When panic seems to seize everyone around you, keep calm. There are plenty of other ways to prepare for surviving tough times than buying toilet paper!
HOW TO PREPARE FOR TOUGH TIMES
Hollywood loves giving us post-apocalyptic stories, and for the first time, I feel like I’m witnessing the kind of panic I’ve only ever seen on a screen.
COVID-19 is scaring the living daylights out of people and not knowing what to do, folks went out and stockpiled on toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
There’s a better way to prepare!
The first step involves keeping a cool head.
Although it’s not much fun thinking about it, preparing for the worst-case scenario will put us in a much better place.
Strength and security come from self-sufficiency, but first, we need to make sure we’re ready for an emergency. We will need to…
SURVIVING TOUGH TIMES VIDEO
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RELATED: Preparing for a Food Shortage
1. ASSEMBLE AN AT-HOME EMERGENCY KIT
The first thing you should do is to make sure you have everything you could possibly need at home to withstand an emergency.
Whether it’s for getting through a two-week home quarantine, a power outage, or being trapped in your home because Old Man Winter went berzerk, if you have most of the things on this list, you’re all set.
This is a complete list I have drawn from The Ultimate Survival Manual by Rich Johnson.
I have the Canadian edition, but the very first thing he highlights on his list of over 300 survival tips is to have all of these things on hand where you can find them.
By the way, I don’t have a perfect score when it comes to this list, so if you don’t either, at least we know what we actually need.
Toilet paper is useful, but we don’t need it.
Here’s what we should have:
A three-day supply of non-perishable food per person. Think rice, beans, grains, dehydrated foods and canned goods. This is where practicing old-fashioned skills like canning and preserving really come in handy!
A small stove with propane or other fuel.
Kitchen accessories and cooking utensils.
3.75 litres (a gallon) of water per person per day for three days.
A manual can opener.
Water purification tablets.
Bleach. If you don't have water purification tablets, you can use bleach to sterilize drinking water.
Portable battery-operated radio with extra batteries.
A flashlight with extra batteries.
Non-electrical phone charger ie. battery-operated, hand-cranked, or solar-powered.
Basic toolkit with a wrench, screwdriver and hammer.
First aid kit and a manual.
Sanitization and hygiene items (including toilet paper, soap, wet wipes and towels).
Infant items (formula, diapers, bottles, etc.)
Signal mirror and whistle.
Extra clothing for each person (jacket, coat, pants, and a long-sleeved shirt).
Hat, mittens, scarf, or whatever is specific to your climate for each person.
Hiking or athletic shoes and socks.
Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person.
Special-needs items (prescription meds, glasses, contact lens solution, hearing aid batteries, etc).
Photocopies of ID and credit cards
Cash in small denominations.
A selection of plastic bags.
Ground cloth or tarp.
Powdered, chlorinated lime to treat waste and deter insects.
Strike-anywhere matches in a waterproof container.
In his survival guide, Johnson also encourages everyone to keep a grab-and-go emergency bag at work and another in the car.
You never know when disaster will strike, which is why we should…
2. BE FIRST-AID READY
Everyone should have a first aid kit hidden somewhere in the bathroom and another in the car.
Most kits offer everything you need, minus painkillers, antibacterial ointments and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Having an aloe vera plant or aloe vera gel in your home also comes in handy. It’s great for minor cuts and scrapes, sunburns and bug bites. You might want to pick up a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, too.
While applying ointments and adhesive bandages are pretty straightforward, first aid can quickly get complicated if you don’t know what you’re doing.
It’s wise to keep a first aid manual on hand for when you need it. Better yet, sign up for a first aid course and get certified.
If you are unable to take a course, you can take a crash course on YouTube. St John Ambulance has a bunch of valuable videos that just might help you save someone’s life if you ever find yourself in a life and death situation:
3. GROW YOUR OWN FOOD
Now that we’ve covered the basics of emergency preparation, we can move onto how we can become more self-sufficient.
Since we need to eat to live, it only makes sense for us to start taking charge of this vital area.
If there ever comes a time where grocery stores shut down, you will be a lot less stressed if you have veggies growing in your garden, whether it be in backyard beds or in containers on the balcony.
Even if you don’t have space to grow sufficient amounts of produce, you can get a headstart by joining a community garden.
Practicing this skill and making improvements year over year will only help you if things ever go downhill, which is what Steve Solomon writes about in his invaluable book, Gardening When it Counts. I highly recommend it.
Knowing how to garden and preserve food will give you something valuable to hand down to the next generation.
By the way, growing your own sprouts is a quick and easy way to keep you in greens until your garden starts producing.
