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Friday, March 12, 2010

Preparing for TEOTWAWKI: Where to Begin?

Overwhelmed?
Preparing for the collapse of the modern world is a daunting task. Deep larders, a well stocked armory, a full compliment of medical supplies, water storage and sanitation supplies, emergency heating, bug out bags, a fully outfitted bug out vehicle, and a self sufficient and defensible retreat are a few of the many, many things that a prepper needs to acquire. You also need to acquire a veritable life time worth of skills to make best use of those supplies or improvise when things fail or are not available. There is a lot of stuff to buy and even more things to learn.

If you're new to prepping and feeling overwhelmed, don't worry. It's natural. There is a LOT to do--in fact, a lifetime's worth. You will never be "done" with your preparations--you'll be adjusting, restocking and revising as your life, circumstances and technology change. Survival and preparation are a way of living. So, go easy on yourself.

Start Small
Unless you have sizable excess money to dedicate to preps, you'll have to approach preps in bits and pieces. Everyone's circumstances are different, so there's not really a one-size-fits-all approach. List out possible "disaster" situations that could strike your life--job loss, car break down, natural disasters, alien invasion, War of the Machines, EMP attack--whatever you think could happen to you. Then, start listing out the things that you would need to make it through that situation.

Chances are, food, water and some spare cash will come in handy for your "most likely" scenarios, so those are generally a good place to start. Start with a small goal--two weeks, then a month, six months and so on. For food, the $10 rule--spending an extra $10 on storage food and water whenever you buy groceries--can help you stock up gradually. If you can't afford $10, do $5 or even just buy one extra item to store away.  Focus on the basics--flour, rice, oats, sugar, pasta, canned foods, peanut butter-- that kind of thing. If you don't know how to cook with the basics--learn. Canned veggies and similar will often be used up in your normal cooking and diet, so"food storage" foods like Spam, Dinty Moore beef stew,  and baked beans are good too--they won't typically fly off your pantry's shelves but they will be there when you need 'em. But buy foods that you like and will eat and rotate through.

Most of all, start to develop a frugal mindset. Preparing is about saving what you have today to get you through tough times tomorrow. It's about being smart with your limited discretionary income. You could buy designer clothes, eat at fancy restaurants and drive a luxury car. Or you can buy preps. Very few can do both. The mindset is the most important part and will keep you on track and motivated.

Keep Reading
The internet has put a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips--even obscure knowledge like TEOTWAWKI survival. You've made your way to this blog and are perhaps familiar with others--keep reading them! Comment and ask questions.

There are also a number of fairly active web forums out there--most of the major gun websites will have a "Survival" forum (AR15.com and GlockTalk are two good examples). ZombieHunters.org is an entire community dedicated to surviving the zombocolypse--the have some excellent resources and a fairly friendly and outgoing community.

There are also a number of survival-related books to add to your bookshelf. SurvivalBlog author J.W. Rawles has authored a comprehensive guide on the subject, fittingly called How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It. I'm 3/4s of the way through it and can give it a big thumbs up--although its detail and the sheer amount of recommended "gear" may quickly overwhelm you and make you feel that your current preps are woefully inadequate. Additional reading can included military field manuals (typically free downloads), country living guides, food storage recipe books, wilderness survival manuals and some of the older survival classics--I recently read through Ragnar's Urban Survival and found it informative and a little bit refreshing from the usual survivalist take--I'll have a review up shortly. Point is, there's lots of good stuff out there--do some searching!

Focus your reading on acquiring new skills and learning new things. It's far too easy to get sucked into searching for the "best" supplies, but it's the skills and knowledge that matter most!

Keep at it!
It's a slow and steady process, but keep at it. Keep stocking up; cover off on your basics first and then expand your capabilities from there. The "slowness" can be frustrating--especially with the world always seemingly on the brink of TEOTWAWKI. Go easy on yourself--any amount of preparations that you can make are better than none at all!