The Full Prep 101 Series

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Prep 101 (newbies, not vets): Part I

Here are a few tips for newbies - you vets already know this.

So you want to make your home safe in the event of a disaster, health-related or natural. Congratulations! That's an achievement in itself, so don't feel overwhelmed or "dumb." You just proved you aren't stupid, and that you have common sense. Overwhelmed? Yeah, that's natural, and here's how you work on that.

Start with the basics. Walk around your home, from room to room, and make a list of the things you use everyday and can't possibly live without. Include things you know you need but don't have, like a healthy stock of sheets and towels or even dishes (Hey, we remember what it's like to be single, when all your drinking glasses came from drive-through windows!)

Decide how much you can reasonably afford to spend. Going into debt will only create a different kind of crisis. Yes, there are probably a thousand things you need RIGHT NOW....but you have to work within limits. Accept this and don't beat yourself up over it.

Consider buying a few items each payday. Simply add to the quantity of groceries when you shop. Instead of one can of coffee, buy two. Rotate your stock and always use the oldest first.

Don't forget the wonders of layaway. This is how I got most of my camping equipment, like the sleeping bags, camp stove, Coleman lanterns.... Simply go to K-Mart or Wal-Mart, pick out what you want, and put it on layaway. A small payment every couple of weeks for three months and it's yours to take home. Try for a "double play shop": watch the Sunday sale ads and put it on layaway while it's on sale for even bigger savings.

First off, you need a safe place to hole up. This is probably your home...but IS it safe? This is the focus of our first discussion.

Needed repairs should be made NOW. If the roof leaks, or windows are busted, fix these first.

Do a plumbing and wiring checkup.

A major hazard during disasters of all kinds is FIRE. You may or may not be able to call the fire dept, and if there's tons of debris from Hurricane Hades in the road they may not be able to reach you. Response time is going to be dreadful as well.

Check your smoke detectors. Change the batteries, and stock backup batteries. Ditto for the carbon monoxide detector. (More on this later)

Do what you can to fireproof your home. Clean out closets, the attic, and the GARAGE. It's amazing how much flammable stuff is in the garage. Get rid of greasy, oily rags - which can generate enough heat to start burning by themselves - old motor oil, cans of paint, the stacks of old "National Geographic".....give away what you don't need. There are often restrictions on disposal of hazardous materials such as paint, so check with your city. My town has a particular day each month when the city dump will accept these materials and dispose of them for you.

Buy a few fire extinguishers. I recommend the multi-purpose kind which is good for all kinds of fires: electrical, grease, and wood. (All fires are not created equal, and water ain't gonna put out a grease fire) These aren't that expensive. I got mine at K-Mart for about $14 each. Put one in the kitchen, one in the garage, the utility room, and the car. Make sure each family member knows where they are and how to use them.

Baking soda and salt will put out most oven and stovetop fires, or you can use a pot lid. DO NOT GRAB A FLAMING PAN AND RUN OUTSIDE WITH IT, EVER. This can (a) spread the flames and (b) severely burn you.

Have a fire drill. Plan escape routes and set a place where everyone is to meet once they're out of the home. Discuss basic fire safety.

Know where the shutoff valves for water, gas, etc, are in your home, and how to use them.

Carbon Monoxide is a silent killer. You can't feel it, smell it, or taste it. Most homes with natural gas are now equipped with these, but some aren't. It's a good investment, and you'll need one if you plan to use an alternative heating source, like kerosene. ALL FOSSIL FUELS, INCLUDING WOOD, PUT OFF TRACE AMOUNTS OF CARBON MONOXIDE. Of course the most volatile are gasoline and natural gas, but even a fireplace will put some out. In a fireplace it goes up the chimney with the smoke. But if you're using a kerosene heater, it's a good idea to have one. Yes, it's a small amount....but do you want to bet your family's life on it?

Home defense is another issue and deeply personal. Personally I recommend arming yourself, and with as much firepower as possible, but this isn't for everyone. Decide now how far you'll go to protect your family and plan accordingly. Gun safety is recommended for EVERYONE in the family if you choose to stock firearms. Kids should be taught not to touch the guns or ammo.

Consider a dog. They're great additions to the family and they MAKE NOISE. This is enough to scare off many a wannabe-criminal.

Okay, so you're safety-proofing your home. This helps ensure that you have a safe place to hole up in. Next up, we'll discuss your next priority, food and water.

Part II: Will feature Food and Water
Part III: Emergency health supplies and how to make a great first aid kit
Part IV: Suggested survival equipment to begin purchasing

©1999 by Fruit Loop. Permission granted to quote, copy, and disseminate at will. Permission to publish as part of other media if credited to original author. This information is intended to help save lives. Share it around!

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Part 2: Food & Water

PREP 101: Part 2, Food and Water
Besides shelter, obviously your urgent need is for FOOD and WATER.

Rule number one: ROTATE, ROTATE, ROTATE your stock. It does no good to spend a hundred bucks on packaged foods and store them until they expire and become worthless. USE what you have....just keep pulling the oldest items to the front to be used first. New stuff always goes to the back

Rule number two: Don't buy large quantities of things you and your family have never eaten before, or, more importantly, don't like. Things will be bad enough in a crisis; do you want to make it worse by forcing things down your throat that you can't stand? "Comfort Food" can become quite relevant here.


There are numerous avenues for storing water. If money is not a problem, invest in some water barrels. This was out of my range; still, anyone can store water.

A cheap, easy solution to water containers is your basic 2-liter plastic soda bottle. When you're done with that liter of Coca-Cola, wash out the bottle. Refill it with ordinary tap water and store.

Although some people recommend treating the stored water with bleach, this is NOT necessary. City water is already chemically treated. Use it and ROTATE your stock as you do everything else.

NOTE: although plastic milk containers can be used, most are designed to break down over time. I tried them but had problems with leakage. Stick to plastic soda or juice bottles.

DRESS UP YOUR WATER: Plain water can get boring real fast. Stock some cans of powdered drink mix such as Wyler's lemonade, Kool-Aid, Tang...whatever turns on your taste buds. These are also a source of vitamin C which can become important. In winter, powdered teas and cocoa can be vital for hypothermia!

If you're a person who can't possibly live without that morning cup of coffee or soda, be sure to add that to your Prep Grocery List.

If you have no running water at all, you'll also need water for bathing, dishes, flushing toilets.....invest in some of the 32 gallon plastic trash cans. These can be purchased quite cheaply at the family discount-type stores. (You CANNOT drink this water. It will taste like rubber.) Put one in each bathroom and fill up with the hose before the hurricane hits. It takes 1-2 gallons to flush a toilet. That's 32 flushes right there....or more if you don't flush every time. (Unless somebody goes number two, you can stretch it a bit). Use this for hand-washing, etc.

A cheap above-ground pool is another source of water. So is a good old-fashioned rain barrel.


Baking will probably be a problem so consider foods that don't have to be cooked and things that can be fried, grilled, or boiled. A good pot of vegetable stew goes a long way!

Here are some suggested items I keep in stock. It's amazing how much variety you'll get and how many recipes you can make.

Powdered and canned milk - note that most people aren't used to drinking this, especially kids. Stock some Nestle Quik to help the flavor. Usually quiets the whining.

Fruit Juices (canned and bottled are cheaper than juice boxes, but juice boxes of course store well)

Powdered drink mixes - Tang, Kool-Aid, Wyler's lemonade. Go for pre-sweetened stuff



Tea bags - for hot tea and sun tea

Breakfast cereals such as oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, Malt-O-Meal. Suggest these because they store better and don't go stale like Captain Crunch!

Variety of canned vegetables - (canned can be used just like fresh for making soups and stews)

Variety of canned fruits

Canned meats such as tuna, chicken, turkey breast, and of course Spam

Spaghetti and canned sauce

Ramen noodles, Rice A Roni

Pinto beans, lima beans

Rice - the prepper's staple. There are HUNDREDS of recipes for rice as a main course, rice pudding.....the possibilities are endless. Small quantities of leftovers can be stretched into an entree with the addition of rice

Cans of ravioli and Spaghetti-Os

Canned soups, especially tomato and cheddar cheese, the basis for many wonderful recipes. Check out Campbell's Soup site. (will post some)

Flour, if you can bake

Bisquick - a staple for thousands more recipes! (Will post some)

Instant pancake mix and syrup


Canned pudding

Mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup - lots of kids will eat things they normally wouldn't if flavored with ketchup!

Spices. Here's another way to save money: buy in bulk. The price per pound may look expensive, but compare it to what you're being charged for just an ounce of McCormick.


"Spray cheese" - great snack that doesn't have to be refrigerated

Walk through your kitchen and make notes of what your family likes to eat. Consider which recipes can be quickly prepared on the stove top, because that's what you'll need to do when your power goes out - use the camp stove.

Solar ovens are great, but they're a big pricey. A Global Sun Oven runs close to two hundred bucks. They work quite well, as well as a conventional oven, but you will have to add a bit of time to the usual baking/broiling. I baked a frozen pie once and it took 3 hours as opposed to the usual one, but it came out the same.

Camp stoves. Essential for when there's no power. A number of models are available in various price ranges. Don't forget to stock the propane! I have Target's "Greatland" two-burner which cost about twenty bucks and works great. Coleman of course makes a great stove.

Grill, charcoal, and starter.

MATCHES, MATCHES, MATCHES. Impossible to have too many. You don't even have to buy them; start a collection from hotels, gas stations, restaurants! I have a big shopping bag of matches that cost me nothing, although I recommend stocking some WATERPROOF matches as well.

Eating utensils - paper plates, cups, plastic tableware. Check out the dollar stores.

This should get you started. Have fun experimenting.

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Part 3: The Medicine Chest

PREP 101: Part 3, The Medicine Chest
Invest in a good first aid kit. Better yet, make your own, and you can add a larger variety of supplies.

A hard plastic or metal (I suggest plastic for rust and waterproof reasons) FISHING TACKLE BOX makes an excellent first aid kit. The sectioned trays allow you to organize your supplies and see at a glance what you have.

First off: SUPPLY OF RUBBER GLOVES. If you're treating a stranger, or just anyone who's bleeding, protect yourself first!!

Basic bandaids
Butterfly bandages - better for blisters on feet because they don't rub off
Adhesive bandages in various sizes
Gauze in rolls and various size bandages
First Aid Tape
Pair of scissors
Pair of nail clippers
Pair of tweezers
Moleskin for blisters
Instant ice pack
Assorted ace bandages
Safety pins
Petroleum jelly
Calomine lotion
Bactine - best in the world for skinned knees!
Triple antibiotic cream
Betadine solution
Burn cream
Hydrogen Peroxide
Kaopectate/ other diarrhea medicine
Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Aspirin (NEVER give to children or teens because of Reyes Syndrome)
Antihistamine such as Benadryl
Thermometer - ear thermometers are great and don't break as easily

Antiseptics are available in the "moist towelette" style and they're wonderful

Over the counter cold meds
Throat spray

For adults: condoms, spermicidal jellies, contraceptive sponges. Don't underestimate the need for these items. "Panic Sex" does happen, with unintended consequences nine months later.

Suggested Reading (in ADVANCE of the crisis):

Red Cross First Aid manual

"Wilderness Medicine: Beyond First Aid" by William Forgey, M.D., Globe Pequot Press (available through

"Where There Is No Doctor" by David Werner

"The Herbal Drugstore", White and Foste, Rodale Books

"The Green Pharmacy" by James A. Duke, PhD.

Prevention's "New Choices in Natural Healing" Rodale Books

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Part 4: Suggested Equipment To Purchase

PREP 101: Part 4, Suggested Equipment To Purchase
Don't forget the wonders of layaway if money is a problem. Check out flea markets, garage sales, eBay, and newspaper ads. Secondhand works as good as new if the previous owners took proper care of their gear.

Camp stove
Grill, charcoal, fire starter
Solar shower

Alternative heat source: there are many options available. You are limited only by your needs, desires, and what you can afford to spend. If money isn't an issue, go for one of those stylish propane ventless fireplaces. Or a kerosene heater. Propane heater heads put out a lot of heat.

Generator - this is probably your most expensive item
Coleman battery powered lanterns
Coleman Extreme Ice Chest - keeps ice for 5 days in 90+ heat
Sleeping bags/extra blankets

Tent: don't dismiss this as silly. If Hurricane Hades hits and the power goes out, it may be too hot to sleep in your house! We camped in our yard after Floyd because it was cooler. If your home is damaged, this will enable you to remain on your property and guard it. In cold weather, pitch a tent in your living room and stay in it for extra heat!

