New Mexico Urban Homesteader

Hello, I am A 50 Something, Prepper ;-}; former 60's Flower Child, don't believe in taxpayer subsidized special interest groups (political parties), DO believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights (1st 10). Long time Independent & Informed Voter. Lover of the outdoors and firm believer that History Teaches - if only we will listen!

(No longer Urban or in NM. Now Rural in the mountains of Maine.)

This blog was started at the request of some dear friends that wish to become Preppers.

“No man who is not willing to help himself has any right to apply to his friends, or to the gods.”

Demosthenes (384–322 BC, Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Swimming Through the Frustration of Getting Prepared

You feel the need to get prepared for some kind of crisis. As you listen to people talk, review news sources and other information gathering tools, you feel you are being pulled eight ways from Sunday trying to determine just what you should prepare for and how to do it. You are now not only concerned, maybe even worried or scared; you are frustrated to no end too! Welcome to the human condition.

With any major goal we need to approach this methodically and precisely. This means that there are some steps and questions that must be addressed in a progression in order to formulate a plan and then act upon that plan to accomplish the end goal. In this case – Preparedness.

Some Terms Used

Because I like the term “Crisis” as it has a “glass half full” attitude of opportunity, I will be using this term instead of emergency or disaster. When I use the terms “Tools, Skills, Knowledge” I am including Defense and Hunting items. Food Storage includes water, medical and dental items.

A Few General Rules of any Crisis

All crises will fall into one of the following Categories:

  • Bad Luck: An illness, injury, accident and the like.
  • Natural: Weather extremes, including space weather, universe/planetary actions out of human control.
  • Man-Made: War, economic, civil, terrorism, social; including the failure of man-made structures and ideologies.
  • Metaphysical/Spiritual: Armageddon, Nostradamus, Mayan Calendar

All crises will have a Scope of Involvement:

  • Small: A few families or individuals to Local to your city, town or county
  • Medium: State to Regional
  • Large: National
  • X-Large: International or Global

All crises will have a Duration. Duration is the time from the point the crisis hits to the time recovery brings one back to a pre-crisis environment.

  • Short: Hours to 7 days
  • Medium: 7 days to 4 weeks
  • Long: 1 month to 2 years
  • X-Long: 2+ years

Hint: The Larger the Scope, the Longer the Duration

What do you need to prepare for?

This may seem like a simple question, however it is not. To make it as easy as possible will take a few steps. Make a list of what do you Feel you need to prepare for. Rank the items on this list in order of Your perceived urgency. This is your Possibility List.

Take this Possibility List and do a little research to determine what the scientific and educated guess’s indicate are the most likely to occur. This will be your Probability List. To assist with this research see “U.S. Risk Map Links” at

Now take the Possibility and Probability Lists and create your Crisis List. This is a combination of the two lists.
The Possibilities are what you are most concerned about, afraid of or losing sleep over.

The Probabilities are what science indicates are the chances or odds of your concerns occurring are.
Remember the Possibility that in the next 15 minutes a rather large asteroid will crash through your house, is real and valid. The Probability of this occurring is rather slim.

Considering this; if you have a Possibility that is keeping you up nights, yet is rather low on the Probability list, don’t just go with the Probability ranking, but do NOT place this Possibility in the number 1 slot of your combined Crisis List, rather rank it no higher than #2.

Your Crisis List is the moderation of your concerns and fears compared to educated/scientific projections.

Determine the Scope of Involvement and Duration

Next take this Crisis List and determine what the Scope of Involvement and Duration are likely to be.

Where is Everyone Usually?

Then make a list or calendar of your Family’s Activities and when they usually occur. What days/hours of the week do you grocery shop; go to school; go to work; play sports; go out for entertainment or other activities?

This is an important fact that most people overlook when they start Preparing for their Crisis List and overlooking this can be deadly.

Think about this. A crisis can occur at anytime of the day, any day of the week, in any given week of the month or any month of the year. This is why I choose to list this step before deciding on a “retreat” or “safe house” for sheltering during the duration of any particular crisis.

Odds are you will have to be mobile at some point (even for just a little time) during or immediately after the crisis.

The Crisis Retreat/Shelter

Now study your Crisis List and the possible scopes and durations and determine at least two (2) safe locations or retreats for your shelter during any of your identified crises. This will be your Crisis Retreat.

This can be your primary residence, a cabin or camp site in the woods or some other type of location that provides you and yours with the safest, most secure and holds the most life supporting needs to live out the duration of the crisis. This is where you will store or cache most of your preparedness items for your crisis, especially the long duration ones on your list.
  • The greater the distance each family/group member needs to travel to reach your Crisis Retreat, the greater the need to have more than one pre-planned route to reach the designated Crisis Retreat.
  • The more spread out the family/group members are likely to be, the greater the need for at least one if not two rendezvous spots and alternate communication signal are needed.
This communication signal is not something that just anyone can stumble upon and understand. It could be as simple as a symbol carved into a particular tree trunk located on the corner of a particular park, that any member of your family/group will need to pass to get to the retreat that will alert them that so-n-so has been through here, waited 10 minutes and went on. A good source to develop your own communication signals is the “Boy Scout Field Book” (not handbook, field book.

This Field Book is great for learning other good survival skills like compass and map reading, trapping and snares and the like). The sign for “Go Right” could be used as the “Johnny has been here and moved on” sign. When you have your drills, use colored dots or some other temporary sign that will not be around when the crisis actually hits. If anyone stops you and asks what you are doing; just say you are kind of on a scavenger hunt.

