Perhaps nothing major will happen in your area. But there are indications that there could be supply chain issues, electrical blackouts, escalating wars or economic collapse. I’d say it is best to make some preparations.
By stockpiling food reserves, water, basic sanitation products and fuel, you can rest assured that you will at least have enough essential supplies for you and your family in the short term. There is really nothing to lose by making some preparations, you’ll use it all in the end anyway.
There’s no need to panic or go over the top. It’s very normal to be prepared, and to have some supplies, so you can be self-sufficient for a while. It’s what your ancestors would have done each year in the pre-supermarket era.
What follows is a list of basic preparations you could make. If you were preparing for a natural disaster or any situation where you may have to flee your home at short notice, you would need additional preparation than what is provided here.
This list isn’t exhaustive, but is aimed at being prepared for food shortages and electrical blackouts that would prevent running water, refrigeration, communication and cooking facilities.
- A counter-top water filter is a good idea. Berkey, British Berkefeld or Osmio are three manufacturers to consider, but there are others. The point here, is to have a water filter that does not require electricity and can purify water from almost any non-salt water source.
- Water storage containers. Find out where your nearest non-salt water source is. Where is the nearest stream, river or lake? Or maybe there are springs near you? Is it walking distance? Remember, water is heavy to carry. Depending on what your nearest source is, you might consider getting a simple siphon pump that you could use to draw water up into a container.
- If you don’t have a water source close by, consider buying a rain water collection unit — you can quite easily connect it with the guttering on your property and collect rain water. You could also consider buying a substantial container for water and placing it on a high area of your land, that could then provide running water by gravity in an emergency.
- Each person will need a bare minimum of 1 litre of water each day, and then you will want extra for washing. If you don’t have any natural source of water nearby, try to have enough water stored for a month. See this video about storing water.
- If you are fortunate to have your own well or spring water supply — make sure you know how you could access the water without electricity. Is there a way you could go back to the old fashion bucket? Do you know how you could run the water pump via a separate generator if the mains electric grid was down?
- Store at least a one-month supply of food, more if you can. Tinned foods, dried fruits, grains, pulses, nuts, dried herbs and spices all last for years. Just stock up on what you like. But keep in mind, if things need soaking and boiling, you will need water, fuel and equipment if the grid is down. Oats are good with just water added, and foods like red lentils and quinoa only require boiling water for around 8 minutes, so not much time.
- It is worth growing your own food, and you can store that safely by using simple canning devices. It is also worth knowing where your nearest farmers are, and perhaps getting to know them. Also, where are the nearest food storage depots?
- You could get a portable petrol or diesel generator that could run some of your appliances, fuel providing. If you do that, then fill up some jerry cans and store some fuel. It would also be good to have some fuel stockpiled for your car, especially if the nearest water source is quite far away.
- There are also solar generators that you can buy, and these have become more advanced in recent years. Some can even act as a back-up power supply for your entire home. See the videos here for in-depth purchasing advice and reviews.
- If you have a wood burning stove, then it’s best to keep a good supply of wood, peat and coal, especially if you live in an area prone to cold and damp. Find out where the nearest areas are where you could go and collect wood if needed. Make sure you have a portable axe, wire saw, paracord to wrap branches up and some suitable carry sacks.
- A simple solar shower sold in camping shops is worth having. Also, you may need to dig a compost toilet if water supplies stop for a significant amount of time. Make sure you have a decent spade.
- It is worth having a bivvy or tarp with paracord that you could make temporary shelters with. A tent and sleeping bags is also worth having in case you need to go on any kind of expedition for supplies on foot.
- Unless you have an old fashioned wood burning stove that you can cook on top of, if mains electricity/gas is out, you will need at the least a basic camping gas stove that you could use indoors. You could also stock up on gas and buy a half decent barbecue if you have an outdoors space. Cooking on an open fire with a simple griddle is another option — but you would need stainless-steel or iron pans to do this. But you also have to think about weather conditions. Cooking on a barbecue or open fire in wind and rain will be difficult.
- A Kelly Kettle is worth having if you want to be certain you can boil water and heat food outdoors in all weathers. You can keep a good supply of dry twigs and small pieces of wood for fuel stored in some dry-proof containers.
- Matches, lighters, flints, lighter gas, kerosene blocks and candles are good to keep stocked up.
- Also flashlights and lanterns.
- Ebook readers can be used to store important survival related information, and the battery usually lasts for a very long time on the basic models. You can keep important documents and instruction manuals on there. Maps, survival guides, DIY stuff etc.
- Some walkie-talkies could be a good idea if you are friendly with your neighbours or have a back-up plan with people in your area. So, if the grid went down, you would turn them on and could keep in touch.
- Many devices can be charged by USB. If you don’t have a larger generator, buy some heavy duty USB power packs such as ones made by Anker and keep them charged up. You can also purchase small solar charging panels that can trickle feed electrical charge into battery packs to top them up. Keep a large supply of regular batteries for any device such as flashlights that will need them.
- Invest in a large scale solar, wind or hydro-electric system if your resources allow for it — you could then be energy sufficient and not dependent on the grid.
- It’s worth having a simple crank charged radio with built-in battery pack and flashlight.
- Make sure you have suitable warm and waterproof clothing in case you have to be outdoors a lot getting water or foraging for wood or food. You may also need some extra blankets at home if you have no indoor fire.
- Fishing equipment is good to have if you live close to the ocean, a large river or lake. Make sure you read up on or watch a video about how to gut a fish — it isn’t that hard.
- Little things like airtight containers will be good for many purposes, such as storing food. Remember to keep fresh food in a cool place out of direct sunlight if you don’t have refrigeration.
- If possible, identify foods and medicines that you could forage from the wild in your area.
- Keep a stockpile of first aid stuff, herbal remedies, sanitation products, and toilet roll.
- It’s also good to stock up on vitamin C in powder form and some good quality multi-vitamins.
There are so many other things you could do and I’m definitely not an expert. Consider researching websites such as:
I hope it never gets to a survival situation for you. But the world isn’t operating in a stable way. Many people would be in big trouble if the supermarket lorries stopped coming for just two weeks. It really wouldn’t take that long for the situation to get desperate.
Consider developing your resilience by growing some of your own food or contributing to community permaculture schemes in your area. Places like Todmorden in the UK are an inspiring example of community sufficiency. The more you get to know the people in your local community — the more resilience you can create through developing support networks and sustainable systems.
Guerrilla permaculture methods such as seed bombs and land reclamations are approaches that may be necessary to instigate resilience in your area. It is also a good idea to encourage local farmers and land owners to return to methods of bio-diversity such as planting ‘food forests’ — that are relatively low maintenance, but abundant in produce.