Preparedness Pays: Fixing Up Your Home

While I can already hear some ranting about bugout/bailout bags and such, the idea is not to overwhelm someone new. Those that get overwhelmed find it easy to not get prepared, even when such preparations can increase the value of their home and otherwise save them money. Again, each situation is unique and you need to plan for what works for you. Even if you rent and apartment or something else, you can take steps that will help you be prepared and far more comfortable in day-to-day life. While this is focused on someone in a stand-alone home, there are aspects that can be applied elsewhere.

Your home is your castle and your keep, even if it’s not in the middle of the street. It is the place you live, and the place you are most likely to stay in the event of an emergency. What are some of the things you can do, and may already want to do, to improve it so that you enjoy benefits even while preparing?

Let’s start with weather preparedness. Is it weather tight? No matter where you live, insulation is a good thing for keeping out the heat or cold. Caulking, door seals, and other items can reduce energy bills. In an emergency, it can help keep out smoke, pathogens, or even radiation in the worst case. The nice thing is, depending on where you live, there may be grants, tax credits, or even programs to help you take these steps.

Security is also a factor. Are your outer doors insulated and security rated? Again, the grants and other programs may can help with that, as well as taking other steps to make sure it is secure. Double- and triple-pane windows not only add to energy savings, but can also be a security feature. What other steps can you take?

How energy efficient is it? If you HVAC system is old, or even older, a newer system can provide savings. Again, there may be programs to help with such an upgrade, along with tax credits and such. This applies to all major appliances too — the more energy efficient the better. A minor thing you can do is buy outlet insulation systems that help stop drafts that come in that way. At an apartment I rented years back, putting them in actually provided a measurable drop in my electric bill. It also reduced what could come in from outside, from pollen to insects and other delights. Going all LED on lighting saves money, and can make it easier to maintain light and critical appliances via a generator or other power source if needed.

Landscaping can help improve security by eliminating places people can hide, gain entry without being seen, or even approach without being seen. In an area where flooding could be an issue? Berms and walls can help reduce the threat. A non-flammable patio can not only increase the value of the house, but it provides a secure place to put a grill or other outdoor cooking items that can be used in an emergency.

Take a few minutes to think about what you can do to your home to improve it, and at the same time make it better prepared to be your castle and keep in an emergency. Then, look to see what grants, programs, tax credits, etc. may be available to help with that effort. You might be surprised, and all you do will add to the value of the property. If you don’t own but rent, do the legwork to find these opportunities, and it is rare that a landlord won’t jump at the chance to improve their property with little- to no-cost to them.

Be creative, and look outside the box for solutions that work for you.

Preparedness Pays: Some Food For Thought To Go With Yesterday’s Post

As you go through the thought experiments, here are a few things you may want to keep in mind.

First, keep in mind that what you are planning for is not a normal situation. You will use less of some things, and more of some others. For example, just before the joys of 2020 hit, I caught a sale and had bought what should have been a year’s supply of hand soap. With the lockdown and all else, it turned into a 6-8 month supply since I was home far more than normal. I also used more facial tissues, paper towels, and even some cleaners as I was home more.

Second, since it is not a normal situation, you might want to plan both on rationing food a bit (cut back on portions/amounts) as real emergencies don’t come with a time limit. Also, you are not doing as much if you are trapped at home and should cut back on things anyway. This way, you have food for an extra day or three if needed. On top of that, plan on having what is needed for a day or three of extra “normal” food above and beyond that three-day or week’s supply. This way, if you are doing work (cleaning up, repairing, digging out, etc.) you have the food for that as well as if the situation goes longer than a week.

Third, when making your list on equipment/things, look to see if what you already have on hand can do double duty. Also, the things you buy should also be useful every day and do more than just be there for emergencies. Alton Brown talks about kitchen utensils doing multiple things, and the same goes for the tools and equipment in our lives. The only items that should do just one thing are fire extinguishers. First aid kits should be useful for “everyday” disasters such as cuts, scrapes, stings, etc. Make the items you buy work for your situation in as many ways as possible.

