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Monday, June 22, 2020

100 Super Cheap Preps for the Next Disaster (26-50)

You can check out part 1 here.  Moving right along...

26.  Make sure your vehicle is in good working order.  There are a lot of simple, inexpensive things you can do to make sure your vehicle is ready to bug out at the last minute.  Buying vehicle air filters on Amazon and changing them yourself can save around $50 over the cost of the dealership doing this for you.
27.  Review and update your car BOB.  Make sure the clothing is appropriate for the season, batteries are changed out or charged, food and water is rotated, etc.
28.  Get a HAM radio (and get licensed to use it).  The licensing process is simple and inexpensive, and you can get an inexpensive BaoFeng radio for around $25.  This is an excellent emergency communication system if the cell/landline systems go down.
29.  Get your concealed carry license.  There were so many people, mid pandemic, wanting to buy guns but unable to carry them concealed because the CCW classes and licensing agencies were shut down.  If you want to be able to carry concealed, get licensed now and not in the middle of a disaster.  You will also have a wider selection of classes (and prices for classes) available to you this way.
30.  Buy guns and ammo now.  Ditto the above.  A month before the pandemic, you could walk into a gun store and buy a gun within minutes.  Mid-pandemic and now with the riots, lines at guns stores are wrapped around the block and ammo is pretty scarce.  It seems like the price of firearms and ammo has increased as well with all of the shortages so buying these items when there isn't a disaster happening can be a good cost-saving move.
31.  Buy supplies now and not at the top of the market.  Whenever there is panic buying of an item, the price of that item--when you can even find it in the stores--usually shoots up.  Before the pandemic you could buy a bottle of rubbing alcohol for $1, during the pandemic, I saw a store selling the stuff for $5 a bottle!  ditto hand sanitizer, face masks, wipes, etc.  This can be price-gouging or it can be suppliers increasing the price to align with costs, but either way, it's best to buy the things you need at a time that everyone and their brother isn't panic buying said item.
32.  Do major projects now, not during a disaster.  Like buying survival gear, you don't want to get a major service done when everyone is having the same issue.  If your AC system is on its last leg, it's better to replace the system in the winter and not wait until it dies, mid summer, when AC service providers are backed up and charging premium prices.
33.  Take care of medical/dental/vision/etc services ASAP.  Firstly, you don't want to have to hunt down a tetanus shot during a disaster, you don't want to have a dental emergency when the vast majority of dentists have been closed down as was the case during the pandemic, and if you time all of these services right, one annual deductible can be met and the insurance can pick up the rest of the costs for all of the medical/dental/vision/hearing services you need.
34.  Look into minimalism, zero-waste, anti-consumption, buy it for life, and similarly related consumer lifestyles.  These people generally practice reduce/reuse/recycle skills that can stretch--or even eliminate the need for--many consumer items that the average person wastes money on.
35.  Live below your means.  This is kind of a no-brainer, but the more you can live below your means, the more money you can save for an emergency.
36.  Be debt free.  The only thing worse than suffering through a disaster, is suffering through a disaster with creditors hounding you at the same time.  Get out of debt--including the car and house--and stay out of debt.
37.  Put together an emergency fund of six to twelve month's worth of living expenses.  No one could have predicted that the entire world would shut down for months on end but the people who had fat and fluffy emergency funds weathered this disaster much better than those who were living paycheck to paycheck.
38.  Practice going without important needs/services for a weekend.  Obviously don't go without your insulin or pull the plug on granddad's CPAP, but challenge yourself and the family to go without electricity for a weekend, go without toilet paper for a weekend, only eat dried stored foods for a weekend (nothing from the fridge or freezer), go without the internet for the weekend...basically any challenge that would help you develop your resiliency and survival skills (without putting yourself and your family in actual peril!).
39.  Develop friendships/relationships with family/neighbors/acquaintances.  You don't have to be buddy-buddy with the neighbor but having short conversations with them when you see them outside is a good way to build a community safety net which can be useful during a disaster.  Likewise, strengthening relationships with friends and family can pay dividends when TSHTF.
40.  Recall any issues you had during the pandemic shut down and work on preparing for similar circumstances in the future.  We needed an electric hair trimmer which were sold out during the pandemic (FWIW a beard and mustache trimmer did a pretty good hair cutting job, just took a bit longer).  Eventually they were restocked at Target for $40 but I ended up picking up a complete hair trimmer kit at Ross for only $14.  Similarly, people were panicking about not being able to find yeast during the pandemic.  While I was well supplied with yeast, I did make up some sourdough starter just for the experience.
41.  Summer is a great time to prepare your yard for a disaster.  This means getting your yard ready for wildfire season, preparing your yard for hurricane season, and making your yard more secure overall.
42.  There are also a hundred small tasks you can do to make your home safer overall.
43.  Take some time to fill out a family disaster plan then make copies of this plan available to each family member.  Examples here, here, and here.
44.  Gather all of your important documents, digitally back them up (scanning or photos), then put them together in a secure location.
45.  Consider volunteering at a community organization that will teach you disaster preparedness skills (search and rescue, Red Cross, volunteer EMT, etc).
46.  Every time your insurance--car, home, life, etc--comes up for renewal, call around to other insurance companies for quotes; you may be able to secure insurance at a lower price this way (also ask about bundling insurance coverages together for an even greater discount).
47.  Put some free disaster apps on your cell phone.  Ditto for the family's cell phones.
48.  Dump out your EDC (everyday carry) bag, review the items you have, change out batteries, determine if there are items you need to add or delete from the bag, then repack it.
49.  Dump out your BOB (bug out bag), review the items you have, change out batteries/food.water, determine if there are items you need to add or delete from the bag, then repack it.
50.  Slowly stockpile emergency water supplies.  You can buy bottled water when it is on sale, buy an extra 5 gallon jug of water each week, store tap water in appropriate containers, etc.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

