For some reason many of us guys are all or nothing people. I am no psychologist and won’t even try to figure that out for now. I just know it is true. Just an aside, that idea might be eligible for a several million dollar government grant to study what we already know.
Is this your idea of a survivalist?
When you think of preparedness what is the first mental picture you get? Mad Max, Water World, 2012 Doomsday or some other disaster, end of days movie? People fighting over the last can of beans with sticks and clubs. See what I mean? Some of the regular Joes I have talked to fantasize such survival scenarios, not usually with the wife and kids in tow though. Other guys and most wives I’ve met just say ‘I wouldn’t want to survive in a world like that anyway!’ How do you begin to prepare for that? Is that even a realistic goal to strive for? And probably the best question of all… what are the odds of something like that happening? I doubt you want to spend what precious ‘spare’ time you have after work, family and other commitments trying to prepare well enough for that kind of event.
Now picture getting stuck in a snow drift in your car, having a house fire, the power going out for several days after a big storm, losing your job, or being the victim of a crime.
This is a more likely survival situation.
These are not the makings of a blockbuster movie but they are fairly common events that happen to people all across America and the world every year. They are events that have a higher chance of happening that you may already pay money to protect yourself in some way. Do you have home owners or renters insurance, auto insurance? Then you are already a “preper”, someone who prepares for emergencies.
I will warn you now that you will get tired of this line in the next pages; don’t wait to start a big fancy expensive plan, start now! Now just consider looking at taking that a few more steps, one at a time if necessary. In the coming months I will have a series of articles to help you evaluate what you feel are threats to your family and how to prepare for those things. In the meantime here is a real simple outline to help you get thinking in the right direction.
- Get out of debt
- Save money
- Store food and essentials
- Get independent of the system
- Learn basic skills
- Prepare a basic 72 hour bag for each person in your home.
- Create a plan that fits your family
A lot of the list above was common knowledge for our grandparents or great grandparents. You know, back before the Johnson administration started the ‘War on Poverty’. It was supposed to take a few hundred billion dollars to win. Now 40 some years down the road and trillions of dollars in debt that we can’t pay back, we have a population that for the most part doesn’t have enough food in the pantry for 24 hours and goes to the government every time they are in trouble. Don’t panic or try to do everything at once. I encourage you to make a list of small goals, start at the top of the list and start accomplishing them one at a time. If you are married, have kids or relatives that live with you, have them read this article. Get them on board and involved in the process. Many of these plans require input and knowledge of the family to work. There are many activities that can involve kids of all ages and they will enjoy helping out and learn a lot at the same time.
Let’s look a little closer at each of these 7 areas:
Get out of debt
Proverbs 22:7 NKJV The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.
The less you owe to others the more freedom and money you will have to put toward achieving your goals. Many Americans are overloaded with debt and it is a form of slavery that can affect all of your life. These days you may not feel like you have extra money but believe me if things go the direction I believe, it will only get worse. The sooner you take action, the better off you will be. There are several good Biblically based programs to help you with a plan. (links) The basics are getting on a budget. Start paying off your smallest debt first. As soon as you pay it off take on the second smallest and so on. Remember; don’t wait to start till you get a lot of money or for your “ship to come in”. Start now!
Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.
You need to save out at least 5% of your income from every check. It’s not easy to start especially if you don’t have a budget. The majority of people in this country live from paycheck to paycheck, some don’t even make it that far and use payday loans at very high interest rates giving them even less money to live on. This Regular Joe has been there! That may have been a tenable way of life when unemployment was 4% and if you lost your job and really wanted one you could get another in a week or two. Today and even more so in the days ahead, it will be important to get by on a shoe string. Ideally you should have a minimum of three month’s income set aside for emergencies, (losing your job, being injured and unable to work etc.)
Have cash on hand that you can use in an emergency. Keep at least one paycheck’s worth of cash in the home in a safe place. In natural disasters the power can be out for days. During hurricane Katrina it was a week before help arrived and more than a month before some people could access their bank accounts. In our highly technological world that means you can’t get money from your ATM or your bank. You can have thousands of dollars in your checking account and be absolutely broke in a disaster.
Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.
For more on what the Bible says about the use of money read Matthew 25:14-30. Remember; don’t wait to start till you get a lot of money or for your “ship to come in”. Start now!
Store Food and Essentials
Proverbs 6: 6-8
6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, 8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
In America we, as a population have become soft, lazy and over dependent on a fragile supply chain for our needs.
Would you want to be here in an emergency?
I know a few people who regularly need to go to the store to get what they need for tonight’s dinner. It is not that they don’t have the money until today, it’s just that they don’t plan any further ahead than that! Every time there is a big storm, hurricane or long power outage store shelves empty in hours and people wait in long lines or worse riot to try to get what they want and need.
Again, and I can’t say this often enough, don’t wait to start some big fancy expensive plan, start now! Think of storage food as anything
Or...would you rather be here in an emergency; at home.
you take home with you. Yes it can be freeze dryed, dehydrated and other long-term storage food, but don’t start with those. Most people have at least one or two meals worth of ‘storage food’ around for tonight’s dinner. There are lots of types of storage food. If preparedness planning is new to you, start out by buying extra of what you regularly eat. Canned goods and dry goods have a fairly long shelf life. Use a felt tip pen to write the date you bought the item and keep the oldest cans in the front of the shelf. Make a menu plan of food that your family regularly eats. Most families only eat 15 or 20 different meals. Make a list of ingredients needed and then purchase extra when you are shopping.
