Gone Before You Get There
77 Items That Instantly Vanish From Store Shelves In A Panic
Why Preparing For A Crisis Cannot Wait
We don’t know when a disaster will hit. Unexpected, life-threatening disasters
occur all over the world. Sometimes we are forewarned by the experts and news
media, while other times a disaster catches us completely by surprise.
Unfortunately, when disaster strikes, most people are not ready or prepared, and
the consequences usually result in tragic losses.
Whether it’s wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, or
floods, disasters can disrupt our lives drastically.
For those who are lucky, it may only be short-term,
but for others, such as those who endured
Hurricane Katrina, their lives could be changed
Though we can’t overpower a hurricane or prevent
an earthquake, there is one thing that we can do
that the majority of people simply refuse to do. And
that is start preparing NOW for a future crisis. Start
preparing now before a government warning is even
issued and you are forced out of your home. Start
preparing now before everything disappears off the
Believe me, if you are lucky enough to actually be warned of a possible upcoming
disaster (most of the times we’re not), what do you think everyone’s doing?
Rushing to the store and trying to buy the same building supplies, generators,
food and other items that you are. Because we are spoiled, we’ve come to think
that stores have endless amounts of supplies. But that’s just not true… especially
when a disaster strikes and panic arises amongst the community.
So the key, and this is vitally important, in fact, it may even save your life, is to
prepare BEFORE all the disaster talk. If you’re trying to prepare last minute, it’s
too late. And I’m not just talking about stocking up on food and water, although
that certainly is a big issue. But it’s also means stocking up on necessary items
you need to survive a crisis such as extra blankets, batteries, hygiene products,
matches, toilet paper, bug spray and so forth.
The most common disaster is actually fire but what gets national attention are
hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. Because of the number of disasters that occur
in the world and even here in the U.S., we have become almost desensitized to it.
Most people take their safety for granted and the thought of enduring a disaster is 2
Sadly, most people have no plan.
far from their minds. (Plus, people have the false notion that the government will
come to their rescue at the snap of their fingers.)
So what happens? When disaster does strike, people struggle to survive and
sadly, there’s always some that don’t make it. Why? For most, they didn’t take
the necessary steps to prepare ahead of time and unfortunately it ended in
What the residents of Mississippi found out after Hurricane Katrina is that it
could be 1-2 weeks before help arrives. Take a moment and look around your
home right now. If your power was shut down and the roads were closed, could
you survive a week with what you have right now at home? Sure, you may have a
full freezer but do you have a generator to run it? What about enough drinking
water for your entire family? Do you have candles or flashlights for night time?
Or what if you were forced out of your
home? What if you had to leave right now?
Do you have access to a kit with insurance
papers, prescriptions, birth certificates,
passports and other important papers? Do
you have cash? Is your fuel tank full and if
so, how far can you make it? Do you know
where to go? Do you have a plan?
If you answered no to all those questions,
you’re not alone. Sadly, most people
wouldn’t be able to answer yes to any of
those questions. Most people have never
thought about it and in all truthfulness,
wouldn’t think about it until it’s too late…
until disaster has already struck.
In July 2008, a major flood took out a large portion of Iowa and a small part of
Illinois. Hundreds of thousands of people lost power and it was a week before
some even got it turned back on. Water filled homes and forced people to flee.
There was no drinking water because of contamination. The sewers were flooded
out. When the people needed it the most, there were no FEMA trucks and others
lined up to help.
Now, the government knows people aren’t
prepared. They know people are not stocking
up on food and other supplies. Experts claim
that there is not enough food to go around for
everyone to stock up and of course, that’s
true if everyone rushed out today to stock up.
However, if done a little at a time and in the
right way, people can slowly and steadily
build up their food pantries at home without
much impact on the overall food supply. And 3
actually, on just $10 per week you can stock up over the course of an entire year
and have enough to get by if a disaster occurred.
Michael Leavitt, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
stated “Any state, any community or for that matter any citizen that fails to
prepare, assuming the federal government can take care of them…will be
tragically wrong.” While this was stated regarding a health outbreak it is equally
true for any widespread massive tragedy.
The saying, “movement is better than meditation,” is relevant in regards to
beginning your preparations for a crisis. You don’t have to rush out and buy
everything at once, but you can begin by stocking up on foods that do not need to
be refrigerated. Store them in air tight containers to prevent bugs, mice and
other pests from getting into them. Start saving jars – those with screw lids in
plastic and glass. Larger jars can store pastas, rice and oatmeal. Smaller jars are
good for other dry goods such as salt, seasonings and other provisions that might
be luxuries but not as necessary to have.
In your early stages of crisis planning, look honestly at all situations possible -
from train derailments (with toxic chemicals possible) to a house fire to flooding
to a tornado. (Of course, your particular area may be especially prone to certain
disasters in which you should plan accordingly.) Remember, with the modern
grid, an interruption in one part of the country is no longer isolated to just that
area but can affect the entire country.
The bottom line is that families (including their children) who are prepared, have
a plan, have practiced it and KNOW what to do, have a much higher survival rate.
Teaching your children about what you’re doing and why is important. Get them
involved. Teach them that it’s not safe to enter a flooded basement or else they
could be electrocuted. Teach them even the things you may take for granted such
as what a fireman in full dress looks like – it can prevent tragic deaths (scared of
the firemen who look like “monsters” in the smoke, children oftentimes will
So as we discussed, you not only need to implement a plan but just as important,
you need to practice it as a family. If the children know that in the event that a
fire occurs, to get out and go to the oak tree…no questions asked and don’t look
back…then their chances are MUCH higher of surviving than the child who is
panicked and desperately waiting to be rescued inside a burning house. Children
can do the right thing if properly instructed.
