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Prep 101

Prepping 101.
by PJ

**Before you start, try taking the Prepper Quiz to assess your knowledge!**

Let’s face it there is no shortage of information about prepping out there in the world.  Books have been written, movies and television shows have been made, companies which specialize in prepper supplies are thriving and there certainly is a proliferation of websites and forums which ooze advice on just about every topic imaginable.  Go ahead and type in “best SHTF gun” or “food storage” into google or YouTube and you’ll have 20 hours of reading ahead of you.  The point I’m trying to make is that this site should just be considered one source of information if you are just starting your journey as a prepper.  The information I am about to relay to you is based on experienced and should solely be considered my opinion.  If there was such thing as a P.H.D in prep-ology I would probably consider myself someone who got their undergraduate a few years ago, with a decent amount of experience in the field.  Please use my experiences/information as building blocks which hopefully contribute to success in your prepper journey.  What you truly should realize is at the end of the day you have to make your own decisions on the best way to prepare yourself and loved ones.

If you are someone who is at the starting line or just a few miles into the journey of prepping you could definitely benefit from reading the basic information provided in the list below.  Additionally I would ask if you read this article and have more useful information to provide please do so in the comment boxes.  This list is not all inclusive but will help you to understand some of the basic concepts and methodologies involved in prepping.  You will notice that I avoid certain topics (e.g. alternative energy, farming, canning, precious metals).  These are topics that I have dabbled in but do not feel qualified enough to give advice on.  Consider this “Prep 101” if you will. With that said let us begin.

So you want to start preparing yourself and family for uncertain times in this world but you have no idea where to start.  I’ll go ahead and give you a brief high level view of many of the topics you will begin to explore on your prepper journey.   After reading this article move on to Prep Tips for further advice, after that watch this website daily for more information on where to buy prep supplies and links to other well written articles which will keep you informed.

Prepper:  Congratulations this is now you even if you haven’t yet spent a dime.  You have made the mental choice to do something after waking up and realizing the world isn’t what you thought it once was.  You feel the need to somehow become more self reliant in order to improve your chances of success when faced of any number of possible situations which would lead to societal upheaval.  Preppers are sometimes referred to as survivalists even though the terms do not share the exact same definition.

Water:  You can live 3 days without water and then you perish.  Of all the items in the prepper inventory water ranks at the top of the list of “must haves.”  Water is tough to store because volume/weight/shelf life are your enemy.  Your typical one gallon container of water in a jug could probably be stored for at least a year in the basement, if kept off of the concrete floor to prevent leaching.  You can also buy larger storage containers and add chemicals to them to increase shelf life for up to 5 years, but at around 7lbs per gallon those things can get very heavy and take up quite a bit of space.

The average person needs at least a gallon of water per day (more if you include hygenie) so quickly the need for clean water becomes apparent in a survival situation.  Besides having a modest amount of water storage on hand it is advisable to find ways to filter water, many systems like the Berkey are great and affordable ways to accomplish this task.  When looking for filter systems try to find out exactly what they claim to filter (the bad stuff), how many gallons the filters are good for, and how user friendly the systems themselves are.

Food:  Yet another prepper staple is the food storage supply.  This is a huge topic with many variables so I will try to glaze over it but still give you the basics that you need to know.  First of all and probably most important is no matter what type of food you store (dehydrated, freeze dried, canned, MRE, cans from the local store) it needs to be food that you are willing to eat.  In a best case scenario you would have a stockpile of food that you continue to rotate slowly through once the shelf life comes to an end for a certain item.  Why buy 50 cans of SPAM if you have no intention to ever eat the stuff?  You’ll spend money on items that you will eventually just throw away which amounts to setting fire to money or flushing it down the toilet.  There are lots of food storage options and the retail outlets that sell products like food buckets, dehydrated/freeze dried meals, grains and legumes can go into detail much better than I ever could about the specifics.

I will tell you that your storage should be diverse in type and more importantly you should know exactly how much you have on hand to feed your family for various time periods.  By diverse I mean nobody wants to eat the same 4 meals over and over again for a year, you would eventually reach food fatigue.  By knowing exactly what you have on hand I am referring to knowing exactly how many calories you have to serve your family, and subsequently how long that will last you (based on a 2,000 Cal/day diet).  Avoid buying items based on “number of servings” as serving size could vary depending on the manufacturer.  At the end of the day if you can look at your food storage supply and say that you have enough food in a decent variety to feed 2,000 calories to each person in your family for 30/60/90 days or even 1 year,  you will have succeeded in doing more than 99% of the average population.

