It is very difficult for the average middle class American to prepare for the coming collapse; those that recognize the need still see it as maybe too late to do anything or there is too much to buy and prepare to be completely prepared. Unless you are independently wealthy, that may be true, it is nearly impossible to be 100% completely prepared for all eventualities.
The first thing you need to do is to prepare your soul and your family, they have to understand and be on board. Your family and yourself must first get right with God if you haven’t, and accept Christ as your savior and bend to God’s judgment, let his will guide your first and foremost. After this you must begin your preparations, none of us know when the time will come, more than likely soon, but it may be a week away or years away, and every little bit will get you that much closer to survival and make your position far better. I won’t go into deep detail on every facet of information as there are ample books and blogs explaining the “how to’s” and if you are on survivalblog already than you have a monstrous wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. This is a quick once over to help the read understand the basics and get started, remember that knowledge is the best weapon you have, read, learn, try and repeat until you have it mastered.
More than likely you don’t have a lot of disposable income have had your hours cut back or have a hefty mortgage. You have to look at all the expenses in your house, if renting is it reasonable, is there a way to find a more remote location to move to, or a cheaper place to rent that would save you monthly expenses? Cell phone bills are an easy way to cut, if you have multiple phones consider cutting back to one main house phone, get a pen and paper and write down things to buy at the store instead of calling home from there to figure out what you need. Cell phones are handy but are they worth the extra 60-100 dollars they are costing you a month? Cable is not necessary, it is a convenience, if you have cable you probably have internet, have one house computer, sell the others, and get your news off the net. Whatever disposable income you have, start to put it into tangible goods, things that you can use or sell in the coming TEOTWAWKI situation. I invested a good portion of my net assets in precious metals in 2008 before the price went up, but even with the higher prices now you have to remember that when the time comes that everyone realizes that they should buy gold and silver it will be too late to get adequate amounts. Buy “junk” silver, 90% dimes and quarters, they don’t have the numismatic value of silver Eagles or gold Krugerrands, but people won’t care about the collectibility of the coin in TEOTWAWKI only the content. Don’t buy 1-ounce “trade dollars” or bars. What I mean by this is the 10 or 100 oz silver bars or 1 oz gold coins, those are worth a lot individually and you will need your metals to barter for things like food, ammo, clothes, etc. day to day items not a new care, so buy small amounts, which is why junk silver is so nice, because about 1.30 in silver coin is worth a 1 oz silver piece and you can barter more accurately with the smaller denomination. It’s okay if you can buy $10,000 worth of coin now, if it’s just a few hundred at a time, that’s more than fine, shop around get the best deal, but don’t not buy storage food and ammo to buy more coin, you can barter with silver but you can’t eat it, and at the beginning of the collapse people may only want “beans, bullets and Band Aids” as the military says. In short, don’t eat out, buy bulk and buy cheap, learn to cook with simple ingredients that can be found in nature. Cut out non-essentials, don’t take that vacations to Hawaii, instead go out camping and you can test the gear you buy and get your family used to living it rough, and relying on what they have and on God’s bounty in nature. I know many people might disagree, but get out of your retirement accounts, cash them in take the hit, or at least don’t put your money into them anymore. List out all your expenditures and future expenditures and figure out where you can cut out wants and boil it down to actual needs and go from there.
Food isn’t hard to find and buy, with the proliferation of bulk food stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, etc. On a tight budget you can see when there are deals on canned vegetables and other foods and when you go out buy a few cans per trip and it will add up. This is a less efficient course, because when you buy in bulk you save much more per can than individually. If you can’t afford a membership find a friend that does or find a few and pool your money and have the owner of the account shop for everyone. You can save up to a dollar a can in some circumstances. Bulk Salt, Sugar, Molasses, Coffee and every other staple can be purchased there. Buy in bulk store it in a garage or wherever you have room, and add to it over time as money allows, in a short while you will be amazed at what you can accumulated. Read up on what is needed for an adult man, woman, and child to survive and buy accordingly. You’ll need an ample source of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Hard Red wheat is a favorite of mine, you can (with a home grinder, recommend the Country living grain mill, it’s the best on the market) grind your wheat when needed into flour to make bread and it retains its nutrients much longer than buying flour itself. You can also soak it in water overnight to make Wheat Berries and add some brown sugar and/or honey and it makes a nutritious breakfast that’s not too bad. If you can’t find a cheap local seller of red wheat, check local bakeries many will sell it at wholesale or a buck a pound if you bring your own bucket. For long term storage you need food storage grade buckets, and there are many techniques including Mylar bags with dry ice and “Gamma seal” lids, just a quick search on any survival site will give you more detailed information on how to pack and store this once you get your supplier lined up. A quick tip is instead of buying the buckets online, is to call local bakery shops, or supermarkets, restaurants that buy bulk cooking foods and ask if they have empty buckets laying around. Make sure that the buckets ARE food grade and haven’t had any chemicals stored in them. Check for smells because if they held pickles and you don’t clean them out with bleach and baking soda then you might have pickled flavored wheat come TEOTWAWKI time.
