Getting Prepared: A Primer for Beginners Series, part 11


Emergency medical supplies and prescription drugs of are the utmost importance, right up there with food, water and shelter.

One of the predictions made about when SHTF is what can be called the circles of death.  The first round of deaths will be due to the event itself.  These people will die of injuries sustained during the event immediately or some time shortly after due to infections or other contracted diseases.  Included in this group are also people in nursing homes and hospitals who may be left to fend for themselves.

Getting Prepared and MedicineThe second circle will be old and infirm people who need more medicines, care and support than a normal healthy person.  This circle includes older persons who rely on heart medications, statin drugs, diabetic medications and other life prolonging medications.  Second circle members will die in their homes because their oxygen bottles ran out.   This group will also consist of people who could not find enough food and water.

The third circle will include people who have found themselves exposed to the environment rather than living in their comfy prepper homes.  This exposure will allow extra risks of infections for even the slightest cuts.  They will be prey to any and all manner of parasites that find people inhabitable.  In many regions of the country, wild animals will also find humans to be tasty.

If you make it through the first three circles, you should be congratulated.

You were prepared, or someone took pity on you.  However you made it to this point, you will agree that being prepared with as many prescription OTC drugs and meditations as possible has made it possible for you to survive the event.

Most people can stock OTC drugs because they are relatively cheap and easy to get.  Simply buy a bottle of this or that pain killer, a tube of antibiotic ointment, and assorted bandages.  The prescription meds are a different story.  They run in price any where from $50.00 to $500.00.

You can buy a year’s supply, or pretty much any quantity of non-narcotic drugs as long as you have a prescription that says how many to dispense and the money to pay for it.  Insurance companies now require prescriptions to be refilled on a monthly basis and no sooner.  They don’t care if you have to come home from Europe to get your medications before you run out and die.

With all this information in hand, you should of course fill your prescriptions according to the monthly plan of your insurance company.

But, you should also grab your list of most commonly prescribed medications and make notes as you ask for a price list from your pharmacy, and the other three down the street.

The cash price is usually higher than the price pharmacies charge the insurance company.  Compare the price lists and list which products you will purchase from which pharmacies.  To hep save money on medicines join the pharmacy’s loyalty programs if available and apply those points to the price of prescription and OTC medicines.  Look on manufacturer websites for coupons for the drugs you need.  They can be as much as $50 off per month.  Lastly, talk to the pharmacist.  They may give you discounts for bulk cash purchases.  This should be enough information to begin planning and budgeting to acquire the medications your family will need for the duration of the event.

Getting Prepared: A Primer for Beginners Series, part 10


Assessing your utility usage is easier than you might think.

Being prepared means having alternate sources of energy.When you start to get prepared you grab your last twelve electric bills, and if you use fuel oil, natural gas or propane, grab those bills too.  What’s important is to figure out how much energy you use for heating, cooling and everyday use. For some climates, it might be difficult to figure out since you go right from heating to cooling and no real break in between.  Or like here, back and forth between heating and cooling several times even in the same month.  It is important to to understand your power usage, no matter which climate.

The information you need is:

  • Highest usage in winter
  • Lowest usage in winter
  • Average usage in winter
  • Highest usage in summer
  • Lowest usage in summer
  • Average usage in summer
  • Annual average usage

The four forms of home energy have advantages and disadvantages.  Fuel oil and propane require someone to deliver the product to your storage tanks.  Electricity comes down the lines and natural gas is pumped down the pipes to your home and hooks up directly to your home.  That’s why we love them so much.  No work involved!

After TSHTF, if you want to continue to use the other forms of energy, you will need to store it in tanks.  Tanks are expensive.  Tanks will eventually rust away.  Filling the tanks are expensive.  And, if the situation remains for a long duration, the tanks will eventually be empty.

Only one energy source is renewable for free.

