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Four years ago, mentioning that you were a “Prepper” evoked quizzical looks of confusion. What the heck was that? As you tried to explain, you could see eyes start to glaze over and an invisible tin foil hat being placed upon you head. The lesson learned? Keep your mouth shut less you be forever classified as a nut job of the highest order.
Of course back in the day – if you can call 2010 the day – there was concern that 2012 would represent the end of days. This was based upon the notion that on 12-21-2012, the Mayan calendar ended presumably because the planet Earth would be ravaged by a smorgasbord of cataclysmic astronomical events. Thus started an entire industry best labeled “Doomsday”.
Whether the Mayans were right, wrong, or simply misunderstood makes no matter. For a myriad of reasons, their doomsday predictions set off an unprecedented movement to “get prepared”. The get prepared message has since been promoted by governments, the Red Cross, and civilian organizations that are telling us that we need a kit. Taking this to the next step, we are bombarded with what belongs in “The Kit” as it is known.
Websites have been started promoting this theme. Many are excellent; they are kinder gentler websites set up to help teach you about preparedness so that you will be ready for whatever disaster or world calamity comes your way. They also expose the truth, for believe it or not, governments and corporations do not always have your best interests in mind.
Sadly, many other websites have been started with the express intent of instilling fear – enough fear to entice you to purchase overpriced info-products and eBooks that will supposedly teach you how to survive under the worst of circumstances. These websites cast a shadow on the more legitimate websites and the better products out there – products that are well-written and well-priced and not a rip-off designed solely for the purpose of taking some of your well-earned cash.
But I digress. The purpose of this little essay is to provide you with some basic lessons to help you prepare for an apocalypse or collapse of society. Not that we will see such an event in our lifetime but quite honestly? You just never know. None of them cost a dime but be forewarned, some will require you to examine your own moral and ethical values. They will make you think.
Eight Uncommon Lessons of Preparedness
1. Skills and stuff are equally important.
What do I mean by that? Simply that you can have a years’ worth of freeze dried food, six ways to purify water and a well-stocked first aid kit but if you don’t have the skills to defend yourself, the knowledge to find food in the wild, and the ability to tend to serious wounds, all of the “stuff” you own will be of little use to you following a post-apocalyptic event.
2. Community organization with like minded people can and will save lives.
Unless you live in isolation, the bad guys are going to come around and it may be difficult if not impossible to defend yourself on your own. Not only is there strength in numbers, but members of an organized team will most certainly have a wider variety of skills at their disposal.
3. Mental discipline and a level head under pressure will prevail when tough decisions need to be made.
When roaming groups of people show up on your street, or even worse, at your doorstep, they may be tired, hungry and in need of shelter. What do you do? Who gets to stay? How do you decide? This is just one example of the tough decisions you may have to make in a collapse situation.
4. Do not underestimate the need to defend yourself in ways you can not fathom in advance.
How will you defend yourself, your family, and your worldly belongings following an apocalypse? Sure, it is easy to say that you will shoot anyone that comes close but could you really do it? Moreover, have you thought of alternative methods to defend what is yours such as setting up blockades or no-enter zones?
5. There will be casualties. Be prepared mentally and physically to deal with the seriously wounded and the deceased.
You may feel prepared with a well-stocked first aid kit, antibiotics, suture kit, and a full complement of trauma supplies. But do you know how to use them? How do you determine dosages especially when the drugs on hand may be in short supply? Who gets them and who does not?
And equally important, if people die (and they likely will), what will you do with the the bodies? Bury them (hope you have a strong back and a good shovel)? Burn them? The ramifications may be horrific but if you are one of the survivors, you will have to have the mental capacity to deal with this.
6. Grieving is important as is the need to spend personal time alone to rest and recharge.
No one can do it all 24 hours a day for days on end. When and if the time comes, you will need to take time to grieve your losses and also time to rest and recharge your mental and physical batteries.
7. Perceived “good guys” may be bad and perceived “bad guys” may actually be good.
No surprise here. Just be prepared to evaluate, interview and act based upon as much knowledge and gut instinct you can muster. Trust no one until that trust in earned. Start building your criteria for trustworthy-ness starting today. Practice your interview questions and learn how to say “no” if you have to.
8. Feelings and compassion count as does the love and support of friends and family.
This is an important point. Without these qualities, the will to go on may be compromised. A good example of how feelings and compassion play a role in survival is demonstrated in in Cormac McCormack’s “The Road”. In the book (there is also a movie), the love between a father and his son a paramount to their ultimate survival.
