Zack Strong is the Issues Committee Coordinator in the IAP
In the parable of the Ten Virgins told by our Lord, we are taught the virtue of being prepared. The parable is focused primarily on spiritual matters, but the temporal applications are also plain. Our world is turbulent and the need to prepare for contingencies and disasters of all types – whether man-made or natural – has never been greater. September is national preparedness month and therefore I am devoting this article to preparedness. I will briefly discuss food storage, relocation, contingency planning, and survival. I will also provide a basic list of useful items which one might use as a starting point in their own personal or family preparations, as well as helpful links (see the bottom of page) to other good sources of related information. This article will not be an exhaustive study, but rather a starter’s guide.
Perhaps the most important temporal preparation an individual can make is to gather a substantial food and water storage. Without these basic necessities of life, even the most astute “prepper” or experienced survivalist will die in a major disaster scenario. A lack of food or water can bring any nation – yes, even the United States – to its knees in a matter of days. Without food and water, society and civilization break down and anarchy ensues. It should be clear to any thinking person that a supply of food and water is paramount when speaking of preparedness.
Before I move on to the details of food storage, I want to address one prevalent myth that swirls around survival blogs and preparedness websites. Many folks erroneously believe that as long as you know how to hunt, you will always be able to obtain food and therefore do not need to store any. Similarly, I hear people boast that they don’t need to store up food because they have a garden or farm on which they can grow all the fresh food they will ever need. What such well-intentioned, but erring, people do not seem to grasp is the concept that society will more than likely not be running in an ordered, regular way in the event of a major disaster.
Those with gardens and farms might be forced to relocate or evacuate their homes without notice due to war, fire, flood, approaching plague, sudden drought, terrain-altering earthquake, or any number of other cases. A serious drought might dry up the water supply and make gardening or farming impossible. An exceptionally harsh, early, or long winter could destroy the harvest. Those who have staked their survival on the ability to hunt would likewise suffer in a disaster scenario. The food supply – whether it be deer, ducks, squirrels, or some other game – would dry up quite rapidly if everyone was suddenly forced to hunt for their livelihood. A drought or bad winter could also seriously effect the available food supply. But even in the best of times, hunting is never a totally reliable art because of factors outside of the individual’s control.
Gardening and hunting are incredibly important skills, and I will touch on them later, but both require a fairly stable set of conditions in order to produce a beneficial outcome and therefore cannot be relied upon completely. Trying to transport a full food storage in the event of a relocation or evacuation scenario might also be difficult and is not 100% reliable either, but it is, in my estimation, more reliable than depending on the elements or on wild game for food in a disaster.
How much food is necessary to store? You will hear different recommendations from everyone. Some say one month, others three months, and others plan for longer. However, I emphatically recommend that you have at least, as a minimum, one year of food and water. On the face of it, getting a one year’s supply of food might seem like an impossible task logistically. It also might seem like overkill. Yet I believe that a one year supply will be vital to our survival in the dark days I foresee approaching.
I highly recommend that you visit the following website to find what is referred to as a “food calculator”: http://www.thefoodguys.com/foodcalc.html This food calculator allows you to type in the number of people in your family and their ages and then it approximates how much food storage you need. It breaks down the list into many categories and gives specifics on how much wheat, flour, honey, legumes, water, etc, that you will need. I have found their approximations incredibly accurate. Overall it is a great resource.
Using the food calculator at the above link, one person will need the following to make a one year supply of food. I will not list specific food items (which the food calculator conveniently provides), but will simply give you the amount that you will need for each broad food grouping:
Grains: 300 lbs
Legumes: 60 lbs
Sugars: 60 lbs
Fruit: 185 lbs
Vegetables: 185 lbs
Dairy: 75 lbs
Fats and Oils: 13 lbs
As you can see, gathering a true food storage is no small task. It will take time, money, and storage space. Many companies offer an entire one year food package that you can order online or out of a catalogue. However, this is far from the most economical way to go about getting food storage. The cheapest way to get a food storage is to go to your local grocery store and simply buy bulk items such as 20 lb bags of rice and beans or 45 lb buckets of wheat and oats.
