Now that it is mid-February, spring is not that far away. The first official day of spring is Sunday, March 20th. It is time to start thinking about the balcony garden, and ways to get started inexpensively.
Although it is easier to grow plants from the nursery, I’d like to be able to grow plants from seed. Many experienced gardeners say you don’t have to pay high prices for seeds, you can get them for free, or very inexpensively.
Here are some ways:
Save seeds from plants you grow yourself. Now if you are new to gardening, you won’t have seeds from previous seasons so keep reading. Just remember to save some for next year once you have a garden.
Seed exchanges. I listen a podcast, The Self Sufficient Homestead, run by Johnny Max and the Queen. Their website is sshomestead.com. They started a seed exchange website, where participants can trade heirloom seeds, which are non-hybrid, non genetically altered seeds that can propagate themselves for generations. Not sure if they still run the site, but it is still up: www.heirloomseedswap.com. Since I am just starting out and have no seeds to swap, I checked the site for seeds for sale and found some of the gardeners sell seeds as well. I had ordered Stevia seeds and received them within a couple of weeks.
Facebook groups I found a seed swap group in Facebook, called Great American Seedswap https://www.facebook.com/groups/gassp/
Ask a friendly gardener Avid gardeners such as friends or neighbors, even the doctor or dentist, are happy to share seeds from their homegrown plants. If it comes up in conversation, don’t be afraid to ask.
Seed forums You can also get free seeds from seed forums such as Gardenweb. See http://forums.gardenweb.com/discussions/3677411/does-anyone-have-any-unwanted-seeds for a discussion on how to go about it.
If you prefer the quick way to obtain organic seeds, check out Amazon-they have a pretty good selection as well. Now is a great time to get started, before the growing season is upon us.
When I first heard about Lifestack Storage Containers I was immediately interested on how they would work. Living in an apartment presents challenges for water and food storage due to limited space and I am always looking for solutions.
What are Lifestack Storage Containers?
They are watertight, stackable 1 gallon containers that store food and water. The containers are BPA free, and can be filled with either water or storable bulk items such as sugar, salt etc.
The plastic is lightweight but durable. The containers are opaque and therefore protects from light.
I received four storage containers for review. I filled all of them with water from the tap. I sealed each of them tightly.
These containers can be very handy and useful for storing water. I placed them vertically in various tight spots, such as next to the refrigerator, between furniture etc. They fit well and stacked on each other, maximizing the space.
I also tried storing them horizontally under the bed. I closed the lid tightly. To make sure I can clearly spot any leaks, I placed a piece of paper and a towel underneath. After a few hours, I noticed a few water leaks on the paper. I did check with my contact at lifestackstorage.com and he indicated “upon further testing and use I discovered that if I tightened the lids as tightly as possible (even when they feel they’re on tightly, they can still be tightened down even more), the leakage stopped.”
I have found in other tests that most water containers leak when stored on their side, and therefore I always recommend storing water in an upright position.
If you were storing solid items such as oats, salt or sugar, then there would be no issues of leakage if you were to store them horizontally. However I have not personally tested them for long term storage of bulk items, but I intend to give you an update when I do.
Other than that, I found that Lifestack Storage Containers are ideal for storing in tight spaces. They are sturdy and stack well. Store water or other solid bulk items in the Lifestack Storage containers and keep them upright in a cool, dark place to protect the contents. The containers connect together and are very thin, allowing you to store several containers in a tight space. I think Lifestack Storage Containers are a great storage option for anyone who lives in a small space such as apartments, condos, tiny homes or RVs.
Now that 2015 on the wane, it’s a good time to evaluate how we did as we look forward to 2016.
Evaluate how much supplies you have stored up. How much water and food have you managed to store so far? For us, due to space issues, we have about a couple week’s worth of water, and about 10 weeks worth of food, including the refrigerator and pantry. We have a ways to go in terms of water, but we added some water storage containers and some back up water filters.
How much equipment do you have? We checked our supply of batteries, matches, flashlights, camping stove and lanterns as well as solar chargers in case the power gets interrupted.
De-clutter and make more space for your supplies. We are constantly trying to find space for survival supplies, so we have to keep re-evaluating our space. The end of the year is a good time to clean up. You will also want to check if any pests are around your storage areas. We are pretty vigilant about keeping pests out but notice they try to come in from the outside. In apartment buildings, whenever someone moves in or out we notice a few extra pests trying to come in.
