In the course of my travels, I am often asked about Backdoor Survival. The most common question is “What is the website about?”. The answer is always the same: Backdoor Survival is lifestyle website that shares tips, tools and information for creating a preparedness lifestyle. This usually leads to the next question: “Why prepare?”
The answer to that question can vary, depending on circumstances. For many, being prepared means having the tools, skills and mindset to deal with a natural disaster in a sane, and dare I say, comfortable manner. For others, being prepared also means having the ability to deal with a less tangible event, such as illness, loss of employment, economic collapse, or civil unrest. In all cases, being prepared means having the ability to be self-sufficient and avoiding a trip to Camp FEMA.
Whatever the reason, chances are you have come to this website to seek ideas, answers and encouragement as you pick your way along the preparedness path. To make things easy, I have chosen to embrace the theme, 12 Months of Prepping, One Month at a Time where I define monthly tasks that break down the overwhelming chore of preparing for an emergency, however it is defined, in manageable and affordable chunks.
In 12 Months of Prepping: Month One, I talked about the Survival Mindset and got you started with water and food storage. I also had you perform a walk-around inventory so that you could assess any gaps in your gear and begin thinking about the purchases you will need to make in future months. Today, I present some strategies and tasks for Month Two.
But first, let me step back and remind you of one of the most easily justifiable reasons to prepare: unpredictable weather or what I like to call “the whims and fancies of Mother Nature”. Storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and other wonky weather patterns can disrupt you, your home, your life, and your family in a heartbeat. Preparing for such events, however unpredictable, simply makes sense.
As the 2014 ice storms taught us, you do not have to be a conspiracy theorist, a political dissenter or even a dissatisfied and disillusioned citizen to know that the forces of Mother Nature will, at one time or another, require you to tuck in and rely on your own resources to get by. If you are lucky, you will only need to get by for a few days but alas, the aftermath of some disasters may be so catastrophic that they will require you to fend for yourself without power, heat and the niceties of life for a week or longer.
And so, in this month by month preparedness series, I ask you to continually evaluate the risk for a natural disaster in your geographical area. What are the types of natural disasters that could turn your life upside down? After thinking that through – and I will help you with that a bit later – review your existing preparations, if any, to ensure that the basics are covered.
Are you a beginning prepper? If so, breathe a sigh of relief. The tasks in any one month of this series will not be too difficult nor too expensive and, at the end of twelve months, you and your family will be better prepared than 90% (or more) of your friends and neighbors.
For the more experienced prepper, I challenge you to take a good look at the monthly tasks and supplies as they are outlined each month. Is it time to update a skill or rotate some supplies (especially food, water and meds)? What about the gear mentioned in the current month? Is it in good working order? Do you need to make repairs and come up to speed on how to use some of the more esoteric items? There is always room for improvement so go back and review the basics as though you were just getting started.
Okay, enough of a pep talk. Let’s get started with Month Two of Prepping.
MONTH 2 SUPPLIES & GEAR:
- Canned vegetables – 4 cans per person
- Toilet paper – 3 rolls per person
- Sanitary napkins – enough for 2 months
- Instant drinks (coffee, tea, powdered soft drinks)
- Family sized first aid kit
Last month we started our food storage with canned meats and prepared foods. This month we add the variety and increased nutrition that comes from canned veggies. There is only one rule of thumb here: only purchase and only store veggies that you enjoy and veggies that you will actually eat. Hate spinach? Notwithstanding that spinach greens are a powerful super food, if you or your family don’t like it, don’t store it. Storage space is too precious to waste.
In addition to veggies, we are adding some instant beverages to our food stores. Pick your poison: instant coffee, herbal or flavored teas, hot chocolate or, a personal favorite, a few bottles of wine or even some whiskey or rum. Okay, so the wine and whiskey are not technically instant but they require no special preparation so I am including them here for use at your own discretion. Hint: if you decide to store wine, be sure to pack away a corkscrew as well!
Don’t forget the kiddos. Kool-Aid, Tang or some of the powerhouse drink powders especially geared for the young ones are a must – just make sure that you also store away a bit of sugar, if needed, for use when reconstituting the final product. Something else to keep in mind is that a spoonful of one of these instant drink mixes can make otherwise “off-tasting” stored water more palatable.
The Often Overlooked Personal items
Now here’s the rub. Colleagues of mine will carefully package and store food, water, ammo, family communication plans, flashlights, batteries and all sorts of gear. But ask if they have some tissues to blow their nose or to maintain hygiene after taking care of business and I will be given a blank stare.
