I got a clue about prepping on Feb 9, 1971, when I was rolled out of bed at 6am by the Northridge-Sylmar earthquake. Shortly following that unique event, the National Guard came through the neighborhood announcing immediate, mandatory evacuation because the Van Norman earthen dams were expected to collapse and send a 30-foot wall of water into the Sepulveda detention basin through our suburban neighborhood. I was 13 years old; my siblings were 10 and 9. This was a pre-cell phone, pre-ATM era. We camped out at a public park with thousands of others for 24 hours before we could return home. Thank God for the kindness of strangers. Society was a little less sharp-edged then.
Flash forward to today. Though my prior profession died with the credit collapse in 2008 and I’ve experienced long bouts of unemployment and lousy, lesser jobs, my personal situation is much better than most. My wife and I have no debt, and we have two nice suburban houses; one is a rental. Both vehicles are paid off because we paid cash. She has an excellent job that has carried us through rough times and is the main source of our long-term investments. We can easily survive on 20% of our net pay. I have a few guns, a little ammo, and a bit of reloading equipment (add sarcasm now). We have a substantial amount of in-hand precious metals (the equivalent of many years’ worth of income), a generous portfolio of bonds, annuities, and cash equivalents. We hold nearly zero stocks. I want to increase our food stores to carry us from six months to one year. Our house is partial solar, and even though we are in the desert, we could live here in re(physical, of courselative comfort for many months without any utilities (water, gas, electric, or communication). The house is a fortress, but it looks normal. We have 14mm 3M security film on all windows; premium locks, installed and reinforced correctly; a Pella triple locking sliding door; an audible-only burglar alarm because, when it goes off, my neighbors walk outside with MP5s (now that’s neighborhood watch!); CCTV; multiple big UPS systems in the house, as well as a unique PV/generator/battery/grid power system (Xantrex 6048 with battery bank, selectable loads, and generator interface); and a tool inventory any tradesman would be proud of (from my early days as a HVAC mechanic).
Our cars are also loaded. We carry 72-hour kits are in the cars (and duplicate kits at the house). For communications, we have multiple multi-band ham transceivers, both hand-held and vehicle-mounted. My Toyota Sequoia 4×4 has traversed the dirt roads leading out of town multiple times. We carry modest water supplies in all vehicles, but have hundreds of gallons of potable water, plus six ways to clean our 14,000 gallons of pool water, in a pinch. Our kits include Level IIIA vests You get the picture by now.
I have a bug out location with a friend in central Utah, if things got so bad in the city we had to leave. We could get there without touching paved roads. But our ability to shelter in place is rather extreme given we are in a desert community. My approximately 100 neighbors would come together in this relatively close-knit gated community, and we would be a force to be reckoned with. Many are ex-military, some current LEO, and all of similar mindsets.
I read this blog to work on my weak areas. The gardening has been most challenging and often frustrating with our summer heat. Some things we can’t do prior to collapse, like attaching glass shards to the top of our cinder block walls, like the Europeans or wwiring up explosive deterrents. However, we can survive and thrive for quite some time in the event of SHTF, and many are equipped to help our less-prepared neighbors.
So, when I read about possible currency defaults, it’s covered. A food shortage crisis is covered. Power outages are covered. Cash, precious metals, communications, defense, coordination with others, refrigeration, and emergency cooling are all there. This journey has taken 20 years, and we continue to add items previously overlooked. Thank God I am blessed with a wife who understands the risks and why I’m taking such precautions.
This is our insurance against a society going down the tubes. We may not thrive as we used to, but we will not shrivel and beg for help, like the unprepared folks following Katrina and other calamities. That, my fellow readers, is why I can now sleep peacefully. I have done all that my resources and skills will allow. The rest is up to our Creator, and I can answer the question, “What did you do to prepare and protect your family?” My answer is, “Everything I could possibly afford or learn to do.”
We are preppers on a long learning path. Though I wish I lived in a more stable time, these are the cards we are dealt. All we can change is how we respond. Fortunately, many of the high dollar investments/expenses are fairly good investments– solar house, guns, and precious metals. Plus, we enjoy fresh and tasty vegetables! It’s all good.
Thank you, JWR, for your blog, the information, and, mostly, the encouragement to keep moving forward. You likely have no concept of the breadth of your influence.