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What’s Your Story?

Share Your Preparedness and Self Reliance Stories

Each of us has a story to tell, what’s yours?

To help our community grow and thrive, we want to hear your stories and share them with our community via our weekly newsletter, 52 Weeks to Preparedness Guide, or other group networks.

Stories from like-minded preparedness folks such as yourself can help the community become more resourceful and ultimately, more prepared.

Whether your story is about your preparedness endeavors, surviving a disaster, tips on how to deal with a personal disaster, observations you made during a crisis, or if you want to share how you have learned to be more self-reliant, we want to know about it.

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Feel free to include a photograph or videos to help the community understand your story better. Stories can be left in the comment section of this page, or if you feel more comfortable contacting us directly, send us an email here.


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17 Comments

  1. Mark of the South

    This isn’t really a hard core preparedness story, but it demonstrates why you should never let your guard down, especially when travelling.

    About ten years ago my wife and I were in Europe on vacation with family and friends. At the time our son was about 6 months old. As we prepared to return to the States I began packing up our carry-on bags with what was, according to my wife, a bit of overkill on the baby supplies.

    My carry on bag was bulging with baby formula powder and pre-made liquid formula, diapers, extra clothes, and baby wipes. I had literally packed 3 days worth of baby gear into the bag along with my regular carry on items. The flight, of course, was only about 13 hours from Prague to Dallas, our final destination. 

    She laughed at me, but agreed to my protests of “you never know.”

    Alas, as (bad) luck would have it, our connecting flight in Amsterdam was delayed on the runway for 12 hours. Had we not packed extra, we would have almost gone through all of the baby food before the plane even took off for the U.S., and as you may know, airlines don’t (or didn’t at the time) stock baby food. 

    Luckily, the prepper in me planned for the worst.

    The kid had plenty of grub for the trip to the U.S., and I had packed so much extra that we were able to share some of his food with other parents on the flight who didn’t plan on the delay.

    When we arrived for our connecting flight in Detroit, the plane had departed many hours earlier. Thus, we were now stuck waiting for another flight for an unscheduled layover in Chicago. Another 6 hours passed and we finally got to Chicago. Once there, we were delayed yet again for half a day.

    When we finally boarded the plane for our final destination in Dallas we were down to just two more servings of food. (I actually panicked a bit because the way things were going I figured we’d be rerouted somewhere else and would end up with no more food for the kid). The diapers were running pretty low as well (for the parents out there, I am sure you know how quickly a 6 month old can run through a pack of those!)

    Luckily, the food, diapers, wipes and extra baby clothes were enough to get us home. 

    Though we were weary from the trip, all in all we weren’t that upset or stressed out. Things would have been MUCH different had we not had extra diapers and food — there was literally nowhere to restock these items while on our trip (I looked all over the airports out of curiosity just to pass time during the layovers).

    Nowadays, even when I fly alone, I still bring along extra food. I carry a mini-bugout travel bag (sans weapons) with me wherever I go, especially when flying. Given what happened on September 11th when the FAA grounded all flights in the US for nearly a week I would recommend others do the same. Thousands of people were stranded in cities unfamiliar to them, many without money, food or a change of clothes.

    Always have some food ready to eat.. Whether that includes a few MRE’s (without heaters for security reasons, of course), calorie bars, or a snack concoction you come up with at home, plan on at least 72 hours – that’s 9 meals at roughly 1500 calories each at a minimum. Additionally, always carry extra cash (I like to carry a roll of pre-65 silver quarters with me on all trips, just in case the system collapses while I am in transit 🙂 ). Likewise, a change of clothes (such as sweat pants and a sweater even if travelling to and from warm climates) in the event your flight is diverted to a different airport/city for whatever reason.

    If you’ve got food, clothes and money you’ll be able to deal with just about any short-term travel emergency you may encounter.

    Just some thoughts.

    Thanks for letting me share! 