100 Super Cheap Preps for the Next Disaster (1-25)

The next disaster may happen tomorrow for all we know (and with the way 2020 is going, that wouldn't surprise me at all).  When the pandemic was starting and people were running out to stores and panic buying everything in sight, you could tell just how many people were not prepared for a disaster.  On the one hand, people can get lazy and complacent and think that nothing really bad will happen and/or the government will take care of them (LOL), on the other hand, there are many people who simply think they can't afford to prepare so don't even try.  While being rich is certainly helpful when it comes to preparedness, there are a lot of things people can do to prepare for a disaster that cost little to no money.  Here are the first 25 of 100 things to do, on the cheap, to get prepared for the next disaster:

  1. Exercise.  This is free and is of the utmost importance during and after a disaster.  Walk, jog, do calisthenics...free exercise opportunities can be found everywhere.
  2. Practice dumpster diving.  Also, know the laws about dumpster diving in your area so you don't get fined for doing this, thus defeating the "cheap" part of dumpster diving.
  3. Buy the stuff you need (clothes, tools, outdoor gear, etc) at the Goodwill or other thrift stores.  Of course, shop sale days at these places to save even more money.
  4. Use other shopping skills (shopping sales, using coupons, etc) to save money on the things you need (first aid supplies, food to stockpile, etc).
  5. Write out a shopping list of all of the prep supplies you need, keep this list with you, and buy the items on your list as they come on sale.  This can save a lot of money over buying everything at once at top price, also this will help keep you from buying unnecessary duplicate items.
  6. Take a Community Emergency Response Team training course.  This class is free, teaches valuable disaster prep skills, and at the end of the course they give you a big backpack of free disaster gear (at least this was the case when I took the course).
  7. Download all of the free disaster preparedness documents and books you can find.  There are a multitude of sources for these free educational sources online.
  8. Consider making your own outdoor/survival gear.  This can be a cheaper way to acquire gear than paying full retail price.
  9. Let friends and family know that you would be happy to take anything they don't want off their hands.  This could include clothing, produce from the garden, old fishing gear, etc.
  10. Learn survival skills from YouTube.  There are a bajillion videos on every possible survival topic under the sun.  Watch, learn, and practice these skills.
  11. Hit up the Dollar Tree and other dollar type stores for useful survival supplies.  You can buy matches, canned goods, bandannas, bungee cords, blue tarps, and a multitude of other items that would be useful in a disaster for only a dollar at these places.
  12. Stockpile multiples of necessary items so that you won't need to restock for a while.  Instead of buying one toothbrush at the Dollar Tree, buy 12 and you will not need to buy more toothbrushes for a year.
  13. When you stockpile food, be sure to rotate it through your regular food supply often so you don't spend a lot of money on food which then spoils because it wasn't eaten in a timely manner.
  14. Learn how to can, freeze, pickle, dry, and otherwise preserve food so that when you have an abundant garden or get a great deal at the grocery store, you can preserve the food for later use.
  15. Grow your own food.  If you have the space and start plants from seed, you can save a lot of money over the cost of grocery store produce.
  16. Take advantage of any free things offered in your community.  Free CPR classes, free smoke detectors, free Master Gardeners classes, etc.
  17. Join your local Buy Nothing group and receive items you want or need for free.  There are similar "freebie" pages on Craigslist, on local Facebook pages, etc.
  18. Ask at local businesses for useful, free survival items like 5 gallon buckets at restaurants, leftover Tyvek at building sites, free wooden pallets, etc.
  19. Learn how to barter.  This is yet another way to get useful survival items for free/free-ish.
  20. Regularly do microadventures to practice your survival skills.  These can range from camping to hiking to picnicking, etc.
  21. Consider buying items that have multiple survival uses.  This saves money, saves space, and gives you multiple options for using an item.
  22. Buy a cheap cell phone (with cash) and get a prepaid sim/plan (with cash) to keep with your survival gear.  There are multiple reasons you may need to use this phone in a disaster.