If you do nothing else this month, pack away toilet paper, sanitary supplies for the ladies, Kleenex, deodorant, toothpaste, floss and a toothbrush for each member of your family. And while you are at it, a wash cloth or two and a bar of soap will be much welcomed additions to your gear bag. Oh, and also some condoms if you are so inclined.
A Family Sized First Aid Kit
When putting together a first aid kit, you can purchase an all-in-one kit, set it aside and you are good to go. There are decent options that are reasonably priced starting as low as $20 all the way up to $100, $200 and more. If you decide to go this route, check out the reasonably priced Adventure First Aid Kit 2.0 or the more comprehensive Adventure Medical Kits Weekender Kit. Both these kits will provide you with basic supplies for a very reasonable price.
Another option is to pull together the first aid supplies yourself, adapting to the needs of your family, including ages, health conditions, and the types of calamities that are likely to occur in your particular area.
Here is my personal list along with a use for each of the items:
Alcohol: Disinfecting, cleaning wounds. Alcohol wipes are also good but you run the risk of opening the little packet and finding that it is dry as a bone.
Bandages: Preferably waterproof in a variety of sizes including extra large for big scrapes.
Ace bandages: Sprains
Petroleum jelly or DIY Miracle Healing Salve which is one of my favorite frugal, but effective, home remedies. I prefer this non-petroleum based salve that I make myself but Vaseline is also effective and cheap. Either can be used on chapped lips, cracked skin, or overall as an extra heavy moisturizer. See DIY Miracle Healing Salve for instructions on making this yourself.
Essential oils: a basic kit that includes lavender, rosemary, Melaleuca (tea tree) and lemon will solve a lot of first aid woes. See the article Eight Essential Oils for Health and Wellness for a more thorough discussion of the use of essential oils.
Neosporin or other Antibiotic Ointment: For killing bacteria and soothing cuts. Note: antibiotic ointments have a shelf life and should be replaced annually.
Cortisone cream: Rashes, skin irritations, itching
Acetaminophen & ibuprofen: Aches, pains, fever
Benadryl (oral) or generic equivalent: Oral antihistamine for allergies and allergic reactions
Antibiotics: My doctor recommends Cipro as the very best all-purpose antibiotic. It is very cheap but effective for a wide variety of ailments.
Imodium or other anti-diarrheal: Ummm, I think you know what this is for. Can also be used on your dog.
Tweezers: Removing splinters
Nail Clippers: Lots of uses including split nails, hangnails, clipping dead skin.
Tums or other Antacid: Indigestion
Cough Syrup: Cold remedy
Digital Thermometer: This will let you know when it is time to call for medical help.
First Aid Book: Not crucial, but a nice addition for those times when you simply do not know what to do.
Keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive, trauma oriented kit that might be required in the case of a huge natural disaster. Instead, these are the items that will be useful if you are required to be cooped up in isolation for a week or two or while vacationing, camping, traveling or simply waiting out the latest winter storm.
MONTH 2 TASKS:
- Evaluate the weather-related risks in your geographical area.
- Change the batteries and test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Purchase and install both types of detectors if you don’t have them.
- Make an inventory of home contents for insurance purposes. Take photographs (digital are easiest) of your house and contents. Store a copy away from your home and also on a flash drive that you carry with you.
Evaluate the risks that will turn your life upside down and especially the weather anomalies and natural disasters specific to your geographical area. Businesses and insurance companies use the term risk management to describe “the identification, analysis, assessment, control, and avoidance, minimization, or elimination of unacceptable risks”. The same applies to preparedness. It only makes sense to prepare for those things that are most likely to happen to you and your family.
For some, that will be an earthquake and for others a tornado, wildfire, flood or hurricane. And yet for others, unemployment or ill-health may be the biggest risk. The important thing this month is to face the potential risks head-on then come up with a plan of action that will help you survive if an at-risk event really happens.
Not sure where to start? Virtually all cities, counties and states have websites with tons of free information specific to the disaster risks in your geographical area. Here is a listing of resources by State (in the US) although I encourage you to seek information at your local level as well: Emergency Services By State. In addition, if you are older or have special needs, you will find some additional resources here State Emergency Preparedness.
Smoke, Fire and Invisible Fumes – Not to Be Overlooked!
Smoke detectors are not set it and forget it. Like all pieces of survival gear, they need to be tested. This means getting out the step-ladder and pushing the test button to make sure your smoke detectors are working properly. This also means changing the batteries annually, whether they need to be changed or not.
