Prepper Essentials

What are the essentials for being better prepared? Great question! I started thinking about this early in the week because I’m snowed in for a while. Thankfully I’m safe. I still have power, and everything is running fairly smooth. Many others in this area are not this fortunate right now.

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The snow started late Sunday evening and dumped 14 inches in my neck of the woods. Two highways and one major freeway are closed. One highway closure has completely isolated a small town. Nobody can get in or out. The highway is the only route to this town. That alone is more than a little terrifying. Because they have nothing.

The gas stations and grocery stores require electricity to operate. The power companies can’t send people out to work on the lines because of the highway being closed. Help could be a week or more away. Everyone is waiting on the highway to reopen.

With absolutely nothing in the way of supplies or access, what happens after a few days? How long before panic sets in and things turn violent or dangerous? That is a scary thought.

All we have to do is look at history. Think about Hurricane Katrina. We saw on the news the violence, riots, looting, and so much more. Let’s be honest here. Things get ugly when people get hungry. This isn’t a fun fact, but it is a fact.

Where do you start preparing for major power outages, bad weather, or natural disasters? Here is my list of essentials:

Water. Water is life. We can survive without food far longer than we can without water. I’ve talked about several methods in my emergency water storage post. My big recommendation would be Blue Can Water. It is a wonderful product and is an essential in my house. That reminds me that it is time to order more, actually!

Food. I wrote a post called Prepping and Food Storage about how to stock the pantry efficiently. With not being able to go to the grocery store right now, this has come in very handy! I can make food easily with what I have on hand. This is a great thing because my husband isn’t going to work for a few days. Without being able to go out, we’re eating at home. Home cooked food is always the best.

I found it easy to supplement canned foods instead of fresh. It isn’t my favorite thing, but it certainly works. I made spaghetti Monday, using canned tomato sauce and mushrooms. I had fresh herbs and onion. The biggest thing I made sure to do was remove the moisture from the mushrooms. This also takes away from the canned taste. Simple tricks like that can make a huge difference. This also gave me leftovers and I didn’t have to cook a lot over the next few days.

I recommend that everyone have a 72 hour food supply kit. Personally I like the variety bucket with a little of everything in it. I also believe a minimum 30 day food supply is the way to go. The more you have, the better. That is the reality. But it all depends on space and budget. I started off with the 72 hour kit and added to it from there.

I know that with food storage, I don’t have everything I need or want yet. It is a process based on my budget. My favorite phrase is, prepping isn’t a race. It is a marathon. One that requires continued effort and training. Patience is a virtue as well.

My newest goal with the freeze dried food I have is trying to develop recipes. I will be doing this in my blog. Keep an eye out for that coming soon! It reminded me that I should be testing out the products I store. This is important for everyone to do. The snowstorm made me realize that it is time to start testing out my preparations. I can learn a lot from that.

Heat. We need to be able to stay warm. Blankets are an essential in my house. I always wonder if I have too many until winter and they are piled up on the couch and I am warm. Then I always think I need even more.

Emergency blankets are something I keep everywhere as well. I keep these in my blackout box, in the car, in my purse, and bug out bag. They are small, take up very minimal space, and weigh nothing. An absolute essential in my book. Hand and foot warmers are a staple in my house. They also are amazing for my husband because he works outside in all types of weather.

Speaking of heat, a generator is high on the priority list. It likely won’t keep everything running. But at least it’ll get things moving to be able to cook with and keep the heat on. A camp stove and cast iron skillet are very important. Food is great, but how do you heat it up and cook it without a heat source and pan? These things should be at the top of the priority list.

Cash. If stores are open, they will likely only be doing cash transactions. I recommend keeping it in a small fireproof safe in the house. Smaller bills are preferable. Stores may not be able to make change for larger bills if they are running cash only sales. They won’t have access to the store safe without electricity.

Nathan stopped by a convenience store on his way home from work Monday morning. Day one of the snow storm. Just to pick up a few small things. Soda, hot food and coffee because he was cold. This would get him through having to walk home in the snow. The store was only accepting cash. Carrying $20 or less is a huge asset in this situation.

The amount of cash kept at home instead of the bank is completely up to you. I don’t have a magical number for that. What I would take into consideration is the need for cash. I think about how much I spend on food and gas each week and make sure I have at least two weeks worth. This comes in handy in other situations as well.

A portable charger is a requirement in my house. Nathan and I both have one and a spare we keep at home. There is a solar charger in our bug out bag too. I can communicate with family and friends to let them know if there are problems. Or let them know I’m safe. In the news stories about the nearby town, several people left comments about this. Asking others in town if they were able to check on family members because their phones had died.

