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6 Questions you Should Ask About Prepping

Every once in a while, it is important to take a back seat to the process of prepping and do a little planning.  I say this because things change and life evolves, requiring a re-examination of the who, what, and why of prepping.  Let’s face it. You probably remember why you started to set food, water, and supplies aside, and why you began to bone up on off-grid skills.  But in the flurry of preparedness activities, have you ever taken a look at your original plan and made circumstantial changes?

If you are saying “what plan”,  join the crowd!

An Introduction to the Who, What, and Why of Prepping

We all know about the successful reporter’s rule of thumb:  determine the who what where and how for every story.  Let us take the “where” out of the equation and begin with the who, what and why of prepping.

1.  Who Should Prep?

There is only one right answer:  Everyone!

The differentiator is the extent of one person’s preps over those of another person.  Person A may define being prepared as having a three day plan to soldier through a winter storm when the power is out.  (Of course I will try to encourage that person to prep for a week or two at a minimum, but ultimately, three days is considered a decent starting point.)

On the other hand, Person B may not consider himself adequately prepped until he has the supplies, tools, and skills to manage for a year or more on his own.

It all gets down to a matter of perspective.  Like a broken record I will say it again; there is no right and no wrong when it comes to preparedness.  If you prepare enough to ally your fear of a disruptive event, you will have done enough.

Six Questions Every Prepper Needs to Ask and Answer | Backdoor Survival

2.  What is Prepping?

Let us get this one out of the way quickly as well.  Prepping is being able to survive a disruptive event if not in comfort, then at least with a minimum amount of stress.

3.  Who Are You Prepping For?

Now we start to get into the nitty-gritty of your plan.  It is important to understand who you are prepping for.  Is it just yourself and your partner (if you have one), or an extended family?  Are there infants or toddlers involved?  What about physically challenged, or elderly members of your family.  Don’t forget about the family dog or cat, and your farm animals.

As you prepare a strategy to meet your prepping goals, things can get out of hand quickly.  It takes money to prep so even though you may want to take care of everyone, doing so can put a huge strain on the family budget. If you are lucky enough to have family members who are on board with prepping, you can ask them to participate, even if all that means is they clean and repurpose soda bottles so they can be filled with tap water and stored for an emergency.

At the end of the day, though, you must be realistic and remember that having the time and resources to live your life in the here and now is important too.  Go slowly as you expand your preps to include others.  Do not cannibalize your own life for the sake of something that may or may not happen.

4.  What Are You Preparing For?

Are periodic power outages your concern, or is it the the big earthquake that is past due along the Cascadia Fault?  Is it a hurricane or is it global economic collapse?  If you are a prepper newbie, I tend to recommend that you initially focus on disruptive events that are geographically specific to where you live.

If you are new to an area and even if you are not, your county will have an emergency services department with plenty of information describing the types of disasters and freaks of mother nature that can occur in your community.  Take advantage of this information.

5.  Where Do I Start?

Getting started when you are at prepping ground zero can be overwhelming.  I get that. That being said, the fact you are reading this article is a good start.

Beyond that, get your water, food and first aid supplies in order, as well as a stash of cash for those times when the ATM is not working.

6.  How Long Do You Want Your Preps to Last?

This is another reality check.  Although it would be nice to say “forever”, unless you have a self-sufficient farm and everything that goes along with it, a forever goal is not realistic.

Why not start with a week, then expand to a month?  After you have met that goal,, decide whether you would prefer to prep for more people, or perhaps to extend the period to three months or a year.  Have a discussion with yourself and decide what is right for you, your temperament, and your feelings about the likelihood of a major disruptive event. occurring in the near future.

The Final Word

It is easy to say “plan first, prepare second”, but even planning can be overwhelming.  I know that when I first started to prep, I armed myself with a 20 page checklist to use to begin the planning process.  After an hour, I set it aside and chartered my own course.  Thus was the beginning of Backdoor Survival and my own common sense approach to preparedness.

As a call to action, it is time to revisit the basics.  The moment is now.

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Snake Bite Smarts For Wilderness Survival

For people venturing outdoors to hike, backpack, camp, hunt, or just enjoy the wilderness, snakebites are a scary possibility, and yet more people die each year from being crushed by vending machines than from snake bites.

Now, that’s not to say that snake bites rarely happen.  About 37,500 are reported each year, but it’s more important to take preventive measures than to spend time worrying about death by snake.

Snakes will bite whatever body part is easiest to strike, and that’s usually a foot, ankle, hand, or arm. Wearing hiking boots and a pair of thick socks that extend above the ankle can protect those vulnerable spots as will a pair of loose, long pants.

Keep in mind that snakes are more active in warmer months. They also like to cower under rocks and in dark holes. I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but don’t stick your hands in those types of places without looking first. This is something that kids, in particular, like to do, so warn them ahead of time of the dangers.

And, it’s not just hands that are a problem. Poking under rocks and in dark cubby holes with a stick can be equally dangerous if a sleeping snake is awakened. They can move surprisingly fast and if they aren’t in a good mood, who could blame them?

