Skip to comments.First Things First: Key Questions Facing The Beginning Prepper
Posted on 05/16/2012 4:47:01 PM PDT by blam
First Things First: Key Questions Facing The Beginning Prepper
May 16th, 2012
The following article has been generously contributed by Norse Prepper.
SHTF Plan Editors Note: While there may be three million Americans preparing for a paradigm shift which promises to change our very way of life, that leaves roughly 99% of our population that has failed to take any serious steps to insulate themselves from catastrophe. Earlier this week we asked How Horrific Will It Be For the Non-Prepper?, in which we detailed the disastrous consequences that await those who will get blindsided by a widespread natural or man-made disaster. Hopefully, that article will be enough to convince some non-preppers to start putting their well-being into their own hands by developing personal and familial preparedness and response plans for far-from-equilibrium scenarios that may strike at anytime.
As Norse Prepper points out in the article below, one of the key motivators for ramping up your personal larder, supplies and skill sets is to avoid ever putting yourself and family into a situation where you are left with no choice but to tell your loved ones that youre, going to get us some food and will return with it or die trying. In a scenario like that your odds of survival diminish significantly.
If youve turned the corner, or been awakened as we like to say in alternative media, then the notion that the system as we have come to know it could fall apart around us without warning can be very overwhelming at first. So, too, is the daunting task of determining what steps to take next and how to go about creating your own personal preparedness plan to shield you from whatever may befall us.
The following questions, suggestions, considerations, and topics of discussion are a primer for those who have chosen to take control of their personal safety and security, and may help to point beginning preppers in the right direction.
First Things First: Key Questions Facing The Beginning Prepper
by Norse Prepper
May 16, 2012
Inspired by the article regarding how horrific its going to get for the non prepper, I thought I might also submit the following article on what it is like to be a new prepper. The purpose of this article is not to tell my story, but to give perspective on how overwhelming it was for me as a beginning prepper.
With the amount of knowledge that readers at this website display, what could I possibly add?
My answer to that is perspective.
Many on this site and others have been preparing for years and are prepared. I know one of the first replies will be that you can never be fully prepared and its a journey more than a destination and I subscribe to that 100%. I personally will never be done prepping. One thing that I have found in my years of work is that after someone has done something for some time, its hard to remember what it was like in the beginning. I work in an engineering field and things that are very simple and seem like basics can be complicated and not easily understood by someone who is new in their engineering career. Hopefully this article takes you back to when you first began prepping and helps you relate to us newbies.
Think back to when you first felt the tugging of something in the back of your mind leading you to do more research and eventually coming to the conclusion that you must become a prepper. It may have been as blunt as a Katrina event, or possibly it was just little things here and there that eventually and gradually led you to where you are at today. Regardless of the journey, I believe it to be important to remember your roots and by doing so you will be more armed to help other people to come in to the light of what is going on in the world around us and help them get more prepared.
How I was first awoken from my state of unpreparedness was when I watched the End of America video produced by Porter Stansberry. What I saw scared the heck out of me and after watching what he had to say and showing the facts of our economic system, I went from being a SHTF ostrich with my head in the sand, to fearful that time is running out for our country as we know it. Even after seeing the End of America video, I still wasnt aware of what it was to be a prepper. I focused more on investing in silver and things like that to hedge against the coming hyperinflation. It wasnt until about six months ago that I came across the term prepper and dug in to see what this movement was about and frankly, I found it extremely overwhelming.
Below is my top ten list of the thousand questions that came flooding in to my head upon my awakening as well as what I am doing to answer these questions. I believe these are all questions that every new prepper should answer as fast as possible and take steps to prepare for immediately.
What am I preparing for?
I needed to identify what it is that Im going to try to protect myself from. If I was going to prepare for a one week loss of power in a winter storm then there isnt much to prepare for. If I am preparing for a global collapse of the financial system or EMP that would send us back to the early 1800s Ive got some work to do. At a minimum I would suggest that new preppers start with a plan for being self reliant for 3 months. By the time you are prepared for this, you will have learned much and can then set out on whatever your phase II duration will be. I live in a northern climate with harsh winters so my phase I goal is to be prepared for six months. Personally, I am still in this stage of prepping, but phase II will be for preparing for a multi-year grid down scenario.
