How to Start Prepping
You know the ol’ Texas saying, “We’re fixin’ to get ready.” I have become somewhat alarmed as we have started surveying our circles of influence, about 70% of which are moderately aware of global threats and potential future causes for emergency preparedness. Out of those 70% approximately 5% of those “aware” people are prepared with the basics for their family. I consider the basics for survival to be:
There are alot of additional items that we consider to be core to successful prepping such as survival skills, light, first aid/health, seeds for future food, and on and on. But as we all know, we have to start with the basics. What concerns me is how many have not started – at all.
Now, the base of our “survey population” resides in Florida. Many of which are seasoned hurricane survivors, including ourselves. Post-hurricane prepping is a great experience base because you have a multitude of challenges: flooding, no municipal water supply, power outages, looting and theft (chain your generator to something secure), and communities that are forced to come together. With that said, I also believe there to be a false sense of security that is present due to the lead time we typically have to prepare for a hurricane. Running to the local grocery store, Home Depot and the gas station will not be an option is any emergency outside of a hurricane.
Dehydration can take our lives within as little as 3 days. Generally, if in good health, humans can survive without any food for 30-40 days, as long as they are properly hydrated. Death can occur at around 45 to 61 days.
While we don’t deal with hypothermia risk in Florida, we do face a risk with the elements and often times servere flooding.
Although we are in a warm climate we must still be able to have heat for the ability to cook food and heat water, as well as remove impurities for health purposes. A single propane tank or two is likely not going to cut it.
Please, I implore my fellow Floridians, and any other person in the US with the awareness of the potential need for emergency preparedness to build their immediate preparedness foundation. Take it step by step if you are overwhelmed, and don’t try and do everything at once. Begin here, in this order:
1. Water – Plan on a minimum of 1 gallon per person per day for drinking and survival (more if you are in a hot climate or working strenuously.) Plan on 4 gallons per person for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene. Begin by storing water for immediate use. You want to buy yourself some time before you need to have a water filtration process in place. A couple of drops of chlorine in a 3.5 gallon stackable WaterBrick will allow you to store significant water reserves in a small space.
Buy a Big Berkey for water filtration. They are simple to use, and they work. It is a $258 investment for a family of 4-8. FYI – NEVER put any kind of salt water in a water filter of any kind – it will rapidly destroy the filters. You must distill salt water in order to desalinate it properly. To distill properly, you need about 4 hours of heat in order to distill 1 gallon of water. Glenn Meder has developed the Survival Still if you are looking for a freat quality distiller.
If you have a decent local water source that you can physically be at to drink from; canal, lake, creek etc. you can also buy a LifeStraw (works just like a straw that you use to drink directly from at the water source) for $19.95. You will be able to drink approximately 264 purified gallons of water at the source. Remember, this will only allow you to drink at the source, and you need a larger LifeStraw product like LifeStraw Family in order to purify and collect water for cooking or bathing.
2. Food – A few cans of tuna and the extras in your pantry will not suffice. Buy an initial combination of bulk food and freeze dried food. Keep in mind the amount of water you will need to prepare your foods. Many bulk foods require soaking prior to cooking, such as beans, and freeze dried food require water to rehydrate.
Shop at Costco, Sam’s, BJ’s, WalMart or your local store where you can buy larger quantity foods for reasonable prices. Think about the recipes you can easily make for your family that do not require refrigeration and will not be a huge drain on your heat/cooking resources.
Jamie, from Prepared Housewives has a great emergency food inventory sheets here.
You start with the basics of rice, beans, peanut butter, canned fruits/veggies, powdered milk, oats, pasta, tuna, salt/spices, etc. Then buy a secondary supply of freeze dried foods. There is a Food Calculator on our site for freeze dried foods here. Legacy Foods provides a 25 year shelf life with the lowest cost per pound and calorie with quality ingredients. That is why we bought Legacy for our family and sell only their emergency food.
3. Shelter – In any state with hurricane and/or tornado potential, your entire housing structure might be compromised, either completely or in part. Have a good quality, easy to assemble tent on hand, preferably in a quality backpack for portability. We also have a local manufacturer by the name of FortsUSA if you want a hardcore (expensive) immediate disaster relief shelter. Rain tarps (you can buy them at Home Depot and other home improvement retailers) are also wise to have on hand for leaking roofs.
4. Fire/Heat is an essential tool in preserving life. Depending on what region of the country you live in, your dependence on fire and heat will vary. Living in Florida, we look to fire and heat to cook with and remove imputirites. In colder regions it is critical to have in order to sustain physical warmth.
Assess the longevity of your heat sources. We harness the sun here in Florida and use the Sun Oven for cooking (in addition to propane stoves and grills – storing alot of propane can be challenging unless you have an underground tank.) Also determine the availability of local firewood and how much you can access readily. Keep in mind that if you plan to chop your own wood in the preserve or forest nearby, you need to allow for 6-12 months for it to season in order to burn well.
5. Self-Protection – We have been through more than one hurricane, and as our law enforcement friend will tell you, it is typically only 2-3 days post disaster when the unsavory types begin looting and moving through neighborhoods and retail outlets.
You should have at minimum, a quality handgun and a self-defense 12 gauge shotgun with sufficient ammo for both. Many ask what sufficient ammo is – at minimimum 500 rounds for your handgun and 100 rounds for your shotgun. This answer is subjective, and we personally believe this is a bare minimum. Also remember that ammunition will likely serve as currency for barter if things have gotten really bad. Every state and city has different gun laws, please know yours before you venture in to the firearms arena.
In summary, do you know that there is a strong likelihood that you may one day have to be self-sufficient? Put together a manageable plan, and work your plan. Put the five categories in this post first, and when you have sufficiently prepped in those areas move on.
We have been strategically prepping for going on two decades and we still have 2 pages left on what was once a long list. Be encouraged, once you start it gets much easier. Get your 5 basics in place and then set a goal – maybe it is one significant prep per month.
Have a sense of urgency about your basics, but go slow and steady on the things that follow.