When the world changes, one of the most significant things that could happen is that your computer will no longer work and/or you will no longer have access to the internet. For many, many people (me included) this will be a huge lifestyle change. My life is stored on my computer, and over the past year there have probably been less than a handful of days when I haven’t accessed the internet. That includes vacations. On most days, I access the internet many, many times.
I suppose I should be more clear here — any and all digital devices may not work. I’m not just talking about your desktop or your laptop, I’m also talking about your tablet, your iPad and your smart phone. By the way, if none of those things work, it’s also likely that your car, your clocks, cable or satellite TV, your ebook reader, and all other electronic devices won’t work either.
So start your prepping efforts by committing to maintaining some manual records.
Start a notebook. Keep your most critical information in it. Yes, it’s important to learn the necessary skills and practice using them…but my guess is that you live in the same world as me — a busy, busy, busy one. I don’t have time to learn all the skills I want to learn, let alone practice them regularly. And things we don’t practice we don’t remember. Repetition is the key to learning. And when we’re under stress, we remember even less. So start a notebook.
Going Back to Pencil & Paper
OK, not really, but it will feel like it. Your goal is to have a notebook that reasonably mirrors your electronic records. The key word there is reasonably. We don’t want you killing tree every time you make a minor update to your digital records. But it does make sense to print out information periodically or when you make significant changes to them. So buy a notebook, fill it with useful information and commit to keeping it reasonably up to date. (Our guess is that once started, your notebook will blossom to a series of notebooks or even a whole drawer in your filing cabinet.)
What You’ll Need:
- A 3″ 3-ring binder or a series of smaller binders. I personally prefer multiple smaller binders.
- A set of dividers
- Clear plastic sheet protectors
- A little time to get started – an hour will give you a good start, two will get you further.
- Our Table of Contents can be downloaded here.
Contents of Your Notebook
Your notebook should include information about the preparations you’ve made as well as instructions that will help you live in a world that has drastically changed. For example, having a wonderful pantry of dehydrated food stored won’t be very helpful if you don’t know how to cook with it. You’ll want to include recipes for cooking with your dehydrated food. Imagine that the world of googling is gone. What information do you still want at your fingertips?
Everyone’s notebook will be different just as each of us has different books on our bookshelves. Here are the contents we recommend for getting started:
Personal Information – This section will hold personal identification that you don’t carry every day as well as financial and key contact information. Be sure to include:
- Things like birth certificates and passports here or include a note here about where you keep them. (We keep those things in what we call our “Grab-N-Go” (GNG) folder, so our notebook only reminds us where the GNG folder is.)
- A copy of the most significant documents for everyone in your family – driver’s license, social security card, other licenses that may be applicable (for example, a concealed carry license, a medical license, etc.)
- A list of all bank accounts and credit cards.
- Insurance information
- Key contact phone numbers and addresses (we include emails because you never know when you might get short-term access to the internet from a location or program that doesn’t have access to your contacts info.)
- In this area, you might want a separate sheet of paper for each person in your family. Include the following information:
- A list of the prescription drugs taken regularly.
- Dietary restrictions, if any.
- Nutrition supplements taken regularly.
- A copy of their living will and/or healthcare power of attorney (or a note about where it’s kept). This could help you avoid very difficult situations in an emergency.
- Basic first aid instructions or a reference where to find the information (such as the “Boy Scout Handbook” you have on your bookshelf”).
Food Preps – Be sure to include:
- A list of the food you have stored. You’ll want to maintain a record of the long-term storage food purchases you make. Most people will keep those records on their computer. Periodically or when you make major purchases, simply print out a new summary for your notebook.
- Recipes for using your long term storage food unless you’re familiar with cooking with the food you’ve stored. Even if you know how to cook with your food without recipes, having them in the notebook could be a big help because in a disaster you may not be available to do the cooking. You may be injured or stuck in some other location. Do those left at home a favor by having recipes that will help them use the food you’ve stored.
- Gardening/farming helps. We’ve started gardening, but we don’t yet know when is the best time to plant each item in our garden or how long we can expect before harvesting. If you’ve stored heritage seeds, you can include their location.
Prepper How To’s – There are so many things you’ll want to know how to do if the world ceases to exist as it is today. For example, if we lose gas and/or electricity for an extended period of time, I’m going to want to know how to build a rocket stove since I haven’t made one yet. I also want to build a solar oven but haven’t done it yet. Those instructions go in the How To’s section. You might also want to include recipes for things you typically buy but may need to make in a disaster (such as soap, candles, etc.). This section could get really blown out and may become several notebooks of their own, but start with just one section in your first notebook.
Resources – This section answers the question “What people or organizations or places might provide me with what I can’t provide myself during an emergency?” Your needs might be for locally grown food, water, people willing to barter, medical attention, or any of a number of other things. These may be people and organizations you can easily name off the top of your head today. In an emergency you may be rattled. The notebook becomes your brain’s assistant. Here’s the lists we suggest you start with:
- List of people with skills you may need in an emergency. Include contact information.
- List of key websites you can access for information or help. If you have internet access you don’t want to waste precious time, power or accessibility doing google searches for that site you always visited for info.
- List of key local and national organizations and contact information.
- List of people with whom you can barter for needed supplies or services.
- List of local resources such as natural springs or farms.
Just Get It Started!
Don’t wait until you have everything you need for your notebook, just get it started. Once it’s started, you can add to it, delete from it, etc. For example, in the recipes section, just put the first 5 recipes you find into your notebook. Don’t wait until you’ve evaluated them or you may never get them into your notebook. I’ve spent too long saying “Well, I don’t want to put the recipe in my notebook until I’ve tried it.” That’s foolish thinking. Just put it in. When you get around to trying it, you can always change or delete it. But if a disaster occurs before then, you’ll have something in your notebook!
Download our Prepper Notebook Table of Contents here. It will help you get started. We’ve provided it as both a PDF and a customizable Word file.
This is not something you create and then put in a drawer. It is a living, breathing document. Update it often.