    Reply
  2. Roby

    Once upon a time, long ago, we were a young couple with a 4 year old child.  We were out on a picnic on a beautiful day.  My husband loves to see where roads go and the road he had followed had taken us to a rather remote location.  The car broke down in a way that my husband, who is very talented, could not repair.  The car would have to be towed out.  And so we set out on foot, in the afternoon, towards the nearest main road.  Our hope was that we could get someone on the main road to give us a ride to the nearest town.  At first, our four year old walked, but soon wore out and so we alternated carrying the child.  And with every step I realized how unprepared we were for such an emergency.  We were in the mountains and even though the day time temperatures were comfortable, the nights quickly turned cold when the sun went down.  We had only light jackets, no matches or materials to start a fire.  We had only the leftovers from our picnic.  Had I even checked the flashlight in the glove box?  Were the batteries good?  There was no way we could walk to town before sun down.  What if no one drove that remote area today?  What if there was someone, but they wouldn’t stop? 
    I prayed as I walked and God graciously provided a family in a pickup who put us in the back and took us into the nearest town.  We stayed in a hotel that evening, had the car towed out the next day, repaired and eventually made it home late the next day.  That incident changed my thinking, made me better prepared and more thoughtful.  Suggestions:  mark your calendar to check the batteries in the car flashlight, carry water and snacks on every trip, put some old newspaper under the car mat and a pack of matches in the glove box.  Buy a first aid kit for the car.  Put an old blanket in the car.  Put hand warmers and a little flashlight in your jacket pockets.  This website has other good suggestions on how to prepare your auto.  Best wishes

    Reply
  3. Daisy

    Last week my city was taken by surprise by a terrible windstorm.  There were some weather warnings but nothing prepared residents for what would come.  Winds reached 110 kmh and the damage to property was extensive.  Several people lost their lives due to flying debris and downed power lines.  While some were without power for only a couple of hours, others were without for up to a week.  Although we got our power back after 48 hours, we still suffered sporadic outages for two more days.
    It was with a completely different attitude that I met this storm.  Before I began prepping, I would have been woefully unprepared and getting through the ordeal would have meant getting in my car and driving somewhere to stay with someone who was unaffected.  Of course, how I would have found that elusive place would have meant driving until I saw lights on, since our phones and internet didn’t work either.  This time I looked at it as a “dry run” for something bigger.
    It was really interesting to “test” our preps and see where improvements were needed.  We only started preparing a few months ago but have thrown ourselves into it wholeheartedly.  Here is what we did and what we learned:
    Candles: We had a great supply of candles laid in. Unfortunately, they were all over the house in various places. If you can’t find them in the dark, they aren’t very useful.  Now I’ve placed candles in every decorative holder in the house and stored the extras all in one easily accessible place. I’ve stashed a box of matches in every room as well, waterproofed in a Ziploc bag.

    Food: We have tons of it and most of it does not need electricity for safe storage. Unfortunately, most of it does require cooking and we had not yet purchased a method for doing so. Now I’ve purchased a little hibachi that can use charcoal or a mix of wood and charcoal. I’ve also begun to purchase more stuff that can be eaten immediately: peanut butter, crackers, pudding cups, canned fruit, etc. Also, we learned baked beans from a can aren’t horrible at room temperature but soup is disgusting at room temperature. I ended up purchasing two meals out in the one small area of town that was not affected. We would have remained far safer if we had stayed at home, because the streets were perilous with falling trees and downed power lines.  Those who died all passed away when they were away from home.

    Refrigerated items: We did not open our deep freeze the entire time the power was out so things in there fared perfectly. Most of the things in the refrigerator had to be thrown out, though. Luckily there wasn’t a lot: a little bit of milk, some leftovers, half a head of cabbage and some sautéed mushrooms. Next time, we will concentrate on the items in the fridge first. Things from the fridge could have been moved to a cooler and stored with the ice from the freezer to have lasted longer.

    Water: We had water, even though we ran out of hot water pretty quickly. I was pleased that we had stored a lot of water in the attic, as some places in town had no water.  I still plan to continue increasing our stored water on a weekly basis.

    The Unexpected: Something I was totally unprepared for was a quick emergency repair.  Our kitchen window imploded in the high wind and my makeshift cardboard repair was not the sturdiest. I’m going to get some good duct tape and some plywood in various sizes for that type of repair. If it had been winter, the broken window would have been disastrous.
     
    Neighbours:  We checked on our elderly neighbours several times and were able to bring them something to eat and make sure they had everything they needed.  We also gave them some candles, holders and matches. Next time it would be nice to be able to offer them a hot meal.
     
    Entertainment:  Our enormous piles of books certainly came in handy, as did our supply of board games and card games.  My youngest child (10) is not as much of a reader as my oldest daughter (15) and I, so we had to listen to “I’m bored” about 10041 more times than I would have preferred.  I found some interesting picture books and some craft books at a yard sale that I’ve hidden away to be brought out at a later time for the novelty value.  I’ve also organized her things in a way that it will be easier to find something to do when there is minimal light.
     
