Welcome to Prepping 101: Real World Prepping for Real World Problems. Before we get too far, let’s start with the very basics. Like the beginning of any new class, there are introductions to be made. I’m Rick Dembroski, your host in this series that I hope will get you on the path to self-security and self-reliance in the event that you are confronted with a disaster-type scenario.
I’m betting that your first question is something along the lines of “Who is this guy?” I am a veteran of nearly 10 years service in the U.S. Air Force. I’m a service-connected disabled vet who was honorably discharged in 2002. I had the honor of serving in what is the backbone of the U.S. Air Force, the Civil Engineers.
The wartime operations of the USAF Civil Engineers covers a wide range of missions, from force beddown, to bomb damage assessment, to the day-to-day operations of a forward operating air base. To explain 10 years of field problems and training in a paragraph is impossible, but in short terms, we learned to assess, evaluate and repair buildings, infrastructure, and basic services like roads, runways, fuel and power distribution systems after natural disasters or after some sort of attack, be it a bomb, missile, terrorist, or nuclear, biological or chemical incident.
The other large element was what we called “expedient methods,” where it’s just what it sounds like, get things that were broken back to operating safely as soon as possible using whatever was available. I believe the Patron Saint of ALL military engineers is MacGuyver. So you can begin to see that I’m very skilled in the way of prepping. It was my job for nearly 10 years and I have continued that direction in my current career.
What makes my experience different from anyone else?
I hear that a lot when I talk about prepping in general. Here it is, short and sweet: Like the title says, “Real World Prepping For Real World Problems.” If you are looking for zombie apocalypse prepping or some anti government prepping info, please go watch Walking Dead or National Geographic: Doomsday Preppers. Those shows are completely unrealistic and will only help you to 1) look like a nut job, or 2) cause you to spend huge amounts of money on things you will never need.
So if you are ready to get educated and prepared, read on.
What is a Prepper?
“Prepper.” It’s a word that instantly conjures up a thousand images ranging from people with poor hygiene, a whiskey still in the front yard, and on the fringe of society, to the rugged survivalist with the latest in gadgets and gear, usually armed to the teeth. What is fact and what is fiction? Is “Prepping” just paranoia, or is it an insurance policy that you hope you’ll never need?
You’re just paranoid. The Government will help us in an emergency, that’s their job.
This phrase is repeated over and over around lunch rooms in the work places of North America. It’s a phrase that eases some people’s minds, but makes me cringe. Recent history has shown that governments mean well and want to protect and provide for their citizens, but are often overwhelmed by the shear magnitude and chaos of emergency situations.
This is not the fault of some magnanimous government official in a secret bunker not wanting to help the citizenry. It’s just what I like to call the “Oh Shit Factor.” Things can get out of control quickly in emergency situations, especially when there isn’t a plan already in place that can account for the entire affected population. Which brings us back to the point…
Why should I prep?
Katrina, Sandy, Ike, Wilma, Andrew, Ivan…These aren’t the names of your neighbors. These are the six most deadly and destructive storms since 1992. Their combined total cost in damages is over $313 BILLION dollars. The loss of human life in these top six storms is over 2,500, not to mention the countless injured. In almost every case the combined forces of the federal, state, and local emergency response services were overloaded. Again, the “Oh Shit Factor” in full effect. The staggering numbers are hard to fully grasp. Also take into consideration that each of these hit the United States, a fully developed country with many resources, the latest in Doppler radar, early warning systems, and fully trained responders who knew the storms were coming days in advance.
You have my attention, but where do I start and for what do I prepare?
The first thing to do is simple: don’t panic. Beginning this process can be overwhelming, but it won’t be if you break the task down into smaller pieces. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the United States and Get Prepared in Canada can guide you in planning and laying out a basic framework for preparedness, which will help you to navigate the many variables and factors to consider in the process of “prepping.” Size of family, type of climate, and potential emergencies for your region are just a few of these factors to take into consideration.
I encourage anyone who is even semi-interested in disaster preparedness to read the information provided on these websites for yourself. Be sure to include both governmental and nongovernmental entities when you research your plan. You are the person most affected by your planning or lack of planning, so do the research.
Starting small, piece by piece, item by item
So, you’ve decided to be a Prepper. You may ask yourself ,”What do I need and how of much do I need?” My personal philosophy that has helped me in my mission to be self-prepared without going broke is simple: Make a list and shop around. Chose your priority items and focus on finding those first.
Military surplus stores are a great source of gear, and may put you in touch with like-minded people. Big name sporting goods stores and outdoor recreation shops are also great sources, but be sure to look in the clearance and sale sections first. They are often a virtual gold mine full of last year’s models and discontinued items at reduced costs. I personally use these stores to see what gear actually looks like, and to try it on. It’s the best time to make a final decision on products and save money in the process.
Using these techniques you can begin to effectively and practically build your disaster preparedness kit. I know this seems like a lot of information, and it is, but don’t worry, we will start slowly and go through the process with you.
Tune in next week when we cover Prepping Basics on a Budget, and introduce a relatively inexpensive tool that not many people know about.
Be sure to ask any questions you might have in the comments below so I know what you’re really interested in.
(Featured Image Courtesy: Nola.com)