Am I going to bug in or bug out?
I agree with the opinion that bugging out should only be considered if you have somewhere to go. Heading out to the woods is not an option unless you are trained in surviving under these conditions. Ive got a wife and three kids, heading to the woods is not an option for me. If you are going to bug out, it needs to be earlier in the collapse rather than later or you will find yourself stuck at a road block. Read the book One Second After for a detailed description of what happens to refugees attempting to flee to already starving communities. Personally, I have chosen to bug-in. It is where my preps are located as well as familiar neighbors.
Can I defend my family, property and preps?
Lets face it, when the SHTF, my preps will be viewed as their preps to the golden hoard. Is a stranger more likely to watch their children starve or are they more likely to tell their wife Im going to get us some food and will return with it or die trying. The prepared need to ask a different question. When they arrive at my doorstep, what will I do? Will I give them some of my preps as charity? Every meal I give out gets me closer to the time when I will be telling our family, as I head out the door, Im going to get us some food and will return with it or die trying. This is a huge decision to make because we need to have resolve in our minds what we are going to do when this day comes. In a SHTF situation there can be no indecisiveness. I wont go in to any detail on how to defend yourself as there are novels of information on this subject. I believe a defense plan is more important than a food plan because if you cant defend it you might as well not have it. Do I have enough to feed my family until order is restored?
That is assuming order will be restored. Personally, if it gets as bad as it can, I do believe eventually a new nation or nations will form and there will again be public services. I had to figure out what my comfort level is for the amount of time that I will need to eat from my preps, supplemented by gardens, hunting, fishing etc.
How will I heat my home?
Since my plan is to bug-in in a northern climate, I need to figure out how I will heat my home. I live in suburbia and it scares me to see that relatively few people have wood burning anything. I have a fireplace in my house and will secure enough firewood this summer to heat my house for two winters. All of my neighbors depend on electrical or natural gas for heat. I personally have seen the temperature in my location get to -60 degrees below zero with a wind chill of over 100 below. Many in my surrounding area will die of exposure unless they can be in my living room. I honestly dont know the answer to the question of what will I do when people in my area are freezing and there is smoke coming out of my chimney. Anyone who has driven past a house burning wood in the winter knows it is fairly impossible to not alert people to a nearby source of heat. To me, this poses one of my greatest threats. Suggestions here would be helpful.
How will I keep clean?
Personal hygiene will be a huge issue in a SHTF scenario. I realized quickly that I need to stock up on toothpaste, TP, laundry/dish/hand soaps, medical supplies, and everything else needed to keep sanitary conditions in an unsanitary world. I made lists of lists of all of the things I will need. [Lists and more lists]
How will I provide light and electricity?
In an EOTWAWKI situation having some rechargeable batteries to use will be a luxury that we currently take for granted. I plan on getting a stockpile of rechargeable batteries and solar equipment. I have a basement with a sump pump, when the grid goes down what will keep my basement from getting inundated with groundwater? I picked up a secondary battery powered sump pump that runs off of a deep cycle battery. Solar rechargers can be purchased to ensure that the batteries can be kept charged. How great would it be to be able to watch a movie on a laptop? With respect to light, when there is no power, it will be very dark. Children (and some adults) can get spooked easily when there is 14 hours of darkness per day in the winter. I am going to stock some solar powered garden lights. These can be placed in the light during the day and provide for a night light during the hours of darkness. Radios, flashlights and other things can be hand cranked for power. Anything that is sustainable and will produce light or energy will become extremely valuable. How will I keep up on information and communicate with the outside world?
Obviously my TV will become useless. Who knows if there will be radio stations transmitting, and if they are, what is the source of the information? Personally I plan on eventually getting a HAM radio and learning the trade. I believe this will be the best information available as it will probably be filled with info from other preppers in the nation.
What do I have to offer others?
