Category Archives: Prep

Paradigm Shift

Lately I have been thinking a lot about one question:

What if instead of prepping for the worst, we prepared for the best?

This idea of working toward best case scenarios can flip even the most optimistic standard prepping idea on its head. Suddenly, we are creating, not reacting; embracing, not avoiding; dreaming, not fearing. Suddenly we move from the powerlessness of living at the mercy of a dangerous world to the empowerment of creating a more hospitable one. Suddenly we evolve from talks of prevention, defense, survival, to building, healing, living–from fear, to hope, maybe even to joy.

I will admit, it’s not an easy shift to make. The world can be a dangerous place. And we do need to prepare for times when the gap between our dreams and reality is wider and deeper than we can imagine a bridge to cross. For some of us, that may be most of the time. Which is why it so important to think about ways to make our lives easier, simpler, better, more manageable, safer during quieter days.

For example, instead of acting from a place of fear that says, “I could get cancer and die,” we could, knowing full well that cancer exists and is a risk, consider a variety of other responses, like:

  • What could I do to become healthier and minimize that risk?
  • What might improve my chances of recovery if I did get sick?
  • What might help make the experience of being sick less complicated and more comfortable?

Or better yet:

How can I create my healthiest, happiest, most fulfilled life?

What if, instead of focusing on disaster, we focused, in a very practical way, on that? And then consider what it will take to get us there, what hurdles we may need to overcome, what things we can do to stay on track when obstacles cross our paths.

Because there will be hurdles, obstacles, unplanned derailments, that’s what prepping is all about, but they will only one small piece of a larger puzzle not the focus of our lives or plans.

What might your best case scenario look like? How might it feel?

Blooming Cholla
Blooming Cholla

 

TEOTWAWKI

Recently The Survival Mom wrote a post about why normal people shy away from prepping. For example, the acronym that titles this post was part of reason number 1: Our terminology has negative connotations.

TEOTWAWKI: The End of the World as We Know it

And yes, it does sound scary. But the end of the world as we know it doesn’t necessarily mean the destruction of our planet and the end of all life. It could mean just about anything that causes a significant shift in your everyday life: a job change, moving to a new city or a new school, a breakup…

Last August a neighbor, friend, and prominent member of the community where I live was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer with metastatic bone cancer. When she died nine months later it felt like everything changed. It was the little things like walking by the mailboxes and thinking, “I haven’t seen Ann for a while.” And then remembering why. But it was also the bigger things, like the loss of her strong voice of reason in meetings. And even though new people moved in to the empty house, this place has never be the same.

Prepping is about noticing what things we might need, what things we might miss, what things we are accustomed to, what things are important, and making reasonable provisions to compensate. By imagining before someone is gone who will take up their tasks, who will do their jobs, who will fill their rooms, what will fill the void. Know where the money is before your accountant retires. Know who you can go to the movies with before you movie buddy moves to another state. Know who you can call at midnight when the pipes freeze and burst, when the dog breaks out of the yard, or when that breakup you didn’t realize you’d been fearing blindsides you.

Preppers get a lot of negative hype, but we’re not all doomsayers. Some of us are just trying to make life a little easier in a crisis by considering what we might need before we need it. And it never hurts to have an extra pint of Boulder Organic Famous Sweet Cream Ice Cream, just in case.

Prepping for the B.A.S Big Three Part 2

The second major threat on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists‘ list is nuclear. The Bulletin breaks it down into two pieces:

Nuclear modernization programs threaten to create a new arms race… [and] leadership failure on nuclear power.

Nuclear Weapons

Not only has the pace of disarmament slowed in both the US and Russia, all “nuclear weapons states” are currently pursuing large scale modernization of nuclear armaments, including the US, Russia, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea.

Keeping in mind that relations between the US and Russia and the US and North Korea have been strained and South Asia is far from stable, we find ourselves in a situation where, not only are there more warheads deployed, but the political climate seems more volatile and therefore potentially more predisposed to their use.

Nuclear Power

Although nuclear power can seem a sensible alternative to the carbon emissions associated with the use of fossil fuels, and thus a sensible way to help alleviate some of the problems associated with climate change (threat number 1 on the B.A.S. list), it carries with it a number of serious challenges, including “cost, safety, radioactive waste management, and proliferation risk.” And to date, we haven’t had such a great track record with any of it.

Nuclear power plants at Chalk River, Windscale Piles, Kyshtym, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima all had serious accidents.There have also been issues with waste management, at Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) in 2011 when the Las Conchas fire threatened both nearby waste storage and the lab itself, and again in 2014 when one drum from a batch of waste that was unsafe for shipping to their Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in the Southern New Mexico desert was hastily treated and subsequently cracked open, leaking radiation into the air, putting the entire storage at risk of explosion, and stranding thousands of containers of nuclear waste at labs across the country.

Which brings us to the question at hand: Given the current threats, what, if anything, can we do to prepare for nuclear disaster?

