Perhaps the most daunting aspect of living the preparedness lifestyle is that there is so much to learn. Pick any subject, and it seems that there are endless “experts” to listen to and hundreds of products to choose from. Once you’ve done your research and purchase your products, you’ll inevitably find someone else whose research landed on different products for different reasons.
As the executive director of Category Five, I am regularly asked questions about what piece of gear I recommend for this or what product I recommend for that; and it always makes me think about my own closets where I have an ever-growing collection of “junk” tools (and even more half-built projects sitting in my garage). Most of these blunders were from my early days of prepping when I thought that all I really needed was a bunch of cool gear and I would be ready for the big crash. Then, after learning more about prepping and practicing with the tools I had, I quickly began to learn that knowledge is infinitely more important than gadgets. Additionally, knowledge greatly improves to efficiency of your gadgets and saves you a lot of money spent on inferior or needless products.
Have you ever tried to encourage someone you know to prepare, only to have them look at you like you have three heads? Or have you started your preparedness journey and only found a sense of guilt about not moving as quickly as you’d like? Or my personal favorite: Do you have family members who joke about not needing to prepare because they have got you to lean on?
Being a lone wolf of preparedness may make you a very capable individual who has the knowledge to survive a potential crisis in the wilderness, but this mindset does not account for 99 percent of the situations that involve living in social context.
While the lone wolves might be ready to disappear into the woods and take on nature, they may not actually be able to survive the darker sides of a chaotic society in a likely crisis situation. For this reason, even though becoming a true “survivalist” is a great goal to shoot for, it is imperative to join like-minded preppers in your area if you want to be ready to deal with the fact that there are other people in our society who will affect your life in a time of crisis.
While three months’ worth of preparedness may seem like a long time, history confirms that it takes a combination of only a few emergencies for things like power, water and health services to be overloaded and run-down for weeks on end.
For instance, New Orleans is still being rebuilt years later, and Japan was still cleaning up their nuclear meltdown more than six months after the tsunami. There’s no telling how long the recovery from Superstorm Sandy will take.
Should a severe snowstorm or forest fire cut you off from the grid, it certainly has the potential to last longer than a week. Thus, as you progress in your preparedness lifestyle, you will want to move beyond a short-term plan.
The adage “practice makes perfect” applies to the prepper as much as it does to anyone. In order to stave off panic in a survival scenario, it’s a good idea to be familiar with your equipment and supplies. It’s also a good idea to get a feel for how your body might react.
If you’re caught in an emergency situation, food may be scarce. And if water is scarce but food is plentiful, laying off the food until water is found will delay the effects of dehydration. So it’s a good idea to get a feel for what it’s like to go without food for a couple of days. Fasting is also a healthful way to eliminate toxins from the body.
Let’s pretend that as you are reading this the global markets are collapsing, a hurricane is coming your way, or NASA just informed the world that a sunspot is about to shut down the power grid for months (or a combination thereof).
If you are not prepared, what do you do?
Whether you’re bugging out with your bug-out bag or staying put with a well-thought-out, self-sufficient homestead plan, make sure you always have quick and easy access to the important documents in your life. Make at least two copies of the originals, and store them in different locations where they can be grabbed at a moment’s notice. It’s important to update these records often. Outdated information will help no one.
In the case of an emergency there are countless scenarios wherein you will need documents to prove that you are who you say you are and your claims are true and accurate. This is especially true when children are involved. If you can’t prove that you are their parent, today’s State and Federal security laws prohibit schools from releasing them to you, and medical facilities will not treat them. With that said, the following is a list of suggested documents to copy and keep together in one place for access upon a moment’s notice.
When, in the course of “human events,” it becomes evident that the “junk” has hit the fan, your medical, bug-out, vehicle and home kits need to work well and last through whatever life may throw at you.
The process of weeding out the “fluff” to get down to the meat and bones of a good product you can bet your life on (and your family’s lives) can be annoying at best and detrimental to your survival at worst. In an effort to show you some basic solutions to the challenge of selecting such important components of preparedness kits, Category Five has developed these helpful guidelines.
While many people romanticize the idea of social unrest or martial law as motivations for “bugging out,” the more likely event is that something like Hurricane Katrina or a forest fire will be your stimulus for actually leaving your home behind and hitting the road with your bug out bag (BOB). If you classify yourself as a “prepper,” then you may already have your BOB packed. However, you may not know that system redundancy is just as important in building your bag as it is in every other aspect of prepping.
When building your BOB, make sure you have particular items in multiple pockets and pouches, as well as retaining multiple versions of the same functionality. For example, instead of having one lighter in your front pocket and that’s it, make sure you also carry some waterproof matches in your medical kit, a ferrocerium rod and steel striker in your waterproof clothing bag, and a road flare in the side pocket of your bag. That way, if anything happens to any piece of equipment you have (i.e., submerged in water, stolen, dropped along the way), you will have diversified your reliance on any single part of your bag.
One of the advantages of having a preparedness plan is the opportunity to stockpile items that can be used in a barter economy. I have written many times that, at least for a while following an economic collapse, a barter economy will develop.
That is why I recommend having a large quantity of pre-1964 silver coins. They will be recognized as “money” because they look like the coins we are familiar with, but will also retain value because of their silver content.