Nathan faced many obstacles during this storm and trying to work through it. I would check on him at different times during the morning to make sure he was still safe. Having the portable charger with him came in very handy. If his phone battery died, I couldn’t have done that. Once that happens, do I call for help? Just wait and hope for the best? Good question. I don’t have the answer. Because I’m not entirely sure what I would be doing in that situation. The portable charger prevented me from having to decide that. Money well spent.

In looking at the nearby town and the obstacles they are facing, each one of the items listed above would get them much farther than not being prepared with anything. Even having one or two weeks worth of supplies would be far better than nothing. It would have prevented family from worrying. I know there were many who felt helpless because there was no way to help.

In this kind of situation bugging in (staying home) is the best option because travel is either dangerous or even restricted. Being prepared to be at home and stay even moderately comfortable is a huge asset. But the key is definitely being prepared for that and ready. My motto is “always be ready” and it rings so true in instances like this.

The biggest goal is to stay safe. Everything I talked about here will help all of us stay safer in times like this with bad weather and being forced to bug in. I hope the snow melts soon and we can all go back to normal, but that may not happen as quickly as I would like.

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  • Scott J DeNicola

    We lived through Hurricane Sandy in 2012 here on Long Island (NY) and it was a nightmare. I wish I had prepped for that the way you’ve outlined. We had the basics but were without electricity for 13 days. That is a really long time when you have 2 girls and a wife in the same house! Luckily we were able to get a generator by day 5 but there was a gasoline shortage so even that didn’t help. We ran the generator sparingly to heat the house just enough to sleep. Had I only taken advice like this and prepared it wouldn’t have been so terrible.

  • Tracy C

    We usually have enough staples in our pantry to make do for at least two weeks. However, water is always a problem when the power goes out because we have a well. I need to store more water in case of emergencies.

  • Melody

    We made preparations similar to this back in 1999 preparing for the possible Y2K meltdown. We never needed it for that but have since made use of small portions especially during the winters. Have had a few times when everything went down for 3-5 days. I’m not nearly as prepared as I should be, but this post and your others are going to bring me back to where is like tio be. Thanks for sharing and being so thorough.

    • Rachael

      Wow! You just made me realise how lucky I am to live in a country where we don’t have such disastrous weather. Sure, we complain about the rain and our entire infrastructure grinds to a halt at the sight of a snowflake but at least we’re in no danger of being whisked off to Oz with the wind!

      I hope your post helps other people to prepare, you really have thought of everything! X

  • Kristy Bullard

    We have made these preparations for an emergency. We’ve also made backpacks with supplies and important documents in case we ever have to evacuate our home quickly. I hope we never have to use it, but I’m glad we are prepared.

  • Lindsay Brown

    I really enjoy reading these articles of yours because I’m a big “what of” person . I do a lot of my own canning and food prep and whenever I am doing so I often wonder if these canned goods I’m preparing will come in handy in a crisis.

    That is so scary about your neighboring town! We’ve been getting the cold and snow up here in Alberta really bad too and sometimes I feel like all it would take is one big storm and a cold front and we would be in the same boat.

    Great post, it got me thinking for sure!

    • The Prepping Wife

      Home canning is such a huge asset to being prepared, Lindsay! You are miles ahead of many already, and that is awesome! Canning is on my list of things to start doing this summer. I grew up with family canning. Think the older generation where that was a way of life and normal. It is something I’ve always wanted to do myself. I’m here to tell you, there is nothing better than home canned green beans and pickled beets. Definitely brings back memories!

      I’ve been reading the Home series by A. American and actually just finished the first book last week. The review is coming soon! But in it, there were a lot of problems that came up based on the fact people were hungry. It really showed the worst in some people, and the best as well. But the worst is what scares me. I own a fairly large number of weapons for many of the reasons illustrated in the book, but just the idea of it is scary. Which is why I spend so much time encouraging people with my blog to at least have the basics. I look at the nearby town and wonder how long it will be until things turn violent? When the weapons are needed just to protect whatever food supply they may have. Being such a small town, I’m sure many know each other well.

  • Michelle

    Hi! Great article. I wish more people were prepared for disasters. Especially when we have ample warning. I live in Florida and hurricanes are a usual certainty between July 31-Nov 30. We made it through Irma thanks to a camping stove, our gas grill, and the generator. We didn’t flood, thankfully, but the pond behind our home made us beachfront property for a day! It pays to be prepared!

  • Kari Chairez

    I love your prepper posts! This is something I’ve always been so interested in! Cash is something I need to work on, though. I never have on hand and would be in a world of hurt.

