Start by considering all the elements of the question you just asked yourself. Think it through carefully! Jot down your most obvious thoughts, since we often forget what we were thinking if we don’t. Don’t panic! Even if you are in an emergency situation that you are just realizing you are not prepared for, thinking is the key to making it. Look around you, and catalog the things that may help you immediately. Select the most critical actions, and start putting them into play. Yes, this is when most people start to think about being prepared. Now that you are aware of these types of situations, you do not want to be caught in them, or at least not caught in them again. Almost at the same moment you realize that your resources are severely limited, you also recognize that you don’t have a lot left after the bills are paid at the end of the month. How can you prepare with such limited resources?
Step 1: Assess Your Situation
What are the most likely emergency situations you may find yourself in? For instance, I live in the middle of the country, so I don’t have to worry much about hurricanes; however, tornados are a regular threat. I don’t have to worry about my house being flooded, but the other side of the town I live in does. Even though my house will not be flooded, we do have to deal with the displacement of all those people whose homes are and the interruption of normal city services, such as water, fire, and police protection, et cetera. These are examples of the most likely emergencies you will face and the ones you should effectively plan for first. List and prioritize the emergencies you are most likely to face. How are you going to deal with each one?
Next, list the resources (every day items) you already have on hand. You already own many of the things you need to get by during an emergency; you don’t realize it quite often, because you use these things every day (and you constantly have to resupply them). Now, you are ready to build an emergency plan. You know what you are planning to face, and you know what resources you currently have available with which to face it.
Step 2: Evaluate your Emergency Plan
What resources do you lack, or are short on, to make your plan work in the most likely situations? Which resources that you lack will be most essential in the most common emergencies? What resources can be used for every day as well as emergencies? For instance, cast iron cookware is expensive to buy if you buy it new, but once you have it, it will last a lifetime (and then a few more lifetimes, since we have our parent’s and grandparent’s cookware, and it is still working great, and will be when our kids inherit it, although we have already provided them with sets as holiday presents). How much will your budget allow you to add resources you lack?
Once you understand what you have and what you need, and, yes, what you want, you are ready to start building a totally prepared household. Once you understand your budget, you can build a plan to acquire the items you have identified and classified as necessary in their order of importance. As to acquiring them, your imagination is the only limit you have, but in order to start you thinking, here are some of the ways I have acquired many of the items I have. Garage sales, flea markets, and auctions are all great ways to find things less expensively than buying them new. Here you must sometimes clean and restore the items to some degree, but that is a skill we all need to develop. Repurposing items instead of sending them to the landfill is limited only by your imagination. Figuring out alternative methods of doing tasks is limited only by your imagination. Many of the items that you find that are high dollar purchases can often be built using recycled materials. Compost tumblers are great, but eleven pallets and a little baling wire is all that is needed to build a three compartment compost bin. Add a pitchfork, which if you scrounge the pallets, and they are readily available, will be your only cost. Normally you can pick up a pitchfork for around twenty-five dollars, or even less at an auction, flea market, or garage sale.
Along with the items you need to acquire, you also need to acquire skills. For instance, cooking on an electric/gas range is radically different from cooking on an open fire. Learning to build the fire, determining the different timeframes for adequate cooking, and acquiring the proper techniques are all skills that may be necessary in a survival situation. To develop them, you must practice them, even if it is an occasional weekend cooking in the backyard or going camping. Everyone in your family as they get old enough needs to develop these skills.
Recognizing your limitations and those of your family members is also a critical knowledge that you need to develop. It is important to build a community that can depend on each other in times of emergencies. Start with your family, both nuclear and extended (for me, family includes those that I worship with), and then the addition of your friends and neighbors is next. Some will not be interested in building a totally prepared household, but some will, and you can start organizing a community of preparedness in the same way you organize a community watch, which should be part of any preparedness plan. Plan for how you will deal with those who do not want to be involved, because when an emergency happens, and especially if it is a long-term emergency, they will have to be dealt with.
Understand what government services may be available in an emergency, but don’t depend on them being there. Also understand what dangers they will be to the plans you and your community have made. Governments tend to act slow, but when they react, they often over react and can become a threat to you and your family’s safety and security.
Building a totally prepared household is a long-term process. It is a mindset, a mindset of self-reliance, that allows us to grow and develop our resources and skills, our thinking and believing, that keeps us from panic when faced with the unknown. Day by day in every way we grow mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially. As we grow, we improve our chances of surviving, and that is the ultimate goal of a totally prepared household. It is a task that is never finished, but one that is always adapting to the changing environment and circumstances surrounding us.