20-gallon plastic tubs with rope handles - K-Mart, about $8. Get 2 for laundry
Fire extinguishers
Fire alarms/carbon monoxide alarms
Good quality radio and batteries

Portable battery powered tv - Wal-mart, about $45. Mine also has a radio. I love it because during natural disasters I can still see other people, which is very reassuring, and also get a visual on the actual damage to my area

Tarps/plastic sheeting

Plywood if you live in a hurricane zone. Measure your windows now, fit the plywood, and pre-drill nail/screw holes.

Extra gas/kerosene cans
32 gallon trash cans for water storage

Above-ground pool for extra water. Yes, these can run into money, but there are plenty of decent inexpensive ones.

Chainsaw or hand saw to cut up fallen debris
Extra heavy-duty extension cords (to run appliances to generator)

This is one of the most, if not THE most, important yet difficult decisions that you will have to make. If you've never been around firearms but always wanted to learn, now's your chance. Sign up for a class and learn basic care and feeding of your firearm, how to use it, and more importantly when to and when not to use it. Teach gun safety and responsibility to EVERYONE in the home, especially young people. Part of gun ownership is RESPONSIBILITY, not just marksmanship.

If you don't think you can shoot someone, then you've got no business having a gun in the house. Decide what other means you're willing to use. This can include something as primitive as a baseball bat or taking karate lessons.

Consider a Neighborhood Watch program. Meet with your neighbors. Know who they are, and make it clear that you'll watch out for them if they watch out for you. Most people are willing, even eager to do this.


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Part 5: Emergency Lighting

PREP 101: Part 5, Emergency Lighting
Lighting is the simplest of preps, but can be the most dangerous because of the risk of fire.

Flashlights - Eveready sells sets of two with batteries. Great way to begin is to purchase one for each room in the house. Mark the room to which it is assigned with a Sharpie or masking tape. Train everyone to always return the flashlight to its proper, assigned place in its proper, assigned room. This way you'll always have one within easy reach when the lights go out

Extra batteries - obviously. Batteries store well in the refrigerator!

Coleman makes a battery powered lantern that looks just like their fuel lanterns. These are bright enough to light a room and aren't a fire hazard. They run off either 10 D-size batteries or 2 square six volt batteries. (I suggest the six volts - easy to load). About $18 at Wal-Mart or Target, in the camping section

Hurricane lamps. Again, these are a fire hazard, so be careful. They come in a variety of styles - check out Lamplighter Farms - and add decor to any room when not in use. They're fairly inexpensive and so is the lamp oil.


Candles. The ancient, time-honored, basic way to provide light. They are, however, one of the most dangerous. This is where it's vital to have fire extinguishers within easy reach. A gust of wind, a bouncy child, a leaping housecat - all can lead to disaster.

A good alternative is a candle lantern. I use these at Civil War reenactments, which is an idea of how long these have been proven to work. They're wood with glass sides, and a mirror in back to aid in reflection. Check out

Kerosene lanterns - the bright red "railroad lanterns". These are cheap, about five bucks apiece, and you don't even have to use kerosene in them. Standard lamp oil works equally well, doesn't smoke as much, and doesn't smell

Candles are very inexpensive. Check out the family dollar type stores. You can get a box of a dozen at Big Lots for around $3 per box.

I personally love the Yankee Candle Company. These candles are of course more expensive, but cost-effective in a number of ways: The large "Housewarmer" jar candles burn from 120-150 hours on average, and they smell WONDROUS.

MATCHES, MATCHES, MATCHES. You don't have to go to a lot of expense to stock matches - grab the free ones every time you stay at a hotel or eat at a restaurant. Add to your stock for free.

Bic Lighters. Waterproof and easy to use

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Part 6: Personal Hygeine

PREP 101: Part 6, Personal Hygiene
Be sure to stock personal cleaning items as well as your food and water!

Extra soap
Shampoo and conditioner
Feminine supplies
Disposable razors and shaving cream
Toothbrushes - stock extra!
Extra combs and hairbrushes
Nail clippers
Extra diapers if you have infants in the home; estimate about 80 per week

BABY WIPES are wondrous. They're perfect for quick cleanups. Always keep some in the car for road trips and spills too! Antibacterial wipes are available and I take them along for picnics.

Antibacterial hand gel - keep some in the car too, and a little travel bottle in your purse.

Birth control: condoms, contraceptive sponges, spermicidal jelly. "Panic Sex" happens during emergencies and so does "Cabin Fever Sex." If you don't want a living, breathing memento of your crisis nine months later, prep accordingly.

Hair coloring, cosmetics: Don't underestimate the importance of these items or dismiss them as frivolous. You'll be stressed out in the event of a disaster and this will help your self-esteem.

Soaps On A Rope is great if you have access to a lake or river. So is Ivory Soap because it floats. Don't worry; you will NOT be using a large enough quantity for a bath to severely impact the fish and wildlife.

Add the above items to your Prep Shopping List. You should always have extras on hand, just as you do your food. It does no good to make preparations for bathing and showering with your solar shower if you have no soap! A good way to prep is to save the little individual-size bars of soap and shampoo samples from hotels when you travel. These are light and easy to carry for your bug-out bag, when we start discussing THAT priceless prep item.

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Part 7: Bugout Bags

PREP 101: Part 7, Bug Out Bags

Getting marooned in an ice storm.

Road trip, flat tire in a rainstorm. Kid throws up on you on the way to Grandma's for the afternoon.

A good Bug-Out Bag is VITAL.

I keep mine in the car because I plan to shelter in place during Crisis X, and figure I can easily retrieve it if necessary, although I also have a backpack inside the house.

I suggest something waterproof for obvious reasons. Also consider WEIGHT and how much you can reasonably carry when you pack this. You may be able to withstand a three-week forced march with your contents, but can you carry all of it??? Also consider who may be with you; your three-year-old won't be able to tote much. If you've got a bad back, arthritis, etc, one of those rolling luggage pieces isn't a bad idea. I have a gym-style bag with straps, but it ALSO has wheels on one end. You can tip it and pull it behind you. (From Target; check 'em out)

It's not a bad idea to "share the wealth" between BOBs, either. Say you end up marooned in the wilderness for whatever reason, and your backpack falls off and rolls down the mountain. The extra underwear you stashed in Significant Other's bag will become precious. Toucan Sam and I also carry one spare outfit for each other in our BOBs.

I carry enough in my bag for about 3 days. This also assumes that I will be able to wash out some items (even if it's in a lake, which I have done) too.

I rotate the contents of my BOB seasonally. I add cold-weather gear in the fall (although I always have an extra coat in my trunk, year round) and cooler clothes in summer.


Here's what's in my BOB.

Sweatpants and sweatshirt: These stay in year-round. They're comfortable to sleep in if I get marooned somewhere, and add warmth year round, including summer

2 pair jeans: In winter, one pair is always flannel lined (LL Bean) In summer, one pair of jeans and one pair of shorts

Tops: One long-sleeved cotton shirt and one tee shirt in summer. In winter, it's one heavy sweater and one flannel shirt

3 pair wool socks

4 pairs of panties

Extra bra This is a sport bra since I may have to run or hike. I'm pretty flat, but if you're not you'll want to account for this, ladies.

One pair sunglasses, year round (glare off snow can be dreadful)

One bar bath soap in a plastic travel box

Liquid detergent, in a plastic travel bottle: You can use this to hand-wash garments ANYWHERE.

Bath towel and washcloth: (remember: Always know where your towel is!)

Small travel size hair dryer: When marooned at my office, I was able to wash my hair in the ladies room sink and dry it.

Shampoo and conditioner: To help with weight, buy the travel sizes, or put your regular brand in a plastic travel bottle. Samples from hotels are also great.

Meds: I have small bottles of tylenol, antihistamine, cold meds, and a few days worth of vitamins

Feminine supplies

Toothbrush and toothpaste

Hand lotion

Sunscreen: year round

Paperback book



Nature's Valley Fruit and Nut bars

Small package of baby wipes

Hair comb

Winter underwear during winter

$100 in cash, in assorted bills and change Toucan Sam and I ALWAYS have a spare hundred apiece. Don't carry a hundred dollar bill because you might not be able to break it when you need it; remember some stores don't keep that much cash in the register. Replenish it when you use it, such as not having quite enough at the grocery store, etc.

Pepper Spray: (hope to get a concealed-carry permit)

Swiss Army Knife

I keep enough room in my bag to add some of the emergency foodstuffs that I also keep in my trunk, and the auto first aid kit.

Here's my emergency food kit. It's in a small shopping bag.
2 cans of spam
2 cans of Ravioli
2 cans of soup
1 can of soda
1 gallon of water, plus a few bottles
Power bars
Bouillon cubes
Packets of instant cocoa
Packets of instant oatmeal
Wyler's instant lemonade
Plastic bowl and plate
Plastic fork, knife, and spoon
Insulated auto cup
Packets of mustard, ketchup, salt, pepper, from restaurants

Auto First Aid Kit

Car Emergency Kit:
Jumper cables
Road flares
Gas can
Bag of kitty litter (can help get you out of the mud!)
Extra bottle of oil
Rain poncho
Sleeping bag
Extra winter parka, gloves, knitted winter hat
Baby wipes and hand gel
2 Flashlights ( in addition to the one in my BOB.) One for the trunk, one for the glove box

JOKE OF THE DAY: Fruit Loop's affair with Bob. When she created her Bug-Oout Bag, she made a shopping list of items needed to stock it and wrote "Bob" next to them. Toucan Sam, her then-husband, found this list and ran into the den screaming "WHO THE HELL IS BOB?????"

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Part 8: Emergency Heat

PREP 101: Part 8, Emergency Heat
If you can afford the investment, the new ventless propane fireplaces are wonderful. They not only heat your home but add to its value.

Kerosene heaters. I have the Kero-Sun which puts out a lot of heat and I've even heated soup and made coffee on top of it! These are excellent. The tank holds about two and a half gallons of kerosene and runs for close to 8 hours. My house is 1347 square feet, and the whole house stays at a comfortable temperature. Available at Home Depot and Lowe's

Frostbite is an obvious danger, but the more common threat is hypothermia which you can get even when it's not all that cold outside. Damp clothes, including sweat-dampened clothes (from shovelling that snow!) combined with wind, can be deadly!

Stay warm and DRY in cold weather. Dress in layers, and drink hot drinks frequently. Keep your core body temperature stable.

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Part 9: Clothing

PREP 101: Part 9, Clothing
"Clothes? Oh, my closet's full, and the wife has more shoes than Imelda Marcos. We're worried about food."

Clothing should NEVER be excluded as part of your prepping, especially if you have kids, who grow out of things so quickly.

Yes, the wrong outfit can help you LOSE your life. You're driving home from a cocktail party, spiffy in your Carolina Herrera, but your car breaks down five miles from anywhere and it's freezing outside. Get the point?

This is one of the easiest parts of prep. Take an inventory of your closet now.

The most obvious need is for good cold-weather gear. You can easily strip off layers to keep cool, drink plenty of fluids, yada, so I'm not going to touch that area until we get to how to treat heat stroke and hypothermia in another area. (PAGING LISA AND CANADA SUE: PLEASE JUMP IN HERE WHEN THE TIME COMES!)

It's easy to get EXCELLENT cold weather gear without spending a fortune. SHOP SEASONALLY. The best time to get next year's swimsuit is in July, when the retailers start clearing out their summer stock. The best time to buy a good winter coat is in the spring when they go on clearance.

Natural fiber fabrics are best, especially wool. Wool will wick away moisture from your skin, including sweat, and this helps to keep you cool. Remember you're more likely to die from hypothermia than actually "freezing to death."

Invest in a good winter coat, especially one that's water repellant. Get one with a hood, and buy a wool cap to wear under it. Remember that you lose half your body heat through your head.

Gloves are a must. Fingers and toes, noses and ears are the parts of your body most vulnerable to frostbite.

Thick wool socks.

WINTER UNDERWEAR. This literally sprouts wings and flies off the shelf when the first cold spell hits, so buy it during spring and summer. Try sporting goods stores and online outlets like LL Bean.

Flannel-lined jeans. These are wonderful!

RAIN GEAR. The heaviest winter coat and accoutrements are USELESS if you get wet. Buy a pair of those ugly, clunky galoshes and a good rain poncho. I recommend a large, tough rain poncho as opposed to a raincoat for obvious reasons: it will fit over bulky layers of winter clothing.

Various sizes of clothes for growing kids. If IT ever hits the proverbial fan, the system may be down for months. Always have a couple of outfits in a size larger. Check consignment stores. That's a good, cheap way to prep but still get good things. You can also go into a clothes exchange with other moms. Trade sizes!