The other way to get your food storage situation in order is to look at bulk pre-packaged meals like those in the military MREs or the Mountain House meals you see at camping supply sections. These meals are dehydrated, have long shelf lives and only usually need water to cook/heat up. The downside is that they are much more expensive per calorie than say a bucket or hard red wheat and canned fruits/veggies. The upside is that they are great emergency and Bug out (a term that denotes you needing to leave quickly) food, as they can be thrown in a backpack and left there for longer than your family dog will live. If money is tight then I would only use this as a small portion of your total food storage. Definitely have some pre-staged in “Bug out bags” (will mention this later, but basically a backpack for each individual, easily available to grab and leave quickly if things get bad) so that you will have meal(s) to eat on the go and MREs can be rationed out to last a few days each. Check Craigslist, local surplus stores and of course the internet, as they are sold everywhere and can range from $50-to-90 a case (of 12). The last big item to mention for food is seeds and hunting. Hunting will require weapons which will be discussed later and will be dictated by where you live and availability of game in the area. Seeds on the other hand are very important for long term survival in a TEOTWAWKI situation. The average seed store will sell you a pack of carrots or tomatoes that with a green thumb and good soil produce copious amounts of the fruit or vegetable wanted, but most people don’t save the seeds they produce to use the next year. This is because of two reasons, one the packs are cheap and two most seeds are what are called “hybrid seeds”, meaning that they are made to produce good yields of each plants bounty, but the in a generation or two the seeds produced will not be viable. What you want to buy are “heirloom” seeds, these seeds often don’t produce as big of yields of as their Frankenstein hybrid cousins, but year after year, the seeds they produce will grow true and can be used indefinitely. Search out web sites that sell heirloom seeds and research the plants and crops that will grow best in your area, or areas near you will be moving to after the collapse. Research heavily, I have a whole folder that has page upon page of information on every heirloom seed that I buy and that has helped tremendously when I did my own small experiments and tried my hand at home gardening, this information and experience helped me immensely to accumulate the knowledge needed to know how and when to plant, what plants to plant around or keep away from my “crops” as now the learning curve only means I lose a plant or two or none grow at all until I figure the tricks out. In a TEOTWAWKI scenario when your life depends on this food, the learning curve will mean life or death. You don’t want to OJT in a survival situation; you need to know the little tricks before. Intent is good, knowledge is better and practical experience is golden.
Water is one of the most important links in survival and a post indoor plumbing; TEOTWAWKI will amplify this for every man woman and child on this planet. Most people take their ample water supply at home for granted, flip the faucet and water will run continuously. When that water stops where will you get yours? Even if you have a house more than likely, as in 99% of the time your pump is electric with no manual backup. If you have your own well there are manual pumps that can be made and fitted to use before, or if you have the money to buy them, solar powered pumps are and option as well. If you live in the city, or even the suburbs many times, you are dependent on city water and will be SOL in TEOTWAWKI. First thing to do in any emergency is plugging the drains in sinks and tubs and fill it with water, you will need this to fill bottles, camelbacks, etc for your run from the city.
Wherever you go one thing that it will need to have is water available, whether it’s a solar/hand pumped well, a neighboring creek or some other water source. The closer the better because a five gallon bucket of water weighs around 41.7 pounds and hand carrying that long distances gets old real quick! A water filer is a must especially if your water comes from a standing water lake or pond or even a stream. I know and have drank from fast moving streams deep in the mountains, as they are often free from bacteria, but this was necessity and I know use a Steripen UV water purifier for when I fill my canteens. The problems with streams is that you never know what is just upstream from you, a dead moose/deer or other animal could be lying dead or a friendly bear could be giving you the big finger by taking a dump in it. Like I said I carry a candy bar size Steripen for my hiking trips with a solar recharger case for my mountain camping, but that takes 45 seconds to sterilize a quart of water, and only as long as the battery lasts. The best plan is to buy a Big Berkey water filter with a 3.5 gallon per hour filter rate, and its filtration is second to none. This baby runs about $250+, so it is out of the price range of some, but if you can make it work, it is well worth the investment. This is a in-house filter and not good at all for on the go, in the same price range is the portable Swiss made Katadyn pocket filter that you can use to fill up your canteens or Nalgene bottles from lakes and streams. These are two examples of great filters for in house and on the go (bug out) use, but there are other ways to filter your water for cheaper. The Common container of bleach (original non-fragrance) is an old standby for water purification. Use ¼ teaspoon per gallon of water, or a full teaspoon per 4 gallons of water. This is a cheap purifier and should leave avery slight bleach smell, this only means that it has done its job, but may not taste like it’s from the Brita. Another more economical solution is to use “Pool Shock” a common ingredient to make pools safe to swim in and available from any pool care store, online or in your town depending on your environment. Make sure that calcium hypochlorite is the only active ingredient in the product and at 65% with no added anti-fungal’s, or clarifiers, if not you can seriously endanger you and your family. You would use about ¼ ounce per two gallons of water, this will make bleach and with that you can use the bleach solution to treat water at 1 part per 100 parts water, roughly 2.5 tablespoons per gallon of water. I got most of this info from J.W. Rawles on SurvivalBlog.com and the EPA site link, and using this I would definitely go with the EPA’s recommendation of aerating “The disinfected water by pouring it back and forth from one clean container to another” as this does get rid of the smell. This was more because I had time and it wasn’t survival mode yet, but a bad smell is better than giardia (Beaver Fever) any day! The last way is to just bring the water to boil for one minute, let it cool and drink it. This is fine for the campsite but for a larger group of people in a more static location having the ability to treat large amounts of water is a real plus and your energies and time can go to more pressing matters.