An effective way to start building food storage is to simply by an extra item each time you go to the grocery store. For instance, if I need a bag of dried beans, it is just as easy to grab two bags. If I’m already looking for some rice, why not throw a second bag in the shopping cart? If I am buying canned vegetables, I would throw an extra can or two in my basket. If an item is on sale, pounce on it. In all reality, it does not take much effort to collect a food storage, but it does take time unless you happen to have hundreds of dollars sitting around to devote to food forage at the drop of a hat. By buying your food storage a little at a time and in logical increments, you won’t feel an exceptionally heavy drain on your wallet. The key is to get started today. I first got my year’s supply of food as a 26 year old broke college student. If I could do it, you can, too.
A word on water. Even more important than food, is water. A human can go longer without food than without water. Water is vital. In a crisis scenario, water – especially clean water – will be a priceless commodity which is far more valuable than gold, silver coins, or physical objects no matter how fancy or high end they may be considered now. A person needs to drink approximately one gallon of water every day. The exact amount will vary from person to person, but you will want least one gallon per person, per day. Then you need to think about cooking, cleaning, and other functions for which water is necessary. When you really sit down to think about it, the amount of water one needs to store is staggering. But store it you must. I also recommend folks read the following article dispelling many common myths about water and
Though I recommend storing all the water you will need for at least a year, I highly encourage folks to invest in various water purifiers. I think that everyone should have always one, preferably multiple, LifeStraws in your survival gear or bug-out bag. LifeStraw is simply a water purifier built into an easy-to-use straw format which weighs barely over an ounce. You open the ends, stick it in the water, and drink. This device is designed to be used in muddy, bacteria-infested, dirty water. LifeStraw has been used in water polluted with feces and other harmful elements. LifeStraw will filter about 264 gallons, or approximately one year’s worth. It truly is a wonderful invention and something I deem vital for anyone seriously contemplating preparedness and survival. Other companies, such as Frontier or AQUAGEAR, make quality products that are similar to LifeStraw. Whatever brand you go with, make sure that you include some type of water filtration device in your water storage.
Entire books have been written on food and water storage, so I am, naturally, leaving a lot of information out. I want to share one final thought on food storage, however. Our forefathers all stored food – often many years worth. It was so fundamental that no one questioned it or thought twice about doing it. Today, however, those of us who prepare for future eventualities are called paranoid, extremists, or foolish. Despite these criticisms, we must do the right thing and prepare ourselves and families for the disasters which will strike at some point. Noah built his ark over a span of decades, during which time his neighbors and friends mocked him. However, when the rain started to fall, Noah and his family were the only ones spared the deluge that followed. The point is that it is better to be prepared years too early than one day too late. When the crap hits the fan, will you want to be the one who had pointed the finger of scorn at those crazy “preppers,” or one of those “preppers” who gathered a food and water storage and was ready to meet disaster? No one can make that choice for you, but I plead with you to begin to prepare now. Your future life may very well depend upon your present preparations.
One of the most dangerous and incomprehensible tendencies of modern society is to group into cities. Cities are inherently dangerous and naturally lead to corruption, vice, and a collectivist mentality among their inhabitants. I believe, as did Thomas Jefferson and many others, that cities sap the strength out of a nation and individuals and are anathema to Freedom. I would not want to be caught anywhere near a major city of metropolitan hub in the event of economic collapse, civil war, invasion, martial law, serious plague, or major natural disaster (for instance, the earthquakes which we know will someday hammer the Wasatch Front in Utah, the New Madrid Fault area along the Mississippi, or the multiple fault areas of California). Large population density is perhaps more to fear even than nuclear weapons or the wrath of Mother Nature.
I believe that world war is virtually inevitable and that the next war will reach our soil. In the almost certain event of a major war with Russia and China, for example, I would not recommend that anyone be anywhere close to major military bases and installations, major ports, or strategic cities. Seattle, for instance, is close enough to the Bangor submarine base that it will undoubtedly receive direct fallout in the event of a nuclear attack. The same goes for San Diego, Los Angeles, Ogden, UT, Baltimore, Albuquerque, Charleston, Cheyenne, WY, Great Falls, MT, Colorado Springs, Denver, Norfolk, and many other cities – some of which will likely receive direct hits owing to their proximity to strategic military targets.
