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How to Prepare When You’re The Only One- Part 1, by Patriotman

Only One Earth

I think this article will resonate with many of the SurvivalBlog readership, because I suspect that many of us are in a similar situation of being the only one preparing. While some of you may be lucky to have complete buy-in and participation with prepping from your family or survival group, many others, like myself, may find that “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”. Before I speak about my experience with this issue and the steps I have taken to attempt to mitigate this, let me provide some background on myself as well as what the composition …

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Taking the Past and Use it To Prepare for the Future

As preppers we are always trying to figure out the perfect combination of living simply, while taking advantage of today’s technology. There is quite a bit we can learn from how people lived a century ago. If an EMP, CME or something else took down the power grid, we could easily find ourselves in that type of situation.

In the early 1900’s, unless you lived in the big city, or had big money, you probably didn’t have refrigeration (1930’s), electricity, running water, automobiles, or grocery stores. While we try to become more self-reliant just in case, back then it wasn’t a choice…it was a necessity.

Life was simpler in the early 1900’s. The population was smaller, there was less technology, and nearly half the population were farmers. The typical family size (or household) was bigger out of necessity, their diets were different, and transportation was walking, horses and a few cars.

Because of all this, most people were a lot less dependent on others for their survival. In today’s society, people have become dependent on technology, and others for their survival. This is why if the power grid went down, 90% of the population would not exist.

 Preparing For the Future By Learning From the Past

In order to give ourselves the best chance possible to live through a larger grid down event, or even just get through a smaller power outage, we need to learn how they did it 100 years ago. We don’t necessarily need to live like they did 100 years ago, or go back to the old west, but we need to learn how they did.

Lessons We Can Learn

Preparedness is about marrying the new with the old. We have the technology to harness solar power and communicate (ham radio) so why not use it. What we don’t want to do is be dependent on water coming from the faucet, food being at the grocery store, and the light coming on at the flip of a switch.

The basics of preparedness are pretty simple. The gadgets and trinkets are great, but won’t save your life. When it comes to any sort of disaster or SHTF scenario, life will be different, like it or not. We all try to do things today that will make life easier then, but we need to learn to live differently, and learning from the past is a good way to do that.

The 6 areas of preparedness

The 6 areas of preparedness, and how we can prepare in each of those categories. By taking the knowledge and supplies we have today, and coupling them with how they lived in the past, we can make life much easier when and if something goes down.

Were are a few topics we covered in the show…

Food

Liberty Gardens: Most people in the early 1900’s gardened to one extent or the other. During WW1 people began to plant Liberty Gardens. This was to help feed the soldiers, and also because most of the farmers were sent off to war.

Cooking From Scratch: Cooking from scratch was a necessity. There was no pancake mix, hamburger helper or Campbell’s soup. If people wanted beef stew, they had to make it from scratch.

Ranching: Just like gardening, a lot of people owned livestock in the 1900’s. This may not been a full fledged “Ranch”, but quite a few people had cows, chickens and goats.

Hunting/Trapping: Hunting was a little easier back then because there were more animals, but just about everyone who didn’t live in the big city knew how to hunt at an early age.

Food Preservation: Because you had to grow your own crops, and hunt your own meat, preserving your food was also important. canning, smoking, dehydrating and root cellars were widely used.

Water

Water Safety: Cholera and Typhoid are nearly non existent in the United States today, but that wasn’t the case 100 years ago. Today we have much more knowledge about clean drinking water, and this is one of the most important parts of preparedness.

Wells: If you lived in the city you might have indoor plumbing, but in the outskirts you were on your own. This meant people needed to dig wells, live close to a water source, and bring it into the house manually.

No Indoor Plumbing: If you lived in an Urban area, you might have had indoor plumbing. If you didn’t, you would have used used chamber pots or outhouses. This would be a huge culture shock to most people if the indoor plumbing didn’t work.

Shelter

No Handymen: While everything back then was a lot simpler (easier to fix), DIY projects weren’t projects…they were necessity. There was no “Angie’s List” back then, and if you wanted something done, you did it yourself.

Clothing: We think of shelter as a roof over our head, but clothing is also shelter. Most people back then didn’t have a closet full of clothes like we do. A lot of people has Sunday Clothes, and Work Cloths. There were no clothing stores like we think of them, so if you wanted something new, you made it, or waited for it.

Houses: If you drive through an older town you will notice that the houses are much smaller, even the “Mansions” back then are smaller than some suburban homes these days. Smaller homes are easier to heat, easier to build, and the average household occupancy was larger back then.

