As a responsible parent, you teach your children everything they need to know about getting along in modern society. You teach them your morals, your beliefs, you help them with their homework, and you guide them in their decisions.
If you were living in poorer circumstances (or earlier ones), you would also teach them how to survive without the comforts of technology. Those basic skills have largely fallen by the wayside, unfortunately, because there’s so little need for them in today’s world. But if things go bad and you’re not around, they’ll need to know how to cope without assistance. Here are four essential things to pass along.
Living off the Land
Any number of terrible scenarios could remove us from the luxury of the local supermarket. If such a case should arise, your kids need to know how they can live off the bounty that surrounds them. Teach your children the difference between edible plants and poisonous ones. Teach them how to hunt, fish, and find the edible animals that live in your area. Not only will these lessons prepare your child for the worst, they can serve as bonding opportunities that are often scarce in today’s “gotta check Facebook again” society.
How to Make a Fire
Historians say few discoveries pushed man forward into world domination more quickly than harnessing the power of fire. We don’t have as much use for fire today as we used to, but it will be an essential element in a world without electricity. Teach your kids how to make, respect, and use a fire with as few tools as possible. Teach them how to cook using an open fire as well. Fair warning, though: they may not want to go back to kitchen-prepared meals after this.
How to Find Water
Is there anything we take for granted like running water? The elemental building block of life, water is so ubiquitous and plentiful in America that we rarely give it a second thought. But if everything about modern life changed tomorrow, getting water would be a lot more important than getting the computers back up. Teach your kids how to find water in your area, how to determine whether or not it’s safe to drink, and how to filter and boil it properly.
How to Administer First Aid
Unlike the above three skills, it’s important to teach your kids how to administer first aid regardless of whether you are prepping for a worst-case-scenario. Until science gives us teleportation, paramedics will always be constrained by time. In that time, people can die from a variety of injuries and ailments if not treated immediately. Teach your kids how to stop bleeding, save someone from choking, and how to administer CPR. Sign up for classes if you’re not sure yourself.
Some of the best survival tools you can own share one thing in common: you probably already have them around the house. The modern household is filled with things that can serve a dual purpose in an emergency. Before you go out and stock up on tools you think you might need if the world heads into oblivion, look around at what you already have. You might not have everything you need, but you may have more than you think.
Whether you’re a dedicated prepper or not, you should have a few rolls of duct tape lying around the house. If not, make getting some a priority. Even with all of our technological discoveries, duct tape remains relevant, useful, and versatile. You could fill a book with uses for this strong tape and still have possibilities left over. In a survival situation, it can be used to keep moisture out of your food storage containers, bandage wounds in a pinch, patch clothes and leaks, and even fashion weapons.
No self-respecting prepper would be without a flashlight, but they aren’t the household item they used to be. Since smartphones arrived on the scene with built-in (decidedly poor) flashlights, many Americans fail to see the use for a dedicated flashlight. Obviously, your smartphone may not be working after certain kinds of emergencies, so make sure you have a real flashlight (or five) around. Stock up on batteries, too.
WD-40 is much like duct tape in that it can be used for a variety of purposes unrelated to its primary function. But that function alone – rust inhibition and removal – could serve you well in an emergency situation. Additionally, this versatile liquid can be used to clean, keep pests out, lubricate tight fittings, and prevent corrosion from building up on your tools. It’s a handy thing to have around and a good tool for the inventory.
Most people find plenty of use for aluminum foil in their everyday cooking scenarios, but you’ll want to add a roll or two to your survival pantry as well. With it, you can make a crude antenna, shape it into a pot for cooking and water collection, protect your stored food, and insulate your windows against heat or cold.
The ubiquity of the map is like that of the flashlight, except the map may be even further along the road to obsolescence. With GPS systems, Google, and other electronic methods of finding a destination, maps are nearly as old-fashioned as rotary telephones. But if an emergency situation decimates GPS and internet, you’ll need an old-fashioned paper map to find your way around.
Perhaps buoyed by reality TV shows that focus on the most extraordinary examples of survivalist prepping, the myth that you need a lot of money to effectively prep for tomorrow is a persistent one. If you’ve let this misconception keep you from starting your own preparations, it’s time to let it go. Nothing, actually, could be further from the truth. While you may not be able to afford the greatest arsenal or a $25,000 bunker, you can absolutely improve your chances of survival in a world of disaster.
