People in the disaster preparedness community often say they are readying for the “shit hits the fan” moments: some future calamity, however plausible or implausible, when we are forced to fall back on our possessions and ingenuity. Doomsday Preppers, the long-running National Geographic show that popularized the term “prepper,” introduced mainstream America to a slew of quirky individuals — mostly men with a love of pricey gadgets and the Second Amendment — and the highly improbable doomsday scenarios for which they’d chosen to prepare.
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Lastly, this list is primarily for Sheltering in Place and the requirements/resources the average person would be able to lay their hands on. This doesn’t take more extreme climates into consideration but should still provide a base regardless of where you live. For other lists you can check out our Resources page. For something more specific to the Bug Out Bag checklist, click here. Also this list is going to be missing the specifics of the amounts because each family or individual is different. So without further ado, here we go.
3. Basic bulk ingredients with long shelf lives are a must. Wheat, rice, and beans are versatile, when you add a variety of spices, herbs, and other ingredients and will last for decades. There are food shortages around the world, droughts here in the U.S. that are affecting food production, and it’s likely we’ll experience either shortages, much higher prices, or both in the future.
You know the feeling, and it's a bad one. Suddenly everything in the house goes silent and dark. Power's out. You run outside to see if it's just you, and check your breaker box. Meanwhile you're wondering: How long is it going to be out? A few minutes is one thing. A few hours, even. But if you're without electric for days on end — or longer — the throwback appeal of reading by candlelight quickly loses its charm.
A lot of us don’t truly appreciate how much spices can add to our dining experience until we don’t have them. While they don’t have a lot of calories, I think they are important for preppers to put back. A lot of spices can be bought by the pound for a low cost. I cook every day and sometimes it takes a few years to go through a 1 lb of some spices!
Personal hygiene is even more important in emergency situations than during everyday life. We have so many conveniences at our disposal in our society. Yet many people don’t realize the challenges when those conveniences are no longer available. Personal hygiene is really about keeping clean and avoiding unsanitary conditions that can lead to illness.
Light: It’s fine to have battery-powered flashlights for your home — provided you have some extra batteries around. We love this Mag-Lite XL200 LED flashlight because it’s tough and has multiple modes including SOS and dimmer timer. It’s a good idea to have crank-powered flashlights as well. And make sure you have candles, like this pack of six 115-hour emergency candles.
The difference between me and someone else? Imagine if we both lost our jobs at the same time. Realistically, I haven’t got to spend any money. I’ve got a back-up of food supplies to last six months. I haven’t got to buy wood. I haven’t got to turn the taps on, because I’ve stored rain water and filtered it for drinking. I haven’t got to put the heating on, because I have other means of keeping warm at home. I could be unemployed for a while without it impacting me financially. Whereas someone else, they’re thinking: “Shit, I’ve got a month’s wages. I don’t know how long this can go on for.” That’s a kind of prepping in itself.
My biggest fears our that men, particularly white men, will refuse to grow up, all the while corporations rape & pillage the earth and set working class people here and around the world against each other to their advantage. Men need physical work & activity, craft, not office life. Without that men find themselves frustrated & lash out, unable to define themselves in the world. There is a reason that handcrafted materials are so often better, homegrown food healthier.
While not all household conditions are perfect, be aware of the six enemies of food storage and do your best to mitigate their effect on your precious food supply. This means you should avoid storing food in garages that are 90 degrees in summer and 30 degrees in winter. I am repeating what I said before but it is important: empty your cupboards and closets of excess stuff and stow these items in the basement, attic, or garage. This will make room for you to store your food inside your main living area where the ambient room temperature is stable.
Without water, you won’t survive for long. If the circumstances are perfect, meaning the weather is temperate, and you aren’t active, your timeline for survival without water is likely only as much as a week. But more likely, it is three days maximum. And in no way should one expect a significant catastrophe to leave you behind in a perfect scenario.
My two cents worth here. Go with 5 gallon buckets. Many purchased from the local donut shop at $1.25. My variation on Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers — a chunk of dry ice, about 3×4 inches. With this on the bottom of the bucket and little piece of paper towel over it, pour in rice or beans or wheat or corn or a mixture of things. Put the lid on, but do not snap it tight. Wait a few minutes until the bottom of the bucket is not real cold and snap the lid on. Dry ice, which is CO2, forces out the air in the bucket. I recently opened rice and a mixed container which had been sealed five years ago. Everything was fine. Obviously we did eight or 10 of these buckets at once. Got dry ice from the local grocery store. Be sure to wear gloves when handling it.