The above is not a complete list, but should hopefully get you thinking about your own preparedness and survival activities. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall short of your own expectations; instead, give yourself a pat on the back on how much you have accomplished! Likely, you are already ahead of 70% of the population.
Welcome to another Monday Musings, where we share interesting links about all things preparedness, as well as updates on the blog.
First the blog updates…
Finding ways to save money on shipping Christmas gifts Since Christmas is less that two weeks away, I’ve been busy getting the gifts together. I mentioned making a few gifts, but we do have a couple of gifts that were store bought, such as children’s toys.
Shipping cost are often left out when considering the gift budget. As I have found out, shipping things yourself can run up a large bill if you are not careful.
Here are a few tips to save money on shipping:
As I learned, it is much cheaper to buy the item online and have the seller ship it directly to the recipient. If you want it to be more personalized, have it gift wrapped for a few extra dollars, and add a nicely worded greeting.
To save even more dollars, and have fast shipping, sign up for Amazon Prime. You get free two-day shipping, along with entertainment such as video and music streaming. I mostly like it for the free shipping.
Save boxes and bubble wrap throughout the year, so you can pack things yourself. The pack and ship service at the UPS store is convenient, for you do get charged extra for the packing service. Some people use popcorn instead of packing peanuts, but since I have not tried it myself, I don’t know how well it works. You can also use shredded paper, but paper is heavier than packing materials such as plastic or Styrofoam.
If you are sending gifts to various members of the same family, and you know they will be getting together at Christmas, pack all the gifts in one box and send it to one location, preferably the one that is the gathering place. One year, I sent all the gifts to my parent’s house, since everyone was getting together anyway. Sending one box instead of many saves you money.
Send gifts as early as possible. Sending gifts too close to Christmas will cost you a lot in overnight shipping fees.
Consider all your options. The US Postal Service has reasonable rates for Standard, First Class and Priority Mail. For Priority Mail you even get the boxes for free. Ground shipping via Fed Ex or UPS are the next best options. However, the closer you get to Christmas, the less options you have. Also, if you add services such as signature receipt, insurance etc. you start adding to the cost.
Plan your gift items carefully. Odd shaped and large items cost more to ship.
Rotating our preps We’re continuing to rotate our supplies, from canned foods to rice, sugar and other bulk items. This also means replenishing what we used up. Costco makes it convenient to pick up an item or two.
I am happy to report the herbs are growing, the betta fish and the snails are alive! The mints have sprouted several new shoots from the branches and even the roots. We named the betta fish “Omi” and he seems really active and healthy. The snails make several trips around the tank seemingly on a daily basis. Some days they stay very still and I worry that one or two have died, but the next day I find them in various parts of the tank.
As you can see from the photo above, the water got more murky after three weeks, but it was easy enough to replace.
First, unplugged the unit. I took the plant grow bed off. Then, I scooped Omi the fish back into the container I bought him in, plucked the snails and dropped them in the same container with the fish an some of the water. I took off the pump and tube and rinsed both under the faucet. They felt l a little slimy, but the scrubbed the slime off with a sponge. I dumped out the water and rinsed the rocks with fresh water. The water did not smell bad at all, unlike some other aquariums I’ve cleaned. I re-installed the pump. I added water with a capful of D-Klor (De-chlorinizing solution) which originally came with the kit. I released Omi back into the water and placed the snails near the corners. They reattached themselves to the walls of the tank almost immediately. Lastly I placed the plant grow bed back on, and plugged the unit back up.
It took me less than 30 minutes to finish up. So far so good!
Now I’m thinking about the next project to try out- I might try making hard cider, soap making etc. Any suggestions of projects you’d like to see done in an apartment?
“Not sure if this is considered an herbal remedy but, I use coconut oil on EVERYTHING! For instance, my son was bit on his calf by a large dog (not real bad but it did break the skin). We were told to put Triple Antibiotic Ointment on the bite but it continued to get worse. So his Dr. wrote him a prescription for some really strong antibiotic ointment. Well, the infection didn’t get any better so I mixed the prescription strength ointment with coconut oil. Within 2 days the infection was completely GONE and the wound started to heal incredibly fast! I don’t think there will be any permanent scarring!”
