THE RELUCTANT PREPPER: One Woman’s Story

I don’t remember exactly when the “room” entered my night time thoughts.  It wasn’t exactly a dream…just a grumbling voice in my head saying…”prepare”.  Prepare for what, I wondered!  I tried to turn over, ignore the message, and grasp the illusive sleep I so desperately needed.  Each night the message returned in some form or another.  Often I would fall asleep immediately only to wake an hour later…thinking about how I was to prepare and for what.  Most of the time, sleep wasn’t on the program at all, and my brain would begin going ninety miles an hour the minute my head hit the pillow.  During the day, my deranged thoughts wandered to the “room” while I was cooking, while I was cleaning, while I was showering, or while I was reading and trying to relax.  I began to appreciate what Noah probably went through when God first mentioned an ark to him!

The “room” would finally have a name and purpose.  I would create a Disaster Recovery Room (DRR)! I saw the smile cross my husband’s face…which said, “Humor her…this too will pass!”

So began my journey!  I measured and made my plan.  I tore out the computer desk, cleared the junk from the cabinets, donated my fabric and craft items, and cleaned the floor.   I now had a blank slate!  I slept through the night for the first time in months!

Starting a journal helped me establish some basic guidelines.  We would stay with our home in an emergency…not plan to move to another safe area.  I wanted my entire immediate family, two daughters, one son-in-law, three grandchildren and two great grandchildren (all ten of them) here with
us in the event of a major disaster.  Buying supplies for ten people would be expensive, and since money was a bit tight, I would need to do a little at a time.  I made list on top of lists…for everything from food to medical to maintenance to reentry into the new world.  The plan was to first start with enough food, water and supplies for two weeks, expanding that to a 90 day supply, then to one year.

Before making any purchases, I scoured our home for usable items.  At some point we had purchased an air bed.  That was moved to the DRR along with some basic tools, the bread machine, a spare coffee pot, and the dehydrator.Hours were spent researching survival supplies on the internet and it was about this time that I first heard the term “prepper”.  There was a name for people like me!  I discovered there were lots of  people like myself who were worried about our country and its future.  I bought a couple of survival books and studied them from front to back.  I already had many books on gardening and crafting.  Those were moved to the DRR along with other books on using herbs and healing naturally.   A book called “Strategic Relocation” by Joel Scousen was most interesting. Even though relocating was not in my plan, his book gave me a wealth of information regarding nuclear targets, military targets, and number of tornadoes per state.

Another book I purchased was “The Doom and Bloom” medical book.  This book covers basic first aid and wellness in a time when you might not be able to get traditional medical care from a physician.  Both books can be purchased through Amazon.com.

My first purchases for the DRR were items for the “bug out bags” (BOBs) for my husband and myself.  Assuming that any reason for leaving our home would more than likely be on a temporary basis and only for two to three days, I packed each bag with a tooth brush and paste, disposable razor, water bottle, flashlight, rain poncho, fire starter, first aid kit, insect spray, basic shampoo and soap, towel, wash cloth, three pairs of clean underwear, and one outfit of clean clothing.  Our children are to provide their own BOBs.

A generator came next and was our biggest expense ($800) Sam’s Club.  Along with the generator, we bought three heavy duty five gallon gasoline containers.  Once those were filled, we stored them in a small storage barn on our property.  My husband mixed in an additive to extend the life of the fuel. I then purchased two shelf units, 48x18x72 at Lowes ($79 each) and placed those on the two outside (north and west) walls of my room.  One shelf would be for water and the other for fixed supplies…such as pillows, blankets, first aid kits, lanterns, candles, oil lamps, heat source, paper plates, cups, and plastic silverware.    The cabinets, which are along the east wall, would be for our medication and any “other the counter” drugs we purchased.   A second purchase was for three additional shelves 36x14x72. ($48 each) Those fit nicely in the “L” created by the first two shelves, and were on casters so they could be moved easily. The corner, created by the shelves along the walls, was perfect for stacking packages of toilet tissue.