Guns and Ammo:  This is probably one of the most popular topics out there, with 50 different opinions out of 50 different posts on any given forum you find out there in cyberspace.  The most important thing you need to know about guns and ammo is this: one gun that you know how to use well is better than having a safe full of guns that you couldn’t shoot and hit a barn with at 100 yards.  Knowing the capabilities and limitations of your gun(s) are very important as well as knowing how to employ them under various conditions and how to get them up and running again once something (e.g. jam, doublefeed, misfire) goes wrong.  So many people have a pistol with a box of 50 rounds next to their bed that they have only shot once or maybe never even shot at all.  What a shame.  In a best case scenario you could have an assortment of guns (rifle, pistol, shotgun) of various calibers which could be used under different circumstances.  Maybe the pistol is used for concealed carry provided you are legally allowed to do that.  The shotgun makes a great home defense weapon and the rifle could be used for hunting or just plinking at the range.

One thought about purchasing ammo for prepping, it is almost always cheaper to buy in bulk (500 to 1000 rounds per order).  If you plan on shooting a lot to stay fresh buying in bulk is certainly the best way to go.  Shop around online before settling on a retailer, quite often there can be a pretty large price disparity between retailers on the exact same item.  Finally, I can’t stress enough that becoming familiar with any guns that you own is of utmost importance because this relates directly to being able to use and store them safely.

Medical Supplies:  So you have a first aid kit in the back of your pantry?  That’s not enough my friend, it’s time to step up your prepper game.  The type of medical supplies you have on hand can greatly vary in scope and size, what you need to know is that you should familiarize yourself with all of the items that you have on hand in case you have to employ them.  The standard bandaid/burn gel/alcohol wipe kit might be good for very minor situations but what about deep lacerations or a broken bone?  Do you have a way to stop an arterial bleed (think deep red blood pumping out) to keep your loved one alive long enough to get them to a hospital?  How about a splint to use in order to stabilize a compound fracture?  What about Quik Clot to stuff into a gunshot wound? Think about those scenarios for a minute and how they might occur.  They don’t have to happen during some kind of zombie attack or Russian invasion, they could happen while chopping wood or while out shooting at the range.  It is very important to have a good stash of medical supplies on hand and like I said you should know how to use them.  What good is it to have a field surgical kit with IV bags and needles if you have no idea how to employ them?  Become familiar with what you can and identify the closest medical treatment facilities in your area if for some reason medical help could not come to you.  Trying to perform surgery on your loved one (because you watched a Youtube “how to” vid) will most likely end up hurting more than helping.

Hygiene Supplies:  In a situation where you were not able to wash your hands for quite some time how long do you think it would be until you got sick?  We never stop having to use the bathroom and that requires close contact with our nether regions.  Hygiene products are hugely underrated when it comes to prepping.  You can’t sanitize your hands with gunpowder, nor can you wipe your butt with freeze dried food.  If you are a woman how long would your current supply of “feminine napkins” last if you were not able to buy more?  I hate to speculate as to what you would have to use as a substitute.  Lest we bring up the grossest thought of all, going weeks without brushing ones teeth!  It doesn’t take much at all to stock up on a few extra toothbrushes and a couple cases of toothpaste.  Think about all of the hygiene products you use on a daily basis and then think about what life would be like without them.  Things would not only get inconvenient but you would be putting yourself at serious risk of getting sick or like in the toothpaste example, exposing yourself to painful dental complications.  I tallied how much toilet paper my family used in one month and it was over 30 rolls, your results may vary.  I only include that to emphasize the point that the extra pack of 8 rolls you have in the closet quite simply is not enough.

Grid Down Supplies:  If you are looking for advice on how to go off the grid with solar or wind power you are looking in the wrong place, remember this is Prep 101!  I will address a more plausible scenario here, for example a grid down situation for a period of a few hours to a few days caused by an ice storm or hurricane.  Yes folks I realize the threats related to the aftermath of EMPs (Electromagnetic Pulse) or Solar Flares (Coronal Mass Ejection) are real and the subsequent carnage could be catastrophic but I’d rather leave that for another day.  Right now we are talking the basics like having ways to light your home and stay warm when the power is out or ways to cook/power the essentials (refrigerator, sump pump, home alarm).

