The Other Things (Needed for Preparedness)

The Other Things

The Boy Scout motto — Be Prepared — is probably considered evidence of terrorist (or at least extremist) inclinations in the USSA Today. I won’t even get into the parts about hiking in the woods, carrying knives and practicing “survival” strategies. In my day, we even had a merit badge for marksmanship with a gun.

But, weekend camping expeditions aside, how to be prepared in situ? In your home? For when the SHTF?

Guns (and ammo) are obviously good things to have. And every person who wants to be prepared for a possible fecal-flinging scenario ought to have them. So also food supplies and medicine. Check.

Then I got to thinking about related stuff that is arguably just as essential which some “be prepared” people may not have taken into consideration — but really ought to.

A heat source, for example.

Not just for cooking, either. What if the SHTF in winter? If the utilities go down, and stay down, how will you keep from freezing? How will you keep the pipes in your house from bursting? Imagine three or four months, potentially, of freezing winter weather on your own. Some people heat with natural gas, propane or oil — the latter two of which, not being dependent upon a grid pipeline, can supply you for a few months if need be. I however prefer old school.

I prefer wood.

For one, it is free (provided you have some land — which you ought to, if you took steps to Be Prepared) and doesn’t require you to leave your place to obtain it — or even to deal with the outside world at all. For two, it is simple and (if you get a good wood stove/insert) extremely efficient. You might even look into something that’s very popular in my neck of the woods: An outdoor wood stove. It heats your home and your water, too. The other advantage to these puppies is you only have to feed them wood twice a day. They’ll slow-burn all night. And they run on other fuels, too — such as pellets. (<a href="” target=”_blank”>See here for an example.)

Provided you planned ahead and bought a least one top-drawer chain saw (I recommend Stihl) stored up a few spare chains and a sharpening tool for it, plus plenty of chain lube and treated gas (two five gallon jugs will last along time) you’re covered — and won’t freeze or have to eat cold food. Since we bugged out to the Deep Country, I have made it policy to cut and split wood at least one year in advance. So right now, I am working on wood for the winter of 2013-2014. I already have the winter of 2012/2013 covered.

You should, too.

Next, illumination. Lighting that’s independent of the grid.

Ordinary candles are ok (and cozy) for a normal, short-lived blackout. But what about a more severe scenario? Regular candles don’t last very long — or those that do (like those nice-smelling Yankee candles your wife probably likes) cost a fortune. Propane/gas lights (i.e., camping lights) are not a good idea indoors. I bought a case of 100 hour (four days’ continuous use each) liquid paraffin, smokeless and ordorless emergency candles. Used prudently to provide a few hours of necessary light at night, a case of these should keep you out of the dark for six months or more. If you shop around, you shoud be able to find them for about $5 each — which is a deal compared with something like those $25 a piece Yankee candles. (See here for some more details about this.)

Next item, dihydrogen monoxide. You know… water. If the poo flies, you will need a steady source of safe water. In suburbia, where people are dependent on the grid, the water could be turned off — or worse, contaminated. This worry was among the many reasons why we fled to the country, where our water is in fact our water — literally ours. It comes from underneath our land, from our private well. So long as we have power to operate the pump (for which we have a generator, which with a manageable amount of stored, treated fuel — say 20 gallons or so — will run the pump as necessary for six months or longer) we will have reliable — and known safe — water. Storing a few gallons for Just in Case is fine, short term but if you haven’t got the ability to provide you and your family with safe drinking (and cooking; freeze dried food is not much good without it) water for several months, you ought to be thinking about how to do that.

Sooner rather than later.

Finally, cheap preps. It’s fine to talk about buying large cans of freeze-dried food or cases of MREs — if you can afford to spend a couple grand on that. Not everyone can. But quick oats are cheap; pasta, too. You can buy large quantities for almost nothing (example, I just added another “two pack” of Quaker Oats — 4.5 pounds each, 9 pounds total — enough to keep your belly full for 10 days or more — for less than $10).

For a protein supply, think about chickens. Live ones. A small flock of 15 or so birds will give you 6-10 fresh eggs a day on average. Do not eat the birds themselves until they are no longer productive (about two years). If you have land enough for them to forage, they are nearly self-sustaining. (You’ll need to buy feed for winter, or at least, feed them something). But they are very inexpensive and easy to keep and will keep you supplied almost perpetually with high-quality protein to supplement your stocks.

All this is surely far from perfect or all-inclusive. But it’s a good start — and that’s what being prepared is all about, ultimately.


Eric Peters

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