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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Medicines, Vitamins & SupplementsOne of the easiest ways to begin to develop a prepper pantry is by buying in multiples. Buying a can of soup this week? Buy two and put one in your prepper pantry. If soup is on sale, buy three or four and store away the extras. Doing this a little bit each week builds up and you’ll have more in your pantry each week. Even before Phil and I got serious about prepping, we probably had a month or more’s worth of food in our pantry. I’ll blog more extensively about this another time, but the practice applies not only to food items. It applies to everything your family uses regularly that has a shelf-life of six months or more. That includes medicines, vitamins, and other health supplements.

These items don’t have nearly the long shelf-life that many food products have, but they can still be purchased in advance, giving you a supply you can use should a catastrophic event occur. While using the supply, you have a little breathing room to determine how to obtain more. The stress of the event isn’t compounded by wondering how you will obtain needed medicines or by suddenly not having vitamins and other supplements you regularly take.

Most medications have an expiration date ranging from twelve to sixty months from when it is manufactured. Studies have shown that drugs are safe well beyond their advertised shelf-life. Check out this article about studies done by the US military or this one if you like to read more scientific literature. Further, while expired medicines may lose their effectiveness, “there is no evidence that it is unsafe to take the medication in most cases.” (1)

That means we can safely stockpile maintenance medicines for a while longer than we’re accustomed to. (Maintenance medicines are those you take regularly.) How does that happen? Simply refill your medications a few weeks before you run out of your current prescription. Over time, you’ll develop extra bottles of the prescriptions. As each new prescription comes in, be sure to put a date or a number on it so that you know what order to use them in. Having done this over the past year, we have a three to six month supply of our maintenance medications.

For non-prescription vitamins and supplements, follow the buying in multiples approach. When you purchase your next supply, buy double. What prompted me to write this blog now is that Puritan’s Pride is having their best sale now. They are having a buy-one-get-two-free sale through August 27, 2013. That’s a great way to stockpile vitamins. We purchase most of our vitamins and supplements from them. This is the time of year we stockpile about a year’s worth of vitamins and supplements.

Please note that this is our personal practice and advice. We’re not doctors and you should check with your doctor or pharmacy for medical advice. We give advice about preparing for the unexpected and believe that having medicines that will carry you through several months of that unexpected event is wise.

Puritan's Pride Vitamins - Buy 1 Get 2 Free! Offer Valid: 4.24.13 - 8.27.13

Footnote: (1) http://www.drugs.com/article/drug-expiration-dates.html

Women, if you have any interest in self defense (and you should), buy Personal Defense for Women by Gila Hayes. It is informative, instructional and encouraging. And it may save your life someday. No, the book won’t save your life, but it may begin or enhance a journey that one day saves your life.

I expected the entire book to be about handguns. I was wrong. Hayes uses the first 20% of the book helping to develop your survival mindset. We have grown up in a culture that doesn’t emphasize surviving, so it is not our first response. In life and death situations, first responses often determine the outcome. Hayes presents very logical and reasoned information that will begin to create a mindset that makes taking whatever action is necessary to survive. As Hayes puts it, “The will to fight has been trained out of socialized humans. If surprised by an assailant, do not expect some defensive instinct to surface automatically. If you have not confronted issues about your right to defend yourself, questions of legality and morality may be foremost in your mind, interfering with the concentration that should be directing your defense.” (page 40)

The author then turns to prevention and non-lethal means of self-defense. She covers safety and crime prevention in the home, on campus and at work. Her practical suggestions made me realize areas where I should make simple, inexpensive changes to reduce the likelihood of ever needing to use my self-defense skills – and that’s the goal of everyone who develops those skills. The information she provides on non-lethal methods of self-defense were largely new information for me. She identified several tools that can stun or stop an attacker giving you time to run to a safe location. (Tools that go well beyond the commonly given advice of carrying your keys in your hand and using them to jab at the eyes of your attacker.)

The final half of the book is dedicated to self defense with handguns. I began learning about and training with handguns about a year ago, so I am still a relative newbie. I found her review of the basics to be an outstanding refresher. I especially appreciated the discussion of the mechanics and physiology of recoil. While I have been taught about stance and how to hold the gun properly, I haven’t fully adopted what I was taught because it feels unnatural and quite frankly I was hitting my target better from a different stance and with a different grip. Hayes explained why the stance and grip I’ve been taught is important. It’s an important issue for women. Proper stance and grip minimize the recoil experienced by the shooter. That means my bones and joints are less stressed when I shoot and it means that I can reacquire my target faster. The first can save my body in the short run; the latter can save it should I ever need to shoot in self-defense. Now I’m motivated to let my accuracy suffer in the short-term while I practice a stance and grip that feels more unnatural but is healthier and safer.