Keep in mind that one of the most common results of bad weather and other natural disasters is the power being off, sometimes for days. If you don’t have a way to keep your freezer running, (like your own generator), it will defrost in a few days at best and the food will spoil.
Buy essential items that you would need to get by for 3 to 7 days. As with food buy a little extra of what you regularly use, toilet paper, toothpaste, toiletries etc. With inflation rising and bound to really increase in 2012 and 2013, whatever you buy now is like putting money in the bank. When I was laid off a couple of years ago we had about 6 month’s supply of food. We depleted most of that in the bad economy but we would have been much worse off if we didn’t have it! As soon as your situation gets better, always go back and start replacing what you used.
Get Independent of the System
Now don’t hear me saying you need to move to a remote cabin in the western U.S.! If you did have that cabin how many hours can you stay awake in a row to protect it? How long could you really stay there? What I am recommending is that when you make a plan consider reasonable actions that you could take to get along for some time without outside help. Depending on the size of an emergency or disaster it can take from several hours to several days or weeks to begin recovery. Would you be able to get by on your own and help family and neighbors or would you be one of thousands of refugees stuck on a highway or waiting on government help that could be days or weeks in coming?
Speaking of neighbors and relatives, don’t forget them in the planning stages. No man is an island. What will you do if things get bad and they show up on your door step. If you take reasonable steps to educate them now then they can become part of your support group not a burden. You don’t have to show and tell them everything you are doing, in fact I would recommend that you hold back on how much you really have. How well do you know your neighbor or relative? Take all of this information into account when making plans.
Now let’s get back to your own plan. Consider what is reasonable for your income and circumstances. Again, and I can’t say this often enough, don’t wait to start some big fancy expensive plan! Consider what you already have that just needs organizing. Does your family camp? Where is all that gear? Can you organize it in a way that can be loaded in a truck, car or trailer in a few minutes? Where are flashlights, candles and other items if the power goes out? Organizing what you have doesn’t cost a dime, but you would be amazed at the number of people who I talk to that say ‘boy I couldn’t find a flashlight that worked when the power went off the other night and I had matches but couldn’t find where I put the candles’. (This is a real person who by the way has backpacks, all kinds of hunting gear and probably well over $10,000 in firearms.)
Once you have everything that you already own organized, then make a prioritized list of things that you need. Make sure to include preparedness items in your family budget and then start at the top of the list and just keep checking them off as you get them. Remember to organize and put these items away when you get home! Don’t get caught in the trap of saying it will take too long to get prepared. How much have you accomplished in the last 2 years. Where would you be now if you started in small steps 2 years ago? Just make a plan now and stick with it!
Learn Basic Skills
In most emergencies there are a number of skills that come into play that we don’t think about in our day-to-day lives. These are the important skills that all of a sudden are in BIG DEMAND during a natural disaster and usually there are not enough skilled people to go around. To become more independent and self-confident consider taking training in the following areas:
- Basic first aid
- CERT Training (Community Emergency Response Training)
- Firearms training
- Self defense
- Martial arts
- Outdoor skills; hunting, fire making, camping, etc.
- Basic auto mechanics
- Basic carpentry
- Primitive cooking and cooking basics, i.e. making bread etc.
Remember, don’t wait to start learning. Start with a small class. Start now!
Prepare a basic 72 hour bag for each person in your home.
The 72 hour bag or Bug Out Bag, (B.O.B.) is a basic backpack that will allow each family member to have basic necessities to get by for 72 hours in an emergency. Like every other category I have the same advice: I can’t say this often enough, don’t wait to start some big fancy expensive plan! Start now! Gather what you already have. If you don’t have money for new packs go to yard sales or Good Will. Put together a list for each pack. (Link for list) The cost for the packs depends on the quality of the items in it. As an example multi-tools that have a pliers, knife and various other tools all in one, like Leatherman or Gerber brands can cost $50-$100 while off brand imports can be had in the $8 – $15 range. Are the imports as good as the big name products? No, but I would rather you have the cheap import in your pack than have you wait a year to be able to put a Leatherman in it. What if you needed it next month?
Create a plan that fits your family
Obviously by this point you realize that creating a plan is part of every one of the above points. I just wanted to put together a few points together about creating a plan. First I want to emphasize that unless you are on your own you need to get your whole family on board with this operation. Rambo‘s and other stand-alone movie heroes don’t exist in the real world. You will get a lot more accomplished if your wife at the very least, if not the kids, is supportive and a partner in helping accomplish goals. This needs to start with the planning stage. Each member of the family has a unique viewpoint of their needs. If you get them involved from the beginning you will save money and time in the long run.
I recommend getting a 3 ring binder to keep your plan in. If you have a computer it is easiest to create and modify documents on it and then print copies to put in the binder. Creating a long-term plan for the whole family can be a daunting task. Don’t think you are going to sit down in one night or even one weekend and complete the whole plan, your just dreaming. Rather than set unrealistic goals just pick one area like a food storage plan or 72 hour bag.
One easy way to break up planning into manageable bites is to start with short-term easy goals and work toward long-term planning. The most likely emergency events are handled with a 72 hour plan. Once you have completed this task you and your family will have a sense of accomplishment and also the basics of a preparedness plan that will cover most of the most common emergencies. You will also have the experience to make the next stages of planning easier.
Ecclesiastes 7:12 NIV 12 Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.
Search for truth and the truth will set you free. Start now
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