The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” For a Scout, that means being ready to help others at all times. It also means you are ready, willing, and able to do what is necessary for any situation that comes along. I was an Eagle Scout, so this means something to me. Even if you were not a Scout, being prepared means so much more when you have a family, business, or other group depending on you to protect them and help meet their needs. Have you been preparing for the unexpected?
Needs are often dictated by circumstances we didn’t anticipate and can’t control. However, our basic needs haven’t changed throughout the centuries. Water, food, and shelter are at the top of the list. Following those are medical supplies, clothing, and tools — defensive tools and tools for planting, building, and maintaining.
Have a Plan
When I was young, the big concern was atomic war. Many people dug and equipped fallout shelters. Others just prayed or hoped it wouldn’t happen. More recently our concern has been about an EMP attack propagated by nuclear blasts in the air or through targeted attacks on our electrical grid. However, it doesn’t take an attack by an enemy to disrupt our normal way of life.
During the winter of 2021, Texas was hit with a winter storm that did a number on our power grid. We had power outages and brownouts — sometimes for days. Some of you who live in the Northeast may scoff at our power outages when you compare them to the ones you have had to deal with.
Near where I live, the power outages affected Fort Worth’s ability to process clean water. This resulted in the city’s water supply becoming contaminated. This didn’t just affect Fort Worth but many of the outlying cities that depend upon Fort Worth for water. Unfortunately, this included the city in which I live.
I make no apologies when I use our family as an example of things you can be doing to protect your home and family when shortages or personal security challenges occur. My wife is a strategic planner. She looks at what could occur, what the results could be, and does her best to keep our family protected and supplied.
She thinks of things like extreme weather, EMP attacks, and infrastructure failures that may result in extended power outages, a contaminated water supply, and transportation failures. I take responsibility for our personal and home security. My responsibility is to ensure we have the tools necessary to defend ourselves and our home and know how to use them.
Prior to the start of 2021, a pandemic was not on our radar. But I can truthfully say my wife’s planning helped our family sail through events that had others panicking. In addition to the shortages and supply chain disruptions caused by the Pandemic — more reasonably stated, our government’s reaction to the Pandemic — the rolling power outages and three weeks of water supply contamination in our location was something that caught many families off guard.
We have plenty of medical supplies, vitamins, and medications. We have lots of water — some in barrels, others in 5-gallon jugs, and yet more in the many 1-gallon jugs stored everywhere. We store both potable and non-potable water. The non-potable starts off as drinking water, but once it reaches a certain date, we keep it for uses such as bathing, flushing toilets, and general cleaning.
It’s true that water doesn’t have an expiration date, but the containers make a difference. Plastic containers can leach chemicals into the water over time — especially if exposed to heat. The type of bottle can make a difference. Most commercial water bottles can be reused at least one time; beyond that, you may have to worry about leaching from the plastic.
Milk jugs don’t last as long as other bottles and are almost impossible to completely clean. Two-liter soda bottles are a good, inexpensive option for water storage. Just be sure to thoroughly wash them before refilling with water. Fifty-five-gallon water barrels are a common option; they should be pretty easy to find. These barrels are usually blue, indicating drinking water is stored inside. They are made with heavy-duty, food-grade plastic materials.
Our family has used the blue barrels to capture rainwater by hooking them up to our rooftop gutter system. This brings up the need for water purification tablets. Get these and keep them on hand not only for ensuring the water you store is clean, but also so you can purify the water you may need to gather in the future from ponds, lakes, or streams. Keep in mind that these tablets also have expiration dates.
Survival food can be disappointing. If we have long-term food shortages, it may be the answer, but buy it carefully. It’s generally expensive and may expire long before you anticipated it would. For the most part, we stock canned goods and boxed goods that you can buy in the grocery store.
We converted an upstairs hall closet into a pantry. Everything that goes in that pantry has the expiration date written on the container with a Sharpie where it can easily be seen. As food comes up on its expiration date, we start eating it and replacing it with food having a date further in the future.
Food doesn’t necessarily go bad upon or soon after its expiration date, so don’t go throwing stuff out just because it didn’t get eaten before the expiration date on the label. You can research to see how long each food type lasts beyond its expiration date. Acidic foods such as tomato paste or ketchup will not last long, but grains and many vegetables may surprise you at how long they last.
We may or may not have power, so an alternative method of cooking with heat is important. We have a camp stove that runs from a propane tank, and we have several containers of canned heat. We also have a gas grill and a fire pit in the backyard. We have enough firewood to keep us warm for at least two months without power. We have enough food for our family for at least three months. And yes, we had a nice supply of toilet paper on hand. We also have some cast iron cookware for cooking over open flames.
Since the great gasoline shortage of 1974 and the great ammo shortage of 2008–2010, I have kept adequate supplies of both on hand and properly stored. We have plastic gas storage cans in one-gallon, two-gallon, and five-gallon sizes. We treat the gasoline in these cans with a gas stabilizer, and we rotate them by pouring them into vehicles and refilling the cans once or twice a year. Not only do we need gasoline for transportation needs but to keep the generator running.
Wrap Up: Prepping
We have several Faraday cans and bags in which are stored batteries and battery-operated fans, solar chargers, lighting, and a radio. This is imperative to have in case of an EMP attack that will wipe out all exposed electrical circuits. You can buy Faraday bags or cages, or you can make one out of a garbage can lined with cardboard and sealed with 3M Venture tape.
If the day ever comes when you have food and water but those around you don’t, unless you have enough to share infinitely, you will most likely need to protect what you have with deadly force. Make sure you are prepared for such an event —mentally and with the right stores.