The Final Word
Unless you have experienced a catastrophically disruptive event first hand, you likely have no concept of life in a post apocalyptic society. I know that I don’t. That being said, we can still look back at past events and study the dynamics of human nature to learn how to respond, how to live, and how to thrive given our preemptive preparations.
How will it all turn out? Who knows. Perhaps we will maintain the status quo and nothing bad will happen. Then again, we may experience economic collapse, pandemic, famine, war or massive destruction caused by an unforeseen disaster.
Whatever you believe, and whatever happens, know that you still have time to learn and that you still have time to live to the fullest extent possible. Isn’t that the very best we can hope for?
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: Today I share some hunker-down favorites.
One Second After: For many, the novel “One Second After” was a game changer that convinced them of the need to be prepared. If you have not read this book, you really should.
The Road: Even if you think it will never happen, you need to watch to this film, based upon Cormac McCarthy’s book, ‘The Road’. As I recall, the film is available on Netflix streaming (free for members).
Emergency Radio: My old Kaito died right when I needed it so now I have two: the compact Kaito Voyager V1 and the Ambient Weather Compact Emergency Radio. While both have lots of features, my primary interest is in using them as a solar/crank radio.
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.
Coleman PefectFlow 1-Burner Stove: This Coleman One-burner Propane Stove is an easy-to-use portable stove that should meet almost any camp cooking need. The PerfectFlow regulator provides consistent cooking performance by producing a steady fuel stream, even in cold weather, high altitudes, or when fuel is low. Equipped with one 10,000 BTU burner, this fully adjustable stove will last for 2.2 hours on high or up to nine hours on low.
Coleman Rugged Battery Powered Lantern: This sturdy Coleman has a runtime of up to 28 hours on the low setting and 18 hours on the high setting but does require D cell batteries. Personally, I have both a battery operated and propane lantern. Of course by now you know that I like redundancy with my preps.
Dorcy LED Wireless Motion Sensor Flood Lite: Don’t let the price lead you to think this wireless flood light is wimpy. I have two of these and feel that these lights are worth double the price. Using D-cell batteries, the Dorcy floodlight will light up a dark room or a dark stairway in an instant. I can not recommend these enough.
BIC Disposable Classic Lighters: This six pack of Bic lighters is reasonably priced but check around since these often go on sale locally. BICs just work – every time.
Eveready 3-LED 6Volt Floating Lantern (battery included): If you are planning to build a 2000-hour flashlight (and you should) this is the one that you need.
Clear Mist Emergency Candles: Also available at Emergency Essentials (see below).
Amusements: My favorites are Canasta playing cards and the Ticket To Ride board game.
Third Edition: The SURVIVAL MEDICINE Handbook
A frequent question I get on Backdoor Survival has to do with healthcare matters when there is no doctor around. This is the definite source of survival medical information for all Prepper’s and is my go-to bible for survival medicine.
29 Responses to “Eight Uncommon Lessons: Preparing for an Apocalypse”
Well, if anyone is concerned about foraging, you can always let the dandelions go in your yard! The leaves are edible, and pretty much everyone can identify them. They are high in vitamins, too, I believe. You can also “wildcraft” patches of berries, indigenous fruit trees and vines in places that are nearby bugout locations, so you will already know it’s edible before you need it. And almost everyone has potatoes on hand…no problems getting those to sprout! I try to always have parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (remember the song?) plants on hand for seasoning. And salt, of course. Many vegetables will reseed themselves if left in place, so they could be wildcrafted also. Just a thought.
I find it interesting that foraging is a skill “preppers” should develop…because so much of this country’s population lives in urban / suburban environments without access to wild edibles simply because the land’s been chewed up by housing, malls, schools, etc. And what hasn’t been “developed” (such as so many urban / suburban parks, green spaces, etc.) has been sprayed into chemical toxicity for decades. Thus, I haven’t a clue where we urban / suburbanites would / could go to forage. ??
Sandy – although I wouldn’t recommend eating anything growing alongside the road or in developed areas, when you are starving it can keep you alive until you can bug out to the country where your knowledge of plants that can be eaten will be more useful. Many of the “weeds” that grow in the city are edible, but like you said, they may be sprayed with chemicals. There is still food value in them, but I would not recommend eating them long term. Learn which ones are good to eat (if not sprayed) for the absolute emergency period, or for when you travel outside the city environments.
So, yes, even if you live in the city, it is still a good skill to learn. (In My Opinion)
I agree with Jim. This is something else you can find out. Know the places where there are plants growing, know the types of plants—edible or not, and also check with the local business or owner to see what is sprayed on those plants. Make it a part of getting to know your own neighborhood AND knowing the pathways if/when you have to bug out of your location. You see, the ‘native’ plants grow despite us. 😉
This is the first I have seen of ‘dead bodies’! What do you do with them? Such an unpleasant topic, but a reality! So what do we do with them? Any articles available?
