What an Extended Power Outage Looks Like

phone-210972_640The Pacific Northwest recently learned a very hard lesson about what a real downed power grid would look and feel like. A devastating windstorm swept through western Washington and eastern Washington before hitting north Idaho. Falling trees took out utility poles by the dozen, snapping them in two. The devastation left hundreds of thousands without power and because the damage was so extensive and so widespread, thousands of people went without power for a couple of weeks. They were not prepared and have suffered dearly.

Many preppers assume they are prepared, but in reality, a massive power grid failure is more than they could have ever comprehended. It isn’t just a couple of houses that are without power for a few days. Check out some of the things that happened in the days and weeks following the windstorm and how you can learn from the ill-prepared folks in the area.

1-Rural homes on their own wells could not get water. This meant they didn’t have water for themselves or their animals. Some people had the requisite 3 days of water on hand, but once that was gone, they were in a bad place.

2-Grocery stores were sold out of water within hours—that is the ones that were open. Most of the stores did not have electricity and closed up shop altogether. A couple of the smaller ones used calculators and sold what they could—it didn’t last long. And that was on a cash only basis. No ATMs were working and many of the banks were closed because they had no power.

3-The gas stations had no power, meaning no gas could be pumped. For the people that had generators, they couldn’t buy fuel to keep them running. Sure, there were towns 20 to 50 miles away that had some limited supplies, but for the folks that didn’t have enough gas in the car to get there, they were in trouble.

4-Canned food was wiped out in a matter of days. People were using campstoves to cook on, but it wasn’t long before they ran out of propane. Without refrigeration, food in the refrigerators and freezers was spoiling faster than people could eat it.canned food

5-The cold became a major concern for those who did not have wood heat. Many people were forced to take refuge in hotels 50 miles away because local motels had no vacancies. Guess what? Most hotels do not take pets, which meant pets were left to fend for themselves. Animal shelters were quickly filled with pets who had ran off in the storm due to downed fences and those who felt they had been abandoned.

This is just a glimpse of what small town life looked like in the days following the major storm. This is something everybody can learn from. With the weather so unpredictable, it is a must that every person thinks long term when prepping food, water and other basic supplies. It can happen anywhere. Never assume you are ready. Always add more food and other preps and be prepared to ride out an extended power outage.

Staying Warm without Power

phone-210972_640If you are in a home that doesn’t not have a woodstove or fireplace, you run the risk of not having heat should the power go out. Winter weather is notorious for knocking the power out for hour or even days depending on the damage the weather causes. Ice and snow are heavy and can knock down trees onto powerlines or even the powerlines themselves. You must be prepared to stay warm without your furnace.

1-Invest in propane space heaters. These require no electricity and are safe to use inside the home.

2-Have extra blankets on hand to layer when the heat is off.

3-Keep extra hats and gloves on hand. You will need to wear them indoors to stay warm.

4-Cover the windows with blankets to help block the cold air from coming in through the glass.

5-Cover the windows with plastic. You can use duct tape to seal it over the windows.

6-Close all of the doors to rooms you are not going to use. This will keep the heat focused in one area.winter storm

7-Pick a small room in the house and have the whole family huddle together. This will keep the body heat focused in one area.

8-Create a blanket fort in the living room. A small space will heat quickly.

9-Set up a tent in the living room. It is much the same as the blanket fort, but provides a little more stability and room.

10-Group candles together. The small flames will produce heat and will heat up a small room or your tent.

These ten ways of staying warm will do in a pinch, but if you have the option, invest in a woodstove. It can double as a stove to heat meals and water when you have no power.

5 Advantages to Urban Prepping

cityIt may seem like the majority of preppers live in some rural homes or way off the grid, but there are plenty of people who live in the heart of a major city or in the suburbs who are also interested in prepping. While there are certainly different challenges the urban prepper must deal with, it isn’t impossible. In fact, there are many advantages for those who live in the city.

