There is a certain amount of “snowball effect” when someone decides to invest in survivalist, TEOTWAWKI, or prepper knowledge. The initial decision is not a light one, nor is a “set it and forget it” for the type that bounces from one fad to the next. There are many different types of survivalists. But all survivalists have one thing in common – a beginning. Whether it is your views on the ever changing political arenas or natural disasters that have piqued your interest or even steered your choice to the survivalist lifestyle, the initial influx of information can be a bit overwhelming.
First off, TEOTWAWKI? The End Of The World As We Know It. It sounds simple, but your everyday life is filled to the brim with simple things you normally take for granted. If your power goes out, you usually can count on it being restored before your freezer defrosts. But what if it doesn’t? Sure, candles around the house are great, but if a widespread, long-term power outage occurred, you’d be stuck trying to get anything you could just to warm up a can of beans. That is, if you can get into your can of beans because your electric opener isn’t working either. And your car is low on gas trying to find any kind of supplies, so you can’t get yourself to the hospital because you impaled your thumb trying to open the “stupid” can of beans. Even if it was a TEOTWAWKI on a smaller scale, like a corrupted water system, you need to be prepared to provide for yourself and your family as others scramble around trying to find even a 12 ounce bottle.
You know your own personality and know how far down the rabbit hole this decision will take you. Prepare in moderation. You already have responsibilities in your life, albeit work, children, and maybe hobbies. If you are thinking that becoming a survivalist is going to be a new “hobby” along the lines of hunting or snow skiing or scuba diving, there is some truth. The truth to that statement is that you will spend a decent chunk of change committing to this. If you choose to devote your time and effort to learning a new way of thinking, you will learn that survivalist gear is like good hobby equipment; some will buy the cheap stuff and come to find out later that cheap doesn’t equal good. Along with this decision to survivalist, you’ll need to learn a lot and then disregard what you don’t need, want or will use. As stated above, you know yourself best and will need to weed out the useless-to-you information.
Prepare for situations that would be likely, but keep the worst-case scenario in mind. Natural disasters happen frequently, whether it is a hurricane, tsunami wave, earthquakes or fires. Hurricane Katrina and the recent droughts show how hundreds of thousands, even millions, can be brought to their knees. Man-made disasters also occur along the lines of a bombing, terrorists or political corruption that can shut down governments that trickle down to public sector jobs and then to private sectors. The tsunami triggered nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan was mostly glossed over in the United States of America, with the exception of the chance of sensationalism. The natural disaster occurred in the dead of winter. If you were in a similar situation and survived the initial onslaught, would you be able to survive the repercussions? If the weather conditions were survivable, would you be able to protect yourself from looters?
You will never see me, nor know my real name. To me, my survivalist choices are best kept to my family and a few other families that we are close with. Each family is responsible for their own level of skills, supplies and knowledge, but we encourage each other and pass on useful knowledge and places to buy or barter for good supplies. Being involved with a group may not be for you. I take pleasure in knowing that I will have friends to be with should we have to leave most everything behind. However, we all take great pains in not being the ones to discuss it openly with others. It’s not that we hoard our skills or knowledge. I’d rather not have 15 friends knowing that I have a cache of ammo or a supply of food, because if my 15 friends know and TEOTWAWKI happens, I’ll have 15 people asking me to help them out. My first responsibility is my family. Lack of planning on their part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part. So, gather your supplies, skills and knowledge quietly. Don’t sign up for a reality show unless you want trouble.
There are as many different camps on where and how to start as there are name brands for toilet paper. Being practical has to play into your launching point. My personal preference is basic necessity. You cannot build a sturdy house without a good foundation (although I’m sure some would argue that point) and the same is true for beginning preppers and survivalists. Water is essential for life. You can buy cases of small bottles, one gallon jugs, or water containers from canteen size to 5 gallons to 50 gallons. If you are leaning towards “bugging out” or “heading for the hills,” then a 50 gallon drum probably wouldn’t be the wisest choice. But quality should play a role in your decision. A cheap 5 gallon jug with a flimsy handle could break and any loss of water in a TEOTWAWKI could be a point of life or death. There are water purification tablets, water hydration packs, knowledge on how to find water in the wilderness, the list is practically endless. Never forget, though, that your body will fail without water.
Food follows a second close to water. Being able to feed your family during a prolonged disaster is essential. Not one of you reading this would care to see a child or loved one die of starvation, but it is a real possibility in a TEOTWAWKI situation. Again, the choices on food storage are plentiful. There are the classic MRE’s (meals ready to eat), which could be useful in a “bug out” situation. If the scenario calls for staying put in your own home, however, food storage could be a lot more feasible and, to be frank, a lot more tasty. There are many articles on life expectancy of home canned food, store bought cans and storage of dry ingredients to make meals. Be sure to figure in how your storage is affected by weather, i.e. if you live where the summers are regularly over 90 degrees and how it influences the stored food. Garden seeds could be useful for long term crops.
It may sound contradictory, but cash will speak in a broken society. If you have studied, stored and mastered skills, there may be something you missed. It is the one tiny thing that will pop up and send your “plan” sideways. This is where cash comes in. If there is a lack of electricity, banks won’t have computers to tell them how much is in your account and they certainly won’t let you “borrow” it. Bartering could also prove useful in this type of circumstance, but cash is king with most people. The amount you decide to keep on hand will be something that you find reasonable, but a good jump off point is $ 500, in bills that are 20’s and smaller. Why so much to start out with? If you think gasoline prices are unreasonable now, just wait until there is no electricity to automate the pumps.
Lastly, for a brand new survivalist, consider your own medical needs. Are you one daily, weekly or monthly medications? If you are, you may need to consider getting a month more and then rotating it so that you have at least a month’s supply. Do you have allergies that need an over the counter or even a prescription for? Buying a box or two and rotating the stock is wise and easy. Women need supplies for their “lady days,” and that may include special medications. You can take a basic first aid kit and expand it with more supplies to start out with. If you have any unused elastic bandage wraps, arm slings or splits, make sure that you include them with the medical supplies. You will be able to gauge what you need for your family in your own medical kit. Consider keeping your supplies in a red storage tote or bin to signify that it is for medical supplies. In a panic, it is a lot easier to yell to someone to “Grab the red bin!” than it would be for someone to read the labels.
For a beginner, sometimes you just want someone to spell out exactly what you need and which order to buy it in. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. What is good for my family may or may not be good for you, but it can give you a general idea of which direction to go. Checklists are abundant on the internet, but can either be missing something you need or want or the list can be bogged down with advanced supplies to be collected once the essentials are there. As you advance past the beginning stages and gather your basic needs, you will branch out into a plethora of different areas. But the basics will have you covered in case TEOTWAWKI happens much sooner than you expect.