The people who fare the best in a post-societal world will be those who know how to get things done. And you don’t need a six-figure salary to gather that information. Use your free time to study, learn new skills, and practice what you’ve learned. Even if you have no income at all, you can learn to live off the land. In fact, you may be better prepared to learn these skills than someone living in the lap of luxury.
Live Below Your Means
This is good advice for anyone, but it especially applies to anyone preparing for a future that looks drastically different than today’s world. Learn to forgo the little luxuries that our materialistic world has told us we can’t live without. You don’t always need the newest phone, the latest tablet, or the nicest car. If you’re struggling to make ends meet, look around and start cutting unnecessary expenditures out of your lifestyle.
You don’t need to buy everything from the mall. If you’re working off a budget, find cheaper ways to get what you need. Visit yard sales, troll eBay and Craigslist, and find the valuable items that people are ready to throw away. If you want to get really drastic about it, go dumpster-diving. There are people who make up their entire menu from dumpster food. You don’t have to go to that extreme, but you might be surprised at what perfectly good stuff people throw out.
Self-sufficiency is an excellent practice for any prepper, whether a millionaire or a welfare recipient. By starting your own garden, getting a couple of farm animals, and finding other ways to live without the help of society, you can get a head start on the rest of the country. You’ll be ready to tackle the hardships ahead, and you’ll save a boatload of money in the meantime.
Become a Do-It-Yourselfer
This is related to self-sufficiency, but it deserves its own spot because it’s so important. You may not be able to find mechanics, carpenters, and plumbers once everything goes down. Learn how to do basic repairs on your own. YouTube is filled with awesome videos that take you step-by-step through almost any scenario you can imagine. From stitching your own clothes to baking your own bread, becoming a DIY guy will help you save money and prepare for the worst.
Because you can head to the grocery store anytime you like, you probably don’t put a lot of thought into buying foods that will last for weeks or even months. Most Americans shop with the idea that they will be back at the store within a week. But if you’re serious about building a survival storeroom, you’ll need to stock it with foods that won’t go bad in a few days. Thankfully, there are plenty of foods that fit the bill.
Wheat and Corn
Dry corn, hard red wheat, and buckwheat should be part of any serious storage strategy. Hard grains like the three aforementioned ones can not only be used to make an enormous variety of tasty recipes, but they can last for a decade if stored properly. Other ingredients that fit the bill include millet, durum wheat, spelt, and kamut. Most can be found in any reasonably-sized supermarket, but you may have to visit a health food store for others. Of course, you can find just about anything on the internet.
Want to start living healthier right now? Try adding oat groats to your diet. These cereals are made from hull-less oats, and they provide the kind of fiber that can lower cholesterol and make you feel fuller longer. Of course, they also stay good for up to eight years, making them a perfect part of your prepper pantry. Other good options include quinoa, barley, and rye.
You’ll need a decent supply of oil for a number of reasons, and coconut oil is one of the best for any prepper. It has a shelf life of 2-4 years, depending on whether you opt for refined or unrefined, and it comes with plenty of health benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked. Among the proposed benefits are its antiviral, antimicrobial properties, which make it the perfect choice for boosting immunity.
Beans are so useful to the prepper that they should be considered an essential part of any good food storage pantry. Kept free of oxygen, many beans can stay good for up to 10 years. Focus your collection on pinto beans, lima beans, kidney beans, and lentils. Other good choices include garbanzo beans and blackeye peas. Beans are nutritionally dense, cheap, and easy to prepare, so stock up!
Dry pasta can last a long time, though you don’t want to build your entire inventory out of it. It doesn’t provide much in the way of nutrition or protein, making it a poor choice if you’re focusing on getting a good bang for your buck. That said, it is tasty and it will fill you up, so it doesn’t hurt to have some around. Another option is white rice, which has a long shelf life when properly stored.
Odds and Ends
Stock up on flour, cornmeal, canned tuna, peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables, powdered milk, herbs, coffee, baking soda, honey, salt, sugar, and alcohol for a complete survivalist pantry. Not all of these have the extra-long shelf life of the other staples, but they will last a long time. They’re also good to keep around for short-term emergencies.