1-Access to resources like food and water. You won’t have to travel more than a block to find a store you can scavenge. Your neighbors’ homes are also an option if they have bugged out or have been killed.

2-Much easier to find survivors who you can lean on. Working with a small group of people provides you with safety as well as pooling of knowledge and resources.

3-Living in a high-rise apartment gives you a defensible space you can manage. You won’t be vulnerable to predators on the ground floor. You will see and hear anybody coming. With only one way in, it is much easier to keep somebody out.

4-Finding shelter isn’t a problem. Abandoned houses and buildings will be in abundance and you won’t have to spend a night outdoors, dealing with the elements.emergency

5-Easy access to medicine and medical care. Doctors and other medical professionals that are left in the city when SHTF will be easier to find than if you were out in the boonies. Looting pharmacies, hospitals and the medicine cabinets of abandoned homes is much easier due to your proximity.

While living in the city or suburbs is not an ideal situation for those who want to live a self-sustainable lifestyle, it doesn’t mean you can’t prep. You can store food and water and identify places to scavenge before anybody else does. Eventually, you will need to get somewhere that will allow you to grow your own food and raise animals for food. Don’t assume you can’t prep because you live in the city. In fact, because you live in the city, you should be prepping!

Are Ready-Made Bug Out Bags a Good Choice?

travel-641635_640Bug out bags are a hot topic in the prepping and survival world. They are one of the only things preppers and survivalists agree on—sort of. The agreement only goes so far as agreeing every person should have one. As far as the size and what goes in the bag, that is always a subject for contention, especially among some of the more experienced folks in the prepping world.

If you are new to prepping or simply like the idea of having a bag filled with emergency gear, but aren’t really wanting to get into the hows and whys, a prepared bug out bag is perfect for you. There are plenty of options for you to choose from, ranging from small and basic to much more elaborate.

Some of the more experienced people in the survival world will scoff at these ready-made bags. They will insist they cost too much or they don’t have this or that. In some ways they are right, but for the beginning prepper or the person who doesn’t have access to certain tools or for the person who would rather rely on the experience of someone else, these bags are perfect.

The bags have everything an average person needs to survive three days without immediate aid. Of course, there is no one size fits all in bug out bags. Even if you do buy a ready-made bag, you need to add items that are specific to your needs. If you have allergies, add your medicine. If you have some other medical condition, toss in the gear you need to survive.medical kits

The expense of the bags is actually not that much more than if you were to buy the items individually. You are getting the bag and the gear in one price, which could end up being cheaper for some. Don’t be afraid to buy one of these prepared bags. They are great to stash in your car or keep at the office just in case of an emergency. When you have more time and you gain more experience, build your own bag that is customized to you and your needs.

Prepping for ‘The Big One’ and What It Means

food for storageThere has been a lot of attention in the media lately about the Pacific Northwest being hit by a major earthquake. It isn’t just people who live in the northwest that could be affected by such a tragedy. The entire west coast would be at an increased risk of a tsunami that could be as devastating as the one that hit Japan a few short years ago. Even if you don’t live on the west coast, the ripple effect a disaster would have could extend all the way around the world. Are you ready for “the big one?” Quite frankly, there are fault lines ripping across the country in one way or another. There really is no place that is completely immune from the possibility of an earthquake—even the midwest.

There are a few things you can do to help prepare your home for an earthquake, just in case the big one hits. You may not be near the epicenter, but a strong quake can be felt for hundreds of miles away. It doesn’t hurt to do a little work around your house to make it a bit safer, just in case the big one does hit and it hits where you live.

*Secure bookcases, china hutches and other heavy pieces of furniture that could fall on you in a quake. Use brackets and sheetrock fasteners to attach the heavy furniture to studs in the wall.