Right off the top of my head I can think of three things I would want to have for a grid down situation: solar/hand crank weather radio, candles/flashlights, and propane.  You could use to solar radio to charge your cell phone and keep current on what’s going on in the news.  Candles and flashlights are self-explanatory although I will add as a caveat that you should be careful lighting your home up at night if you are in an extended grid down situation where less than desirable types could be roaming the area looking for signs that people are home.  Finally propone is great because you can use it to “power” multiple devices all which greatly increase survivability during a power outage.  Indoor friendly propone heaters are great to stay warm with IF USED PROPERLY (propane can be super dangerous indoors  especially if there is no ventilation).  Propane generators can power devices like your sump pump or fridge to keep the food from spoiling, and you can obviously use propane to cook with.  It stores easier and has a longer shelf life than gasoline which makes it much more desirable.  Finally it would probably be much easier to go down to the store and pick up a couple cans of propane versus trying to get gasoline during a situation where the public was trying to prepare for a possible disaster.

BugOut Supplies:  BugOut supplies should not be confused with BugOut location.  Bugging Out is a term which describes getting the heck out of your home, most likely in a very quick fashion.  A BugOut location would optimally be some remote retreat nestled up in the hills with access to natural water, easily defendable and with a large area to grow crops.  Did I mentioned it would already be stockpiled with 5 years worth of food, have underground tanks filled with gasoline and the most sophisticated security system known to man.  This would be optimal and most of us (myself included) don’t have anything close to that type of situation going on.

Being able to conduct a quick and efficient Bug Out could save your life, so it is important to take the steps necessary to prepare yourself and family for this type of situation.  If a local Sheriff knocked on your door right at this moment and told you that you had 1 hour to evacuate your home, what would you do?  What would you take and what would you leave behind?  Do your cars even have enough fuel to take you a couple hundred miles away from your home if necessary?  How would you bring food and water along, or do you have any at all?  These are all very important questions which have to be addressed.  If you don’t think this type of situation is even possible think about all of the folks who had to evacuate out west due to the fast moving wildfires.  Or recently those who had to evacuate because of rising flood waters associated with Hurricane Isaac.  Don’t live out west or near the coast, all it takes is one overturned tanker truck/train filled with chemicals near your area and you’ll be forced to evacuate as well.

So what should the plan be?  How about having all of your BugOut supplies consolidated in one location, say a shelving unit bought from a local hardware store.  In your BugOut kit you have all of the essentials packed which will help sustain you and your family for a minimum of three days.  Food, water, changes of clothes, hygiene supplies, medical kits, cash, backups to computer hard drives, essential documents etc.  The list goes on and on but you should balance the importance of what you take with the feasibility of moving all that stuff.  Pack as if you might never be able to return to your home again (flood/wildfire) and then decide what is important to you.  Large backpacks combined with organized Tuff Boxes or Storage containers are great.  Once you have everything you think you need, try loading in up into your vehicle to make sure it all fits.  Realistically you should be able to snag everything from your BugOut stash and be able to leave your home within 20 minutes or less (easily).

Again please note this list is not meant to be all inclusive but serve as a starting point for those who are just starting their prepper journey.  If you have more to add please comment below or send me a note and I’ll try to get it up on the site.  Thanks!

 

 

 

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  1. Deborah

    Rolling with the punches has been and will ctinonue to be a necessary fact of life if we truly expect to get through all of the many punches life consistently throws at us. Poor health, financial woes, unsteady relationships, work-related stress, divorce, concern about the future; all of the aforementioned and then some have a way of creeping into our lives, knocking us upside the head until we feel as though we just can’t take it any longer.But somehow we do!Those of us who have the strength and capacity, the mental and physical fortitude to make it through all of the many trials and tribulations that life sends our way will eventually come to terms (some more, some less so) with the sad fact that, well that’s just life! How we cope with the problems that come our way is what’s important. Speaking for myself only, I have learned that the school of hard knocks has a way of educating me in a way that no formal education can ever begin to compare. But having almost graduated from that same school I have also learned that sometimes, amidst all the dark clouds and despair, through those deepest, darkest moments of sadness and solitude, all the tragedies that befall me have a way of forging me, strengthening me, and, at times even turning my life around for the better. It’s often very difficult to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, especially when one is being swallowed by the deep abyss of tragedy and despair. But if one holds tight enough onto the reins, ctinonues methodically towards a positive direction and resolution, then the light at the end of the tunnel will usually and gradually begin to show, and you will slowly begin to reel less and less from the punches being thrown your way.Hope I didn’t come across as too sad, but I’m fighting the battle of my own life right now, and just writing what I know to be true is comforting to my own soul.Great subject, SW. Thanks!