Electricity.  You can store it indefinitely with little risk of explosion.  You can use wind or solar energy to gather electricity and store in battery banks.  Granted, getting set up is not free.  But, once you get your system set up, you never have to pay for electricity again, and you can sell it to the power companies and they must buy it.  Use all the energy you want, sell the rest.  If you run short one month, you can still use theirs.

Some people elect to use their “normal” supply of energy now while stocking up on wood or other sources of energy to have on hand when TSHTF.  This is certainly commendable and encouraged.

Now that you know what options are available to you, how much energy you need at peak times, and under which conditions you will want to use gas, fuel oil, or electricity, you can begin to plan accordingly.  We will talk about how to set up energy systems and use less energy in another series.


Getting Prepared: A Primer for Beginners Series, part 12

Reliable Transportation for the PreparedThis last installment of the Primer Series will discuss the reliability of available transportation and driving in an emergency situation.

No one really likes to think they won’t be able to use their vehicle to bug out.

But, the plain simple fact is that if your vehicle can’t off-road it in a hurry, you might be stuck where ever you stop.

Assessing your existing vehicles for use as an emergency get-a-way is the first thing you need to do.  What is the mechanical condition?  Has it been maintained well?  How many people do you plan to put in there? How much extra fuel can it carry?  NEVER CARRY FUEL IN THE CABIN!  Once you know what your current transportation can handle, you know if you need a different vehicle.  But, figuring out which one is the most difficult part.

The best case is to already be in your bug-out location if an event happens.  Hunkering down means you don’t have to travel and won’t need to worry about it.  For some of us, that simply isn’t possible.  In those cases, we must be prepared to evacuate to a safe location as far away as an eight hour drive or more.  For us, we leave as early as we know we need to evacuate.  We need all our vehicles to have enough gas to get at least three hours away because that will be the first place it should be safe to stop.  If our vehicles are not prepared in advance, it’s too late when the day comes.

Now, let’s just say you managed to get a dream family bug-out vehicle.  You keep it stocked at all times with your emergency supplies.  It has extra large fuel tanks mounted.  It has extra tough airless tires that won’t blow out if you run over glass, or if someone should happen to deliberately try to puncture one.  Sure, it rides rough, like a big old truck, but it’s safe and faster than walking.  All you have to do now is move it on down the road to your safe house.

And, that is where the trouble could start.

You won’t likely be the only group of people trying to get out of town.

This is where your navigational skills are going to come in handy and your ability to anticipate what other drivers are going to do.  You will need to figure out how to avoid hazards such as crowds, traffic jams, and getting locked into bridges and tunnels or other structures you can’t get around.

Having your routes planned well in advance is of prime importance.  Keep to the right lane as much as possible.  Stay off the main arteries if you can.  Remember, where the most people are, so too will be the most chance of danger, traffic jams, and trouble of the dark kind.  Which brings us to the safety and security of the occupants of the vehicle.

It is important that appropriate security measure be taken, remembering that children’s curiosity is overwhelming at times.  Mirrors need to be large and in extra locations to ensure the widest view.  Tinted windows are helpful to avoid peepers.  The less inviting your vehicle looks to observers the less likely you will have difficulty.

Remembering to keep it safe, secure, and moving will make your vehicle the right choice for you.

Getting Prepared: A Primer for Beginners Series, part 9

A food supply for the prepared.Let’s talk food supply.

Many people have the mistaken idea that all they need to do is stockpile a bunch of food and they have it made.  It doesn’t work like that.  The first thing a new prepper needs to do is figure out what food habits exist in the household.  While it is important to assess what kinds of foods the various family members eat, it is also important to keep grocery receipts and use them to better identify what you buy, how often you go to the store, and how much long term planning you do.  How long your current supply of food will last is only as good as how you currently shop.

Prepping well will not only change the amount of food you store, but will also change your life.

Since your goal is to go grocery shopping once a month or less, you will spend less time in the grocery store.  You will waste less money on items you shouldn’t be buying anyway.  You will apply those savings towards your preps.  Your family will eat and be healthier.  You will have peace of mind that if anything should happen, you are ready.

