I see A LOT of prepper videos and articles out there talking about bartering in a post TEOTWAWKI scenario. They encourage you to get gold, silver, cigarettes, ammo, etc. so that you can trade it after everything goes to hell. But I wonder if that is really a good idea? Is it a good use of your current resources to buy items solely for barter after SHTF?
I tend to think the belief and use of barter gets over-played in people’s’ SHTF scenarios in their minds. That’s not to say that barter might not happen on occasion. Barter has been around since the dawn of man. The zombie apocalypse won’t stop that. But I think in a true grid down situation, folks will be more worried about security and survival than they are trading things like gold and silver coins.
God forbid that if the grid goes down for good, there will be a time when the focus will be on merely surviving. Food, water, shelter, etc will be what is important. Having the tools and abilities to survive will be king. Those times will be the most taxing, the most trying.
Not until society has had time to “reset itself” and stabilize will barter actually come into play. Without a decent social environment and a somewhat stable economy, barter is not going to be likely. And in the rare chance it happens, it will not be without tremendous risks and peril.
Even when things may eventually begin to normalize, barter will not be as frequent or as common as many people want to believe. I think there are way too many variables that would make barter a rather rare occurrence.
With no more “Grid” there is no more Craigslist or Ebay. So finding other groups of people in your area that might actually want to trade with you may not be all that easy. I mean, I guess you could go wandering the country side looking for those groups, but that obviously comes with risks. And even if you find another group, chances are very high that they may not trust you or even want to trade with you.
For many preppers on a budget, the ability to stockpile goods and supplies might be limited. They may have to stock just a little at a time. And in that case, I hope that they are not stockpiling items which maybe they shouldn’t.
I wanted to take a look at some items that you may NOT want to stock pile long-term and the reasons why. I also try to have some alternatives available as well.
Many of the items listed below are items you SHOULD have in a disaster, so do NOT think I’m saying not to have these items. Instead, I’m saying that in your long-term planning (i.e. the grid goes down for an extended time) these are items you should think about having alternative plans and options for.
Now hear me out. NO ONE out there understands the importance of good, quality toilet paper more than I do. I always have several weeks’ supply on hand. But there is a big draw back to trying to hoard toilet paper long-term.
The problem is that large amounts of toilet paper are bulky and take up a lot of room. For me, in an urban setting, I have trouble storing more than a month’s supply for my family. So if a true long-term disaster struck, beyond 3 to 4 weeks I’ll be in a crappy situation.
The average person uses over 100 rolls of TP per year. Now multiple that times the number of your family members/group. That’s a lot of room for a hoard of TP! And yes, my family goes through AT LEAST that much TP.
Hopefully, as a prepper, you will have some food set back and stocked in case of a disaster. You will have water stored, as well as a few purification methods. You might have a weapon or two stored, and some extra ammunition. (Click the links to find out about water storage, weapons for SHTF, and storing ammo long-term). You might have extra gear and supplies on hand. But could there be items out there you haven’t thought about stockpiling for a long-term, grid down scenario?
In this article, I want to cover some items that you might not realize you should have plenty of in case of a long-term disaster, and some reasons why it might be a good idea.
So let’s jump in.
Being clean (or at least feeling clean) is a great boost to morale during a SHTF situation. And during a grid down scenario, you might not have enough water (or fuel to heat the water) for a hot shower. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep yourself clean. So having some extra hygiene items is probably a good idea.
Things like toothpaste and shampoo have a shelf life of about 2 years from the date of manufacture once they are opened. (They can last around 3 years if unopened.) Things like soap, mouthwash, and deodorant have a 3 year or so shelf life.
Keep in mind that the shelf life listed is for items stored at room temperature. Things like temperature extremes and direct sun light can degrade these products much more quickly.
If you cure your store-bought bars of soap (by removing the wrappers and letting them sit in the air for about 6 weeks) they will harden and last much longer.
When the proverbial “poop” hits the fan, should you ride out the SHTF event at home? Or should you hit the open road for safer areas? This question has perplexed preppers for years, and understandably so. Many preppers prefer the safety and comfort of home, and make their plans accordingly. Others have a sense of adventure and excitement, and yearn for the day that SHTF so they can take off and leave civilization (or what remains of it) behind!
In reality, both have merits that we will cover here. Let’s take a look…
For most emergency and disaster scenarios, bugging in should be the preferable way to go. The vast majority of emergencies are localized, and you can ride out these events by simply being prepared at home. FEMA recommends having a 3 day supply of food and water, though most preppers will have much more than that. With enough supplies and equipment on hand, staying home during a disaster is typically the smart thing to do.
Bugging in during a disaster has numerous advantages to bugging out:
- Familiar resources – you know the layout of your home, and the areas where your gear and supplies are located. Storing supplies and gear is WAY easier than trying to move it! You should also know about local sources of water (lakes and streams), grocery stores, etc that are close by
- Familiar location – you should have detailed knowledge of the area around your home and neighborhood. Where is the closest grocery store? Hospital? Police station? Are there side streets you can use to avoid heavily congested main roads?