Wilderness snake bite help tips

In spite of these precautions, let’s assume that you are, indeed, one of the unluckiest people on the planet. You’re far from a medical facility and you’ve been bitten by a poisonous snake. What do you do? First, don’t panic. As the venom enters your blood stream, you can slow down its spread by staying calm and moving as little as possible. Learn now my “16 Second Survival Breathing” technique to help with this.

I’m not going to lie to you. The pain is going to be intense, but it’s important to not take any pain medication without a doctor’s advice.

If others are with you and have a cell phone with the Red Cross first aid app, or a similar app, it wouldn’t hurt to look up “Snake Bites”, but otherwise, follow these instructions:

1.  Clean the bite wounds with water and soap and then apply a bandage to keep bacteria out. A glob of pine tree sap is a good alternative to a bandage, if that’s all you have on hand.  Use a pen to draw a circle around the wound and write on the skin the time the bite occurred. This will provide a gauge for tracking the reaction to the venom as well as any possible infection.

2.  Expect some swelling in the bite area, so remove rings, watches, and any tight clothing. Next, use a length of cloth or an Ace bandage to create a compression wrap starting about 4 inches above the bite wound and continuing down toward the hand or foot.

Rule of thumb: If you see swelling and the skin around the bite changes color, the snake was most likely poisonous.

3.  Next, if you are  move slowly and steadily toward the closest medical facility, hopefully with the assistance of other people. If you’ve brought along a cell phone, call Poison Control as soon as you have a clear signal, 1-800-222-1222.

At no point should you try to suck out the venom with your mouth, unless you really want to experience the effects of a snakebite without the actual bite. More than one person has died from ingesting snake venom in this manner. You also shouldn’t waste time looking around for the snake in an attempt to kill it and take it to the medical facility. Just do your best to remember as many details as possible of its pattern of color and size. If you do see the snake nearby, take a quick pic with your cellphone for later identification.

Supplies to carry with you:

  • Soap or small bottle of waterless soap
  • Small roll of Ace bandage
  • Ink pen or Sharpie
  • 4-5 adhesive bandages
  • Snake bite kit — Be sure to read the instructions before heading out into the wilderness.
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The 1st Preparedness Commandment: Know Thy Neighbor

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Krista Eddy, right, speaks with Laura Quilman about her emergency preparedness plans. Amanda Peacher / OPB

Ed and Sara Johnson — one of the household’s participating in OPB’s “Living Off Your Quake Kit” weekend — know three of the 10 families who live on their block, and estimate they’re the youngest couple there.

After trying to think of more people on the block, they decided to visit their next door neighbors, the Lapworths.

To the Johnsons’ surprise, it turns out both Cheryl and Roger Lapworth work on the emergency preparedness teams at Legacy Mt. Hood Medical Center.

“We didn’t know they had that expertise!” said Ed. “Both of them … are ready for an emergency.”

The Lapworths knew an additional five neighbors. The neighbors the Johnsons learned about included a retired marine, a carpenter, a man who’s “very mechanical” and another who’s good with cars. That expanded their community to eight out of the 10 estimated neighbors.

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Alice Busch, certified emergency manager, training and exercise coordinator, Multnomah County. Alan Sylvestre / OPB

Alice Busch, training coordinator for Multnomah County Emergency Management, said meeting your neighbors is just as important as gathering food and water for an emergency kit.

“The first thing on your list should to be throw a party,” said Busch.

That’s a notion that came to the Johnsons’ minds almost immediately after returning home.

“We like having people over,” said Sara. “We could see if we could get everybody, on a warm day like today, to come and hang out in our backyard and we could talk about this stuff.”

“That’s true,” said Ed. “Have a neighborhood barbecue.”

Busch said even if a person doesn’t have money or supplies after a disaster, skills can be useful for bartering and community survival.

“Do you have a friend who can store supplies, but you have another way to be part of the disaster solution? You can help care for pets, or watch kids, for example,” she said.

“We don’t all have the same skills. Focus on the skill sets you have that aren’t about material supplies, but that are good for trade.”

In Lincoln City, Krista Eddy and Patrick Alexander live at about 400 feet of elevation, on a hill that they expect would become a sort of island after a tsunami. Of the 12 houses on their street, they can name 11 of their neighbors.

Laura Quilman lives three houses down and Krista found her at home.

“I think we would work together as a community,” said Quilman, after Krista asked how their street would fare after a disaster.

They each said that they would check on each other as soon as their own households were safe.

Quilman said she’d be worried about Eddy’s 2-year-old son, Quinn.

“If something happened to either of them, would Quinn be alone?” the neighbor asked.

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Carmen Merlo, director of the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management. Alan Sylvestre / OPB

“I hadn’t even thought about that,” said Krista, covering her mouth. “What if I was knocked out and he was just wandering around the rubble?”

While preparing for an earthquake can be a daunting — and sometimes stressful task — the director of the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, Carmen Merlo, says there’s no reason to be afraid.

“Earthquakes are survivable,” she said. “It’s about community and connections.”