000 gallons of water capacity. In a TEOTWAWKI scenario these systems would be the ideal. There are some drawbacks. They’re expensive. A 1,400 gallon system will set you back several thousand dollars. They need a lot of space even though they’re underground. They require a system of pipes. And the tanks aren’t food grade so all the water needs to be treated before use. But if you can afford one, have the space, and are prepared to treat the water a cistern is the way to go!

cisterns

Back-up Water Solutions
In addition to having stored water, you’ll want to have options to filter and purify water in case you need to use water from rivers, streams, or lakes to supplement your supply. Creek Stewart recommends having three options on hand to produce clean drinking water: filter, chemical, and boiling.

Water filter. There are various products available for filtering water on the go. Most are lightweight, not terribly expensive, and useful mostly in a bugout situation.  lifestraw

Katadyn Hiker Water Filter

Purification Tablets. I keep Aquamira tablets in my stores as these tablets filter out more contaminants than others I’ve researched. Many people use iodine tablets. Just be sure to have some kind of purification tablets or drops in your supplies.

Aquamira tablets

Fuel and stove to boil water. Boiling water doesn’t totally purify water. Viruses (Zombies!) and some other contaminants may remain but boiling water certainly does help!

Preparing for TEOTWAWKI Part 3 – Food Storage & More

We can only predict some disasters and only shortly before they occur. There may a few days warning for a hurricane or a few minutes for a tornado but some things hit us when we least expect it. I wouldn’t want to wait until I felt the first shocks of an earthquake to start getting ready.

Common sense dictates that we prepare as much as possible as soon as possible. Authorities tell us to have a two week supply of food in our homes. But this doesn’t work if the food chain is disrupted for longer than that or if people who have not prepared show up looking for help. Everyone should have a minimum of three months’ worth of food stored.  This means at least 2, preferably 3 meals per person per day.

Storing enough food for the family is something that our great-grandparents did without thinking about it. It was just common sense. Since those days we’ve become accustomed to making weekly, sometimes daily, trips to the grocery store. This is not a very prudent thing to do. It wastes time, gas, and money since we’re likely to buy impulse items every time we enter the store. It also assumes there will never be an emergency that prevents us from getting to the grocery store or the grocery store getting food supplies.

I used to work in the automotive industry and our deliveries both from suppliers and to our customers was on a JIT system. JIT stands for “Just in Time.” That means that we weren’t keeping a large supply of extra parts in our warehouse that we didn’t yet need nor were our customers buying our products before they needed them. Our nation’s food supply works on this system as well. It’s a continual dance of products being delivered to the stores and customers buying those products. You probably have even noticed that sometimes the store is out of certain items. In those cases JIT was “not quite on time.” But imagine if the stores weren’t going to get any more products. Whatever was currently in stock were the only items available for weeks or months. Everyone in your area would need the same things but the supply would be very small and gone within hours. You cannot depend on our Just In Time system.

There are so many things that could disrupt the food distribution system. Weather related emergencies like hurricanes or tornadoes, epidemics, terrorist attacks, trucker strikes, riots, martial law, and the list goes on and on. Our food distribution system is usually highly efficient and cost-effective but it’s fragile.

Step 1 – Extend Your Pantry

Take a look at what you currently have in your pantry. These are the things you and your family are familiar with and will willingly eat. Your first step is to simply buy more of the things your keep normally keep on hand. Consider the shelf life of the items and don’t buy so much of things that they’ll go bad before you consume them. You’ll need to rotate your food so that the oldest is used first. FIFO (first-in, first-out) is the rule with food storage. My rule is that I replace everything I use with at least 1 identical item and with 2 if the shelf life warrants it. I also buy extra things like beans, rice, raw honey, and molasses and then repackage them for longer term storage. I freeze nuts and other items that would normally have a fairly short shelf life.

Step 2 – Long-Term Storage 

You can purchase food supplies from many companies that claim a shelf life of 20+ years. This makes it very easy as the food from these companies can be purchased as individual items or in packages for anywhere from 3 day supplies to 1 year supplies. These can be the right choice if you can afford them and you prefer not to spend a lot of time thinking about your food supply and planning/packaging, and storing them.

I tend to purchase some items at the grocery store where I get a better price and then repackage them for long term storage. I use Mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, and buckets but I also use 2 liter bottles and gallon bottles that I wash carefully. I’m careful to use only plastic that is marked PETE and I throw in an oxygen absorber, and keep them out of the light.

I also purchase items that will make our food storage a lot more palatable. Powdered butter, milk, and ever items like powdered sour cream and powdered cream cheese will make adjusting to a new reality a lot easier. I use Thrive Life for my long term storage purchases. Clicking the bold text “Thrive Life” will take you to our Thrive Life party. On that page just click the “Request an Invite” line. This does benefit us but it also can be a huge help to you in preparing your long term food storage.

The most important thing about food storage is doing it! You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can develop a good supply of both short and long term food if you just take the first steps. In later posts I’ll go into detail about what things you definitely should store and how to store food. I’ll also post ways to cook your stored food if conventional methods like your stove and microwave are no longer available to use.