    Communication:  A true family disaster was narrowly averted.  My youngest was home from school with a sore throat and a fever.  The high winds howling around the house and the tree that fell outside terrified her.  Suddenly the power went out and I was at work.  My power at work did not go out at the same time, so I was unaware of what had happened.  The phone lines at the house went down also.  My daughter panicked and decided to walk to my workplace.  It is very close to home, but the weather was far too treacherous for a child to be out walking around.  She stopped at a convenience store and the kind woman there would not allow her to continue her trek.  She was able to get her a ride to my workplace and all was well. My oldest daughter gets bussed to school in a different city.  I had no communication with her all day.  This situation definitely brought to the forefront the need to prepare my children and make a plan to reunite in the event of some type of catastrophe.  I stressed to them both the importance of staying put if they are at home, and the importance of getting home if they are away.  We’ve now planned routes home for them so I would know where to begin looking for them if something happened.  I also bought a rotary phone that does not require electricity at the Goodwill store.  We’ve planned “safe places” in case they cannot get home.  I realized the importance of knowing where to look for the girls.
     
    Security:  Fortunately, there was no need for increased security during this storm and subsequent power outage.  We were careful to keep the door locked and the blinds pulled in the evening.  I explained to the girls that there was no point in advertising that we were better prepared with lighting than most.  I did begin to give more thought to a world in which the police are not a phone call away, however. Because of strict gun-control laws here in Canada, we have no firearms.  It makes me feel very vulnerable, as I grew up in a household were guns were part of the interior decor. It’s not a situation I can change so in the interest of making the best of my situation, I have attempted to do my best to provide us with security and protection. We do have bear spray, which is basically mace for bears (sold at hunting and camping stores).  I’ve invested in a few more cans of this to stash around the house.  As well, the girls and I discussed regular household items that could make useful weapons in a crunch.  I’ve applied to take the required class to be able to own guns here and my oldest daughter plans to attend with me.  I’ve also done some research to discover that small air guns like BB guns are readily available and inexpensive.  Although they are not at all powerful, they are better than nothing and might even serve as a deterrent, here in a place where most people are very unfamiliar with firearms.  Finally, I’m going to install a new frame around my front door to allow it to withstand an attempt to burst in.  While it isn’t foolproof, a much more concentrated effort would be required to break through the door.
     
    My kids think I am slightly less crazy now, after seeing the value of the preparations that we had in place.  We had talked a lot about preparing after the horrible situation in Japan and after hearing recently from our family members back in Arkansas, who were flooded into their homes for over a week.  After our brief experience, the girls are applying the lessons we learned.  When shopping, they excitedly point out things that would not require cooking.  They also look at second-hand shopping in a whole different way, thinking of the usefulness of an item in a world without power.  The episode has increased their critical thinking and problem solving skills, while also heightening their awareness of how things can change in an instant.

    Our little disaster was nothing in comparison to the issues going on in the Southern US, or Japan, but it was eye-opening. I think we will be far better prepared the next time around. We will be able to stay safely at home and off the perilous streets. We have been able to identify many of our weak points on this trial run. The difference between us and the other people going through this?  We will use this experience to fill in all of the gaps that we discovered in our preparations.  I have a list of things that we MUST acquire as quickly as possible and a list of things that would just be nice to have.  This experience has deepened my determination to care for my children no matter what life throws at us.

    Reply
  4. Tess Pennington

    Isn’t it ironic when we are at our absolute vulnerable, that’s when we seem to learn the most? Great stories, guys! Thanks for sharing. 

    Reply
  5. Mitchell

    4 yrs ago, we had been prepping for about a year.  I am a stay at home mom and my husband and daughter were in a very bad accident.  It changed our life in a second.  After 2 yrs of recovery they are fine.  But for the first 3 months after the accident, we had no money coming in, it took a while to get paper work done and money to start coming in.  It was a miracle that we had food and laundry soap, bathroom supplies, ect….  we lived on our stock and life did not have to change much, it was such a relief for me, as my husband was unable to even understand money and food at that time.  I thank the good Lord that we had been prepared, not what I figured we were planned for but you just never know what you are planning for. 