Security

Police: They didn’t have the police force that we have today, and the police couldn’t communicate like they do today. This meant that is something were to happen, you were probably on your own.

Culture: People had a different mentality back then. People we more self reliant, and didn’t like to depend on someone else for their livelihood or survival. These days it’s almost the exact opposite, most people expect (and feel entitled to) help from others.

Crime: The population was about a third of what it is today, and less population meant less crime. Because the society and culture were so different than it is today, you didn’t see some of the things we see today. Everyone pretty much knew everyone in smaller town, and sometimes criminals didn’t “get their day in court” if you know what I mean.

Sanitation

Supplies: Back then people didn’t have vacuums (or even carpet), air filters, or Swiffer Sweepers. The mops and brooms they used were very basic, and sometimes homemade.

Cleaning: Today it seems like we have never ending choices about what cleaning supplies we can buy, back than that was not the case. Cleaning supplies are a sometimes overlooked prepping supply, but are very important in preventing sickness and infection.

Indoor Plumbing: As I mentioned earlier, a lot of people did not have indoor plumbing, and this is what lead to many of the common diseases back then. It’s important that we learn about how they did things back then, and not make the same mistakes.

Trash Removal: People back then didn’t generate the amount of trash that we do today, but trash can also lead to health issues. In a SHTF scenario I doubt that the trash man will be coming around, so we need to figure out a solution.

First Aid (Medical)

Technology: The advancements we have made in science and technology would seem like magic to people in the 1900’s. If you’ve ever seen some of the equipment they used back then, you know what I mean. Medical professionals not only have better equipment, but better knowledge as well.

Medicine: Advancements is medicine have also come a long way in the last 100 years. With the advent of antibiotics, diseases and infections that would be fatal then, can be treated today. We have written a few articles about antibiotics for preppers.

Medical Help: Back then there weren’t hospitals like we think of then today, no flight for life, and no ambulances. Most towns had a town doctor with his doctor bag, and which probably had some Opium, snake oil and Heroin in it.

Incorporating Today’s Tools With Yesterday’s Skills

If we learn how people lived 100 years ago we can better prepare for any sort of grid down event, or SHTF event. We have much more knowledge and technology today than they had back then, but some of that technology may not be available.

By looking at all the topics covered above, and trying to figure out a solution for each, we can give ourselves a little better chance for survival, or at the very least, a little normalcy in a tough situation.

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Effective Family Survival

They say that every survival scenario defines a case of survival of the fittest. You might think you can make it, regardless of what the world throws at you, but what if you’re not alone? If you have loved ones depending on you, family survival becomes your main priority.

That being said, sometimes a group has better odds of surviving under the right leadership. Regardless if you prepare for or with your family, there are some principles you need to implement. Groups with great leaders can pretty much accomplish anything. Being a survival leader and the head of the family isn’t easy. You already struggled to build a family, now is the time to develop them into a survival group.

No matter how you look at things, being part of a dysfunctional team, can lead to disaster during an emergency situation. They may not all agree with your rules and plans for the future, but you can’t distance yourself from them. You should never see those close to you as expendables and you should always value them.

Just like you put a lot of effort into your prepping plans, human relationships need nurturing to survive. There is a natural tendency for families to get along since blood is thicker than water, but never take this for granted. As days turn into weeks and months, bad feelings can start to fester and frustration can pile up. Exposing your family members to an austerity scenario with no electricity, no water and no food can cause alienation.

To make family survival work, it takes an empathetic leader who can keep an eye on both the mission and his or her family.

Always show them love

Your family knows when you care about them and also when you don’t. Put your family first, regardless how busy you are. Be dedicated and loyal to them, even if it seems that you don’t have enough time for your prepping chores. Love in a family, loyalty and trust should never be taken for granted. Learn about their hobbies and preoccupations and show genuine interest in their lives. You shouldn’t assume that they will later understand and thank you for your effort. They might not stick around long enough to appreciate all you’re doing for them right now.

Keep a healthy and fit family

Becoming a couch potato and letting your kids spend hours on the computer or game console is a toxic habit. If your family is out of shape or ill, you will tire more quickly and lack the stamina to survive. Tired people have less patience and quickly lose focus of what they are supposed to do. Family survival is impossible without a good health and physical shape of all its members. Is hard to care about anything else if you are exhausted or suffering.

Keep everyone informed

Many people new to prepping have the tendency of keeping their kids in the dark. They are reluctant to share information about their prepping plans. It seems just too much for the kids or relatives to handle. As a family leader, you should learn how to talk to your kids about emergency preparedness. There is no safety net out in the real worlds and there are no prizes for trying when it comes to survival. When you’re confronted by relatives and friends, don’t argue and don’t impose your point of view. Briefly explain your course of action and the reasons behind your prepping plans. It they care about you, they will understand and respect your decision.