CLOTHING REPAIR. Have needles and thread and extra BUTTONS around the house. Many new garments come with a little plastic bag of extra buttons. Keep all these in a central place: I have a jar full of them. Before you throw away a worn-out garment, cut the buttons off it. You may be able to match them to another garment later. A sewing class isn't a bad idea. Many fabric stores offer them for free or a nominal fee. Even if you don't want to learn to make your own clothes, you can learn the skills to repair damaged garments. (Free, unsolicted OT advice here: Don't underestimate the money you can save learning to sew, either: that thousand-dollar suit by Prada isn't that far out of reach. Go to the fabric store, look through Vogue Patterns, and match the fabric. Nobody will know the difference, and remember that with designer clothes you pay for the name, not the garment!)

You're more likely to be caught in Danger Cold out on the road than at home, where you (hopefully) have prepped for severe cold weather. This is where Car Prep comes in.

In winter, prepare for a breakdown or even a night when you can't get home and must shelter elsewhere. This happened in Raleigh last year. A sudden ice storm locked people in their workplaces, kids in their schools...some people were literally forced to spend the night in their office cubes and schoolrooms. (This is where a good Bug-out Bag is vital...more on those later)

I keep a sleeping bag in the trunk of my car during the winter in case of breakdowns. This can be helpful even if you just run out of gas and the wife and kids must wait in your Toyota while you walk up the block to the gas station. Remember that a heated car will lose heat rapidly in cold weather and wind, and it's dangerous to sit there with the engine running (carbon monoxide again). Wifey and Junior can snuggle under it while you hike for gas. The sleeping bag also ensures you don't have to sleep in your typing chair if you're trapped at your office.

I have a Coleman sleeping bag that's good down to 20 degrees (and it is: I've camped in that kind of weather quite comfortably). It zips completely open to double as a comforter to snuggle under.

Here's what you should have:
Your emergency car kit (more on this in another post)

Your Bug-Out Bag, filled with seasonal winter clothes - an extra coat isn't a bad idea. Weather CAN change rapidly. Gloves, knitted hat, extra wool socks

Rain poncho
Gallon of water (per person)
Flashlight or Coleman battery lantern
First aid kit

Emergency food pack: cans of spam, powdered drink mix, trail mix, Power Bars, canned soup, canned pudding, cans of Ravioli, Ramen noodles, instant coffee and cocoa, whatever turns you on

PLASTIC bowl, plate, eating utensils: (If you are marooned at work, it's probably gonna have a microwave. You can't heat your emergency stock of Spaghetti-Os in a metal plate)

Sweat pants and shirt

Cell phone or CB radio

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Part 10: Laundry & Cleaning

PREP 101: Part 10, Laundry & Cleaning
Okay, the power's out, you don't know when it will come back on, and your sweat-soaked clothes are getting freaky.

The solution, of course, is to hand-wash. There are ways to keep this from becoming to great a chore.

You need:
Drying rack
Wooden or plastic clothespins
LIQUID laundry soap (powder won't dissolve well)

Two 20-gallon plastic tubs with rope handles. These are available at K-mart for about $7 each, and they run them on sale quite often. You need one for washing and one for rinsing. These have a million other uses when not needed for emergency laundry: toting gardening equipment, toyboxes, laundry baskets...whatever turns you on.

This is where pool water comes in handy. Water stores in an above-ground pool or in those big trash cans is used for this purpose. You can heat water in a large dutch oven or cookpot on the grill. (Check the canning or cooking department. You can get 12 quart speckled "granny ware" pots that are perfect for this)

Sort your laundry as usual and go to work washing. You can use the broomstick to stir and "agitate" the clothes as well as scrubbing the really dirty pieces by hand. A friend does an Army Laundress impression at Civil War reenactments. She uses a broomstick nailed into a small three-legged stool and uses it to "punch" and agitate the laundry. Works really well too.

Rinse in the other tub and hang to dry! This is hard work, but that fresh, clean, sun-dried smell is wonderful.


You'll probably have a TON of trash until pickup resumes. Double-bag all your trash, and put some kitty litter in the bottom of the trash cans. This will absorb leaks and help control odor.

TRASH BAGS! TRASH BAGS! It is impossible to have too many of these in your prep stock. The big lawn and leaf bags are tough and they have a million uses. They double as plastic sheeting, and with a hole punched in them make a great rain poncho. Keep some in the car for those trips to the beach: they'll protect your seat covers from damp and sand on the ride home.

In the house, clean as usual, unless you've had floodwater. Everything must then be cleaned with bleach to disinfect it. Keep the house aired as best you can while the power is off. You don't want to find mildew growing in your closet after the crisis is over.

Plan for unwelcome invaders, such as rats and mice and bugs. You can't have too many cans of bug spray and insect repellant in the summer. Storing items such as dog food in steel trash cans helps prevent rodents.

Invest in a solar shower. Coleman's costs about 10 bucks. These work even in cold weather, if you have a light source. They hold five gallons of water and you can just go to town with a bar of Zest and the shampoo. It's amazing how clean you can get with a good washbowl. Rainwater from your rain barrel, or your pool water, is fine for bathing. Just be careful not to swallow any of it.

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PREP 101: Part 11, Hurricane/Storm Prep
The "good" thing (if there is one) about hurricanes is that you will get advance warning of its coming. You can save yourself a lot of grief and stress, though, if you get ready for one NOW as opposed to three days before it's due! We've all seen the long lines at the stores...

Refill all prescriptions. Make sure you have an ample supply on hand for at least a couple of weeks

Gas up the cars. If you use a generator, stock gas for it now - and remember to keep it in a safe place where it won't fuel an inferno!

Check your food stores. If you've prepped properly, you shouldn't need to stock anything...unless you want the fresh bread and milk, of course.

Start making ice now.

Advance prep for boarding up windows will save you time, hard work, and stress. During the off-season, measure all your windows and buy the plywood to fit them now. Pre-drill the nail/screw holes. You can store these in the garage, toolshed, whatever for easy access.

Some people get masking tape and cover their windows with it, or make those big Xs on the glass. THIS IS COMPLETELY WORTHLESS. It's a "hurricane urban myth" that this will protect them. Your windows can still blow out, and flimsy masking tape won't stop a tree limb from going through the glass! If you want to protect them, board them up.

Bicycles, lawn furniture, trash cans, yard gnomes....all become flying missiles in fury of a hurricane. Store them away or at least tie them down securely. You don't want your son's trike to end up in the den via the picture window.

CHECK YOUR WATER STORES. It will probably be hot and humid in the days following the storm, and you will need a MINIMUM of a gallon per person per day. And don't forget the pets! They'll need water too.

If you use a generator, my recommendation is to use it for NOTHING except your refrigerator/freezer. This serves several purposes: it eliminates the need for an ice chest, saves gas, and helps with noise. You can unplug the fridge at night (things will stay cold for up to 24 hours after the power goes off if you don't open it too much) to save gas and avoid annoying your neighbors. Generators are great, but they are LOUD. The noise bothers others and can attract unwanted attention.

If you made ice in advance, this will also help keep your food safe. Put as much in your freezer as possible. If you don't have a generator, you'll need ice chests. I highly recommend the Coleman Extreme Ice Chest. It's guaranteed to keep ice for up to five days in 90 degree heat - and it keeps its promise! I've camped for a week in hundred-plus temps and it kept my food cold. The Coleman Marine ice chest is also great and it's BIG.

Ice blocks take lots longer to melt than crushed ice! Cut your gallon milk cartons in half, fill them with water, and freeze.

Things to stock:

Plastic sheeting and duct tape - to cover broken windows
Plywood, nails and screws
*Hand or chain saw to cut up downed trees
Trash cans and trash bags
Bleach, to purify water and clean up
STOCK BUG SPRAY and INSECT REPELLANT. Mosquitos and flies are horrendous after a hurricane. You can't stock too much of this.

*Enterprising folks around here go around the neighborhood offering their services to those with downed trees. They charge rates that are entirely fair and perform a needed service, since it can take the city MONTHS to clean up after the storm. Of course you can also do it for free as a community service....we have several elderly people in our neighborhood and my husband and all the men on the block see to their yards first.

Instead of cut down milk bottles how about juice or soda 2 L bottles with water in them [ lead head space for expansion ] put in the freezers ahead - they can be left there to help with the cold or moved to ice chest and then also there is the all important water - esp nice cold water - we sure wish we had more when we were without power once for 4 days - but we could get out to go and get ice and water but the poor people in the hurricane area sure can not - I do not really know how you can prepare for the flooding or storm surge that the area has experienced - move I guess [sigh]

That works great
The only reason I don't use the soda bottles myself is because I use them for water storage. The plastic in milk jugs breaks down easily so you'll have leakage if you use THOSE for water storage.

Soda bottles are great for making ice

Do not use milk jugs for water storage, there is too much bacteria from the milk. Orange juice or pop containers will work.

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PREP 101: Part 12, Cabin Fever
Never underestimate the danger of BOREDOM or trivialize it, particularly if you have large numbers of dependents. Boredom, especially in a crisis, can go hand-in-hand with depression and resentment, and all three spell trouble.

Bored individuals will find ways to amuse themselves, particularly children, that you may not find pleasurable.

Depressed people - well, we all know what happens there. At the very least you'll have a less-than-capable pair of hands. At worst....let's not go there.

Resentment? Ah, discord, fights....let's not go there either.

Some disasters, like blizzards or ice storms, can actually be made quite cozy. Take the time to get closer to your loved ones. Find amusement together and turn the bad time into good, quality time.

Stock diversions, such as the obvious, TOYS. For kids AND adults

Decks of cards and poker chips, Skip-Bo, Uno (These are really inexpensive and fun...also good for car trips)

Board games

Jigsaw Puzzles

Musical instruments and sheet music. Now's the time to learn to play the autoharp, guitar, or recorder.

If it's save to go outdoors, invest in a croquet set or volleyball net. Play together as a team.

BOOKS. Stock up your "To Be Read" pile. Go to the used bookstore, especially if they have a sale on, and buy up paperbacks.

Books for homeschooling and educational games and toys.

If you have children, buy some "Surprise, rainy day" toys. Hide them to bring out when the doldrums appear. These need not be expensive - bubble solution can thrill for hours (and you can make your own) and so can modeling clay.

Craft kits. Buy an instruction book, stock some knitting needles and yarn, and take advantage of the time ot learn to knit or crochet like you've always wanted to do, but never quite got round to. (Or needlepoint kits, hooked rug kits.....)

Paint-by-number sets

Use your imagination!

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PREP 101: Part 13, Death: Prepping for the Ultimate
Death: The Last Prep You’ll Ever Make But NOT The Least Important

Death…..the one certainty that we all know is coming. But how many of us prep for it? Just because you aren’t around to worry doesn’t mean there won’t be a crisis for those you leave behind. Do you want them to be faced with making crucial financial and personal decisions at a time when they are least emotionally equipped to handle it? And what if they AREN’T equipped financially?

Preplanning your death is actually one of the most loving and responsible decisions that a person can make, especially if you have minor children.

The average funeral costs around six thousand dollars, and can go higher. Will your life insurance cover this? Can your loved ones immediately access the money to pay for it?

What kind of funeral do you want? Are you devoutly Catholic with Buddhist relatives? You may not get the funeral mass you really want! Are you a pagan hippie with Southern Baptist parents? Think about it. What they do may not be what you and your grieving friends want.

Who will raise your children? These decisions will be made by a court, who doesn’t know you or them if you don’t speak up now, and the kids may end up with someone not of your choosing who doesn’t share your values or your wishes for their future – and maybe not theirs either!

Start with the basics. How well are you fixed now? How much income does your family stand to lose if you die? Is your home paid for? How about the cars? Check into life insurance and perhaps a prepaid funeral plan. Ideally, your life insurance plan should pay for your funeral, pay off your debts so your spouse will not be burdened, and leave enough of a nest egg for your family to live off until your spouse goes to work. What about your credit card debts?

AND HAVE A WILL. Do not assume that everything will automatically go to your spouse. Other relatives can and often do file for a share of your estate. If you were only married for a couple of years, your greedy deadbeat brother Floyd may well try to claim a share. Specify the disposition of every possible asset now.

