Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Shirley. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.
“All Aboard!” Easily understood when shouted by the conductor of a train—either get yourself “on board” or be left behind; essentially, it’s HIS way or the HIGH WAY, so to speak. It’s a whole ‘nother thing when those same words—all aboard—are a request spoken by a MOTHER—even when in a pleading voice! Yes, I’ve heard lots of platitudes and vague reassurances from my kids, but no real “concrete preparedness plans”—for water and food storage, alternative bug-out location selection, or other (all-important to my mind…) “prepping supplies” that they may be accumulating for themselves AND my grandsons….
I’ve tried to do my part: I recall two Christmases ago when I gifted my girls and their sons with Bug-Out-Bags. There were all of the “appropriate items”, including some high-tech “nifty” things that I thought were pretty cool, as well as first aid supplies, of course. Being a nurse, I certainly had to put First Aid at the top of my list for THEM…right? But it wasn’t any of those specialty items—the curved hemostats (a.k.a. “roach-clips” for those of you of that particular generation)—that really got their attention. It was the “children’s toothpaste” that brought tears to my older daughter’s eyes….that I knew that my grandsons would be wanting—no needing—the comfort items that they associated with home if they had to skedaddle in a bug-out scenario.
That’s what it’s all about to me—prepping is very individualized in many respects. True, we all need water and food, but we need, too, the creature-comforts that we’ll be sorely missing when unceremoniously uprooted as will happen when we have to bug-out. As individuals, we all have our own needs and wants that are peculiar to us—I call these personal idiosyncrasies my “quirks”. (For me, dark chocolate would be hard to do without, while friends of mine wouldn’t consider it living if there wasn’t a latte´ for them in the morning!)
I try to think of everything for everyone in my family—after all I’m the MOTHER, so they count on me to have the knowledge and the resources to be able to think-ahead not just for me and their dad, but for all of them, too.
Granted, I haven’t always been in this preparedness mindset: our church formed what we refer to as a disaster action team and we’re all CERT-trained. The “Community Emergency Response Team” training is generally crammed-into a very full weekend and includes first aid, triage, search-and-rescue and other needed skills. It’s in this very training-oriented setting that I first began to get it together, preparedness-wise.
The director of our team, a former Eagle scout, has taught us how to use a compass and make para-cord bracelets to add to our B.O.B.s. He invited guest-speakers to instruct us in how to make lanterns and collect/store water. He also gave demonstrations on solar and Dutch-oven cooking. (Learning to cook in a solar oven was a bit intimidating to me, at first, but it’s really quite easy—especially in that food doesn’t over-cook like in a standard electric or gas oven. Members of our team have also experimented with building their own ovens—with surprising success from very little effort!)
As a result of this influence in my life, I began taking steps to stock up my own pantry with the sugar, flour—both wheat and nut types, though we’re pretty much gluten-free ourselves; spices, baking soda, vinegar, bouillon cubes, honey, spices, coffee—both regular and decaf, though I’ve yet to do the whole vacuum-packing that some swear is necessary. (I’ve been told that my pantry, after 10 years, would make “most Mormons ‘green-with-envy’”, and I’m just fine with that!)
The purchase of several pre-owned food dehydrators have allowed me to make my own “marinades” for beef, duck and salmon jerkies. I may not “can” now, but I have enough dried proteins to last a month or more—and they take up very little space and are quite nourishing, to boot. Using organic fruit, I’ve also made fruit leather, which is quite flavorful and nutritious.
I’ve invested in cast-iron skillets and a Dutch oven, as well as a French-press coffeemaker that are now carefully stored for when they’ll be called into service.
In my stores are a relatively-limited supply of liquor—pretty much just vodka and tequila. Okay, that’s one aspect of supply on which I REALLY need to focus in the future. Ever-clear seems to be a popular item to stock and has several uses….so that’ll be an item on the “need-to-buy” list, certainly.
BUT I’ve excelled in other areas: one entire drawer in my kitchen is equipped with tapes and glues—including one that uses a dental-adhesive that hardens when UV light is applied. And, on top of a tall cabinet in the master bath looms a towering stack of toilet paper and tissues ceiling-high. At least they’re relatively out-of-the-way, even if I have to use a step-stool in order to reach them. There’s an enviable supply of candles of all shapes, sizes and descriptions and I’ve taken to collecting my empty toilet paper rolls and filling them with dryer lint.