    • The Prepping Wife

      I learned the value of having cash on hand when I went to purchase a premium theme for my blog. My bank didn’t like that because the company was in another country, and my cards were shut down. Of course, this happened on a weekend, and my husband needed gas for the car. You know, the usual issues. Lol. It snowed earlier in the week as well, which basically shut everything down. It dumped 14 inches one day, and 5 the next. What few businesses were open were only accepting cash because electricity was out for many. Those are the times I am soooo thankful that I keep cash on hand. My husband used to argue this one with me. Like, isn’t that why we have a bank? He’s since figured out that I’m not totally crazy. Lol. I’m slowly turning him into a prepper.

    • The Prepping Wife

      I am currently putting my bug out bag together, and making a list to post. I’m always happier having these kinds of things and not needing them, instead of needing them and not having them.

  • Nina Nichols

    We went through some really bad winter this year. When we had the ice storm, two transformers exploded in our area which resulted to almost 3 days of no power at a freezing temperature. We know it was dangerous to use the gas stove but we didn’t have much choice to heat the house since our furnace is run by electricity. Generators were out and we didn’t want to spend about 3 thousand dollars on the big ones which are the only ones available. It was very stressful and scary because we were worried of carbon monoxide poisoning!

  • Debra Roberts

    As the ex-wife of someone who was obsessed with that prepping show and consumed with doomsday, rather than living life to the fullest, I have to admit, this is not something I never think about anymore. My current husband and I are probably the least prepared for disaster people that we know, because we are always off on the next adventure. We don’t even have a generator! We do have a small drivable RV that we can pack up and leave and go anywhere we want, but nothing for if we are stuck at home. This definitely takes the wind out of my sails a little and makes me at least want to stock water, buy a generator, and consider the consequences. We also never have cash on hand, not even a few bucks. We live by the debit card. Thanks for this eye-opening blog!!!

    • The Prepping Wife

      Your RV is an asset! You are actually a lot more prepared than you think, Debra. You can bug out pretty easily if you needed to. With the RV, do you have solar power? A composting toilet? Ask yourself when you and your husband are out on an adventure, what would happen if you were stuck somewhere? How would you get power, flush toilets, eat?

      I’ve watched Doomsday Preppers, and that kind of thing isn’t reality. Most preppers are normal people, who simply think about the future as well as the present. Balancing planning and living life is key, for sure. I think of it the same way I do planning for a retirement kind of thing.

  • Swagata Sen

    preparing ourselves for disaster and emergencies are so basic yet so many time skip our mind. Thank you for such a great reminder. Every one must have the back -up of basics.

  • Mary

    I grew up in Louisiana and live on the Texas coast now, so these are items that we always have because Hurricane Prep Kits need to be ready at all times. My husband thinks I am crazy, but I have a giant plastic bin in the upstairs closet with non-perishable food, water, candles, first aid kit, blankets, batteries, battery radio, battery powered USB charger for phones, rope, water, blankets, toothpaste, diapers, baby wipes and clean underwear 😀

  • Claire

    Wow! I’m so lucky to live in the UK where this sort of preparation is not needed.

    It sounds like you’ve got it covered but thinking of you and hope the snow leaves soon and you can return to normality quickly

    • Diana

      Love your site! I’m now disabled, not in the country anymore & have let my preparedness slip. Thanks for the reminders!!
      I’m working on getting my blog about country living up & running in 2020 when have some income coming in steady. Your blog is so me & refreshing my memories & love of living a country life again one day maybe. Your inspiring!

  • Lauren

    I am so guilty of not being prepared for any kind of disaster as I take just going to the store to get supplies for granted. Love your recommendations. I will definitely have to check out blue can water and try to stock our pantry some more. Though it’s tough when you have very limited space!

    • The Prepping Wife

      Space is my enemy when it comes to prepping as well, Lauren! I’m sure it is for most of us. I always feel like I have a decent amount of stuff, but then I want to add more too.

  • P.S. Don't Read This

    I never realised how prepared we are in Bulgaria for things like this. We make food in jars like winter salads or ready meat and even cooked food and we store it for the winter months. Old people know that you should always have lots of oil and flower in the house to make bread at home if need be. Also, I have always thought that having a stove instead of a heater is so last century. But if there is no electricity we will still get heat. My grandma always points that out as almost every year there are places without electricity for days because of heavy snow. Stay safe and be prepared!

    • The Prepping Wife

      Our grandparents definitely knew what they were doing! They were the original preppers, just without the fancy title. Because it was a way of life for them. These days everyone is spoiled by convenience. I definitely agree with you.

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