You can be a good neighbor and encourage others to stock up and be prepared
but do your own stocking up quietly and discreetly. The fewer who know what
you have, the fewer you have to worry about raiding your home in a crisis. You
may think this is crazy, maybe even silly or foolish, but believe me, desperation
forces people to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. In times of crisis, hunger
and thirst will drive people to commit violence, theft and even murder.
4 TYPE OF DISASTER
The bare necessities needed to survive are food, water and shelter. Prescription
medicines, first aid kits and other provisions follow closely behind. But along
with stocking up on supplies, you need to specifically prepare and plan for the
different potential disasters that may strike your area.
For example, if you live in tornado alley,
underground provisions would be fitting.
You would want to make sure you had extra
blankets and pillows, drinking water,
flashlights, extra batteries, prepackaged or
canned foods, in that specific location (or at
least at your fingertips to take to your safest
location). Even in the case of a fast moving
wildfire, though it may burn homes and
barns, things underground will be better
protected and will therefore stand
a better chance of surviving.
Each disaster plan requires you to thoroughly
think everything through. You need to think of every possible thing that can go
wrong and address how you would handle it. For example, if you do have an
underground shelter, is it safe from flooding? If you had to evacuate your home,
what would that entail? In the event of a fire or hurricane, how far will a tank of
fuel get you? If you are forced to evacuate, have a hotel in mind and make
reservations on your way out. (Also, remember to consider your pets. If you have
horses or other livestock, have contact with a stable or fairgrounds in the area of
your hotel reservation so they can be offloaded if possible, and be both, safe and
If you live in a low lying water area, you obviously wouldn’t want to put your
supplies in a basement that can fill up with water. However, if you’re in tornado
country, keeping it above ground could mean losing it all.
Let’s look at the following types of disasters that may occur.
Unlike other disasters, earthquakes give no
warning. They can powerfully shake apart
homes, skyscrapers and bridges. Most
people don’t realize that most of the United
States is earthquake territory. The New
Madrid fault in the Midwest makes
California’s fault line look small but because
there haven’t been any major quakes in
recent decades, it isn’t given much thought.
Disaster can strike anytime,
On the other hand, California earthquakes occur much more frequently and so far
have been much, much more powerful, thus giving that state a high disaster
However, it is foolish for those in the Midwest to not keep the potential for an
earthquake in mind. A previous earthquake on this fault made the Mississippi
river run north for a while and that is not something to take lightly. It’s said that
St. Louis could be destroyed if there ever was a major earthquake in the Midwest.
Remember too, while California builds for earthquakes most in the Midwest do
not and therefore bridges, including those over the major rivers, would be
expected to be unsafe.
First things first, make sure you have
working smoke alarms. One helpful
tip is that when it’s time to fall back
or spring ahead, change the
batteries. Test the smoke alarms
regularly, have a safe escape plan
and watch heating sources carefully.
Have working, properly charged ABC
type fire extinguishers on every floor.
Replace cords that are worn, don’t
run extension cords under rugs
(you’ll be surprised how it heats up).
For wildfires, don’t assume emergency officials know – call it in. If it approaches
the home or an evacuation order is issued, get your family and animals out. Shut
off gas. (And even prior to enduring a fire, read and follow guidelines both from
FEMA and elsewhere of maximum protection such as reducing vegetation near
the house and buildings, surviving a fire and other important information.)
Floods normally follow excess rain or
snow melt, but there are also flash
floods in which a wall of water can take
anything in its path. Before building,
make sure to check area flood zones – if
you’re in one, raised and reinforced
homes are highly recommended. If you
are caught where there are rising
floodwaters, secure your home, turn off
electricity, and disconnect appliances.
Please remember it is important to not
touch electrical appliances if in standing
This can be a true test of endurance. Extra preparations are required due to the
severe cold that often comes with blizzards. Stories from the past tell of how
farmers would lose their way in the blizzards and become disoriented while trying
to feed their animals. Sometimes they would run a rope from the door of the
barn to the door of the home just so they could make it back safely. People don’t
do that anymore but the point is that blizzards and winter storms can create
hazardous conditions. Nonetheless, due to the difficulty in travel you MUST have
shelter, heat and food.
Aside from natural disasters, the chances of man-made, environmental disaster
such as bioterrorism, dirty bombs, chemical and radiological weapons are real
threats today. There’s the possibility of anthrax, smallpox and radiation.
Regrettably, September 11, 2001, showed us that the unthinkable is possible.
There are many places online to get more information in regards to disasters and
dealing with crisis. You may also use the resources at the end of this guide for
During a crisis, you won’t have the time, resources or be in the right frame of
mind to consider everything that you need to. Again, this just reiterates the
importance of making well-thought out plans and storing supplies before disaster
hits and you’re surrounded by chaos. Therefore, you need to take the following
into consideration NOW… before it’s too late.
The first thing to take into consideration is obviously your family. The safety and
supplies of your family should be #1. This means having specific provisions for
your children and elderly family members. Again, look at the day to day things.
What is NEEDED for them to sustain life? If its medicines, oxygen tanks or other
medical things then you better have it! Each family has different life-sustaining
needs, so adapt accordingly.
Don’t overlook your pets and livestock. While not equating those with human life,
when we take them in, we take full responsibility for their care. Obviously,
domestic pets and animals depend on us and oftentimes will stay in a dangerous
situation waiting for us to help them. Make plans – don’t leave them to face
floods or fires or other disasters alone.