Ask yourself if you have an adequate number of smoke detectors. One should be placed on every level of your home, with the most important location being near the bedrooms. Better yet, place a smoke alarm inside every bedroom as well your kitchen and any room with a fireplace or wood stove. Also, did you know that virtually every recognized fire authority recommends the installation of both ionization and photoelectric alarms in order to maximize protection from either flaming or smoldering fires?
And while you are at it, check your Carbon Monoxide detectors and replace their batteries as well. CO is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced when any fuel is incompletely burned. Sadly, about 150 people die each year from non-fire, carbon monoxide poisoning associated with home fuel-burning heating equipment. This is preventable with a $30 CO detector.
The last task this month will be to walk around you home and inventory its contents for insurance purposes. Grab your digital camera and take lots of photos. Every digital camera and even a smart phone will have a video function so a quick pan around each room will help substantiate not only what you own but also the quality of your furnishings, fixtures and cabinetry. Store the photos and video on a flash drive and you will be way ahead of the curve if disaster strikes and you need to file an insurance claim.
THE FINAL WORD
Being prepared has finally become a mainstream activity. I recently saw a newsletter published by a local assisted living facility and there it was: prepping tips for seniors living in a sheltered, highly supervised assisted living facility. I also saw where our local drugstore was stocking all-in-one 72 hour kits. Even Costco and other warehouse type clubs feature preparedness related gear and food items.
This is a welcome breath of fresh air. No longer viewed as the purview of wannabe Rambo’s and Nut Jobs, survivalists have now been gentrified and are called Preppers. Personally? I don’t care who or what we are called. The important thing is to get ready and to be ready. And doing so one month at a time makes it easy!
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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From the Bargain Bin: Survival is all about learning to fend for yourself. Here are some of the items mentioned in today’s article plus a few other ideas to get you started.
QuikClot Sport Brand Advanced Clotting Sponge: A must for any first aid or emergency kit, QuikClot Sport stops moderate to severe bleeding until further medical help is available.
Israeli Battle Dressing, 6-inch Compression Bandage: This is another inexpensive, yet critical item for your first aid kit. Combat medics, trauma doctors, and emergency responders all recommend this Israeli Battle Dressing (IBD) for the treatment of gunshot wounds, puncture wounds, deep cuts, and other traumatic hemorrhagic injuries.
Vigilant Trails First Aid Kit: This kit is very popular with BDS readers. It contains 72 pieces of high quality first aid products and is equipped to help you manage minor cuts, abrasions, rashes, burns, insect bites, allergies, upset stomach, headaches, body aches, blisters, infections, mild dehydration, chapped skin and lips and exposure to poisonous plants containing Urushiol Oil (Poison Oak, Ivy and Sumac). Housed in a small crush proof plastic container, measuring just 5″ X 3.5 ” X 1 7/8″.
Kidde Dual Sensor Smoke Alarm with Battery Backup: Virtually every recognized fire authority recommends the installation of both ionization and photoelectric alarms in order to maximize protection from either flaming or smoldering fires. For about $30, this highly rated unit does both and is a snap to install.
First Alert Carbon Monoxide Plug-In Alarm with Battery Backup: I have two of these; one in my kitchen and other next to the fireplace in my bedroom. (Both my stove and fireplace use propane fuel.)They do tend to go off periodically and when they do, the windows get opened so that I can flush fresh air throughout the house. A fluke? Who knows. I feel it is best to be safe than sorry.
Silicon Power 8GB Flash Drive, Gray Aluminum: I just purchased this flash drive for my key ring because the one I purchased a couple of years ago broke. The flash drive itself works but the key ring thing made of plastic broke off. This flash drive has a ring shaped metallic exterior which should stand up over time. Plus, it is less than $7 with free shipping.
Rothco 550lb. Type III Nylon Paracord: As far as I am concerned, paracord ranks up there with duct tape and zip ties. I wish I had know about this stuff years ago.
The Amazing 2000-Hour Flashlight: This short little book will give you detailed instructions for adding a 30-cent resistor to a $5 flashlight and create a light that produces useful illumination for 2000 hours on the same battery. Available in print or electronic form.
The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way: This book will teach you how to deal with all the likely medical issues you will face in a disaster situation, and including strategies to keep your family healthy even in the worse scenarios. It covers skills such as performing a physical exam, transporting the injured patient, and even how to suture a wound. This medical reference belongs in every survival library.
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My eBook, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage will provide you with everything you need to create an affordable food storage plan, including what to buy and how to store it. Nothing scary and nothing overwhelming – you really can do this!