A while back, I wrote an article for folks that are brand new to prepping. If you missed it, click here to read it. Anyway, I got some positive feedback on that article, but I also received a few emails asking me to be a bit more specific. They wanted to know where and what they should start with first.
In particular, one email from a lady told me she was on a fixed, very tight income. She had very limited resources, and was asking me what should be the priorities for her, even more so than in the above listed article. I could tell from her email she was feeling a bit overwhelmed. She wanted to be more prepared, but could not spend very much each month.
That’s understandable. Beginning preparedness can feel like a daunting task. You can also look at everything you might potentially need, and feel concerned because your funds are limited. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
I have decided to break down that beginning prepping article a bit more, and go into detail as to what I believe should be your top priorities if you are on a budget. Keep in mind that these are the top priorities in almost every disaster scenario, NOT just a huge SHTF event. As always, I stress that you need to start with the most probable scenarios, and work your way outward.
For this article, I’m assuming that you already have developed emergency plans. That to me is your obvious #1 priority. Failing to plan is planning to fail, and hope is not a plan. Instead, this article will focus on what resources you should be collecting first. (For more info on preparedness planning, click here.)
These categories are listed in order of importance (in my opinion). For each category I list the basics for that category that you should work on first. Once you have the basics in that category covered, move on to the next. Or if you can, try to cover more than one category at a time! For example, I list water storage over food storage. (3 days without water/3 weeks without food.) But if you can cover both categories at the same time, you are that much further ahead.
At the end of each category I will list “additional” items. These are items that while I feel are important, they are areas/items that you can come back to once you have all of your basics covered.
When outside companies ask me to do a review of their products, I sometimes have just a little bit of trepidation. For example, what happens if the company sends me their product and I do not like it? That could lead to some awkward moments. So I have tried to be selective of what products I review. There have been products I have turned down for this very reason. Anything that I recommend on this site are products/gear/supplies that I have, own, use, and would stand behind.
So when Valley Food Storage approached me to do a review some of their long-term food storage products, there was a bit of anxiety. What if we tried the food and didn’t like it? What if the product was not up to standards?
Still, having stored a lot of beans, rice, and flour, I also knew that if the grid went down for a long time, food boredom is a very real problem. Valley Food Storage has a pretty wide variety of foods. So I decided that I’d give it a try. I agreed to trying it and writing a review. The fact that their products have no MSGs, GMOs, and that they have a gluten-free options was a big reason I decided to give it a go.
So on a Sunday afternoon, my mother and I sat down in her kitchen, and cooked everything they sent us. From almost the get-go, I realized that my apprehension was completely UNFOUNDED! Just smelling the food as we opened the bags help to set my mind at ease. I was not disappointed!
Valley Food Storage sent me 4 entrées and 3 fruits to try. 3 of the 4 entries came in a thick Mylar bags that are vacuum sealed. We noticed that all the bags are resealable. If you only use part of the contents, you can “zip-lock” the bags shut to help them stay fresh. Unopened, the food is guaranteed for up to 25 years. But being able to reseal between uses is nice.
For this review, both my mother and myself will be adding our comments. For Cheryl L’s part of the review, it will be in quotes. Also note that she has purchased long-term food storage similar to these from other companies. So she will be comparing Valley Foods to the other companies products that she has.
What is Opsec? Well, let me give you a brief example. I bought that shirt (left pic) because I thought it was funny. But I don’t wear it outside of my house. Why? Well, what does that shirt tell you? Other than I have a sense of humor, it says that I maybe I really do have a plan for the Apocalypse. And if I have a plan….then I have supplies and gear. While this is true, I don’t want everyone out there knowing it.
That is, in a nutshell, opsec for preppers. But that example is a bit over simplistic. There is more to opsec than that.
Opsec, short for Operational Security, means that you are keeping information from one or more potential adversaries. This includes people that may you not even consider to be adversaries right now, but could become so in a long-term SHTF situation. This could be neighbors, co-workers, or distant relatives etc. It could also be thugs and criminals in everyday life.
This information you want to keep under wraps can include details about you, your family or group, your gear and supplies, your home, your SHTF plans, etc. This is information that you do NOT want others to know because it could potentially be used against you if everything were to ever go to hell in a hand-basket.
For example, what happens if friends, neighbors, distant family, etc visit you in your home, and see shelves lined with row after row of food, water, medical supplies, etc? You can imagine what will be the first thing they remember in a SHTF scenario. This is especially true if they have gone a day or two without food.