For those who want bread with their meals, make tortillas , their is a product called Pioneer flour tortillas mix , my wife and I tested a bag of it by storing it in a cool dark cellar for ten years, then we opened it up to test to see if it was still good, my were we surprised, we checked for bugs in the flour, NONE what so ever. Then we made ten tortillas over an iron flat plate, one that can also be used on an open fire. We cooked them up and they were great. I could not believe it, neither could my mother in law , 80 yrs old at the time she thought they were good . What I came to find out later that the same flour mill that made that brand made also an even better tasting flour tortilla mix that is ready to go by just adding water, is called White Wings flour tortilla mix .
When I first started prepping, I did not mention my new little “hobby” to anyone. You know, OPSEC and all that. But about a year into it, I realized that I could not do it all on my own. There were things I was having trouble grasping and I needed help. As I tip toed around the edges of my community, I found some like minded people and much to my surprise, I found that I had skills and knowledge that they lacked.
If you just need to cover one person for two weeks in the cheapest way possible, you can buy one bucket for $130 and stretch the 27,330 total calories an extra day or two at 1,900 calories per day instead of the usual 2,275. Or buy two buckets for the cheapest way to cover two people. But we’d recommend a minimum of two buckets regardless, even for one person, just for redundancy and the unexpected.
Wheat can be cooked as is but most people will grind the wheat for flour. My favorite manual grain mill is the Wondermill Junior. Grinding flour is hard work, so you will probably prefer an electric mill, too. Wondermill and NutriMill both make very good electric mills in the lower $200 price range. I found my electric mill in a second hand store for about $30, so you might also start checking places like Goodwill and even online — Craigslist or eBay.
I can’t agree with your solution for water purification. If the argument is to “also” include scenarios where boiling isn’t practical, there are other options that fit the bill. For us, we’ve been using a Berkey filter system in our home instead of something that needs water pressure or power to serve in both bug out and Flint, MI like scenarios. We use it day to day today. Not cheap upfront but the cost per litre/gallon over time is a fraction of what you’ve proposed – with all due respect.
My family fashioned an outdoor kitchen under a shed in our backyard with a simple gas stove that we got free, along with a laundry sink, through Craigslist. We have a propane tank from a gas grill connected to the stove and a connection for a water hose for the sink. We even found an old kitchen cabinet for storage and counter space. Throughout the summer, I use our outdoor kitchen for canning parties, picnics and cookouts. This outdoor kitchen is a nice alternative to the heat canning creates in my house. Additionally, I feel secure in knowing I’ll be able to use this kitchen to preserve some of the food from my freezer rather than lose it all during a long-term power outage.
“Everybody thinks about prepping as this big doomsday thing, like when the zombie apocalypse happens,” Luther says. “But really it’s a lot more likely that someone’s going to lose their job or that you’re going to have a major expense you weren’t expecting, like your car breaks down or a medical expense. So if you think of prepping as something to get you through those situations, it’s really almost like an insurance policy.”
It’s mostly natural disasters we’re preparing for. I’m concerned about a war’s potential knock-on effects on the food chain, although I haven’t dug a bunker in my garden or anything. And then there’s Brexit. If that doesn’t go the right way, who’s to say we’ll be able to get hold of the things we can get hold of now? But, realistically, we are mostly likely to be affected by flooding or severe snow. There have been times when we have been cut off, unable to get out. We’d need to be prepared if that happens again.
Thanks for the tips! I was actually thinking of doing a post on this but tweaking it to fit ranches. We had a major freeze this year that left us without power for over a week, and the freeze burnt our pump so we couldn't water. We also had several major wildfires that left us without cell service b/c a tower was disabled. I was totally unprepared. I thought we were going to lose everything in our freezer, I couldn't wash clothes or dishers (not a great experience if you have a house full of kids) and no way to communicate with anyone. And that is when a friend recommended your site. It's been so helpful! I think in addition to your list, one could also use a HAM radio or emergency radio, a solar pump if you have a well, and alternative light sources.
“If you’re using it for emergency survival, the fact is you’re going to buy it once, and hopefully you’re not going to use it,” Shields said. “But it’s there as a safety net for you and your family.” That’s what intrigued me about freeze-dried food: You can wait up to a quarter-century to use it, but in an ideal world, you wouldn’t have to eat it at all.