Christmas isn’t what the television commercials would have you believe. It’s not about diamond jewelry, new cars or power tools. It’s not about trinkets and treasures and toys. It’s not about online shopping and last minute bargains.
It’s about love.
Not love of possessions or material wealth, but love for friends and family.
And because you love them, you naturally want them to be happy and safe. In easy times, this isn’t a problem. But what if the Schumer really does Hit The Fan? Will the ones you love be able to sustain themselves and survive? If your family is anything like mine, there are people in it who do not see the need to prepare. Fortunately, Christmas represents the ideal opportunity to help them learn to help themselves.
By giving a basic starter survival kit, you will put them on the path of self sufficiency and in doing so, give them the greatest gifts – confidence and the means to weather the coming storm.
When preparing the kit keep in mind the spirit of the gift. It’s not to show off how much you know. It’s to put them on the path to prepping. Give them what they need, tell them why they need it, and show them how to use it, always with the subtle caveat that they must learn more on their own. Though it has already been covered very well in this blog, I humbly offer my personal opinion of the very basics of what might go into a starter prep kit. This, in the physical sense, will be your gift. If you don’t have enough redundancy to spare, you can purchase the items in this kit for far less that you’d spend on a new “stuff”.
At every stage remember that this is not a fully grown bug out bag; it’s a seed that will hopefully grow to fruition. Accordingly, each part of the kit should have a note on a 3″x5″ card telling “why” it is important and “how” they can build upon it. These notes can – and should be – very simple. Information overload is not the goal; kick-starting their thought process is. For example, with the water you might write, “What happens when the taps won’t work? Several sources of water include swimming pools, ponds and solar stills. Did you also know that a small amount of bleach will help kill the bad stuff in untreated water?” Keep it short, interesting and friendly.
If you haven’t made a survival kit before, here’s an easy way to get a grip on how to start. The next time you go shopping, look around at all the shiny packages and think for a moment what you’d do if the shelves were empty. What would you feed your family? What would you use to light the lights, cook the food, cure a cold, guard the homestead? Imagine if you couldn’t buy what you needed. This is the sudden, terrifying situation that most will face, including your loved ones. Yes, those same mothers, father, sisters and pals who didn’t heed your hints, warnings or exasperated pleadings to be the ant and not the grasshopper.
Chances are if you’re reading this, you feel comfortable in your basic preparations. Can the same be said for your child, mother-in-law or best friend? If you’ve been practicing your best OPSEC, they might not even be aware of the hard work you’ve put in. If so, how can you expect them to have followed your lead and taken the necessary preparations to take care of themselves?
How long will they survive without your help? Give it to them. Remember the famous saying, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”
As a Christmas gift, the starter kit perhaps will not elicit the same shrieks of joy that a “stuff” will bring, but it’s one that will keep them safe when storms (natural or man-made) come to shatter the calm. It won’t last forever, nor is it meant to. By giving it to them now in times of relative calm, along with some helpful tips and suggestions, you’re giving them a lifeline in times of trouble, and hopefully a head start into the prepping adventure.
My gift to the unprepared in my family is a starter prep kit that includes the following. Keep in mind that this is representative of what my budget allows. Everyone’s financial situation is different, and you may find that you’re able to add more or that you must cut some items. If you have an extra backpack, you can even pack all these items inside it so that they will have a self-contained kit that they can grab at a moment’s notice.
Food – Protein bars, granola bars, MREs, canned meat and vegetables (and can opener). Snares, fish hooks, small fishing net and knife. A propane camping stove with extra fuel. Saucepan, fork and spoon. Salt and pepper.
Water – Bottled water, purification tablets, Katadyn water filter, Gatorade mix for electrolytes.
Fire – Flint and steel, lighter, matches, magnesium fire starter, cotton balls saturated in Vaseline and stored in a film canister and a fire starter stick.
Shelter – Survival blanket, extra socks, warm clothes, sleeping bag, wool hat, gloves, scarf or shemagh, hand warmers, hatchet or small saw for building a lean-to or cutting branches to make a windbreak. Flashlight and candles.
Self-Defense – Depending on preferences and your local legalities, a firearm or hunting knife, Sabre pepper-spray, staff, or stout rod.
First Aid – A basic small first aid kit will do, available anywhere and everywhere. Be sure to bolster it with items that may not be included such as an anti-diarrhea medicine, anti-histamine allergy pills, antacids and whatever else their personal condition may require. In the case of prescription medicines that they take, a note inside the first aid kit advising them to stock some will be a good reminder.
Hygiene – Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, foot powder, soap, shampoo, sunscreen, small towel.
Serenity – Emotionally and spiritually reassuring items like the Bible or a book of their particular faith, playing cards, pen and notebook, hobby or heritage craft supplies to productively pass the time, small game or toy for children. Most importantly, a small photo album with pictures of their loved ones to remind them what they are fighting to survive for.
Information – Compass, street and topographical maps of the immediate and surrounding areas. An empty envelope inside a Zip-Loc bag with a note telling them to fill it with copies of their birth certificate, driver license, health insurance information, medical records, emergency contact numbers and other important documents.
Very basically, what I’m giving them in this kit falls into three categories: supplies, information and support.
Supplies – The starter kit I just detailed covers this. Some readers will disagree and find fault. Many will suggest additions or improvements. And they’ll be right. The kit is personalized to the individual. Having the basics is vital, but specializing the kit to the one who will carry it is likely the key to their survival.
Information – This comes in many forms, but your loved ones may be panicked or fleeing and have access only to what you provide in the pack. Include a selection of concise how-to books, survival guides, maps and a printed plan of how and where you will all meet in case of an emergency, or a plan detailing your bug-in procedures. A printed version will be important since the unprepared are more likely to panic and a reference guide will be paramount to their survival.
Support – Include a card that is both relevant and sensitive to their situation. Try to maintain a positive tone. Do not judge or frighten. As an example, consider using this: “Dear Mom, I am giving you this because I love you and because I want you to be able to have what you need to deal with whatever life throws at you. If there’s a bad storm, or you have to leave town on a sudden emergency, I hope that this will provide you with what you need to make it. If you have any questions or want to learn more about anything please know that you can always reach out to me.”
The goal here is not to give them every last thing they could possibly need. That’s a long term project. Instead, make it your mission to open their eyes and give them the impetus to start thinking outside their safe box and taking the simple steps necessary to protect themselves.
At the end of 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, “In a word, there are three things that last forever: faith, hope, and love; But the greatest of them all is love.”
With this gift, you are giving all three. Faith in themselves in case of an emergency. Hope that they can carry on and provide for themselves and their family. And, of course, the greatest gift of all that you can give, and one which needs no explanation – love.