    1. PJ

      Deborah,

      Thanks for your comment, and many of us have been through the school of hard knocks. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, the key is to never…ever…give up.

      PJ

  2. Lee

    Great basics and a way to open the conversation. We have much to learn from our elders. I credit my grandma, who lived thru the Depression, for my well stocked pantry. Something I have always had. Much to learn, and I am stocking much more of the basics. I am also well aware of the medical side, as an RN. As a camper,, I am used to ‘living without’ but feel that also gives me an advantage. I am also a gardener, and am looking forward to learning how to can this season.

    1. PJ

      Lee

      For someone who is just getting started into prepping it looks like you have quite a few things going for you already. Skills and proper mindset are two great advantages to have, more so than a pantry full of food.

  3. Leslie

    Just beginning and am finding myself almost immobile when it comes to deciding on the food situation. Do I get prepared meals such as Mountain House, Wise, etc. which seem very high in sodium and very low in calories. Or, do I go the ingredients route knowing that I may be without power for a long time and preparing meals from scratch would take a lot of water, fuel and time. A combination of the two seems to make some sense, and I have begun to stock up on canned goods I know are nutritous and easy, but am spending huge amounts of time trying to muddle through the various food companies trying to decide what kind and how much. I feel like I need to be a mathematician and a dietician all rolled into one. Any simple solutions?

    1. PJ

      Leslie,

      In the beginning it can be a bit like stumbling around in the dark. You are correct that a variety of food storage solutions is probably better than simply buying MREs or only Freeze Dried Food. Yet even if you could buy 5 years worth of food (and enough complimentary supplies), if T-SHTF lasted long enough you’d need ways to cultivate more food and most definitely the support system of a community to thrive.

      Keep your goals small, prioritize and work in chunks. Let’s say you want to store canned food, MRE’s or pouch meals, and some #10 cans of freeze dried food. Work toward a 1 month supply but make sure to not get tunnel vision…don’t leave out the other supplies (water, medical etc). More importantly while building your 1 month supply read some books or take a few courses, experiment and learn some survival related SKILLS which you might find relevant to your situation.

      No question is stupid, so keep asking them! Here’s a good article about food storage if you are interested: Food Storage Tips For Preppers

  4. Ryan

    Now I know I’m new to this but the bare minimum of water is 1 liter a day. This is why I put about 5 liters-6 litters. If you’re good at hunting. (I hunt). You usually get the rest of your water from the meat and ect of the animal you hunted.

  5. William Smith

    ORMOC TYPHOON / STORM STORY

    This is the story of my experience during Typhoon Haiyan, known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines that hit November 8, 2013. The story is a combination diary and tips on what to do during a storm / disaster. I have collected many good ideas from others on the Internet about survival / camping. Now it is my turn to share my experiences, for you to learn from me. I am retired, and have lived in the Philippines for over five years. I purchased a Philippine house, and added some improvements to bring it closer to American standards.

    We have lots of typhoons in the Philippines. Usually it means three days of rain, not really a storm, just rain. They shutdown of the ferry service because of high seas, and school is closed. I do not know why they close the schools, as no one takes a ferry to school. I only found out the day before storm, that this storm would be different. So I did buy extra batteries. The weather service and government got complaints because of lack of warning. Although in the Philippines, I do not know how much good it would have done. Most people lack the resources, to leave town in a car, buy extra supplies, and other actions. Actually evacuation would not be possible, as people live on an island and there are only a few ferries.

    The storm arrived in the morning. It was much better in daylight. It would have been very scary at night.The storm had 315 km sustained winds and 380 km gusts, which is 228 mph gusts. WOW!!

    We stayed in the doorway of computer room away from the ceiling fans in living room and kitchen which were bouncing. In the attic rain was being blown in under the tin roof at the roof peak. My seven year old son was scared. I was just thinking dollar signs to replace it all. The walls of the house were concrete so I was not afraid.