Now that you know how often you shop and how you spend your grocery money, you are ready to move on to food planning.

If you are not in the habit of planning your menus, this would be a good time to start.

Planning menus can be challenging at first, but you can use any number of online menu Even Armstrong had a Menu Prepared.planners or you can purchase a copy of MasterCook for about $20 or MealMaster for free.  We use MasterCook because it has all the capabilities we need, we are not connected with the authors of MasterCook in any way.  We just like it best.  It keeps track of your pantry once you have entered your existing pantry items.  You can create and print your own cookbooks based on your family’s preferences and needs.  It will also keep track of pricing and dietary statistics.  When you plan a meal you will know how many calories, grams of carbohydrates, fat and other important dietary information.

Knowing this information is important because you need to know how well nourished your family will be on a diet of your preps if SHTF.  If you are including too many calories during a time when they are going to be sedentary, they will gain too much weight.  If you don’t include enough calories during a time when they will be working harder than normal, they won’t have enough energy.  It can be difficult to prepare for both scenarios, but we will tackle that at another time.

See you next time in the “Getting Prepared:  A Primer for Beginners Series”.

Getting Prepared: A Primer for Beginners, part 8

Prepared Engine?Welcome back for part 8 of the “Getting Prepared: A Primer for Beginners” series.  Today we talk about your inventory of engines and motors.

The main thing to remember about engines and motors is that they essentially have one purpose.

To convert thermal and electrical energy to produce force or motion.  Thermal energy is converted into electricity.   Work can be converted into electrical energy as well.

How many lawn mowers do you own?  If the mower craps out, keep the engine.  It will be useful for a variety of things from go-carts to generating electricity.  Of course you will want to remove the governor  for some purposes.  That old Evenrude?  There have got to be ways to utilize it for alternative purposes.   A really big mixer comes to mind!   I’m sure you can think of other things to do with them.

Treadmill motors can be converted to generate electricity on a windmill.  You can re-purpose almost any electric motor for some more useful purpose.  Your biggest limitation is your imagination.

The most important thing to remember is not to let any appliance motor nor any combustion engine out of your house until you have verified it is worthless.  Then I would think long and hard about if I wanted to dismantle it and use it for pricey scrap metal for everything from cash to reloads.

Now that you know you can use your old motors and engines, let them figure into your plan for generating your own electricity and other projects which require force or motion.  Once you know how you want to use the engine, research how to make it work for you.  But remember, if you don’t find anyone who has done what you are planning, you can still do it.  Find a way.  Figure it out.  The more you try, the better off you are in the long run.  Then you will be the one with the plan.

Along with the engines and motors, figure out how much fuel you have on hand as well as how much fuel you currently have the capacity to store.  If you choose to turn some of these motors into generators, be sure to factor the fuel supply they will need to meet your needs and keep your battery bank charged.  We’ll post more about electricity storage in another post.

Happy Prepping!


Getting Prepared: A Primer for Beginners Series, part 7

Welcome back to part 7 of our little primer.  Today we are looking at all that stuff you found in the garage.  Did you find plenty of scraps?  How about all sorts of screws, nuts and bolts?  Nails galore?  Did you get them all sorted for purpose and size?  You didn’t throw away those scraps of wood did you?  I hope you sorted them into containers according to size and type of wood.  Even the tiniest pieces of wood can be used to repair some hole in the wall.

The hardwoods are great for furniture making, wood smoke for cooking, and boat building.  Softwoods are great for indoor applications because many are susceptible to bugs and rot.  Cedar, which is a softwood, is suitable for outdoor and indoor use since it has a natural chemical compound that repels bugs and mold while still being pleasing to humans.

If you throw some cedar chips in with your wood it will help protect it from bugs and help your wood supply last longer.  Oh, and throw some cedar chips in with the stash of fabric too.