    Reply
  6. Tess Pennington

    @ Mitchell,

    I love how you wrote, “you just never know what you are planning for.” That simple statement is the reason many of us are preparing. We may not know what the reason is, but we feel the need to prepare down in our bones. Eventually we will find out the reason and be glad that we were ready for it.

    Thank you for your story.

    Tess 

    Reply
  7. Suso

    Last year, my family went to a carnival and although it was a nice day, a bad storm came through and the temperature went down considerably. Being a prepper, I had some extra clothes for the kids in the car. The problem was, it was the wrong clothes for the season. We had to go to the Dollar store and buy some warmer clothing.

    I have learned to make a point to change the BOV clothing out at every season. It’s like clock work now. Hind sights 20/20, but I learned a good lesson! 

     

    Reply
  8. Tim

    Many years ago I was like most Americans living day to day, expecting the next to be like the last and not preparing for much of anything. I was living in southern Washington when Mt. Saint Helens became active. I had grown up being told that the volcanoes along the west coast were extinct. We still did not worry much as we thought it would be like the only other volcanoes we had seen in Hawaii spewing some lava and that’s about it. We were wrong, we were totally unprepared and it nearly cost us our lives. We were 20 miles away in the direct blast path and for several hours we thought we might die of asphyxiation due to the heavy dust. This was my wake up call. Since then I have also experienced a couple of cat 3 hurricanes one of which was a major event. Each disaster has taught us to be better prepared for the next and the one thing that stands out the most is forget the recommended 3 days worth of supplies. It has been our experience that a weeks worth of supplies is the minimum you should stock for common disasters. You may get lucky and the stores reopen in a few days but you will still have to be one of the first ones there to get what you need so its just better to have them already.

    Reply
  9. Angela H

    We were renting our home with the promise of a lease to own option. As soon as my credit was finally good enough, then house listing abruptly disappeared. Over 200 evictions occurred in our city, with 18 the same week as ours. Tons of people found themselves living with kids in hotels. We were fortunate to have stored our clothes according to size, and had a 6 month supply of food. We gave the shortest dated to the people in greatest need, sold the furniture to pay for the motel, and gave some of the more caloric items to pople who needed it more than me, as we took advantaqge of triple coupons and clearance sale at the nearest grocery store. If your landlord forecloses, the bank owns the house, even if you are “renting to own”. Do NOT assume
    you have any special rights, any tennant rights under the old lease, or any time to stay where you are.
    The one thing you can count on is you.
    We held a swap meet with others who were moving out, and again when we got to our new place. Whatever you do, move your stuff at night. People will want you preps, and it might be better to part with a few cans of soup and a fema booklet, than to be surrounded by dozens of angry, desparate people who are jealous that you are somewhat prepped.
    They might even feel entitled to your dish soap, or paper towels! no kidding.  Some preps are better than none, and preps you can take with you are the best of all.

    Reply
  10. Rick (The Great White)

    Preparation is a process that takes you along with it growing you as it grows your knowledge of real time common sense products that will truly be life chancing should disaster ever strike. I spent years studying blogs, reading books and picking the minds of all of the “experts” I could find but when push came to shove I realized I had to be the master of my own situation. Being a Christian I don’t lose sight of Gods role and lead position in my life but what I mean is no one out there can better see my situation and understand my needs better than me. So many blogs and “experts” will have you stocking up on unsustainable products that I personally believe they are trying to unload so as not to be stuck with products they never should have stocked in the first place. Example one: Should we lose power long term and fuel cost skyrocket as we are now seeing them, what is the lowest cost but most dependable resource to cook with while using a minimal amount of cooking “fuel”? Not your grill or your fire pit. I’ll give you three amazing resources, The Kelly Kettle, The Stove Tec Rocket Stove, and The Sun Focus Solar Hybrid Oven. The Kelly Kettle will allow you to boil water in about 4-6 minutes as you cook using sticks, pinecones, etc and just a few mind you. Check out the video here:
    http://kellykettle.com/
    The Stove Tec Rocket Stove will cook large stock pots of food or any cast iron cookware with minimal amounts of easily found fuel, so why would anyone stock up on propane stoves and ovens?. I gave all of mine away. Check out their video here:
    http://www.stovetec.net/us/index.php
    I also own the Sun Focus Hybrid Solar Oven; I bake bread in it, cakes, pies, roasts, 14lb turkeys, etc. I have tried the rest and I really believe this one is the best made here is there info:
    http://www.solarovenshop.com/sunfocus.html
    These are products that are really produced with the highest quality materials available and being the Outdoor Writer for Thescoop303.com I have purchased and tested every single one of them to make sure they would live up to my standards. I know I could count on each of these products to get me through any crisis situation, but you need to decide for yourself. What will you depend on if you ever really have to?