But even if war were to never occur, civil unrest or economic collapse could result in mass rioting. Would a rural town devolve into riots? Perhaps on occasion, but its overall stability would be far greater than in a city. In the event of a trucker strike, cities could be without food. Again, if the power grid collapsed, it would be a matter of hours before total chaos and anarchy ensued. In every major hurricane or natural disaster, store shelves are emptied within hours. The L.A. Riots proved the danger of cities, as have multiple other riots and protests over the years. Police will not be able to maintain order, and may in fact instigate confusion, and cities will quickly divide into gangs or tribal groups. We arrogantly think that it could not happen here, yet history defies and rebukes such a claim. Just the simple fact that do many people are piled on top of one another in cities guarantees that fighting will eventually happen. Human beings are naturally selfish and will go to inhuman extremes to protect themselves, indulge their lusts, or survive – and much more so when they get into large groups. American cities would turn into chaotic, tribal war zones within days in a major crisis.
Cities are unhygienic and unhealthy places which invite disease and provide juicy targets for governments or nefarious groups to launch a plague or bioweapon. If such a naturally occurring or man-made plague hits, are your chances of surviving better in Boston, Dallas, Seattle, or Salt Lake City, or in a rural community that no one has ever heard of? The answer is obvious. Furthermore, a mass pandemic would likely result in forced quarantines or rounding up of the sick or potentially infected. In such a scenario, you would be better far away from the cities. Even after Hurricane Katrina people were bearded into the Super Dome and imprisoned there, often suffering horrible abuses and not allowed to leave for long periods of time. And Hurricane Katrina was a minor incident compared to what I am envisioning.
Maneuverability is also severely restricted in a city, whereas living in a rural location, small town, or outlying suburb would provide ample opportunity to avoid mobs, stay out of sight, slip into the woods, escape, evade detection, or flee to a designated retreat or hideout. If war hits this country – whether civil war or foreign invasion – smaller outlying areas will not be primary targets. And again, an invading army would likely bypass a small farming community off the beaten path whereas a large city situated on a highway is a prime target for subjugation. Refugees moving from city to city can also become like swarms of locusts devouring everything in their path. In any scenario, being in a smaller town somewhat off the beaten path will give you greater chances of survival than any city ever could.
If the above is true, then it follows that relocation out of the major cities is wise. And if such a move is wise, then doing so sooner than later can only be a good thing. You cannot cut ties to the world and leave on a dime, however, but rather you should develop and follow a plan for moving, establishing a lifeline in a new location, and setting down roots. The best guide on this process in existence is the third volume of Joel Skousen’s book “Strategic Relocation: North American Guide to Safe Places.” I cannot recommend Joel’s work highly enough. His political analysis is superb and his preparedness advice is unsurpassed.
If you want to know more about the concept of relocation, why it is important, and where some of the safer locations in the country (and in your own state) are, then buy Joel’s book. For my part, I want to add that I believe the single safest area of the country is the Intermountain West. The general nexus of Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana is a great area. I independently have pegged this area as the safest area of the nation, but other experts such as Joel Skousen (http://www.worldaffairsbrief.com) and Jim Rawles (http://survivalblog.com) have confirmed this view in my mind. You can find pockets of safety in most areas of America, but the Intermountain West is your best bet for long term survival through the storms that are approaching. Whatever you do, you have got to start thinking strategically and making preparations now.
One of the vital things that many otherwise preparedness-oriented folks overlook is strategic planning. Yes, you may have a food storage, but do you have a detailed plan to escape your city or town if you need to? Have you thoroughly considered and mapped escape routes, alternate or back roads, retreat locations, or meet-up spots for your family? Have you thought up a multitude of scenarios spanning from martial law to invasion to earthquake to famine? You must think about these things and make preparations.
One of the most critical aspects of strategic thinking is to really get to know your local terrain inside and out. You need to know back roads in case an earthquake severs the main highway of a military blockade stops traffic on Main Street or a raging wildfire is crossing through town and shutting down normal routes. You need to know who you can trust in your locale, which areas of town might be conducive to concealment, which spots would make for a good defense ice stand, etc. you should become familiar with the physical terrain – rivers, streams, hills, canyons, forests, valleys, etc. Knowing your terrain might one day allow you to escape an enemy, evade capture, outwit a mob, defend against criminals, keep your head low, or outrun a raging fire. In any case, you have to be prepare to roll with the punches – and preparing in advance is the best way to do that.
Like food storage, contingency planning could be the sole topic of a lengthy book. Suffice to day that we need to decide BEFOREHAND what we will do in a given scenario. Will we run and evade threats or will we stand and fight? Will we conceal ourselves and wait it out or will we flee to a secondary retreat location? Will we and together with other like-minded families or will we go it alone? Will we stand for our principles and beliefs or will we sell ourselves and our family and friends out in a moment of trial? These are all things we must think about, plan out, discuss, and decide before disaster ever rears its head.