Be sure to have identification and current medical records for everyone. Keep
copies in a folder and store with your emergency supply kit. (This is especially
important if you have elderly living with you!) For pets this includes collars with
securely attached identification. Short-haired animals can be marked or tattooed
in an area where there is no hair. For large animals such as goats, horses, or 7
cattle, you may want to get livestock chalk or branding paint and put your cell
number or other identifying number on their side. (Even though you think your
bay mare is distinctive, to many, a brown horse is a brown horse. But a brown
horse with 7825156 painted on their side stands out!) It’s easy to forget, but if
your pet requires any life-saving medicines then you need to do the best you can
to have it readily available.
Make your survival supply lists clear. Divide it into 3 sections - NEEDS (those
things for survival), COMFORT and LUXURY. Stock and prepare in that order.
Although we are used to enjoying a plethora of “luxury” foods in our diets, they
may not be feasible in a time of crisis. You may have to eat brown rice without
anything else but at least it will keep you alive. Comfort is adding some
seasonings to it and a little meat perhaps. Luxury is having cheese or something –
where it’s almost as good as home.
There are many things we do day to day that are in the LUXURY category. A long
hot shower is a luxury…cigarettes, sodas and other ‘habits’ are usually luxury.
Few have died without it, although perhaps sudden withdrawal from it might
make one wonder!
ORDINARY MEASURES – MAKE THESE HABITS!
Because food is essential to your survival, it is an issue on a variety of different
levels. You need to figure out how to store, cook, and preserve it. Don’t plan on
using your freezer for your main food source. Most likely, if you are in a severe
crisis, you won’t have power to keep your freezer cold and eventually that food
will go to waste.
As an alternative, think of foods that can be stored long-term. These are your
best bet. Those with a 6-12 month shelf life include miso soup and raw milk
cheese. With only a couple tablespoons of miso paste, you can enjoy protein-rich
miso soup. Raw milk cheese is beneficial in survival mode because the longer it
sits the better it becomes! (If you are fortunate to have a generator and are able
to keep your freezer going, be sure to have chicken available. Chicken can be
used in a variety of ways and will provide a plethora of vital nutrients.)
Foods that can sit on the shelf for a couple years are
popcorn, dried peas and brown rice. Popcorn can be
easily made, serves as a great snack and is a great
source of fiber. Dried peas can be used in soups or with
rice. And brown rice can be used with any meal; use
canned vegetables or dried jerky to mix with it.
Food items with indefinite shelf life are canned
sardines, canned beans and nuts. Canned beans (red,
black, chili, garbanzo) are relatively low in fat, yet are a
good protein source. Easy to prepare, beans can be put
in a variety of easy recipes for your family to enjoy.
Canned sardines, without the scare of mercury, are high in protein and Omega-
3’s, which have been proven to increase cardiovascular
health. Nuts are also a valuable protein source and can
serve as a simple snack for the entire family.
Get buckets from bakeries or food supply outlets with
lids that snap tight. These keep your food dry. You can
store several bushels of wheat safely from bugs and
pests in these. Also, store up on corn meal, flour, sugar, oatmeal and other dry
Keep a two week list of what you normally use in food. Remember everything –
from little things like salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion flakes to mixed drinks
like Tang that are easy to mix with water, tea and coffee. (Consider also food for
pets.) Once you know what you typically use, you can start planning on stocking
Make sure you store your food supplies in a safe, dry and cool place. If your
garage gets hot and humid in the summer, it’s clearly not a good place to store
food. If you’re limited in space, store your food supplies in several locations in
the house. Be creative.
Don’t rely on plastic bags for storage – dried potatoes and such will mold as they
can’t guarantee always being air tight. Consider a food saver appliance to seal
foods ahead of time. Make up cake mixes and label with how many eggs/oil –
some ingenuity on the grill and the canned frosting can be a treat beyond
compare after a week of desperation.
In addition to planning your food,
remember utensils, plates, can openers,
and a way to cook things. Get used to
cooking on a grill or real woodfire.
Remember to have a supply of clean
wood (not the processed stuff that can
put chemicals in your food) in your stock
up list. If you get a solar cooker - USE IT!
Practice with it regularly and learn what
it can and can’t do. It won’t do much
good to have these things if you don’t
know how to use them. (Think about it - when the time comes, the last thing you
want to do is to try to learn how to work something going when you and your
family are desperately depending upon it!)
Along with your supplies, have a cookbook for basic cooking. Search stores for
wilderness cooking, grilling and other cookbooks. Again, try them out in advance
if you can!
Rotate your food supply to insure it’s fresh. If there’s tuna fish that’s been in the
supply for 10 months, use the old and replace with new.
In a flood situation, even if there is water available, it may be heavily
contaminated and therefore considered non-drinkable. Your body
needs water so it can’t be stressed enough to have a supply of
drinkable water for the entire family and pets. Rainwater capture
works – especially if filtered through sand and charcoal.
A home built in 1890 in central Illinois has a 2,000 gallon cistern. There’s a clear
outline outside the home of where this is, with soil, sand and charcoal naturally
filtering rainwater from the roof diverted onto the ground. A hand pump brings
the filtered water into the home with one pipe run through the heat stove for
running hot water. A typical family of four can easily use almost 30 gallons of
Also consider ‘hidden uses’ of water such as bathing, dishes, and cooking. If you
have buckets of oatmeal, pasta and rice you will definitely need water to cook it!