Needs and Acquire Lists

Review your Crisis List and determine what goods, skills and knowledge are needed to survive each crisis on the list with respect to its scope and duration. This is your Needs List.

Modify this Needs List so that any item, skill or knowledge that you Do Not have is listed first or on one side of this list and what you already possess is listed on last or on the other side.

Prioritize the items you lack in order of importance to your survival for each of your crises
. This is your Acquire List.

Budget, Budget, Budget

Examine your Budget. Be realistic and modify your budget so you have at least $25.00 each week to set aside to obtain the items on your Acquire List.

The Plans

Now you are ready to formulate a Plan for each crisis on your Crisis List. These plans will be the same basically, but will vary according to the crisis itself. Each plan will include your Acquire List goods, skills and knowledge items along with the building of your Documentation Book/Binder and Food Storage needs. (See “Preparing Your Emergency Documentation Book/Binder”

Your budget should account for each Plan and should include:
  • Documentation Book/Binder
  • Go-Bags
  • Food and Water Storage
  • Tools, Goods, Skills and Knowledge
  • Practice Drills

Go-Bags are First Remember that a crisis is may occur when you are Not at your Crisis Retreat. You will most likely be mobile at some point just to reach and or collect your family in your primary Crisis Retreat. The first things to budget and plan for are your Go-Bags or 72 Hour Bags or Bug-Out Bags. Yes plural. These are very important if for no other reason but to get you safely to your primary Retreat Location. They are also key to your survival if you must evacuate your primary Retreat Location.

All Go-Bags should provide for one or more people with three (3) days worth of the basic needs to human survival.

There are three (3) types of Go-Bags:
  • Individual: One for each person and pet in your household
  • Household: Large enough to cover three (3) days of minimum human survival needs for the normal number of people likely to be in your house at any given time or at the least a combined Go-Bag that covers your immediate family and pet members.
  • Vehicle: This covers the minimum human survival needs for three (3) days for the maximum number of people that can be in the vehicle at any given time.
Backpacks are the usual “bag” of choice; however this can be shoulder duffel, a doggie backpack or a rolling suitcase and the like. Whatever works for you and yours as long as they are able to be carried or dragged with the minimum amount of damage to the contents and with relative ease for the person that has to do the carrying.

Your Go-Bags are also where Protein Bars, MRE’s, dehydrated and Freeze Dried foods come into play. Along with water containers and purification tools and other multi-functional tools like the “Leatherman Tool” and “Swiss Army Knife”.

Food Storage is # 2 and On Going

Food storage includes water, medical, dental and hygiene needs during a crisis as well as actual food. All Food Storage requires an even Cool temperature with very little if any variance.
  • Dry
  • Bug and Rodent free or proof.
The two most common mistakes in Food Storage are:
  • Not rotating and utilizing your food stores during non-crisis times. IE: Stock Piling and forgetting.
  • Purchasing all of one type of food preservation technique. IE: Getting a “Food Survival Kit” that includes foods you do not normally eat or are all freeze dried or all canned or all dehydrated or all MRE’s.

Goods, Knowledge, Skills

  • Goods are all the tools and storage items from food, medicine, nails, hammers, sleeping bags, hunting, fishing, defense, lanterns, cooking and eating utensils and barter items – all the reusable and consumable Stuff and your “mental wellness” items like books, journals, guitar, harmonica and the like.
  • Knowledge is all of the intellectual know-how but not necessarily the application of this know-how or maybe one no longer has the physical ability to do the application of this know-how.
  • Skills are the practical application of the knowledge know-how.
Be sure you are honest and realistic when you determine what your family or group has and what is needed.

Practice Drills

I know of way too many “Preppers” that have a plan, have all this emergency stuff, but have never had a family or group crisis practice drill. To top it off they have rarely had a family/group “What If” game.

You do not see great sports teams that have not practiced either “play books”, the theory or knowledge (What If) and then not practiced this on the field – the practice drill which develops the skills behind the knowledge.

These great teams practice over and over again. I have watched coaches in practice purposefully have one player “miss his mark” so the play does not go as planned, just so the team has practice at improvising on the spur of the moment.

We all have office, school and home fire drills – we should all have regular Crisis Drills. We want to be prepared to think fast during a crisis and not loose precious seconds to the fog of panic, shock and confusion.

All the great sport teams, all the really prepared Preppers, practice regularly so they will Act and Win instead of React and make do or loose.

Immediately after a Crisis Occurs Quickly Determine the Following:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Clothing
  • Shelter
  • Illness or Injury needs
  • Defense
  • Bug-out or Stay Put
  • Basic Tools to achieve and maintain the above necessities to life

Prep On This letter is not to cover all the specific details for creating your own Crisis Plans, stocking your Go-Bags, making a Budget, determining what you have and what you need or where and how to stock your Retreat. Instead this letter is to help you organize yourself and strip away all the confusing “side tracks” so you can develop your own plan and ultimately achieve your Preparedness Goal.

If it is to be, it is up to me. William H. Johnsen

For all the detailed nitty-gritty stuff start with the references in this letter (see, they will lead you to other more detailed and crisis specific resources. Then tweak and refine to meet your Crisis List and implement your Preparedness Plan.

Check out the right side panel of this sit
e for links to the other Homesteading, Preparedness & Survival web sites, magazines and downloads.

From a 50 Something, soon to be rural homesteading, Prepper ;-}

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