Guardians. This is really tricky. Who do you want to raise your children? You need to decide this now, and preferably with their input. Death can be discussed in reasonable terms with small children, and there are endless psychological texts that suggest excellent ways in which to broach the subject. Older kids are easier, and should be asked where they want to live. Their answers may surprise you – although they love your sister Jane, she lives on the other side of the country and they would feel happier living with your longtime friend Ellen and her husband, so they can stay in their home town and familiar schools. Don’t dismiss their concerns. Remember that they’ll already be losing you…do you want to force them to live where they may not be comfortable, much less happy? Consider also the ramifications of a custody battle on your kids after the trauma of your death. Pick guardians, and SPREAD THE WORD. Give your reasons, and make it known that this is a wish you do not want contested.

LIVING WILLS. We all remember the Terri Schiavo case. Do you want every last measure to be taken to preserve your life, no matter what state you’re in? Say so now IN WRITING. Do you want nothing to be done, not even an IV in your arm? Say so now IN WRITING. Get it witnessed AND NOTARIZED, and express your wishes to your loved ones verbally. Spread copies of the Living Will around, and make sure your doctor has one. Keep a copy in hand when you go to the hospital. A Power of Attorney for a trusted individual is also a good idea. Your advance directive will do no good if no one can find a copy of it.

Funeral planning. Consider what you want and how can you afford it? Many funeral homes offer prepaid plans, and these can be well worth the effort. My aunt died in 2000, and had a grand funeral that was more like a wedding, with tons of flowers and a beautiful oak casket. She had purchased a funeral plan, paid in full in 1963, for four hundred dollars, over my uncle’s objections. He thought it was a waste of money at the time, but I’d say she got a great return on her investment! A prepaid plan will fix the cost of your funeral at today’s rates and save you money. Just be sure to read it carefully, because it may not be transferable in the event that you move.

It IS possible to do this cheaply. No state requires that you use a funeral home, and most states do not require embalming, which can cost thousands of dollars, provided that the body is buried within 24 hours after death. Your family can put your body in the back of the pickup for transport to the cemetery if you like, and save the 200 bucks the funeral home will charge for their hearse. (Don’t underestimate the cost. The funeral home charged four hundred dollars just to collect my father’s body from his home, and he lived less than two miles away!)

Embalming. The purpose of embalming is to preserve the flesh long enough for the family to gather for the funeral. Do not believe the urban myth that it preserves the body forever and that you will always be in that pristine condition. We’re all gonna rot, folks. Ashes to ashes and all that. Do want embalming or not? While the fluid used for this process costs a few bucks, the funeral home will charge hundreds or even thousands for this procedure. Decide if you want this expense. Me – I’m going into the ground immediately and the family can have a memorial later. I’d rather they took the $ and did something nice for themselves with it.

Caskets. It depends on what you want. It’s possible to get a really nice one for a substantial discount by buying one over the internet! Funeral homes mark them up substantially, sometimes by hundreds of dollars. You are NOT required by ANY law to buy one from the funeral home. Consider shopping for one on the web.

Graves. Do you want one, or do you want to be cremated? That’s another important decision. If you want a grave you can buy a plot now and have it paid for by installments, or purchase space in a mausoleum. Again, this is one less decision for your grieving family to have to make, and you can usually pick out your spot now and pay for it over the years until you need it.

Grave digging….most cemeteries will require that they be the ones to open the grave, and some cities require concrete liners whether there’s a casket or not. This can run around $800. Allow for this in your funeral planning.

Markers? Pick out what you want now and have it laid on your plot. They, too, can be financed. Make small payments and that’s another decision your family won’t have to make. The date of death can be added later, and the century won’t be a problem now that we’re past 2000.

The service. What music do you want? Who do you want to officiate? Your minister, or your childhood friend? Do you want a religious service, or just a congregation at the local pub? Write it down and share it around.

Finances. This is something most people don’t think of, and it can cause horrible suffering in terms of $ and emotions. So you’re leaving everything to your spouse, and you have a will. Remember that that will must wind its way through the court system, and in the meantime your family will have to account for the property and the money.

Joint accounts can cause ugly suprises. Yes, it’s community property – but the moment you die it becomes part of the estate. Some states freeze bank accounts immediately. What if the rent is due? When mom died everything was frozen. Dad had direct deposit and his paycheck went into the joint account before his boss could stop it. He was able to get some money out, but had to go through the estate’s executor and the bank and it took several days. He ended up having to borrow money in the meantime. Although this is done to protect the interest of the heirs, it’s still time consuming and sometimes humiliating for your spouse to explain and justify needs to strangers. Dad couldn’t even open the safe deposit box to get the will without a bank official there to watch him and catalog the contents. Ugh.

Ditto for credit cards if they’re joint. Your spouse may not be able to use his/hers.

Consider keeping some accounts and credit separate. Establish an account with enough money to cover expenses for a month or so in the event of a death in your own name, and a credit card as well.

Email. Keep your passwords somewhere so your loved ones can access your email if necessary….if you want them to, that is.

Friends to notify. Keep your address book current, and make sure your spouse knows where it is.

Bills and finances…..when I was growing up the man handled all of this, and I saw widows who were utterly lost when their husbands died. They had never paid a light bill. They didn’t know how much was owed against the house. They had no idea what was in the bank, or how to cash those bonds in. Sit down with your family members and make sure everyone knows what assets you have, how to get to them in the event of an emergency, who to contact at the life insurance company. Consider setting up a file for each bill you pay each month.

We should prep for death as we do for life, because it’s coming. We want to protect our families in the event of a disaster. Why not protect their emotions and their financial well-being after we’re gone as well?

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PREP 101: Part 14, Flu/Illness Preps
This is a plan I used as a single person through several bouts of flu and pneumonia. I had no one to stay and care for me and during several battles with these bugaboos could barely stand. This might be useful during a pandemic or just a nasty round of flu. Can be adapted to fit multiple people, especially if the primary caregivers themselves fall ill.

DISCLAIMER: During a bout of "Bird Flu" ie, a "Superflu" you're going to need antiviral meds and more support....but this might aid in nursing.

Remember that flu is a virus and antibiotics aren't going to help. Your body must cure the illness itself via your immune system. Keep in mind that most people recover quickly from influenza and you aren't going to just wish you would. The big danger is to young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems. The odds are quite good that you'll recover fully within a couple of weeks...which may or may not be a comforting thought while it's going on.

Well. Moving right along.

The flu comes on suddenly, but you should have a day or at least several hours before you must take to your bed. This is what you'll need...and these items should already be part of your prep stock. If not, shop for them NOW.

Pick out your sickroom, which may or may not be your bedroom. Consider your needs: you'll need to cook and get to the bathroom. Which room is most vital, and which is closest? During one severe bout of flu, I lived in a townhouse with the bathroom upstairs and the kitchen downstairs. I chose to reside upstairs for the duration of my illness so I could have the toilet and shower close by. The bathroom is also a source of drinking water.

Prepare your bed. Keep extra blankets nearby for chills, and clean sheets. I suggest NOT making up the bed as usual: don't tuck in the sheets, etc. Lay the clean sheets on top so that you can simply pull or push them off when you need a change of linen. Simply unfold the clean sheets and lay them on the mattress. Remember that you're going to be weak, and even simple tasks such as making up the bed can sap a lot of energy.

Have clean underwear/nightwear next to the sheets and blankets so you can change quickly and easily.

On your bedside table, lay out your fever-reducing meds (aspirin FOR ADULTS ONLY, tylenol, ibuprofen) and your cold meds. I highly recommend Contac's Severe Cold and Flu formula and Theraflu (which tastes terrible; add a teaspoon of honey or sugar). Nose spray if you use it, lip balm for dry lips and cold sores, lotion for fever-dry skin, your boxes of tissues and some baby wipes (these are great for quick clean ups, or to freshen up if you become to weak to shower). Also have a clock and a pad of paper. This is to help you keep track of when you took your meds, which can quickly become a blur due to the drowsiness many of them cause and the disorientation caused by fever.

Put the PHONE nearby. Suggest having a buddy system with a trusted friend. Notify this person that you are ill, and arrange to have them call you at predetermined times. This person will know that if you don't answer at the proper time, something is wrong and it's time to send the paramedics to your house.

You will also need a 32 gallon trash can. This is to hold all the trash that you will accumulate during your illness. You may wish to have a second one, or at least a large laundry hamper, next to it for your dirty clothing and linens.

Chamber pot and toilet paper: Have this next to or near the bed in the event that you become to weak to make it to the bathroom. Get a large orange drywall bucket from Home Depot. Double-line it with the trash bags, and cover the bottom with kitty litter. After use, sprinkle in a fresh layer of kitty litter.Some camping stores even sell toilet seats that fit the drywall buckets!

Trash bags: for the chamber pot if you need to change it, and in case you need to vomit. used ones, filled with trash, go in the big trash can.

DINING: Remember, again this assumes that you have prepped for your illness and that these items are already in your kitchen ready to go.

Bring the microwave out of the kitchen and put it on your dresser, or someplace near your bed. Put your paper plates, cups, and plastic silverware next to it. If you have an ice chest, this should be nearby. I have the Coleman Extreme Ice Chest, which keeps ice for up to five days in 90 degree plus weather. I kept my juice, water, etc in it.

FOOD TO STOCK: Canned soups, bouillon cubes, canned pudding, bottled fruit juice or juice boxes, hot tea, sodas, crackers, powdered cocoa mix, whatever turns you on that you think you can eat.

Books, the tv, whatever for amusement if you feel up to it.

My bed is in the middle of my room. I had my nightstand for my meds and the phone. Next to that was my pile of extra blankets, then my stack of clean sheets. Then my stack of clean clothes, the chamber pot and its supplies, then the big trash can.

On the other side of the bed is my dresser. That's where I put the microwave and the foodstuffs and the ice box.

Note that all this allowed me to use the toilet, access my meds, change into fresh nightgowns, change my sweat-stained sheets, and cook and eat with a journey from my bed of only a few feet.

Hope this helps someone.

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PREP 101: Part 15, Your Prep Library
Everyone, PLEASE post your favorite reference books here! These are the ones I've found helpful:

Red Cross First Aid Manual

"Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook" by David Werner, with Carol Thurman and Jane Maxwell

"Wilderness Medicine: Beyond First Aid" by William W. Forgey, MD.

"The Herbal Drugstore" by Linda White, MD, and Steven Foster

"The Herb Book" by John Lust

"The Green Pharmacy" by James A. Duke, PhD.

"New Choices in Natural Healing" by Prevention Magazine

"Cast Iron Cooking: From Johnnycakes to Blackened Redfish" by A.D. Livingston

"Chef John Folse's Cast Iron Cooking"

"The Canning, Freezing, Curing & Smoking of Meat, Fish and Game" by Wilbur Eastman Jr.

"Five Acres and Independence" by M.G. Kains

"The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by Carla Emery. This book tells it all: how to select, raise, breed and butcher livestock, plant a garden and can food, bake bread, churn butter, buy land....even how to deliver a baby!

DOOMER FICTION: I include these fictional novels both because they're classics and because they contain valuable survival tips.

"Alas, Babylon" - this is THE doomer novel. Pat Frank's classic tells of how one man and his friends help their town survive a nuclear holocaust.

"False Dawn" by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Nuclear war, man's carelessness and natural disasters have combined to create a complete breakdown of civilization, and ordinary people struggle to survive starvation and bands of "pirates" in a futuristic United States.

"Ariel: A Novel of the Change" by Steven Boyett. One bright day everything Changes. Technological and mechanical items, including guns, no longer work, and magic is real.

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PREP 101: Part 16, "This is only a test": Hold a Drill
Here we go! You've spent months stocking every possible thing you can think of and your basement looks like a bunker. Now that you've got all this stuff - do you know what to do with it???

Pop Quiz, Hotshots!

Turn off the power and water to your home, park the cars, and live off the grid for the weekend. This stuff is off limits for the duration of the drill, and NO CHEATING!

Listening to the radio and watching the battery powered tv are allowed...for information only. Introduce the kids to the wonders of Uno instead of Barney.

Prepare meals from your food stores on your backup cooking source. Do a load of laundry from your makeshifts.

Keep a diary of each day, with a log for the following questions:

What went wrong?

What could have gone better?

What preps proved priceless?

I ran out of.....

I had more than I needed of.....

I wish I had had......

More than anything else, I missed......

use the information you gathered to alter your disaster plan as needed, if necessary. Then hold another drill.

Drills serve other purposes besides just letting you know what you prepared well for/didn't prep well for. They help your family, especially children, gain a sense of confidence. Your family will react as trained rather than panicking in an emergency, and your kids won't be frightened because they know everything will be all right.

Good luck, good work, and pat yourself on the back no matter what happens, because you're learning something, and knowledge is always power.