Set an example

I come from a family line of hard working people that lived life with modesty and dignity. In all my life, I have never heard the words “it’s not possible” or “it can’t be done”. The way you guide your family in life reflects in everything you do. You should always be an example for them. Work hard and avoid being viewed as lazy. My grandfather used to say that ambition, good attitude and kindness are infectious. If you want your kids to learn about the world, you need to show them what’s out there. Spend time with them in the nature and allow them to figure things out on their own.

Turn your family into a team

Set goals for your family members, inspire vision and establish responsibilities for each of them. Listen to their feedback and reward their patience when it comes to your prepping plans. Family survival is not possible if only one person struggles for all the others. If you want to maximize results, you need to make it a common effort. Even small children can accomplish big tasks by what it seems like playing for them.

Be truthful

Credibility is a fragile thing inside a divided family. Do not lie to your family, because sooner or later they will figure it out. If the situation is critical, there is no need to sugar coat it, unless some of them can’t cope with the reality. If they have the proper age and mindset, it’s better to lay your cards on the table. Don’t lose your temper when comforted with bad news. It will make people around you lose confidence and they will lie as a self-defense mechanism.

Take responsibility

Understand that you’re not superman and that nobody’s perfect. Don’t pretend to be more than you are and be accountable for your mistakes. Rather than covering something up and see how things develop. Make the corrections in time and apologize as needed.  Family survival requires you to be bold. Taking unnecessary risk means making mistakes. Not taking risks when situation requires it and playing it safe can have a diminishing return.

Be tolerant

Zero tolerance is required if someone undermines your authority when leading a survival group.  However, this is not a group of random people, they are your family! You should provide adequate support for all your family members and take time to explain your actions. The “do as I say” mentality can backfire. You need to keep everyone united and you can’t do that if you push them around.

Don’t forget to keep a good attitude

Things may seem grim, but remember that relaxed and funny people are a natural antidepressant. Even if you have no power, and the weather outside is turning bad, you can still keep a good attitude. Humor is essential for family survival, especially if you have young ones. It is an important trait to deal with stress and can significantly boost the mood of your family.

Communicate with and encourage your family members

I see a lot of parents criticize their children in public and they don’t realize how much harm they are causing. Praise in public and criticize in private is what my grandmother used to say. Tell your family members what you want them to accomplish and not how to do it. Keep instructions simple and concise and always ask for feedback. Trust the knowledge of your family members, but be ready to take charge when things get rough. After any crisis that affects your family you should discuss about the following:

  • What did we do wrong this time?
  • What did we do right?
  • How can we improve our preparations?

Family survival requires good leadership and involves much more than telling them what to do. Family survival is about being a better person for them. Encouraging them to learn new things and keeping them informed is what makes a good team. Leading your loved ones is the hardest job during a crisis scenario, but you should never give up on them.

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Sit and Think is Your First Preparedness Task

Cover the basic needs first. What good is 12,000 rounds of ammo, two battle rifles, BDUs, one flashlight, and one case of MREs after the first week?

You must have a full plan to survive. Providing for just one year takes some serious dedication to reach that level. A couple of decks of cards, pens, papers, small note books, the list can go on and on and on. You have to be well rounded.

Can you skin a buck, run a trapline, drop a tree with a chainsaw, plant a garden, protect your garden, preserve your food? Do you have dogs? Do you have enough stored food for them?

How about pest control, mice traps, squirrels, rabbits, coons, ground hogs, can sure tear up a garden do you have traps for them? Think it through: Chipmunks, gophers, garden pest, and bug control. Mosquito netting is the best thing you can buy if you plan on being outdoors.

Sit down and try to put a list together for one year of supplies. You know just the basics like where are you going to get water every day. How are you going to cook? How do you heat in the winter? Have you ever tried to chop a year’s supply of wood?

Do you have children? What kind of medicine will you need for them in 1 year? What kind of non power games do you have for them to do? Does you wife sew or crochet? Do you have some supplies like that put away. A knitted wool hat or mittens sure would be nice if you didn’t have them when you left. How about washing clothes?

You did put away enough toilet paper for a year, right? You also protected this toilet paper with traps or poison so the mice and chipmunks didn’t chew it all, up right? How about feminine products for a year.