Just some quick food for thought. Hopefully tomorrow we will embark on another thought experiment.

Preparedness Pays: Starting Planning

At this point, despite the ease of planning for just a few things rather than the infinite number of possible disasters, many people freeze up at the thought of planning. Maybe it’s because there is still a residual bit of fear of trying to figure out all that can go wrong. Maybe it’s because starting to plan seems like a word problem in math. Maybe it is a fear of starting the process and perhaps being labled a “prepper.” Who knows.

The thing is, if we borrow a technique from Sir Issac Newton, starting your core plan is easy. Sir Issac was known for what he called “thought experiments” where he postulated and extrapolated subjects in his mind. His “thought cannon” was really the start of the concept of orbits, microgravity, and more. Being intelligently lazy, let’s steal his page and engage in a thought experiment.

This one is easy: imagine you are trapped in your house for three days. For this experiment, we will keep it easy and assume that gas, water, power, etc. remain uninterrupted. The key is, you can’t go outside, run to the store, or anything else. Your doors are sealed.

Do you have enough food? Maybe not what you want at that moment, but do you have enough food to feed yourself, or all in the household? Do you have enough toothpaste, soap, floss, hygiene items, laundry and dish detergent, and other supplies? Do you have enough pleasure items (alcohol, snacks, other nice-to-haves) for the three days? If not, what of these do you not have in sufficient quantity? Write them down. That’s the start of your basic planning list. These are the things you need to get and keep in stock to be prepared for minor emergencies.

Now, take that out to a week. Adjust your list accordingly. You now have a basic list of the things you need to do, purchase, etc. to start tobe prepared for emergencies.

The next step in our thought experiment branches out a bit. Ask yourself what safety equipment you have on hand? Do you have a first aid kit that can handle minor cuts, burns, and other delights? If so, great — just remember to keep it up to date. Do you have a fire extinguisher that can handle a minor stove fire or other event? If not, put that on the list. Do you have enough of a supply of medicines, supplements, and other health maintenance/support supplies for a week? If not, again, add those to the list. Is there any other safety or support items or equipment you need that are unique to you and your situation? If so, add them to the list as well.

Yes, there are lists out there that can tell you all sorts of things to get and do; however, most of them are one-size-fits-all plans. You and your situation are unique, and your planning should be as well. You know what you need, how much room you have to store items, and other issues that are going to impact what you do, when, where, and how.

For example, where I lived before had very limited pantry space. It impacted how much I could store in the pantry itself. One solution to that was access to some other space (under the bed, garage, etc.) where I used plastic totes to store some of the items on my list, and not just canned goods. Your planning needs to revolve around your needs and what space or spaces of which you can make use.

Okay, you have a basic list of the items you need to get or get enough of to maintain a week’s supply. That’s a good place to start if you are not already into preparedness. It is, however, just a start and there are good reasons to work up to a longer timeframe as you can.

Now, let’s do a different thought experiment. Again, you are sealed in your house for three days. This time, the normal services are out: no water, no electricity, no internet, etc. For this one, the sewer is still working. Think things like this can’t happen? Just look at what happened in Texas recently.

First up, lighting. Do you have flashlights? If so, are the batteries still good? Do you have spares that are in date? What alternate forms of lighting do you have, if any? Candles, lanterns, and other delights come in handy. If nothing, you need to start your first equpment list.

Second, what alternate means do you have to heat or cook food? Any? We’ll relax the seal on the doors so that if you have a grill you can use it. Most gas grills today have at least one side burner, so in addition to cooking on the grill proper, you can cook on the side burner. A few years ago, where I lived had a gas issue, so for several days I cooked my breakfast on the side burner. You make do with what you’ve got. You can cook on a charcoal or wood grill, but be prepared to clean up. Do you camp? If so, bet you have some form of camp stove. Nothing? Again, time to put it on the equipment list.

Third, how much water do you have on hand? Do you have any water for flushing the toilet? Do you have a means to bathe without a shower or tub?

