Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Letter To A Friend

This post originally started out to be a comment to a fellow prepper on his blog posting, to hearten him and perhaps give him some pointers on where to focus his attention, but it grew beyond what seemed reasonable to post in a comments section.

Emergency shelter can be as simple as a blue tarp, or as elaborate as a camp trailer. If you have no emergency shelter of any kind, purchase a 16’x20’ blue tarp and about 300’ of yellow poly rope as well as about 10 bungee cords. That will serve as an emergency shelter large enough for your whole family as well as most of your bug out gear.

Or, some chain sporting goods stores have regular sales on family size tents for under $70. I would recommend Big 5 but there don’t seem to be any in your location. They currently have an 8’x8’ 4 person dome tent on sale for $59.99.

In examining your list of “gear”, I see you have lots of the basics covered.

You didn’t have a water purifier listed, so that is what I would focus on after you get the shelter squared away. Get 2 food grade 5 gallon buckets and buy a Berkey replacement filter element or 2 here:

This will take care of those times when a fire isn’t practical for boiling water but you need to replenish your supply.

Since your Coleman Stove and Lantern use the same fuel (propane I assume), you will want to pick up a few extra cylinders each payday. Same with the mantles. Consider getting a kerosene lantern for backup lighting.

Your port-a-crapper probably requires the addition of a chemical deodorant to keep the smell down. You will want to purchase extra bottles of this to prolong its use and keep the women folk happy. Make sure you have plenty of TP also.

You didn’t mention having either a saw or an axe, just a maul. If you don’t have them, they will be needed. A good 1 man hand saw is worth its’ weight in gold, not only because it requires no fuel other than your arm, but because it has virtually no noise signature. Checkout this companies offerings:

Your Mossberg is a good and versatile weapon with different types of ammo. As it is your primary (only?) weapon currently, I would purchase 100 rounds of 00 buckshot. This is a great defensive round and will take down deer sized game at closer ranges. Get other sizes of shot for geese and rabbit as well as possibly purchasing some specialized rounds from Firequest International, Inc.

They have many types of lethal and non-lethal rounds that will turn your shotgun into a awesome weapon.

I would recommend always having at least 3 methods of starting a fire, with 1 of them being a magnesium fire starter. Dollar stores have packs of lighters available, and $10 will keep you in lighters and fire for years to come. Paper and wooden matches are fairly cheap right now, but come the crash they will disappear fast.

There are many websites dealing with stocking up on food, so I will not go into it other than to say: make sure you eat the same foods that you store. Having diarrhea the 2nd day of TSHTF is not the best of plans. Make sure your body is used to what you are storing.

I’m not sure of your current housing arrangements, or any restrictions placed upon you by city ordinances, but if you can, watch your local Craigs list free ads. Sometimes campers and trailers show up there, and even if they are not livable, they are worth taking for the appliances, fixtures, plumbing and wiring. You may come across a gem and fill your shelter needs for a minimal investment.

One option which I have used in the past is to take a junk travel trailer and strip it down to the bare frame. Using good quality plywood, build a new deck and side board for a nice utility trailer. Now when a great deal on a free camper comes along, load it onto your trailer and bolt it down so it won’t shift around. I pulled one of these around for years with my Jeep Wagoneer.

Garage and yard sales are a great place to fill your needs for preps at a fraction of the price of new items. Also check with the local mini storages as people will at times abandon their property and the storage manager will auction off the contents, or just sell them outright for a rock bottom price. You may end up with great stuff or need to haul several loads to the dump. Yard sale what you don’t want and put the money into preps.

Even when you have no money to prep with, you can still prep. Plan routes outta Dodge, research retreat locations, learn from all the available resources on the internet. Create an Inventory list and a location list so you know what you have and where it is stored.

Although it is easy to get jittery with everything that seems to be converging on us, try to be calm as you approach building your preps. Hopefully this will keep you from overlooking something and coming off as being a bit weird to those around you.
Many people balk at the thought of the familiar world around then ceasing to exist, and therefore refuse to accept the fact that they need to prepare for themselves. They cling to the delusion that all will be well as they cannot cope with the reality that their little world could become so unfamiliar in a short space of time.

When these people are family members it becomes especially tough to get them involved, or even to accept what you are doing. To do so, you must put on a face of something familiar to them, such as preparing for hurricane season early, to beat any shortages that might occur because of the downturn in our economy. You may have to embellish the truth to make it acceptable to them.
Hopefully over time they will recognize the value of what you are doing and join in with you. If not, you have done your best to prepare under the circumstances.
Good luck and I hope this is of some help.


  1. Great advice! If you start beating your head against the wall you're gonna damage your best survival tool!

  2. Thanks Scout, that really helps. It's kinda hard for me to prioritize things beyond the basic need for shelter, food, and protection. I am making lists, but your advice will help me flesh them out, and help prioritize them. I have been researching quite a lot, and I've started on my "Survival Bible" 3 ring binder. I just get frustrated when I read everything everyone else has already done, but I know that I just gotta keep ploddin' along and hopefully I'll get "there" in time.

  3. All good info!
    Just to add, there is great grab and go - survival kit gear box at jamaluma.com. They have wall mounts for your exit point, shelter, etc., and do it yourself kits.

  4. You will do fine. The biggest obstacle to prepping is getting off your duff and doing something. Once you are motivated and have a prepping plan established it becomes easier.

    But first you have to determine what you have before you can figure out what you need. And that part of prepping will only cost you time.