What about yeast infections? I know it’s not the most pleasant thing to talk about but a must if you are seriously planning to survive. I talked to an old timer once that grew up in the Depression and I asked him what did you use for toilet paper his words “Last year Sears and Roebuck catalog, oh and by the way I sold all my furs to them too.” What would be a good catalog today? How about some thick old city telephone books, might be a good choice to store away for back up toilet paper.

These are some thing you must consider. Walk your land, think about every tree you have, how much open space you have, how much water, wildlife, and shelter you have. A plan cannot be made until one knows what he needs!

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How Old Should A Child Be To Start Prepping?

How old should a child be before they start prepping?  I’m asked this question occasionally and I don’t have a specific age per se but I do have some thoughts on the matter.

Generally I think parents should teach their children to be self sufficient and independent from a very early age.  These are just plain old good life
skills that everyone needs to get by.  It’s a plus that preppers are better off when they naturally possess these traits as well.

I’m also of the opinion that learning more specific prepping skills is important as well when it comes to things like camping, fishing, gardening, et cetera…  There are skills and knowledge involved with all of these things that can literally take a lifetime to learn.  Those that start early certainly have a leg up on those who wait until later in life to pick up these hobbies.  Much of what is involved in becoming a good camper, fisherman, or gardener is trial and error.  Learning from your mistakes at an early age is much easier than as an adult in a possible do-or-die situation.

There are other skills like cooking, carpentry and other trades that become more appropriate as a child gets a little older.  I’m all for early learning but we don’t need the house burned down or any missing fingers from saws or hammers…

Which brings us to the question of firearms.  When I was a kid the rule in my house was I was allowed to handle firearms with adult supervision once I was 10.  I had to take a safety class first of course.  When I turned 12  I got my very own BB gun that I was allowed to roam the woods behind our house with plinking cans and chasing squirrels.  In my family today I follow a similar standard.  I know many will say that they are in favor of teaching kids to use firearms at a much younger age and to that I say, to each his own as long as you’re safe.

While I just gave a lengthy answer to the question of How old a child should be before they start prepping, I didn’t address the point I really want to harp on here.  And it’s my blog so I’ll harp all I want.  That point is, while I just explained when I would start teaching a child the skills needed to be a good prepper I never talked about alerting the child to the realities of Why we need to prep.

Beginning prepping for a child isn’t that much different than joining the Boy Scouts or 4H.  What’s the Boy Scout’s motto?  Always Be Prepared.  Yes, that’s what I’m talking about.  However, sitting a child down and talking about what happens when the SHTF or TEOTWAWKI is a different thing altogether.  In my opinion there’s absolutely no reason to scare a child by filling their head with scary possibilities for the future.  Every week there are parents cramming five year olds into hazmat suits while the kids barely hold back tears.  Pathetic.

So, while I believe prepping should be almost automatic and start from a very early age I also believe the reasons behind it can be held back until a person is old enough to handle the realities.

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How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster – Emergency Preparedness Plan

Today, we have the ability to predict with more accuracy than ever dangerous tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms, and floods. We know the areas that are prone to earthquakes and areas that are susceptible to wildfires, and we can tell hours in advance whether a tsunami will hit our shores.

However, in spite of all the capabilities for advance warnings, Americans are still quite poor at preparing for these disasters. Many of us really believe that it can’t happen to us.

In a 2006 poll conducted by TIME Magazine, 56% of respondents said they had gone through a major disaster. However, only 16% percent believed they were “well prepared” for the next one. Denial, it seems, is an American way of life.

Local and Global Disasters

Thanks to our global economy, it’s not just local disasters we need to consider. Disasters in other parts of the world now have a direct effect on our economy; diseases in other countries can quickly find their way to the States. Food shortages elsewhere can cause food riots, which then lead to speculative price swings over here, that can quickly raise the cost of food. A cyber-attack from international hackers could threaten our financial industry or even our electrical grid.

Now, the likelihood of some of these things happening are rather slim, and it’s doubtful that anyone needs to stock a year’s supply of food and supplies. This would be expensive and unrealistic.

However, most people are not prepared, at all, for any kind of disaster. Most communities only have a three-day supply of food in their stores to feed the local population. What would happen if food deliveries couldn’t arrive for a week or two?

How to Prepare for Disasters

Some simple, quick preparations could make the difference between life and death for your family. Here are several steps you can take to be ready for a disaster.

1. Stock Up on Used Helmets

A few weeks ago I was listening to NPR as I was cooking dinner, and I heard a moving story about a young boy, Noah Stewart, who lived through a tornado that hit his Alabama home.

