Let's face it, our world has turned topsy-turvy. Global, life-changing events which many of us thought only happened in books and imaginations, have happened for real, and are still happening. Often, those of us who have been quietly living our lives feel helpless in the face of so many huge upheavals. We have altered our perceptions from a sense of certainty and relative security to an “I’m not so sure” perspective. We wonder “How can I survive if there are future global catastrophes?”. Some folks will say “This was a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.” while others think ‘Maybe I’d better make some preparations – just in case.’. The question becomes "What can I do?" and the logical answer is pray, plan, and prepare.
I would like to note here that I have never been a survivalist. I never thought it would ever be necessary. I am now researching survivalist skills and recommendations because my perspective has changed. What I'm suggesting below is what seems logical to me. This is a small fraction of what would be required if the world goes haywire again. Such a thing may never happen, but I'm not so sure anymore.
First, Pray. Pray often. Pray from your heart. Pray now. Pray always.
Prayer is the one thing of which I am certain.
Second, Plan. Plan what you'll do, and, if needed, where you'll go. Put your plan in writing. Discuss your plan with family members and/or neighbors. Plan for different types of events. What will you do if EVERYTHING gets shut down for weeks, months, years, or forever? What will you do in case of a lengthy power failure? What will you do if a huge storm batters your area? What will you do if rioters take over your neighborhood? What will you do if you or your family members get sick, but doctors and hospitals aren't available? What will you do if all transportation by motor vehicle is halted? What will you do if you are unable to survive in your current location? What will you do if there's war?
I know this sounds extreme - it's something I would never have imagined even thinking a year ago, but I'm not so sure about anything anymore. There are groups of people who have understood this concept for a long time though - they're often referred to as survivalists or preppers. They are the experts we need to seek now.
Third, Prepare. Make a list of reasonable items you need to have on hand in case of emergency, then take the time to gather them and store them safely. Certain things are "must haves" - food, water, shelter, serviceable clothing, soap, some basic medical supplies, survival skills, skills to build what you need, and a way to protect yourself. Let's look a little at each category I've mentioned above.
It's time to do some research. I'm going to recommend physical prepper books in addition to online prepper websites. Obviously, online is the quickest way to get the information you need, and you can print out what you need, but the books are more durable and will be there if everything goes dark. Read and learn it now, then keep the books for reference. You may never need these skills, but it will never hurt you to have them. Go to the experts because what I say below is just a short introduction to the survivalist concept.
Soap and water will be your best defense against infection from wounds and against spreading illnesses. Each time you shop, pick up one extra bar of soap until you have a stockpile. Soap doesn't go bad. By buying one extra bar at a time, you don't overwhelm the existing supply. You could also learn how to make soap and/or how to make the ingredients you'll need to make soap.
Once a month, buy one durable outfit. You need:
* Shoes & socks that can handle a lot of walking and rough terrain and that are durable. Make sure they're comfortable and fit well.
* Pants and shirts for all weather situations. They also need to be durable and comfortable. They need to allow room for heavy physical activity (and for growth if for children).
* Climate appropriate outer wear. If you live in Michigan, you'll need heavy coats, hats, gloves, boots, etc, but if you live in south Texas, light coats may be all you need for winter. If you live near water sources, some kind of mosquito netting may be necessary.
If you live near a water source, you'll probably be okay, but you may need to fetch the water and be able to boil it before drinking. You'll need buckets and a large pan. A rain barrel or a water conservation system would work in areas with sufficient rain (or to store water from a nearby water source). A wagon might make it easier to transport the water. Those who live in dry/desert areas need far more than that - though they could build a large conservation system and fill it with water from a hose before a potential disaster. After that, collect what comes in the form of precipitation. In many areas, digging a well could be an option.
This one may get a bit more complicated. Do you live in a place that will adequately shelter you and allow you access to basic needs in case of long-term outages? Will you be able to stay warm enough in the winter and cool enough in the summer in your shelter? Those who live in houses in suburbs or in more rural areas will likely have more adequate shelter because they have some land to grow food and can set up a way to heat their homes in the winter. Those living in apartments may have a more difficult time - especially if they live in a large city. Unless your apartment has a working fireplace, and you have access to a source of wood to burn, it could get very difficult to keep warm enough. Is your shelter defendable? If your shelter won't meet your needs, you may have to find a way to move to a place that will.
I've seen many recommendations for people to stock up on medications they need and on basic medical supplies. It's probably a good idea to have enough for a year or two. Each time you shop, pick up one each of the supplies you'll use. Example: 1 box band-aids, 1 package of gauze, 1 package of tape, etc. Getting just one at a time allows you to stock up without causing local supply problems. OTC medicines may (or may not) be something you’ll want on-hand. It’s important to realize that there's really no way to stockpile enough medicines and first aid supplies to last a lifetime because medicines will lose potency. IMHO, knowing which local flora can be used as medicine and how to positively identify and forage it would be a better idea. Fabric scraps from the remnant bin in a store's craft section would make useful, inexpensive, and reusable bandages. Plants and herbs will make a huge difference in your medicine chest. Knowing your local plants (like Comfrey), how to forage them responsibly, and how to store and use them appropriately would increase your chances of survival and increase your comfort level in a worst-case scenario. To go along with this, learning first-aid skills will be critically important.
It may be time to throw away the notion that we should all have neatly mowed grass lawns. Instead, it may be time to let the "weeds" grow wild in our yards, for those weeds can provide food, nutrition, and medicine for our families.
Along with medicine, we would all need a source of food. There are places that sell survivalist packages of food. Add water and eat. You might get enough to last several months or a year, but eventually, this supply would run out. A good idea is to buy enough food packets to let the weeds take over your yard so you would have food when the packets were all used up. (You could also buy enough to use during the first few winters only and forage during spring, summer, and fall.)
Those fortunate enough to have a yard and/or to live near farms will have a better chance of obtaining food if they learn the skills to raise crops and/or animals. Learning the skills now would be a good idea. Check with local farmers to see if you can get seeds. Convert your floral garden into a food garden. The one precaution is to try and grow the edibles in areas that haven't been treated with chemical pesticides/herbicides if possible. As with herbal medicines, knowing what plants grow wild in your area and knowing how to forage them responsibly may make the difference between survival and starvation. For example, dandelions are nutritious and full of vitamins and minerals. Chickweed, nettles, purslane, clover, plantain, curly dock, mallow, Queen Anne's Lace, sheep's sorrel, etc. are all nutritious weeds you can eat to survive. With training, you can also learn how to preserve your harvests so they last through the winter.
If you live in an apartment and have no yard, there are windowsill planters you could use to plant some foods - though it may not be enough for a whole year. Research how to grow plants indoors year-round in this case.
The final subject of this blog is how to protect yourself in a world-wide disaster situation. Family dogs make a good first line of defense if you can have one (or more) and take care of it/them. In 2020, 39.7 million people in the US decided that having at least one firearm was necessary for self-protection. This was an increase of more than 11 million from 2019 (and I’m only citing applications for legal purchases here). Staying as physically fit as possible, taking self-defense classes, learning about different types of self-defense then choosing what is right for your situation is the best thing I can recommend.
I’ll finish this blog by saying that I pray hard that none of us will ever see a time when such preparations need to be used. The year 2020 has taught me though that the wiser choice is to be prepared for a disaster which never comes rather than be unprepared for one that does.