    As the eye of the storm was passing over, the wind stopped. I walked 100 feet to the neighbor’s house. I told them we still have part two ahead. I think each part was two hours. How many people have walked in the eye of the strongest storm to ever touch land!! The price of that was a third of my roof and other damage. Part two of the storm was much worse!! Almost no damage was done in part one of the storm. Part two of the storm did the damage to our house and most other houses. Water was rising around the house. I did not know when it would stop rising. We moved electronics and papers to higher shelves in the house. The roof over the attic was gone so that was not available.

    We have an all concrete shed with a flat concrete roof / balcony, and stairs to the top. The flat roof is about 12 feet by 20 feet in size It is used for small parties. We put two backpacking tents on top of the shed. The shed roof is about 12 feet above the floor of the house. The water went up till it was about a foot from getting into the house. Our neighbors did get about 6 inches of water in their house from flooding. We also had life jackets for all, in tents and a long rope available. The roof / balcony also has a very strong steel pipe railing. So we might survive more than 12 feet of water above the floor of our house. The rain and wind stopped in the late afternoon and the water also stopped rising.

    I was not worried about food and water. I had two 55 gallon drums full of water, 4 – 5 gallon containers of water, and 5 – 6 liter sealed containers of distilled water, and water filters to purify three thousand gallons of water. A stream is walking distance from our house, to use the water filter. A key advantage of having food and water was that I did not need to worry about finding food and water. Peace of mind is great. Plus I did not need to spend time in a line getting food and water.

    For food, I had enough freeze dried food in cans to last five months. We also had 100 pounds of rice in water proof containers. I had a case and a half of military MREs ( meals ready to eat ). They taste fine. The advantage of MRE is in saving time preparing a meal, when there are lots and lots of other things to do, after the storm. These are the MRE entries only from MRE Star on the Internet. They are not a full MRE which has a dessert, and coffee. We ate MREs for the week after the flood. By end of week I was tired of macaroni or rice meals. Since the stove did work, I could have prepared more elaborate meals. I did not have the time to do that.

    For preparation have lots of paper plates, plastic cups, plastic silverware, trash bags, and perhaps tarps. We did not have enough. Washing dishes is work, and time is at a premium. Very important things like cleaning out debris, fixing the roof, and drying items soaked by the storm.

    The kitchen stove survived with no damage at all. The fuel is propane, in a canister like used for an RV camper. Each canister lasts about a month. We have two canisters and swap when one is empty, so should always have a month supply. The canisters are outside the house in a concrete box, so no damage to the tanks.

    One very useful freeze dried food is freeze dried eggs. They taste like the real thing. I also had freeze dried onions and cheddar cheese, so I could make an omelet. The freeze dried eggs are easy to cook. Just add water and salt and cook like scrambled eggs. The brand is Ova Easy Whole Egg Crystals from honeyville.com.

    We slept in the tents, ( two Eureka Apex II tents ) on top of the shed, for many nights, (actually, a month until I got back with a generator from Cebu). It is about 12 feet about the level of the floor of my house. Because it is up high, you get a nice breeze, so it is cool enough to sleep after 10 pm. Since there was no electric, there were no fans and no AC. I discovered that my older tent leaked, so I needed to use a tarp over it when it rained. It is only 10 years old and not used a lot. I was unhappy about that.

    The roof was about a third gone with many other spots leaking. The kitchen and the computer room were the only completely dry places. Every time it rain there was a half inch of water on the floor of the kitchen that needed to be mopped up. The kitchen was lower so water flowed to there even with no leaks over the kitchen. It rains almost every day in the Philippines! The house is on a slab with a tile floor. The water table does not allow a basement. Eventually we got tarps over the entire roof. Someday it will be replaced with a real roof.

    We saw lots of helicopters and prop cargo planes. I saw more helicopters in two weeks than I saw in five years living here.

    I need to burn trash, as no longer have trash pickup. There was a vacant lot next door and some gasoline took care of the trash.

    I get tired of room temperature water to drink. Tang is the one drink I like best at room temp. The refrigerator takes 3 hours to feel, even a little cold. I would guess 6 hours to cool to operating temperature. It usually takes overnight to make ice. Therefore to make ice the refrigerator would need to run for 14 hours to make ice. The generator only runs for 6 to 8 hours a day. I am not going to run generator for 14 hours just to make ice! (After we got electric back, I discovered refrigerator was low on Freon and had it repaired. That was why it took so long to cool down. )

    The storm had 315 km sustained winds, and 380 km gusts, which is 228 mph gusts. WOW!!