The special attention she gives to women’s issues helped me understand things from a women’s perspective. For example, I have been struggling with the issue of concealed carry. Having only men around me to offer advice, I’ve developed this response to most of their solutions: “Men and guns have angles; women have curves. Therein lie my concealment issues.” In other words, all their advice worked well for men but not so well for women. Hayes offers practical advice based on her experience and the experience of her female friends.

As I said in the first paragraph, I recommend Personal Defense for Women by Gila Hayes. Women, buy it for yourself. Men, buy it for the significant women in your life – your girlfriend, mother, wife or daughters.  It’s about more than hand guns – it’s about not becoming a victim.

I got a little long-winded with the previous two installments in this series on the Genesis Preppers. I don’t have a lot to say about this one, so it will be short, sweet, and to the point.

In Genesis chapter 13, Abraham and Lot have acquired so much livestock that their shepherds are continually quarreling with each other over pasture land. Lot decides to separate from Abraham and choose the lush and abundantly watered region near Sodom to be his new home.

In chapter 14, King Chedorlaomer and four other kings plot a raid on Sodom, Gomorrah, and two other towns. They sweep in and take Lot and a bunch of other folks captive. One of the survivors of the battle dashed out to Abraham and told him that his nephew Lot had been taken captive.

Here comes the prepper part. Genesis 14:14-15 —When Abram heard that his relative had been taken prisoner, he assembled his 318 trained men, born in his household, and they went in pursuit as far as Dan.  And he and his servants deployed against them by night, attacked them, and pursued them as far as Hobah to the north of Damascus.”

Did you catch that? Abram had 318 trained men in his household. The Hebrew word that is translated as “trained” here also means “practiced.” In the following verse we see that these servants deployed against the forces of these five kings and defeated them.

Father Abraham didn’t go looking for a fight, but he was well prepared if one ever came to him. 318 men make quite a force to equip, train, and run drills with, but that is exactly what this passage implies.

Preparing for tough times includes preparing to defend yourself against those who would attack you or your loved ones. Chedolaomer and company were guilty of kidnapping and robbery. Abraham responded with deadly force, a force that was equipped and practiced in the art of warfare.

Did God disapprove of Abraham’s actions? Apparently not, because verses 18-20 go on to tell us: “Then Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine; he was a priest to God Most High. He blessed him and said: Abram is blessed by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and give praise to God Most High who has handed over your enemies to you.”

The moral of the story is that self-defense is a vital part of preparedness. For some of you, it’s an area that you gravitate toward first in your preparedness plan, but for others there is a deeply ingrained Christian pacifist mindset that has to be dealt with. I understand. I used to be a Quaker. Now I’m a former Quaker who owns and knows how to use a handgun, a carbine, and a shotgun. I don’t own them to take what’s yours, but to protect what’s mine.

Just like Father Abraham.

Getting started with prepping can be overwhelming. Once the need to prep took root within my mind, I started to realize just how poorly prepared I was. Questions popped up like mad:

  • What kind of calamity am I prepping for?
  • What do I need?
  • How much do I need?
  • What do I need to buy first?

It’s enough to drive you (and everyone around you) totally nuts. So let’s keep calm, take a deep breath, and take a couple of baby steps toward preparedness.

Laying the Foundation

Some people try to prep themselves to survive global thermonuclear war before they’re even ready to make it through something as simple as a short-term power outage. The most common emergency situations are relatively minor ones, so we’re going to start small.

One of the most typical household emergencies is a power outage. Your electricity could go off for a couple of days because of a storm or a transformer malfunctioning or any of a number of reasons. A short-term power outage isn’t really a big deal, but if you’re not prepared for it, it can cause a significant disruption in your life.

I can deal with sitting in the dark with no TV, but when the electricity is off, my furnace doesn’t work. Until I save five grand to buy that wood-burning stove I’ve got my eye on, I’m going to need to resort to more basic means of staying warm. Got an electric stove? You’re screwed there, too. Electric stoves and microwave ovens are no good in a power outage, so you’ll need a way of heating water and cooking food. And because people are much more likely to hurt themselves in the dark, you’ll need some first aid supplies, too. You get the idea.