To aid your thinking on this, I have two five-gallon sealed buckets with non-portable water set aside just for flushing the toilet. Enough for a week? Not under normal circumstances, but it may be enough for my “mellow yellow” protocol. Stole the name from a line in one of John Ringo’s books where a character put over the toilet a sign saying ‘if it’s yellow it’s mellow, if it’s brown, it goes down.” Fill the cap of a bleach bottle with bleach, put it in with each pee, and you are good for a while. Still have a box of baby wipes around just for things like this.

I also have both bottled water and jugs of water on hand. I use both: bottled water for the day job and jugs of distilled water for making my coffee and other drinks. I have enough to get by for more than a week, and rotate my stock.

Now, to continue the thought experiment. Let’s add the wrinkle of it being winter and cold. How are you going to stay warm? There is no one answer to that. In the past, I’ve used kerosene heaters (not an option where I am currently), propane, and other alternate means — WITH ADEQUATE VENTILATION!!! I also have camping gear, and am not above setting up the tent indoors and having people huddle there for warmth. I also have cold weather gear to wear because I’ve spent time not only in the north, but outside in the north.

There is a lot more I could throw in, but I also consider them advanced planning. For now, I want to keep our thought experiment simple so that you get comfortable with the planning.

With this exercise, you have begun planning to have food and drinks, light so you can do things, and to stay warm at need. Those are the true essentials in an emergency. You have a list of what you do have on hand, and a list of the things you need to get.

With the two lists you now have (first exercise and this one) you know what you need to get, and even a good idea on quantity. Now, you need to sit down and prioritize what you get and when. The items on the first list should be your top priority, but unless you have the funds on hand to get them all at once, add them to your next few grocery lists and pick up a portion at a time. This is easier on the budget, and gives you time to set up your storage. As for the second list, work out a priority list based on your situation and begin making your purchases over time.

For this post, however, I will note that I am advising that people lay in a year’s supply of supplements and OTC medications. One reason is that with two-for-one sales going on at various stores, it is easy and less costly to get the larger amounts. I’ve also discovered that in going directly to company websites, I’m finding better deals on larger amounts that I could through a certain online retailer.

Also, as you look at your lists, see what’s available through yard sales, online sales venues, and other delights. As I noted earlier, the spring is a great time to find deals on winter items, from snowblowers on down, while fall is a good time to get deals on summer items (grills, etc.).

So, you made it through the basics of planning and now have good lists of what you need for your situation. Take the next step and act on those lists.

Preparedness Pays: Things

Again (and again and again and again), there are an almost infinite number of possible disasters. If you try to plan for individual disasters, you will not only be overwhelmed, but fail to take good precautions. Instead, focus on the fact that there are only three things that can be hit by a disaster: people, places, and things.

Today, we are going to touch briefly on things. I say briefly simply because this is the introduction to the topic, an overview. The proper term for things is infrastructure; however, that term makes most people think about roads, bridges, and such. While they are a part of preparedness, there is little you can do about truly major items other than plan to avoid or make use of if there is a major disaster. What I want to concentrate on are the parts of infrastructure that are within your control: the things you use every day.

In that context, infrastructure applies to the items that are a major part of your life. That ranges from smart phones to the sump pump in your basement. It is the power and hand tools you own, it is the machinery that keeps your house warm or cool, the water flowing, the water heated, etc. Things also applies to the food and other resources that are the logistics of your life. Yes, there is overlap with places, but that just makes planning easier.

The two major impaces of a disaster on things boil down to damage and/or loss-of-use, or the loss of resources. Recent events in Texas highlight what happens when a rare occurance results in a loss of the things we often take for granted.

For example, the loss of electricity removed the ability for many to heat their home, run appliances, cook, and maintain communications. The loss of water, which was apparently a combination of freezing and the loss of communications had impacts from being unable to have water for drinking to being able to bathe and flush the toilet. The loss of the two had a cascading effect, which was compounded by being unable to access groceries and other necessary logistics.