  23. Shop around for the best price to get your concealed carry license (permit fees are fixed but the required class fee can vary a great deal in many areas), HAM radio license (again, the license fee is usually set but class fees can vary), EMT license (some people pay full price for these classes while others can get free training if they volunteer at the local fire department), etc.
  24. Learn how to cook from scratch.  Learn how to cook food from many cultures.  Learn how to cook/bake a wide range of foods.  These are the best ways to utilize whatever food is on sale, save money over eating out everyday, and make yourself healthier.
  25. Take advantage of every free service you qualify for.  Free or reduced price kid's school lunches, food stamps if you are laid off from work, free vaccinations at the health district, free clinic for physical or mental health issues...if you qualify, sign up!

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

WTF 2020?

So this year just keeps heading in a downward spiral...  If the pandemic quarantine and the resulting  economic fallout weren't enough, now we have violent protests and looting happening in many cities.  In all cases, no matter the disaster you are facing--pandemic, protests, hurricanes, tornadoes--being prepared and proactive is much better than being reactive.

There are plenty of preparedness folks proclaiming it's the end of the world and still other folks calling for a full-on revolution.  Then there is social media which is a dumpster fire by all accounts.  The conspiracy theorists are in full affect, the regular media is garbage...it's hard to know what to believe and who is pulling the strings.  Again, be proactive, no matter what is happening.  Some random thoughts on the current situation:

  • Avoid the protests.  These are very volatile situations which can easily turn from quietly carrying your sign to all hell breaking loose.  I am happy to help make positive changes in my community but screaming on a corner is probably the least effective way to make lasting change.
  • Bringing a firearm to a protest is a bad idea.  The cops have no idea what side you are on and perceive everyone not in uniform as a threat.  Defending your life with lethal force in the midst of a protest is a guarantee that you will hit not only the aggressor but other innocent people.
  • Be aware of what is happening and where it is happening in whatever area you are in or will be going to.  Many people have inadvertently walked or driven into areas where they suddenly found themselves in the middle of protests that have turned violent; this doesn't work out well for anyone.
  • For the most part, dial down on all media, both social media and regular media.  Listening to that crap 24/7 will make you crazy.  Obviously using these types of media to ascertain the developing situation in your neighborhood is a good idea.
  • Be prepared to defend yourself.  Your home should be your castle and it should be secure and defensible.  Gun sales to first time gun buyers has surged which is not a way to be proactive.  Responsible gun owners will already own firearms, already have their CCW, already have several sessions of practice under their belt...not panic buying a weapon they have no idea what to do with.
  • Stockpile enough food, water, and supplies to see you through a month or more of not leaving your home.  We all got this lesson at the beginning of the pandemic and now in some cities, local stores that people rely on for food and supplies have been burned to the ground.  Also in these cities public transit may not be running so for those who depend on local stores and/or public transit to buy the food and supplies they need, they may be totally out of luck until things return to normal.
  • Know who you can depend on during a disaster.  We have reached out to help several people during the pandemic. and while my house is far away from where the protests are taking place, I know several neighbors that can be counted on if the looters were to come to our neighborhood.
  • Be prepared if things go from bad to worse.  A pandemic was bad.  A pandemic plus violent protests is worse.  A pandemic plus violent protests plus power outage/water shut off/cell towers going down/hurricane/etc. is practically a nightmare situation.  Have plans to address all of these possibilities.  How would you bug in?  How would you bug out?  Can you survive without power?  Can you survive without water coming out of the tap?  How will you communicate without cell phones working?  How can you do all of these things in a stealthy manner so you won't draw unwanted attention to yourself?