The 72-Hour Emergency Kit

Sandy recently wrote about the need for a variety of “Grab-and-Go” bags to help you bug-out in a jiffy with the assurance that you have everything that you’ll need. One such grab-and-go bag is the 72-hour emergency kit. This is an essential, whether you are bugging-out or staying put. You should have a 72-hour emergency kit for every person in your household. They should be stored in a safe and accessible location (like all of your grab-and-go bags), and you should know how to use every item in the kit — before you need to use it. Having all of these products together in one place in kit form prevents you from scrambling all over the house in the dark, assembling bits and pieces after the emergency has already occurred.

Click here to go see an assortment of kits sold by Emergency Essentials (one of my favorite prepper resource vendors).

At the time of this writing, Emergency Essentials sells four different grades of 72-hour emergency kits. The most basic is just called an emergency kit, but the better-equipped models have brand names like Trekker™, ReadyWise™, and Comp™. The one that I think gives the most bang for the buck is the ReadyWise™. Let’s take a look at some of the things the ReadyWise comes with.

First, you’ll find food in the form of a few MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) and a high-calorie food bar. You can eat MREs as-is, but keeping up your morale is important in an emergency, so they also provide MRE heaters and some hard candy. (Apparently, eating cold MREs makes some people cranky.) Next comes water. Besides providing packages of water, Emergency Essentials includes a water bottle and some water purification tablets. Getting cold? To help you stay warm, the kit comes with a wool blanket, hand and body warmers, a poncho, an emergency sleeping bag, and a tube tent. For lighting, they give you a hand-crank powered flashlight that can also recharge your cell phone, a light stick, and a 100-hour candle. To let you know what’s going on in the world, they include a battery-operated radio (and yes, batteries ARE included, but you need to make sure to keep fresh ones in stock just in case). There’s also an assortment of first aid and personal hygiene supplies. All of this comes bundled in a lightweight backpack for easy portability in case you have to bug out and drag it all with you.

Can You Top This?

I think that’s a pretty darned good 72-hour emergency kit at a very reasonable price. Could you do better buying separate components on your own? That depends on what you mean by “better.”

I’m sure that you could find a better radio (maybe one that is powered from both a hand crank and a solar cell, instead of batteries). And a “real” sleeping bag would be better than the emergency one that they put in this kit — but that one item could be as big and heavy as this entire kit, so there are trade-offs to trading up. I’m dead certain that the multifunction tool included in the kit isn’t the best one on the market, but buying a high-end multifunction tool will cost you more than this entire kit. Do you really need a really good multifunction tool? Yes, in the long run I believe that you do. But do you really need a really good multifunction tool for a 72-hour emergency kit? Nope. That’s overkill. Sometimes “good enough” is good enough.

Looking at ways to improve upon Emergency Essentials’ ReadyWise emergency kit is a good lesson in prepper priorities. You could buy this affordable, quick-and-dirty kit that is very appropriate for the purpose it was created for. Or you could assemble your own kit of higher quality components. Or you could buy this kit as a starting point and supplement it with a couple of better-quality pieces here and there. The choice is yours. But I urge you to do something. Don’t be caught walking around with a head full of stuff that you know that you need to do, but none of it actually accomplished. A 72-hour emergency kit is one of the basic Grab-and-Go bags that every household needs, and it’s a quick and easy baby step toward greater preparedness for any situation.

Yes, it’s possible to put together a better emergency kit than this one, but you’ll be doing a lot of shopping and you’ll spend more money. If you’re the kind of person who likes one-stop shopping, this is kit from Emergency Essentials is a good solution for you, and a good starting point for your preps.

A relatively easy first step in prepping is to create what we call Grab-N-Go (GNG) bags.

Here’s a question for you: How quickly could you evacuate if you got the order to do so?

Sure, you could run out of your house, maybe grabbing your wallet or purse on the way out, and be out of there in 2 or 3 minutes. But would you have everything you needed when you got to wherever you are going? With a little preparation, you can be out of the house just as quickly with items that will make your life easier when you get to your destination.

