I recently read The Ultimate Suburban Survivalist Guide which deals with a variety of subjects for When The Shit Hits The Fan (WTSHTF). Things like natural disasters (floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards) and a financial collapse of our society were the primary items, but refers to other unknown things as well I can only presume include global warming melting the icecaps, global cooling and a new ice age, zombie Apocalypse, contagion, terrorists or mass illness. As a fan of The Walking Dead, The Stand (by Stephen King, where illness kills 99.4% of the population), and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (another awesome book, love the spartan writing style. The movie was ok, but the book was great), I am, like many, fascinated by post-apocalyptical scenarios.
To this point, we haven’t done a whole lot to prepare for survival in any of these situations. The book I mentioned has a lot of information, including what to do with investments/money to be “safe”, grub and gear to have for survival, transportation and so forth. It’s maybe a little “out there” but I thought there were a number of really good ideas and points I took away from it, which I’ll list below, and my plan to implement them.
- Martin Weiss, the author of The Ultimate Suburban Survivalist Guide made it pretty clear that clean drinking water was perhaps the critical item for survival, short and long term. He recommended 2 gallons per person per day. That seems like a lot, but think about it: it’s not just drinking but cooking and cleaning take up a lot as well. So for a family of four, for a three day blizzard, hurricane or power outage, you would need 24 gallons of water. I’m guessing few of us have this sort of water stockpiled in our basement or house. Sure you may have a case or two of bottled water, but that will rapidly run out. So what can we do? If it’s like the book The Road, where it’s a single cataclysmic occurrence, filling a bathtub may suffice, but for the regular emergency, probably not practical. Five gallon jugs are an option, but water does go “bad” according to the author after 6 months or so, and refilling and rotating this stock in my busy schedule is the last thing I want to do. He recommended a water filtration system: either A more expensive one like British Berkefeld (over $200) or a more budget, basic one like Katadyn Base Camp Water Filter ($65). Since the cheap one is one we might actually use camping, I’ll be procuring that at some point in the near future.
- Food. We eat a lot of food in our house and we’d tear through our pantry pretty fast. Add to the fact that our stocked freezer of meat won’t really be worth a damn when the power goes out and it begins to spoil. I’m planning to start a food stockpile in plastic tubs to get us through at least a few weeks if need be. Canned goods only last 2-5 years, so we’ll have to rotate through, but I think this is probably the most cost effective way. I plan to start purchasing on large can of something every time I go to Costco, that something would be an actual item we’d eat for lunches or snack or what have you. I’m thinking large cans of peaches, canned tuna and the like. Secondarily to this, since I don’t want to worry about food going bad, I’m planning to start purchasing freeze dried food that would last 10-25 years. The website Mountain House has a nice variety of food that will last a looong time. I’m hoping to start buying a 10 pound can of freeze dried food every month or so to add to our inventory over time and keep the costs reasonable to our family budget. Finally, we already have a summer garden, so we do get supplementary food there. Long term, we’d need to add fishing (we have poles) and hunting (never hunted before). Keep in mind that if power goes out, the grocery stores may not be open since they can’t process transactions and it may get hairy at those locations with looting and desperate people. Also, be sure to try and store your food in dark containers in cool place. Putting into a garage that heats up in the summer, freezes in the winter will make food go bad faster.
- Heat or cooking fuel source. We have a camp stove or two, as well as a large grill. However, that won’t do so well if we don’t have fuel. In preparation to our camp needs, I hope to buy some of the smaller propane canisters anyway and may get a few more as backup. Also, besides the propane can on the grill, I’d like at least one backup. This wouldn’t last for real long, but we’ve gone whole summers with lots of grilling on a single tank, so that is an option. By the time we’d need to look elsewhere, I’d imagine we’d be cooking over a wood fire, which we’ve done a lot of with camping we’ve done.
- Sanitary needs. This includes having a place to go to the bathroom and general needs like toilet paper, diapers, feminine products, etc. Having a backup of these products, or a plan (cloth diapers made from rags or whatever) in an emergency situation is a good idea. Eventually, when the TP runs out, you may be left wiping your ass with rags and washing them, but hopefully it will never get to it. As far as where to poop and pee, an $11 seat that fits over a five gallon pail will likely work fine. Mixing it with sawdust, grass clipping, moss or leaves and having a tight fitting lid should help with the odors a little, and be sure to dig a hole and bury your waste because if you eat meat, you shouldn’t use it for garden compost.
- Cash or barter resources. Depending on how long you’re around after WTSHTF, you may need varying resources. If power is out, ATMs and banks won’t be allowing withdrawals and stores won’t be taking credit cards. Have at least some cash on hand in an emergency. I’ve been thinking this is a good idea anyway, and plan to take $500 out of savings and putting it into our lock-box for an emergency situation. Now I don’t want so much on hand that I’d be wiped out if my house was broken into and my lock box stolen, but enough to get me by in a pinch. If things were unstable, I’d likely take more out, but having a little on hand at any time provides some peace of mind. If WTSHTF goes for extended period, cash will have no value and you’d better have other things for barter. You’ve seen The Book of Eli and how things have value because they simply get used up. Having a basic skill or trade is also useful. What hobbies do you have of value that are fun today?
In my world, WTSHTF I’d probably try and hunker down in my home if I could. We have a lot of camping supplies, but are still woefully unprepared for any extended living situation. I hope to slowly and patiently start to address that situation, as I do have concern with big picture situation of our country. Maybe a little tin-foil-hatty, but I’d rather be prepared than not.
Also, you’ll notice I didn’t have a gun on the list. While I want to purchase a handgun, Holly right now won’t let me. I agree to some degree, but would like to have that added protection if needed. However, my father, brother, and Holly’s dad and brothers both live within 20 miles of us and all have mini-stockpiles of various firearms. If things were looking rough, I’d be able to procure a gun and ammunition in short order. If this wasn’t an option, I’d certainly press my own firearm a little harder in my home, but as it sits now we’d probably be ok on that front.
To summarize, I think if you’ve got some basic camping supplies (tent, sleeping bag, cook stove, a jug or two for water), it wouldn’t take a whole lot (say around $100 initial investment for water filter system, bucket toilet seat and an extra propane tank) to start a survival kit. Slowly start to add food and other supplies to it, take out some savings in cash and you’d likely be able to ride out a short term situation. A long term zombie apocalypse: all bets are off. If that’s the case, remember the some of rules from the movie Zombieland:
- Cardio (outrun a zombie, be in shape)
- The double tap (two holes in the head)
- Travel light
- When in doubt, know your way out (don’t get trapped)
- Don’t be a hero