> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Survivalism: How to get started



Survivalism: How to get started

The Japan disaster has many people thinking about getting preparations in order, and has non-survivalists thinking about getting some supplies in order. Newbies are often daunted by the amount of information and stuff out there for survival and are unsure of where to begin.

Below are a few quick points to get new survivalists started on their way to being better prepared. These are affordable, easy to do and provide a good foundation for adding further preparations. You will want to branch out and build redundancy (three ways to accomplish anything important) into your supplies, but you've got to start somewhere.

This guidance is intended to keep you going for a two-week time period; scale it up or down as needed. Two weeks is a decent beginner goal; its affordable, manageable, and being ready to make it through two weeks without outside support will get you drastically ahead of the rest of the populace.

Having some way to keep warm and dry is the number one priority in any survival situation. Your car/truck/SUV will become your primary form of shelter during an evac. You need some kind of redundancy if your vehicle is not an option (stranded, broken down, destroyed in disaster). You've probably got some warm blankets and warm clothes lying around the house, and if you've got some decent camping supplies (tent, sleeping bags), you're well on your way. You don't need anything technical or crazy expensive.
Target: Portable shelter (tent or tarps), warm clothes and a warm sleeping bag or blankets for each family member.

Water is essential. I am personally a big fan of using Military Water Cans for water storage. They are a bit more expensive than other cans (around $20/can), but are durable, transportable and made to last for years of service without leaking. Another option is storing multiple flats of bottled water or gallon-sized jugs of drinking water (we like Arrowhead from Costco). A basically free option is keeping water in used 2L soda bottles (if you drink a lot of bottled soda). 
Target: Two week supply of water. Figure a gallon per day, per person. That's eight normal, 16oz sized bottles of water per day, or 112 for the whole two weeks, per person.

There are lots of options for survival food out there, and numerous outfits trying to sell you $50 cans of freeze dried stuff, MREs, giant pails of bulk staples and so on. These certainly have their place, but you don't need to worry about them at first. Instead, buy normal, non-perishable food stuffs from your local grocery store. Buy extra of what you will usually eat and focus on easy-to-prepare items like canned goods (meats, veggies, beans) and just-add-boiling water (noodles and pastas, instant potatoes, rice, instant oatmeal, stuffing, etc). I find it easiest to plan in terms of meals--three meals per day, 21 meals per week. I recommend storing at least some of this food ready-to-go plastic bin or storing some empty bags nearby. Keep an eye out for sales, coupons and hit up the local Costco or Sam's Club.
Target: Two week supply of food or 42 family meals. 

Japan has demonstrated how people can stay civil even in the worst disasters; however, this is the notable exception to the rule. "Nine meals away from anarchy" is the common saying. There are scumbags out there who will use a disaster to loot, plunder, rape and pillage. It's not a time that you want to be unarmed. Start your firearms battery with a handgun. A compact-sized handgun like the Glock 19, Sig P228, or similar will do most of what you want--still big enough to shoot comfortably, adequately sized magazines, small enough to conceal and chambered in respectable calibers. You will need a good holster (probably a few different holsters), spare magazines, magazine holders, ammunition, and probably a lockbox of some kind to store it in. Being armed is not inexpensive, but it provides great peace of mind. If you're on a tight budget, look for deals on used or surplus handguns. Also, make sure all doors and windows have secure locks and get in the habit of using them.
Target: A handgun, support gear and ammunition. Make sure your home has good locks.

Emergency Cash
Have two week's worth of cash on hand--the amount you'd usually spend on food, gas/transportation, bills and half of your monthly rent/mortgage and so on. Keep most of it in $20s.

Other Stuff
You'll need to be able to stay functional in a no-grid situation. Here's a quick roundup:
  • Flashlights--and not cheap dollar store ones; decent LED lights. Headlamps are awesome for general utility.
  • A pocket-sized AM/FM radio to keep up-to-date on the news; this little Sony is $10 and works well.
  • Many spare batteries...a few bulk packs from Costco or the like.
  • Some way to cook food and boil water. A propane-powered camping stove is easy and functional; add extra propane bottles, too.
  • A well-equipped first aid kit
  • Two week's worth of other household consumables. Toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags, soap and so on.
  • Basic fire starting kit
  • Durable work clothes and work gloves
  • A shovel
  • A couple 5 gallon buckets for general utility use
  • A couple pots for boiling water and cooking
  • Sturdy fixed blade knife for utility purposes
  • Quality multitool like a Leatherman Charge
  • Several rolls of duct tape
  • A box of contractor-grade trash bags
  • Water bottles or canteens for everyone in the family, with a preference for stainless bottles
There you go. With these items in your home, you've got a great start on being well prepared. There are indeed many other important supplies out there, but I feel these are a good starting point to expand on. 

Did I miss anything essential? Got any questions? Comment away.