Once you know what kinds of wood you have and how much you have, decide if you think you have enough to meet your needs should TSHTF.  That means do you have enough to board up your house in a hurricane?  How about to board up windows that broke in a hail storm?  If a tornado dropped a chunk of a tree on your roof, would you have enough lumber on hand to cover the hole until repairs could be made?  You can bet there will most likely be a list of people ahead of you if you plan to use a roofing company.

It’s time to evaluate the hardware you sorted into cans of all sizes, or boxes and tins.  Consider if you have enough nails to completely nail the amount of wood you have if you were to be placing nails every four inches apart.  Do you have the right screws if you have to replace flooring or decking?

Come back for part 8!

Happy prepping![subscribe2]

Getting Prepared: A Primer for Beginners Series, part 6

Power tools come in a variety of prices and purposes.  Some things to consider when choosing power tools are purpose, frequency of use and affordability.  We have quite a few Dewalt tools, but we also have some lower end power tools. If we know we are going to use it often enough to have significant wear and tear on the equipment, we buy tools by which ever manufacturer that produces the best tool for the job.  However, it is important to know that the lower end tools of any brand are not intended for everyday use.  They will last for years if your purpose is to use them occasionally and not under difficult circumstances.

Power tools are useless if you don’t know how to use them effectively or if you don’t use them at all.  Choose tools for projects you intend to make.  Do some research before you choose the tools.  Check the warranty.  If you choose cordless equipment, it is important to have enough batteries to finish the project.  Unfortunately, the batteries are almost as expensive as the equipment.  Since most of the brands are not interchangeable, that is another consideration when choosing tools.

Air tools are great.  We love them for big jobs.  But our finishing and framing guns are useless if we can’t run the air compressor.  That’s another thing to consider.

Usability during power outages is important.  In my location, if a natural disaster hits, it is likely to be well over a week or maybe a month or two before power is restored to this area.  We need tools that can be used under such conditions.  Unfortunately, they require some manpower.  The wife informed me she is woman power and I can do the manpower stuff.


Getting Started: A Primer Series for New Preppers, part 5

This portion of the series will focus on hand tools.  It is important to have hand tools that will work without electricity.  Once you have inventoried your supply and sorted them according to usage, you will realize they are mainly for one purpose or another.  Some people have tools mostly for auto mechanics and others have tools for plumbing or carpentry.  The point is that if you have tools for one area only, you need to look at which tools can be used in multiple disciplines and make a list of tools you will need for the kinds of repairs you are likely to make over a period of time if you couldn’t hire someone to do it for you.

We have a collection of mechanics, plumbing and electrical tools and equipment.  We are gathering more carpentry tools since I started doing more home repairs.  Be sure to include your spouse in this plan.  You might find that there is more help available than you think.  When I married my wife, she had more tools in her garage than I did.  Her carpentry collection consisted of regular things like hammers of various sorts.  She also had various hand and electric saws including a miter saw.  She had two chain saws.  She had more than one finish nail gun and wants a construction nail gun.  She had two air compressors.  She knew how to use every one of those tools.  She uses the tools to build things she wants or to repair things.

We have most of the power tools we want, but we would like a few more.  She wants a band saw and a table saw.  I want a lift and a welder.  But, we have put those choices aside for now.  Instead, we are going to use our tool budget to buy more human powered tools.  While they are mainly for when TSHTF, we will be using them now.  It really sucks when you need to do something and have wasted product and time because you don’t have the skills you need.  By making projects with the human powered tools, we will have the skill sets when we need them.  Of course, as long as we have power, we will use power tools to make life easier.

Once you have your tools organized and you know what you have, do a quick search online about basic tool requirements in the various disciplines.  Print the lists you need and check off the items you have. You are left with a list of things you still need.  If you are part of a group of preppers, circulate a copy of the list to each household and ask them do the same thing.  Once the lists are combined you will know what the group needs to acquire.