My last shelf purchase (our second biggest expense) was for canned food storage unit with drop down capability so the cans can be rotated easily. ($250) (Reliance Home Shelves).  Spending $500 on shelving probably seems like an elaborate and maybe unnecessary expense.  However, having “good bones” is the basis for successful storage.  If your shelves sag and it is difficult to rotate your stock, you are less likely to keep up with the project.  If you can find used or inexpensive shelving that works for you, that’s great!  Just remember…good bones are important!

The sporting goods store became my favorite haunt!  The clerks began to recognize me when I went into the store!  Look for sales and coupons.  I bought a tent that sleeps six ($99) and sleeping bags ($39) each.  All items were purchased at half price.  My youngest daughter also has a tent that sleeps 6 which we could also use in an emergency.  Eventually I ordered four army cots over the internet at ($24) each.  The army cots along with the air bed, two conventional beds and two sofas in the house would ensure each family member had a place to sleep.

Food collection is interesting and challenging.  Remember, buy what you eat!  There are millions of web sites selling MRE (Meals Ready to Eat), but they are rather pricey.  I did find one company (Lindon Farms) who would auto ship a bucket of food each month for ($59).  Each bucket provides 60 meals.  Buying canned foods is a good alternative and will add some variety.  Be sure to check expiration dates.  If an item does not have a date, don’t buy it.  In addition, use labels to mark each item so the expiration date clearly shows and remember…nothing perishable goes in the DRR without that date!  It is convenient to pick up a few extra cans each week while grocery shopping.  (Sam’s Club) sells many varieties by the case.  However, keep in mind that the entire case will expire at the same time…a disadvantage if you have a small family, or don’t use canned goods often.  The advantage of the MRE’s is that they are good for 25 years…no rotating required!

Water was the next challenge.  Over time, I purchased fifty gallons of drinking water, a few gallons each week.  (Meijers Grocery Store) usually has Ice Mountain gallons, 6 for $5 dollars.  Realizing that we would need much more water, I looked for 55 gallon storage barrels.  I found that they cost from $80 to $100.  Wow!  That could break the bank for sure!

One day I noticed several large white containers outside a local business.  I called to see if they were for sale and after some negotiating, was able to purchase all three for $50.  Don’t be afraid to ask about things.  All they can do is say no!  These containers had been used to transport maple syrup so they were food grade which is important for water storage. They also hold a whopping 275 gallons of water! We put one of the containers under the barn downspout to catch rain water for the garden, and put one in the garage and filled it.  The third container was sold to our postal carrier (who is also a “Prepper”) for…you guessed it…$50…making my net investment zero.  I then purchased a Berkey Water Filtration System ($250).  We can even filter the swimming pool water if we need additional clean water.

Setting up a first aid area is important.  Getting health care during a disaster could prove very difficult.  I  purchased basic bandages, band aids, Neosporin, aspirin, ice bags, hot water bottle and heating pad.  Gradually as I grocery shop, I have added, allergy medicine, cosmetic items, and basic first aid supplies. I plan to order a kit for stitching up wounds.

Since staying healthy is critical during and after a disaster, my husband and I begun a nutrition plan and have eliminated all junk food from the house.  We are eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising more…generally trying to eat healthy and build more stamina.

 

One additional area in my DRR contains items for bartering or trading.  I purchased some liquor, tampons, baby items, small children’s entertainment items, sewing kits, soap, tooth brushes and paste and items people will desperately need during a disaster.  Those are kept separate from our usable
items and will be used to trade for things we need but forgot to buy.  I also purchased coloring books, crayons, markers, and books to keep our great grandchildren occupied.

I estimate I have spent approximately $4,000 over the course of this past year.  Believe me it is worth every penny for a good night’s sleep!  Remember, be inventive and creative…think outside the box!

 

This is an archive of: http://americanpreppersnetwork.com/2015/08/reluctant-prepper-one-womans-story.html