*Make sure your ceiling fans and light fixtures are nice and tight. Some of the older ones or poorly installed ones are very loose and could come down with a small earthquake.ceiling-fan-558988_640

*Find and label your gas shut off if you have it. Do the same for your water and electrical main. You may know where it is, but does everyone in your family? You may not be able to get up and shut it off or may not be home. Make sure you attach the wrench needed to shut off the gas near the valve.

*Secure your food on your shelves. Placing a 2×4 across the front of each shelf will help keep the cans and other items from falling forward during the shaking.

*Use bungy cords to secure large water bottles or containers to the wall. You don’t want them toppling over and spilling out.

While you certainly cannot predict an earthquake, you can do these few simple things to help you, your home and your supplies ride one out with less damage than doing nothing at all. Get prepared and go through some earthquake drills with your family.

Prepper Groups a Good Thing

communityPreppers tend to be a secretive bunch for good reason. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to advertise to anybody who will listen about what you have on hand in case of a major disaster. Your supplies are what will keep you alive and well if the world were to ever get crazier than it already is. Imagine what life would be like without the ability to grab groceries when you needed or buy medical supplies when someone in the family is hurt. You must guard your supplies, but on the other hand, you also need to think about what it would be like to pool resources with others.

Resources don’t necessarily mean tangible supplies. Being able to rely on others’ strengths and skills will help you be stronger and more successful. Imagine pairing up with somebody who is a carpenter and another one who is a doctor. Maybe you are a skilled gardener. With those three people working together, your chances of survival are dramatically increased.camping food

Don’t hide out in your house and avoid talking with anybody about what the world will look like should there be another world war or the power grid is taken out. While you are probably a smart individual, you can’t possibly have all the answers. You need to be open to talking with others so you can learn more. Getting different perspectives about various aspects of prepping will make you better and stronger. You will be more prepared to deal with whatever it is that comes your way.

Check out some prepper groups online. Try visiting meetup.com and see what local groups there are that you can check out. You can still maintain some anonymity. You don’t have to talk about what you have or where your stash is hidden. Never stop learning. Don’t assume you are a hero that can do it all on your own.

Prepare for Winter, Today–Before It’s too Late

snow WVWith winter coming in quick, it is important you spend some time preparing for violent winter storms that may lead to power outages and freezing temps that can ruin a food storage. It depends a lot on what part of the country you are in, but the risk of having a colder and snowier winter are pretty high for many regions. This is the time you want to prepare for winter storms; not a day before one is expected to hit.

If you already have a food storage in place, you will want to do what you can to protect it from the cold and from mice who are going to be wanting to get out of the cold. If your food storage is in a basement, make sure it will not get below 50 degrees. If you need to, cover the windows in the basement with plastic. You will want to make sure it is still properly ventilated and will want to have a fan running to keep the air from becoming too moist and threatening your food products.snowy sidewalk

Do an inspection of the area and look for any cracks or quarter-sized holes or bigger that will allow mice entry to your food storage. Fill the spaces with caulking, foam insulation or use steel wool reinforced with chicken wire. Do yourself a favor and put food in buckets for extra protection. This will help keep it dry and keep out the mice.

Once you have secured your food storage, you will need to take inventory. Ensure you have enough food and supplies to carry you through a harsh winter storm that could leave you holed up in your home for days. Don’t put off getting things like toilet paper, bottled water and batteries for your flashlights. These are going to be some of the first things that are wiped off store shelves when the threat of a winter storm is issued. Take care and get ready to ride out another winter.

Planning Your Bug Out

camping foodIf worse comes to worse and you truly have to bug out, you need a plan. Ideally, you will want to try and stay in your home if possible. This is where you have all of your creature comforts as well as a roof over your head and hopefully food and water storage. But, there is always the possibility you are going to have get out of dodge in a hurry. You don’t want to grab your bug out bag and just run like the wind without having a plan. Preppers know a plan and then a backup plan is always a must.

When you think about your bug out plan, you need to consider a few important elements.