The number of people who were unprepared for any of this is hardly surprising, though I wish it were surprising. How many of you have spare water for drinking (bottled), spare water for cooking (jugs or larger), or spare water for flushing the toilets? How many of you have an alternate means for cooking, such as a camp stove, propane burner, or a butane chef’s stove? How many of you have an alternate means of heating the home at need? How many of you have lined up a place to go to in the event of such an emergency?

Thankfully, I do know some in Texas who were at least moderately prepared for what happened. One combined resources with a person in a location that maintained power, and they not only helped each other out, they were able to help some fellow members of the military by giving them a place they could hang out, relax, and warm up other than on base. I’m aware of others that used camping gear, such a tents, to set up an emergency shelter in their home that they could keep heated, while using camping and other supplies to get by until water and electricity were restored. Yet another, as did many, used their vehicle to warm up, recharge electronics, and otherwise get by.

The good thing is, preparing for that loss of, or damage to, things is fairly simple and involves some of the resources already discussed. One good thing about doing this series of posts is that I’m going to work on a chapter on tools, that is the things that are needed across the three types of damage. These range from flashlights to weapons, as all are needed and useful tools in an emergency.

A quick question for the reader: if you have flashlights and other tools that require batteries, have you checked them recently to be sure the batteries are still good and that there is no damage to the units in which they reside? Do you/did you have spare batteries that were in date? How about other dated resources? Were they/are they good?

We’ve covered the basics of Preaparedness Pays, now, let’s start getting serious about how to plan and how to prepare.

Preparedness Pays: Places

It’s time to talk about the second thing that can get damaged in a disaster: places. That place can be your home, your business location, your work location, or other structure. Again, the list of disasters is near infinity, and can include fire, flood, earthquake, tornado, etc.

Let’s start with your home. Bad things can happen, but you can take steps to minimize damage fairly easily.

For example, a fire. Smoke detectors properly installed and maintained can and do make a difference as they give early warning of a fire. Fire extinguishers are inexpensive, and can be used to put out stove fires or even house fires if caught early. Otherwise, they can help you and yours make a safe exit. Invest in not just a number of extinguishers over time, but get different sizes and types so that you are prepared for different events. A small extinguisher designed to fight grease fires is a good thing to have in the kitchen.

Falling limbs (or trees), storms, and other delights can damage your home as well. One thing I like to have in almost every room is a small plastic container that has a tarp, tape of different types, tacks and nails, scissors and/or a utility knife, a hammer, and even basic first aid supplies in it. If a window gets busted in that room, the materials to cover it and prevent further damage are right there. If your roof is damaged, you have a tarp you can put up as soon as it is safe.

Which brings up another point: have the tools you need. A ladder is useful around the house for a variety of projects, including emergencies. Shovels of various types, a mattock, and a sledge hammer are also useful for general use as well as in emergencies. Right now, where I am living, there are window issues that would make it hard to use them in an emergency, so I have a sledge hammer tucked away near those windows that would make short work of them if needed for use as an emergency exit.

Also, have things like pry bars and a hand saw in the area where you would take shelter for a storm or other emergency. That way, even if your location takes damage severe enough to potentially trap you, you have the means to begin to extract yourself. That area is also where you should store at least some of your emergency resources such as food, water, and basic first aid supplies. In addition, I have battery-operated lanterns and flashlights, and even some camping gear so that I have the means to get by a while at need.

If your home has more than one story, it’s a good idea to have emergency fire ladders tucked away in each room. That way, in a fire or other emergency that requires you or yours to go out a window, there is a safe way to get down to ground level.

Keep up on your maintenance, and/or ensure your landlord does. Good maintenance tends to help minimize damage from minor disasters. Also, if you have trees or limbs that pose a threat to your home or business, get them cut and removed. There’s a lot more to discuss about landscaping, and using it to improve safety, prevent fire hazards, and other delights but time is limited this morning. Also, winterizing or otherwise insulating your home and sealing openings can save money on utilities as well as making it difficult for insects or other critters to get inside. You may even be able to get a grant or tax rebates for such. Again, much more to discuss later.