A stored and ideally, renewable water source that is safe is critical. Until you are
faced without the water you need, it’s easy to not give it a whole lot of thought.
But as previously mentioned - this can be a serious mistake in a disaster.
Stocking up is absolutely
necessary. As soon as word is out
about a potential threat of disaster,
store shelves are emptied within
hours. In Alabama, whenever
there is a threat of snow or sleet,
people stock up on bread and milk.
The local news team reports live
from a local grocery store showing
the empty shelves and long lines at
the checkout. If people are doing
this at the threat of a chance of
sleet or a possible inch of snow,
imagine what they would do in a
Without knowing how long trouble might last, having a long-term plan is highly
recommended. In preparation for a crisis, remember the little things – toilet
paper for example is something that takes on a whole new appreciation! (For a
complete list of survival items you need to have on hand, check the Appendix at
the end of this report.)
Canned foods are great, especially if little to no heating is needed. Canned gravy
is a luxury and can make edible, less-than perfect meals. Dried shredded 10
potatoes, a can of gravy and dried jerky can make quite a meal, especially when
Allow some luxury items such as books, magazines or crossword puzzles. Even
having soap and shampoo to clean up a little will help keep the morale up.
Know the difference between evacuating and shelter-in-place and be ready for
either. Sheltering-in-place may be for a tornado warning or could be issued for a
chemical spill. Close and lock all doors and windows, turn off fans, heating and
air conditioning. Close off fireplace damper, turn off electricity if you know how
and can do so safely. Go to a safe place with a battery powered radio for
SURVIVAL HABITS TO FORM
As we have mentioned, now is the best time to develop good survival habits. The
following are 8 good habits to have in place for when that unexpected crisis or
1. Keep fuel tanks filled. Don’t rely on gas stations being open or having
enough gas. With almost any disaster - there’s always lines at the gas
pump and even shortages. After Hurricane Katrina, there wasn’t a way to
get gas pumped without electricity so even those who survived the storms
were trapped without a way out. When your fuel tank gets to half - fill it
up. This insures you always have at least a half tank and often a full tank
on an ordinary day. Plan for the unexpected. (No one predicted the events
of 9/11 but it surely had an impact!) Often times even 80-100 miles can be
enough to get to safety.
2. Keep cash on hand. It’s easy to use credit cards but when there is no
power, they are useless. Cash is needed not only for the unexpected
evacuations but also for things like toll roads and other miscellaneous
things you might need. It can pay for a couple nights in an inexpensive
hotel, allowing you to get a shower and needed rest in safety.
3. Have an evacuation kit ready to go. Have a box or briefcase with copies of
important papers. Medical papers, insurance papers, papers on your
vehicles, birth certificates. For those with registered animals perhaps
registration certificates may be included. Have your emergency supplies
packed and stored well at all times. With today’s technology you can scan
photos to a cd and easily have a copy of them. Have as few things as
possible, with maximum space use. Carefully planned two weeks of food
can be done in a couple plastic storage boxes. Store it so you can grab as
much as possible and get it in the trunk of your car or in the truck or van.
4. Practice! Have plans to safely respond to different disasters. Practice
allows you to do things automatically “without thinking.” Give everyone in 11
the household who is able, something to do or carry. Four people making
three trips each is a dozen loads of food and emergency gear!
5. Own and use a weather radio or emergency radio. Use them, be familiar
with terminology and learn the systems. Know a watch from a warning. A
tornado does not care what plans you have made for the night or next
week. There is no emotion – only raw destruction.
6. Know after-storm disaster measures. If your community doesn’t have one -
get one started. Have out of the area contacts in which you can call one
person and they can in return relay to other members of the family and
friends that you’re ok. This keeps phone traffic open for officials. Also, it
would be a great idea to learn CPR and first aid.
7. Learn emergency signals. For example, if evacuations are called for before
you leave, tie a white ribbon or cloth in front. This lets officials know the
home is cleared and there is no one there (or should be no one there!).
Knowing triage can also help emergency workers go where they are needed
the most. In the U.S., a white flag can serve the dual purpose of showing
that no one is at the location as well as can indicate that people are ok.
Green needs help but is not life threatening. Red needs immediate care to
survive, with yellow normally the same but stable at the moment. Black
indicates deceased persons. Knowing this helps emergency workers but
can help you also.
8. Have an alternative heat source – woodstove, fireplace and plenty of wood
near enough the house to use. If winter storms are in the forecast, pay
attention and have at least a week’s worth of wood.
LONGER TERM SURVIVAL
One long-term preparation you can make is to start a garden if you haven’t
already. Assess what you can grow. Anyone with a plot of land can grow fruits
and vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers.
Plant fruit trees that flower, provide shade and provide food. Apples, peach, pear
and cherry trees can be grown in many areas. Pecans, walnuts and hickory are
just a few of the nut trees that can provide a bountiful harvest of protein for
baked goods and desserts as well as just eating after pulling from the shell.
Nasturtiums can be prolific growing flowers and are edible – mix in with salads,
some fresh tomatoes and other fixings from the garden.
Herb beds are easy to maintain and can be a source of thyme, rosemary, onion,
garlic and a host of other herbs. You can grow several kinds of mints and create
tea mixes with bee balm, lemon grass and mint as well as many other herbs. 12
Of course, vegetables are also a staple. From tomatoes, beans, peas, squash and
peppers, melons and sweet corn, you can enjoy a buffet of fresh eating. Grow
what you can in your area and take into consideration what your family likes.