In a collapsed society, skills, knowledge and items for trade will pay off in a huge way. The only thing that will help me acquire supplies that I dont have or want will be the ability to offer something to someone who has it and they find the value of my goods or services to be more than what they have. If they dont, then they will not be willing to trade. I have personally chosen to stock up on more of the convenience things for these situations. I plan on stockpiling coffee and lighters. People will trade for a hot cup of coffee and from my perspective, coffee is a convenience. People will need to be able to start a fire for cooking or heating their homes and a source of fire will be invaluable in a SHTF scenario. Personally I wont be bartering away guns or ammunition because the person who I just armed would also realize that if I can spare these essential items I probably have other essential items and now they have a way to get them from me.
How will I fight off boredom?
One thing that has haunted me is when the SHTF, how can I pass the time without going completely stir crazy? Obviously, there will be many chores and a lot of labor involved in daily life after a collapse, but there will also be hours upon hours of sitting in a quiet house. My kids will be involved in chores of the day, but what can I do to reduce the monotony of a grid down situation? I plan on stockpiling books on many different subjects. Fiction and nonfiction. How tos and stories. A bow and arrow can provide hours of target practice as well as developing a survival skill. Decks of cards can provide entertainment as well as bartering potential. If you go to a casino, you can get decks of cards for 50 cents. Puzzles, board games, pads of paper and plenty of writing utensils. Anything that can hopefully make life more fun for the family to escape reality, even for a moment. Dont forget the most important book of them all, the Bible.
How do I pay for all of this?
OK, I know I said top 10, but this question needs to be taken care of pre-SHTF where as my top 10 deal with issues post-SHTF. Most are living paycheck to paycheck, so how can preps be paid for when we are in survival mode? My plan is to sell off anything that I dont feel is necessary. Have a garage sale and go to garage sales you would be amazed at what you will find. I recently found three oil lamps for 50 cents each! Sell things on Ebay and Craigslist. Get a second job and dedicate all income from it to preps. Dont worry, if the SHTF doesnt happen and you are prepped, you can always go back and replace these items, but get prepared first. I would rather have a stocked supply room than shares of Google.
What am I preparing for? Will I bug in or bug out? How will I defend myself, family and home? What will I eat? How will I heat my home? How will I keep clean? How will I produce light and electricity? How will I get information and communicate with the outside world? What skills do I have and items can I use to barter? How will I fight off boredom? These are but the tip of the iceberg of questions needing to be answered for when life as we know it comes to an end. When talking to and dealing with anyone new to prepping, please remember that they are entering a large and complex world where their decisions on what to do next could mean the difference between life and death. Help them to make a list of priorities and offer them advice on what the list should contain. This article is just a primer, but is more than what 99% of people have done to prepare themselves and their families for what is coming.
Also, please let me say thank you to Mac, the contributors and people who comment on the SHTF Plan web site for helping me and my family prepare. You truly are todays patriots. God bless.
How will I heat my home? Wood, obviously.
How do I provide light and electricity? Candles or kerosene lamps...a solar panel to charge batteries and to power the ventilation fan to exchange the air in your (hopefully) earth-sheltered home.
What do I have to offer others? That won't be a concern for quite awhile, assuming you live that long.
How do I pay for this? Your problem. No time like the present to start planning.
Granpappy has good info:
How to Start Preparing for Hard Times
on a Very Modest Budget:
I don’t know if this is possible, but if a person could negotiate with their mortgage-holder to transfer the next two months of mortgage to the end of the mortgage then that might free up some much-needed $$$ to purchase essentials.
A low interest rate loan to be repaid in (probable) cheaper dollars?
ping for later...not much later.
Probably the best overall, well thought out collection of useful prepper info I have found in one place on the net.
If you are just starting and have a limited budget - begin at the beginning. I grocery shop once a week, using a list of the things we need.
But my eyes are open to those other things not on the list.
A canned chicken (expiration 2014), a bag of rice, a gallon of drinking water, a dental repair kit, a pack of band-aids or rubbing alcohol on sale. I toss these extras into my cart. It does not inflate the grocery bill by more than a few dollars.
Do this and soon enough you will have the essentials.
That “little voice” seldom speaks without giving you the time to respond - even minimally.