*Do you or will you have little kids with you? Trekking up hill for several miles with little ones isn’t easy. You certainly can’t expect to carry them and your bug out gear and actually get anywhere in a hurry.Children need reassurance after a disaster

*Will the path be passable year round? If you live in an area where there is heavy snowfall, your first option may not be possible if there is several feet of snow on the ground. If you have to cross a bridge, there is a chance it could be destroyed or unsafe to pass by.

*Do you have a destination in mind? Your bug out plan should include a destination. Somewhere that is out of sight, whether that is a second home, a relative’s home or a secluded area in the forest.

*Can you get to the location on foot? You need to have contingency plan should your bug out vehicle be incapacitated. Roads may be completely blocked.

It is important you pay some attention to this planning. It could very well mean your life. Think about your kids, your pets and your own endurance. Consider the weather as well. You must be prepared to bug out any time of the year. Sit down with your family and do your best to come up with a bug out plan that works for everyone.

Preparing for an El Nino Winter

hurricane-67581_640After a long, hot and very dry summer for most of the country, it is time to prepare for a rough winter according to the Farmer’s Almanac. Of course, there is no real way to accurately predict what the future will hold, but many people place a lot of stock in the almanac. As a prepper, it is a good idea to pay attention to predictions and prepare to deal with a rough winter. A long, cold, snowy winter means you will likely be relying on your emergency preps from time to time.

There is also the uncertain economic future to consider. With a disastrous winter supposedly headed our way and equally unstable economy, things could get very dicey over the next several months. The time to plump up those food storages and prepare to live with minimal or no electricity is now. Don’t keep putting it off.

snow WVThe following list includes some of the things you should start doing today to prepare for winter.

  • Stock up on wood to burn in your wood stove—if you don’t have one, consider making the investment
  • Stock up on water, set up rain barrels to catch the fall rains
  • Stock up on canned foods i.e. veggies, meats, fruits, soups
  • Add to your personal hygiene supplies i.e. toilet paper, feminine hygiene, soap
  • If you have a baby or are expecting load up on diapers, formula, wipes and etc…
  • Consider growing your own window garden, things like cucumbers, herbs and tomatoes are all excellent window plants
  • Load up on winter gear, have back up boots, coats and gloves so you are never stuck outside in wet gear
  • Have snow shovels on hand before the snow flies
  • Have rolls of plastic and duct tape so you can cover the windows if the temps are freezing and you don’t have heat
  • Flashlights and candles are a must

You never know if or when the power will go out in a winter storm. You must be prepared to shelter in place should the weather become inclement and traveling to the store to grab necessities is not worth the risk. Keep food, water and basic supplies on hand so you never have to go without or risk your life.

Buying Prepping Supplies in Bulk

healthy freeze dried foodPreppers are the type who like to be prepared for anything for the long term. They don’t just look at the short term goal of surviving on their own for a couple of days while the government and emergency services mobilize to send help. Anybody who is doing that may be waiting for a long while. When you are thinking long term, you will need a lot of supplies, not a single box of matches or a single bottle of water purification tablets. You need a lot, which is why buying in bulk makes so much sense.

Buying in bulk is typically more cost effective. You can buy prepping supplies by the case load and get a significant discount. Things like hand warmers, emergency blankets and water purification supplies are just some of the things you will need a lot of. Buying individually can get expensive in the long run. You will pay anywhere from one to three dollars for a single blanket. However, when you buy in bulk, you can often get that price to under a dollar.sk1ee_lar_survival_kit

While many preppers will say they can’t afford to spend $50 on a case of hand warmers, when you break down the price for each pack, you are going to spend nearly twice as much if you buy a pack here and there. It makes good sense to save up and make those bulk purchases. It will ultimately save you money and you will have more supplies to put on your shelves. You can always use the extra you have to trade for other things you do need.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t take advantage of clearance prices and sales on the individual packs. Always be on the lookout and do your best to catch sales. Adding a little at a time to your emergency storage is okay, but if you find an opportunity to buy in bulk—go for it!