The answers in my house are Yes, and No, respectively. There is a lot of debate on the value of disaster prepping and the sanity of those that actively do this. I saw a video on UpWorthy that put away the whole debate for me. You see the little graphic I put up? This is a punnett square. It’s usually used when talking about genetics and what different type of genetic mixes you can get when combining different sets of genes. Basically this is how they tell how likely it is your kid will have blue eyes.
However here it is used differently. The one I saw on UpWorthy was talking about the cost of protecting the environment. I found this translated over to a lot of things, disaster prepping being one of them. You have four possible outcomes here.
Well if option 1 happens, you can save a lot of life, a lot of pain, and a lot of hardship by storing up those nuts and getting ready. If option 2 happens, you’re out a little bit of money, but hey your loved ones can donate all that stuff to the homeless. If option 3 happens…this is bad. This is really bad. You might die. Your family might die. There is potential for a lot of suffering here. Just look at Hurricane Katrina, or the earth quake in Chile or many other natural disasters. If you didn’t prep, how would your family have gotten through that? Scary, huh? Then you have option 4. Life is good, always has been. Always will be.
The worst case scenario of prepping is you’re out very small amounts of money here and there you could have used to go out to dinner or take a road trip. The worst case scenario of not prepping is pretty huge and life threatening. The benefits and risks of prepping far outweigh the benefits and risks of not prepping. I have children. I can’t risk them.
Now you understand why I jumped on the prep bandwagon and count myself lucky to have done so. However it doesn’t have to take over your life or change how you live. It’s like putting money in a savings account for retirement or stocking up on candles and flashlights in case of power outage. There are a lot of small, easy to afford things you can do to prep.
The number one things professional preppers advise are Bug Out Bags (BOB). This is a bag for each member of the family you can grab at a moment’s notice, in a fire, a natural disaster, or other unforeseen emergency. You’re not going to have all these items today, but I bet you have a lot. You can start a little at a time with the more important stuff. Just say each month you’re going to buy or collect one thing for the bags…This month it’s personal water filters or extra socks (Socks are very important! Socks get wet and dirty and cause infections if left unclean too long. Extra socks are a godsend, and kids can wear grown up socks, so just get cheap ones and stock up).
Most of us have half a brain and will think of the basics, but here’s a list of what the pro’s recommend. Some of it may surprise you.
Plastic Bags….One tip is to actually store your clothes and paper products in plastic bags to keep them dry
· Flash drive. Scan important documents, medical information etc. and store them on the flash drive and keep in BOB. Make sure you password protect it.
· Duplicate identifications
· Prescriptions. Plan for 3 months….many people who are medication dependant either cannot afford to set medication aside or insurance only gives you exactly what you need for the month. In my house we put aside 2 doses a month. It builds very slowly, but most of us can skip 2 doses in 30 days without ill effects. ALWAYS ASK YOUR DOCTOR. You do NOT want expired medication. This is a good letter to start the discussion.
· Feminine hygiene items, extra glasses, soap…this is a great place to get cheap spare glasses.
· Diapers and wipes…baby wipes make great emergency wash rags
· A map and compass or GPS
· Duct Tape
· Manual can opener
· Sewing Kit
· Emergency blanket …you can get these in most hunting/camping supply stores already folded up in a neat little baggie.
· Bandanas…not just for your head, they have lots of uses
· Bug replant
· Paper and pens
· Checklist and phone numbers of what to do and who to call when the world crashes down
· High energy food bars or snacks
· 3 Gallons of water per person or my personal recommendation a Sawyer Mini Water Filter. They’re about $20, filter 100,000 gallons of water each, and are lightweight.
· Standard First Aid supplies
I know that’s a long list, but a lot of these are things we already have around the house. If you have kids update their BOB’s at least twice a year. They keep growing! Split your food stores up between bags so if you can only grab one you still have something.
Food is another thing that is surprisingly easy to stock up on and prepare. We spend $20 a month for 2 weeks worth of emergency food. Rice is cheap, easy to cook and filling. Throw in some lentils and split peas and you’re nutritionally sound. Add some dried beans, nuts, jerky, dried fruits and vegetables and you’ll be able to go a long time.
In a big bowl I combine 5 parts rice, 1 part lentils and 1 part split peas and mix them up. These have roughly the same cooking time. 1 cup of that mixture will feed 2 people very well, 3 people pretty well, and 4 people moderately well for one meal. I put one cup in a baggie and throw in a bouillon cube. This is not only for flavor but also iodized salt. I know it’s hip to go sea salt right now, but our bodies NEED iodine. We can go the sea salt route for the most part because of all the other iodized salt or fish that has made its way into processed and restaurant foods. If all you are able to eat for a time is this rice mixture you’re going to need iodized salt.
I package the beans separately because we need less of them and they have to be soaked overnight and then cooked for 2 to 3 hours. I put about ¾ cup of beans in a baggie. I invested in a dehydrator years ago and it has served me well. I take out two pieces of steak and two pieces of chicken each month to make jerky. We eat half and store half. I found If I store it with rice, the rice absorbs all the moisture. Kind of like if you drop your phone in water you put it in a bag of rice. I dry half of all the produce we get and again store it with rice. I label and date everything and check it once a month for damage or decay. Each month my family saves 2 week’s worth of food this way spending less than $20. Times are tough for everyone right now and we have before had to tap into our supplies to make dinner, which is another benefit of prepping. In a short period of time we have built up stores that will get us through most disasters.
Copy Canning is another easy can cheap idea. Every time you buy a can of food, buy an extra one. One you eat, one you set aside. This can show you the items you eat the most and very cheaply build up your stocks. Store what you eat, eat what you store. Canned goods are great and if you are in a place where you can hold down the fort in most situations they are a great way to go, but they are heavy and bulky and hard to transport. Our home? We need to be able to leave and travel.
Prepping does not require you become a gun toting militia wannabe survivalist. It just requires a little forethought, a very little bit of money here and there, and a little bit of time.
Thanks to a couple friends from Zombie Squad for helping me with this information. A great organization that is committed to serving the public and teaching disaster preparedness.
Susan is a plural writer and artist by day, a child and pet wrangler by night, and occasional crazy person on the weekends.