What is preparedness? In this context I am referring to being prepared for weather related emergency situations primarily. To me, being prepared is about keeping my lifestyle and family functioning safely and comfortably no matter what the situation is around us.
As I write this in 2021, a year into the post Covid world, along with a recent string of cyber attacks, we are experiencing a disruption in the supply chain that many said would never happen. In reality though, we live in a just in time delivery infrastructure system, unfortunately many do not know it understand what that means. This means almost all grocery stores, gas stations, big box stores, fast food and other resturaunts, warehouses, and other businesses get their inventory just in time to sell it to us or other middle things that are between the manufacturer and end consumer/user. They generally have no reserve past a week or so of any supplies for when inventory starts to run low. We are seeing the effects of this now. We are also seeing the effects of closing businesses and facilities due to pandemic reasons, and now the back supply of goods are running out. Without the constant production and shipping of goods, we will experience greater and greater shortages of goods. Remember, the demand doesn’t go away. Having a stash of whatever supplies you may need is crucial. If there is a run on any one item, or if the supply chain can not keep up with demand, your plans may be delayed. To be clear, I do not mean on cans of food or boxes of ammo like most would assume. I mean items like a replacement electricity breaker for your air conditioner or oven in your home. Multiple fittings in multiple sizes to repair plumbing leaks with the correct glue to make repairs in your home. Simple and often overlooked items that can and will make all the difference.
We live in southeast Texas on the gulf coast. We regularly get hurricanes here every year along with fairly constant rains in the spring and early summer. It is not uncommon to have several light floods a year that stop all traffic on some roads with just a heavy rainstorm. Add a several day long thunderstorm, a tropical storm, or a hurricane to the mix and all roads seem to go underwater fairly quickly and stay like that for up to a week sometimes. Even among others that live in or near Houston, not many know why the streets flood. Because the land here is so flat, the streets are designed to flood and become rivers for the flood waters to run out on. Due to this design, the roads become unusable for the duration of the flood conditions. This means you can be stuck at home with only what you have.
Earlier this year (Feb 14-19, 2021) we had a never before ice storm that shut down most of the entire state for about a week. At our home we had power at most 3-5 hours a day for just short of a week, and always during the day. Luckily I have a generator and some fuel for just the occasion. This is the first time I had to hook it up outside of hurricane season other than to test it though. Add to this that we like to camp and had a camping stove with some extra fuel, a french press coffee maker, and a fireplace. Although it was far from ideal, compared to many of our neighbors we were comfortable. So much so that we were able to share and make others a little less miserable during the storm.
Living a life of preparedness has proven to be beneficial more that a couple times now. Yes, much of my preparedness equipment is also used for backpacking and camping or hunting. Since we enjoy those activities as well, I made sure to get equipment that would server several roles for our family. I still use a mix of commercially available brands and military surplus to fill all the niche rolls to provide for my family. New and improved items come out I try to replace gear that is no longer worth the ounces or pounds it takes to carry it.
TV shows like “Doomsday Preppers” and others have completely ruined the use of a positive word, now anyone that mutters the word prepper is immediately taken as a tin foil hat wearing loony. Albeit for good reasons, 99% of people on that show actually were tin foil hat wearing loonies… As for the rest of the people out there that like to be prepared, we are just regular folks that are just taking personal responsibility for the well being of our families. It is not about literally surviving the apocalypse. It is about making sure your family does not suffer during hard times.
How can you incorporate preparedness into your lifestyle? I started small. Buy enough food for one extra meal or one bulk item each trip to the grocery store. This quickly turned into a growing supply of dry or canned food stores. The same thing can be applied to gear and equipment. Save a little each weak and at the end of the month buy that piece of gear you have been eyeballing. Be sure to research the items you plan to buy, and if possible try it out before you buy it.
When it comes to buying gear, there are a few notes to keep in mind. “Buy once, cry once” is a common saying in many circles. I do not recommend immediately buying the most expensive gear, however I do recommend buying the best quality you can afford. This will often save you from having to make repairs in the field when that is the last thing you should be doing. How can you start building your skills? Skills weigh nothing and build confidence. The higher the skill level, the less gear needed in most scenarios. But some gear is worth buying simply for the sake of not having to spend time sourcing raw materials to make a suitable replacement. Rope or other cordage is one of these items, it is hard to make a quality rope out of raw materials quickly in the field if you need one.
The way that I recommend to anyone that wants to start building their stash of supplies is a little at at time and to constantly keep adding fresh new stocks while you use and remove the older stocks. This rotation will help keep things fresh. Start with 1 week worth of everything (from toothpaste, toilet paper, and soap to calories to burn) that your family would need to remain comfortable in their everyday life. Then build up to 1 month, and so on until you meet your goal.
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