Getting Prepared Month 13: Taking Your Preparedness Plan to the Next Level

Gaye Levy, Contributor
Activist Post

For all intents and purposes, 2012 was the year that prepping – the newfangled word used to describe emergency preparedness – went mainstream. Whether it was the popularity of reality TV shows such as Doomsday Preppers, the well-publicized encouragement from our government, or simply the realization that in order to prevail following a disaster or crisis we must learn to become self-sufficient, the word “prepping” is now a part of our vocabulary and that is a good thing.

While prepping – in concept at least – has gone mainstream, there are still those around us that think we are a bunch of nut jobs, striving to set ourselves apart from the rest of society with the crazy idea that we can take care of ourselves. We can grow our food, cook without traditional sources fuel, keep ourselves safe and even shop for groceries in our own pantry. Doesn’t sound that crazy to me but what do I know?

With that introduction, I am pleased to share the initial installment of “12 Months of Prepping – Year 2”. The purpose of this monthly series will be to help you take your prepping activities to the next level and beyond the mere basics.

Now not to disparage the basics – after all, most of us got started with the traditional 3 days of water, 3 days of food, and a basic set of gear to get us by just in case the big one (or its equivalent, disaster-wise) hit in your area. And to that end, 12 Months of Prepping – The First Year, did just that. But now it is time to move on.

And for those of you just getting started but who want to advance quickly? Feel free to jump in on this accelerated plan as you continue to work your way through year one. There is no requirement or prerequisite – only the mindset to get going.

MONTH 13: Supplies and Gear

  • Dried Beans – 1 pound per person
  • White Rice – 1 pound per person
  • Solar battery charger
  • Rechargeable batteries for your flashlights
  • Add a minimum of 3 gallons of water per person and per pet to your existing supplies

In year one, we put away the bare minimum of food to get by for three days, perhaps a bit longer. This year we are going to up the ante considerably by adding bulk foods. As boring as it may sound, beans and rice are the proverbial survival staples. They are inexpensive, easy to store, have a long shelf life and, if cooked with some seasonings, are pretty darn tasty.

This month we are going to add one pound of each of bulk beans and rice for each person in your household. And if you have never cooked dried beans before? We have that covered in Let’s Cook Some Beans.

We are also going to add to our water supplies this month. If storage is an issue and you have a freezer, one thing you can do is fill the empty nooks and crannies with frozen jugs of water. All you need to do is re-purpose some plastic juice jugs by swishing them with a about a teaspoon of a bleach then filling them with water. Don’t forget to sanitize the lid as well.

Tuck the filled jugs in the freezer and they will be there not only to help keep you food cool during a power outage, but also to use as drinking or cooking water. Just remember to leave some room at the top of the bottle for the frozen water to expand – an inch or two should be sufficient.

For extra credit, you can also fill zipper bags with water and freeze them as well. Of course you will want to freeze them in an upright position until they are solid and can be laid flat.

For more information on water storage, brush up on the the basics by reading Back to the Basics: Water for Survival.

Let There Be Light

Flashlights that is. Last year we purchased flashlights and batteries. At that time I stressed a quality flashlight or even a tactical flashlight (such as the Fenix TK41 Flashlight) as well as traditional batteries. This year we are going to add a solar battery charger and rechargeable batteries to the mix.

Why didn’t we do that from the get go?

Prepping is all about having redundant systems. Once the basics are covered, we can move on to back-up resources and that is exactly what we are doing now. Just keep in mind that we are not purchasing new flashlights so take the time to check your existing flashlights and determine the correct size of batteries.

By the way, most rechargeable battery manufacturers have “spacer” battery cells so that you can put, say, as an example, a single AA battery in to a spacer to make a D sized battery. These really do work.

MONTH 13: Tasks

  • Evaluate what types of disaster or crisis may occur in your area or in your life
  • Perform a walk-around inventory of your home and using the list compiled above, take steps to mitigate damage if a disaster should occur
  • Examine your financial resources and evaluate how long you could survival without an income from your job of other sources
  • Plan what to do in the event you must evacuate your home
  • Update your emergency contact list

It is All About Risk Management

Businesses and insurance companies use the term risk management to describe “the identification, analysis, assessment, control, and avoidance, minimization, or elimination of unacceptable risks”. The same applies to preparedness. It only makes sense to prepare for those things that are most likely to happen to you and your family.

For some, that will be an earthquake and for others a tornado, wildfire, flood or hurricane. And yet for others, unemployment or ill-health may be the biggest risk. The important thing this month is to face the potential risks head-on then come up with a plan of action that will help you survive if an at-risk event really happened.

And lest you forget, include an evaluation of your financial resources as well. I know this is hard and with the rise in our cost of living (food, fuel, healthcare, taxes), it is sometimes easier to just get by day to day and not think about the financial impact of a disaster or of sudden economic woes.

That said, you just might find that after facing the financial reality of your circumstances – whether good, bad or neutral – you will rest easier just knowing where you stand. This is kind of like the feeling you get after filing your income tax return. You hate doing it and you might even procrastinate until it is done, but once it gets filed, you breath a sigh of relief and move on.

Bugging Out – Only If You Have To

For most of us, the security of our own homes surrounded by our own stuff is paramount. But if you have to evacuate, you need a plan. Why not jot down a plan now? And once you do, make copies and tape them behind closet doors or elsewhere close to your room exits so that if the time comes, you know what to do. No panic, just action.

Some ideas to get you started?

Identify at least two potential meeting places should your family need to evacuate or if your family members get separated. One meeting place should be right outside your home and the other should be outside of your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home. Decide where you would go and how you would get there. Lay out a route, or better yet two, and hold a family drill so you practice the logistics of coming together following a disaster.

And while you are at it, be sure to update your emergency contact list. This should include someone outside of your area (such as a friend or relative) that is willing to coordinate calls from family members that are stuck in disaster-central and looking for others. The rule is this: after a disaster, all household members should call this person and inform them of their status so that this person can disseminate information to others that are calling in.

One last thing: don’t forget to plan for your pets. Most shelters will not allow pets so be forewarned. We will discuss this in more detail in a future month but for now, read A Prepper’s Guide to Pet Preparedness so your can begin to formulate a plan.

The Final Word

I mentioned in the beginning that being prepared has no pre-set requirement or pre-requisite, only the mindset to to get going.

As we close things out today, let me remind you that Survival Mindset is a frame of mind whereby daily life is focused on the pursuit of independence and self-reliance. This focus is done in a non-obtrusive way to the determent of no one and the betterment of everyone. It is a lifestyle and a commitment to preparedness and to courage. To optimism and to family values.

Ultimately, it is the will to live and to survive with the knowledge that you have done the very best you can to protect yourself and your family from danger and the woes that come from living in complicated and uncertain times.

What I have just described is the Backdoor Survival and the Survival Woman mindset. And while I would like to think that it is the very best description out there, I am not arrogant enough (well, maybe just a little) to think that what works for me will work for everyone.

But – and you know how I like to do this – whether you are an experienced prepper or a newbie that is just beginning to get your toes wet, you need to think about your own personal Survival Mindset and move to a survival place that meets your own needs.

Read other articles by Gaye Levy here.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at At BackdoorSurvival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

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