    I had lots of preparation, but not prepared for 228 mph winds.

    I have been camping for 20 years. Much of what is called survival gear is just camping gear. So I had lots of gear for an emergency. I had tents, flashlights, stoves, sleeping bags, fire making gear, rain gear, etc. The best quote I heard was that preparation and or a survival kit

    “Preparation will turn a Survival Situation into just Camping”.

    The difference is that my camping in the past has been for a weekend. This situation has been over a month, and still going.

    I had started ordering freeze dried peas from America. You cannot get good peas here. My food ordering had expanded some toward a survivalist / prepper scale. When the storm hit I figured I had canned freeze dried food for three people for five months. Plus I had a hundred pounds of rice in two sealed containers. We would get very tired of rice and beans but we would not starve. If you really want to plan for five months on being on your own, you would need more canisters of propane. So for five months we would need five canisters of propane, to cook all that rice and beans. Also need all the spices, sugar, salt, Crisco cooking oil, etc. That you need to make the freeze dried food more enjoyable.

    The power went out with the storm. Electric power was restored March 7, 2014, so power off for four months. The city water also stopped for several days. After a couple days we sent our worker ( labor is cheap in the Philippines ) with a 5 gallon container to get water at a nearby well. We filtered all the water for drinking and cooking through a backpacking water filter. The filter takes out everything, even viruses! The downside is that it is not fast. It takes 10 minutes to pump 6 liters of water. One filter can filter a thousand gallons. I had several replacement filter cartridges, so could filter thousands of gallons of water. If you ever get one it is the First Need Deluxe water filter by General Ecology. Get the deluxe model, it costs more but the ease of use is much better and you will appreciate the improvements after you pump 10 gallons of water. Also it is very useful to have a gallon container with a valve at the bottom to dispense water. Water was filtered and the put in a six quart insulated water container with a push water dispenser at the bottom. Much better than pouring a gallon container to fill a glass. Even better would be if you have a shelf over the sink, to place the water container.

    If you plan to store supplies for a disaster, you need a tough cabinet with a domed top to shed water. If a flat top on cabinet, the water will soak through eventually. Good to have some supplies stored in separate shed / building separate from the house. If house collapses or burns your supplies are not lost also. Problem with this is that now you need duplicate or triplicate of some camping / survival items, so the cost increases. For still more security have a cache buried off of your property. A different location is good for two reasons. One is, if the government decides that you are a threat. Then going home is not a good idea. Two, home maybe destroyed or inaccessible due to flooding or brush fire hazard, or evacuation. Put cache of supplies in location that should not have same dangers as your home. If your house is in a low area put the cache at a higher elevation.

    The supplies in town that disappeared were Chlorox bleach, disinfectant soaps, tarps, fresh meat, and roofing supplies. Gasoline costs more than before and there is a several hour wait to get your gas at the station. Carpenters are also unavailable! First the carpenters are working repairing the building material supplier’s buildings (I was told that the largest building supply / hardware store (which is out of town) was totally destroyed). Second they will work on the politically connected, the mayor and congressman. Third the really rich people in town. Fourth they may get to me. It will be a very long time before proper repairs are done! There is no electricity so no ice, no refrigeration, and no fresh meat, in the entire city. People go to bed early now, since there is no electricity. Also important to note that taxi service ( motorcycles with a sidecar like structure able to hold three Americans plus driver ) was not available for three days after the storm. The taxi drivers were all home taking care of their homes. I would expect similar problems with other workers in a disaster that effects almost everyone. So maybe only half of the doctors, nurses, and workers even arrive at your local hospital. In our case very few people were injured. So the hospitals were not overrun.

    Washing clothes without electric is tough! I used to change T-shirts 6 times a day to keep cool. Now I still change them 6 times a day, but I do not wash them. I just hang them to dry and reuse them later the same day or the next. At last count I had 42 colored T-Shirts.

    Years ago, (I am 61 now) I used to work 30 minutes in very hot weather and take a 10 minute break. Now I work 10 minutes and take a 30 minute break. Without electric it is hard to cool off as no fan or AC. So I will take a cold shower, several times a day. It is my only way of cooling off. So keep temperature and physical ability in mind. If you are not young and strong, it will be much tougher.

