Tuesday, December 22, 2015

How To Get Started Prepping / Building Self-Reliance

Anyone paying close attention to the news recently, or closely following economic and political trends, knows it is very likely that something bad this way comes. I'm not sure exactly when or what, but the current worldly system is simply not sustainable for much longer. I hope folks will use the approaching new year (new year resolutions!) as motivation to prepare for whatever comes, and to build the self-reliance they will need to survive, and help their families & friends survive. Here are my suggestions on how to get started:

THE Foundationn

The single most important thing you can do is to "get right" with God. I won't try to convince you, but I will tell you what I get out of it (in addition to my salvation!). Being in relationship with God gives me calmness, comfort, joy. strength, courage, and it helps focus my priorities. All good things when going through bad times!

How to get started? If you don't have a relationship with God, I suggest starting with a simple prayer. Something as simple as "God, I don't know you, and am not even sure if you exist. But if you do, help me find you. Thank you, Amen." Then crack open a Bible and start reading. Lots of people suggest John's gospel makes a good starting point. I think Mark's gospel, which is shorter, more action-oriented, and written for those not familiar with the Jewish religion, might make a better starting point for most people. Wherever you start, just start. God will take it from there.

Next Steps

1 - Improve your health and fitness. Being sick doesn't just feel bad, it is expensive! A top priority for you and your family should be improving and maintaining your good health. Stop smoking and abusing drugs or alcohol. Get adequate sleep on a consistent basis. Eat healthy (check out the Mayo Clinic article on the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet). Eat less sugar (a lot less). Build your strength & endurance. Be physically active every day (walking, hiking, gardening, yard-work, biking, swimming, tennis, yoga, and exercise videos are just a few ideas). Visit your doctor and dentist for regular check-ups. Take care of any issues with your teeth or vision.

2- Pay attention to the world around you. Be alert. Practice Situational Awareness. Pay attention to the news - locally, nationally, and internationally. Watch for developing trends, and for possible unexpected/unintended consequences. Get a good AM/FM/NOAA weather radio with multiple power options so you can listen even when the power is out.

3- Pay off debt and establish an emergency fund. Do both at the same time. A lot easier said than done, I know, but it is a necessary step. My article Prepping 101: Finances - Get Back to Basics may be useful to you, as would the Dave Ramsey website.

Take Basic Precautions

There are a lot of basic, commonsense precautions everybody should make: Have a good first aid kit at home (and one in the car). Take a first aid & CPR course. Have smoke & CO2 detectors in your home (check the batteries). Have (and learn to use) a fire extinguisher. Do a home safety inspection (if you know a boy or girl scout, they have to learn to do these for various merit badges). Have a good flashlight (or several) at home.

Stock up on food, water, cleaning & hygiene supplies, first aid supplies, medicine & medical supplies, batteries, ammunition, sturdy clothes & shoes, and other supplies. Don't get overwhelmed by trying to do it all at once. Aim for two weeks worth of food and water. Then build it up to a month's worth. Then two months worth, and so forth.

Keep your cell phone fully charged at all times.

In your car, have a first aid kit, flashlight, and jumper cables. Make sure your spare is in good condition, and that all drivers in your family know how to change a tire. Keep your gas tank full. Keep up with basic maintenance, such as oil changes, brake jobs, tires in good shapes, headlights and taillights working. In winter, keep a blanket or extra jacket and gloves in your vehicle, just in case.

Improve Your Security

Harden your home by installing security doors, deadbolt locks, improving outdoor lighting, etc. Take a self-defense course. Have your family take a self-defense course. Buy a gun and learn how to use it safely and effectively. New to guns? Check out The Gun Guide for People Who Know Nothing About Firearms and/or The Total Gun Manual.

Talk over with your family ideas about staying safe when away from home, including shopping in groups, parking in well-light, highly-visible locations, avoiding dangerous areas of town, letting people know where you are going and when to expect you back, and paying attention to your surroundings.

Plan Your Escape, Should It Become Necessary

Things may become dangerous in your area (fire, chemical spills, power plant accidents, crime, rioters/looters, government actions, etc.), so plan your possible evacuation. Where you will go? How will you get there? What happens if your primary path is blocked? Do you know alternative ways? What will you take with you?

1- Plan a Bug-Out location. Maybe its another piece of property you own. Maybe its a relatives home in another state. Or Aunt Ida's farm. If you have a set place to escape to, you may even be able to re-position clothes, food, and other supplies that would be ready for you when you get there. Make sure you know how to gt there. Map out at least one alternative route in case you're main route is blocked for some reason.'

2- Make sure your vehicle is in good shape, and fueled up. Make sure your spare tire is in good shape and that the jack and tools are in the vehicle.

3- Put together a small emergency kit for your automobile. Include things for the car (extra oil, transmission fluid, jumper cables, etc.). Include a good flashlight with extra batteries, and a road atlas or road maps. Also include things you might need in an emergency (a first aid kit, a warm blanket, bottles of water, power bars or other food, etc.)

4- Have a Bug Out or Evacuation Bag already packed for each member of your family. Include a change of clothes, some food, water, personal hygiene supplies, individual first aid kit, a compact new testament or prayer book, flashlight and extra batteries, emergency poncho, and whistle in each bag. Adults and teens should have additional items such as a knife, multi-tool, matches or lighters, duct tape, outdoor survival gear, sewing kits, etc. In the bags of children, be sure to include written information such as name & age of the child, family contact info, and lists of any allergies, medications & health conditions, should the child become separated from the rest of the family. Also include a favorite toy, coloring books, crayons, and/or a few other distractions for the kids. In your bag, be sure to include copies of insurance policies, deeds, birth certificates, vaccination records, medical records, bank numbers, passports, and other personal records (ideally in a small notebook or envelope, and possibly on a USB stick or other digital storage).

Build Long Term Self-Reliance

In the long-term you need to get out of the worldly system of dependence and learn how to do things for yourself - car and home repairs, sewing, gardening, home canning, and so-forth. Develop your DIY skills. Learn how to raise food. Develop homesteading skills. Accumulate a good tool kit. But, mostly, it means to develop an attitude of taking care of yourself and your family, instead of waiting around for others or the government to take care of you.

Remember New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina? Remember all those people standing around in knee-deep water waiting for the government or someone else to help them? That is called "learned helplessness." Don't be like them.
 Special Needs
Finally, consider the special needs of some family members. Children, the
elderly, pregnant women, folks with disabilities, and pets, all may require special items, foods, medications, or assistance.

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