By Lida Hagel
I am often asked “where do I begin” by friends who have made the decision to start preparing for hard times. It’s true that it can seem to be an overwhelming task at first glance, and often, food stores are the first and sometimes last thing that people think of. While food is critical, it is only a part of what must be considered.
There is, however, a way to determine ALL that you will need, and it’s much easier than you might think. So, get a pen and paper and use these steps to make your preparedness list. We begin from the moment you open your eyes in the morning. From there we will go through your entire day step by step. Once you have determined everything you will need for one day, you simply multiply by 365 for a year and then multiply again, depending on how long you want to plan ahead for self-sufficiency.
Its 7:00 a.m. The sun is shining and all is well. Don’t get out of bed yet. It’s time to start your list. Look around you. You’re lying in a warm bed with sheets, pillows (with pillow cases) blankets, and all of these items are presumably covering a mattress and bed frame of some sort. These are the first items on your list. How many people will be surviving with you? Do you have adequate beds and bedding for everyone. The sun is shining today, but are there extra blankets for cold weather? Sleeping bags, air mattresses cots and couches may be considered sleeping places. Don’t forget to look at second hand stores for these items for a much lower cost than department stores.
Alright, you can get up now. Wait a minute. Where are you going? To the bathroom? Don’t forget to bring your list. You’re going to need toilet paper. Lots of it. And don’t forget, you’re going to want to flush that toilet. If you are on public water, it may have already been turned off when tshtf. Likewise with the public sewer system. If you have a septic tank, it’s not likely someone is going to come by and pump it out for you. There are several products on the market that can be emptied into your tank monthly to significantly extend the time needed before you need to pump it. You may need to flush with a bucket of water kept next to the toilet. Do you have sufficient water stores or a river or stream where you may access water? You may even want to consider digging out for an outhouse in your back yard. When tshtf, nobody is going to care if you do that. Now you’re heading to the sink to wash your face and hands. You guessed it. Soap, water (again) and a towel to dry with. Do you have a sufficient supply of hand, bath and dish towels? Don’t forget wash cloths and dish cloths. Were you planning to take a shower? That is, if you still have hot water. You may want to add shampoo and conditioner to your list. I like the expensive stuff as much as the next person, but I buy mine at the dollar store. Sometimes Walmart can even beat the dollar store when shampoo and conditioner are on sale. Other items as well, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Don’t forget toothpaste and other hygiene products as well as blades for the razor or disposable razors.
Buy the way, what were you wearing while this morning routine unfolded? You may or may not currently sleep in pajamas, but if you have others surviving with you and space is crowded, you may want to consider some. Once you’re out of the shower I assume you’re going to want to get dressed. Pants and shirt are good, but don’t forget underwear, socks, coats and jackets for cooler weather, shoes, boots, and hats. Do you have a sufficient amount of these items for your family? And don’t forget, if you have young children, they will be growing. Clothing for everyone is next on your list. Again, I highly recommend second hand stores for this (unless you’re loaded with money).
Alright, you can go to the kitchen now. Time for that morning coffee or tea and maybe a light breakfast? That coffee maker isn’t going to work without electricity, and chances are, it’s out. The next item on your list is something to cook and heat water on. If you have a free standing wood stove for heat or a wood cook stove, this is ideal. If you don’t, you’re going to need an alternative cooking source. Whatever you choose, be sure that it is approved for use indoors or plan on using it outdoors. You won’t survive long if you abuse these cooking options. And let’s not forget refrigeration. Ice chests are almost useless without the ability to make ice. Submerging sealed food in cold water will keep it for a while, but it is risky at best. You might want to add a generator to your list and remember that it takes fuel. These are the next two items on your list. Better yet, setting up some form of solar, wind or hydro power can keep things humming if it’s not over used. By making the bulk of your food stores dry or packaged foods, and by utilizing a cool, dark and dry storage space for these food items, you can store a significant amount of food for as much as twenty-five years for unopened items and a year or so for items you’ve opened. Educate yourself on proper foods for long term storage. Don’t forget to store garden seeds and grow food when possible.
Now your day is underway. Ideally, you are in a bugout location and there is work to be done. Do you have a supply of basic tools? Consider things like a shovel, an ax, a hoe, a hammer, screw drivers, pliers, screws, nails, fasteners, and other items that you can use to build or repair with. I would also add plastic sheeting, tarps, staplers with staples, wood glues and other types of glues. The list can grow as large as you want it. It will depend on where you are and what your plans are. You may also consider lumber for additional building. Things like 2×4’s, 2×6’s, plywood, insulation, roofing materials and so on. Don’t forget fencing materials. Most of ours came to us for free from farmers who had only short lengths left and were happy to get rid of it. Consequently, our fences are made up of a variety of wire types as well as rails made from small trees and both wood and metal posts. Whatever we could get our hands on.
So there you are, working away outside and, oops, you smashed your hand with a hammer, or twisted your ankle, got sunburned or are starting to feel a cold coming on. How are your medical supplies? That’s next on your list. Do you have a supply of band-aids, anti-bacterial ointments gauze bandages, slings, splints, braces, aspirin, anti-inflamatories, cold medicines, alcohol, saline wash, tools for sutures, medical staples, lotions, etc., etc. What about prescription medications, birth control products, and sanitary products for women. I know, the list is getting bigger and bigger. Think of it this way. How comfortable do you want to be when tshtf?
Alright, you’ve worked enough for one day. It’s time to go in and get that meal started on your alternative cooking source. But it’s starting to get dark outside and even darker in the house. The electricity is out. What are you going to do for a light source? Put that on your list. Oil lamps, candles, indoor rated propane lamps (as long as the fuel holds out) are a few options. The other consideration you may have, both in the daylight and in darkness, is home security. Securing the doors and windows in your home is a must, but that won’t keep out someone who is cold and hungry and determined to solve that problem with your hard earned stores. Hand to hand defense techniques are great to have, but personally, I would rather have the option of stopping someone BEFORE they get that close to me. Defensive weapons are a matter of personal choice. Do your research and choose a weapon that you feel most comfortable with. Don’t forget plenty of ammo.
Okay, you’ve made it through another day. You may want to spend part of your evening tidying up the house. If you have stored cleaning products for both the house and laundry you may use them now. The laundry will, of course be done by hand in a deep utility sink or a bathtub and hung to dry inside the house in a warm place. This keeps them from being taken by a passerby who needs some new clothes. When the cleaning products run out, white vinegar and water will do nicely. Store plenty.
The work is done. You prepared well for all your needs. It’s time to relax and lend a bit of normalcy to the day. Also on your list should be items for relaxation with the family. Things like board games, playing cards, toys for the children, paper and crayons, story books and so on. A collection of good novels for mom and dad would be nice.
I’m sure there are other items to consider. It’s nearly impossible to put it all in one short article. Please share your suggestions by clicking comments. I look forward to reading your ideas.
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