One of the important things that we must all begin to do is to develop skills which will be useful to ourselves and to others in the event of a crisis. I can’t cover everything here, but I will give a few suggestions to hopefully stimulate your own thoughts.
Basic and advanced first aid is a valuable skill and one which may save your own life or the life of a friend, relative, or simply of a fellow human in need. There are many modern aids to help with this next skill, but starting a fire is something we should all know how to do. Hunting is an important skill, as is gutting and butchering an animal once killed/trapped. Gardening is a skill we can all develop now and one which will yield delicious and healthy dividends long before a crisis. Knowing how to tie knots and handle ropes is valuable. Being able to utilize a map and a compass might come in handy if/when technology goes down. Knowing how to use a knife, an axe, a saw, a chainsaw, and various other tools might become vital. Knowing how to weld, do carpentry, or basic construction will likely be very important. Speaking a foreign language or two might not be necessary, and is not normally associated with survival, but who can doubt but that it would be valuable in many situations both presently or during a collapse scenario? Knowing how to build a shelter, particularly a concealed one, may very well save your life. Knowing how to identify edible herbs, mushrooms, roots, or berries might save your life as well. And don’t forget to learn natural and traditional medical remedies instead of relying upon the often dangerous drugs and pharmaceuticals dished out to the population today. All of these skills, and many more, are things which would certainly help you of society were to go south. I will leave it to your judgement to decide which skills will be necessary for you to acquire, but I do know that having a varied skill set will not only benefit yourself but those around you.
Another important part of survival is getting and staying in shape. You will be at a disadvantage if the need arises to survive in harsh crisis conditions of you are obese, out of shape, or sickly. You need to eat healthily, give your body the proper vitamins and essential minerals it needs, exercise regularly, drink a lot of water, and remain active. Most jobs nowadays require us to sit at a desk for hours on end. Science and good old fashioned common sense both prove that sitting, on average, shortens life span, creates complications in your health, and increases your susceptibility to disease. Simply put, you don’t need to be competing in marathons, but you need to keep active and moving. You need to work on losing weight if you are too big. Respect for your body – which is shown by taking care of it – is important. A strong body also makes for a stronger and more alert mind – and you need to have your wits about you in a dangerous situation. You can begin this process by abandoning soda, coffee, power drinks, and pure junk food, and by getting enough water, rest, and exercise. You will quickly see improvements in your health, mental acuity, perceptiveness, and energy levels if you will follow these steps.
Next I would like to talk about what type of gear you might want to put in a bug-out bag, 72 hour kit, or survival pack. Once again, people will give different recommendations, but I will discuss what I deem important to have. I will give an explanation followed by a list of items.
First off, I believe that second only to a one year food and water storage is the need to store warm winter clothes, blankets, etc. I foresee a time when the power grids in the United States are knocked out, whether through an EMP attack, a solar flare, or as a result of war or harsh weather. Imagine the frightful scenario if an EMP attack were to destroy the power grid in mid December. Last year the winter season broke literally thousands of records for cold temperatures, amount of snow, etc. The winters appear to be growing colder. What would happen if your city’s power went out suddenly during the winter? Would you be equipped to survive? Would you be able to keep your family warm? What if America were invaded during the winter time and you were forced to evacuate your town on foot – would you be warm enough to make the journey? If a natural disaster leveled your city, destroyed the roads, and forced you out into the cold, could you survive negative temperatures? These might seem like far fetched scenarios, but they really are not.
I believe the need is great – no matter whether you live in sunny Florida, California, or Texas, or in Fairbanks, Alaska, Kalispell, Montana, or New York City – to have have warm clothing, a nice winter coat, a sturdy pair of warm waterproof gloves, winter boots, a warm face mask or hat, thermal undergarments, warm socks, and thick winter clothing. You will find varied opinions about which coat or gloves or boots work best or are the warmest, so I suggest that you do research and test out various products. I will end by repeating my feeling that the need for warm, waterproof, wind resistant winter clothing is dire. In fact, I would label winter clothing a necessity.