- Familiar People – you should at least have working knowledge of your neighbors and people living in close proximity to you. Neighbors you can trust and/or have useful skills. You should also keep in mind about neighbors or people who could be potential problems in larger, more dangerous emergencies.
- Safety and security – During times of disaster, movement is not without perils. And I’m not just talking about roving bands of marauders. Things such as torn up roads and buildings can present dangers and unseen hazards. So to can the outside elements. Freezing rain is a lot easier to deal with when you are inside! And it is should be easier to defend yourself inside your own home as opposed to being out on the open road.
If you do not have a bug in plan, start developing one now. As I stated, a vast majority of emergencies can be ridden out safely by simply being prepared at home. If a tornado hits your area (but misses you house) and you are without power for a few days, staying home with your preps would seem like the logical thing to do. A sudden snow storm leaves you home bound and without power…now you put your bug in plans into place.
According to the US Dept. of Transportation, there were over 253,000,000 cars registered in the US in 2012. Chances are, you probably own at least one of those vehicles. And if you are like many Americans, you probably commute to and from work, use your vehicle to run errands, and take road trips and vacations with it. This means you spend a lot of time in your car.
But what happens if disaster strikes when you are in your vehicle? What if you need your vehicle to get home DURING a disaster, or OUT of a disaster area? Is it prepared and able to help you? If you aren’t sure, then read on to learn how you can prepare your vehicle for a crisis situation!
Start with a Plan
If you have been following this blog, you know that I advocate beginning anything with a plan. All the gear in the world won’t be of much value without a plan or the knowledge of how it works and in what situations to use it. I would first sit down and determine not the worst case scenario, but the most likely scenarios. The chances of you having a flat tire or being caught in a massive traffic jam are MUCH more probable than an EMP attack.
I talk about this in my article 3 Types of Preppers You Don’t Want to Be.
Once you have your bases covered on the most likely events, then start looking at worse case possibilities.
Do you live in an area that experiences hurricanes? Tornados? Is there a chance that you might need to “bug out” to get out of harm’s way? If so, you need to have an evacuation route (and at least one backup route) planned. I’d also have some possible contingency plans in place as well for unforeseen events.
To help you draw up some evacuation plans, I thought I’d give you some pointers and things to consider when drawing up your plans:
- Have a final destination already planned out. Simply bugging out into the unknown should be the LAST thing you want to do
- If you have multiple members of your group/family, the chances of you all being together at the time disaster strikes is slim and none. Make sure everyone in your group knows the plans and the final location.
- I would have pre-determined rally point along the way to meet at if your final location is a long way off. You might also devise a means of communicating with them should the rally point become unsafe
- Know the routes AND the area in general ahead of time. Where are the gas stations? Is there a grocery store nearby? A hospital? What other points of interest are along your intented route?
- How many different ways do you have of getting to your destination? Your primary route may suddenly no longer be accessible, so have contingency plans in place for different routes to take or even different means of getting to your final location
- Do you have not only the gear you need, but a way of safely and securely transporting it?
- Identify areas that you could potentially cache supplies. Are there friendly areas (a friend’s house for example) that you could make a pit stop if needed?
- Identify areas that could potentially be choke points or trouble spots, and ways to avoid them
This is Part II of Firearms for Preppers series. Be sure to check out Part I if you missed it!
In my article Firearms for Beginners, I talk in general about needing at minimum, one long gun and one pistol for a long term survival scenario. The long gun you can use to hunt and to defend yourself at range, while the pistol is a great backup weapon and is many times better suited to self-defense in very close quarters.
But now I want to go into a bit more detail. I want to be a bit more specific. Of course, a lot of what you need depends upon your situation. And that could vary greatly from person to person. But overall, much of what I say will apply to everyone regardless of their situation.
Ok….so you need a long gun and a pistol for a long term disaster scenario. But what kind of pistol? What kind of long gun? Should you stop with just two or gather more? Well, let’s discuss that.
I have seen many articles from various prepper sources taking it a bit further, saying you need a good rifle, a shotgun, and a pistol. Some even go further and say that in addition to those you also need a .22 rifle as well. A few will even say that you need backups of all of those. I cannot argue with any of that logic as I subscribe to it myself. If you have the funds available, then I would absolutely tell you to go that route.
Now I know my situation. I know what my long term plans are. You need to acquire firearms based upon what your plans are should you find yourself in a long term survival situation.
Are you bugging in or bugging out? How many people are in your group? How well trained are these folks? These are questions only you can answer. But to give you some ideas, I’ll give you some examples based upon my plans.
I live in a large suburb of Oklahoma City. So I have firearms for self-defense based upon a city setting. I prefer a pistol and shotgun for urban use. Yet if I had to bug out, I have a rural homestead on several acres I can go to. I have firearms (rifles) I could use in a self-defense scenario in a rural setting as well.