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Disaster preparedness--What are you preparing for?

Any discussion about preparedness will naturally lead to the question, “Prepare for what?” We can't possibly get prepared if we don't know what it is we are getting prepared for. There are thousands of reasons that Americans are “prepping”. Some should make you concerned, and others should just make you laugh.

Here is a list of just a few things people prepare for:

  • Hurricanes
  • Earthquake
  • Tornadoes
  • Zombie apocalypse
  • Flooding
  • Severe weather
  • Drought
  • The world ending in 2012
  • Volcano eruption
  • Disease outbreak or plague
  • Giant meteorite
  • Unemployment/financial disaster
  • Alien invasion
  • Civil disorder and riots
  • Nuclear plant failure (Chernobyl event) or other nuclear disaster
  • Terrorism
  • Fire
  • Tsunami
  • Government action against citizens
  • Random acts of violence against yourself or a family member
  • Stock market crash
  • Severe economic depression
  • War (conventional, chemical, biological, or nuclear)

Let's notice a few things about this list. First, there should be a couple items you can dismiss as ridiculous... you did find a couple, right? Second, there should be several disasters that, while very real, won't affect the area where you live. Lastly, we can ignore a few others because, while very possible, there is no realistic way to prepare for them (a giant meteorite comes to mind).

Now look at the remaining scenarios on your own personal list. The vast majority of them should have this in common: If you have food, water, shelter, protection, and skills, you'll do just fine, so rather than preparing for specific scenarios, you can be generally prepared for the most likely events.

Our list: Our primary area of concern isn't a possibility, it's a certainty. The total economic collapse of the American economy is approaching, delayed only by the very things that got us here in the first place (unchecked government spending, Federal Reserve manipulation, and truckloads of printed paper money). It's only a matter of time until the house of cards collapses and we enter The Greater Depression.

This Greater Depression may lead to civil unrest, riots, and war, and will certainly lead to increased crime as starving Americans do whatever it takes to ensure their next meal.

Our approach: If we knew that the Greater Depression would only last, say, ten years, then we could just stockpile supplies like most preppers, but that isn't likely. At the beginning of the Great Depression the economy was far stronger than it is now, and the average American family had today's equivalent of $40,000 in savings. Even with those savings and a fundamentally sound economic model, it took ten years to recover. The underlying economic figures are exponentially worse today, and the average family has debt, not savings. By all indications, we could be in this one for a very long time.

Financial constraints and limits on the shelf life of many foods prevent us from storing 25 or more years of supplies, so we have chosen a different approach. Rather than try to store endless supplies, we are reducing our dependence on those supplies. Planting a large orchard and garden and learning to can food reduces the need for stored food. Installing a hand well pump and cooking with a sun oven or rocket stove eliminates the need for stored water and reduces the need for a generator and fuel. By only owning high quality well made tools, we reduce the need to store extras. You get the idea. We are changing our lifestyle to make it more sustainable and self sufficient.

Survive for months Survive indefinitely

There are two great things about this method. First, we don't have to pick a time limit, “well, I'm prepared for six years but if the disaster lasts longer than that, I'm toast”. Second, if we're wrong, and that event never happens, all we have done is reduced our living expenses, and that's always a good thing!

If every prepper just stockpiles “stuff”, in twenty years America will be full of spoiled food, outdated generators and radios, unused but dead batteries, and more. The scale of this waste is monumental at best, but really, it's downright wrong. Diligent rotation of your supplies can reduce this waste, but it can never be eliminated.

If every prepper works to make their lifestyle more self sufficient and sustainable, in twenty years many of them will be retired from the money saved and their reduced ongoing costs during retirement. People will be healthier from physical activities like pumping water and gardening. We will be less dependent on China because we bought quality tools years ago that are still going strong. Our environment will be healthier because of reduced manufacturing, shipping, and disposing of disposable goods/packaging and we'll feel a sense of independence not known since our nation's founding.

Of course, some stored goods have their place. If the garden has a rough year or you are forced to relocate and start over, a reasonable stash of food and equipment will be invaluable. Just make that's your backup plan and not your modus operandi. Anyone can fill a closet full of junk, but when it runs out, they are no more prepared than the masses that didn't prepare at all. If you want to be truly prepared, it's time to change your lifestyle.



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