This list isn’t so much in order of importance, as food and water are important to survival but having a place to stay and survive while society collapses is a must. If you live in an apartment there are books and manuals available on how to outfit it for “urban survival” but most of these recognize this as being just a “you have no other choice” type scenario and I would discourage it in every possible way. The truth is yes if you have a fireplace you can burn furniture available throughout the city or construct a makeshift stove to heat and cook from. You can barricade the doors; form a co-op with other residents, pool resources and all that. That would be for a short term, month+ plus Katrina scenario where the caped federal crusader will be there to provide food and shelters eventually. In a TEOTWAWKI world, this isn’t going to happen, currency and government will cease to function, and there will be no coast guard airdrops and FEMA trailers coming. The best thing to do if you live in an apartment is move to a more remote home with land of your own. If you can’t do that then, as previously stated, change your life habits, get something cheaper if possible and be ready to leave the city or suburbs as soon as things get bad, and before everyone else realizes it and loses their minds. A quick digression, if you are reading this you already recognize the need to know these things and have somewhat of an idea of how bad things will get. But remember that 99% of the people in this country have no idea what do when the power goes out and the shelves at the supermarket are empty. Many people will remain good hearted individuals, but many will not and turn to the darker side of humanity and steal, rape and pillage whatever they can. Our commanding general in Iraq said that we Marines should “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” That is the mentality you need to have, that you should live the Christian virtues of charity and love of your fellow man, but have a plan to escape survive and defend you and your family’s life. Okay Back to Shelter, if you can’t afford a place out in the woods away from the main cities, remote and self sustaining to the best of your ability, network. Log into survival blog sites like Surivivalblog.com and others and find other like-minded Christian people like yourself that want to be prepared, form groups and pool your resources, more than likely you have skills that others don’t, and if you don’t have any practical survival skills begin to learn them, specialize in medicine, or hunting/trapping, solar power, mechanics so that you have something to offer the group that they need. There is the rugged individual in every American (And I was of this mindset when I first started prepping) that wants to have a mountain top retreat, hunt, grow and trap all your food, and hold of waves of godless communists with nothing but your AR and brass balls. Sorry to break this to you if you had the same thought as me, but you won’t survive long-term going solo, or just you and your family. You could scrounge out an existence, but more than likely you will run out of food and/or gangs of looters before too long. Your best chance of survival will be in groups, peppers who joined before and after the collapse to help each other and pool their resources and talents. Your best chance will be to find a place off the beaten path, not near any major highways with freshwater, long growing seasons and plentiful game. Even with all this life will be labor intensive and difficult. You will want your retreat in an area where the population has some semblance of self reliance as a community virtue. It should be within driving distance and if not you need to have pre-filled and rotated gas cans so you won’t rely on gas stations to get there. There are extensive tomes written on this subject so I won’t try to touch on all the details that lie therein. Basically you will want to get out of the cities and away from any major populations now, and if not do it before things get bad, read the signs and beat the crowd. Survival in numbers, folks.