Weve kicked the can so far down the road that we are running out of road and the can which was once the size of a soda can is now the size of an oil drum (Try kicking that!)
For those who are just starting or are old hands at prepping you may find my Preparedness Manual helpfull. You can download it at:
NOTE! THIS IS A FREE DOWNLOAD. I DO NOT MAKE ONE CENT OFF MY PREPAREDNESS MANUAL!
For those of you who havent started already its time to prepare almost past time maybe. You needed to be stocking up on food guns, ammo, basic household supplies like soap, papergoods, cleaning supplies, good sturdy clothes including extra socks, underwear and extra shoes and boots, a extra couple changes of oil and filters for your car, tools, things you buy everyday start buying two and put one up.
As the LDS say When the emergency is upon us the time for preparedness has past.
Or as the bible says: A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.
NIV Proverbs 22:3
Lastly this for the doubters and the scoffers.
There is no greater disaster than to underestimate danger.
Underestimation can be fatal.
Sure, some may be more prepared than others, but we all live within God's own plan.
If you have not read it yet, check out the book Earth Abides by George Stewart.
This book should be a guide to what you can expect as a “new” prepper.
I would strongly suggest heating with propane for the first week or so - then switch to wood. If it's -60 degrees - within a week anyone without wood or propane will be dead.
Good thought. Also, the biggest reason to buy gold is if you have debt today. If/when the dollar sinks in value you can cash in that gold and pay off a ton of debt.
Two things I’ve been thinking about -
black construction trash bags, to put over the windows from the inside so no one can see your lights,
small, portable car starter type battery setups. I have a larger one, and a smaller one, the small one, when fully charged will run a 75 watt florescent (hooked up to a 225 W inverter) for over 12 hours.
They can then be charged during the day when the generator is running.
Solar walkway lights....
Try these for daytime charging, silently. They can be bought for $149.00. (And, they don't use gasoline either.)
Online survival fiction
November 2, 2014: The New Normal
Im looking out the window and the first snow of the season is falling. The flakes are nearly as large as the tip of my thumb; theyre slushy and coming down hard and fast. Its early November and the snow bespeaks the promise of a long, hard winter. The Farmers Almanac on my kitchen table suggests as much a winter colder and wetter than average.
The one thing the Farmers Almanac didnt predict is probably the single-most important thing in our lives these days the fact that this will be the first winter in modern history where hundreds of thousands or millions of people could literally freeze to death in their homes. I know that may sound strange. Given all of the modern conveniences of the twenty-first century, how in the world could the majority of citizens of the northernUnited Statesbe at risk of freezing to death?
Technically, I suppose its not just the citizens of the United States that are at risk. Im pretty sure that nearly anyone who lives anywhere in the world where the temperatures drop to freezing or below is at risk as well. I have to assume, though, as we really dont have much contact with the world outside of North America. For that matter, we really dont have much contact with people, period. Air travel, automotive travel travel over any significant distance at all is pretty much out of the question. Electronic communication is all but gone too, with the exception of a few short-wave radios and Ham operators. Were living in a virtual stone age. The skeletons of modern conveniences are a constant reminder of what used to be. The harsh reality is that the world has devolved to a point on par with the early nineteenth century in many ways.
I wondered if I would ever find another who has read “Earth Abides.” I think the fellow in the book had it a bit easier as most of the population had died first. If things break down for us, it’s going to be messy!
They can then be charged during the day when the generator is running.
Look into the solar battery charging stuff they sell at Harbor Freight - you can recharge a car battery or equivalent with one or two of those, silently.
Another thought is the various home-built DC-AC generators that can be built from garden edgers, power washers or lawnmowers - pretty clever and made of extremely abundant components. I first saw the design on www.TheEpicenter.com, which is an informative site to have bookmarked.
I see we’re on the same page regarding the Harbor Freight solar panels. I’ve been trying them out and am very pleased with the performance. I’m currently building a mobile radio box with PV panels and battery for my mobile Ham rig.
One fairly easily obtained fuel is Coal. Search the web for “bulk coal”. A pallet of bagged anthracite is not crazy expensive and burns hotter than most other fuels. It won't degrade as quickly as wood and takes up a lot less space.