Coconut oil is indeed a great natural remedy. I use it for so many things, I will have to write post about coconut oil uses one of these days!
Once again, thanks to everyone who entered our giveaway- planning the next one soon.
I recently received a reader question about whether it is advisable to use a generator while living in a high rise. If you’ve been visiting the blog a while, you may recall I tested a gas powered generator a couple of years ago. The reader was considering options for backup power in case of an extended power outage.
At the time I wrote the generator review, I was living in a ground floor unit apartment. It was family owned and the lease did not have a lot of restrictions. I have moved to a different apartment since then. If you live in a high rise, you must consider the following:
The first place to check is your lease. Most leases used by management companies do not allow the use of generators.
You must also consider the weight. Many generators, depending on the model, may weigh 100 lbs or more, and would be too unwieldy to carry up a flight or stairs, or even an elevator.
Fuel generators also emit carbon monoxide fumes, just like any internal combustion engine, particularly within a small space. If you run a fuel generator in an upper floor, the resulting fumes can seep down to the lower floors. These fumes can cause injury or death. A fuel generator must only be used in a well ventilated area, and not inside your home, shed or garage due to said fumes. In my previous post, we tested the generator outdoors in a covered patio.
Another risk is possible electrocution or shock. You cannot really run it in an apartment balcony because rain or snow may puddle around it.
There is also a high risk of fire when storing gasoline. Most leases prohibit storing gasoline on the premises, due to the risk of fire spreading rapidly among closely packed units.
Most generators make a lot of noise, which causes a disturbance among close living quarters.
Because of the above reasons, a fuel generator is not advisable for anyone who lives in a high rise.
What can you use instead?
When considering backup sources of power, wherever you may live, safety is of utmost concern.
From time to time, helpful readers send me their best tips. I thought I would share a variety to them so everyone can benefit.
General Prepping Tips
Firestarter Source: My wife and I live in a tiny apartment with no washer/dryer. As such, we have to use the wash station in the complex. Something that I’ve done for a while now is when I open up the dryers, I clean out the lint trap (people rarely do this when that remove their clothes.) I have collected a gallon-sized bag of lint that I keep as a really good source for fire starters for when I go camping. One small spark is all it takes to light, and it gets a fire going quickly. Maybe this little apartment living specific tip would help others. -Joseph P.
Minimum Preps: I think if you live in an apartment with limited space and resources, there are two things that would be important. One, have at least one week of food, water and supplies (candles, batteries, toiletries, first aid, extra blankets, etc.) on hand, per person. You should have a source of boiling water such as a buddy burner, or BBQ, as you will need water for sanitation and heating or preparing food. You will need sanitation in case you don’t have access to running water (a 5 gallon bucket with liner). Keep these items separate and accessible, such as in a large tote. Also, one should have a bug out bag for 3 days with a change of clothes and any medication needed. I think that if you need to leave immediately or stay in place, one should have both options available and ready at a moments notice. I of course could go into much more detail about both of these, but I think you get the idea.
The other thought I have is that one should utilize all available space creatively to store food. Stock up on sales and cover that table in the corner with a floor length table cloth and stack up food or toilet paper underneath. No one will know you have cans of food under there. I have found space in my closets between towels and sheets that are great for stashing bars of soap, deodorant, toothpaste, etc without trying to put it all into a box somewhere that takes up even more space. Be creative, just remember to rotate. -Rose
I always have some form of first aid available (I bought a basic Johnson and Johnson’s kit a few years ago; and now it’s time to update it), some water and basic food that I can eat. Since I am still in a mobile part of my life (recent grad), one of the first things I buy when moving into a new place is rice (about 2-3 pounds) and lentils (1-2 pounds). They keep for a good while and are pretty cheap. If I have the room, I’ll buy some spare water bottles. I also buy extra toilet paper if I have room. My criteria for buying things is 1) What is the nutritional value of food that I am buying or how will this benefit me in the long run, 2) Can I take this with me for my next move aka is it transportable and long term storage, 3) If I can’t take it with me, how much money I am going to loose aka what’s my risk investment (what food and/or water during moves, I give to my church, local food bank or to a starving collage-aged friend).