    Reply
  11. Preston

    I woke up in 2008. I don’t want to get into politics, but we all know why I woke up along with millions of others in 2008.
          Unfortunately, I had just been recalled into active duty by the US Army to go back to Iraq in January of 2008. I had already served one tour in Iraq and I’m permanently disabled. I am now on disability. I struggled everyday at Ft. Benning to keep from breaking down into tears because my wife had just went blind after I had arrived for duty. Long story short, luckily I got a “Hardship Discharge” and my wife is doing fine now that she has recieved extensive care. She never would have recovered if I were not let go to take care of her, as none of my friends and family were checking on her as promised.
          I only mention all of that because after I got home and went back to my civilian employer, I was let go because they felt that I “needed time to recover.” Don’t call us, we’ll call you. They never called. And our household had absolutely NO income at all. Luckily our church set up a special offering and the entire congregation chipped in to pay our rent and electric bill for four months. That helped out alot, but me and my wife were still forced to rely on community food banks.  
          Our pastor gave us $20 cash every week for spending cash.
          I decided to quit feeling sorry for myself and I grabbed the bull by the horns. Me and my wife shopped exclusively at the 99 cent stores and began buying our food in “threes.” I bought 3 cans- two cans to eat and I stored one can. 
          Within 2 months of just living on $20 cash every week, we had easily an entire month of food and water stored up for both of us. And alot of candles and batteries, too. 
          So anyone that thinks that they don’t have the money to prep, I can say that you DO- you just have to think outside the box.
          The VA and VFW as well as my church have since succeeded in getting my disability claim awarded for combat injuries. I’m not rich, but I can now take care of my family.
          At this stage in the game, however, I personally feel that if you haven’t started prepping yet, you need to get going NOW and do it DOUBLE TIME!
          The military surplus stores are being hit hard by fellow preppers and are unable to keep alot of items in stock. Dollar stores can no longer stock essential prepper items such as N95 face masks, duct tape, and first-aid items. You have been beaten to the punch if you haven’t stocked up on such items already. (Dollar stores are sold out; you will have to spend triple at other outlets such as Home Depot and your local Army Surpus store.)
          The only thing a beginner can do at this point, I feel, is to take $50 dollars every paycheck and ONLY get items for survival in one stop at, like maybe a dollar store. The days of slow prep are over. Get it now or do without.
          Also, the most essential prepping doesn’t cost anything; PLAN, PLAN, PLAN.
          Above all ENJOY LIFE and God Bless all of you!
        

    Reply
  12. Tally

    My husband and I lost our job within one month of each other. Our combined income went from $100k to unemployment. I didn’t know how we were going to pay our bills because we hadn’t planned on the sudden lay offs. I hadn’t prepared for this at all. I was left with this feeling of dread and hopelessness.

    It was during that time that I discovered the importance of having a food pantry. If I had a few extra dollars, I would grab a few extra canned goods or a bag of rice or beans. We lived very frugally for a few years. As simply as we were living, we still had food on the table. 

    We slowly pulled ourselves out of the unemployment slump and are on our way. I still have my food pantry though and I am saving money each month so that if this happens again, we will have a cushion to fall on.

    Thank you for all you are doing.