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Digital Life or Digital Nightmare?

Most people know they are being tracked in a multitude of ways every day and I guess, like the frog in the boiling pot of water, the tracking systems have been developed so incrementally that most people don't even think twice about how much everything they do can be reviewed, analyzed, and even reached out and "grabbed" at the whim of the powers that be.  Here are some things to consider:

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

50+ Items That Sold Out During the Pandemic

There may or may not be a second wave of the pandemic in the fall.  If you are wondering what to stockpile (stock up on slowly, not hoard all at once), here is a list of items that sold out at various times during the current pandemic...

  1. Toilet paper
  2. Paper towels
  3. Kleenex
  4. Face masks
  5. Hand sanitizer
  6. Medical gloves
  7. Lysol/Lysol wipes
  8. Baby wipes
  9. Wet Wipes/Handi Wipes
  10. Commercial sanitizers
  11. Laundry detergent
  12. Bleach/ammonia/cleaning products
  13. Rubbing alcohol/alcohol wipes
  14. Vitamins (particularly C and D)
  15. Rice
  16. Flour
  17. Canned beans
  18. Canned soup
  19. Dried beans
  20. Spam/canned meats
  21. Peanut butter
  22. Chicken/beef stock
  23. Baking soda/baking powder
  24. Pasta
  25. Tylenol/Aspirin
  26. Thera Flu/Nyquil
  27. Thermometers
  28. Yeast
  29. Bicycles
  30. Sewing machines
  31. Cloth/sewing supplies (elastic, needles, etc)
  32. Hair trimmers
  33. Hair dye (briefly)
  34. Cheaper end laptops and tablets
  35. Freezers
  36. Webcams/microphones/web conferencing equipment
  37. Jigsaw puzzles/games
  38. Bottled water
  39. Water filters/Brita
  40. Bidets
  41. Meat (later in the pandemic when meat factory workers became ill)
  42. Video game systems (Switch, PS4)
  43. Medications (like when hydrochloroquine was touted as a wonder drug and people scrambled to buy it)
  44. Eggs (occasional shortages)
  45. Fresh produce (occasional shortages)
  46. Food products from Asia (these were hit or miss with noodles being sold out, coconut products occasionally unavailable, etc)
  47. Freeze dried food (Mountain House had to temporarily shut down to catch up with demand)
  48. Arts and craft supplies
  49. Bandannas
  50. Lounge wear
I'll add more items here as they become an issue...
  • Canning jars and supplies

