There’s been lots of talk in the prepping world that America’s fluffy existence is soon coming to an end – or at least taking a long break. Massive government debt (currently over 19 trillion) and personal debt (3.4 trillion and rising) numbers in America alone are causing concern for many economists and governments. If a major financial, political, natural or terroristic disaster occurred, how would stressed out Americans handle it? Would there be widespread riots? Cleared out grocery store shelves?
According to a popular prepping article, Germany has warned its citizens to be prepared for potential impending disasters by having a ten-day supply of food and five-day supply of water on hand. Other warnings are being given throughout the world, even in the United States.
Maybe government officials know something we don’t, or maybe they’re just encouraging citizens to take smart steps to protect themselves. Either way, it’s a smart idea to know what steps you can take to prepare yourself and/or your family for a SHTF situation. As I spoke of in this post, it’s important for everyone to be prepared.
Today, though, we’re going to talk about specific steps you can take to prepare yourself for an unexpected disaster of any kind. The most important part of prepping is having a plan securely in place; a plan that will reduce the temptation to panic and will cover all of your basic needs should a disaster occur. Here are the steps we recommend taking to prepare a safety net in the event of a SHTF situation, whether that be a natural disaster, financial disaster, terrorist event or even a personal disaster such as a job layoff.
Get Your Food Needs Covered
A disaster may mean that grocery stores are unavailable due to a power outage, or simply sold out due to widespread panic. Statistics show that it takes less than three days to clear out a grocery store in the event of a disaster, so your best bet is to be prepared ahead of time so you don’t have to depend on grocery stores if you don’t need to. How to do that?
- Have a minimum of two weeks (serious preppers recommend six months) of food for your family on hand in your house or apartment. Not having a big house isn’t an excuse; see this article on how to find “hidden” storage space even when you think you have none.
- Make sure and choose foods that your family likes when creating your stockpile. Ask family members and make a list of non-perishable foods that everyone likes. You want to be prepared to thrive, not just survive, during an emergency.
- Set your stockpile up like a grocery store. Older foods at the front of the pile, newer cans at the back of the pile. Since you’re picking foods you like and buy anyway, when you replenish an item in your kitchen pantry, buy it at the store and put it in your stockpile at the back. Then take the oldest of those items (hopefully at the front of the pile) and put it in your pantry for daily use. This should help you avoid food waste via expiring items.
- Make a plan for preparing food, or have only pre-cooked foods in your stockpile. Keep extra propane tanks on hand for the grill or have a generator at your house for if the electricity goes out. Have TWO manual can openers at your house at all times. All the food in the world does you no good if you can’t open it and prepare it.
Get Your Water Needs Covered
Good prepping means having a plentiful water supply for both you AND your pets. Plan on one gallon per day, per person for minimal drinking water, cooking water and cleaning needs. You’ll likely not be able to take a hot bath during disaster times so a short sponge bath every few days will have to do. Water for drinking purposes is easier to store than milk, soda etc. and better for you.
Water Storage Techniques
In order to store water for emergency purposes, you can choose from a couple of options:
- Store bottled water (either personal sized bottles or gallon jugs) in a cool, dark place in your house or garage
- Use food grade five gallon buckets or 55 gallon water safe barrels to store water.
These five gallon food grade buckets are also great for storing rice, flour, beans and other non-perishable items that you might buy in order to save money on groceries or for prepping purposes.
Here are some guidelines on safe water storage that will help you to avoid accidentally contaminating your stored water.
Figure Out a Backup Power Plan or How You’ll Live Without Power
That may mean purchasing a generator for your home, using a wood stove for heat and cooking, having back up lanterns or leaving your home for a place that has power. You don’t want to be stuck at home in the dead of a northern winter with no heat.This portable generator has great reviews on Amazon.
Get Your Medicine, Toiletry and Other Needs Covered
Again, you have to assume regular items won’t be available in a SHTF situation. That means it’s important to have an ample supply of toiletries and meds on hand. Again, serious preppers recommend six months. Here are some items you might consider for toiletry/med stockpile
- Prescription meds; a 30 day supply if you can manage to get your hands on one
- Over-the-counter meds such as ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, benadryl, etc
- First aid items such as antiseptics such as Neosporin, hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl alcohol, wound dressings, ace bandages, arm slings, foot and knee stabilizers, etc. I recommend having a suture kit on hand as well for minor cuts requiring stitches. You could also get these steri strips from 3M: 3M Steri-Strip reinforced Skin Closures – 1/2″ x 4″ – 10 pack of 6 strip envelope (60 strips) They’ll close a wound for you with no stitches required.
Here are some ideas for what types of toiletries to have on hand.
- Toilet paper
- toothpaste, floss and extra toothbrushes
- shampoo, conditioner and bar soap
- contact solution and extra contacts/glasses
- diapers and wipes
- hand sanitizer
- women’s supplies such as tampons/pads
- razors and shaving cream
- dish soap
- detergent (you may need to hand wash clothes if electricity isn’t available)
This is just a short list – go through your household pantry to determine what else you might need or want to have on hand.
Have a Plan in Place
The next tenet of preparing for a SHTF scenario is having a plan in place. Your plan should fit your individual family and should include the following ideas.
Where Are You and Where Will You Meet?
It’s important when making a plan to determine how you’ll gather the family together and where you’ll all meet. If you have under driving age children, this includes determining who will pick them up from where they’re at.
You need to make your plan assuming that you won’t be able to communicate via land line or cell phone. In other words, have the plan already in place so that everyone knows where they’ll meet and how they’ll get their if something happens. Determine ahead of time who will pick up the kids based on where they’re at. An idea of a plan is:
In case of a SHTF scenario, Mary will pick the kids up at their school at the door on the north side of the school, where they kids know to wait. She will then meet husband John at their home (or their in-laws’ place or their cabin) where all supplies will be ready because John stopped and picked them up on the way out of town or because they store them at the cabin, in-laws, etc.
Your plan should apply to everything from a widespread disaster to situation where you need to leave a store quickly due to a personal or other emergency. Consider having a code word that won’t draw attention to yourselves that all of your family knows. When our kids hear our code word, they know that that means “Get your tail over here RIGHT NOW.”
To Bug Out or Not to Bug Out?
Some SHTF scenarios call for leaving town, others call for holing up at home. Discuss in advance which scenarios you’ll leave town for and which you’ll head home for. Here are some other SHTF planning tips to consider.
- Learn several driving/walking/biking routes from your home or workplace that will get you where you need to go. In the case of an unexpected event, highways and interstates will likely be gridlocked unless you can get our early.
- Bring passports, birth certificates and drivers’ licenses with you. Have them in a secure place all in one bag so you can grab them and go.
- Have a bug-out bag containing basic necessities such as meds, snacks, water, etc. for if you have to leave your area quickly.
- Be prepared to have to defend yourself or get away quickly from other people, who may be frightened, angry or agitated
- Always have several hundred in cash on hand in case ATMs aren’t available and proprietors can’t take credit/debit cards
- Always keep your gas tank AT LEAST half full in case you need to leave town quickly. Don’t expect that gas stations will be open and/or not packed
- Keep your vehicle in good running condition at all times
You’ll never regret being prepared for an emergency situation, but you may regret not being prepared. Take the steps you need to take and make a plan for your family that will keep them safe no matter what kind of unexpecteds happen.
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Am I missing anything? Do you have a SHTF plan?