Last month I was pretty sick. The kind of lay in bed all day long sick. I had a lot of time to watch TV. One afternoon while idly channel surfing I came across the show, Doomsday Preppers. At first, I was fascinated with this latest American Outliers creation of NatGeo. What could possibly drive so much fear in people that they would bury shelters and stock years worth of toilet paper? So, I kept watching. And the more I watched the less bizarre these people seemed. If you strip away the sensationalism, they may actually have a point. I went from watching out of fascination to watching out of fear. How was my family supposed to survive TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) when the SHTF (Shit Hits The Fan). Yes, these are actual acronyms in the Prepper’s vocabulary. I know because I became so paralyzed with fear from this show that I began heavily researching prepper and survivalists forums, blogs and books. THIS is what laying in bed idly watching TV turns you into!
In my freak out mode I decided to reach out to my friends and ask,”Pssst, am I crazy?” and the resounding answer I got was, no. It turns out that while no one wants to openly talk about it, most of my friends are worrying about this. Some are dealing with it by “prepping” (for the record I will refer to that term as the act of getting prepared for just about anything). Some are so overwhelmed at the thought of it that they go into random panic attacks, but almost all of my friends are thinking about it.
I was at the overwhelmed with panic attack stage. Then I decided to step back, take a deep breath, and break things down into what I needed to do to get rid of the panic I was feeling and get a little more prepared for an emergency situation for my family.
First thing I had to do was disengage myself from TEOTWAWKI scenarios. If I hadn’t, I would be digging spider holes (google it) all over my yard by now. I sat down with a list of all the crazy things these preppers are worried about-from EMP’s (Electro Magnetic Pulse) to Nuclear Attacks, to Economic Collapse and not that I don’t think any of those things couldn’t happen, I decided to worry about what is most likely to happen to my family first. What I came up with is: wildfires and tornado. Both are very likely in my area and these two provided the two scenarios I needed to prepare (prep) for: evacuation and staying put.
I am certainly not an expert and the internet abounds with amazing advice. I am just sharing what I have done so far so that if you are one of the many people in an absolute secret silent panic this may boil down some of the prepping ideas for you for you because it is overwhelming and can be expensive if you follow some of the links and buy everything they tell you to have.
- Bug Out Bags-there is no emergency site that won’t tell you to have one bag for person with most of these supplies. I went about it a little differently. I have one bag filled with necessary medical supplies and medications. Having a special needs family member means we have some equipment we would HAVE to have. It also has a Costco case of Power Bars. Use the kids backpacks from last year.
- Car kits-I have premade, store bought ones in each car with heat blankets (I live in CO). I already had these. They are always on sale in the Fall in cold weather areas.
- Case of water. Each car has a case of water in it. I grew up in AZ pre cell phone days. You never left without water so I was used to this one. If you worry about BPA this may not be a solution for you.
- Plan on where to go. Last year a prominent neighborhood near us was evacuated due to a wildfire. Of course we offered our home to our friends in the area. All of them had family in the area though and were able to go there. But where would you go and can you get there on ONE tank of gas? Talk to your friends in other areas of town. Could you be disaster buddies? I’ll agree to be your host if you can do the same.
- Cloud services: Have all of your important documents backed up onto a cloud service so you can get to them from any computer. Three to look into: Gmail, iCloud, and DropBox.
- Pets: leashes and cat carrier are in an easy to grab area along with some long term chew toys to keep them calm.
- Cell phone chargers in each car.
Experts say that in a wildfire evacuation you should be able to leave your house in 15 mins. The above is assuming you are going somewhere that will have electricity and water and that you won’t be on the road more than a few hours to your destination.
Staying In Home with No Electricity or Water:
If something happens to your area’s power grid, sewer system or water treatment plant or a weather related system cuts off your access to these things, you need to be able to stay in your house for an estimated 7 days without outside help.
- Water. Everything revolves around the water. You need to have 1 gallon of water per person per day to DRINK. For my family that meant 35 gallons (including my mom) . We have 3 dogs and a cat so I planned a gallon for each of them as well, bringing our total for a week to 63 gallons. That is A LOT of water to store in case you are wondering. Costco sells their brand of 36 16.9 bottles for $3.50 and I picked up one of those each time I went. Basically a case=1 day for my family. Instead of buying all small bottles I got the 2.5 gallon jugs when they were on sale. It’s a lot of water to store so make sure you plan the space ahead of time. Don’t stress yourself out getting the water but make it priority.
- Don’t have the recommended amount of water in your house? You actually probably do. In your water heater. Most hold 30-50 gallons! You need a garden hose and something to put it in. Watch this quick video on how to drain your water heater, write the directions down and put it somewhere safe in case you need it.
- Now you have all the drinking water you need. But what about water for flushing toilets (if sewer system is OK) or washing dishes or hands? In the summer I buy a lot more soda for the kids. I have made a point to buy 2 liters this summer. Just wash those out with a little bit of bleach water and you have a great way to cheaply store tap water. There is no reason we couldn’t drink it as well.
- Food. Depending on the season if you have a lot of freezer food you may need to cook it quickly to save it from going bad. Don’t open the freezer until you are ready and then be prepared to get it cooked. Do you have an alternate way to cook? Do you have enough charcoal if you had to BBQ for a week? 40 pounds is about right for a week. How about a propane grill? A full propane tank can cook 3 meals a day for 10 days if you are careful. Do you have a spare? Cast iron pans are perfect for putting inside the grill if you don’t have a side burner.
- Lights. I think one of the best tricks I have seen is to use solar light. I found some at Walmart for .97. They would be just perfect for night time. Of course, we have flashlights and batteries.
- NOAA Alert RadioI cannot say enough about how every home needs to have one of these and batteries to back it up! Your cell phones may not work. This is a reliable way to get information.
- Weather. Think of your different seasons. Are certain areas of your house warmer or cooler than others? Does everyone have a sleeping bag with could provide extra warmth or polartec clothes? If you live in extreme heat did you know our grandparents would wet sheets and hang them in open windows to cool it down? Obviously you would need the water and security for that.
I am just getting started writing about all of this but I wanted to start with the very basic things you can do to feel like you are moving in the right direction and free yourself from the fear that the zombie apocalypse is among us and you don’t have enough toilet paper to see you through.
And if you are beyond these steps and looking for more solid, somewhat rational advice from a real prepper? I think Survival Mom is a good resource. Yes, she was one of the loons on the show. But I mean that in the nicest way possible. She has a great blog, Survival Mom.
I would LOVE to hear if this subject resonates with you. If just to make me feel like my crazy is in good company. Want me to keep writing on it? Or want me to talk to my doctor about getting on meds?