As preppers, or survivalists if you will, most of us are prepared for grid down/shtf events of various durations, ranging from several days to a year or more. Some of us have even put our training and prepping into practice during what have been essentially short term events. We have bullets, beans and bandages, water and the means to purify more, and possibly a stock of first aid/medical supplies far beyond a first aid kit. What happens though if a disaster such as a massive EMP event leading to a grid down, a massive earthquake or a financial crisis, causes problems that go beyond a year…..a disaster which not only cripples the government, but which negates the ability to aid the populace in a timely manner if at all? How long will your supplies last if you really have to dig into them? A major injury, friends and relatives showing up with their kids and no guns or other equipment, little food and wearing the clothes they were planning on wearing to the beach. All these will put a tremendous strain on your supplies and equipment……And it’s late September……….and there IS NO WAY you and your wife and two kids, alone, can adequately defend your farm/ranchette/retreat! You will have to have help.
After the initial shock of a shtf event, there will be a tremendous die off of people from all walks of life and from all strata of society. There will be multiple reasons for this, but it WILL happen. Preppers and survivalists will probably be able to weather this initial storm and ride it out, especially if they are rural, but “down the road “a piece,” with no government help forthcoming, many, many urban dwellers will perish due to a total lack of skills and or preparedness, having been taken care of for years if not generations, and those that remain just might be mean, vicious animals, ones that have lived off other people and the system for years. But I digress…….
Once things have settled down, so to speak, and the preppers and survivalists have begun walking the walk, they can start using the skills and supplies they have so carefully acquired and assembled over the years. They will probably be able to survive for at least a year while waiting for society to return to some semblance of normalcy, but what if this doesn’t happen? Food is going to run out, fuels will be in short supply if available at all, things are going to break and wear out, kids will outgrow shoes and clothes and on and on……If society as we know it is ever reduced to the level it was in the early 20th century, as would happen in a grid down event which interrupts electricity and in turn literally every aspect of our life, even preppers and survivalists are going to be hard pressed to cope. Most are NOT prepared to start a permanent “new life.” They might be prepared to live through hard times, but I will be willing to bet most aren’t in a position to go far beyond a year. Beyond that time, when they are reduced to literally “living off the land,” it will be a whole new ball game, and chances are many will succumb and be part of the die off!
It seems that nearly all postings and blogs offer essentially the same advice on retreats and bug out/bug in locations: Food, water, shelter, medical, & security. All well and good, but there is more, much more, that will be required in the long term. Regardless of the romanticism associated with some of the available books on the market, very few of us will have a retreat, bug out location or even a primary residence that has EVERYTHING we will need. This “retreat” being occupied by friends and acquaintances consisting of a doctor, a nurse, an engineer, three former combat experienced soldiers, a farmer and a veterinarian, ten or so like minded friends that have brought “stuff” with them, an armored house, unlimited guns and ammo and 15,000 gallons of gas/diesel in underground tanks, along with an artesian well located on a hill behind the house but 80’ higher in elevation. This is all romantic but not realistic!
I am a prepper/survivalist, and have been since BEFORE the days of Mel Tappan and Kurt Saxon. I have been prepping for years, and I am confident in my abilities and equipment, but I feel I still lack in some areas. I am going to lay out a list of many of the “long term” items my wife and I have acquired, and while it is probably not complete, I hope it will get many people thinking and considering. My wife and I are yard/garage sale fanatics, and many of the items we have came from garage and yard sales, at much less than retail or even discount prices, so we didn’t break the bank. The items I am most proud of are a stainless Big Berkey Water filter with four elements, never used, $5.00. The lady I bought it from said “You must really like coffee……..yup. Three backpacking water filters, total cost of less than $10.00, a military Spec Forces back pack, $5.00, and two lightweight Down sleeping bags, new, $2.00 each. I’m not going to cover what I consider to be the basics, things any prepper should already have, and I’m not covering gas powered equipment. Remember, gas will run out, the gas powered equipment has either broken down or been put away…. we’re talking a long term here.
Everyone should have an axe, and I do, too – about 15 of them to be exact. Single and double bit, full size and cruiser, general use/splitting and felling axes. There are enough of them to allow anyone at my place to grab one and lend a hand. Anyone who has ever used an axe to any degree knows they can and do wear out: handles break, the heads can be chipped or broken and they do get lost! Because they can be great barter items, too many are just right. Same with hatchets, I have about a dozen of various type, wood, composite and metal handles and don’t forget to have enough files to keep things sharp, and a splitting maul or two, along with wedges and hammers. Wood splitting, something that will quickly come back into vogue is much easier with these items. Shovels and hoes of all sizes and types with both glass and wood handles…how are you going to plant a survival garden without gardening tools? And while folding shovels, military and back packing types, have their place, they are a poor substitute for a full size sharp pointed shovel and a pick! Rakes and pitch forks? And don’t forget leather gloves! This summer alone, working in my garden and cutting, splitting and stacking wood I went through 3 or 4 pairs of good quality leather work gloves and a couple of pair of cotton gloves. You CANNOT have too many! Chains, cables, straps and a power pull or two (come alongs) will make handling logs much easier.
