I Didn’t Want To Be a Prepper, by Laura Y.

I didn’t want to be a “prepper”.  In fact, when I first starting hearing about survivalists and preparing for TEOTWAWKI,  I thought it was a bit extremist.  I have long been a conservative and Christian, but a skeptic as well.  When my sister-in-law started talking to me about stocking up on things and buying a water filter, I have to admit my initial reaction was not to jump on the bandwagon.  Oh, I followed our state’s recommendation to have two weeks’ worth of water and food on hand for a disaster, but that was about it.  The turning point for me was reading the novel One Second After.   My eyes seemed suddenly to open and I realized that it could really happen and if not an EMP, an economic collapse, or huge disaster could result in turmoil and an inability to survive if not prepared.  And “two weeks worth” would not be nearly enough.

You need to know that I have been a nurse for over 40 years and spent much of that time as a nursing administrator.  Part of my job was planning, coordinating and implementing plans.  In retrospect, you would think that would have spurred me into action.  Why it did not is beyond reason to me.  What the experiences I have had did, though, once I was bitten with the prepping bug, is to get me organized big time and see things from the perspective of “what you don’t have or know can really hurt you.”
In 1994, I experienced a flood disaster: the “500 year flood” in southwest Georgia.  In earlier years I had experienced plane crash, hurricane, tornado and ice storm disasters.  I have lessons from them all. I have now taken those lessons along with those from my family and have begun to work to really prep for WTSHTF.  So what have all the lessons taught me?

Firstly, make lists and keep making lists!  The “list of lists” was a big help and my family and I split up the various components.  We already live in a rural area, but my brother and sister-in-law purchased some land with a good source of water on it and she now has the Royal Berkey water filter.  We each committed to stocking food and other supplies.  The lists we found through Survival Blog were great, but we have continued to expand them as we have thought and talked about it.  I now keep paper near the computer, the television and even beside my bed. (Sometimes the best ideas come at 3:00 am and would be lost if I failed to write it down.)  Because I am organized, I have made Excel spreadsheets to keep up with what I have, want and still need in the way of prepping.  Being able to change the numbers from week to week without re-doing the list is helpful.  I have it on the computer, but also update the lists and print them out every few weeks since I may lose computer access WTSHTF. I keep a notebook with all the current lists and other pertinent information.  I also have a list of those items to always keep an eye out for.  I carry it with me all the time…..just in case.   Recently I have started my “Barter List”.  I had been adding to my stores all along extra items which might be good for bartering, but then I thought it might be good to formalize the list and keep those items separate.  I now have a storage bin where I purposefully add barter items I might need in the future.

Secondly, decide who is best to do what.  When I was involved in the flood in Georgia, I learned that some people are good at some things and really lousy at others.  My Daddy used to tell me I could do anything I set my mind to.  I certainly took it to heart and learned to do many things around the house I never thought I would (how to replace a bad light switch or fix the toilet, for example).  I also decided, though, that my brother is much better at plowing and planting than I am.  I can work with my sister-in-law and even my 86 year old Mother to can, freeze and dehydrate the food for storage that he has planted. 

I am our family’s healthcare person, so I have taken on the task of developing our store of medical supplies.  As an old critical care nurse, I had gained assessment skills which, till now, I was able best to use on the mission trips where diagnostic equipment is limited to a thermometer, stethoscope, ophthalmoscope/otoscope, BP cuff and glucometer.  Those skills will serve us well though when there is no doctor around.  I have tried to prepare for “Surviving Healthy”, as Dr. Bob’s web site says.  He has been a great resource in getting us prepared for managing health care issues when TEOTWAWKI happens.  The computer has also been a good resource for learning other skills which may be needed.  I had learned how to do minor suturing many years ago, but for those who don’t have that skill, there are videos available which provide excellent step by step instructions.

It is important that each category for prepping have someone who is committed to being responsible for it.  That person, then, should research it, plan for what is needed and work with the rest of your group to accomplish what is needed.  It really helps if that person has some expertise with the category and/or an interest in it.  If you fail to assign responsibility for some category, you will find that it may be overlooked and no one has done anything to prepare for it. We found ourselves skipping over categories we felt insecure about, but realized we had to assign responsibility or nothing would happen. 