Reuse grass clippings, leaves, kitchen ‘waste’ and other biodegradable items in a
compost bin, creating a rich compost to use in the garden.
If you have room, you may want to grow your own grains. A patch of field corn
can produce quite a ration of corn meal. Wheat
can be stored in grain form and ground into flour
as needed. Oats are another grain that can be
grown, harvested and consumed on a small
amount of land.
Once you plant and harvest your garden, make
sure you know how to properly store these foods
by drying or canning. One of the best resources
for food storing strategies can be found at
When people think of meat, they usually think beef. For those who have room to
raise calves this is certainly a viable option. Dairy cattle can provide a supply of
milk and one or two beef cows can provide plenty of meat for your family.
Even if you don’t have room for a group of calves grazing in the pasture, you can
still raise meat. A 2X6 area can actually produce more than you can imagine. A
good trio of meat breed rabbits – those usually 8-10 pounds at maturity with fast
growing fryers – can, with excellent management, produce a good deal of meat.
Each doe averages 6 bunnies every 6-8 weeks - thats roughly 60 pounds of meat
every other month that can be raised behind the garage or in the corner of the
Poultry is another small area project. Depending on your space available, there
are a variety of chickens you can use. A few hens can keep a family in fresh eggs.
You do not need a crowing rooster for egg production – a rooster is needed for
hatching (fertile) eggs but not for home egg production. A small shed or even dog
house with an enclosed run can serve a half dozen birds.
Another alternative for eggs and meat are ducks. The advantage of ducks is that
they’re less likely to fly, they don’t roost, the males don’t crow and if they get
caught in a rain storm they don’t care! One disadvantage is that ducks don’t fly or
roost so they MUST be protected from predators from owls, stray dogs and
Geese are larger, a bit noisier, yet grow easily for meat. Pigeons were once used as
squab as well as full sized birds.
For those with a little more room, sheep have efficiently turned grass into meat
for hundreds of years. Wool breeds need to be sheared annually, which then can
be turned into yarn and made into many types of clothing as well as blended with
other fibers and used.
If you don’t want to deal with the wool consider the hair breeds or a hair/wool
breed cross. Some ideas are Katahdins, Barbados blackbelly, California Reds or a
cross of the Barbados blackbelly on a wool breed. The latter can produce a 130-
140 pound ewe that is hardy and raises lambs with little fuss and does not need
Goats can be an efficient producer of meat as well as milk. A good dairy doe can
easily produce a gallon of milk per day, allowing for fresh milk as well as cheese,
yogurt and a range of other dairy products. They need some room but not a great
deal. A heavy producing doe does need plenty of water and good quality feed. If
you are keeping goats or sheep - they will be happier if not left alone! As herd
animals, they are more at ease if not singled out.
If you have a small farm, draft power might worth considering. Without fuel, it
limits how much land can be worked, but a team of horses or oxen can do many
things. Aside from heavy tilling you probably won’t need a heavy team.
In the event of a long-term crisis, maybe even a food shortage, you should start
learning how to forage and glean for food. Sometimes farmers will allow people to
pick corn that was missed in the field or for u-pick or CSAs get that last bit of
produce so it doesn’t go to seed. This is one option but there are others.
Learn to identify edible plants, nut trees and mushrooms safely. While you can
learn from a book, you might want to consider going with someone who knows
and learning from that them. Things like cattails can be food sources. Of course,
if you’re in a location where you can hunt and fish – then all the better for you
and your family.
Don’t overlook “weeds” and wild herbs, but know for sure what you are looking
at. Stinging nettles will give an unforgettable experience to touch them but nettle
tea and cooked greens are favorites of many foragers. Some swear by their fly
repellant properties – a bundle of nettle near the tent area can’t hurt to try if it’s
out of reach of children and not easily bumped into.
Jewelweed is an effective antidote for poison ivy. A co-worker once got into
poison ivy when clearing a backyard and had tried everything on the market but
still was itchy. He was disbelieving in jewelweed but desperate to stop the itching
– and said within the hour the itching stopped!
As supplies get tougher - squirrels, snapping turtles, raccoons and other animals
will be eyed more as dinner than critters to watch. Some areas also have wild 14
turkey as well as other small and large game. Remember that for survival- use
what you kill. For this reason many recommend small game that can be
consumed quickly. Deer, elk and other large game can feed a family longer but be
sure to get some treated and drying for jerky – preserve it and use it as most can’t
consume all the meat before it goes bad. (Again, knowing safe food preservation
practices is imperative!)
If you’re going to be out walking around than you better be able to accurately
identify snakes. Determining whether the snake that bit you was a small
rattlesnake or a harmless corn snake can be the difference in life or death. Not all
snakes are toxic, but when a disaster occurs, animals are uprooted also – and you
may come across coral snakes, cottonmouths and other poisonous snakes in
areas you don’t expect.
Recent hurricanes and flooding in Florida brought alligators to neighborhoods.
Always remember no matter how many wildlife shows you’ve watched, no matter
how easy it may have looked - these are wild animals.
During a crisis, you’re not the only one on edge. Having their homes uprooted
and searching for food, wild animals only instinct is to try and survive – no
matter what. Humans usually don’t hit that desperation until things are against
the wall. However, for wild predators it’s that way all the time – they’re equipped
for it. There are predators coming back into areas they haven’t been for some
time – cougars in the Midwest, bears and other animals.