Ready.gov has the usual prepping lists for what to do before a nuclear event.

  • Build an emergency supply kit
  • Make a Family Emergency plan
  • Ask local officials if there are any blast or fallout shelters in your community
  • Research alternative shelter options in the event that none exist locally, they are too distant, or as a backup in case you are unable to reach on in the event of an emergency

It also has information about what to do during and after, including the note that depending on the proximity and size of the blast or leak, survivors “in areas with highest radiation levels [may need] to shelter [in place] for up to a month.” What it doesn’t mention is what happens to animals, crops, local food supplies, water supplies or other important resources.

So even if we survive the blast and the immediate radiation threat to our health, our prospects could still be grim. Which means our best bet, as with climate change, is to do everything we can to cajole, beg, or otherwise inspire our governments–local, national, and global–to disarm all of our nuclear investments, both weapons and power.

Prepping for the B.A.S. Big Three Part 1

Let’s take a closer look at the recent announcement from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that the Doomsday Clock was moved from five to three minutes to midnight.

The BAS broke their decision down to three main categories:

  1. Looming climate catastrophe
  2. Nuclear modernization (weapons and power)
  3. Emerging technological threat (biotech and cyber attacks)

Which brings us the the question their analysis doesn’t really answer: How do we prepare for these threats?

First Up: Looming Climate Catastrophe

Average global temperatures are rising, playing havoc with world weather patterns, the integrity of the polar ice cap, and habitats–all recipes for disaster. And while they claim climate catastrophe is not “inevitable,” the actions needed to keep the world habitable for humans are not only urgent, but will require changes in behavior, economics, and politics that world leaders, corporations, and citizens have, to date, been unwilling to embrace.

What This Means to Us

Basically, we have two choices:

  • Find a way to get our governments to act–committing to (and following through with) regulations, restrictions, incentives, punishments, ending subsidies, and whatever else it might take to decrease, or, ideally, end, world reliance on fossil fuels

OR…

  • Prepare for ever-worsening weather-related disasters, food shortages, drought, and other events that could eventually result in a planet that will no longer support human life

The prepping part is easy. We already know how to do that (and if you don’t, check out TheSurvivalMom.com–she’ll get you hooked up). But if we’re really interested in survival for the long term, we need to make serious effort toward global change with regards to fossil fuels.

How? According to UN.org:

  • UN Climate Action Identify and reduce your climate footprint
  • Learn more about climate change
  • Speak up–let our government representatives know that you want change

Pretty much what they’ve been telling us for decades to no avail, which means it’s time to get creative:

  • Like the teenagers who are suing the federal government for inaction with regards to climate change (after all, today’s youth are the ones who are going to have to live–or not–with the consequences)
  • Like the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is working to create a municipal electric utility because the current power company, PNM, is not rising to the call for cleaner energy
  • Like the Tiny House Movement, which has people downsizing their (on average) 2600 square foot homes for those with much smaller footprints (typically between 100 and 400 square feet), saving money, energy, stress, and work

Of course it can be hard to to give up the familiar, the comfortable, but it will be immeasurably easier to do it with planning, intention, and choice than it will be to change in response to actual disaster. The technologies, systems, and knowledge we need already exist. Better to embrace a little change-based discomfort now, than the world of hurt that scientists currently believe will begin to descend in about 30 years.

Next time: Nuclear Modernization

Lessons from The City

The news our nameless girl arrived bearing, in The City, Not Long After, was that an army was on its way to San Francisco in the name of “reunification”–whether the city dwellers wanted to reunify or not.

They didn’t. The liked their freedom–freedom to create and to continue to live as they pleased. Unfortunately, they were going to have to fight to keep it.

This isn’t exactly a new scenario in apocalypse fiction, or in real life. And though we’ve seen it play out in a variety of ways, it’s still worth considering a couple of very important questions:

  • What kind of life do you want to live?
  • What are you willing to do to protect it?

A friend of mine tells me that if the world devolves into Mad Max, he’d rather not survive, and I can see his point. To live in constant fear and/or have to live with with the consequences of killing someone else is a devil’s bargain especially for a natural pacifist. And when the life you are fighting for isn’t one worth living, it may not be worth the fight.

But what if it is? What if armageddon comes and goes and you are happy in your off-grid, bug-out bunker growing veggies and raising chickens? Would you kill for that? Would you kill to protect your life? Your wife? Your child? And if not, might there be another way?

This is where creative thinking comes in–something it’s definitely worth practicing. Because even if you’re willing to kill, what happens if you can’t? Maybe you’ve run out of ammunition. Maybe the attacker is between you and your gun. Maybe the person you’re fighting is a kid you babysat when he was four. Maybe you don’t want your 2 year old daughter to be emotionally scarred by the gore. Maybe there’s a chip in your head that causes you debilitating pain when you act in violence (it could happen…).

So this is where we ask more questions.