    Amazingly, few people were killed by the storm in Ormoc! The reported death toll in Ormoc was 68! The population of the city is listed as 127,000. In Tacloban the death toll was 10,000 or more. Still the storm warning did not make clear the strength and severity of this storm. So people were not as prepared, as they could have been. I calculated that with the population of about 127,000 that your odds of dying were about 1 in 2000. So the unprepared did survive. However, preparations will make the event easier to endure, fewer worries, and make it like camping.

    Sunday November 17,( nine days after storm ) the tap water is running slowing in the evening. We are filling lots of water containers. It saves lots of work, walking to get water with a 5 gallon container. November 24, water is flowing even better ( sixteen days after storm ). I replaced the old water filters under kitchen sink. ( I had inline water filters installed when I bought the house ) Water pressure is now high enough in the evening to push water through the fresh water filter in the sink water line. I no longer have to hand pump filter to get drinking water!!

    On Monday November 18, ( ten days after storm ) I got into bank with no wait and no with withdrawal limit! By “Philippine Standards” I am a big customer at the bank. The bank manager and the regional bank manager know me by name. It is nice to be a big customer and know the bank manager! That would never happen in the USA! I would be lucky if the teller recognized me. Note – should keep more cash at home, in car, in cache, and lots of small bills. Even in America, an ATM will run out of money. That is if the electric is still on!

    Wednesday Nov 20 ( twelve days after storm) went shopping and to get cell phones charged. In town people had small generators running charging cell phones for 20 pesos ( 50 cents ) a charge. I would recommend an excellent quality solar cell panel and charger connected to a marine 12 volt battery designed for a trolling motor. The big battery will hold enough power to charge cell phone, flashlights, and radios. It would hold enough power to last through a rainy day or two. You would need a larger solar cell panel to power it. Still a hurricane or in the USA a snow storm could produce cloudy weather for several days. A universal adapter goes from the big 12 volt battery to whatever you need charged. We have purchased a universal adapter to charge cell phone from car cigarette lighter. Access to a wireless internet connection would also be very useful. Seven months after the storm I do not have a landline phone. I have purchased a wireless device the size of a cell phone that connects to the internet, and then via wifi to my computer. The access is paid by a prepaid card. It is not fast for videos but I can get news.

    In Tacloban, the storm damage was much worse. They had a storm surge, so they had flooding in addition to the wind. Thousands were killed. The damage was more severe. They did not have any food or water. There was also looting and robbery. The people were desperate. There was much less of that here. However, one friend of mine, here in Ormoc, whose house was severely damaged, then had it looted while he was living at his parents!

    I am somewhat prepared for civil unrest. I have two shotguns, one is American made. I also have a 9 mm Glock pistol with six 31 round magazines. The shotgun has a flashlight and a laser on it. I also have lots of ammo. So if worse comes to worse, I can fight back. I also have three bullet proof vests, one for each of us. When sleeping in the tent, I slept next to the loaded shotgun, and had the Glock pistol at my feet. Expensive homes in the Philippines are made for security! All rich people have a two meter high concrete wall around the house, with broken glass on the top. All the windows have a steel grate to prevent entry ( sure would not pass USA fire code, for safety). All homes have several dogs. I expect that all the rich people also have loaded guns in the house. I also have a dog, a Rottweiler. Most Philippine people are very afraid of large dogs. That is very good for me. I would not have the mess of a dead body to clean up. One good thing is that the legal system here allows killing robbers. In the USA, the legal problems of shooting someone, could ruin you.

    Most of the foreigners have left the city. Most were renting, so no house to protect, and house had no roof. I would leave also except that we own the house. Some foreigners went to Cebu, some to Manila, and some back to their home country. Ormoc will be a mess for a long time. There is no reason for them to stay.

    Wednesday November 27, I went to birthday party at neighbors, and ate spaghetti. That was a mistake! I got diarrhea. With no rest because of the heat and the diarrhea, I was not doing well. I needed to get out of the heat to recover. I knew of no hotels in town with generators and air conditioners, that had rooms available. So I decided to go to Cebu by myself. Relatives stayed at the house with my wife and boy and dog to guard the house. Thursday November 28, I took ferry to Cebu. There was a long wait in ferry waiting area with no fans. Toward evening it was getting dark in the room as no lights ( no problem for me as I had a battery powered headlamp in my pocket) At least the AC on ferry was OK. At 9 pm I was finally in a hotel room with an AC. I ate all my meals in the hotel room the next day. I never knew if I would need to make a rush trip to the bathroom.

