If things in this world did take a turn for the worst, would you be prepared?
If the grocery store once again looked like it did back in March and April, would you be able to feed your family? If the power went out for an extended period of time, would your household get by? What if the dollar and markets crashed, would you be financially stable?
If I asked you these questions even just 1 year ago, they may have seemed completely out of context, at least for some people. But if 2020 taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected.
So, it’s time to get prepared. I’m going to quickly run you through 6 topics that you want to check off your preparedness checklist. Get these 6 things under your belt and in your preparedness tool kit, and you will be ready to weather whatever storm comes your way.
As a quick side note, you will find a lot of outside links to our favorite resources and products in this post, however none of them are affiliate links. They are simply our favorite products that we use ourselves, that we want you to know about too.
You can do without a lot of things in life, but food is not one of them. Back in March and April of 2020 we saw just how frail and feeble our commercialized American food system is. The shelves in the grocery stores were bare, and it wasn’t just the food and meat isles that were bare. We also learned that us Americans have some weird obsession with toilet paper. Moving on.
What kind of food should you have in stock? Think staples. Meat, veggies, flour, beans, rice, or whatever else your family eats a lot of, and can be stored for a long time. Customers last year bought up our bulk buys in record time, stocking it away in freezers. They were not the people fighting over the last pack of ground beef in the grocery store.
Canned veggies are definitely another good thing to have on hand, as they can sit on the shelf for a long time. They are also usually good long past their printed expiration date.
As for dry goods, (flour, sugar, beans, oatmeal, rice and coffee) we love going to Amish food stores in the Lancaster PA area to buy these items. Stores like Nickle Mine Health Foods and Pleasant Valley are great places to visit. You can find high quality organic versions of these items packed in 50lb bags at a great price.
To keep moths and ants out of your dry goods, be sure to pack them in airtight containers. We use 5 gallon buckets with a rubber sealed lid that you can find inexpensively at home improvement stores.
If you aren’t feeling so do-it-yourself, you can also buy freeze dried meals, like the ones found at https://mypatriotsupply.com. We have bought these boxes before, they are high quality and come in their own sealed pouches, typically in a pest proof box, and are shelf stable for 25 years.
Finally on the topic of food, if you have any ability to grow your own food, do it! The ultimate food security is knowing you can raise at least some of it on your own, not needing to rely on anyone else for your food supply. We use Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. For more info on growing a garden, see this blog post I wrote last spring.
Water, the most essential thing to your well-being. But do you have any extra on hand in case the tap stops running? What if the power is out for an extended period of time? If you are on city water, you shouldn’t be counting on that to always be flowing either.
Our family learned this lesson the hard way this fall when our well pump quit working, and we were out of water for 3 days while we worked to fix it. Let’s just say the bathroom was certainly not the place you wanted to be after the first day of not being able to flush the toilet.
You should have at least 1 week of water on hand. An easy way to do this is to buy bottled water and keep it in the garage or basement, as it is shelf stable for a long time. Or, do you have a natural source of water nearby that could be used for flushing toilets, or even purified for drinking if needed? A small spring on the farm was our water source for the 3 days our water was out.
Another thing to think through is the purity of your water. This can be practical even now, especially if you are on city water. You can bring water to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute and that will kill off your bacteria. But what about things like heavy metals, chlorine and other contaminants that boiling doesn’t address?
That’s where we turn to the Berkey water filter. You can have it for emergency situations, or we have used it on a daily basis. They can get pricey, but for something as important as your water, it is well worth the money. They are the gold standard in water filters.
What do I mean by energy? 3 main components, to include a generator and gasoline, lighting and heating.
Do you have one? It doesn’t need to be a whole house generator, just something large enough to power your fridge/freezer, charge your phone, and maybe run a few small appliances and lights. You can go big with a 10,000 watt generator that will power everything from your AC to your surround sound system, but those items are probably not your first concern in an emergency situation.
We have a large generator that we are so thankful to have. During the last snow storm the power was knocked out and the generator would not start. Turns out it was a bad fuse, one that we did not have on hand. You better believe I have about 15 of them on hand now. We have a Champion brand generator and are very happy with it (besides a blown fuse 😉)
To power the generator, you will need to have fresh gasoline on hand, unless it’s a propane duel fuel model. Keep in mind that the generator has less power output when running on propane. If things hit the fan and the gas stations are shut down, it will be good to have the backup fuel for your vehicle as well. You can fill some 5 gallon gas tanks and keep them handy for when needed.
With all the ethanol in fuel these days, you have to stabilize it if you want it to last any longer than 2-3 months. We use starbright fuel stabilizer as well as Ethanol Shield. We are able to get 1-2 years of shelf life on our fuel when using these products.
If the power is out for an extended period of time and you don’t have a generator, you are going to need to make sure you have lighting. We use a combination of kerosene lamps, candles and flashlights. The kerosene lamps are great for extended periods of use, plus there is something comforting about that real flame flickering in an otherwise dark room. We love shopping Lehman’s for our lanterns and kerosene.
Also, this is by far my favorite flashlight. Yes it’s expensive, but it is very high powered, and very rugged. I’ve had one for a few years now, and bought a second one because I liked the first so much.
Do you have an alternate source of heat if your power is out for a long time? No problem if it’s 6 months from now in the heat of summer, but in the winter months, it could get pretty miserable walking around in a 40 degree house.
Getting an alternate source of heating is by far the most involved step to be taken on this list. My recommendation is a wood burning stove. No electric needed, plus if you are feeling adventurous enough, you can even cut and split your own wood for extra savings. It’s an investment for sure, but it can also pay for itself if you start using wood as your full time heat.
It’s been about 9 years since we have turned the furnace on, saving us an estimated $16,200. Not to mention with wood heat our home is usually in the high 70s or low 80s, not some chilly 67 degrees.
You can find used stoves for sale on places like craigslist or FB marketplace. Our stove is actually a wood cookstove, allowing us to cook with it as well. It has a 100k btu rating, plenty of heat for a larger house, plus it can even give you hot water with a built-in hot water jacket. This is one of our best investments ever made.
So there’s your first 3 topics for your preparedness toolkit. Next time I will wrap things up with 3 more things to complete your own preparedness toolkit.