Other items one should try and obtain: Single and two man buck saws. Working logs is difficult with a chain saw and other modern implements, multiply the difficulty, and danger, by a factor of 5, and you will get an idea of what might be involved with the manual process. Cutting trees for firewood and poles is labor intensive, and while I don’t doubt it can be done with just an axe, it is not something I would like to do. I can’t imagine building a cabin or other building with just an axe, at least not in a reasonable amount of time, and I don’t think the results would be aesthetically pleasing and maybe not very serviceable. Most of us don’t have the skills of our fore fathers…..Wait till you have to build your first outhouse from scratch! Speaking of which, lime or other deodorizing and disinfecting powders? And a good selection of manual/hand powered carpentry tools will be indispensible: A brace(hand drill) and several bits, hand saws, (several, fairly inexpensive at present and they will get dull, sharpening them is something for experts), hammers and nails, lots of them in sizes up to spike size!
I have several propane and liquid fueled lanterns, lots of bottled gas and probably 200 mantles, but they will not last forever. Good to have and great barter items. Additionally, I have 15 kerosene lanterns of various sizes, many spare chimneys and feet of assorted wicks. The oil might run out, I have gallons, but the lanterns can be fueled with a variety of natural oils. And then there are candles….we have around 200 pounds of them, all shapes and sizes, and with the spare lantern chimneys we have, they can make great backup light sources…..Every one of the candles, and the candle making kit and the bag after bag of wicks, came from yard sales. And we never get rid of toilet paper or paper towel tubes, they make excellent candle molds. Flashlights, batteries and bulbs are great to have, but their life is finite. Even so, I have many spare bulbs, batteries and tubes. LED lights are the new rage, with good reason, and will outlast standard flashlights by a factor of 10.
Sewing kits and thread are other items we have. Miles of thread of all colors, untold needles of all sizes, three awls with spare needles and waxed thread, plus a couple of rolls of nylon string, 5,000 foot rolls. And we have lots of scissors. We should be able to patch about anything that gets ripped, and worn out items will be used for patch materials. If we can’t stitch it, we have rolls of duct tape. Rope of various sizes and types…paracord is great but I feel actual ropes can do a better job in many cases. How about 1000’ of 5/8” hemp, traded for some MRE’s? Rolls of assorted sizes of wire, mechanics and clothesline types, will have a multitude of uses. Steel traps of all sizes and snares and snare wire, which are truly multi use items which work well for different types of animals. Snow shoes of different types, a bee keepers suit with related equipment, and I don’t keep bees.
Containers for water, barrels and bottles, save those empty two liter soda bottles…….can you imagine the worth of a gallon of clean water in a shtf scenario? Contaminated water will be a killer, and someone with clean water can be wealthy…. While there are creeks and streams nearby, and I have filters, remember, travelling to and from could be dangerous. This is why I have a 2000 gallon cistern, but it is filled from a deep well, electric pump of course. I am wired up to run the pump with my generator, and I would hoard gas for the generator that would make the pump run! An hour will fill the cistern, use less than a pint of gas and I will have water on site! How about hoses and irrigation pipe, tubing and hardware? Drip irrigation might be a life saver. And I know it has been covered many times, but obtain canning supplies and learn to can and store foods. Collect as many lids, flats and jars as possible! They will be in short supply and tough to obtain or replace in hard times.
Do you have specialty clothes? Not just everyday wear, but clothes, gloves and mittens for extreme cold and all weather in between, rain, snow, winds? The same goes for boots. While your particular area might not be brutally cold, sitting in an observation post for several hours in chilly weather might make you wish for extreme cold weather clothes! What do I mean observation post? You are making arrangements for security, aren’t you? If not, put out a sign indicating what you have, offering it for sale, and make the most money you can before you and yours are killed for your “stash!” If you are in a position to survive, you had better be making arrangements to protect what you have! Speaking of security, you are going to need fence wire/barbed wire for protection of your place from predators, two and four legged. And chicken or nylon mesh fencing for the birds you will be raising. This list could go on and on, and it is highly unlikely it would ever be complete. What I hope to accomplish is to get preppers and survivalist to look beyond the immediate future, to see the big picture and realize that preps need to be made for more than a week, a month, or even a year! If you are living in a rural area, many of these items might be on hand and storing them will hopefully not be a big problem. If you have a retreat, these items should already be in place, stored and ready. You probably won’t have the space to haul them with you in the event the bubble bursts. Speed might be the order of the day, and weight and bulk will be problematic. Urban preppers: Gather as many items as you can and store them, and start thinking very seriously about a cache!
Above all, do as much as you can to get and stay ready!