If wood is available in your area you are lucky but it is a lot of work to store up a large enough supply for a long winter.
I must have 25 of the 20 pounders (I think that's what you mean too) bought at garage sales.
It is amazing how much prepper 'stuff' can found at garage sales on the cheap. I'm probably up to 30 cases of canning jars to @ about $1.25 per case average. Even if I never use or have to use them, they'll still be good barter items.
I've read an estimate that all the cooking for a month for a family of four can be accomplished on one 20 pound propane cylinder.(that's pretty good, if true)
You're right. I heated a log cabin with wood one winter - years ago. People who think it's easy have absolutely no clue...
File this under:
It's Always Something (IAS)
There are roughly 4,700 asteroids give or take 1,500 that come close enough to Earth to pose a hazard, new estimates from NASA reveal.
I read it many years ago and have re-read it a few times in recent years. I have also shared it with a number of people over the years.
With the exception of a few changes in technology it reads as if it could have happened last year - or next year.
The basics of life are immutable.
Ping for later.
Not entirely accurate. One person could equal an entire household.
Some time ago the EPA lowered the capacity of the 20# cylinder to a max of 15# due to expansion of the gas if exposed to heat. They still call them 20 pounders but, all propane tanks, regardless of size, are subject to rules based on safety and can only be filled to about 80%.
Also the tanks need to be recertified so if your tanks are older than 2000 you might wish to do an exchange. Here is a good site for propane info.
Was it Ben Franklin who said “He who chops his own wood is twice warmed”?
Thanks, I didn't know that.
I don’t know about the “weight” rating, but when I get mine filled they take about 4.5 gallons.
Also, once they are 12 years old, they can’t legally be refilled, but if you find one that’s 11 years old, you can probably get it for a good price (”It’ll be unfillable in a year - only good for scrap metal - give ya a buck for it.”), fill it one last time, and store it.
That is not accurate.
The "20 lb tanks" have expansion room even with 20 lbs of gas inside. What happened was that the government requires all tanks be equipped with an overfill prevention device (OPD), which is a new valve that prevents the tank from being overfilled. These devices are simply floats that stop the inflow of propane at a certain point. Since that point can vary from tank to tank and valve to valve, it turned out that in many cases you could no longer get 20 lbs into a tank before the OPD stopped you.
Once that was realized, the propane industry could no longer sell them as 20 lb tanks because that would violate weights and measures laws (shorting the customer). The propane industry now (typically) says they are 17 lb tanks so they can't be accused of short changing the consumer. If the valve allows a full fill to 80% (20 lbs) the tank could still get that much when it's filled.
As background, I spent a year working in the propane industry while between (career) jobs back as the OPDs were coming in and the non-OPD tanks phased out. I have personally filled thousands of tanks and performed valve replacements and/or re-certifications of hundreds of others. The tanks themselves haven't changed and they have always had room for 20 lbs of propane when filled to 80%, which allows for expansion.
The propane company that refills it can re-certify it and keep it in the stream. IIRC, visual recertifications are good for 5 years. When I worked in the industry we would scrap the junkers (broken feet, excessive rust, dents, etc.), re-valve those in need of an OPD or with leaking valves, and sandblast/paint those that started to get surface rust.
If you start inspecting various tanks you encounter, you will likely see some with hand-engraved dates in addition the the stamped manufacturer dates. That indicates they have been visually re-certified and are good for another 5 years. You might see multiple engravings on older tanks indicating they have been re-certified more than once. This engraving is more common with the larger tanks (100lbs for example) because they are generally much older than those for grills.
Check out the youtube channel of “LDSPrepper”.
He has some stuff on the HF solar panels.
That's my MO.
The author asked about the problem of the definite smell of woodsmoke from his chimney making him a target.
There are a couple of wood burning configurations that minimize the smell and smoke, because they burn the smoke, and leave an exhaust temp at less than 200 degrees.
The “rocket stove” (see permies.com) and the masonry heater (mha-net.org) both use the same principles of high draft, high temperature burns to get huge efficiency out of the wood (low smoke), then the flue gases are routed through heat absorbing material and exits cool.