Apart from winter clothing, you will want a wide variety of gear and items ranging from emergency blankets to solar/crank radios to first aid kits to paracord to potassium iodide tablets to a breathing respirator to a saw, etc. Directly below I have provided a list of what I currently have in my own survival/bug-out bag or which I am in the process of adding to it. I should first of all explain that I favor a slightly larger style of pack rather than a smaller backpack style. My current pack is a “K-Cliffs Catlespine Internal Frame Backpack.” I won’t bother with specific brand names in most cases, but here is what I have packed inside my pack:
– first aid kit
– 50 ft. of paracord
– ThyroSafe, Potassium Iodide Tablets (I currently have 2 boxes of 20, 65 mg tablets)
– mess kit
– portable stove
– multiple boxes and books of wind/waterproof matches
– waterproof fire sticks
– fire lighters
– windproof lighter
– pocket saw
– four function Life Gear flashlight
– hand warmers
– waterproof gloves
– sleeping bag
– thermal undergarments
– extra socks and underwear
– MREs with heaters
– pens, pencils, and a notepad
– Havalon Piranta surgical steel knife (I highly recommend this scalpel-like knife to hunters)
– pocket knife
– map of your region, state, and specific location (I have individual maps of Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming as well as Idaho-specific locations and one of the Spokane, WA area)
– Duct Tape
– face mask
– commercial-grade paint respirator
– Frontier mini filtration straw
– AQUAGEAR water filtration bottle
– fire starter (flint)
– a hook and fishing line
– 8.45 oz boxes of water
– Kaito solar/crank/battery-operated radio with flashlight
– Datrex emergency ration bar
– Mainstay food bar
– SOS Food Lab, Inc. food bars
– extra batteries
– vitamin C
– Blistex chapstick
– Aloe Vera ointment
– insect repellent
– sewing kit
– toilet paper
– toothbrush and toothpaste (non-fluoride)
– biodegradable soap
– nail clippers and file
– binoculars (having worked with optics, I absolutely recommend Vortex above all other brands)
– two-way radios
– pepper spray
– handgun with box of ammunition
– silver coins
– pocket Constitution and Declaration of Independence
– Citizen Rule Book
– scriptures (last, but certainly not least)
If you are not satisfied with my list, here are several other lists that others have compiled. You will find variations, but the core items are virtually identical in all lists:
Whatever you put in your pack, make sure it is specific to your circumstances (i.e. terrain, environment, etc) but yet versatile enough to use in many conditions. Even if you cannot afford to purchase a nice pack or new gear, start by putting something together. Whether you have to use an older backpack or a duffle bag, start gathering up household items which may be useful (painkillers, tape, extra batteries, an extra knife, etc). It is not difficult to throw together a decent survival pack fairly quickly once you begin seriously considering the matter. Once you get your initial pack, continually improve upon it as your circumstances and means allow.
In summation, the key to getting prepare is to start now. Unless you have hundreds of dollars laying around which you can plop down today, you will need time to gather all the necessary supplies and to develop plans for future scenarios. I have provided a very basic outline for preparedness – it is up to you to take that outline and build upon it and tweak it to meet your family’s needs.
If you have made it to the bottom of this article, I take it that you are truly concerned, as am I, about the future of this country. If so, you already have a leg up on most other folks. The first step to preparedness is a desire to prepare and an awareness that there is a need to prepare – even if you do not know exactly how to go about it. I hope that my article gave you a few bits of advice. Others have devoted much more time to this up subject than I have and have put their work online, in books, etc. Below this article I have provided a list of website links to look up. You will find many archived full of information about all things survival and preparedness. I recommend that you take some time to go through them and glean out the information pertinent to you. As I have repeated often, the key to preparedness is to start. Start today in some way, shape, or form and you can get the ball rolling.
As I close, I want to share one more admonition and bit of advice. No People can survive as a free, prosperous, peaceful, and happy nation if they do not worship God, live His laws, and live a moral life. The same is true of individuals. Many political fixes need to be made in our bloated statist system, but the only true remedy for our nation’s problems is found not in D.C., but in our hearts. We must repent as a nation and humble ourselves before our God. Even if our once great Union does not follow this course, we will be blessed individually if we do. Center your life on the Gospel of the Master and He will be with you no matter what storms and tempests you are called to pass through. May God help inspire you in your preparations for our turbulent future.
Short List of sources for additional information:
– “The Good News About Nuclear Destruction” – http://www.ki4u.com/goodnews.htm
– “Strategic Relocation: North American Guide to Safe Places” by Joel Skousen
– “Strategic Relocation” the film at http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/strategic-relocation-where-to-go-when-it-hits-the-fan-full-movie_11162012