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PREP 101: Part 17, Birth in Your Shelter
Basic Birthing 101


Labor is Divided into Three Stages
First Stage - the womb contracts by itself to open and bring the baby down to the birth canal.

Second Stage - the mother pushes (bears down) with the contractions of the womb to help the baby through the birth canal and out into the world.

Third Stage - the afterbirth is expelled.

First Stage
In this early part of labor it is often helpful for the mother to keep occupied as long as she does not get too tired. She should be patient and calm, relaxing as the contractions come and go and breathing slowly and deeply during the contractions as they become strong. Emptying the bowels and frequent urination will help to relieve discomfort. The mother will know she is in true labor if she has regular contractions of the womb which are prolonged and become strong and closer together. When she knows the baby is on the way, she should choose a place to have the baby that will be clean and peaceful. She should be able to lie down or sit in a leaning position (with her back well supported).

The following events occur as part of the first stage of labor and delivery.

The state of dilation: the first signs may be noticeable only to the mother, low-backache and irregular cramping pains (contractions) in the lower abdomen.
As labor progresses, the contractions become stronger, last longer, and become more regular. When the contractions recur at regular 3-4 minute intervals and last from 50-60 seconds, the mother is in the latter part of the first stage.
The contractions will get stronger and more frequent. The mother will often make an involuntary, deep grunting, moan with each contraction. The delivery of the baby is now imminent.

What To Do During the First Stage

Those helping the mother should know how to time the contractions. This information will give them an idea as to how far into labor the mother is and how much time remains until the baby comes.

Place a hand on the mother’s abdomen just above the umbilicus. As contractions begin you will feel a hardening ball. Time the interval from the moment the uterus begins to harden until it completely relaxes.

Time the intervals in minutes between the start of one contraction and the start of the next contraction. As labor progresses this time will decrease.

Walking or standing tends to shorten labor, so if that feels comfortable to the mother, let her. Also, if she becomes hungry or thirsty, let her eat or drink small amounts of food, fruit juice, or suck on ice chips.

Don’t Leave the Mother Alone

Make no attempt to wipe away vaginal secretions, as this may contaminate the birth canal. The bag of water may rupture during this stage of labor and blood tinged mucous may appear.

At the end of the first stage, the mother may feel tired, discouraged and irritable. This is often referred to as "transition" and is the most uncomfortable part of labor and such feelings are perfectly normal. The mother may have a backache, may vomit, may feel either hot or cold (or both at the same time), she may tremble, feel panicky or scared, cry or get very cross with her husband and birthing attendants. She may even announce that she has changed her mind and is not going through with it. At this time she needs plenty of encouragement and assurance that things are proceeding normally and that her feelings are normal. At the same time, the mother is not "sick" and should not be treated as such.

Birth attendants, the husband, and others present at the labor and birth should have a cheerful, calm appearance. Nervousness, panic, or distressing remarks can have an inhibiting effect on a laboring woman. Comments on how long the labor is lasting, how pale or tired the woman looks can have a terrible effect on her morale. Even talking quietly can irritate a woman having an intense contraction because it is hard to concentrate on relaxing when there is noise in the room. Some women like to be coached through contractions; others like absolute silence during a contraction. Ask her what she wants.

Relaxation is very important. A woman’s husband or labor coach should instruct her to go limp like a rag doll and breath deeply, making her tummy rise and fall. This is called abdominal breathing. Begin each contraction with a deep breath to keep the tissues (of both mom and baby) oxygenated. Observe the kind of breathing you do when you are nearly asleep and try to simulate it. Help her to relax her hands, face, legs etc. if you see that they are tense. Tenseness in the body fights the contractions and intensifies the sensations of "pain." Relaxation helps a woman to handle the contractions easier and have a faster labor. Sometimes a woman will breathe too fast and get tingling sensations in her hands and feet. She needs to be coached to slow down her breathing. You can have her follow your breathing until the tingling goes away.

Firm hand pressure on the lower back by those attending the mother may help to relieve the back ache. Alternately, the mother may prefer to lean her back against a firm surface. Deep rhythmical breathing helps to relieve annoying symptoms. The discomfort seldom lasts for more than a dozen contractions.

When the womb is almost fully opened the baby will soon enter the birth canal, and there will be a vocalized catch in the mother’s breathing when she has a contraction. The will signal the onset of the second stage.

Second Stage
The contractions of the second stage are often of a different kind. They may come further apart and the mother usually fells inclined to bear down (push) with them. When she gets this feeling she should take a deep breath as each contraction comes, hold her breath and gently push. There is no hurry here. The mother should feel no need to exert great force as she pushes. She may want to push with several breaths during each contraction. After it passes, a deep sigh will help her recover her breath. She should then rest until the next contraction. She may even sleep between contractions.

Some general instructions for the second stage of labor:

Be calm! Reassure the mother and be prepared to administer first aid to both the mother and baby. (Possible respiratory and cardiac resuscitation for the baby and hemorrhage control and prevention of shock for the mother may be needed).
Discourage onlookers from crowding around the mother.

Use sterile materials or the cleanest materials available. Clean towels or parts of the mother's clothing can be used. Place newspaper under the mother if nothing else is available. An old shower curtain is ideal. If she must lie on the ground, place a blanket or other covering under her.

In order to prevent infection, refrain from direct contact with the vagina. Prepare for the delivery by assisting the mother to lie on her back with the knees bent and separated as far apart as possible, or if she chooses to squat, have someone support her from the rear. Some women like to birth on all fours. Remove any constricting clothing or push it above her waist.

When the baby's head reaches the outlet of the birth canal, the top of the head will first be seen during contractions but will then become visible all the time. The mother will now feel a stretching, burning sensation. She must now no longer push during the contractions, and to avoid this, should pant (like a dog on a hot day). This will allow the baby's head to slide gently and painlessly out of the canal. If possible allow the head to emerge between contractions. This will prevent the mother's skin from tearing and will minimize trauma to the baby's head. It is important that the mother pant instead of pushing until both of the baby's shoulders have emerged.

Delivery of the Baby

As the baby is coming down the birth canal, keep the perineum red or pink by massaging with warm olive oil (if none is available simply massage the area with your hand). Any place that gets white will tear more easily so keep massaging and keep all areas red. Use olive oil on the inside too and pay special attention to the area at the bottom, as that is the most common place to tear. Do this massage during a contraction when it will not be noticed or it may irritate some women. NOTE: Some women do not want their private parts touched in this way. Honor the request. Even a deep tear will eventually heal itself better than it will with stitches. Others like to have the husband do this.

You can support under the perineum with your hand on top of a sterile gauze pad or washcloth. Do not hold it together, just support it so the baby's head can ease out. The other hand can gently press with the fingers around the baby's head so it won't pop out too fast causing tearing. As the baby's head is born, support it with your hand so the face doesn't sit in a puddle of amniotic fluid. Gently wipe the face with a clean or sterile washcloth. Check quickly around the neck for the cord. If you feel it, just hook it with your finger and pull it around the baby's head. Check again. Some are wrapped more than once. If the cord is so tight it cannot be slipped over the baby's head, just wait until the baby is born to untangle it. Most cords are long enough to permit this. IF the cord is too short to permit the baby to be born, it has to be cut and clamped and the baby delivered rapidly. In this situation the baby may be in distress because the oxygen supply was cut off prematurely. With the next contraction, one of the shoulders comes and then the whole body slips quickly out. IF several contractions have passed without a shoulder coming, you may have to slip two fingers in and try to find an armpit. With one or two fingers hooked under the armpit, try to rotate the shoulder counterclockwise while pulling out. Usually this does it. Having the mother turn onto all fours is also helpful in the event of shoulder first or breech deliveries.

As the baby's head emerges, it is usually face down. It then turns, so that the nose is turned towards he mother's thigh. Support the baby's head by cradling it in your hands. Do not pull or exert any pressure. Help the shoulders out. For the lower shoulder, support the head in an upward position. As the shoulders emerge, be prepared for the rest of the body to come quickly. Use the cleanest cloth or item available to receive the baby.

Make a record of the time and approximate location of the birth of the baby.

With one hand, grasp the baby at the ankles, slipping a finger between the ankles. With the other hand, support the shoulders with the thumb and middle finger around its neck and the forefinger on the head. (Support but do not choke). Do not pull on the umbilical cord when picking the baby up. Raise the baby's body slightly higher than the head in order to allow mucous and other fluid to drain from its nose and mouth. Be Very Careful as newborn babies are very slippery.

The baby will probably breathe and cry almost immediately.

If the baby doesn't breathe spontaneously, very gently clear the mouth of mucous with your finger. Stimulate crying by gently rubbing its back. IF all this fails, give extremely gentle mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Gently pull the lower jaw back and breathe gently with small puffs--20 puffs a minute. If there seems to be excess mucous, use your finger to gently clear the baby's mouth.

The mother will probably want to hold the baby. This is desirable. If the umbilical cord is long enough, let her hold the baby in her arms. If the cord is short, support the baby on the mother's abdomen and help her hold it there.

It is of benefit to the baby and makes the afterbirth come with less bleeding if the baby can be allowed to suckle at the breast as soon as it is born. The cord should not be cut until the afterbirth has completely emerged.

Third Stage

The placenta delivery or afterbirth is expelled by the womb in a period of a few minutes to several hours after the baby is born. No attempt should be made to pull it out using the cord. It is also NOT necessary to mash on the mother's stomach. This is often done in hospitals, but this is to merely speed up the process. Immediately following the afterbirth, there may be additional bleeding and a few blood clots. The womb should feel like a firm grapefruit just below the mother's navel. If it is soft, the baby should be encouraged to nurse, and the mother may be encouraged to gently massage the womb. These actions will cause it to contract and lessen the chances of bleeding.

If hemorrhaging occurs, do the following:

The uterus should be gently massaged to keep it hard. The woman should lie flat, and the bottom of the bed should be elevated. Put a cold pack (such as a small towel dipped in cold water and wrung out) on the lower tummy to irritate the uterus to contract. Put pressure on the perineum with several sanitary napkins and the pressure of your hand.

Most importantly, have the baby nurse. Sucking stimulates the uterus to contract.
Another problem to be alert for is shock. Symptoms of shock are vacant eyes, dilated pupils, pale and cold or clammy skin, faint and rapid pulse, shallow and irregular breathing, dizziness and vomiting. If you notice any of these symptoms, keep the woman warm, slightly elevate her feet and legs, use soft lights, and talk softly and calmly to her. Nursing also helps with postpartum bleeding.

Wait until the afterbirth is out, or at least until the cord is whitened and empty of blood. to cut the cord. The cord should not be cut until it quits pulsating so the baby can have a transition time before he absolutely has to breathe on his own. As long as the cord is pulsating, the baby is still receiving oxygen from his mother.

If the cord is long enough, the baby can be put on his mother's tummy so she can hold him and talk to him. IF not, the father should touch him and talk to him. After the cord has stopped pulsating and has become limp it can be clamped or tied about one inch from the baby's tummy with a cord or sterile cloth and then cut.

As the placenta separates from the uterus, the cord will appear longer. Wait for the delivery of the placenta. It will usually be about 10 minutes or longer before the placenta is delivered.

Never pull on the cord. When the placenta appears, grasp gently and rotate it clockwise. Then tie the cord in two places--about six inches from the baby--using strips of material that has been boiled or held in a hot flame.

Check the amount of vaginal bleeding; a small amount (1 to 2 cups) is expected. Place sanitary pads or other sanitary material around birth areas. Then cover mother and baby but do not allow them to overheat. Continue to check the baby's color and respiration. The baby should not appear blue or yellowish. When necessary, gently flick your fingers on the soles of the baby's feet; this will encourage it to cry vigorously.

The mother will probably need light nourishment and will wish to rest and watch her baby. She should keep her hand away from the area surrounding the birth outlet. If uncontaminated water is available, she may wish to wash off her thighs or shower if she feels up to it. She may get up and go to the bathroom or seek better shelter. All care should be taken to avoid introducing infection into the birth canal - showering is recommended for the first couple of weeks. The mother can expect some vaginal discharge for several days. This is usually reddish for the first day or so but lightens and becomes less profuse within a few days.

Almost all emergency births are normal. The babies typically thrive and the mothers recover quickly. It is very important when assisting with an emergency delivery that you continually reassure the mother and attempt to keep her calm.

fruit loop

PREP 101: Part 18, Spirituality/Stress/Depression
People have other needs besides the physical. Having all the food, water and medicine will do little good if you're the last person on earth. There will come a time when the survivor will ask, "What do I have to live for?"