RELATED: Bringing back the victory garden
IT’S MORE THAN JUST GARDENING
RELATED: Filling the larder
Growing your own food goes beyond gardening.
If your area permits it, other things you might consider doing is raising chickens and maybe even keeping bees.
Some folks are lucky enough to have livestock that supplies them with milk and meat.
If you can’t garden, you can support local farmers and buy large quantities of in-season produce to preserve for later use.
When summer’s bounty starts flooding the farmer’s markets, that’s the time to buy bushels of tomatoes, beans and other good things to eat that you can freeze, ferment, dehydrate and can.
If you’re unable to grow your own food, get to know the local farmers and support them. Grocery stores might close, but farmers never stop working.
4. GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOURS
I spent almost a decade living in apartments where I barely spoke to my neighbours, let alone knew their names. Isn’t that sad?
As our world gets more connected, we move farther apart from the people living right next door.
There used to be a time when running out of something like sugar or eggs wasn’t a big deal. All you had to do was knock on your neighbour’s door and borrow a cup or two.
When you get to know your neighbours, you expand your support network.
Good neighbours look out for each other and help one another out. They keep an eye on your place when you’re away. If their garden overfloweth, they offer to share their bounty. Need to borrow something? They might have what you need!
The very best way to have good neighbours is to be one yourself and if you don’t know your neighbours, it starts with you. Bake a quick batch of apple turnovers and go on over to say hello.
5. EXPAND YOUR SURVIVAL SKILLS
I can garden and preserve food. Building a fire? No problem. I can also pitch a tent and can identify a few edible plants.
While we might not need these skills right now, you never know when they might come in handy.
This is another reason why it’s good to be on friendly terms with your neighbours. They might have skills you don’t that you can call upon when needed.
Whether you study these skills by reading books or watching YouTube, pick one to work on. At least, to start.
Specializing in something is never a bad move, especially when people know that they can come to you. Here are some areas to consider learning about:
Fishing is more than a popular sport. It’s a means to put dinner on the table, assuming you live near semi-clean waters.
Valued for its meditative qualities, it’s a great way to relax and get the freshest possible fish. Just make sure you know what to do with your catch, too!
De-scaling and filleting will be important when you’re busy surviving tough times.
You don’t need to have a gun or a crossbow to hunt, although they’re certainly useful. If you know how to set traps, you have a way of capturing dinner.
I have never hunted in my life, but my mother started hunting over a decade ago and her freezer is full of venison and bear. She’s completely self-sufficient in this area right down to butchering the animals all on her own.
Guess where I’m heading when times get tough?
In case you never got around to starting a garden, there are still ways to feed yourself.
For the most part, plant lore has been lost on the majority of people, which is a shame, because there’s free food all around us! It’s just a matter of knowing what to look for and exercising caution.
Dandelion greens grow in abundance as long as the grass is green.
Stinging nettle, purslane and lambsquarters are other pesky weeds that can give you your fix of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
You can also learn how to forage for mushrooms, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, stay away. You don’t want to poison yourself!
Once you start foraging, herbalism is a natural next step.
When you start learning about how wild plants can be used for food, you also get a glimpse into their medicinal properties.
When it comes down to surviving tough times, things like prescription medications and painkillers might be hard to come by.
Every at-home emergency kit should include cash, but what if no one wants your dirty money? Besides, money isn’t worth anything apart from the value its been imparted with.
To survive tough times, having something you can barter with will get you far.
Bartering is an ancient skill and it’s one that has fallen out of favour.
Shucks, most North Americans don’t even know how to haggle, let alone try to exchange goods or services for something we want.
When we set out to barter, we need to make sure we have something that holds appeal to the seller.
In tough times, some of the goods that are most desirable include fuel, food rations, alcohol, cigarettes and ammunition.
If you know a thing or two about any of the survival skills listed above, your services may also be of value.
One of the Instagram accounts I follow just posted about how she bartered some of her home-raised beef for many dozens of canning jars. Now that’s what I’m talking about!
HOW WILL YOU PREPARE FOR THE WORST?
There’s nothing easy about simple living, but when tough times crop up, things seem a lot easier all of a sudden.
I’m reminded of the Aesop fable about the ant and the grasshopper. The ant diligently works all summer, storing food for the winter while the grasshopper plays. When winter comes, the ant can rest easy while the grasshopper panics.
But now I want to hear from you! How are you preparing for tough times? What would you add to the list? I hope you’ll let me know in the comments below!
A SHOPPING LIST TO SURVIVE TOUGH TIMES
Gardening When It Counts by Steve Solomon
The Ultimate Survival Manual by Rich Johnson
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Love and gratitude,