Check out wildlife survival books and guides. Learn how to identify safe, edible
plants. Know how to bandage a snake bite. Learn how to use plants for natural
medicinal purposes. Learn as much as you can so if or when the time does come,
when you’re forced to go foraging or are forced into the wilderness, you can
Solar has also come a long way. Solar
charged flashlights, solar panels for
radio, lanterns and other items can
allow small DC power which can be a
huge blessing. Look into cabin kits for
solar if you are in an area that gets
enough sunlight to charge a system.
There are two types – a complete off the
grid system and a grid tie – as well as a
hybrid of each.
The grid tie system has solar panels that when charging can produce more energy
than you use – this flows back into the lines and your meter will actually run
backwards. However, if you’re using this alone when the power system goes down
you’ll still lose power.
On the other hand, an off the grid system stands alone – you have a battery bank
that charges and when there isn’t enough sunshine that battery system is your
power. Having sufficient batteries for your electric load is important because even
the best solar panel systems usually can’t power all the appliances we’re used to
running in the home.
A hybrid of this system has a battery bank that charges first then excess is
pumped to the grid. If the power goes down you still have power on your battery
Of course, solar requires enough sun to charge the panels and as the sun moves,
it can alter the amount coming into the panel. Sit a panel on a swivel for
observation. You can see one position might be 6v charging and moving might be
12v charging. If you have trees around or are on a slope that doesn’t get the
maximum amount of sun, then you may not be able to generate enough solar
power. A good solar backup unit can be found at www.mysolarbackup.com.
Some areas might find wind power a more viable option than solar. With some
systems it will charge with a breeze of 3-5 miles per hour and a breeze can
happen rain or shine. With this – it can charge when solar won’t efficiently do so.
With either system, you will need an inverter to convert the DC power into AC
needed for most things in the home. A backup generator is handy and one user
tells of having a generator to recharge his batteries on days there isn’t enough
sunlight. While that is going, he also runs the microwave and other things that
there isn’t enough power for on the normal system, making maximum use of the
time that the generator is running. This can help keep refrigerators cold by
running for a half hour every four hours. Remember to have plenty of fuel and
fuel stabilizer if you rely on a generator. Start it regularly so that if it needs work
you can do it at your leisure rather than when there is already a crisis!
Though camp stoves are an option, they really are a last resort. These, along with
kerosene heaters, can easily malfunction and result in carbon monoxide deaths.
Understand the risks and take extraordinary precaution. If you’re going to
depend on a kerosene heater, make sure you have plenty of fuel stored up.
For many suburban and rural dwellers, woodstoves are a good option. Having it
installed safely and regular maintenance is critical. With good insulation and a
good system, you can get by with just a few sticks of wood at a time and a large
piece to last the night.
If you have south facing windows or (in some areas) west facing, you can make
use of passive solar by using heat grabbers. This is also an area that you can use
as a solar food dryer for garden produce.
These work in mild climates and benefit in northern ones, but keeping a heat
source is critical in the northern regions. When the snow is piled high, the 16
temperature is at -20 degrees and the wind has been howling for 10 hours
straight, extreme cold sets in. If you’ve ever endured a blistering cold day, you
know the feeling. Now imagine having no heat in your house to warm you up. At
some point, if the situations gets bad enough, people will do anything (and will
burn anything) to stay warm.
Although few take any lessons from Hollywood, a movie about climate change
featured characters stuck in a New York library, burning furniture and books
while being confined to one room in order to stay warm enough for survival.
Alaskan wildlife expert, Michael Mitten, notes the biggest danger in Alaska is not
grizzly bears or moose but hypothermia. Do not underestimate the power of cold!
Getting cold can also change your whole
frame of mind. Being cold and hungry leads
people to do things they ordinarily wouldn’t
do. Desperate people do desperate things.
The good part about living “in the sticks” is
that there’s no one to bother you. The bad
thing is, in a disaster when help is needed,
it may not be available… at least in time.
You must learn to think for yourself and be able to improvise. In the Midwest
Blizzard of ’79 a family who lived, literally back in the woods, had an impassable
hill to get down and out. Getting snowed in was an adventure. The highways
would be cleared, then the blacktop roads and eventually the side and gravel
roads. These folks lived a half mile off the gravel road, with a curvy driveway that
ended with a very steep drop, then back up the other side of the driveway. They
were snowed in but had stocked up on wood ahead of time to ensure heat in such
But what was at first just a fun adventure turned very serious when one of the
boys broke his leg. One of the girls fashioned a splint, learned in Scouts, and they
set about getting him out to the hospital over 8 miles away. He healed up but it
could have been much worse if they hadn’t been prepared ahead of time.
Dress in layers, have plenty of firewood or fuel stored up. Use kiln dried mill
ends, scrap pallets or other unused and unwanted wood. No matter what, have a
supply stored up for the worst case situation.
You may even want to consider purchasing a snowmobile. Though not a cheap
purchase, having a means of transportation to get to a job, a doctor or store when
you need to may be well-worth it. (Remember if you are able to have a
snowmobile, have it regularly serviced and have extra fuel on hand.)
THE MENTAL ASPECT OF DISASTER
Many people watch disasters on news reports and think about how they would
feel – usually in passing and are just glad they are safely out of the situation.
Until one is actually in the situation, it is impossible to gauge how you would feel.
Stress and disaster situations bring about mental attitudes that change people. In
fact, that even national mental health centers have information regarding those
emergency and disaster response workers who see horrific things. It is impossible
to see things in the moment and not be affected.
Remember that in situations where you are isolated, where help cannot get to
you, it is a situation where YOU are the responder. It’s easy to deny needing rest
and recovery time.