    Saturday November 30 ( 20 days after storm), I bought a 6500 watt 13 hp, gasoline generator. It is supposed to be big enough to run an air conditioner. The generator cost 41, 000 pesos about $ 1000 dollars. It is Navigator brand generator made in China. I could not find any known brands, like Honda or Yamaha. Note – phone book Yellow Pages are not used much in the Philippines. Cebu has a population of over a million. The Yellow Pages phone directory is only about 1 /4 inch ( one fourth inch not not a misprint)! A city the same size in America would have a Yellow Pages two inches thick!

    On December 4, I took the 10 pm slow ferry, to Ormoc, as other ferry will not handle a 200 pound generator. I arrived in Ormoc around 5 am.

    Friday December 6 ( 28 days after storm), I started generator at 8 pm. I shut it off at 1 AM as neighbors complained about noise. The next two nights I shut generator off at 10 PM so neighbors could sleep. I moved the generator to the far corner of the yard and made a fiberglass lean-to against the wall to keep it dry. The distance away reduces the noise a lot. I normally run it from 5 pm to 10:30 pm. I run the washing machine till about 7 pm and then turn off washing machine and run the AC till 10:30 pm. I use about 1000 pesos ( $22.53 ) of gasoline a day. The cost of gasoline for running a generator adds up. If you get a generator check fuel usage and plan to have enough fuel on had to run it. Now that I have the generator I plan to build a sound insulated shed for it. Generator shed will be built after house is repaired.

    I have seen some relief agencies around town. The Korean Emergency Response team had two tents setup in a parking lot. A group of 10 young, 20 to 25 year old men and women from various countries were together cutting down a tree with a chain saw. I was told that the USA Navy was helping rebuild a school. Norwegian Red Cross, had two women in town. They were staying at the best hotel in town. There was a private individual from Manila that was giving out a truck load of supplies. Supplies were a 2 kilo bag of rice, cans of sardines, and bottled water. They delivered twice to the people on our street. I was told the US Navy had a carrier group off of Tacloban delivering aid.

    Electricity was finally restored in the evening on March 7, 2014! Power had been out for four months! The roof was correctly replaced by May 15, 2014.

    So that is my story. For me it was mostly an inconvenience and financial expense.
    Hopefully it will be useful to you in planning for an emergency.

    1. Ilya

      This is the BEST thing I have read on any forum! Not to take anything away from PJ or any of you other great folks. But William here lived through the real deal. No theory, no fantasy, just brass tacks. Thank you, William, so very much. I hope you see this reply. PJ, maybe this should be a featured article so everyone can read this.

    2. sahi

      thank you 4 sharing your story!

      it felt like watching a disaster movie…Wow.

      we are way too much not prepared, in our convenient life style.

      i think i need to start preparing…something…

  6. Lola

    An outstanding description of a truly tough situation, well-handled by Mr. Smith. I’ve been concerned about becoming more prepared for weather caused emergencies, since I live in north central FL, and know that the overwhelming heat and humidity will be hard on my 60 year old body. This article was very informative.

  7. david

    I have kids and grandkids, that think anything like this will so I have to bye everything, im on ssi and im 59 years of age is there any way i could go cheaper?

    1. PJ

      David

      Always ways to be thrifty, even via bartering for items that you think you might not need. Try to stack away a few bucks from every paycheck, even if it’s $5 or $10. It all adds up.

  8. Shelle

    Id like to know what you suggest about pets. We have 2 large dogs & an 18 yr old cat. Only have a cat carrier and one small truck for 2 people.

  9. Shelle

    I bought booze and cheap cigarettes to barter with! I too am on a fixed income so I can’t buy all I want to but I buy for my house and my sons buy for their households. We are 700 miles apart tho. I still find myself wanting to buy for them but trust I raised my sons to take care of their own. If TSHF, I may never see them again.

  10. oldsarge

    I like your short list and how you explain it simply for newbies. One gal water per day…must have water or die in three days…best to have one gun your are good with vs. a bunch of guns etc. good advice, well done. It’s hard to prep if you don’t have a lot of money but you gave some basic, useful guidelines.

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