Many of us ask that question at some time in our lives anyway, even though we live in warm, safe houses. We may have the most loving families in the world.

Maybe we don't, and that can be the loneliest, most frightening feeling there is.

This is the most difficult part of surviving a crisis. One can come out in complete physical health, but bear psychological and emotional scars for years or even the rest of one's lifetime.

Most of us remember exactly where we were when we heard the first A-bomb was dropped, when JFK was shot, when Challenger exploded, or of course on 9-11. This is because these were dreadful, violent, traumatic events that shocked us all. We were all touched and deeply affected by these events even though most of us weren't physically affected by them.

Someone must take charge during a family crisis, and since you're the prepper, leadership during the disaster will more than likely fall on you. If you can share the burden with a spouse, wonderful....but in many cases the spouse may well be an additional dependent. Ask yourself now how you will handle the stress that this will inevitably bring.

Get any number of people together and there will inevitably be conflicts. Everyone has a different personality and some people seem to instinctively know where our last viable nerve is, don't they? How will you deal with these people? How will they deal with you?

Decide what form your temporary household government will take. If you can delegate responsibility, do so. This not only relieves the burden on you but gives other people something constructive to do. This will relieve their feelings of helplessness and frustration and raise their self-esteem by making them feel useful.

The temptation may arise to take charge and run your establishment like a military dictatorship, and, knowing some personality types, I don't deny that this may even be the most effective way to deal with your situation, but it can create a whole host of other problems, resentment being the least of them. Furthermore, if you treat people as stupid and incompetent long enough they'll start to believe it, and then you have a flock of helpless sheep who will be unable to respond decisively when you do need help.

Stress often leads to apathy, or worse, depression, which is downright dangerous. Of course the most extreme result of depression is suicide, and this should be watched for in those with whom you share the emergency.

Never take depression lightly, and, however frustrating it may be, try not to punish the person for it. Everyone has a grieving process that they must go through, especially in a crisis. Losing a beloved pet, treasured possessions and memories, or one's home may seem trivial when compared with loss of life, but these losses are nonetheless devastating. The person needs time to mourn these losses. The words "snap out of it" and "just don't dwell on it" should be deleted from your vocabulary at this time (in fact, get rid of them for good!) although it's perfectly reasonable to sit down with the person and explain that you still need their help desperately if you acknowledge their very real feelings of grief at the same time.

Suicidal people should be watched carefully. They're in the very deepest form of depression and it's unlikely that they can pull themselves out of it alone - and remember that always! Their stress has slid down to the point of very real sickness and this must be treated as any other illness - very carefully, because lives DO depend on it. Take any warning signs seriously - remarks that they wish they had died in the (earthquake, hurricane, etc), that they just drag the group down and you'd all be better off without away possessions... These are danger signals that you had better not avoid!

In the absence of psychiatric care, watch this person carefully. Don't leave them alone or permit them access to anything that they might use to harm themselves. Worse, do not confront them with threats or violence. Well-meaning but STUPID people often try to get stern with suicidal people in an effort to "snap them out of it" or "make them mad enough to prove me wrong." This is dangerous and can have tragic results - remember that the person already feels that they are worthless and you are simply reinforcing this belief.

I suggest, in the absence of competent medical care (which is what this person needs) that you do your best to protect the patient from himself and do what counseling you can. Often threats of suicide are a cry for help. The person doesn't want to die but sees no other way out....assure them that they are loved and needed and that you and others are there for them.

Spirituality can make all the difference in the world. Common faith and beliefs are a thread that can draw everyone together, regardless of personality, in the darkest of hours. Surviving passengers and crew, floating in the icy waters of the Potomac after the crash of their Air Florida jetliner, comforted themselves and each other by reciting the Lord's Prayer. It was a common belief of faith and hope.

Most denominations allow lay people to conduct services and even administer sacraments, such as baptisms, in the absence of real clergy. Organize and lead a prayer group. Group prayer, the singing of hymns, and the reading of scripture doesn't just allow the faithful to worship - it draws everyone together as a community by saying, "We share this together. We all believe in something that is bigger and greater than ourselves." Familiar liturgy that has survived through the ages gives comfort in a common faith through its endurance - people have recited these prayers for thousands of years. It's a sign that the human race will live on as well as faith in God. Even atheist groups can benefit from this....take some time to reflect together as a group.

Add your holy book of choice to your prep stock. Add several. Music and instruments, incense, candles - whatever is used in your form of worship. Celebrate your faith because you'll need it then more than ever.

Bond with your fellow survivors. Something so trivial-sounding as a group singalong, a dance, or story hour with the children can give spiritual and emotional comfort.

Stocking food and supplies will cover your physical needs - but don't neglect the emotional and spiritual as well. The soul needs nourishment as much or more than the body.

These are just a few suggestions, and everyone, please jump in here.

fruit loop

Part 19 - Guest Column by PrepNut for Pets

PREP 101: Part 19, Prepping for Pets


Many of us have pets, and we consider them integral parts of the family if not furred/feathered kids. But too often emergency considerations for them are overlooked.

Keep in mind that if your plans include going to an official shelter, most if not all do not allow pets. You may be able to put your critters up at a boarders, if the crisis isn't geographical, but without current vaccination records, you may be out of luck. My boarder won't accept anyone without papers

For the very basic emergency level, a bug out bag for your pets is a must. You'll need:

Carrier/travel cage/crate - one for each animal
Tie out cable for large dogs
Muzzle if your dog is a fear-biter
Leash & collar - spares never hurt
Copies of vax records with vet info
Food for 3 days at least - sample sizes are great for tucking into corners
Water - small 1/2 liter bottles also fit in odd corners (I filled empty nooks in my car up with them too)
Dishes - food & water for each critter (for my parrot I have a screw on hamster-type water tube that will fit the water bottles I packed)
Treats/chewies/catnip/toys - your critters have no clue what's going on and will be cramped bored and cranky.
Prescription meds
Rescue Remedy - an herbal drop that calms most animal species
First aid supplies - this will vary and you should customize it based on your pets' species. I have styptic powder for stopping blood flow, and a basic human-type kit.
Travel/disposable litter box and extra litter
Plastic bags for poop and trash
Handy wipes

If you have room and money consider adding these items:

Small tent - Our kitties do not like change or chaos and won't 'go' unless they are comfortable. Having a small tent to put the carriers in keeps them shaded, dry, isolated, contained and we can give them 'out' time for pottying and stretching their legs.
Folding wire exercise pen - mine makes a 4 x 4 square, folds to a 2 x 2 x 2" size. I keep one at work for my puppy to hang out in - great for small dogs!

For bird owners (parrots) keep their wings trimmed. It only takes a split second for them to take off and never be seen again. If a cage is their emergency carrier, have some kind of clippy handy to secure doors.

For aquariums - You obviously can't run out the door with the tank under your arm so keeping a battery-powered air pump is a must for power outages. Ours plugs in and only comes on when the power goes out. We don't have a back up heater right now, so if anything worse than a power outage happens, I'm assuming our tank is a loss.

Livestock? Our plan is to shelter in place in our tent or shed and stay on site to care for our critters. We're in the process of setting up rain barrels to collect water from every surface, but a pond or non-chlorinated swimming pool is a great source of emergency water for farm animals. Most folks keeping livestock also keep food, supplements and medications needed on hand. Check your expiration dates. Feed stores carry the most widely used antibiotics, so if you don't already have some, ask your vet what is best to keep handy. We just nursed a goat through a respiratory problem and I learned to give subcutaneous shots. Good to know if the vet is closed or the roads impassable.

Here are a few 'official' type links with more ideas -
Don't Forget Your Pets During a Disaster or Emergency
Preparing Your Pets In Case of Emergency

Remember - your critters will be in panic-mode. They won't understand, your kind words won't calm them. They won't automatically head for home if they escape. Having a carrier for each one is the first step to their safety in a crisis.

Hopefully this will give you some starting points to customize a pet prep plan for your own household. And hopefully you will never need to use it.


fruit loop

PREP 101: Part 20, Car Kits
Don't forget to prep your car for emergencies! There's a lot more that can be added besides the spare tire and jumper cables!

Bag of kitty litter: great to sprinkle under your tires for traction when you get stuck

Oven mitts: in case you must handle hot engine parts

Jumper cables (of course)

Road flares

Flashlight (I have two, one for the trunk and one for the glovebox)

Sleeping bag (in case I get stranded in the winter)

Bottled water and Gatorade

Canned food (like the venerable Spam) with pull tabs, trail mix, Power Bars

Auto first aid kit

Roll of trash bags! These have a million uses (you can protect your upholstery from beach sand, for one)

Baby wipes and hand sanitizer

Can of motor oil and funnels

Can of WD-40

Roll of duct tape

One or two gallon gas can

I keep my Bug Out Bag in the trunk. This has saved me several times when I got stranded and had to spend an unplanned overnight somewhere

Maps/road atlas

Bungee cords

Can of Fix A Flat

fruit loop

PREP 101: Part 21, Prep Toolboxes/Hardware
I'm not mechanically inclined, so please jump in here if you are. I'm just telling what items I've prepped so that I can make minor (which is all I'm qualified for - I hope to barter for skilled help if it's ever necessary) emergency repairs to my damaged home

Set of Phillips screwdrivers
Set of flathead screwdrivers
Wire cutters
Flathead and phillips screws in various sizes
Nails in various sizes
Rechargeable electric screwdriver (I LOVE this thing!!!)
Caulk and caulk gun
Clear box sealing tape and tape gun
Duct tape
Masking tape
Thompson's water seal and brushes (I like the foam disposable kind)
Plastic sheeting
Chicken wire
Extra screening

shovels, spades
Hand gardening tools

Wheelbarrow: If you have to walk out on foot, you can put more gear in it, or push the kids and the dog.

fruit loop

PREP 101: Part 22 Dealing With Freeloaders
We know they're out there, lurking like leeches. Relatives and "friends" who constantly borrow but never return or pay back and need the help of God and the nearest sucker to get them through dinner. You know that Uncle Bob (note: This is not a slap at another board. Everyone has an Uncle Bob) and his brood of bloodsuckers will be the first to knock on your door when the ice storm knocks out the power.

Decide NOW how to deal with these people. You have several options: you can refuse to tell them about your prep stock, try to persuade them of the necessity to take some precautions for themselves, or take your chances and sit on your porch with a shotgun waiting for the Hungry Horde to show up. (And you must also decide if you're willing to use said shotgun).

I personally confine my information to people I care strongly about. Of course I get the jokes about being "one of those survivalist fruit loops" and the laughs of "Well, I know who to come and stay with when the S hits the fan!"

I quickly let them know that this will NOT be acceptable, and give them information on how to get started. I tell them I am available to give advice, but that I will not take care of any lazy freeloaders and will take any means necessary to protect MY FAMILY'S PERSONAL SUPPLIES.

Now, if Uncle Bob shows up and says something like "Hurricane Floyd tore the roof and the back wall off of our house. We salvaged everything we could and we'll work for the rest if you'll take us in" - well, that's another matter.

Thus far I've been lucky. My near and dear either took my advice or, after experiencing Hurricane Floyd, the North Carolina Blizzard of 2000, and the Ice Storm of 2002, began asking for help.

If you choose to try and share your wisdom, be prepared for ridicule. Laugh it off. You'll be the one laughing when disaster strikes, believe me. I didn't think the world would come to an end on December 31, 1999, but I was worried enough about crashes that I had seen in pre-Y2K drills to stock supplies. I was glad I did. We used my Doomer Pile when Hurricane Floyd roared through, and in January 2000 North Carolina got the blizzard of the century - 20 inches of snow - which shut the town down for almost two weeks. We ran out of food and subsisted on my prep stock. My unbelieving spouse willingly dined on crow and began helping me replenish my stores.

Protecting your preps is another matter that will be covered in a future thread. This is the most personal and intense part of prepping: defending yourself, your lair, and your supplies. Decide now what measures you're willing to take. Shooting bloodsuckers may become a very real part of what's already a disaster.

fruit loop

PREP 101: Part 23, How Much to Prep?
This is The Big Question. What disasters are you most likely to face? Do you live in Tornado Alley? An earthquake zone?

How long to you want to prepare FOR? A week? A month? A year or more?

Take into consideration, again, which disasters you are most likely to have to deal with and how long it usually takes your city/retail outlets/restaurants, etc, to get up and running again afterward. I recommend using that key figure and bumping by at least three days.

If you're new to the area, talk to your neighbors aka the veterans. Learn from their experiences. Call your local Red Cross or police and fire departments. They don't think these questions are stupid at all and are happy to help newcomers learn about the area. They don't want to drag your body out of your house when the next Big One hits and will give you valuable advice.