Depending on whom you ask you’ll get many different opinions on what weapons someone should have to defend themselves in a TEOTWAWKI world. I’m a firm believer that everyone should have a weapon for self defense even in the pre-TEOTWAWKI world we live in now. I have the utmost respect for Police officers and have worked with many of them over the years, but Police rarely stop a crime before it is committed, more often they are a cleanup crew. At the minimum someone should have a handgun, shotgun and rifle. Handguns should not be your primary defensive weapon now or in TEOTWAWKI, they are great as a backup when your primary weapon runs out of ammo or you don’t have time to reload and need rounds on target quickly. Transitioning (which is what those in the military and plice world call it when you move from one weapon system to another) from your rifle to your pistol is much quicker often times than reaching for a new mag and reloading as your pistol should be already loaded and ready to go. A .45 is my preferred choice for a sidearm for is stopping power, but there has been a lot of talk about the .40 S&W being of roughly equal stopping power, higher capacity and better ballistics when Special Forces was testing for a new sidearm over the hated M9 Beretta 9mm. I personally use a Kimber Warrior, but any Colt manufacture .45 is excellent as well, with any weapon read up, shoot ones your friends may have, and many pistol ranges allow you to rent most common pistols, take lessons and use what is most comfortable with you. I don’t like 9mm as its stopping power is at best problematic as I saw in Iraq and Afghanistan, even with hollow points a enemy can and has taken multiple rounds and been able to still keep fighting, albeit less efficiently. If you have a 9mm now, consider selling it and getting a .45 if not, it’s still better than a knife or bat!
For rifles well that’s where we run into a 1,000 different opinions and no matter what you say there’s always someone that says your wrong and this is why. I don’t care much for armchair shooters’ opinions and I rely on my own experience overseas, I did two tours in Iraq with the Marine Corps Infantry, the last was the Siege of Fallujah in 2004-2005 and then three years private contracting security for companies that have been unjustly maligned in recent years, anyway off my soapbox. I prefer my M4 for main battle rifle due to its ability to do double duty as both an offensive/defensive weapon as well as hunt small to medium game. The M4’s main attribute is it is basically a magnum .22 and has quite a bit of “oomph” behind it (the amount of depends on your barrel length and ammunition used). There has been a lot of talk of it not being able to “stop” a enemy, and I have seen this in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it does sound hypocritical due to my diatribe on the 9mm previously, but the lack of one round stopping power is made of the other attributes the M4 (AR family) offers. As a Drill instructor told me, the AK is great for uneducated, slow witted mud hut dwellers, they can point shoot and drop it in the dirt, and it will keep shooting, but the M4 is a professional’s weapon. It can shoot accurately at distances far outrange of the AK (the barrel length will greatly affect this) or many other similar battle rifles, and in the hand of a well trained Marine it is deadly. I love the AK as well and I own and use one as well as other rifles, but if push came to shove and there was an intruder in the perimeter, my M4 would be my primary. With proper training and only Iron sights you can hit targets accurately at 500 yards or less. With the right ammunition you can also hunt animals from rabbits to deer, which makes it a much more versatile weapon than the venerable AK.
As for a Shotgun I would go with a 12 gauge Mossberg 500 or Remington 870, there are nice autoloader Benellis or other fine quality shotguns, but for the price that you can buy a Mossberg or Remington, you can’t beat them. They are tough reliable and easy to use, and their close in stopping power is second to none. I prefer 4 or 5 shot 00 Buck but pretty much any shotgun round at close range will do the trick. There are also 3 shot+Sabot from Winchester called the PDX1 12 will destroy any intruder or enemy at close range, and even longer distances with the Sabot round. For the uninitiated the 12 gauge shotgun can be a bit intimidating, so definitely get familiar with the weapon.
Another quick point would be, if you are forming a group or have a large family, wishing to have a rifle for you, your wife, older sons/daughters, etc. In any case where you are going to have multiple rifles in your family/group, come up with a group standard no matter which one you choose. Any assortment of weapons is better than having nothing, but you do not want to be in a situation where you are running out of ammo and the people around you have different calibers and magazine styles, as you can’t interchange them. So if you decide on the AR family then bulk up on magazines, at least six on each person, in a chest rig or some other type of practical magazine carrier.
To sum up, none of us regular chumps have a lot of extra cash to go and buy two years of food for a family of six an arsenal of weapons, a farm with animals and thousands of dollars in silver this minute. But over time you can, but that time is rapidly growing shorter, as I believe things are coming to a head very soon. So first and foremost pray, get right with God, get right with your family, become cohesive, find others you can rely on when things go bad, stock up on what you can when you can. Every individuals situation is different so look at yours, look at your options, your network of friends and family, figure out who possibly has a place far away from the cities that you could fall back to, talk things over with them, even if they think you’re crazy if they agree, they will thank you later. Pre-stock food, ammo and other essentials there, bring your family out and camp out in the elements with the, so they have a better understanding before it becomes real. This is real camping, not Winnebago and a gas grill we are talking about, practice primitive survival methods (that are legal) practice trapping and hunting when the season permits, get everyone in decent shape. Change your life, save your life and the lives of your loved ones.