Nelson Mandela once said: “It always seems impossible until it is done”.
And so it is with preparedness. At the beginning, the task of prepping seems impossible. But once you start, and once you really get going, the process does not seem so difficult and most definitely seems possible.
Now don’t get me wrong. Talk to any prepper and he or she will tell you that the job is never done. Oh sure, you eventually acquire enough gear, water, and food to get you by for three days. Next, you work on being prepared for a week, then a month and ultimately, for as much as six months or a year.
And even then, the job is not done. There are new skills to learn, old skills to fine tune and before you know it, a whole new list of stuff to buy. This month I want to remind you that it is perfectly okay and even preferable to start slowly as you begin your journey down the path of preparedness.
Try to think of yourself as a little fish in a big pond. Each month the little fish grows and becomes stronger. The little fish begins to have to have confidence, and thrives in its ability to fend for itself.
The beginning prepper is like the little fish. You only take on as much as you can handle without suffering physical, mental, or financial exhaustion. At the same time, you stay nimble and alert and ready to make a quick decision should the big fish try to swallow you up.
A lot has happened in our world during these first nine months of prepping. Natural disasters have occurred, random acts of violence have proliferated, and around the world, cities and even countries face total economic collapse. This is as ongoing cycle, and nine months from now, there will be additional natural disasters and additional disruptive events of one type of another giving us concern for our safety.
Amid the chaos, I would like to think that the school of little fishes that started the 12 Months of Prepping Series has matured a bit, and has gained the confidence needed to weather the storm no matter what. And with this confidence, I would like to think the fishes have begun to find other even smaller fishes that they, too, can help educate.
But I get ahead of myself. Let’s see what we need to accomplish in 12 Months of Prepping: Month Nine.
Twelve Months of Prepping: Month Nine
MONTH 9 SUPPLIES & GEAR:
- Duct tape (or Gorilla Tape), 2 rolls
- Extra batteries for flashlights, radio and hearing aids (if needed)
- Add an additional 3 days of water to your supply per person and per pet
The Magic of Duct Tape
You need duct tape. And lots of it. Duct tape has so many uses that entire books and even websites and blogs have been set up to extol its virtues. This month you are going to add one roll to your emergency kit and another roll to your first aid kit where it can serve a variety of purposes.
First let me give you a brief history of duct tape. This miracle stuff was created during World War II when the US military needed a flexible, durable, waterproof tape to use making repairs in the field. A strong tape was created by Permacell, a division of Johnson and Johnson for this purpose. As the legend goes, the GIs called it “duck tape” because it was waterproof – like a duck’s back.
Duct tape, as it is now called, is handy stuff that can be used to temporarily repair a broken window, hold together broken parts on gear in your survival kit, serve as an emergency compression bandage or sling in your first aid kit and, along with plastic sheeting or tarps, create an indoor tent to shelter in place. Duct tape can also be used to repair ripped clothing or a torn backpack and it can even be used as a fly-catcher. And that is just a start.
Duct tape typically is sold in rolls of various lengths starting at 10 yards up to 60. Be sure to keep the size of the roll in mind as you comparison shop. Something else to keep in mind is that there are different qualities or grades. The grades are Industrial, Professional and Premium with industrial being the most basic, and least expensive quality, for day to day use. The higher the grade, the thicker the tape and the better the holding strength.
That is not to say that it is wrong to purchase an inexpensive grade or brand. Quite the contrary. As I have said before, purchase the best you can afford but if the budget is tight, go for a less inexpensive brand or purchase a smaller quantity of the good stuff. You want to include duct tape in your kit; this stuff is just too darn useful to go without.
On the other hand, duct tape, or its companion, Gorilla Tape, should be best you can afford. I do not say this often but from personal experience, I can tell you that while cheap duct tape works swell for a quick mending job, but for long term performance you want the good stuff.
For additional reading, visit 34 Ways to Use Duct Tape for Survival. You will be surprised by its versatility!