The following is info gleaned from my own personal experiences, which, again, is my own personal experience.

The Red Cross and FEMA recommend the 72-hour kit because that is the window in which FEMA and the Red Cross expect to arrive at the site of a disaster and begin administering aid. As we saw in New Orleans, this is more often than not the case, and hasn't been around here after a hurricane, either. Resources are stretched to the limit and bringing stuff in from outside is inhibited by damaged/flooded roads, etc.

Actually, most people at the SuperDome and other shelters in NOLA DID bring food, water, etc. They had been warned to in advance. It's just that it took far longer than 72 hours to get aid, and many refugees shared their provisions with others.

Remember also that what they recommend - a gallon of water per person per day, two meals, etc is just a suggested amount - lots of people need to drink or eat more than that, especially if they're diabetic, etc. I recommend that you track what your family consumes for a week, and use that as a base figure.

I personally share the Mormon belief that you should have at least 3 months of supplies on hand.

For a hurricane: Having endured several, I wouldn't stock less than a two-week supply. Most folks here in Carolina were off the grid for at least a week after Fran; some folks on the coast were off for a month after Floyd. I'd say no less than 2 weeks and ideally a month.

Earthquakes: see hurricanes above

Ice storms: The longest we've been off the grid is four days, but the Blizzard of 2000 shut much of the city down for two weeks. Some stores reopened on days four and five, but you had to walk to them because the streets were inaccessible. Milk, bread, etc were still almost nonexistent. We subsisted off my prep stock for two weeks and it took over a month afterwards before we were able to begin replenishing it due to limited shipping.

Tornados: I'd say a week. Remember that the damage is going to be confined to a relatively small area (unless you get something like the Tri-State Tornado!) and you can get to neighboring towns for supplies. If your home survives, about the worst you're going to have to deal with is power and water service loss.

fruit loop

PREP 101: Part 24, Death in Your Shelter
I welcome tips here, because this is a sensitive subject and legalities enter into it.

Death in a crisis becomes a real issue, as evidenced by the chaos in New Orleans.

Complete independent, long-term survival with no support from government services makes this a very real issue. I personally would not lay my loved on a sidewalk.

Although a few legalities arise, I believe independent burials by individuals could be legally defensible to local officials once the dust settles.

Consider these facts: No state requires that a funeral home be used. No state requires embalming either, although most states require burial of unprepared remains to occur within 24 hours of the death.

Most regulations concern reporting the death and perhaps requiring an autopsy if the death is suspicious or was unattended, or pertain to where remains can be buried. It's entirely possible to be buried on your own property if you wish, providing it's not near a water source, etc, and some communities require a concrete grave liner. Burial on your property will be your best bet in a catastrophe.

Rule out cremation right now. Burning, as any homicide detective will tell you, is a terrible way to dispose of human remains. It doesn't work; it takes hours at very high temperatures to completely cremate a body.

Burial is the quickest, most sanitary way to dispose of a body. Select a spot away from the home and where contamination with your water source will not be an issue.

Since this is likely a friend or loved one there will naturally be emotional issues that must be dealt with. I recommend that you treat the death as you normally would -have a memorial if there's time and allow others to pay respects or view the body if they wish. This obviously assumes that the death did not occur from an epidemic and that infection is not a concern.

Most families have traditions in the event of a death. Observe these as closely as time and circumstances allow. This will help prevent additional trauma to you and everyone else with whom you share quarters, especially the children.

Build a casket if there are materials, but this may not be possible. If not, I recommend wrapping the body in layers of cloth or plastic sheeting to protect the remains as much as possible (in the event that they must be disinterred after the disaster for legal reasons) and preparing the grave.

Dig the grave as deeply as possible, 4-6 feet. Cover it with rocks once the body is interred, both to mark it and to help prevent its being disturbed by animals.

Document the death as much as you can, in other words, create your own death certificate. Have witnesses, if any, sign it and attest to the circumstances of the death. Note where the body was buried. Include the date and time of death, the decedent's name and address if known, and the cause of death if it can be determined. Make notes as to medical history as this will be helpful later - "He was a diabetic for 20 years and we ran out of insulin."

When the disaster is over, report the death to the proper authorities. The worst that can happen is that you'll be cited for "dumping a body" and that's usually a fine. Under the circumstances I can practically guarantee that this won't happen, as there are many more crises that FEMA will be dealing with, and you did not act with criminal intent but out of sheer necessity. The body may or may not have to be disinterred and reburied elsewhere - such as a proper cemetery - depending on local laws.

Good luck.

fruit loop

PREP 101: Part 25, Transportation
Everyone chime in here with ideas and your personal plan.

I plan to Shelter In Place and this assumes that I don't evacuate. If I do evacuate it will either be by car, on foot, or by bicycle.

Assume that the situation doesn't allow for you to use your car; perhaps you can't get gas, gas costs too much, or roads are blocked or off limits for whatever reason. How will you get around?

Hiking is an obvious answer, and a good BOB is an obvious must here. If you have more goods than you can carry, or are not physically fit, I offer a few options.

A good wheelbarrow can be priceless. You can use it as a handcart to transport gear, small children and pets. It's also good for foraging and collecting.

Your basic children's "little red wagon." You can buy a good old-fashioned American Flyer almost anywhere, or pick one up at a garage sale. Attaching wheels to a wooden crate is also an option.

Bicycle. I rely on my bike for a lot more than just recreation. Since gas prices went up I've used it to make small grocery trips, and I'd use it for work commutes if I lived within a reasonable distance. Never underestimate the value of a good bike. They range in price from less than a hundred to thousands for the top-of-the-line racing bikes, and you can certainly pick up a good one secondhand from a garage sale or thrift store. I have a basic Huffy 3-speed, and attached double-wire baskets to the back. They hold an amazing amount of stuff, and I can carry even more in a backpack, or in sacks on the handlebars. Bikes are great for traveling on or off-road, and you can wind your way through stalled traffic in the event of an evacuation a heck of a lot faster! If evacuation during a hurricane ever becomes a must, that's definitely the route I'll go rather than sitting in traffic on the highway for 8 hours to move 2 miles.

STOCK ITEMS: Extra bike tires and tubes, hand pump. Grease or WD-40 to keep the chain running smoothly.

The trailers for bikes are a bit pricey, but would allow you to haul even more goods (or, of course, kids and pets again).

Consider your needs as well, and USE WHATEVER WORKS. Nothing is too crazy. Say, your elderly parents live a few blocks or miles away and you will need to check on them. Ride the bike over there! Use a skateboard! Put on a pair of in-line skates! Nothing is too ridiculous.

Skis or snowshoes for winter weather!

If you live in a flood-prone area, don't discount the value of a canoe or even a blowup rubber raft and paddles. Ridiculous? Not really, if the water has risen to the rafters and you've taken shelter on the roof. Don't forget LIFE JACKETS, even if you're a strong swimmer. You may be injured, or forced to lend support to someone else while in the water.

Lots of possibilities here. Jump in, everyone.

fruit loop

PREP 101: Part 26, Communications
Please chime in here, especially if you have Ham Radio experience, etc, as I do not.

Communications are a problem during any major disaster for obvious reasons: downed phone lines, downed cell phone towers, satellite disruption....the list goes on.

I've relied on basic cell phone service during and after hurricanes. I charge the phone to its fullest and keep it off except for when in use, and I notify friends prior to the storm NOT TO CALL ME UNLESS IT'S AN EMERGENCY. I have a "contact list" of people to notify that I'm okay, and a trusted friend who lives out of state has it. When the emergency is over, I call her, and she then calls everyone on the list to let them know that I'm okay. She has a prepaid phone calling card that I sent her with the list so that she's not out any money.

In a long-term disaster or a catastrophic event cell phone service may not be available. I can think of a few options for keeping a line of communication open for friends/relatives nearby..

CB radios.

Basic walkie-talkies to keep you in touch with Whoever while you're out foraging/hunting, etc and only a short distance away.

A "Pony Express" sort of system might also be useful. Set a system up with like-minded survivalist friends. You could take messages to the nearest friend, who will then hoof off to the next person on the list, and vice versa. A mail system could be set up in this way that will allow everyone in the chain to keep in contact without forcing anyone to travel long distances and/or be away from their shelter for dangerously long periods.

Suggestions most welcome here!

fruit loop

PREP 101: Part 27, Health Essentials
Don't just build a first aid/emergency health care kit and stop there. You may have more essentials than just meds....that you take so much for granted.

Do you wear glasses or contacts? What will you do if your glasses are broken or lost? Or if you lose a contact lens? Do you wear extended wear lenses or disposables? How will you get a fresh supply during an extended emergency or disaster?

It's a good idea to have a backup pair of glasses or lenses on hand! Yes, glasses can be watch for a cheap pair of frames on clearance. Yes, you may look like a librarian in a horrid pair of hornrims....but you'll be glad you had those if your regular pair gets broken, won't you?

Many of the discount contact lens warehouses will give you a price break if you buy more than one pair. When I wore contacts, I always searched for deals like this so I'd have a backup pair while the other one soaked in that enzymatic stuff. You can save a surprising amount by buying multiple sets.

Or, invest in the ultimate eye prep: LASIK. I had it a year ago and it's the best decision I ever made.

How about dentures? What if you lose those somehow? All that prep food does no good if you can't chew it!

Do you use a cane or crutches? Is someone in the family on a walker? Stock tools to make repairs or even have a backup replacement on hand. These items are good to stock even if you DON'T need them right now. Pick up a pair of crutches from the drugstore or medical supply to have on hand in case someone is injured, or ask around. Lots of people put theirs in the attic after their broken ankle heals and never use them again. You might pick up a pair for free.

The best health prep is simply.....STAY HEALTHY. Exercise regularly, and schedule regular visits with your eye doctor and dentist. Have dental problems, etc, cared for promptly - you never know what might happen tomorrow!

fruit loop

PREP 101: Part 28, Documents to Secure
You can survive a disaster only to have no record of what was lost or even who you really are!

Always keep original vital documents in a safe place and have them ready to take with you in the event of evacuation. It's also a good idea to make copies and give them to trusted friends or keep them in a second safe place as insurance against loss in a disaster or even theft.

Driver's Licenses
Birth Certificates
Marriage Certificates
Property Deeds
Insurance Policies
Social Security cards
Immunization records (for the kids AND the pets)
Car titles
Tax records (FEMA asks for these if you are asking for help with a business)
Medical records - especially of prescriptions you're on
Your will
Living Will or Advance Health Care Directive
Power of Attorney if you have one for yourself or a relative

Got a video camcorder? Go around your house and film each room. This will give you a visual record of what you own. Take pictures of your property and note the condition that it is in. This can serve as proof of what you owned as well as the condition - so the insurance agent can't say later that it was already damaged, etc.

Transfer family photos to CD-ROM. Many disaster victims mourn the loss of unreplaceable family treasures more than their home or car. CDs are light and easy to carry....much easier than trying to load up the family photo albums to take to the shelter.

fruit loop

PREP 101: Part 29, Family Disaster Plan
Part 29: Family Disaster Plan

I’ve found this to work quite well in the event of emergency. Although we have basic prep stock, there are still last-minute things to secure before we batten down the hatches.

Assign tasks to specific family members, and ensure that each person knows exactly what their responsibility entails. For purposes of this exercise, say a major storm is on the way. This is how a sample family handles their emergency:

Mom’s job is to notify everyone. She calls dad at his office before she leaves work and says “Disaster Plan In Effect.” She calls home to the kids, or gets them on their cell phones, and gives them the same message. She calls Grandma and Grandpa, who are disabled, and tells them to get ready. Grandma says she’ll call in their prescriptions to the pharmacy and they’ll be packed and ready when Mom arrives to pick them up.

On the way home from work, Mom stops at the store and buys any needed essentials plus the perishables (eggs, milk, bread….). She’ll also get everyone’s prescriptions refilled at the store pharmacy while she shops, and pick up the ones Grandma called in.

Dad and Jack know that their responsibility is to get gas for the cars. They’ll drive cars to and from the gas station and fill the gas cans for the generator as well.

When Susie and Sally get home home, they get all the cut-down milk jugs and soda bottles from the garage, fills them with water, and puts them in the freezer to make more ice. Susie gets the emergency money out of its hiding place, heads for the store with her little sister, and they carry home more bags of ice. Grandpa’s insulin has to be kept cool if the power goes out and they can't place their bets on the "emergency ice" having time to freeze. Then Susie collects and sorts the family laundry and starts washing clothes. At least all the laundry will be caught up if the power goes out. She does a quick vacuuming and housecleaning in between loads.

