Prepping for a long term even is very complex. There are many details to juggle. They include both things that you are involved in on a daily basis (like food) and things that you generally don’t think about until you have need (like medical services.)
If you are preparing for an extended disaster scenario, the best way to juggle all these disparate elements is to prepare a series of list – one in each of several broad categories – to ensure that you are as prepared as possible.
In making your lists, it is great if you can devote one notebook to each list. That way, you can use them both as a “shopping list” and as a growing resource as you make notes related to the topic of the list in the notebook.
The notebooks also make a great inventory management system. As you acquire each of the items on your list and store it away, make a notation in the notebook about where it can be located. That way you will always be able to find things quickly rather than rooting through a variety of storage spaces.
Now, let’s get to those lists.
In no particular order, here are the ten lists that you really should be making and working for your preparedness plan.
Food is pretty important – and you need to consider both food storage and food preparation. Let’s look at some of the issues you need to consider while building your food list.
- Diet restrictions: This one is pretty important. For example, if someone in your group is gluten intolerant, you want to be sure to build a food supply that addresses that issue. Chances are you already have a good idea of what are good and bad foods for your group and you should make your storage plans around that.
- Nutritional Supplements: I don’t know your philosophy on taking vitamins and other supplements but they are part of our life. If they are also part of your life, be sure to stock up on some extra bottles – and pay attention to the expiration date on them.
- Storage life: Food storage is always a compromise between maximum shelf life and foods you enjoy eating. For instance, you may like fresh fruits and vegetables but you need to lay in a store of either canned, dehydrated, or freeze dried substitutes for when fresh is not available. It is best if you can buy small quantities of any foods that are not in your normal weekly shopping so you can try them out before investing in a quantity.
- Food rotation: You must develop a strict food rotation plan and follow it. As foods near the end of their shelf life, build menus around them and replace what you eat. Your goal should be to always have on hand enough food that is shelf stable to last you for the duration. This is much easier if you can match the foods you eat daily with what you put into storage. A god inexpensive food rotation system is the FIFO Can Tracker.
- If you are buying any whole grains or dried beans or any food that is not part of your every day cooking regimen as part of your food storage program, be sure you have the necessary tools/knowledge to prepare them. For instance, you will need a grain grinder if you store whole grains as part of your food storage plan. Something like the Victorio VKP1012 Hand Operated Grain Mill works really well.
- Make sure you have a whole range of cooking tools. It would be good if they can be used over alternate heat sources like an open fire or similar heating element.
- Have a way to prepare your foods. This means the fuel to cook with, manual can opener to open can’s etc. One thing that helps tremendously here is knowing that canned foods can be eaten cold. It is a good way to conserve cooking fuel if it is in short supply.
- Cleaning supplies: Clean up after cooking is really important. Make sure you have what you need to clean up after your meals. Dirtiness in a food prep area is an invitation for disease and vermin and you don’t want to have to deal with that.
Water is THE essential. Without it, you will not live very long.
- Buy sufficient containers to store a large quantity of water. This will let you make the most of an intermittent supply. (For ideas on where to get water when the taps go dry, read 10 Sources Of Water Post Disaster.) Make sure your containers are food grade containers so that they do not leech toxins into your water supply.
- A method to transport water. If you have to walk any distance, carrying five gallon pails filled with water is very hard work. Have a garden cart, wheel barrel or similar means to transport water.
- A method (or methods) to clean the water and make it drinkable. This can include Clorox, water treatment pills like Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets, water filters, distiller units, etc. When sourcing water, it is best to assume all of it is contaminated in some manner so buy whatever you feel is necessary to clean it up. (If you are fortunate enough to have a pond on your property, you can even get the water tested periodically so you know exactly what types of contaminants need to be removed to make it potable.)
Routine medical care might not be available to you – or might be significantly delayed during a disaster. So the more you can do for yourselves, the better prepared you will be.
- Education: This is probably the most important aspect of first aid preparedness. If you don’t know what you are doing, all the supplies in the world will not help you. Get at least a rudimentary knowledge of first aid.
- A quality first aid kit. I’m not talking about something you buy at Walmart. The Stomp Medical First Aid Kit Back Pack is a great resource. There are several less expensive models available but this kit gives you a good idea what you should shoot for in terms of supplies even if you build your own kit one component at a time.
- A first aid library: If you have basic skills, having a library of first aid knowledge can be just the thing to help you through a tough time. Let’s face it. We all get a little fuzzy on what we learn if we don’t use it every day.
If you have the land available, you may choose to do some farming to have fresh food. Depending on your skill set, this may only be a vegetable garden or a full fledged farm with animals.
- Stock seeds for the crops that grow well in your region. If you are not using heirloom seeds (which can be re-harvested from the mature crop), be sure to stock enough standard seeds for several seasons. Keep them dry and secure.
- Know your growing season for your various crops so that you can begin planting at the right time. You do not want to lose your crop because you planted too early or too late.
- Stock tools necessary to manage your garden. Hand tools are best as it will give you a way to conserve on your fuel supplies. You may also consider a small greenhouse/hothouse to get an early start on your vegetables. A simple one van be made with heavy plastic and a wood frame.
- If you do raise animals, be sure to have a way to feed them. Knowing what your land can handle in a free range situation is a good place to start. And if you have the land and storage space to grow feed, that number can be grown. Also be sure to have a full set of butchering tools and knowledge to use them. Plus be sure to get any tools you might need to use for maintaining your livestock – fencing, rakes, pitchforks, feed buckets, etc.
- Choose only animals that make sense for your situation. A cow can give a lot of meat but if you don’t have a way to store it, a flock of chickens or rabbits or similar small animals might be a better choice for you.