Preparing for TEOTWAWKI Part 1 – Self-reliance & resiliency

Emma:

I’d always thought of myself as pretty tough but I started to really consider the meaning of that word when John was diagnosed with cancer. An older lady said I’d have to be very self-reliant and resilient to get through it all. I looked up the definition of resilient and realized I’d have to be very resilient; tough, strong, and flexible if we were going to make it.

re·sil·ient

rəˈzilyənt/

adjective

adjective: resilient

(of a substance or object) able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed.

synonyms:       flexible, pliable, supple;

(of a person or animal) able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.

“the fish are resilient to most infections”

synonyms:       strong, tough, hardy

The current state of the world has most people wondering what will come next. Economic upheaval, terrorism, the threat of war, natural disasters, and disease seem to be coming at us from every side. We may all have to become very self-reliant and resilient to make it in this new world. It makes sense to prepare yourself and your family for whatever may lie in store but figuring out how to prepare can be a daunting prospect.

Most people begin “prepping” because they’re afraid. They’re afraid of the state of the world or the state of their government. They’re afraid of job loss or social unrest. My own desire to become as self-reliant as possible came from a life-altering injury and the subsequent loss of my job. We had three teenage boys at home and we’d lost more than half our income and had astronomical medical bills. That first summer I realized that, if not for the generosity of my husband’s co-workers and some help from a food pantry, we would have struggled to even feed our sons. I looked into my pantry and I was terrified. I vowed never to be that dependent on anyone or any agency ever again. When John got cancer last year my careful planning was invaluable. I was able to keep things going here with very little outside help. After years of research and trial-by-fire learning I know that I can keep my family going should anything happen to drastically change our circumstances again.

This past year, more than any other, has shown me how resilient and self-reliant I am and I know that I’m not alone in that. People surprise themselves with their level of resiliency when disasters strike. Sure, some folks curl up in the fetal position and wait to be rescued, but if you’re reading this it’s because you’re not that type. You’re ready to take on the challenges and not only bounce back but thrive. I also learned that I have many areas in which I need to improve. I take heart in the knowledge that I’m wise enough to recognize that I don’t think I know everything and I’m still able to learn. If you’re just getting started you may feel overwhelmed. Don’t. We start everything in our lives with no experience. This is just like learning to read or drive a car. You need instruction and practice but you can become great at it.

It may be hard at times but there are some key things to remember when you’re getting started. First we need to consider the things we must have in order to be resilient. I’m talking about the most basic needs for survival. The “rule of three” applies here. This rule states that we can survive 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food. The more sources for those things available to us, the more likely we are to survive.

Let’s start with water and food. If we have several sources of water available we’re more likely to survive if the municipal water stops flowing. If you have a pond, a river or creek, and ways to filter that water so it’s potable, your chances of surviving increase. If you don’t have to depend on daily, weekly, or even monthly trips to the grocery store for food you’re more likely to survive if the trucks suddenly stop delivering to the market. You’re more resilient if you can grow at least some of your own food. This includes both fruits & vegetables as well as (if this is possible for you) your own sources of protein. Even if you can’t have cows and chickens in your back yard there are ways to prepare should the system fail.

No one I know can be entirely self-sufficient. We’ve become too accustomed to “specialists.” If an engine fails we see a mechanic. If we get sick we go to the doctor. We’ve lost so much of the knowledge our grandparents and great-grandparents once took for granted it’s nearly unimaginable. But we can learn what they knew. We have greater resources for learning than they could have ever imagined. And we can develop relationships that will be of mutual benefit. We have gone from having real communities to living in proximity to others. Part of being resilient is having not just the things you need but the people.

Get to know the farmers and others at your local farmer’s market. Investigate groups in your area who are interested in growing their own food or in operating a ham radio. Join a group who can teach you to sew or do carpentry. It may sound funny but there are “zombie societies” that teach people about survival. And they often do great things in the community while teaching very important skills. Many have events to stock local food pantries or raise money for local charities. There’s no reason becoming self-reliant can’t be fun!

Unless you’re a billionaire you’re probably never going to be fully prepared for every possible contingency. This is the real world and we live with real limitations. We’re limited on how much we can afford, how much space we have to grow and store food and other necessities. We’re limited on how much time we have to spend getting ready for disasters and limited in the ability to foresee every possible emergency. But you can learn to prepare within your budget, space and time constraints and for every disaster for which you can reasonably expect to be ready.

Don’t feel you have to suddenly be fully prepared or it’s not worth starting. I’d rather be 5% ready than not ready at all. I’d rather budget to be prepared than to succumb to defeat and blow my money on wasteful things. Set realistic goals for yourself. Even if you only spend an additional $5 – $10 a week on “prep” items it’s better than nothing. And you’ll find your confidence and inner peace growing as you become more and more self-reliant. Sure, awful things may happen but at least you’ll be able to meet the requirements of your family to survive and eventually thrive.

Over the next week or so I’ll be sharing some of the things you need to prepare yourself and your family for a TEOTWAWKI situation. Feel free, at any time, to comment or to ask questions. We’re all in this together!