*Goiní Early American*
Maybe a friend persuaded you, maybe the events of the past year opened your eyes, or maybe the power went off in the middle of a raging blizzard, or perhaps you were at ground zero when a hurricane decided to rearrange your city. Whatever the reason you have decided to join the world of survivalists or more mildly put emergency preparedness. No matter what you want to call it, being prepared for whatever situation might rear its ugly head just makes sense. Now that you have decided to set yourself ahead of 90% of the population if disaster strikes, you need the equipment to help you do it. I know folks who can literally survive the end of the world as we know it in the same level of comfort as they now enjoy. To accomplish that task requires mountains of equipment, gear and food designed for long term storage. Make no mistake about it, to reach that level of preparedness takes years of dedication and investments.
For a newcomer to the world of survivalism, this can appear to be a hopeless task. When you start thinking about all of that stuff you see in magazines, preparedness shows, or just thinking about that mental list of what you need to survive on a day to day basis; itís all too easy to say that thereís no way that a person can afford all of that equipment. Well you can afford it, but it takes time and smart investments. But, you might say, I donít want to have to wait for years before I can live through a disaster. Well thereís good news, you donít have to scrimp and save for years before you can start having the confidence to survive; go early American.
I can hear the responses now; huh, how will that old stuff work in todayís technical world? Actually itís simple, those low tech things that worked for our ancestors have worked for hundreds of years and look how far weíve come. OK so if that stuff worked so good, uh exactly what is "that stuff"?
That stuff is all the equipment that can keep you alive and kicking under an awful lot of conditions that would have unprepared people dying. You may not be living in the lap of luxury, and you will have to do a lot more physical work, but you will be alive. Now letís break all of "that stuff" down into categories so you can have an idea of where to start.
The first category is actually two categories rolled into one. Actually we are assuming that you are not living in a cave and have a place to live. So the basic areas that you need to cover are something to put in your belly and a way to keep warm. Letís break this category down into food and heat. Food is easy to stockpile. Every time that you get groceries, simply throw in a few extra non perishable and/or canned items and store them in a cool and dry place and before you know it; you will have enough extra food for a week, then a month, then three, then six then a year. Later when you have a nice pantry full of food (donít forget to rotate it out by using it) you can advance to storing freeze-dried food, MREís and other "survival" foods. Water is an easy item to store if you have the room; there are articles here on different methods of storing water for long-term storage, so thereís another category that you can scratch off of your list.
Next, to keep you warm go early American again and get a GOOD quality woodstove. There are many, many choices when it comes to wood stoves i.e.: airtight or not, catalyst equipped or not, cast iron or steel, size, appearance, fan equipped or not, and many more. I would suggest getting one with a flat top that gets hot enough to cook on. Personally I prefer a model called the Defiant Encore built by Vermont Castings. A word of advice, a good wood stove is not cheap, but it will be your first investment in staying alive. There are cheaper models, but as the old saying goes, "you get what you pay for". Also donít forget the possibility of a used woodstove, just have a competent person thoroughly check it out for you. Probably the best way to choose a woodstove is to get in contact with an authorized dealer. They will ask you a bazillion questions, but they are actually helping you narrow down your choices. In addition, if you are the least bit unsure of the proper way to install your woodstove, have it professionally installed; as with firearms you canít be too safe where fire in your house is concerned. Improperly installed woodstoves are the number one cause of heating related house fires in the US. Of course you will either have to buy firewood or go out and get your own. To gather your own firewood you will need a good quality (notice a trend here) chainsaw, a splitting maul, a couple of splitting wedges, an axe, a pair of steel toe boots, some method of hearing protection, eye protection, gloves, and of course a way of hauling your wood back home. Of course if you want to rely on somebody for your heat (or your landlord wonít let you have a woodburner) you can choose one of the new gas fired, vent free stoves or fireplaces.
Sort of a related category to heating is lighting. Again our ancestors can show us the way. Oil lamps and lanterns have been, and still are used for lighting. One word here that applies to everything, get the best quality equipment that you can afford, remember your life could depend on it. You can begin with oil lamps that start out for less that $30 (remember that wordÖ..quality) that can also double as "mood lighting" if you are so inclined. Coleman lanterns are world renowned for their reliability but require a few accessories such as extra mantels, and a specialized fuel (a gallon lasts a LONG time). And itís a good idea to keep a few extra parts on hand such as a pump, and generator. Coleman also makes a great cook stove that runs on the same fuel (they also make lanterns and stoves that run on propane, if thatís your choice). Once again a word of caution is necessary, Coleman fuel is extremely flammable and should be stored outside if possible. Refueling should be done outside and only when the appliance is cold.
Well there you have it, a way to start storing food and water, a way to stay warm and a way to light your way. As you start branching out into other categories of emergency preparedness, such as gardening, tools, fresh meat storage, canning, and many others, remember the early American way. Itís not high-tech or glitzy, ití simply a time proven way to get started at a reasonable price.
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