It would depend on the number of bodies. If only a few, then you would need volunteers to dig graves. Power equipment may not be available. If many bodies, about all you could do, without power equipment (backhoes etc.), is to burn them. Bad all around, but leaving the bodies would provide a breeding ground for all kinds of diseases and attract wild predators. As for the few burials you may do, I don’t know anything about embalming or if it is an absolute must. Making sure the grave is at least 6 feet deep has a purpose. #1 it helps to filter the odor, and #2 it is too deep for most predators to dig up.
Just something we may have to face someday. Like they say, hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
It also guarantees it is below the frost line so it doesn’t heave during the winter freeze. Or you’ll be burying it again come spring.
Marilee – here’s a short article at Prepper Central that may give you some info. Or at least more to think about.
Body Disposal Post Collapse
If the link does not work just do a search for Body Disposal Post Collapse
Gaye what a great article!
So many articles about prepping and survival forget the human element, and turn all of our neighbors and friends into “enemies” to fear. I’ve always believed that people are people, good-hearted and bad, and stress only intensifies this fact, but doesn’t change it. Your friend and neighbor today, likely will be tomorrow, too.
Planning a group in advance can definitely be a life saver!
And #5 covers something I think about often. When we make plans, we usually start with our current physical capabilities. In a SHTF situation, it’s quite possible (even likely) that either me or someone I care about will be injured and need help. Puts a whole new perspective on slinging an 80 pound BOB pack when you’ve got a broken foot. 😉
Thank you for posting this9!
I live in southwestern New Mexico and found a great book on local edibles at the Gila Cliff Dwellings Visitor Center. I had been struggling with figuring out what was useful in this area! Deserts are tougher than a lot of areas just because so little grows. This isn’t a huge book, but it is certainly well produced. It’s published by the Western National Parks Association, written by David Yetman. Maybe another avenue of research for other parts of the country?
I’m in the middle of New Mexico (Albuquerque) area and recently took a class on Edible Backyard Weeds and one on Medicinal Weeds/Herbs. Everyone should look to their local county extension service or historical societies for classes on sustainable living, herbs, etc. We have Albuquerque Old School here which does inexpensive classes on traditional, frugal, sustainable living. Groups like this are cropping up everywhere. Ask around….knowledge is as important as stuff!
Also look to the native peoples in your area. They can teach you about the edibles in your area!
I was nodding until I got to the recommendation to watch “The Road.”
McCarthy’s book was the most depressing, no-light-in-the-tunnel-at-all, soul-sapping novels ever penned. I would recommend only people I can’t stand the sight of read it, so I can only imagine the movie (assuming it’s faithful to the book).
Fighting hopelessness is the single most important “survival” skill. In Japan, suicide is among the most common causes of death. This is what happens in an economic *downturn.* Imagine how much worse is the pull of hopelessness in an economic cataclysm.
People give up. Unemployment saps the will to live. People are hounded by bill collectors into the grave. An entire generation of young adults are now suffocating under debt loads unimaginable just 20 years ago, and their job prospects are evaporating before their eyes.
Anyone with an ounce of sense should recognize that doom-porn can push people into giving up as easily as it might energize them. Offer “build-up,” “outlast-the-difficulties” advice to people, not “put your head between your legs and kiss your a$$ goodbye.”
Let’s take topics one at a time. Even if you know all the wild plants, you will need protein and fat to survive. Here’s an excellent resource once you get over the yuck factor. Edible : an adventure into the world of eating insects and the last great hope to save the planet
by Danielle Martin
Furthermore, foraging in very time and energy-consuming. Better to raise your own food. Check out this one.The resilient gardener : food production and self-reliance in uncertain times
by Carol Deppe
Lastly, most people in America base their vision of collapse on movies Like The Road or inaccurate news reports, like those during Hurricane Katrine. Read the chapters on Katrina (especially as regards the so-called looters)in this book, then tell me if the news media is to be trusted to give a clear picture of tragedy. A paradise built in hell : the extraordinary communities that arise in disasters
by Rebecca Solnit.
Yes foraging is time consuming. Unless you forage to gather the seeds/plants and cultivate them. They are already acclimated to the area and should do better than imported plants.