- Plant fruit and nut trees (whatever your climate allows.) While trees are a multi-year proposition to reach bearing age, they can generate abundant stores of food for many, many years.
- Canning supplies – Gardens are great but inconvenient in that the food comes all at once – and hopefully in huge quantities. Learn how to can the excess so you can enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labors all year long. And be sure to stockpile enough canning supplies to store all the excess food.
In our modern world, we don’t even think about basic sanitation unless we own a camper and have to clean out the waste tanks or have our toilet back up. It is one of those things that we just expect to work. But the modern sanitation system only works when water is flowing so you need to be prepared with a backup plan.
- A stockpile of basic sanitation supplies. This includes soap/shampoo, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, tooth cleaning supplies, etc.
- A means of disposing of excrement. This can be an outhouse built far from your water source. Be sure to have something to treat it with too. Having a quantity of powdered lime to sprinkle on the waste from time to time will do wonders for keeping it less unpleasant. There are also self composting toilets. Although pricey,something like the Nature’s Head Dry Composting Toilet can help with this awkward situation.
With proper planning, power doesn’t need to be a luxury – but depending on your desires, it could be expensive. For many, the best choice in power is a mix of sources, each helping in a specific way. For instance, you might use a small solar system to power batteries to work small appliances, an underground propane tank for cooking and wood for heating in the winter. Let’s take a look at some things to consider when building your power list.
- Start by having a good supply of all the different types of batteries that you use. Store them in a cool place and rotate them to keep them fresh. Also consider getting rechargeable batteries and a solar battery charger like the Solar 11-in-1 Battery Charger. If you live in an area where there is lots of sun, this is a very sensible solution for your small battery stockpile.
- Have alternate heat sources for cold weather. Stockpile wood and have a system that can use it to keep you warm.
- A multi fuel generator is also a good choice for electricity. You might not always have fuel but this way you will have more chances of a fuel being available that you can use for electricity.
- A full blown solar is always good if you live in a sunny area but very expensive. But something like the Sunforce 50048 60-Watt Solar Charging Kit can be a good choice for power to power many things and is reasonably priced.
- Fuels: If you live in an area that allows you to store fuel on your property, this can also be a good investment. For instance, a large underground propane tank can provide cooking fuel for a very long time as well as act as a fuel source for a multi-fuel generator. But you might want to run it only when needed to stretch out your fuel supply. The same goes for kerosine, gasoline, diesel and heating oil tanks.
- Tools: If you have the capability to burn renewable resources, you need tools to harvest them. Things like chainsaws and wagons/wheel barrels to transport are good things to have on hand.
In a disaster situation, chances are you will not be doing much traveling. But if you own a larger piece of land or have family/friends who are not living with you, you might want to get some communications equipment to try to stay in touch.
- Two way radios. Ideally, they will be rechargeable or take rechargeable batteries. Have a means to keep them charged. A small solar system like the one mentioned in the power section above is ideal.
- CB radios for longer range communications.
- If you want to take the time to become a certified ham radio operator, you will have many more long range options that you can legally use to communicate. But remember that radios are basically line of sight (or bounce off the atmosphere) so they may not be able to reach who you want them to reach.
There are tons of things you can do for security. The best approach is to decide what you can do with your resources and invest time in training with the equipment you have. Being well trained with less than optimal equipment will put you ahead of most folks who have better equipment but don’t know how to use it.
Here are some things you might consider having around.
- Guns and gun supplies. I’m not going to make any suggestions as to what you should get. But be sure to get guns you are comfortable using and then train with them frequently so you know how to use them. Also buy a good supply of rounds for each weapon you have and an appropriate cleaning kit to keep the weapons in good order. And remember guns are not the only weapon. You could have tasers, etc. But remember in a true post disaster situation, help is probably not coming so choose wisely and train well.
- For your home, you should have secure exterior doors (preferably steel) with good locks and perhaps a lock bar. Your windows should be secured or able to be secured. If you have a power source, cameras and motion sensors outside the property are good. And an alarm system for inside the home.
- If you have the power, loud noise and bright light are always good ways to scare folks off. It totally takes away any surprise advantage they think they might have
- Camouflage in terms of strategically placed foliage can help conceal things and make a property look like a less desirable target from the road.
- A proper security animal works well if you are comfortable working with such an animal.
- Night scopes if you are worried about night time intruders.
- A safe room. If you have the ability to create a safe room, this is a good last resort hideout.
- A working, fully fueled vehicle that you can reach in case the only option is to run away.
There are literally tons of tools that can be useful to you. In addition to the usual tools found in most every garage, here are some categories of tools you should be considering.
- Car maintenance
- Home maintenance
- All sorts of hand powered tools
- Gardening tools
- Cutting tools – bolt cutters, saws, clippers, etc.
- The items that you use the tools with – screws, bolts, nails, wires, glues, tapes, etc.
- Protective clothing to wear when working with your tools. You do not want to risk injury if a simple pair of gloves or long pants can prevent it.
Beyond this, there are all sorts of specialty tool sets you could collect – things like gunsmithing tools, woodworking tools, metalworking tools, etc. But they all require more specialized skill sets and should not be first on your list of things to acquire.
No set of lists can be complete without an everything else category. There are many things that don’t fit neatly in the above lists but are also important. These can include
- Hard money
- Barter items
- Sewing supplies
- Games and hobby supplies
- Fitness gear
- DVD collection that you can watch (as long as you have a power option.)
- A Kindle full of books to read (as long as you have a power option.)
The above is not meant to be comprehensive but does a pretty good job of touching on all the major categories you need to think about and take action on to reach a high level of readiness for future calamities.
Feel free to use the comments section below to make additional suggestions of things that you find important in preparing for future events.