I am married to a 55-year-old “boy scout.” Over the several years we’ve been together, I’ve learned a lot about how and why to be prepared for disaster. I’ve never questioned his wisdom or strategy in stocking emergency supplies, both the kind you consume and the kind that make being without electricity for days on end possible and maybe even comfortable. Early on in our relationship he explained it to me as equivalent to an insurance policy.
As A Kid
He’s been practicing prepping a long time now. When he was a kid, weekends meant hiking, backpacking, overnight camping in the woods, or all of the above. To my family, being outdoors meant spending an afternoon at the beach. We packed a blanket and towels, a jug of iced tea, sunscreen, and maybe our lunch.
Yet, my mother had prepper tendencies, at least in the food department. Her pantry was always stocked with two or three more of everything we consumed on a regular basis. They were “backups”, as she called them. Even after us kids were grown and out of the house, one was unlikely to go hungry in my mother’s house.
So Much More
There is so much more to being ready for an emergency, however, than having ample food in the house. I learned this firsthand over the last few months when where we live became the target of two hurricanes and an early winter storm that dumped a year’s worth of snow in a single weekend.
We were not included in a mandatory evacuation, so “shelter in place” or “bug-in” was our strategy. Because my husband views being prepared as a way of life, we were far more along in getting ready for the storms than many people I know (or those described on the evening news). By the time the hurricanes made landfall they were less severe in our county than predicted; however, our neighborhood did lose power.
Prepper Spouses Relatively New To (or May Doubt) This Way of Living
There’s a huge difference, in my mind, between talking about what to do in case of TEOTWAWKI and being well-prepared for a major weather event about to bear down on you. Here’s what I have learned from my recent real-world experiences that may be helpful to other prepper spouses who, like me, are relatively new to (or may doubt) this way of living.
During these storms there were some new-to-me experiences. I’ll summarize these below:
Power Outages Mean No Tap Water
Power outages mean no tap water; that’s limited flushing. Water in our house is supplied by a well on our property. The gadget that pumps that water up from the well and into the pressure tanks in our crawl space relies upon electricity.
Flashlights Are Worn
Flashlights are meant to be worn. I have a mighty powerful flashlight that is just about three inches long and one inch in diameter. I carry it in my purse all the time, and it has come in handy a time or two or three. But on the day the first hurricane was forecast to arrive, I clipped it to the waistband on my pants. It is small and light, so I hardly noticed it was there. If/when I did need it, I wanted it to be easy to find. There’s be no fumbling in the dark for me. My husband also broke out the wearable headlamps, which are very convenient when you need light but don’t have a spare hand.
Setting up a command station. I cleared the top of a cabinet in our foyer of its decorative accents for this purpose. Here is where I put the battery-powered cell phone chargers, LED camping lanterns, flashlights, radio, and the extra batteries. I posted emergency phone numbers above. My rubber boots and rain jacket were nearby. Anything important to the cause that wasn’t an everyday object was gathered in this spot in the days leading up to the storm.
Prepper Practices I Am Grateful For
There are some prepper practices for which I am grateful, having gone through these storms.
We always have a number of extra batteries. We keep a variety of sizes too.
Emergency Alert Radio
A battery-powered Emergency Alert Radio. In a recent post-storm news report, a woman interviewed described herself as a news junkie and said that what she missed most while the power was out was listening to the news. I’ve often thought about that while I’m watching or listening to the news during an event. I’ve wondered if the people actually in the path of disaster have a way to stay in touch if only to be on the receiving end of an emergency warning. Relying on our mobile devices is a temporary solution at best.
One- to Five-Gallon Jugs
Multiple one- to five-gallon jugs, which I filled with water to supplement our usual supply of bottled water, are valuable. Anything larger than five gallons is too heavy for me to handle once full.
A Filled Bathtub With An Effective Drain Stopper
At least one bathtub with an effective drain stopper is quite useful. Filling the bathtub with water in advance of a storm provides a more convenient way to continue flushing our toilets during a power outage. I set an old water pitcher near the tub to facilitate refilling the toilet tank as needed. We also filled a 55-gallon container before the storm, but as it sits outside, the bathtub water was used during inclement weather.