  • If killing isn’t an option, what are the alternatives? Flee? Distract? Hide? Subvert? What else?
  • What can I do to prepare for these alternate options?

Because when disasters strike, they don’t usually like to conform to our ideas of how they should go, which means all your best plans probably won’t go as planned. The more ideas and options you have at your disposal the more likely it is that one of them will work.

Add more trusted people to the brainstorming mix, and you’ll have an even better chance. Especially if you make sure their answers to that first question are compatible with yours.

2015 Flu Epidemic

With the 2014/2015 flu officially declared an epidemic by the CDC, and a vaccine that has proven only 50% effective due to the quick mutation rate of this particular bug, it makes good sense to revisit the best ways to prep for potential illness.

2015 Flu Epidemic
2014/2015 Flu Activity

1) Don’t get sick in the first place

Work to keep yourself health every day–get enough sleep, eat right, and get regular exercise. Then, before flu season hits:

Flu Prevention
© flu.gov

2) Prepare in case you do get sick

Most flu symptoms last from 1 to 2 weeks, with an average 5 to 7 days of contagion starting from one day before symptoms start. That means you’ll want to lay in supplies for at least two weeks (longer if you have a family, or tend to stay sick longer). Before you get sick you’ll want to stock up on:

  • Sick-friendly foods–clear broths, teas, and other liquids, garlic, ginger; crackers, toast or rice; frozen juice bars (to soothe sore throats); orange juice, or better yet, oranges
  • Over-the-counter flu medications–talk to your doctor or pharmacist
  • Any daily medications that you might run out of
  • Every day essentials–toilet paper, toothpaste, tampons, that sort of thing
  • Pet food and other supplies (fido and fluffy need to eat, too)

3) If you do get sick

  • Do not go to work–the presentation can wait–not only can staying home in bed help you heal faster, it also helps prevent further spread of illness
  • See the doctor right away–anti-viral medications can significantly shorten the severity and duration of the flu, but in some cases, only if you catch it within two days of your first symptoms
  • Rest, eat, drink lots of fluids, then rest some more

As for me, I’ll be picking up more chicken broth, crackers, and TP on my next day off.

Resolutions

I used to be a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions, but after coming to the end of each year with most of the checklist still unchecked, I have decided to try a different way–to set priorities. My top priority for this year is health–physical, mental, emotional, fiscal. For me, prep is a huge component of building, maintaining, and preserving that health. And an important part of prep is identifying our top threats.

Survival Mom has a very detailed article about doing your own threat assessment, but for today, I’m just going to keep it simple with her abbreviated quiz:

Identify your top 3 events to prepare for by answering these questions:

  1. What is the most likely natural disaster in your area?
  2. What is the most likely extreme weather event that might affect you?
  3. What is the most likely personal or man-made crisis that would affect you?  Examples: long-term unemployment, hyperinflation, civil unrest.
  4. Finally, prioritize these in the order they are most likely to happen and you will immediately have a focus for your preparedness.

For me, the three areas where I will focus my prep attention in the coming year are:

  1. Wildfire
  2. Drought
  3. Income loss due to unemployment or illness

And priority-wise:

  1. Income loss due to unemployment or illness (build an emergency fund, diversify income opportunities)
  2. Wildfire (put together bug-out bag and grab list)
  3. Drought (conserve, practice going without)

It can take less than 5 minutes to come up with your list, and having one can help you stay focused on the most pressing things to prep for so you don’t get overwhelmed. If you are into resolutions, prepping is a good one and Survival Mom has some other great prepping ideas in her How Basic Can You Get? posts #1 #2#3 (which includes the above quiz), #4, #5, and #6. Although most of these ideas are focused toward beginners, there is plenty here for the more experienced of us as well.

What are your Big 3, and how will you start preparing for them in the new year?

Calm

Looking for an oasis of calm in a hectic holiday season? How about a way to jump-start a meditation practice in advance of the New Year? Maybe you’re just looking for a little peace in your busy day-to-day schedule. Regardless of your reason, it’s always easy to find a little calm at calm.com.

Choose from an assortment of music and image combinations, select guided or timed meditation, and relax.

Not sure why you should meditate? Check out the Lifehacker article What Happens to the Brain When You Meditate (And How  it Benefits You).

Stop. Drop. Roll.

Last week I talked about the importance of pacing ourselves. This week, I want to talk about what to do if we’ve already missed that boat and are now paying the price. Luckily the prepping world already has the perfect slogan for us to adapt: Stop, Drop, and Roll.

  • STOP and take a hard look at where your time, energy, and probably money are being spent
  • DROP everything that is non-essential–yes everything; if it isn’t directly related to paying this month’s rent, feeding your kids for the next few days, or keeping yourself well and safe, lose it
  • ROLL with what comes up

Chances are, if you’re anything like me, stopping can feel even harder than plowing through. And sometimes it is. But we have to keep our eye on the prize, because if we go down, who’s going to be minding the store?