    God Bless,

    Tally 

    Reply
  13. 6

    Prepping for FEMA camps:
    I’ve never found anyone who addresses preparedness for FEMA camps.  Some of us can’t homestead, plant a garden or do other prepper things because of handicaps, finances, or other life situations.  WTSHTF, any one of us could end up at a FEMA camp, possibly without caregivers.
    Luckily, during Desert Storm, I learned a lot during the weeks I spent at the port in Dammam in Saudi Arabia about the challenges of living in that environment.  We were housed in huge warehouses similar to FEMA emergency camps.  A little tweaking of bug-out bags would make things a bit more tolerable in that scenario.
    ·         Toilet Paper: 
    o    (There’s a reason this is first on the list)
    o    Don’t count on the facility providing any.  If they do, people will snatch it up for their own personal stash. 
    o    Only pack half rolls.  If you bring your own and someone sees you with it, they will assume you stole it, too.  If someone takes it from you, you’ve only lost half a roll.
    o    Inside the rolls, pack toilet seat protectors.  You can bet these will be in short supply, too.  Fold them individually so they will fit inside the cardboard center.  Some preppers remove the cardboard centers to make TP easier to pack.  In a pinch, you can find quite a few uses for those little tubes. If not, you can always throw them away.
    o    Be sure to conceal your TP roll when you go to the latrine.  Anyone without will certainly want to borrow it if they see it.  Don’t be tempted to share with strangers.
    ·         Food: 
    o    Since food will probably be provided, you will want to bring comfort food items as space allows.  Resist the temptation to share with strangers.
    o    Don’t be shy about letting the proper people know about any special dietary needs or allergies. 
    ·         Showers: 
    o    Shower Kit:  Have a separate bag (water resistant) that has just your shower items so you can easily grab it and take it with you to the showers. 
    o    Shower shoes:  What’s athlete’s foot among friends?
    o    Towels/washcloth:  Big, fluffy towels are a space-eating luxury.  Use the cheap, thin ones that will dry quickly.  Bright colors and patterns (or even your name in huge letters) help make them easily identifiable.
    o    Be on the lookout for perverts.  They will drill holes in the shower walls or whatever they can to satisfy their insanity.  Don’t be shy; report them.  These miscreants usually go on to bigger crimes unless they are stopped.
    ·         Laundry: 
    o    Machine washing:
    §  Laundry Bag:  If machine laundry is available, it may be trailer-mounted and your laundry may be in the same machine with other people’s things.  Get a laundry bag that zips closed and find a way to secure that (with a safety-pin, etc.) and put your name on the bag and everything inside.  Tide makes a nice one that is not too big, not too small.  I’ve seen them at Walmart and the Container Store.  And don’t count on being able to separate whites and colors.  Your clothes may not come out the same color as they went in.
    §  Coin operated:  If they are provided, they may not be free.  Bring some quarters.
    o    Hand-washing:
    §  Wash tub:  Pack some kind of basin for washing clothes by hand.  If possible, pack 2 that nest inside each other (one for wash, one for rinse).
    §  Soap:  Liquid soap dissolves easier, but if it breaks open in your bug-out-bag, you are screwed.  Pack the powdered stuff the dissolves in cold water, if possible, or some of those individual packets that are now available.  The big tablets are hard to dissolve and are usually too big hand-washing in a basin.  Rinsing out the soap is the hardest part.  Use as little soap as possible.
    §  Clothes line:  Include some bungee cords & clothes pins for make-shift clothes lines.  The Container Store carries a nice, compact one.  Don’t leave your clothes line unattended.  People will steal anything; women’s underwear is always the first to disappear ( those darn perverts again).  Hangers are a luxury that just take up space in your bag.
    ·         Privacy: 
    o    In co-ed facilities, there may be a place to change, but they are usually occupied and filthy.  During Desert Storm, I got very good at changing clothes under a sheet (see Bedding).
    o    Army cot accessories are available which can be adapted to increase privacy.
    ·         Security: 
    o    Don’t bring any weapons.  Knives may not be allowed, and certainly nothing longer than 2 ½ inches (long enough to reach the heart).
    o    Put your name on EVERYTHING.  If you have a common name, use the last four of your driver’s license, SSN, or something else to make it identifiable as yours. 
    ·         Bug-Out-Bag:
    o    Put your name on it in big, bold, contrasting letters.  Fabric paint works wonders, Sharpies are a god-send.
    o    Have a bug-out-bag that you can secure with a combination pad lock (keys get lost).  It won’t stop thieves, but it would make them choose easier targets.
    o    Duffle bags work but are a pain in the butt because the thing you need is always at the bottom of the bag and you have to take everything out and everyone can see what you have.
    o    Zippered bags are convenient, but when the zipper malfunctions, you’re screwed.  Consider a secondary closure system.  You may want to have boot lacers (the kind you thread thru, not the hook kind) added by a cobbler and be sure to pack extra parachute cord for lacing.
    o    Use a water proof (or at least a water-resistant) bag.
    o    There may be a limit on the size or number of bags allowed.  Identify those items you can do without (just in case) and segregate them in another bag or a bag within your bug-out-bag.
    o    Must Have Items:  Have a small bag that holds only those items you absolutely can’t live without (medications, change of underwear, etc.).  Keep that bag with you at all times.  If it’s in your other bags, and you and your other bags are separated, you’re screwed.  Just like the airlines, baggage will get lost if it can.
    ·         Bedding: 
    o    Sleeping bag liner:  Use a bed sheet or anything that can be hand-washed. 
    o    During the day, leave your sleeping bag open so it can air out.
    o    Bring some kind of disinfectant if using FEMA issued sleeping bags, cots, etc.
    o    Pillow:  A regular pillow is luxury item that takes up valuable space.  Consider packing a pillow case and filling it with clothing, towels, etc., at night.