In summary, I ask and make sure that 1) do I have a first aid kit? 2) Do I have (relatively cheap and long lasting) food that will help me get through a 3 day to 1 week crisis? 3) Do I have enough water? 4) Do I have at least one alternative way to cook/prep food? (In collage I didn’t have number 4 down because that question didn’t pop in my head then.)
Living in Spain for the past 6 months has shown me how little I am prepared for anything and how much I need to prepare once I find a stable, consist income. ~Kim
I think apartment dwellers face many of the same challenges as those who live in houses. No matter where we live we all need at least a 72 hour kit, good locks/ door fortification, fire alarms and extinguishers, and a self defense tool. Like apartments, some houses can be more than 2 stories so a rope/emergency ladder wouldn’t hurt either. – C. N., Ontario, Canada
Lots of garbage bags! My tip is always have a full box of garbage bags at home. Garbage bags are useful obviously for disposing of trash, but also for acting as a disposable toilet in conjunction with a bucket, covering and protecting potted or un-potted plants during a sudden frost or storm, and for storing leftover water from the tub in an emergency situation until the water mains run out.
It can also act as a makeshift rain poncho with a few choice holes and can be cut into strips If needed to tie stakes. Stuffed with leaves it can also be used as a pillow and insulator.
Make sure to get the kind with the plastic cinch pull handles! It can also be used when the bag is used up as stake and plant ties, and also as trail markers.
Garbage bags are also cheap, picked up at any dollar tree. –Molly B.
I would think for the sake of space, invest in a food dehydrator. Also, most apartments only have one entrance door–fortify or replace (with permission) the standard entryway door. Most doors offer little or no protection: fortify the hinges, at the very least, add a peep hole and dead bolt. –Lee P.
Although I no longer live in an apartment, I think the largest challenge is growing your own food. This is a difficult skill to master, even James (The Covert Prepper) reassured me by saying it took him 3 seasons to get it right. I’m beginning my second with much excitement but also with the understanding that this is a skill, something to learn and test.
My best prepping tip for an apartment dweller would be to learn this skill and practice it at home. Try experiments with scraps, amazingly that celery grew! My cousin takes seeds from peppers she buys in the store, and plants them right into a pot in her kitchen, it works. I have also heard about a planting potatoes in a bucket, or potato tower, really quite the spatially economical way to grow. There are videos on youtube with people growing vertical window gardens using plastic bottles. For those fortunate enough to have a balcony, you can use pallets as vertical mediums, or James also recommended using eaves trough to create a garden on a wall. If you don’t have a balcony, I would suggest replacing house plants with food plants, begin with easier stuff like sprouts, radish or lettuce. With just a little bit of imagination and some practice, this challenge can be overcome, an apartment can yield a great amount of food, certainly more than the average house working to produce grass. It’s a great skill to have, and a great feeling to grow your own food, yes, even in an apartment. C. N., Ontario, Canada
Clean and completely dry some empty 2L soda bottles. Buy food in bulk and store in 2L bottles with lid. Rice, grits, sugar, salt and other course granular foods work well. Store away from direct light. You now have a waterproof, shatterproof, portable food container. –TacSKS
We lived in an apartment for several years before buying our house and I always hated the fact that the management office and maintenance employees could come in anytime they pleased. There were actually several thefts and it turned out to be a maintenance worker stealing while tenants were gone to work. In order to keep my stash of emergency food, prescription meds, money, and other prepper-type items hidden in plain sight, I would use cardboard boxes and label them with really boring titles. “Winter clothes, summer clothes, baby clotes, yard sale items, books, blankets, etc.”….basically nothing worth taking the time to rummage through when there was jewelery and electronics in plain sight.
The difficult part about prepping while living in an apartment complex, if how hard it can be to add any security to your home. You can be as prepared as possible, but if you can’t secure your living quarters from intruders, it is far too easy for them to break in and plunder your preparations.
The first point is to keep your preparations and plans to yourself. As nice as your neighbors seems, everyone gets desperate during difficult times. The fewer people living around you that know you have a stockpile of supplies, the less chance you have of them busting down you door looking for them. Another seemingly obvious point is to not rent a ground floor apartment. It may be nice and convenient to not carry your groceries up a flight or two of stairs, you get multitudes better security by living on a higher floor. Intruders will be going for the easy break ins first, leaving you much more secure on your upper floor. Not to mention, all those stairs will give you that much more exercise in preparation!