Blake arrives home from school and starts putting all the lawn furniture in the garage. That stuff will become a flying missile once the wind starts to blow! He brings the dogs inside, changes the cat’s litterboxes, and starts filling the water containers with drinking water from the tap. He gets the large trash cans from the garage, puts one in each bathroom, and drags the garden house inside to fill them. That water will be used to flush the toilets.

After shopping, Mom stops to top off her gas tank, then picks up Grandma and Grandpa. She arrives home to find Susie and Blake folding up the last load of clean clothes. Dad and Jack are putting batteries in the portable tv, flashlights, and lanterns. Dad’s already filled the generator and it’s ready to go if the power goes out.

Everyone joins in to prepare dinner. They watch the storm’s progress on the tv, knowing that all their backup equipment is ready to go when the storm arrives.

This is just an example, but it illustrates the efficiency of an organized plan. Everyone knew what to do when they got Mom's phone call. There was no duplication of effort and everything got done in established timeframes. Nobody panicked and there was no whining about "well why can't Jack do that instead of me....." nor was any one person overburdened with responsibility.

Sit down with your family, discuss your needs, and assign jobs. Well worth the time!

fruit loop

PREP 101: Part 30, Growing Your Own
......Food, that is.

This thread is for those who:
*plan to stock seeds and tools for gardening
*are new gardeners

I don't recommend simply stocking seeds in case the proverbial It hits the fan and then attempting to produce enough produce to feed your family. Too many things can go wrong, not the least of which is that you'll lose your whole crop.

There are a number of considerations to be made. What do you want to grow? How much do you need to produce? How much space do you have? What sort of climate do you live in? What type of soil are you going to plant it? How will you get water to the garden? What garden pests might you have to contend with? How about animals getting into your garden - do you need to build a fence? How will you preserve the food?

Obviously, if you have a small yard, planting a cornfield is out of the question. Viney plants can also take up a lot of space.

Preservation is another question. Do you know how to can, freeze and/or dry food? That's another skill to acquire NOW.

Decide what you want to plan and start farming now. You'll get a reasonable idea of what you can produce and how much.

Do you have like-minded prepper friends? Starting a "co-op" solves a number of problems. Instead of trying to grow a whole produce section yourself, assign veggies to particular people in the co-op and trade. You'll grow cucumbers, Susie will grow tomatoes, Benji beans, and Jack will grow corn. David doesn't do veggies but he has several fruit trees.

TRADE OFF. My neighbor, who has more land than I do, grows cucumbers, watermelons, corn and squash. I grow tomatoes, peppers and onions. Our other neighbor grows beans. We all save canning jars through the year. I have the biggest kitchen, so we get together here, can our produce, and then divide the proceeds. Nobody ends up with too many jars of pickles or not enough tomatoes.

This kind of trading could save someone whose crop fails.

FOOD PRESERVATION: Many people avoid learning this because they fear the expense. It's really not that bad, and materials can be picked up cheaply secondhand, especially canning jars.

For canning, you'll of course need jars, bands, and seals. You'll need a waterbath canner and a pressure cooker/canner.

I've canned in basic mayo jars for years and never had a breakage. Simply wash your empties and store them away. This will get you started.

Someone on the old Y2K board put an ad in the Want To Buy section of their newspaper and got so many calls they had to turn people away. I followed their suggestion with the same result.

The newspaper ad cost $11 to run for a week. I had to cancel it after 2 days because I got so many calls. One lady sold me 200 jars for twenty dollars and even threw in her dill pickle recipe and a jar of her pickles!

My water canner came from Lehman's. I bought the cheapo pressure cooker/canner by Mirro at Wally World. Bands and seals are really cheap near the end of the canning season, and I bought out Wally World's stock. I was set to start canning for less than $75.

Canning is surprisingly easy; and you'll get nutritious food without the preservatives! Try it!

Recommended reading:
The Ball Blue Book
Blue Ribbon Preserves, by Linda J. Amendt
Mary Bell's Complete Dehydrator Cookbook

fruit loop

PREP 101: Part 31, Homeschooling
There is always a possibility that you will become responsible for educating your children during/after a disaster even if you don't already homeschool.

Don't overlook the importance of a good home library: it provides reference materials, educational benefits and of course entertainment! Stock up now! Start with the basics: a good dictionary, thesaurus, an atlas and/or maps, and maybe a set of encyclopedias. The whole family can use these, and it's possible to pick up a good used set without spending a bundle.

Used textbooks and homeschooling materials are readily available at many used bookstores and on eBay. Talk to homeschooling parents about purchasing used materials. You may need them for some future day.

Pens, pencils, paper and CHALK may become valuable commodities. I recommend investing in some old-fashioned chalkboards, especially the small sizes. This provides your child with their very own genuine "Slate" to practice on. It's a lot easier to use chalk and erasers than it is to stock, and dispose of, used paper.

Don't underestimate your teaching abilities and those of others in your shelter. Everyone should have some skill and ability to contribute. Just listening to Grandpa talk about his experiences in World War II is valuable.

School supplies, books, and other materials should be added to your prep stock if you have children. Never know when you might have to take up the teacher's pointer!

Homeschoolers, please jump in here with your experiences.

fruit loop

Home Invasions: Guest Column by Stillprepping

Prep 101: Part 32, Home Invasions - we all need to be prepared for them
Home Invasion - a true story, may it help you be better prepared
this was posted in both the firearms subforum AND the main forum, but should also be appropriate for here as well. i hope it will help people to be better prepared should this happen to them.

Home Invasion - A Case Study to help you prepare:

As some here may already know my Brother and his family were the victims of a home invasion two weeks ago. I am going to give a brief overview of the situation and how this happened as sharing this story may allow those that read the story to better prepare themselves if you should be the next target.


This is an average Middle Class family and they may actually be in the lower middle class. They drive average and modest used cars and they do not own a great deal that would make them a target. Their house is a simple duplex and quite arguably the worst looking house on the block. If this family was attacked, any of us are likely to get attacked!

The Day and Night Before:

The neighbors indicated that they had seen a strange car driving around the neighborhood. One of the neighbors stopped the car and asked what they wanted and the people in the car were looking for someone by the name of "James" that they thought lived in the area. The neighbors indicated no James was there and the car left. As a side note, the neighborers had good descriptions of the people and car but a license plate number and a call to th police would have been a good idea.

The Setting:

It was a Sunday night and the 12-year old child slept on the couch and the Mother and Step father went to their room and went to bed. The doors were locked as were most of the windows. They also have a big dog in the form of a Husky - German Sheppard mix but the dog likes to sleep in the basement where it is cooler. The outside of the house was dark as like many of us they turn off the lights outside before going to bed.

The Attack:

At about 3AM two men entered the house from a kitchen window. The kitchen window had been unlocked but the window is an honest 7-feet off the ground so it had never been considered a likely threat. The individual that climbed through the window and opened the door from the inside to allow his partner in.

Once in the house they seemed to know the dog was in the basement as the closed and blocked the basement door with a chair. Next the found the 12-year old on the couch and took him outside with out waking the adults or getting the dog to bark and put him into the trunk of a waiting car where a third individual was as a driver.

The two males then proceeded up the stairs in the house and awoke the two adults in the bedroom with a gun to their faces. The two attackers separated the adults by the individual with the gun escorting out the step father at gun point. When outside, the gunman instructed the step father that he was to get into the trunk of the car as they walked towards the car. When the trunk was popped open the step father saw the stepson and jumped the gunman. A fight occurred and the gunman gained control of the pistol. The stepfather gained distance between the gunman and went to other houses to get police or help. The gunman pursued and after six shots were fired the step father was hit.

With the gunshots, the second male left the house leaving the mother alone. The mother tried to call 911 but all phone cords and phone lines had been cut. She tried to find the son and a cell phone but both of these had been taken. While she was searching for a phone the gunman who had shot the step father returned and demanded that she come or she will be killed as well as their son. She was forced at gunpoint into her own minivan and the two cars left.

The end results:

The above is pretty much out in the media but from there there is much that has not been shared. The Step father in this story was in the hospital for one day from a 22LR gunshot to the right abdomen. No organ damage occurred. The mother was either thrown from their minivan or jumped (this is still unclear 2-weeks later), and the son was released unharmed at a Wal-Mart about 1.5-hrs from where they live.

Lessons Learned:

If a person wants in your home any open window or unlocked door is a potential threat.

A dog, if they sleep in a location where they can not see what is going on may assume that nothing unusual is happening when an attacker or attackers is in your house.

A security system is an exceptional way to get advance warning that someone is in your house but only if you have one, it protects all doors and windows, and you turn it on.

A house phone is not a sure way to get help as they are easily and quickly made inoperable. Cell phones if left out of reach will be picked up or destroyed by a home invader if they find them. Cell phones are best left charging next to you in your bedroom at night!

Having all of your guns secured in a safe or place away from your bedroom will make it impossible for you to grab a weapon in the few seconds you may have before the attacker is upon you.

All family members (Adults) need to be trained and experienced with firearms and know that if something happens where they can find the weapon and how to use it.

Kids need to be taught to yell if they are in trouble so their parents can help them (Tough to say without knowing more about what happened with him as I have not pressed that line of discussion nor do I think it is wise to do so at this time).

Your job can make you a target... Following is a coment from someone else that saw this info:

Posted by ComputerUser:

Get into the mind of a criminal and ask yourself what about your lifestyle, your property, or your job, might be seen as advantageous or beneficial to them. Here, the family could have been targeted as a way to get the bank key and ID. What about municipal employees who have passcards to get into courthouses without going thru security? Or pharmacists, gun store employees, lawyers, etc? All of these folks, and more, are higher-than-average-value targets, yet few view themselves as such. Maybe it is time that they did.


In summary, there were so many things that went wrong in this situation that it makes my head hurt. The son was exposed, the dog didn't react, the family got zero advanced notice, the phones were quickly made unusable, the weapons were secured out of reach. When the wife had a chance to fight back she couldn't get help and she couldn't get a gun because she was not trained to do so. Had she got a gun the world would have been short one criminal but instead she is still in the hospital undergoing surgery to help fix some of the injuries that occurred over two weeks ago.

More from the Media

If you want more information here is a link to what the media has:

fruit loop

PREP 101: Part 33, Barter

Barter may be better than cash during a disaster, and less costly in the long run. In my state it's illegal to hike prices during a disaster, but it does happen (ice went up and so did gas, to $3.85 a gallon, the day after Katrina).

There are whole networks of people who use bartering for goods and services outside of disaster. One woman in a Woman's Day article gets free medical care for her kids by catering her doctor's parties. Find out what that person might need, think how you can provide it, and ask if they will barter.

Stocking extra items for barter during a disaster just makes sense. The DGI folks will be desperate for certain items, and they may in turn have services or goods that you need. Ask Joe the Corner Carpenter if he'll help fix your roof in return for a carton of cigarettes.

Suggested items: (I DON'T recommend liquor - do you wanna deal with drunks)
OTC meds
(jump in here)

What skills do you have that can be exchanged? You can sew clothes for Sue's kids in return for a her husband cutting down the damaged tree in your yard.

Add a few extra items for trading into your prep stock - even if it's something you don't use. Someone else might.

There are perfectly respectable ways to make a profit during a disaster, which can be very important if you aren't collecting a paycheck until things up are up and running again. Or worse: your place of employment is a casualty. There are a number of services that you can provide in exchange for some cash, or barter.

During the 2002 ice storm, owners of chainsaws went door-to-door offering their services. The city crews weren't getting the power back on, much less clearing up the damage. People were glad to hire them to cut up downed trees. My cousin was one of their customers - a tree had fallen across her house and she couldn't even get into the front door because of all the tree limbs. She paid two men $100 to cut up the two trees that had fallen in her yard, a very fair price. Not only that - the workers had barely gotten started when a truck pulled up and the driver offered to buy the wood! Another neighbor, a carpenter, was hired by two neighbors to make temporary repairs on their home.

Toss out the idea that you are capitalizing on the disaster. Not even close: you are providing useful services to the your fellow victims. Charge a fair price, and they'll be glad for the chance to hire you. Companies who regularly provide services will be swamped with requests from homeowners, and will have wait lists. Start up your own business.


Paranoid Pagan
Being nearly 50 printed pages, this may be some sort of an ordeal for my poor printer, but I hope you don't mind me printing it out and putting it into my little "offline" book. I'm doing it with everything I feel is useful from the internet.