Other Month Nine Purchases
Something else we need to do this month is add to our supply of backup batteries. This is where it is important to look carefully at your gear to insure you get properly sized batteries. Do you need AA’s, C’s, or perhaps D’s for your tactical flashlight? Be sure to look beyond flashlights, though. If someone in your family wears hearing aids, be sure to get extra batteries for them as well. The same applies to other medical devices.
If your budget can handle the extra $20 to $30, consider a solar battery charger along with rechargeable batteries. I happen to prefer the Panasonic Eneloop brand of rechargeables because they will hold their charge for two years or more but there may be other brands that do this as well, just be sure to read the fine print.
What about batteries for your radio and cell phone? If you have been following along, you will have already purchased a hand crank radio that has cell phone charging capabilities. Still, include the radio’s batteries on your shopping list. Redundancy is important and while cranking by hand is nice and may be necessary, it is tedious and takes a long time so yes, some extra batteries would be nice.
A Quick Tip for Storing Water
Before moving on to the tasks in month 9, add some additional water to your stored water supply. Adding three days or drinking water per person is the bare minimum so do not stop there if you have the room.
Here is a tip. Gather some empty soda bottles and after cleaning them with soapy water then rinsing, fill them with tap water. This untreated tap water should be good for six months.
You can also use juice bottles or milk jugs, but because you may not be able to remove all of the sugars, current thinking is that the water inside is not suitable for drinking. On the other hand, water stored in this manner will surely be good for hand cleaning, housekeeping and personal sanitation (potty) purposes. Just be sure to label these jugs as NON POTABLE so you do not drink from them by accident. Unless treated with bleach or purification tablets, untreated water stored over a long period may not be safe to drink.
MONTH 9 TASKS:
- Follow up on efforts to organize your family and your neighborhood
- Conduct an earthquake drill at home: stop, drop and hold, then go outside. Earthquakes can happen anywhere so conduct this drill even if you do not live in “earthquake country”.
- Swap out stored medications with fresh versions. Review your prescription medicines and add those that are missing from your kit.
Remember when I said that you are no longer the littlest of fishes and that you have now matured enough to share your knowledge?
In 12 Months of Prepping: Month Five, we talked about the importance of community. Did you do something then? If so, you are to be congratulated and if not, plan to step up your efforts this month. Find one person or find a group, but share your prepping skills with someone you know.
Tip: this can even be a reluctant spouse, partner or family member.
Teach member of your community a skill and in turn, see if they have a skill that they can share with you. In addition, work on a communication plan so that community members can contact each other in the event of an emergency and so that you can verify everyone’s condition and their safety following a disaster.
The 21st Century “Phone Tree”
Resurrect the concept of a “phone tree” even though you may need to use something other than a traditional phone to propagate the tree. By definition, a phone tree is a network of people organized in such a way that they can quickly and easily spread information amongst each other.
The way it works is this: each person in your self-defined community has a list of people they will try to contact in an emergency. Once contacted, those people have their own list and so on. The idea is to communicate news and information as quickly as possible without an undue burden on any one member of the group.
For this to work, multiple contact methods should be planned for, including cell phones, texting, HAM radio, or even going door to door and knocking. In a true emergency, traditional forms of communication such as telephones and email may not be functional. Be prepared for that.
Earthquakes Happen Anywhere & Everywhere
As recent events have proven, earthquakes can and do happen everywhere. It is not the purpose of this article to discuss why this is happening in seemingly non-earthquake prone locations but rather to make you aware of the possibility, and to help you respond when and if it happens.
With that in mind, the next task is to gather around your family and conduct an earthquake drill. You can read more about how to do this in the article Be Prepared: Learn to Survive an Earthquake. In addition, you can find some excellent information on earthquake readiness on the Ready.gov Earthquake page.
Taking things one step further, now is a good time to review your plan to escape the danger if the big one occurs and you must evacuate. Is your bug-out-bag good-to-go with some water, basic food items, a first aid kit and copies of important documents (perhaps both on paper and on a flash drive)?
Do you Take Prescription Drugs?
In Month Four we added a seven day supply of prescription drugs to our emergency survival kit. Has anything changed? Are there medications that need to be added, changed or deleted? Now is a good time not only to see what you have in your kit, but also to swap out the old for new. I also recommend increasing the original 7 day supply by adding an additional 7 days, bring the total to 14 days or two weeks.