Though most all apartment owners will not allow you to modify doors, windows, etc. to improve your security, there area few things you can do to bolster your perimeter fortifications. Be sure to place a metal pole in any patio door or horizontal sliding window. Though an intruder could still break the glass and enter through, they may be
looking for a stealthier option, and move to the next apartment unit that is less secured. For vertical sliding windows, a board or piece of 3/4″ plywood can be placed in the top section of the window to keep it from sliding up.
Hopefully with this added security, you can keep control of your carefully stockpiled supplies better. -Greg Z.
KNOW YOUR SURROUNDINGS
1-If you were forced to relocate due to foreclosure or sale of a property you don’t own, what is a good alternative nearby?
2-Do you know where you would store your things and could you mobilize quickly?
3-What are your opsec needs? the population density changes your needs. My car is always out of gas and I am always out of food, if I am asked. secure your money/meds
4-What amenities can save you money ? free linen service? Tennis court? monthly swap meet? The mobile food pantry comes here twice a week. I have not had to touch my 3 month supply or buy paper goods at all! A. H., houdiniphile, Charlotte, NC
When prepping for an earthquake, you don’t necessary have to strap the shelf to the wall or glue the items to the shelf as suggested. Simply put all your heavier items on the bottom. In our house that meant putting all the books on the bottom & all the figurines on top. In all the years we’ve lived in California, we’ve only had 1 or 2 items fall off a bookshelf in an earthquake & these were light paper items like Christmas cards. breakable figurines & plates have stayed on the shelf! The books seem to act as a weight that allows the bookshelf to sway with the quake but not topple over, keeping it upright & your items safe!
… that being said we haven’t had anything overly strong. We lived through the Northridge quake but we were miles from the epicenter. So – legal disclaimer – this isn’t a guarantee by any means. But it’s worked at my home & at my office quite well. So to be totally safe I guess do all 3: strap the shelf, glue the items & place heavier items like books on the bottom. But places like my office won’t let you do that. So my binders & manuals are on the bottom shelf & it’s survived 2 quakes now. –Steffie
Know Your Neighbors
Get your *neighbors* to prep.
If things go sideways, you’ll be surrounded by hungry and increasingly desperate people who live mere inches away from your home and family.
The key, however, is to be low-key and not alarmist. You also don’t want tip your hand about supplies you have stored.
Strike up conversations at the rubbish bin or mailbox. “Hey, did you hear about that earthquake/flood/tornado in <wherever>? I heard that it took a week for them to get food, water, and power back. Makes one think, doesn’t it? You know… WE should store some water, food, lanterns, and candles in case the power goes out in our building!”
Follow up in a few weeks with a pamphlet explaining how to build an emergency kit. Work your way through the building. Contact the Red Cross or other organization to see if someone will come speak to your Neighborhood Watch chapter or HOA. Post notices about local emergency preparation fairs sponsored by the fire department or the city. Get them talking to EACH OTHER about preparedness.
The more people who are prepared, the better it is for all of us. — A. Prepper
I think the most important survival tip for an apartment dweller is to know your neighbors. By living in an apartment, you have limitations of what, and how much, gear, water, food, ammo, etc, you can store. You will most likely not be able to rely only on yourself. By forging some kind of bond with your neighbors, you create a sense of community that lends itself to banding together in times of need. In nonemergency times, it is still a great idea to know your neighbors. When your life is on the line, it is imperative to know who you can count on. –L. N.
Skills are a major part of prepping. Although it is important to have supplies in place; the belief is that skills, and not supplies, will give you a greater survival advantage during a long term emergency. Learning new survival skills and abilities creates a new platform of knowledge to draw on when times get tough.
There are many preppers who taking the time to make skill building a priority. The Survival Sherpa is applying his vast knowledge to the field and showing his audience ways to learn skills and be more efficient. Check his site out, it’s very informative. The Organic Prepper is turning her back on consumerism and focusing on finding local sources for food to create a food pantry.
There are many things you can learn to promote a more sustainable lifestyle while living in a densely populated area. In fact, 80% of the population lives in an urban environment, so do not let that stop you from your prepping endeavors.