My medicine cabinet, likewise, is crammed with Vitamin C, multivitamins, iodine tablets, gauze bandages, dressings, ointments, band-aids, nitrile gloves, N95 face masks, braces of all types (wrist, neck, knee, back), Q-tips, cotton balls, Ace bandages, as well as an assortment of tape that would make any pharmacist proud. Other bathroom cabinets are chock full of hand soaps, extra toothbrushes and toothpaste, and, of course, all of those little soaps, conditioners and lotions that are supplied with motel/hotel lodging.
There are currently in my laundry room five jugs of liquid laundry soap and I’ve chosen to learn about, and stock-up-on, essential oils—even going so far as to follow the mind-set of millennials insofar as learning which ones have a variety of not-so-obvious uses on which I might need to rely in an emergency. I’ve gone so far as to start making my own essential-oil concoctions—including Four Thieves Oil—as well as others for hand/face wipes, disinfection, refreshing, cleansing—out of strips of paper towels and a base of witch hazel; lip balms, salves, sunscreen, deodorant and remedies for insect-bites and “boo-boos”.
I’ve “dedicated” two drawers in my laundry room to batteries—all carefully arranged and separated by type—as well as the all-important battery-tester. And in my closets are extra sheets, blankets and pillows, as well as a vast supply of warm clothes, sweaters, boots and socks that’ll be great for “layering” should the need arise.
My garage stores supplies of duct tape, important hand tools, two Coleman stoves, multiple canisters of propane, lanterns, spare ponchos and “emergency” blankets that I’ve acquired from the Thrift Shop where I volunteer my time on Wednesday afternoons. That’s been a real boon in that I can get “first-dibs” on canning supplies, books and various other prepper items at a fraction of their original cost. One great find was called a Luggable Loo—still new in box—and includes odor-neutralizer. The tops of the tool cabinets reveal backpacks, hiking frames and other duffelbags, which are loaded with even more prepping supplies.
Two additional shelves contain my survival knives, paracord, hand crank radios, flashlights—both “crank” and regular, specialty tools, survival whistles, pocket chain-saws and my personal B.O.B., as well as water filters—a LifeStraw, a Sawyer Water Filter, two SteriPens, purification tablets and non-scented chlorine bleach.
Our two dogs are considered part of our family, so there’s a supply of both canned and dry dog foods and appropriate dog-related items, as well as the necessary toilet/sanitation wipes and other supplies—for them as well as for us humans.
The mechanical room off the hall is where our WATER is stored—in 5-, 10- and 25-gallon containers. My horse trailer has a 35-gallon water tank that I keep full as a back-up, also. Two of the other chaplains on our team have creatively used water jugs to discreetly fashion a coffee table in their living room, as well as store stacks of other jugs between their sofa and an outside wall. Because we can’t always be sure that the water will be palatable, I’ve invested in a large supply of natural citrus products that flavor water in a more healthy way. This idea, too, I’m passed-on to my team members.
As part of our team’s efforts, three years ago, I purchased one of those huge bags of cat litter that have the blue crystals. This is what I apportioned into small pieces of coffee filter and fastened with a small rubber band. The resulting product is used in large containers of sugar and other foodstuffs as a desiccant. Note: Not all cat litters are created equal; you need to search-out the ones with the crystals, which are, essentially, the active ingredient. To other members of our preparedness team, I distributed baggies full of the surplus so that they could follow suit.
And because it’s a good idea to continue learning and to share knowledge, I learned how to easily make waterproof matches and taught the skill to others. As part of our team’s efforts, I compiled a 310-page manual, a presentation of which includes over 90 slides, which can be used to teach others similar skills, to make suggestions and offer instruction. A number of us have studied for our HAM radio license and have personal radios, as well as walkie-talkies of various types and sizes. I’ve honed my handgun skills and have even convinced my husband to join me at the range once. We have a stash of appropriate ammo. and two of the guns live at our respective bed-sides in anticipation of any event that might call for self-protection. A retired Army Ranger and church buddy does my reloading and uses my scavenged brass to keep a good supply of ammo. for my use.
So, I’m becoming more and more prepared for what might come soon. And, my promise to you is that I will tell your kids about the importance and significance of all that my team and I are doing and I’m counting on you to tell my kids…since, they never seem to listen to me. :>)