The recent explosion in West, Texas is a perfect example of an unexpected need for GNG bags. Your GNG bags will be comprised of a number of bags in which you have items you want to take with you in an emergency. When given an evacuation order, you simply grab the appropriate GNG bags and head out the door.

Begin by asking yourself “If I were told to evacuate immediately, what would I want to take with me?” Think through various scenarios and you’ll begin to identify more than first comes to mind.

We found that as we did that exercise, there were “groupings” of items that we opted to pack in separate GNG bags, which prompted the next question: “How would I want to carry these things?” We ended up creating a “master” GNG Folder (more on that below) and a number of other GNG bags.

Contents of a GNG Folder
Our GNG Folder holds the cash we think we might need as well as paperwork. Here are things you might want to put in your GNG Folder. Include in your folder the things appropriate to your life.

  • Cash – as much as you are comfortable taking (and probably a little more) in various denominations. Include lots of small bills. If you end up staying at a luxury hotel and have to pay for it in five’s, that’s OK. Better than needing $3 worth of something and having to pay $50 for it. We have our cash in an envelope in our GNG Folder
  • Passports
  • Birth Certificates
  • Marriage License
  • Military DD214 (Certificate of Discharge)
  • VA Certificate of Eligibility
  • Social Security Card
  • Important phone numbers – family members, close friends, etc. Remember, your electronics may not work after a short period of time.
  • Insurance information – account/policy numbers, contact info
  • Maps of your area and the area(s) you anticipate you might be headed – Again, your GPS may not be working.
  • Instruction sheet – This page lists the various GNG bags we have and where they’re kept, a brief summary of what’s in each, and where each is kept! The purpose for this is to keep me from having to think and move quickly at the same time. I want to avoid thinking in an emergency.

Overview of Other Potential GNG Bags
Our approach to GNG bags allows us to grab whatever bags we think might be needed should we have to evacuate in a hurry. In addition to the GNG folder, you might want to create the following GNG bags:

  • Personal safety bag of firearms and ammunition
  • Food and water bags
  • Electronics bags
  • Survival gear bag
  • First aid kit
  • Clothing and personal care items
  • Tool kit

The temptation is to take everything including the kitchen sink. Resist it! Each bag should be easily grabbed and thrown in the car – that means nothing heavy or awkward. You don’t want to take as many clothes as you’d take for a week’s vacation, for example. Notice that there are no keepsakes on the list. Think back to those old movies of people crossing the frontier. They started in wagons weighed down with precious belongings. Most of those belongings had been dropped along the trail to lighten the load. Lighten your load before you leave.

It’s probably not practical or safe to keep all these bags in the same place, but keep them in logical places, and don’t move them! And don’t forget to note the location of each bag on your instruction sheet. Remember, you want to make it as easy as possible to get out of the house as fast as possible.

Double Duty
Creating your GNG bags now will serve you well in life, even if you never get the evacuation call. For example, our master GNG folder now holds all my important papers in one place. Need to grab my passports for a trip? Easy-peasy. Need my birth certificate? Easy-peasy. I didn’t used to be so organized with these things. I love this new organization. But it goes further than that. Get a phone call in the middle of the night with news that my mom has been hospitalized? I have the assurance that I always have some cash on hand (just go to my GNG folder) and I have a small suitcase of clothes packed. It means I leave the house prepared to spend a day or two away from home (or three or four if needed). (Don’t forget to replace the cash and repack your clothes after your emergency use.)

And the super-extra double duty that your GNG bags perform – giving you peace of mind. POM is a wonderful thing and just spending a little time and little or no money to get it is even more wonderful. Thank You, Lord!

Take Action! Build Your Bags Now!
Creating your Grab-N-Go bags is pretty easy. It doesn’t take long and doesn’t cost a lot of money (unless you want it to, of course). So here’s your assignment for today:

  1. Take 15 minutes to make a list of the GNG bags you think you need.
  2. List them in order of priority for you. I recommend putting your GNG folder at the top of the list because it’s easy and it holds that instructions list identifying your other GNG bags.
  3. Decide when you’re going to work on creating your #1 priority GNG bag/folder. Put it in your calendar!

When you reach that appointment time in your calendar, spend the first few minutes making a list of what’s going to be in your #1 priority GNG bag/folder. Then begin assembling it. When you finish, make an appointment in your calendar to work on your next priority GNG bag.

Oh – and enjoy the peace of mind!