Make the best of where you are and begin learning skills or continue refining them so that you can use them confidently during a disaster. Some great skills you can easily learn are:
Raise micro-livestock in small confines. Some popular breeds are rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, etc.
Garden and produce your own food supply. You can easily grow these types of produce, even on an apartment patio!
Forage for local plants and herbs. You’d be surprised to find some of these in your own backyard.
Learn about hydroponic/aquaponic food production. There are many local classes and sustainability expos in your area that you can take advantage of. Alternatively, there are also community colleges that are offering these courses.
If the proverbial S hits the F, we will see a lot of serious injuries, and even deaths, from people making unaccustomed physical demands on their bodies. Train your physical body now in the event of evacuations.
Take an emergency first-aid class or self-defense class. The American Red Cross offers a variety of first-aid classes that you can take advantage of.
Learn how to confidently use a firearm. A lot of dangers exist during and following emergency disasters. Learn how to protect your family by any means necessary. Many urban centers have gun ranges and classes to take to refine this important skill. This site can show you where the nearest gun ranges are.
Start a prepper’s pantry and store shelf stable foods. We must put measures in place before a disaster is upon us in order to have these lifelines available to us when we need it the most. Check out these 25 must-have foods.
Learn how to preserve your food supply. If you know how to dehydrate and use a pressure canner, then you are already ahead of the game.
Go to farmer’s markets and get in contact with local growers and practice bartering. Here are some great tips on how to barter better.
Many families have to stay in urban areas for financial or familial reasons, but do not let that stop you from learning a more sustainable way of life. There are lots of things you can do and many people who are in the same place as you with the same interests. Sometimes your friends could end up teaching up and thing or two that they have learned along the way.
Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.
Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals.
Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.
Lately there has been a lot of bad news from all over the world: large scale natural disasters, economic turmoil, terrorism fears, rioting in the cities, you name it, lots of worrisome things are going on. If you have started preparing, but fear you have not done enough, your are not alone.
Here are my suggestions to help you along:
1. If you haven’t started already, start your family’s emergency preparedness plan. Read Getting Started for a quick run through of things you can do NOW. Get your partner involved in preparedness; if they are unsupported, here are some ideas.
2. Refrain from discussing these fears in front of the children-they do not need to be burdened with these worries. Kids are like sponges and they pick up on negative emotions. They also hear everything even though we don’t think they are listening. They can be involved in preparedness activities, if structured in a learning and fun atmosphere.
3. Face your fears: Make a list of all your fears and evaluate which ones are most likely to happen, and which ones have a pretty low chance of occurring. Do what you can to prepare for the most likely events. Most Americans fear an economic collapse and how it could affect them, and so far this seems to be the biggest threat. So deal with it by taking steps to improve your finances, such as tip #4 and #5.
5. Start your emergency fund. We really don’t know how the economy will do this year, it could get better, worse or stay in the same doldrums. It doesn’t hurt to have some savings set aside. If you feel you are too broke to save, see #5.
5. Cut down on expenses now. Everyone can find some “fat” that can be cut out of the budget, whether it’s a rich cell phone plan, premium cable channels, magazine subscriptions you never read, etc.
6. Get healthier. Being sick is a disaster in itself and nothing is worse than being in a disaster if you are feeling poorly as well. If you are not feeling your best, take some steps to improve your health. Get into shape, start a healthy eating plan, get your annual checkup.
7. Become a bit more self sufficient by being less reliant on outside sources. I know families that eat every meal outside. In a disaster, McDonald’s won’t be open and families that rely of fast food for every meal can starve. I am not asking you to become a gourmet cook overnight. Little steps can mean a lot. If you eat out a lot, start learning how to make meals from home. Take baby steps-brew your own coffee, make muffins for breakfast, make a pot of soup for dinner.
8. Learning a new survival skill does not cost any money but will help you feel a lot more confident about your chances of surviving or even thriving during hard times. Start with simple things around your house: learn how to turn off the main electrical switch, how to shut off the plumbing or how to empty out your water heater. Learn how to change a tire or replace the oil in your car. There are not “hard core” survival skills, they are practical skills you can use all the time. You may even enjoy learning something new.