Finally this morning, have a plan for fire and plans for other likely emergencies and practice them. Make sure that if it is more than just you, everyone knows where to meet (rally point) so you can ensure all are out safely. Also, especially with children, make sure they know not to go back inside for any reason. Growing up, I remember a child and a parent dying in a house fire because the child ran back inside to try to save a pet, and upon realizing what had happened the parent ran back in to try to save the child. Make the practice as realistic as possible, because how you train/practice is how you will do when and if the plan really is needed.

Preparedness Pays: People Damage

No, this is not about how to damage people (something far too easy to do, sadly); rather, it is about how there are only three types of damage that can happen to a person. Within each group, you again can get into the almost infinite number of disasters large and small, but you also can begin making practical preparations to counter them all fairly easily.

First up is physical damage. From scraping a knee to traumatic damage, things happen that can harm our bodies. The counters to this range from having basic first aid supplies like bandages and ointment, to keeping a small trauma kit in the car or on you. I actually have one tourniquet in my work vest and the med kit I had in Iraq (updated as needed) in my carry bag that travels with me. Given the amount of travel I currently do, I’m ready to help if I’m one of the first on the scene of an accident.

Again, while we will get into more detail later, it is neither hard nor expensive to plan and prepare for physical damage. Having general first aid kits handy helps you deal easily with the normal day-to-day “ouches” that happen, while having the gear on hand for something more can not only help you or yours, but allow you to help others in the event of an emergency.

The second type of damage is a loss of resources. This could be the loss of power or water, or something more serious like loss of shelter or even the loss of immediate access to food. Look at the resources you use every day, list them out, and you can begin to plan for short- and long-term loss. If you begin to build up spare resources gradually, it is not expensive or time consuming.

Something else to keep in mind is how to make all of this work for you. I bring this up now because some of the things you might not think of immediately can be taken of taxes or earn credits. Thinks like additional insulation or winterization of your house, improving energy efficiency via new appliances, or even alternate power sources may have tax benefits and in some cases there are even programs to help you do this if you meet income requirements.

The final type of damage is financial, and it is the type of damage seldom covered in most works on preparedness. At best, most discuss keeping cash or other means of payment on hand. While I agree on the need to do this, what I would prefer you to look at is how you can prepare for anything from being out of work a week or three to a major recession or even depression. It’s not only about putting a little away, but also how to put some of that into forms that can ride out economic downturns that can come with a large-scale disaster. While it can be argued that financial is a resource, it is a specialized type of resource that deserves it’s own planning.

The Series In Order:

Preparedness Pays

Preparedness Pays: Diet Versus Lifestyle

Preparedness Pays: For Crying Out Loud!!!

Preparedness Pays: Expensive? No.

Preparedness Pays: It’s So Time Consuming — NOT

Preparedness Pays: It’s So Time Consuming — NOT

Today’s is a bit short, but the other major excuse given to avoid taking steps to be prepared is the whine “It takes so much time!” Not really.

As with cost, you can spend as much time on it as you can money. How much time (and money) is up to you, but the way to avoid having to spend large amounts of time is to incorporate preparedness into your everyday life.

Preparedness is in many respects a compounding investment. Five minutes here and there adds up. Those who have to spend hours are usually those who are responding to an impending disaster of some sort for which they are unprepared. The little things that you can do in everyday life keep any such expenditure of time down to the minimum possible.

Some of it are things you should be doing already: basic house, vehicle, and other maintenance; computer backups; rotating the stock in your pantry as you buy new; and, improvements to your home, vehicle, equipment, etc. It’s putting expiration dates into the calendar on your phone; reminders to change batteries in smoke and other detectors; and other notes as needed. This also helps if you are, like me, a touch absentminded…

Again, it’s all in the planning and making preparedness a part of your lifestyle, not something you only do when absolutely needed. If you are creatively lazy, and make the most of the things you already have (such as smart phones and other devices), you don’t have to spend huge amounts of time on being prepared.

The Series In Order:

Preparedness Pays

Preparedness Pays: Diet Versus Lifestyle

Preparedness Pays: For Crying Out Loud!!!