Thirdly, remember that planning alone is useless.  I used to become extremely frustrated when I worked as a nursing executive with someone or some group who planned things to death.  Over-planning something can result in inaction and complacency which can prevent your being prepared when you need to be.  I believe in reasonable planning, but you really have to also carry out the plans. For example, you may decide that need a generator.  You can spend forever looking for the best generator for the amount of money you can afford.  This is especially true if you have no expertise in the area.  I could still be reviewing expert evaluations and weighing the pros and cons of generators for months to come (there is so much information out there).  However, sometimes you need to make a decision and do what needs to be done.  Find someone you trust and get their advice.  With generators, it was my brother.  With guns, it would be my ex-husband, a former law enforcement officer or my son or brother.  You get the idea.

Fourthly, don’t limit yourself to someone else’s list or ideas.   I find myself seeing things in a different light now that I have become a prepper.  Because I will be the resident healthcare provider, I find myself thinking about medical scenarios and how to handle them.  A number of years back when I was a nursing house supervisor, I delivered a few babies who chose not to wait for the doctor’s appearance.  I thought delivering a baby in an elevator was stressful, but at least when the elevator door opened, I had other nurses/resources to clamp and cut the cord and handle the afterbirth.  If I am faced with that scenario WTSHTF, I may be on my own.  We may be back to the “boil the water and find a shoe lace” days.  Well, I had rather be better prepared, so I began to look for ways to manage scenarios where the resources aren’t waiting at the elevator door.  That also means considering alternatives to what is at the medical supply company.  One great example came to me as I was cleaning out a drawer in my kitchen.  In the drawer I found three lovely tea towels given to me by a women’s church group after I had done a presentation there about a mission trip.  The towels are large and someone had embroidered the church name on the edge.  However, they are white and too easily stained, so they stayed in the drawer…that is, until I saw them in a new light.  They are the perfect size to make a sturdy sling for an injured arm or shoulder.  I now have them in my medical supplies with safety pins to complete the sling. 
I have also begun collecting information about other uses for household supplies.  I keep a tabbed notebook with information about uses for vinegar, baking soda, WD-40, etc.  One day WTSHTF, I will be reviewing my list, looking for which substance it was that would soothe a sunburn.  I find myself printing off articles or ideas any time I come across something which might be helpful, if not to me, to someone else.

That raises yet another point.  I am trained in healthcare and should be the healthcare provider for our group (and probably other groups as well), but what if I am the person needing healthcare.  Someone else needs to be trained as well as me in case I need the care.  That makes information about making rehydration solution, for example, even more important (I know the formula, but my mother may not).  Now when I see some information which could be useful when TEOTWAWKI occurs, I do not push it aside because I may know it already, but I consider it in light of the back-up person.  Similarly, I have been learning about water filtering and planting just in case my sister-in-law or brother is not able to manage the function.

I may not have wanted to be a prepper, but I have been converted and am happy to say I have been working to convince others to do the same.  Preparing for TEOTWAWKI is really no different than planning for a wedding or reunion—it is just on a bigger and much more important scale.  Preparing for that wedding means considering details so everything happens as you would like for it to.  You often make “what if” plans.  Planning for things that could go wrong helps you get the outcome you want.  The same applies to prepping for TEOTWAWKI.  Plan for what could go wrong.  Don’t assume the nurse will always be there to stop the bleeding and bandage up the wound.  Don’t make the mistake that you don’t need to know how to operate the generator because your brother can do that.  What if he is away when you need it? 

Planning is important and please do remember that a plan without action is like a ship with no sail or engine –dead in the water.  Make reasonable plans and then carry out those plans.  Keep your mind open to ideas other than your own and always think about other possibilities.  Someone discovered all those uses for household products like baking soda and vinegar.  With a little thought, you may be able to add some new uses to the list.  What if…?