During times of crisis and distress, it can be difficult communicating,
remembering instructions or having a good attention span. Maintaining your
balance becomes impaired and unnecessary risk-taking increases. Disorientation,
confusion, lack of concentration and objectivity, decreased problem solving
capacity and increased clumsiness are all signs that you need to take a deep
breath and slow down.
If you do not slow down, carefully evaluate the situation and make a plan, than
panic and extreme desperation will set in. And if you continue with a desperate
mindset, you’ll make rash, illogical decisions that can bring upon horrible things
to you and your family.
But being properly prepared can help eliminate a lot of the chaos and anxiety that
a disaster may bring. Even if you’re either forced out of your home or isolated in
your home without being able tolerate, having enough food and water can do
wonders to both your physical and mental health.
In addition to your body’s basic needs, things like games, having books or
magazines to read, maintaining family meal times, having a routine of sorts even
in the face of disaster becomes very important.
If you’re headed to a rural area (or live in one) be sure to have bug sprays, pest
control as well as ‘boredom breakers’ – books, games, magazines and other
things to pass the time. For those with children, make sure you have a small toy,
crayons, paper or whatever can be used to occupy their time. In long-term
situations, you may want to figure out ways in which you can continue their
schooling. Home schooling may be a possibility worth considering if schools are
All the work and money you put into your disaster survival supplies are worth
nothing if people steal them. Neighbors and friends are hard to turn away, but
unless you have specifically planned for them, it cuts into your food supply. If
you planned on feeding your family of five but now have ten to care for, your
supplies will last less than half of the time you had originally planned. It’s okay to
recommend community plans in case of a disaster but do your own quietly.
But what happens when times become hopeless and bleak and people are
struggling to live? What happens when there is no food available and people are
starving to death? They will do anything they can to get their hands on food and
supplies. They will steal from your garden and invade your home. You think I’m
What will you do if that happens? Are you prepared to defend you and your
family? If so, how are you going to prepare for possible attacks or home
invasions? Maybe you want to consider having pepper spray on hand, a bat and
firearms. Remember, these devices are for self-defense and that is it.
If you have guns, are you willing to learn gun safety measures? Where will you
store them to ensure your families safety? Will you teach your sons and
daughters how to properly handle a gun? These are all things you need to think
The One "Survival Supplement" You Shouldn't be With Out
One supplement I would recommend having in your survival arsenal is a
substance called shilajit.
Shilajit comes from the rocky cliffs in the Himalayas. Somewhat of a mystery, it’s
believed to form as a result of "mineral drip" from the cracks of the rocks during
the hot summer months. This mineral drip runs through plant matter that has
been trapped in the crevices of the cliff areas, and along with geothermal
pressure, a dark red somewhat gummy substance is formed. The reason you
want this substance in your survival cabinet is because the active constituent of
shilajit is a chemical called fulvic acid. This is why shilajit is one of the most
sought after healing compounds in Ayurvedic medicine.
For centuries this substance has been used as a broad spectrum support
compound for strength (nicknamed amongst the ancients as "destroyer of
weakness"), kidneys, energy, sex drive, memory, allergies, diabetes, and
especially for stress and anxiety. In fact, University studies provide strong
evidence that this is the case. Why is this important? Because in a time of true
crisis, the effects of stress will break down immune systems, making you and your
family highly vulnerable to a variety of diseases (disease spreads like wildfire
during panics) and health problems. If my house were on fire, I would grab my
stash of shilajit on the way out. It's that important.
Probably the best quality and perhaps the lowest priced shilajit can be found at
the web site: www.blacklistedherb.com. The company will ship the product out
to you and only require you to pay shipping the up front and invoice you for the
balance due 30 days later. Frankly, I don't know of another supply company that
operates on the "golden rule" premise of doing business. Make sure you have
some of this substance. Oh, one more thing about shilajit. Many researchers also
believe that this substance also makes nutrients from other foods more bio
available. If this is true, it means all of your stored foods will supply your body
with more precious vitamins, minerals and vital trace elements when you need
them the most.
Here's a list of some other problems that traditional "indigenous" medicine has a
history of shilajit usage: genitourinary diseases, diabetes, chronic bronchitis,
asthma, gall stones, jaundice, painful and bleeding piles, epilepsy, enlarged liver
and spleen, fermentative dyspepsia, digestive disorders, worms, renal and
bladder calculi, nervous debility, sexual neurasthenia, hysteria, anemia and in
bone fracture. This is obviously for informational purposes only. If you’re sick
and professional health care services are still available... always see a doctor!
1. Rice, beans, wheat
2. Sugar, honey, syrups
3. Vegetable oil (for cooking)
4. Powdered milk
5. Condensed milk (shake every couple of months)
6. Tuna fish, canned fish/meats
11. Canned or dried vegetables
17. Peanut butter
19. Canned or dried fruits
20. Crackers – soda, snack and graham crackers
21. Canned soups
22. Dried herbs
23. Tea, coffee, cocoa, Tang, punch mix
24. Soy sauce
25. Gravy, bouillon
26. Pretzels, trail mix snacks
28. Candies, gum
30. Spices, seasonings
31. Jerky, meat sticks that don’t need refrigeration
32. Ration of “instant” foods, prepackaged for longer term storage
FOOD PREPARATION & HOUSEHOLD
1. Hand can openers
2. Cook stove
3. Vitamins, supplements
4. Whisks, egg beater
5. Baking supplies
6. Hand sanitizer
7. Bleach (unscented)
8. Aluminum foil (regular and heavy duty)
9. Garbage bags21
10. Toilet paper, paper towels, tissues
11. Matches (“strike anywhere” preferred) – boxed wooden ones, kept dry!
12. Cast iron cookware, properly seasoned
13. Water containers, food grade for drinking water. (store in hard clear plastic)
14. Survival guide book
15. Laundry detergent
16. Paper plates/cups/disposable flatware
17. Pocket knives
18. Long reach lighters (pilot lighters, etc.)
19. Mixing bowls
20.Cooking utensils – spatulas, turners, etc.