Monday, May 18, 2020

100 Self-Sufficiency Skills

You probably have plenty of time these days to learn more ways to be self reliant, not to mention the impetus to do so in light of our current pandemic situation.  Here are some skills to learn:
  1. Cooking
  2. Baking 
  3. How to make bread starting only with wheat berries (this includes making your own yeast)
  4. Food preservation (canning, drying, pickling, smoking, etc)
  5. How to make your own power (simple solar set ups are a good start)
  6. Sewing and mending
  7. Shooting and firearm skills
  8. Basic plumbing skills
  9. Basic carpentry skills
  10. Basic electrician skills
  11. Basic home maintenance and appliance repair
  12. Orienteering and land navigation skills
  13. Gardening/composting/seed saving
  14. Home healthcare skills
  15. First aid/CPR/AED use/advanced first aid
  16. How to ride and maintain a bicycle
  17. How to walk long distances
  18. Self care (hair cutting, manicure, foot care, skin care, etc)
  19. Foraging
  20. Water sourcing and purifying
  21. Stealth travel skills
  22. Outdoor survival skills (camping, backpacking, overland travel, etc)
  23. Hunting
  24. Fishing
  25. Animal husbandry
  26. Butchering/tanning
  27. Bartering
  28. How to live without electricity
  29. Alternate communication skills (ie: HAM radio)
  30. Wine making/beer making
  31. Growing and using edible and medicinal herbs
  32. Soap making
  33. Washing and drying clothes by hand
  34. Cheese making
  35. Beekeeping
  36. Candle making
  37. How to make furniture
  38. How to stockpile, rotate, and use food stores
  39. Personal self defense skills (Krav Maga, karate, etc)
  40. Home safety and security
  41. Developing multiple income sources
  42. How to live within your means
  43. Vehicle maintenance skills
  44. Weaving/knitting/crocheting
  45. Blacksmithing/knife making/welding
  46. Masonry
  47. Archery
  48. Waste management (human waste, garbage)
  49. Skills you usually pay others for (yard work, pest control, pool maintenance, etc)
  50. Fire making (how to make a fire, find wood, use it for heating and cooking, etc)
  51. Shelter making (how to build a variety of temporary and permanent shelters)
  52. Childcare and child development
  53. Homeschooling skills
  54. Computer set up and maintenance/how to fix computer problems
  55. Internet access and safety skills/basic coding and programming/using tech effectively
  56. How to do daily tasks online (paying bills, banking, work and meetings, school, etc)
  57. How to entertain yourself and the family without electricity or outside resources
  58. How to play games (card games, chess, etc)
  59. Leadership skills/teamworking skills
  60. Minimalism/simple living skills
  61. Logistics and acquisitions (multiple ways to acquire the things you need)
  62. How to drive various vehicles (motorcycle, car, truck, heavy equipment, etc)
  63. Boating skills (kayak, canoe, power boat, etc)/water navigation
  64. How to swim
  65. How to predict the weather
  66. How to stay warm in cold climates and cool in hot climates (without electricity)
  67. Artistic skills (drawing, painting, etc)
  68. Musical skills (how to play an instrument)
  69. How to speak a foreign language (most common ones in your area)
  70. Health improvement skills (exercise, nutrition)
  71. Specialized skills (rock climbing, mountain climbing, how to fly a plane, scuba diving, etc)
  72. Wilderness search and rescue skills/urban search and rescue skills
  73. Life guarding skills/water rescue
  74. Homestead management (garden rotation, woodlot maintenance, record keeping)
  75. How to scavenge/dumpster diving
  76. Budgeting/money management skills
  77. How to clean (general house cleaning, cleaning up after a disaster, etc)
  78. How to grow, harvest, and mill your own grain
  79. How to cook over a fire/on a wood stove/in a Dutch oven
  80. Tool maintenance (sharpen a knife, replace handles, tune up lawn mower, etc)
  81. How to grow food year round (green house, cold frame, etc)
  82. Escape and evasion skills
  83. How to prepare for natural disasters common to your area (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc)
  84. Urban survival skills (blending in, escaping crowds, etc)
  85. Basic science knowledge (biology, chemistry, physics, etc)
  86. Lock picking skills
  87. How to use power tools (chainsaw, drill, grinder, circular saw, etc)
  88. Personal skills (critical thinking, planning, situational awareness, thinking outside the box, problem solving, etc)
  89. How to gather evaluate, and act on information from a variety of sources
  90. How to survive/travel in extreme conditions (desert, snow, jungle, etc)
  91. Mental resiliency skills (anxiety control, confidence, attention control, attitude, etc)
  92. How to bug in/bug out depending on the situation
  93. How to develop resources to help in a disaster (financial resources, physical resources, people resources, etc)
  94. How to access public resources if needed (food bank, public transit, disaster shelters, etc)
  95. How to dig a well/how to dig a latrine
  96. How to make your favorite restaurant food (copy cat recipes are all over the internet for this)
  97. How to spend quiet time alone
  98. "Zero waste" skills
  99. How to make everything in your refrigerator from scratch (ketchup, mayo, yogurt, butter, salad dressings, etc).
  100. How to make/"MacGyver" anything you need (make a ladder, make rope, 3D print parts, etc).