Backyard Glamping Gas Grill
Well, we didn’t sleep outside, but we appreciate our glamping equipment when I needed to cook outside on our gas grill. I was especially grateful for its side burner, which made easy work of boiling water for my morning coffee (brewed via French press) and heating ready-made foods. Of course, we have a Coleman stove, but I didn’t need to get it out. In the aftermath of the hurricanes, the weather was favorable for being outdoors with temperatures of about 55 degrees F. Actually, it was a welcome relief from a hot, humid summer.
A modest-sized generator (3500 watts) with which we were able to keep our kitchen refrigerator/freezer and extra stand-up freezer operational was much appreciated. We turned the generator on after 24 hours when the temperature in the freezer was approaching 28 degrees. (According to our state’s Cooperative Extension Service, most food-borne pathogens can grow rapidly in food kept in temperatures of 41 degrees or more.) The generator saved us from the mess of cleaning up spoiled food and the expense of replacing it.
Extra-long and heavy-duty extension cords ran from the generator to a surge protector into which we plugged each appliance and a floor lamp. We ran the generator for four to six hours in the morning and again at night, not continuously. This was enough to keep our food cold. During a few off hours, my husband hooked the television to the generator so he could watch his favorite football team. That was the only luxury we afforded ourselves with the generator.
In our storm experiences, there were seven lessons I learned. They are:
- It’s never too early to start preparations. The time to examine what you have and what you may need is as soon as you learn of probable impending disaster. Don’t assume that the general population will not act as fast as you do. Get out early (well ahead of any official warnings, if possible) to replenish emergency supplies. I will be adding this step to our seasonal home maintenance calendar.
- I need to have my own stash of cash. Hubby is the breadwinner, and while I do the lion’s share of grocery shopping and errand-running for us, I use a credit card. I haven’t lost my urban habit to carry a minimal amount of cash (lest I be victim of a purse snatch or pickpocketing; both of which did happen to me when I lived in cities). However, I no longer live in a city, so I need to keep cash on hand in case of an emergency.
- Wearing pants with pockets is very practical. From a fashion standpoint, I prefer pants without (functional) pockets, but fashion is of little concern to me when dealing with an emergency. (As proof, I have included no cosmetics in my long-term storage.) However, the surest way to keep track of important things like keys, flashlight, and cell phone is pant pockets.
- Being prepped for a disaster is yet another good reason to exercise. Weight-bearing exercise to strengthen my muscles and cardio activities to strengthen my heart/lungs and boost my endurance will help me help myself and contribute more to group efforts during an emergency.
- Floods are the most common type of natural disaster. This was drilled into me over and over again on news reports and weather programs. Furthermore, we lived it to a minor degree. A few inches of groundwater did seep into a part of our basement. Anticipating that, nothing is stored on the floor that isn’t waterproof, and all our ammo is sealed in ammo cans.
- There is such a thing as wind insurance. If you live on a coast and you do not have wind insurance when your home is damaged from wind, like the roof blows off for example, nothing damaged or lost from inside the dwelling is covered. A standard homeowner policy is not enough to cover wind or flood damage. There’s a potentially expensive lesson in being “pennywise and pound foolish.” We do not live in a coastal community; I learned about wind insurance from a friend’s experience.
- Stay calm. If/when you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed by circumstance, stop and take a deep breath, or several. Doing so sends a signal from your brain to every cell in your body to slow down. From this place of quiet and calm will come better decision-making.
Three Days Without Power Didn’t Feel Like a Hardship
It is said that luck favors the prepared. My experience bore this out. We lived without power for three days, but at no time did it really feel like a hardship. The weather was favorable, so indoor temperatures were neither too hot nor too cold. We had ample food and water, one another’s company, plenty of reading material, and artificial light thanks to headlamps and lanterns. Plus, we had ample batteries to power these sources of light.
Being Prepared is Well Worth the Investment of Time and Money
So now I know for myself that being prepared is well worth the investment of time and money. I also understand more deeply how to take care of myself and my loved ones during an emergency.
Prepping has enabled me to be calm, cool, and collected before and during an event. No longer am I one of those people frantically scurrying around town in search of gas, bottled water, batteries, and non-perishable foods the days before something is predicted to happen. Now, I am prepper proud.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 80 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
- An assortment of products along with a one hour consultation on health and wellness from Pruitt’s Tree Resin (a $265 value).
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances.
Round 80 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.