Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Top Ten things You Need to Get Started Preparing

For some reason a lot of people think getting prepared costs a lot of money up front. I mean you have to have guns, gold and a 4x4 truck. Don't you? 
No, not really. Sure, those things are nice and good to have but they aren't on the most necessary list.

Like anything you can spend a lot of money getting ready for anything, but the reality is you don't need to spend big money to reach a good level of preparedness. You probably have a large amount of the most important things already, you just need to assess what you have and tweak it to last a little longer.

Imagine being stuck at home for a couple of weeks because of a pandemic or blizzard or something. A simple disaster that can happen in your area.

Food: We need to eat several times a day usually and an everyone goes to the store at least a couple of times a week. Keep your eyes out for sales on foods you normally eat and pick up an extra can or box and put it in your pantry.
A pantry doesn't have to be anything fancy: the cabinet over the sink or a shelf in the basement is a good enough place to start.
If you use milk a lot, pick up some dried milk powder and some of the canned evaporated milk, if you aren't into skim milk add a can of the evaporated milk to a jug of reconstituted milk to bring up the fat content which makes it taste a lot better.
Your first goal should be 3 days, then 2 weeks, 3 months, up to about a year per person.

Water: You don't even need to buy bottled water, just fill up some well-cleaned soda bottles or even milk jugs and store them under the sink. If you use milk jugs you'll want to date them so you can replace them every year, they tend to deteriorate after several months. 
Sometimes there is a problem with the water system and you need to boil your water to make it safe. You probably already have have a 6-8 quart pot for doing just that for cooking pasta and soups.
If you can't boil the water and it needs to be purified some pure, unscented chlorine bleach will do the job. You can use up the scented stuff in your laundry as normal but buy the unscented from now on and keep a spare bottle and rotate it through as normal. 
You need 1/4 teaspoon per gallon for clear water and 1/2 teaspoon per gallon for cloudy water. 
You'll need at least 1 gallon per person per day. Your first goal is for 3 days, then 2 weeks. Once you get up to a months storage you'll want to think about a water purification system because water is really bulky.

Shelter: Obviously, this is your primary residence, but it also includes your clothes, shoes and vehicles. Blankets, tarps and large plastic bags fall in this category too. While a tent, RV or second home would be nice, you probably already have plenty of materials on hand to construct some kind of emergency shelter.

Light: There is something very comforting about having light at night. Blackout happen pretty often so having some alternate source of light is handy.
Flashlights are great since they are easily portable. LED bulbs allow the batteries to last a lot longer then regular bulbs. Keep extra batteries on hand and check their expiration dates yearly.
Candles work fine too, though you have to worry a bit about them tipping over and setting the place on fire. Short and wide is better then tall and skinny but use what you have. Make sure to have lighters and matches and a fire extinguisher or small bucket of water or sand, or box of baking soda nearby.
OIl, propane, kerosene or gas lanterns are nice, but those are the kind of thing to get later after you've got all the basics covered. But if you see one at a garage sale, go for it.

Heat and Fire: I bet you have this one covered already: 79% of homes have a grill of some kind in the backyard. This lets you heat food and water, and also bricks to take inside to warm your beds. An extra cylinder of propane or a few bags of charcoal would add a lot of comfort in times of emergency.
Camp stoves are nice if you are looking for portability, but again this is something to watch for at a garage sale. A wood burning stove or fireplace in you home would be good but terribly expensive to retrofit.

Medical supplies: This includes things like prescription medications, glasses, canes, and a first aid kit, of course. 
Don't forget policy and contact information for your health insurance, doctor, pediatrician, dentist, optician, and local hospitals. Everyone in the family should keep a copy in your wallet and your cell phone.

Tool kit: Things break, and fixing them is often worth your while, if you have the tools. Installing a shelf, fixing a cabinet, getting your car on the road again are all things you can do.
A home tool kit doesn't need to be fancy or any fancy boxes. A sturdy rubber tub will do. A hammer and some nails, a flat/phillips screwdriver and screws, a saw, a crescent wrench and some pliers will go a long way to dealing with most home problems. 
A plumbing kit needs some specialized tools for that.
Your car kit will need things depending on the kind of car you have but you should be able to change the oil and filters and brake pads. The mechanic's manual is important for that.

Document kit: This is something a lot of people completely ignore, but you should organize your family's personal documents, Social Security cards, birth certificates, contracts, debts, accounts, leases, mortgages, diplomas, insurance policies, titles and so on. These should all be organized and copied so you have a backup set somewhere off-site. The originals should be stored in a fire safe or safe deposit box.

Financial: If you are in debt, you need to retire that debt as soon as you can. It is holding you down, it is slavery. List you debts, expenses and income and work out a plan with your family to get out of debt. Dave Ramsey's debt snowball is a great plan to do just that.

Knowledge: Knowledge is power, pure and simple. You can get a lot of knowledge on the internet and from the library. Learn as much as you can, so you can make better decisions later. The most valuable knowledge comes from other people's experience, that costs way less then learn from your own experience.
You do still want a few books in house so they are available when you need them. A first-aid manual, a local edible plants guidebook, your car's mechanics manual, a home repair book, a general survival book and an all-around cookbook that covers as many different ingredients as possible.

Once you have good coverage on these items then you can worry about getting gold, guns and MRE's.