2. Water Filters/Purifiers
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 - 12 months to season
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel, propane cylinders
7. Charcoal, lighter fluid
8. Propane cylinder handle holder
9. Washboards, mop bucket with wringer
10. Bow saw
11. Ax, wedges
12. Clothes line and pins
13. Fire extinguishers (charged)
14. Batteries (all sizes)
15. First aid kits
16. Gasoline containers (plastic and metal)
17. Guns, ammunition, knives, slingshot, bats
18. Coleman’s pump repair kit
19. Insulated ice chests
20. Flashlights, lanterns
21. Garbage cans
22. Mosquito coils/repellants
23. Bug sprays
24. Duct tape
26. Tarps, stakes, twine, rope
27. Nails, spikes
28. D-con, Mouse Prufe II,
29. Mousetraps, ant and cockroach killer
30. Big dogs (plenty of dog food)
31. Backpacks, Duffle Bags
32. Sleeping Bags & blankets/pillows/mats
33. Cots & Inflatable mattresses
34. Hats & cotton neckerchiefs
35. Tents, waterproof tarp22
36. Safety pins
37. Disposable camera and/or digital camera (documentation)
38. Small bag of dryer lint (fire starter!)
39. Plastic storage tubs (storage and rainwater collectors)
1. Baby supplies: diapers, formula, ointments
2. Feminine hygiene
3. Shampoo, soaps
4. Skin products.
5. Thermal underwear – tops and bottoms
6. Work boots
7. Baby wipes
8. Men’s hygiene
9. Toothbrushes/toothpaste, mouthwash, floss
10. Nail clippers
11. Shaving supplies (razors, creams, aftershave)
12. Reading glasses
13. Socks, underwear, T-shirts
14. Work shirts
15. Rain gear, boots
1. Garden seeds
2. Fishing supplies – plenty of various sized hooks, weights, line, and lures
3. Bicycles – including tires, tubes, pumps, chains
4. Knife sharpening tools – files, stone, steel
5. Canning supplies
6. Woolen clothing/scarf/mittens
7. Gloves – work, garden and warm gloves
10. Nails, nuts, bolts, screws, glue
11. Wagons, carts
12. Roll-on window insulation
13. Board games, cards, dice
14. Scissors, sewing supplies.
15. Writing paper, pencils, solar calculator
16 Journals, diary, scrapbook
17. Garden tools, supplies
18. Carbon monoxide alarm (battery powered)
19. Lantern hanger
20. Boy Scout manual
23. Paraffin wax
24. Hand pumps (water and fuel – separate marked pumps)
Red Cross Disaster plan - http://columbus.redcross.org/guide.html
Emergencies guide -
FEMA - http://www.fema.gov/
Red Cross - http://www.redcross.org/
Salvation Army - http://www.salvationarmy.org/ihq/www_sa.nsf
Farmer’s Almanac – http://www.almanac.com
Survival site - http://www.survivetheoutdoors.com/
Food Storage Strategies – http://www.foodshortageusa.com
Countryside & Small Stock Journal - http://www.countrysidemag.com/
Backwoods Home - http://www.backwoodshome.com/
Back Home - http://www.backhomemagazine.com/
Small Farmer’s Journal - http://www.smallfarmersjournal.com/
Books: Good reference guides and overview of topics
Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Living: Surviving with Nothing But Your Bare
Hands and What You Find in the Woods – John and Geri McPherson
Micro Eco-Farming: Prospering from Backyard to Small Acreage in Partnership
With the Earth – Barbara Best Adams
Storey’s Basic Country Skills: A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance – John & Martha
Country Wisdom & Know-How – the editors of Storey Publishing’s Country
Wisdom boards (this is a small print book – have a magnifier! – but great
information and a lot of it)
The Have More Plan – Ed & Carolyn Robinson (This is dated in prices and is an
overview without a lot of in depth details, but if you’re considering what to do
with the land you have this is a good overall idea book.)
Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables – Mike and Nancy
Bubel (this is a good all around resource on cold storage of foods)24
Putting Food By – Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg, Beatrice Vaughan
Mary Bell’s Complete Dehydrator Book – Mary Bell
Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to
Keep your Family Safe in a Crisis – Peggy Layton
Getting By: Lessons From a Rural Past – Jan Hoadley (e-book, lessons from the
Depression that can be used with today’s technology.)
Shilajit – http://www.blacklistedherb.com
Email Lists (Free):
These are located at www.yahoogroups.com and are free sources of information
and “things”. Any of these can be subscribed to on your email by using the
listname – (listname)-email@example.com or you can go to the site and
Buy/sell rural lists:
Farm_trader – specific farm, rural, country related items to
buy/sell/trade…livestock to equipment to services.
HomesteadingMarketPlace – some discussion, some things for sale.
Rarelivestock – discussion list of rare livestock suited to home production of
FoodPreservationDryingCanningAndMore – this is a great list for all kinds of
food preservation with experienced people who are *doing* it.
Preserving-food – this is heavy on food drying but any type of food preservation
is welcome…great information and almost anything edible is discussed!
Check out www.mysolarbackup.com for a good solar powered backup system.