For those of you with a good memory, you might recall that originally, in 12 Months of Prepping, I suggested that Month Nine be used to check the expiration dates of your stored medications so you could replace them with fresh, depending upon their expiration dates. I now feel it is important to note that in a true, SHTF situation, many so-called expired or outdated drugs will be just fine.
As the U.S. military, the Harvard Medical School and others will attest, the actual shelf life of prescription medicines is typically far longer than the one year than is automatically recorded by your pharmacy.
Most of what is known about drug expiration dates comes from a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration at the request of the military. With a large and expensive stockpile of drugs, the military faced tossing out and replacing its drugs every few years. What they found from the study is 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date.
Source: Drug Expiration Dates – Do They Mean Anything? – Harvard Medical school
So are drug expiration dates a scam? I won’t go so far as to imply that and leave it up to you to do your own research. The important thing is to make sure you have an adequate supply of your meds to keep you healthy for at least seven to fourteen days following a disaster or disruptive event, and preferably longer. And what if you have to bypass the insurance company to purchase these extras? Hopefully you will find a way to work the cost in to your budget.
The Final Word
This month has been about preparing for the eventuality of something bad happening. Although I have used the example of an earthquake, you could substitute a flood, a fire, a hurricane or a tornado and drill for that instead of or in addition to the earthquake drill. I can not emphasize enough that these things do not just happen to other people.
They can and do happen to ordinary folks who get up each morning and go about their business in an unobtrusive manner. Some are rich and some are poor. Some are old and some are young. Some have jobs and others are unemployed. It happens to anyone and everyone and it could happen to you.
Being prepared is not always easy, especially when faced with the fear or superstition that being prepared may “jinx” you and that by anticipating the worst, it will indeed happen.
Nothing can be further from the truth. I, more than anyone, do not want anything bad to happen. I hope that I will never, ever have to use my preps. I hope that ten or twenty years from now I can donate my stored food to a food bank for distribution to the needy.
But, being a realist, I know that there is a possibility that the big one will occur near my home at some time during my lifetime. To that end, I sleep better knowing that I have the stuff, I have the skills, and I have a plan.
As you take these monthly steps toward preparedness, adapt them to your budget and to the risks you see in your area. You, too, will sleep better.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: Below you will find links to the items related to today’s article.
Duct Tape 911: The Many Amazing Medical Things You Can Do to Tape Yourself Together: This is a handy book to keep in your first aid kit along with a roll of duct tape, of course.
Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets: Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets make questionable water bacteriologically suitable to drink. Easy to use and the water is ready to drink in 30 minutes. One 50 tablet bottle treats 25 quarts of water.
Panasonic Eneloop AA New 2100 Cycle Ni-MH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries: You will have to trust me on this one – these rechargeable batteries are amazing. I have (safely) disposed of my old rechargeables and use these exclusively. I charge them up, throw them in a draw and when I need them a few months later, they are still fully charged. You can use them with your existing battery charger.
Solar Charger for Rechargeable Batteries: This Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Power Pack , coupled with the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel is what I use to charge up AA and AAA batteries as well as my electronic devices. I purchased mine as a kit from Amazon.
SunJack Portable Solar Charger: SunJack® helps mobile users stay charged on the go anywhere the sun shines. The SunJack® is able to fully charge its internal battery pack in about 5 hours of direct sunlight, or directly power any USB device. When the sun isn’t shining, users can still energize their devices from the powerful SunJack® battery, which holds enough charge to power up to 4 iPhones. See Gear Review: SunJack Portable Solar Charger.
BaoFeng UV-5R Dual-Band Ham Radio: Redundancy is the name of the game. I also have two of these inexpensive Ham radios. Keep in mind that if you are just planning to listen, you do not need a license (I am still working on mine). The price is right. Also consider the NAGOYA Antenna for BAOFENG UV-5R.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter: The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultra light personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out. It weighs only 2oz. making it perfect for the prepper. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.
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