Suddenly, they could be looking to you for help. Help that you may not be able to give. And in a worse case scenario, they could decide to simply take it from you if they are desperate enough.
Another example is purchasing a new, big screen TV and then leaving the box it came in out by the curb for the garbage truck. This tells everyone who happens by your house that you have a new, huge, valuable TV inside your house. Is this something you would want potential burglars to know? Your house could suddenly become a target for thieves. A target that you were not before they saw the TV box.
So with these ideas in mind, I wanted to give you some “food for thought” about keeping and maintaining a low profile with any pre-disaster prepping. And I’ll also talk a little about what to do in situations where you may not be able to keep a low profile.
I have always believed that when it comes to bugging out, (click the link to learn about when it’s time to bug out) speed is your friend. I have written articles in the past stressing the need to keep your Bug out bag/Get home bag, light weight. The faster you get to your destination, the safer you will be.
When it comes to bags, you may have heard of the old adage, ounces = pounds, pounds = pain. Because of this, I tell folks to strip away a lot of the unnecessary accessories they have packed in their BOB. This includes bulk ammunition. Sometimes this notion has be met with a little opposition.
Many preppers out there believe that being prepared also means being able to adequately defend themselves. They argue that it stands to reason that they may find themselves in a situation where they need to be armed with the ability to adequately fight back. Hence they need plenty of ammo. And in some cases, I certainly agree.
But I also believe that bugging out with an ammo stockpile could, in many situations, cause you more harm than good.
Let me explain.
The main purpose of your bag, be it a Go bag, Get Home bag, Bug Out Bag, etc is to be able to move safely and efficiently out of a danger zone. In a SHTF situation, you are most vulnerable while on the move. And I’m not talking about roving bands of marauders that so many people envision. I’m talking about being susceptible to the elements, to fatigue, to stress; being vulnerable to the unknown. Those will most likely be your enemies early on.
With the elections just weeks away, I wanted to give some resources for those of you who might be preparing for the results of this year’s election. I also wanted to give you something to think about if you have not yet thought about preparing for it.
When I first put this site together, I told myself that I would not delve into politics. To me, preparedness transcends political and ideological belief. But I cannot hold my tongue any longer when I see our country’s freedoms being stripped away. I feel like if I don’t say/do something and instead remain silent, I am complicit with it happening.
So I have begun to speak out.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you who you should vote for. I truly believe that most people already know who they plan on voting for. If you are an informed voter, then you should already know where the candidates stand on issues like the 2nd Amendment.
I had a discussion with a more left leaning co-worker the other day. He told me that every time a Democratic president gets elected, gun sales spike. Then it calms down and then nothing really happens. Hence gun owners have nothing to panic over.
This has been true in the past. This time however, I think things are different.
I chuckled a bit, and mentioned that in July, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey banned “Assault Weapons” in her state. No congressional debate. No vote of the people. She simply banned them. So don’t think for a second that it could not happen in your state, or worse on a national level.
He asked me the question so typical of anti-gun folks, “Why do you need an AR? All it is good for is killing people.”
Having a cell phone during an emergency is EXTREMELY handy, and in my opinion one of the best things you can have on you during an emergency. Being able to contact others for help during an emergency situation is one of the fastest ways to resolve your crisis.
As more and more people move away from landlines, (the CDC studies find that almost half of all US households no longer have a landline), the technology needed for contacting emergency services with cell phones has been slow to catch up. So there are some things you need to be aware of when it comes to using your cell phone during a disaster.
Everyone knows that for an emergency, you simply dial 911. (The number is 112 in other parts of the world.) Smart phones today now have a feature allowing you to use that phone to dial 911 even when the screen and other features are locked.
But what happens if you are in a situation where you cannot get a cell signal? Or worse, your battery is about to die? Here are some hints and tips to help you out if you ever find yourself in this position.
The 411 on 911 and cell phones
Despite what you see on TV and in the movies, calling 911 on your cell phone does NOT give the dispatchers your exact location. According to a 2015 article in USA Today:
Today’s cellphone system does not automatically send location data when you dial 911. After the call comes in, the dispatcher’s computer transmits a digital request to the cellphone network seeking the phone’s location. The data exchange can take seconds or even minutes. Sometimes, it doesn’t return a location at all.