Television? I have one to watch DVD’s on and nothing else. I cannot receive TV direct due to my location and I refuse to pay the outrageous prices for satellite TV. Haven’t had it for about 15 years now and don’t miss it. And I very, very seldom believe anything the TV news repeaters say (also known as reporters)(from youtube clips). I trust them about like I trust the government to help us – not at all!
As for movies/books, I always assume they are presenting things in the best possible (gray)light (mostly for drama), and that things can get much, much worse than what they portray. In addition, you don’t get the smells and seldom see the real blood and gore or torn bodies that you could encounter in a real life shtf situation. And you don’t suffer the deprivations. (go a few days without any food, then try laughing about it! And still do more work than you normally do, just to stay alive.)
I guess if you don’t already do foraging, or if you’re a beginner it can be time consuming. But then, Mother Nature does the work while I just gather the harvest. Not everyone can do gardening, but knowing what’s edible around you doesn’t have to take any more time than just going out to the yard and picking the meal. Yes, fat will be the challenge, though there animal proteins and vegetable proteins.
As to looters, anytime local authority is immobile for any reason, there will be those who choose to grab stuff for free. As to Katrina, not sure where you got your info, since I had family living down there, I can say what the news media showed was just a sample. Breakdown also means getting up and back on your feet and some are quicker than others to do it. It’s the resilient ones who get back on their feet faster so they can help rebuild in those times. It takes all types even the looters can be part of a community of preppers given right people around them, that’s when they aren’t looters, but ‘scroungers’.
Like so many things – at first it seems almost impossible to learn good from bad. After doing it for a while it becomes easy!
I walk along seeing plants and wonder “Is that edible?”
You see the same plants and think “That sure would go good in a salad!”
Gaye, perhaps you or one of the other readers can tell us the best way to find someone or a class that can teach about local edible plants? Best would someone that can wander the area with you at different times of the year and gather the plants, then help you prepare them for a meal. Learn by doing. I know several local plants, but feel that I’m walking over a grocery store without seeing it!
You can do as I have done. Begin with one or two plants. Learn as much as you can as to edibility (is that even a word?) and medicinal values as well as what’s available during different times of the year. You can go to Amazon and discover many books on foraging especially for your part of the country. Remember Gaye can get paid if we go from here but I don’t know how to do that, she’ll have to chime in. lol
You probably are walking over it…dandelions, all parts are good, look to the trees too. So do a search “foraging in (insert your part of the country/state)” you may even find some clubs or forums. I’ll check and get back to you on a few books or ebooks.
BTW: As I have been doing this, I’ve discovered some plants which are both edible and medicinal which are now on the threatened or endangered list, so if/when you do go foraging, please remember to leaves some for seeding for the following years.
This can get you started. Do you fix pizza at home?
I’ve watched quite a few of Green Dean’s “eat the weeds” video’s on YouTube, but he is in Florida and I live in far southeast Oklahoma. So, some of the things he covers do not grow here and others tend to look different. I have used Henbit in stew, and sampled it raw. Also, we have muscidine grapes locally and pokesalat, and others. But I’m sure there are many more, if I knew them! Wish I could find someone local like him.
Jim, you ever tried pokeweed? We used to pick it in the spring. U seed I used to live near Hugo during a period in my life. lol 😉
I have had it in the past, mixed with scrambled eggs. Have it growing everywhere around me. I just need to make the time to get out and pick some young plants. After they get 3 or 4 feet high they are no good! And I have two hens that give me two eggs every day.
I live in Ringold – about 25 miles west of Broken Bow on highway 3.
Jim, I found a group on facebook, just search foraging Oklahoma. You might find some neighbors 😉
I’ve never signed up for facebook. (although I can use my sisters I seldom do)
I did find a site (oklahomawildcrafters) that seems to have some information. They also have a book on foraging in Oklahoma.
Thank you Dee!
Then you might try this link. Euell Gibbon, in his time, was well known for foraging most of his life to feed his family. This came from an interview and I’ve discovered his books have been reprinted again.
Thank you Dee for the link to mother earth news. I’m reading the article now and find it very informative and humorous!
“Don’t eat those, they haven’t been sprayed!”
I’m thinking about printing it and adding it to my library!
Again – Thank You!
Dee – It is so kind of you to mention that I get Amazon credit 🙂 The way to do that is to start your search by clicking on any of the Amazon product links on the BDS website. I get commission credit for anything you decide to purchase during that session.
Jim – I have put a call out to my Prepared Bloggers group to see if I can find some expertise in this area. I too, could use some help.
Dee – perhaps at some point in the future we could meet and you could teach me!
Sure we can, I’ll be coming to Deception Pass in the not too distant future. I’ll let you know when.