Noah was sucked up into the tornado and then dropped. He landed head first, a fall of such force that, under normal circumstances, would have killed him. However, he survived because his mother made a split-second decision to put a baseball helmet on his head right before the tornado hit. Noah was unhurt after the storm. But the helmet cracked down the middle.

The CDC states that they can’t say whether helmets save lives during a tornado impact. However, it still seems wise for anyone in a tornado-prone state to keep several helmets at the ready. Any added protection is going to increase your chance of survival, and as Noah’s story clearly shows, helmets can save lives.

You don’t have to buy new helmets – picking up used bicycle, football, or baseball helmets at thrift stores and garage sales can save money and keep your family protected.

However, it’s essential that you keep these helmets in an easily accessible place; they should not be used for any other purpose, as they may be misplaced. Remember, when a tornado hits, you might only have minutes – or even mere seconds – to find shelter. You don’t want to be running around the house searching for those helmets.

be sure to have an escape plan should disaster strike

2. Create a Plan With Your Family

There might be some disasters that require you to flee your home, such as floods, wildfires, tsunamis, hurricanes, or a terrorist threat. Creating an emergency preparedness plan can feel overwhelming, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a clear step-by-step guide to help you do this.

One of the most important plans you should create with your family is an escape plan. For example, experts predict that New York City is long overdue for a direct hit by a major hurricane, which would swamp lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. This is a city with more than eight million people. What’s the fastest route to escape? If you had to get out, and you had no car, where would you go? These are considerations that need to be thought out ahead of time.

It’s also smart to figure out how you’re going to communicate with your family in the event of an emergency. You can’t always count on your cell phone to work, especially if towers are down or the network is jammed by many people trying to call loved ones. You can use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter or text messages to stay in touch with your family, since the 3G network might still work, even if the cell service doesn’t.

Make sure everyone in your family has these social networking apps on their phone, and that they know to use them if their calls don’t go through. If you have an iPhone, you might also want to download the Emergency Radio app, which lets you listen to fire and police scanners, as well as NOAA weather updates, Coast Guard communications, and more.

3. Buy Emergency Medical Books

Imagine that a tornado has just destroyed half your town, including your own neighborhood. Someone in your family has been severely injured. Do you know how to stop severe bleeding? Would you know how to treat them if help was hours away?

There are a million medical emergencies that can happen during disasters, and you can’t always rely on immediate medical help. It’s just smart to know how to handle some common emergency situations yourself.

Field Medicine
I’m fascinated with field medicine, as it’s called. This is the type of emergency medical care that takes place “on the field,” often without a lot of supplies or a qualified medical professional on-hand for guidance. In a disaster, this type of emergency medical first aid is what can save lives.

I have two books that cover field medicine. One is “Where There Is No Doctor,” by David Werner. This book is used by the World Health Organization, and it teaches you how to treat serious illnesses, how to help a woman through childbirth, and much more – all without a doctor.

The other book I have is “Ditch Medicine,” by Hugh Coffee. This book focuses more on serious wounds and traumatic injuries. It shows you how to stitch muscles together, how to treat anaphylactic shock, how to treat infected wounds, and much more.

“Ditch Medicine” is fascinating, and includes many pictures and diagrams to teach you how to treat these emergencies safely. Both of these books can be bought for less than $20 each.

be sure to have plenty of nonperishable food stocked

4. Have a Well-Stocked Food Supply

FEMA recommends that every family have enough nonperishable food items and water on hand to survive for at least three days. They recommend the following foods on their website, Ready.gov:

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and a can opener
  • Protein or fruit bars
  • Dry cereal or granola
  • Peanut butter
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Crackers
  • Canned juices
  • Nonperishable pasteurized milk
  • High-energy foods like nuts, trail mix, and canned tuna
  • Multivitamins
  • Food for infants
  • Comfort/stress foods like chocolate, cookies, or other high-calorie sweets

Having a long-term home food storage on-hand doesn’t take a big investment. You could save money buying some of these items on sale or by using coupons.

It’s also smart to know where your nearest source of fresh water is, and have several different methods to disinfect this water, just in case water is unavailable for a period of time.

For instance, I know my closest fresh water supply is a lake half a mile from my home. I have a steam distiller, which I can use to sterilize the water if I have electricity. I also have several handheld water purifiers, as well as bleach, that I can use if I don’t have electricity.

Final Word

It’s human nature to avoid thinking about these worst-case scenarios. After all, none of us want to imagine a pandemic sweeping the country, or a tornado barreling through our own neighborhood. But these things do happen, and the best thing we can do is to prepare for these events. Even a little bit of preparedness can make a big difference.