Preparedness Pays: Expensive? No.

Preparedness Pays: It’s So Time Consuming — NOT

Preparedness Pays: Expensive? No.

Far too many people (and companies) put off preparedness on the basis that it costs too much. That idea is 180 degrees off from the way you should be looking at it.

Instead, you need to be asking yourself what is the cost of not being prepared? An acquaintance has joked in the past that it depends on how fancy a casket you want for your funeral. As harsh as it may seem, the cost of not being prepared could literally be your life, and the lives of those you love.

What is the cost to you or your business if your computer/computer systems go down and you have not made backups? What is the cost to you if the power/water/etc. go out, even for a few hours, when you have to get to work and to miss work is to miss a day’s pay or even lose your job? What is the cost to you if you are stranded on the side of the road for hours, and don’t get a choice of where your vehicle is repaired? If a large disaster hits, what is the cost of not being prepared?

The costs of not being prepared are far higher than the cost of being prepared, especially if you make it a part of your day-to-day life. If you wait until a disaster looms, you will find critical items in short supply, or gone, and prices going up. That is truly expensive, and sadly what most people mistakenly use as the cost of preparedness.

Keep in mind that being prepared not only protects from the large disasters, but the small as well. If an ice storm or other event takes out the power, you may be mildly inconvenienced, but can press on with life. Water goes out, the same. Can’t get out of the house or neighborhood? You already have plenty of food, water, and the necessities of life on hand. Being prepared has a price, but it is also an investment that can pay huge dividends with events large and small.

Building up stocks of the things you use day-to-day can be done gradually. You don’t have to go out and buy everything at once. Buy one or two stock items each paycheck, and take full advantage of two-for-one and other offers. It literally is as simple as buying two bars of soap instead of one.

Also, know when to buy larger items. For example, heaters usually can be obtained for a better price in the summer. A generator (one of the few big-ticket items on my list) seem to have better prices in the spring/summer, and when the weather is good. Winter and/or when storms are coming the prices tend to go up. While not an item on my list, it is far cheaper to buy a snowblower in the summer, though your best bet is the spring when people who panic-bought one the fall before often sell them off for ridiculously low prices. If you buy used via local want ads and such, you can get new/almost new items for a fraction of the cost of the actual new item.

The real key to keeping the expense down is to plan. Your plan should analyze what you need for each of the three major categories (people, places, things), then look into the details for each of the three sub-categories for each. If you have a family, make it a family affair. In all your planning, don’t forget any pets!

One part of planning is to look at the longest possible duration of a major disaster. For example, if you live in an area subject to hurricanes, look at the longest time people in the area have gone without power, water, etc. Add a few days to it to be safe, and you have a good idea of the reserves you will need.

Personally, I plan for a month. If that’s too much for you, plan for two weeks. If that’s still too much, plan for one. Once you start building up your supplies, you can then expand them as finances and space permit. Yes, I do have plans for longer than a month, but those are advanced plans for later discussion. For most day-to-day preparation, I use a month.

Once you have a plan, work up a priorities list for what you need. This allows you to save up what you need for any major expenses, and to start buying those extra things each week so you can build up your reserves for critical items and then move to the nice-to-haves. You do want to have those nice-to-haves: survival is great; but, surviving disaster large and small with comfort and ease is the way to go.

Keep in mind that many items may be able to do double or even triple duty. For example, if you camp, you already have an emergency shelter that can be set up inside or outside. Backpacks can be kept ready as bug-out bags. Camp stoves provide a means to heat water and cook food. Your grill also is a back-up stove at need. You just need to be sure to have sufficient fuel to meet the needs of the situation. Depending on your hobbies and where you live, you may already have a good bit of preparation already in place.

To wrap up for today: the cost of not preparing is high, potentially astronomically high; the cost of waiting until the last minute is also extremely high and likely to leave you without critical items; and, the cost of preparing and buying things along can be done within almost any budget. Do not let cost keep you from getting started.

