There's no telling when Armageddon will occur, and there's yet to be a date scheduled for the zombie invasion. However, from natural disasters to potential shortages, events far more likely have taken over the news headlines, and it's time to pay attention and prepare.
However, many people have no idea where to start on the preparation journey. They may wonder, "Is it too late?" The short answer is, "Not yet."
Start today with these smart strategies for frugal prepping, and you'll make sure your family is ready for everyday emergencies and even worst-case scenarios.
What Are You Preparing For?Getting prepared begins with knowing what you should prepare for. If you live in Tornado Alley, it's more important to prepare a storm shelter equipped with essential survival supplies than it is to prepare for a much less likely earthquake. Your priorities will be determined by what you believe are the most likely threats that could affect you.
- What's the most likely natural disaster to occur in my area?
- What's the most probable extreme weather event to occur where I live?
- What's the most likely personal disaster to occur in my area? (Job loss, serious illness, and so forth)
- What are the most probable man-made disasters to occur in my area? (Power grid failure, gasoline shortage, terrorist attack, and so forth)
Examine Your Financial SituationHow much money do you have to spend on preparedness? It's possible to prep on a limited budget, but tracking down those bargains will take more time than whipping out a credit card. This isn't the time to get into debt; monthly credit card bills will only add to your stress if your funds are limited.
Instead, do what you can with what you have. Dollar stores, thrift stores, yard sales, and estate sales are your friends when prepping on a budget.
Food Storage Is a Primary GoalOne month is the minimum storage goal. Grocery store prices are rising, and containers are getting smaller, so start taking action now. Do a quick inventory of your pantry, and see what you already have that can be set aside toward your goal.
Add Non-Food ItemsBesides food, you'll need cleaning supplies, laundry soap, extra prescription medications, and the over-the-counter drugs and supplements you use most often. Your pets will also need their own food and supplies.
Keep track of what you usually use during a month and buy extras of those items. Again, you can pick up some great bargains at dollar stores and by utilizing store sales and coupons.
Water Is VitalCrises such as long-term drought, tainted water supplies, and a power grid failure that would disable city water treatment plants are all possibilities.
For storage purposes, store at least two gallons of water per person per day to cover cooking, bathing, laundry, and drinking. A family of four needs at least 56 gallons to meet their weekly needs.
Plan for Power OutagesWe know that parts of the U.S. power grid are aged and vulnerable and that outages affecting millions of people aren't uncommon. Even something as simple as high winds can cause downed power lines and outages that can take weeks to fix. Escalating power rates may also force households to make hard choices.
A home that's either too cold or too hot for survival can become dangerous. Plan now for how you would maintain a safe indoor temperature by possibly incorporating a generator and a better-weatherized home.
Health Is Another PriorityTaking health for granted in a time of easy access to hospitals, doctors, and pharmacies is easy. However, in a time of increased stress and turmoil and with the possibility of injuries and disease it's crucial to have a well-equipped first aid kit and a good first aid book, such as “The Survival Medicine Handbook” by Dr. Joseph Alton and Amy Alton. CPR and first aid classes are held across the country; check the Red Cross website for one near you. A wilderness first aid class will provide higher-level instruction specifically designed for medical emergencies in which help isn't on the way.
Stay FueledIf you have a garage or other safe storage place, it's wise to have a few fuel containers on hand. Gasoline has a shelf life of three to six months or more, depending on its ethanol content. Extend the shelf life by adding a fuel stabilizer, such as Stabil. Read the package instructions to use it correctly, and plan on rotating stored fuel.
A simple fuel rotation plan involves a few gas cans and a Sharpie. With the Sharpie, number each can No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, and so on. Fill cans No. 1 and No. 2 with gasoline and store them in a safe place, lined up in numerical order. On the first day of each month, empty the can at the front of the line into your vehicle, lawn mower, motorcycle, or other engine, refill it, and place it at the back of the line. Each month, on the first of the month, use the front gasoline can, fill it, and put it at the back of the line. This way you'll always have several gallons stored, and your fuel will be continually rotated.
Your Vehicle Is CrucialKeep your vehicle ready with regular maintenance in order to be prepared for an emergency evacuation. If vehicle maintenance is taxing your budget, try to set aside $50 each month specifically for those expenditures, or learn how to do basic maintenance yourself.
Inside your vehicles, store blankets and long-sleeved shirts. In the winter, these will keep you warm; during the summer, the blankets can provide shade and the shirts will protect you from the sun.
Another important item to include is bottled water in tightly capped containers. In cold-weather countries, leave some head space in each bottle to allow for freezing. This emergency water is your last-ditch, life-saving supply when absolutely nothing else is available.
Another necessity for your vehicle is cash, along with some change. Hide it somewhere in your vehicle—$50 to $100 in smaller bills. ATM machines will probably not be working during a power outage, so this precaution is extra smart. You'll have cash if you're stranded and need gas, food, a hotel, or other necessities. Remember where you've hidden it when it comes time to sell your car!
Finally, one more must-have is a paper road map. We've come to depend on GPS (Global Positioning System) apps such as Waze and Google Maps to navigate routes, but those can be unreliable. In an emergency, you may need to know multiple safe routes away from a dangerous scenario. When push comes to shove, nothing beats an old-school paper map. Teach your kids and grandkids how to use one, and you'll always have your own skilled navigator!
Have a Secondary Form of TransportationA sturdy, high-quality bicycle with either a small trailer or basket provides an alternative that doesn't require fuel and is an enjoyable way to stay in shape. If roads are blocked, the price of gasoline skyrockets, or your car becomes inoperable, you'll be glad that you have at least a bike to get to where you need to go.
Walking is another form of transportation that has stood the test of time over millennia!
Prepping doesn't need to be expensive or overly complicated. Start simple, working one step at a time, and soon you'll discover how much peace of mind comes with being prepared.