    Reply
  14. Sherry from S.C.

    My husband and I are seniors and we work with several small churches that minister to very low income people. These churches also serve a lot of elderly and disabled people.  We live in a mill village in a 4 room house  and live on S.S. and a pension check.  We just found out that our pension check will be cut out (so, we join the crowd of others in the same boat).  Our pension check is one half of our income.

    This will not stop us from doing what we have always done, helping others and teaching others how to survive on less money.  We encourage people to plant food.  To at least plant some tomato plants.  We will till their land for them and teach them what to do.  We start our tomato plants from seedlings so we can have enough to share with those who can’t afford to buy the plalnts.  We save seeds from our garden every year so we can also share other seeds with people.  These things do not take extra money to do, anyone can do this to help others.  We encourage everyone to get heirloom seeds so they can have seeds to re-produce each year.

    We have one elderly widow woman that has diabetes and she loves tomatoes.  Every year we take her several plants and she uses pots to plant them in and sits them on her porch.  That way she can take care of them.  It means a great deal to her to be able to do something on her own.

    We tell people to take any extra vegetables from their garden and swap them for canned food to put in their emergency supply.  
    We have people tell us that they don’t have any money to store up food for an emergency.  We have taken a few cans of food to give them when they promise to save it to start their supply.  They know that we do not have very much and it touches their hearts and opens the door for us to work with them and teach them how to save and conserve.  It has been a challenge to come up with ways to prepare for pennies.  

    One way is to use empty pop bottles.  Clean them and add water and place them in the freezer.  This well keep their food cold longer when the power goes out and it supplies extra drinking water.  We found out that the nursing homes use 2 and 3 litter soft drink bottles.  We have one elderly woman that told us about that.  She is getting the bottles from them to put up water in. 

    We tell people to put their pasta products, rice, and dry beans in the freezer to last longer.  When the power goes out they can take these food items out and let them air dry real good and then place the food items in jars or even in the empty pop bottles and the food will keep longer for them.

    We also teach people to not let their food get too hot or to freeze because the food could make them very sick.  We explain the best temperature to store food items and how long the shelf life will be at different temperatures.  You can find this info at survival  sites that sell food.  We also tell people not to store food under their beds if their bed is in front of a heating and cooling register (we learned that one from exerience).  We tell them to store the food in a cool dark place.  We also teach how to rotate the food items so you will not have outdated food.

    Another , for free, prep item is plastic grocery bags.  Good for trash and also in an emergancy you can use them for a potty bag.  Also many other uses such as use them to cover your hands like gloves and so on. 

    Another free item to use. You can go to bakeries or anywhere that bakes cakes and goodies and ask for their empty frosting buckets.  Take them home and wash them.  Makes great food storage buckets.  We process our food for long term storage in mylar bags.  Yes, we also teach others how to do this and we help them.  There are a few that we know can not do the work so we do it for them. 

    More free items.  You can start a coupon club.  Get the neighbors involved and the Church, make it fun.  Have an evening set aside for it, maybe even have lemonade and cookies or such.  Ask the Pastor to announce it from the pulpit and get everyone to bring their coupons, even if they don’t want to be in the coupon club.  Look for coupons that you can get items for just pennies when the item is on sale.  Have a “Sales Alert” phone circle, so everyone can keep up with the sales and save money.  When you can get an item for a few pennies or sometimes even free, then get it.  It does not matter what it is.  You can always trade it with someone for something else or better yet help your church start a needs pantry with the extra items that you don’t need.