The Rest Of The Series In Order:

Preparedness Pays

Preparedness Pays: Diet Versus Lifestyle

Preparedness Pays: For Crying Out Loud!!!

Preparedness Pays: Expensive? No.

Preparedness Pays: It’s So Time Consuming — NOT

Preparedness Pays: For Crying Out Loud!!!

Here we go again. The Panic Porn Media (aka the MSM) is at it again, and once again, people are rushing to the store and buying up all the toilet paper they can get. With all that was bought in the previous panic, people should have a two-year (or more) supply at this point.

There are several problems with such panic buying. First, you are more than likely to be hoarding the wrong thing for the situation. Second, you are wasting your money, which impacts your financial preparedness. Third, you are taking up space that could be better used for stocking up on the things you really are going to need. There are more, but those get the ball rolling.

If you practice practical preparedness, you probably already have a weeks/months supply on hand. Buying ahead allows you to take full advantage of sales or buying bulk to get the best price (on TP or any other item). It means you don’t have to race to the store to get more in response to storms or panic porn.

This really is in a chapter further into the book, but part of what you should be doing is taking a look at the things you use every day, evaluating how much of each you go through in a week/month, and deciding what time period works best for you and buying enough to get through that. Then, as you use those items, you buy more and rotate your stock like grocery stores used to do (sadly, many don’t and if you’re buying yoghurt from the back of the shelf, check the expiration date then and not later).

The time period you choose may vary by product. For example, I am working on building up my supply of supplements and OTC meds so that I have a year’s worth on hand. That way, if there is a natural disaster, a financial disaster, or other impact, I’m good no matter what. Coffee, I have at least three months on hand at any given time. Again, more on this later.

Meantime, if you are one of those panicking, please stop. If you truly are using that much TP, call your doctor.

This does remind me of the time a friend of mine looked at joining a preparedness group. There are good reasons to do so, be it a group of friends you create or one that already exists. Again, more on this later. One of the groups he talked to sort of went off as he didn’t have the amounts of ammunition in different calibers that they wanted. My friend let them rant a bit, then responded (as close as I can remember):

‘You’re right. I don’t have all the ammunition and weapons that you do. However, I’ve got a year’s supply of toilet paper, and more than enough weapons and ammunition to deal with anyone who tries to take that and the other supplies I’ve got. And you’re going to have an awful hard time wiping your asses with those bullets.’

A few days later they called up, said he had a point, and would he like to join them? He declined. Wisely IMO.

Practical preparedness: saving you money, time, and being able to ride out the idiocy of lemmings without stress or discomfort.

The Rest Of The Series In Order:

Preparedness Pays

Preparedness Pays: Diet Versus Lifestyle

Preparedness Pays: For Crying Out Loud!!!

Preparedness Pays: Expensive? No.

Preparedness Pays: It’s So Time Consuming — NOT

Preparedness Pays: Diet Versus Lifestyle

Diets don’t work. At least, as practiced by most, studies have shown they don’t have a lasting impact. Most people start a diet, or join a gym, for a specific near-term goal. If you’ve ever been a gym regular, you know the cycle and see all the new people coming in at specific times of the year to get in shape for spring break, summer vacations, swimsuit season, etc. Even those starting a diet with the idea of “getting healthy” don’t stay with it.


Well, a diet is not a part of the normal lifestyle for most people. It usually involves foods, times, and other delights that are not normal for them.

What makes a diet successful? When it becomes a part of normal life, not something extreme for a particular goal. In my own case, I went ketogenic a few years back, not as a diet, but as part of a conscious change of my entire lifestyle. It was not something just to meet a short term goal, but a decision to change what I ate, how I exercised, and other factors to both get in shape and to promote long-term health. As such, it has left me in far better shape than I was.

For most people, preparedness is a “diet” in that it is usually for a near-term, short time-frame event. As such, it is expensive, time consuming, and in many cases not terribly effective because there was no real planning. Think about all the people you see in the stores when a snowstorm (or similar) is predicted (especially in the South): people who normally don’t buy bread or milk are in there stocking up. My thought is that instead you should be buying meat, bourbon (or alcohol of your choice), and whatever you need to fire up your grill when the snow stops. Also, buy propane or whatever you need to cook inside if the power goes out.