9. Stop watching all the doom and gloom TV specials. Filling your mind with a constant barrage of scary predictions will only scare you, and depress you into inaction. I am not telling you to bury your head in the sand either. Accept that these worries exist but quit feeding them. I know because I have been a worry-wort myself. Ever since I started my preparedness journey, I’ve actually started worrying a lot less. Taking positive steps will do a lot more for you than being mired in worry.
10. Realize that being prepared is a mindset. For all we know, things will stay pretty much the same this year, and we will face the same issues in 2016 and beyond.
Bonus step: Ease your mind through prayer and helping others. You are still much more fortunate than a lot of people. Helping out soothes your soul, and that is never a bad idea. Be at peace with yourself, and with God, and you will have the strength to cope with whatever happens.
Recent disasters worldwide such as the Chile volcano eruption and the Nepal earthquake remind us that disasters can happen at any time. You might think, those are far away places, they can’t possibly happen to me; however, emergencies such as chemical spills, wildfires and flooding have been known to cause localized evacuations. Fires are not uncommon in apartment homes or condominiums, many residents may have only minutes to evacuate. Circumstances may force you to bug out even though you don’t want to.
It’s very hard to think about, but if you had to, can you evacuate your home in 10 minutes? If this is all the time you had what would you grab?
We had this exact discussion in our household, and we think we have a plan. I can’t tell you what your plan should be as everyone is different – you may have more or less people in your household, of varying ages; you may have one or more pets, and have a different stage of readiness.
Here are some things to think about:
Get the family together and discuss what would you do if you had to evacuate in a short amount of time. Give each able member of your household an assigned item or area to cover.
Think about the nitty gritty details such as where would you exit your home? Are your items stored within easy reach? The old saying applies- people, pets before things. But when it comes to that, what are your most valuable possessions? For some people, it may be their computer, for others it could be their firearms, jewelry, or photos.
Do you keep your wallet, keys, cell phone, glasses etc. in the same spot where you can easily grab them? Or will you have to run around the house searching for them?
After you exit your home, where would you go? It depends on the circumstances. If you live in an earthquake prone area, if there are strong aftershocks you’d want to be out in an open area, away from buildings or structures that can topple on you. If you were bugging out due to an impending hurricane you would head out of town away from the hurricane path. Now would be the time to map out routes out of town, and get in touch with relatives whom you can stay with.
You’ll need some clothes with you, otherwise you only have the clothes on your back. At least have a change of clothes, underwear, socks. If you work in an office, you should have one set of work clothes in case you have to go to work in the following days. Not all areas may be affected by the disaster, eventually, you will need to go back to work.
If you have pets, plan ahead for them as well. At the very least, you’ll need a carrier, leash, collar, food and water for them as well. Many shelters do not allow pets – but some might. These are all things to consider well ahead of a disaster.
Don’t forget your important documents. This is an easy project you can do in one weekend: build your grab and go binder so you have all your documents in one place. Even if you don’t have them all in a binder, keep all your documents together so you can easily take them on your way out. Also keep a hard copy of your contact list in your grab and go binder, in case you happen to leave your cell phone behind, or you somehow lose it.
Have a plan for your irreplaceable items such as photos, recipes, etc. Now would be a good time to back them up online or in a thumb drive. Grab your computer if you have time especially if your livelihood depends on it.
You’ll need to take cash with you in case ATMs, credit and debit cards are not working. Keep your hidden cash in your grab and go binder or bug out bag.
Lock up your home as well as you can when you leave. You’ll hopefully be returning after the emergency has passed, and some looting goes on in the aftermath of a disaster.
Review your homeowner’s or renter’s policy and be aware of your coverages. You do have coverage don’t you? Improve them now before a disaster happens. Some survivalists scoff at details like this, but to me, there is a good possibility you will be returning to a damaged home or apartment so you might as well be prepared.
I had mentioned clothing above – ideally, you would have a bug out bag. You may not have everything you’d ever want in it, but at least have the beginnings of one. Each member of the family should have one. Include special needs such as personal prescriptions, infant supplies, a child’s special comfort item such as blanket or stuffed animal. This is a good book that’ll give you all you need to know: Build the Perfect Bugout Bag
Of course, don’t forget to inform your loved ones when you have safely evacuated so they don’t come searching for you. It may be stressful thinking about this now, but think how much you’ll regret not doing anything if a disaster does happen. Make your plans now. As we always say around here, better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.