The prepper community has grown so large and unwieldy that many would-be participants lose their will before they ever get started. With so many possibilities, so many opinions, and so much information, it’s almost inevitable that a certain amount of overwhelm will set in. If you’re so inundated with options that you don’t know where to start, this list will help you cut through the confusion. Survivalism has many doors, but you can’t explore them all simultaneously. Open one, look around, and move on to the next when you’re ready. Always remember: taking a little action is far better than becoming an inactive expert.
Set a Budget
You don’t have to be wealthy to start prepping. You don’t have to have a reinforced concrete bunker to get started. Tailor your purchases to your own budget. Decide in advance how much you can afford to spend, and look for ideas that fit within that budget. There’s no sense ruining your economic life in preparation for a crash that may or may not happen in the future.
Keep Your Tank Full
A lot of people wait until their car is running on fumes before pulling into the gas station. If you’re going to live with a prepper’s mindset, you should amend that practice. Try to fill up when the needle hits the halfway mark, and your car will be ready to go if an emergency strikes. This is a good lifestyle change to make even if you think the odds of a full-scale apocalyptic scenario are slim.
Learn and Practice
It’s important to learn survival skills that can help you in the event of a collapse. Fishing, hunting, making fire – these outdoor skills will serve you well. But it’s not enough to learn them once and assume mastery. Practice them often, and you won’t be left holding the bag if things go south. Bonus: many of these skills are fun, and they can enhance the quality of your life right now.
Master Your Surroundings
It’s not going to do much good to learn the ins and outs of the Alaskan wilderness if you live in North Florida. Learn your surroundings. Practice identifying the wild edibles that are all around you. Know what kind of wildlife lives in your area. By mastering your environment, you’ll have the expertise you need to survive without modern comforts.
Don’t underestimate how detrimental modern society is to the human body. Sitting at a desk for 8-10 hours a day is bad enough. Eating the kind of processed garbage that passes as food is even worse. Reject the sedentary lifestyle as much as possible. Get in shape. Exercise. There’s no telling what life might be like after the fall of society, but it may very well require you to be in peak physical condition. Prep your body just as you would your home.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, burglary rates in the United States have been steadily trending downward, decreasing a remarkable 56 percent from 1994 to 2011. Even so, this leaves us with more than 27 victimizations per 1,000 households, and that means more than 2 million homes each year fall victim to a burglar. Many of these breaches are little more than crimes of opportunity, and experts say that up to a third of household burglaries fall into the category of preventable crime. In other words, people leave their doors wide open for crime to pay them a visit.
Though families committed to the survivalist movement do their best, no one can live their entire lives preparing for the worst. For most people, it is a nightmare of significant fancy to imagine that the grocery stores – now stocked to the roof with every type of food that a civilized society should ever want – could one day stand barren and empty. So far have we come from the days of early agriculture, we view food like any other commodity you buy at the store. Many of us have cabinets stocked with cans of old soup and boxes of forgotten experiments, there to collect dust until we decide it’s time to finally make those whole wheat apple muffins.
There’s a delicate line between being prepared and being paranoid. What you should be wary of, in particular, is spending all of your time, money, and effort on preparing for some distant event that may or may not ever happen while leaving yourself open to the everyday harms that are much more likely to fall in your lap.
If we ever wake up one morning and find ourselves face to face with what survivalists call the SHTF scenario, it may be in a form we didn’t expect. You can spend all of your time building a bomb shelter or stockpiling weapons against vile marauders, but if doomsday comes out of famine or frost, they may not do you much good. That’s why it’s important to not only prepare for what you think you see coming, but for those things that you may not see around the corner. Here are five scary scenarios you should keep in the back of your mind when prepping.
They call us “doomsday preppers,” with a condescending tone typically reserved for male feminists and pro wrestling fans. Hardline survivalists react to this skepticism by becoming even more firmly entrenched in echo-chamber communities where there is no scenario of the future too outlandish and no alternative website too lacking in credibility. As a responsible prepper, you should be open to criticism, skepticism, and you should continually question numbers and theories that are only reported by backwater bloggers. The mainstream media is a biased, commercially-driven cesspool, but that fact doesn’t make the cavedwellers on your favorite message board any more right about the future of gold.