It also doesn’t help that mainstream media portrays those who have preparedness as a lifestyle as illiterate rednecks preparing to stand off the government. Do such people exist? Yes. Are they representative of the larger preparedness community? No. Hell No. For all that I love the characters of Burt and Heather Gummer (portrayed by Michael Gross and Reba McEntire) in Tremors, and laugh my rear end off at them, it may be the kindest portrayal of “Preppers” out there. There are many others not so kind. This ignorant and bigoted portrayal is used to manipulate people into not preparing via social pressure.

So, you have two factors that keep most people from recognizing that making preparedness a part of your lifestyle saves you time, money, and more in dealing with everyday life, much less disasters. Want some quick examples?

Someone I know related the tale of being in a fair-sized building when the power went out and everyone was ordered to evacuate the building. The emergency lights apparently were not working, so people were having to go down the stairs in the dark. That is, they were until he pulled a bright tac light he routinely carried in a pocket and used it to illuminate a good bit of the stairwell.

Another person I knew suffered a blown coolant hose on the interstate. In the trunk, he had tape, hose clamps, and a collapsable water jug. A temporary patch of the hose was made using tape and clamps, and the water jug went down to a nearby creek and supplied the water to refill the system so that they could limp to the nearest exit where they could replace the hose and coolant.

I know at least two people who keep a trauma kit in their car, and have used it at wrecks they’ve either witnessed or come upon while traveling. One or both have literally saved lives as it takes time for medics to arrive, and if someone is bleeding out, time is one thing they don’t have to spare. Even if not saving lives, it improved the outcomes for those injured in the wreck.

A few months ago, the power went out to our neighborhood. Lights out, electric stove useless, water limited because the house was on a well. One very bright flashlight, a butane chef’s stove, and both bottled and jugged water allowed me to make coffee, cook breakfast, and bathe so that I stayed on my normal schedule.

What do all these things have in common? Lives, potentially expensive events, and even day-to-day problems were solved by people who have made preparedness a part of their lifestyle, not just something they do when disaster looms or is hitting. In the case of the person on the interstate, being prepared prevented damage to their vehicle, and the expense of being towed and having to have the repair made at a place not of their choice. It allowed me to have my coffee (top priority), eat, and not be late for or miss work.

Making preparedness a part of your lifestyle not only prepares you from disasters, it also insulates you from any number of annoyances and potentially expensive events in day-to-day life. Water leak? You have the tools and means to stop or slow, and to prevent water damage to your home. Electricity goes out? You have lights, means to cook and wash, and otherwise go about your business.

Most of the truly essential items for preparedness can and do double or even triple duty as they have day-to-day uses. For example, the chef’s stove I used provides an extra burner for holiday cooking, and I’ve used it to cook at special events and even for some of the wolves at Wolf Park. It is not something that just sits taking up space, it is used as a part of my normal life. Same for the flashlight, my pocket knife, and a number of other items. I’ve even converted my first aid/trauma pouch from Iraq into something I carry with me on the job given the amount of travel and the likelihood of coming upon a wreck. I’ll have more on this concept later, as it is important.

The more you integrate preparedness into your lifestyle, the more you are insulated from, or able to deal promptly, with the “downs” and emergencies of everyday life. It can reduce or eliminate the expenses associated with them, as well as saving you time, hassle, and stress.

Got a story about how being prepared worked for you in a non-disaster situation? Please share it in the comments, as the more the merrier. In fact, I may ask you for permission to use it in the book. The more such stories that can be shared, the better for fighting back against media stereotypes and showing people how preparedness can help them.

The Rest Of The Series In Order:

Preparedness Pays

Preparedness Pays: Diet Versus Lifestyle

Preparedness Pays: For Crying Out Loud!!!

Preparedness Pays: Expensive? No.

Preparedness Pays: It’s So Time Consuming — NOT