What makes me different from all those other competent PF bloggers out there in the universe?
Well, a couple of things – my path to FIRE is not theoretical or newly laid. I have been at it for years and my well worn FIRE path has the assets to back up the lip service.
Secondly, I am also a lawyer. There are too many lawyers, not enough PF bloggers and even fewer people happen to be both. My blogs dips into the wonderful world of the law.
Next, I’m weird, I am OK with this. I have unorthodox beliefs and viewpoints. Some of which people might even find interesting.
I am fairly well traveled, therefore I dabble into the travel blog domain.
Lastly, I am a full blown, unabashed PREPPER. I thinking prepping and FIRE have a lot of crossover and deserve even more.
So when my friend over at HaltCatchFire asked me to do a guest post about the basics of prepping. I said sure. Here is the outlay;
Don’t forget to read up on HCF’s series ‘Coders of Finance‘. It really took my back to land of Commodore 64’s, HTML monkeys, and a life that could have been.
I get it, not everyone is into being a Prepper.
It’s not for everyone, but everyone should be up for a little prepping. My friend over at [HCF] asked me to do a piece on the art/science/and math behind prepping.
I decided to do it on a sliding scale going from basic household all the way to ‘that guy in the bunker’. Prepping is just another form of insurance. You may do all of this for nothing, but if you do need it, it will be the best money you have ever spent.
If you are into FIRE you are financially responsible, prudent, and thinking about the big picture. FIRE is to your finances as PREPPING is to your logistics. It is an organized way to prepare for a chaotic world.
“Chance favors the prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur
PREPPING can be broken down into the fundamental categories of needs during an emergency, especially an emergency that is not over quickly. Food, Water, Shelter, First Aid, Security, Light/Power, Communication, and Information.
The time, energy, and money one want to put into prepping can be bottomless. So I have broken down each category into 3 degrees of prep; Basic, Moderate, and Serious. Stay tuned for the Extreme, and the ‘All the way down the rabbit hole‘ parts, if there is enough interest 🙂
Let’s start with Water.
You can only go 3 days without water before you are done for and clean water may be a problem during an emergency.
Basic – Buy a WaterBob – This product can be had for $30.00. It is essentially a big plastic bag that is roughly tub-shaped, you put it in your tub, fill it up and presto 100 gallons of water good for at least 16 weeks. Also a gallon of bleach. A tablespoon of bleach per gallon to make the water safe to drink.
Moderate – Buy a blue barrel. There are food grade 55-gallon barrels complete with lid, spout, and bung wrench to open. All in about $80.00. A little sturdier and a little more permanent. For sterilizing, buy some iodine tablets($5-10).
Serious – At this level, you probably have a rain catch system on your house that constantly collects rainwater in outside barrels. You probably also have a fairly industrial filter for making questionable water potable, costs are adding up.
Next up is Food.
The good news is that you need to store this anyway, so you just have to nip and tuck your current status.
Basic – Here is a short list of food stuffs you can buy that never go bad, ever; Honey, Rice(just not brown rice), White Vinegar, Vanilla extract, Salt, Cornstarch, Sugar, Dried Beans, Maple Syrup, and Hard Liquor. No reason not to have them, just in case.
You can always buy basic foods, like canned foods, in larger quantities. Just keep in mind to rotate them so that they are not outliving their welcome. You will eventually eat all of those green beans.
Moderate – Next up is the stuff you don’t exactly put out for guests. By this, I mean freeze-dried foods and MRE (Meal Ready to Eat). Moderate cost, long shelf life 10-25 years depending on the type. Great for camping and a sense of ease late at night trying to go to bed after watching the news, yikes. The emergency food market has really taken off in recent years and the food is not that bad.
Serious – Mason jars and the art of canning your own food. Gardening as a hobby for serenity and fresh produce. A brief foray into the world of chicken husbandry.
Shelter comes next.
Basic – Your house is your castle. No reason to not make sure the castle is stocked. A days worth of snacks/water/emergency supplies in the trunk of your car never hurt either. Go buy a tent($40), a large basic tarp, and a good length of rope to keep in the garage for the outdoors.
Moderate – I could rewrite the HOW & WHY of a panic room in your house, but I already did, read about it here.
Serious – When you reach this stage, you are talking about a secondary location that is not your house. A Bug Out location. That hunting cabin maybe, or somebody else’s place that you are on good terms with. There should be a Plan B before there is ever a need for a Plan B.
A strong Defense equals security.
Basic – 2 firearms, even if you never intend to use them. A shotgun for home defense($250-400). Pump action Mossberg 500 or Remington 870 are the most popular. Second is a .22 caliber rifle for small game/all-purpose($150-250). You can buy ammo for this gun very cheap.
Moderate – There is a reason you hear so much about the AR-15. It packs a punch and is user-friendly. A more serious gun that will run you around $800. Remember that a gun without ammo is an expensive club. I would say buy 1,000 rounds (.223)
Serious – Different guns serve different functions. There are an almost endless variety of firearms for different occasions. If you are thinking this far, you are likely well versed in the topic.
Being prepared for an Emergency may very well have to involve Medical emergencies.
Basic – A good solid First Aid kit.($20-30) But remember to take the time to look through it. If you do not know how to use something it will not do you much good when the time to open the first aid kit comes.
Moderate – I remember my mother’s hall closet when I was young. It had stuff in there I didn’t even know what it did. Leftover bandages and prescriptions from ailments past. This buildup over time translates to a fairly thorough medical supply closet.
Serious – There are 2 ways to get more serious about medical supplies, quantity, and quality. Different sizes and storing in bulk on one hand. Specialized equipment for the more rare medical emergencies on the other hand. Nothing is a waste if you ever need it. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything right?
I put Light & Power together in the same category.
Basic – No-brainer here, a goodly supply of candles, flashlights, and batteries.
Moderate – A lantern if you didn’t already add one as part of the Basic step. But now is the time to consider a generator. Power outages are the one ‘disaster’ scenario we are all universally familiar with. A portable generator can run hundreds of dollars, but if it saved the food in the fridge one time, it has paid for itself. Just remember to never run the generator inside!
Serious – Looking into solar power is a big startup cost, but it takes power outages out of the equation. I have only a limited solar setup, but between that and my whole house generator and my ‘lots of candles’, I am in good shape.
Almost done folks, only 2 more categories left.
Communications during an emergency.
Basic – Do you have a crank charger for your cell phone? If you have a landline, do you keep at least one old-timey phone (i.e. not wireless)? There are also good, cheap, crank handheld radio so you can at least get the news($20).
Moderate – two-way handhelds(even kid walkie-talkies will work) are a great way to stay in contact with someone out of sightline during an emergency($15-30).
Serious – The world of HAM radio(amateur radio) is kind of fun if you are willing to put the time and infrastructure into it. The cost can run into the hundreds of dollars.
Lastly, knowledge is power.
Basic – Bored at work, there is a whole internet out there with people in it who love prepping and have put a wealth of information about our hobby out there for free for anyone with the time to read about it.
Moderate – Buy a book like The Encyclopedia of Country Living($22), it is an amazing read, especially for us city folk. I also think there is a lot of good fiction that also helps map out what prepping is for, a book like ‘Dies the Fire’ by S.M. Stirling.
Serious – You can build an entire library of this kind of stuff. Everything from ‘How Things Work’, to Homesteading, to Animal Husbandry, to Bushcraft, to Surviving Nuclear War. Etc.Etc.Etc…Happy Hunting. Oh yeah, and books on Hunting too.
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