    One thing that we do and encourage the different churches to do is to take in clothing and items to use to help others.  If you have one person doing this then people will not be shy about calling you to see if you have what they need.  We encourage people to stop spending money on new clothes and household items and use the money to build up their emergency supplies.  Everyone that knows us knows that we do this ministry.  We have people come by and leave items on our porch when we are not at home.  It is exciting to find bags and boxes on the porch.  We can’t wait to check them out to see what we can give to others.  We keep a list of peoples names and their needs and the sizes of the clothes that they need and also any other items that they need.  We encourage the churches to keep lists like this to be able to better help people.  When we get a lot of items that no one on the list needs you can have a yard sale and that helps to pay for washing powder and the use of water and power that you use to clean the clothes.  Any extra money can be used to help those who really desperately need the help.

    We show people how to cook outside without buying expensive equipment.  You can use large rocks or bricks and form a circle, or half circle, and put twigs or scrap wood in the center and light it and then put your pot or pan on top to cook food in.  We know that there are many other ways to use, but you have to remember we work with low income people that have very little to work with.

    We also tell people to keep all their candles to use in an emergancy.  You can find candles at yard sales and thrift stores for very little.  If you don’t have a candle holder you can use an empty tin can that food came out of (a tuna can maybe).  Also to be on the look out for quilts and blankets to store up for emergencies.  Keep an extra cigarette lighter put up in your emergancy supplies.

    We have the book, “Nuclear War Survival Skills” by Cresson H. Kearney.  It has a lot of good info in it.  We live in South Carolina and there are a lot of nuclear plants all around us.  So we take the common sense info from this book and teach it to others so they will have an idea of what to do in an emergancy.

    We teach how to use left over food to make a great tasting meal, how to can food, how to mend clothes and anything that anyone wants to learn that we know how to do to help their lives be better and easier.  It is the old time way of doing things.  It is God’s way of doing things.  There are many, many things you can do to help others that does not cost you any money.  Besides that, just think about it, the more prepared others are the better your life will be when TSHTF!             

        
                      

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  15. Rune Dimmick

    Sherry, Bless your heart for all the good that you are doing!
    We have always tried to have some food stored, and to be relatively self sufficient.  It has come in handy so many times that it is hard to think of just one, but here are a few:
    Moved to a new town, broke, 5 kids, we were there 3 weeks and we went out on strike in sympath with a sister union…. and  where we were it just wasn’t an option to cross the line.  I found a job with a farmer driving a tractor, and he was kind of going broke and only paid us half of what he said he would, but we had wheat, a grinder, brown sugar, powdered milk, a little meat in the freezer, and some vegetables from a kind neighbor.  My wife and I worried, but the kids never missed a meal, and don’t really remember it as a scary time.
    My son and his family were in Vicksberg when Katrina blew into town.  They didn’t get a hurricane, but heavy, heavy rain and power outages.  They had food and a propane grill.  Their power was out for a week, but they did get by.
    Same son, 5 kids, furloughed from his job, out of work for 2 months, called back for 2 weeks, out for 2 months….it was very hard on their finances, but his wife makes wonderful whole wheat bread, and I think they went through about 300 lbs of wheat before it was all over.
    Second son, also lost a job, also 5 kids, also eating a lot of wheat, but this was before he lost his job.  They felt like they needed to pay off their van, and other credit bills, and they pretty much stopped going to the grocery store and dug into their food supply.  They made bread and pancakes of course, but she sprouted grains and beans and made cheese and yogurt from powdered milk and it was a great blessing.
    I could go on for sometime, but the point is that being prepared isn’t a burden, it is a blessing.  It lets you stay home, in a safe place, and that is worth a lot.

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  16. Kay in Upstate NY

    I was online reading about EMP one night not long ago, wondering if this was really something that could happen.  I asked my husband to check it out, and from that moment, we have been preppers.  Will EMP impact us, or will it be the collapse of the economy or war or nuclear war or disease or natural disaster?  It is so true that you do not know what you are preparing for.  Preparations for uncertain times are just smart thinking.  There are too many scenarios in this crazy world that could play out, and we need to be ready.  So, I have been gathering food and supplies; my husband has been working defense, water, heat, and lighting solutions.  He made me 2 raised garden beds this summer, and I grew vegetables for the very first time.  I am learning how to bake bread again, and am pretty much cooking everything from scratch.  I am looking into composting.  I am sewing again, and have an old treadle machine to restore.  We have joined a preppers group that keeps us informed, and being in touch with like-minded people keeps us from being alone.  I love this website; it’s a valuable resource.  Keep on keeping on!!

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