Getting Started: A Primer Series for New Preppers, part 4

Welcome back beginning Preppers. Today we’re going to talk about some of the things that were in your inventory.  For instance, your bank account needs to have enough money for three months. That is the amount of time most financial advisers say you need to be financially prepared should you lose a job or should there be an emergency.  In the case of a dear family member, this turned out to be important.  He became ill and over a period of time he became so ill that he was no longer able to work. He had saved money and was able to remain in his own home for an additional four months. He was able to get the extra month because he had not used any money unnecessarily for gas and entertainment. Unfortunately when he lost his job he also lost his health insurance, life insurance, and any other benefits being employed offers. At over 30 years old he discovered he would have to move in with his parents in order to survive.  Having been on his own for more than a decade, this was a bitter pill to swallow.

While most preppers don’t think about a debilitating illness as something to prepare for, it speaks to the fact that anything can and does happen.  We should be prepared for as many contingencies as possible, and illness is something that happens in every family.

We need to consider having cash reserves in a bank or elsewhere.  While I don’t condone burying money in the backyard, I know that some people do.  When you consider that all it takes to find your cash reserves in the backyard is to wait for you to leave and a metal detector, it seems silly to use that method of cash storage.  Some people think that it’s okay to bury paper money because it’s not hard metal like coins. This could be a mistake because today’s currency has metal and can be found by a metal detector if it’s not buried deep enough. I don’t know how deep you would have to bury it but who would want to take a chance.

Hiding cash is always a difficult problem.  Most of the money in the world will test positive for cocaine and K-9s have been known to hit on it.  Law enforcement officers know right where to look, no matter how sneaky you think you were.  I’ve seen them work.  They look in places I would have never thought.  I guess I am not sneaky enough.  Thugs and thieves won’t hesitate to dismantle your property plank by plank if they think there might be a substantial gain for them.

It seems the best protection against the loss of your cash reserves is a multi-faceted approach.  Keep information to yourself, that includes not sharing information with your teenage kids who might tell because they think they can trust their friends.  If you feel you have to tell your kids, only provide them enough information so they can access one emergency store of money.  If TSHTF you can fill them in as needed.  Have a number of secured locations for safes.  Divide the money in your safes according to your plan of how you will access your emergency stashes.  Do not carry large amounts of cash on your person or in your car.  People get mugged and cars are burgled the same as homes.



Getting Prepared: A Primer for Beginners Series, part 3

Today’s skills to discuss are mechanics, emergency medical and security.  If you are not mechanically inclined, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it.  It just means that it will take you longer than someone else and that you might fail a few times.  There isn’t anything about engines and motors for our applications that you can’t learn from a repair manual.  If you plan to re-purpose engines and motors for a preparedness purpose, then you need to be able to repair them should they break.  Repairmen won’t be around.  You need someone in your group to repair everything from vehicles and small engines to a bicycle.

Once you know who your repairman and plumbers are, that is only half of it. Your next step is to fully assess the tools and parts available to determine where you stand should you need to make repairs, but we will discuss how to go about it in a later post.

Emergency medical is one of the most important things to consider.  Anything can happen during an event.  People can be injured by the event itself.  They could be injured defending the home.  Children can be injured just doing what children do.  Even if you are not into preparing for a major event, the responsible person should have an emergency medical kit.  A basic kit only contains a few items and the list can be found on the Red Cross website.  But for a sustained amount of time, the list is longer and depends on your individual needs.  Don’t forget to include prescription medications.

There can’t be too much security if an event rocks your world.  Security is one thing you can’t make up on the fly.  You, and everyone in your group, must prepare in advance, refine your procedures and practice your methods.  Practice is important so that everything becomes automatic.  You don’t have to stop to think about what to do next.  You just do it.  You need to have that muscle memory fully developed before you need it.

How’s your notebook look now?  You should have a list of things to inventory, assess and evaluate in your home, garage and your perimeter.  By now, you should also have the information gathered from part one and part two of this series.  Tomorrow we will discuss the gathered information and what to do with it.  Tune in!