Being prepared for an emergency is something we all need to consider.
The disruption of services (utilities, transportation, commerce, etc.) we depend on can create societal conditions in which we may need to depend on ourselves and our personal resources. Our wellbeing and the wellbeing of our loved ones may depend on our preparedness in the times to come. Precious metals alone won’t be enough to keep us safe from harm.
- Money – Most of us understand that precious metals are real money. Precious metals are not dependent on a government’s promise to do anything or pay anyone. Precious metals have no national borders and are a store of value and medium of exchange. Having precious metals is an important part of preparedness, yet you can’t eat a Krugerrand and you can’t defend yourself with silver eagles. There is much more to preparedness than possessing precious metals. Precious metals alone are not enough to be truly prepared for an emergency, but possessing them is an important step. Having some junk silver coins in your possession can be a readily accepted medium of exchange for goods and services. Even so, during a period of chaos or disruption of essential services, we need to plan further. Since most people readily accept paper currency, it is a good idea to have a month of dollars, or euros, etc. in your possession to pay for your needs. Paper currency is for transactions. Precious metals are for a store of wealth to be used when paper currencies fail. Three months of paper currency is better, but enough paper currency to pay bills for a month is a first aim. Having cash on hand could aid you and your loved ones enormously. If you couldn’t access an ATM, and your credit/debit card didn’t work, how well off would you be if it happened in this moment – without a moments notice? How much currency would you have to live? Some people live from ATM transaction to ATM transaction or rarely use cash at all. Consider what you would do if you had no credit or debit cards, or electronic ability to pay.
- Money Alternatives – If you don’t have cash on hand, you are in the majority, but there are still things you can do. If you look at the historical currency crises of the world there are other things you can keep and stock up a little at a time which can act as money in an emergency. These are alternatives other than gold and silver. Consider keeping money alternative items like liquor, ammunition, seeds, guns, food, weaponry and even things like cigarettes and over the counter medicines. Alternatives to money can be obtained in small increments. In the hyperinflation experienced in Argentina in the 1990’s the small airline bottles of liquor were as good as gold. They were cheap to buy before the financial crisis, but almost impossible to get when the crisis hit. Money alternatives are a step to another method of securing what you need, but it is more a money alternative that is generally acceptable than it is actual barter.
- Barter – Barter is a form of money alternative in which goods and services are exchanged. The problem with barter is that in urban and suburban areas, there isn’t a tradition of barter as there is in more rural and agrarian cultures. Most communities in the US today have local Internet networking sites like internet community bulletin boards, and front porch forums. Many are hosted by civic groups or religious organizations. See what is available in your area and perhaps check with your public library or see what bulletin board groups put ads on sites like craigslist.org. These can easily be googled and you can subscribe to a bulletin board in your area. You may find an internet location to buy, sell, swap and trade information in your local community. These sites also allow for easy community networking and getting to know your neighbors, and their skill sets. If interested, a google search will reveal what is available in your community. When looking for community bulletin boards, be discerning about your privacy. Use common sense, and practice safe internet practices with your personal information.
- Neighborhoods/Neighbors – Get to know your neighbors or others of common interest and like minded people in the location where you live. Neighborhood organizations can be valuable in protecting yourself, and your family in your community. Knowing your neighbors is a good start toward self and home defense in a situation of civil unrest. Know the people around you with whom you have things in common. Getting to know people in an emergency isn’t the best time to meet and greet. Safety is every communities business. Be discrete about your own preparedness, and your planning, but share general preparedness information.
- Defense and personal safety – This includes the safety of those you love. This is a highly personal topic and will depend greatly on where you live and what you have available. It will be determined largely by your personal values and resources. If possible, plan for and consider having a dog. A dog is not only an intelligent alarm system, it is a first line of defense. Your canine alarm system doesn’t shut down in a power outage and it serves you selflessly. If you are comfortable with guns then consider fire arms with appropriate training for safety and use. The best fire arm is the one with which you are most comfortable. Stock ammunition. Without ammunition, a firearm is only a club. Many states, like the state of Virginia this week intend not to honor concealed carry permits. Be aware of the gun laws in your jurisdiction and be law abiding if you choose fire arms. The most likely to kill you item in the USA isn’t a gun, it is a blunt force object – hammers, baseball bats, clubs, etc. If you feel you can use a blunt force object against an attacker in your home, then have some. In a home invasion, you have a certain advantage. You know the inside of your home, and (usually) an intruder doesn’t. Take a self defense course. Studying martial arts is a wonderful discipline, but it takes years of training and practice to be effective and skilled at it. If permitted by law in your area, consider a tazer, stun gun or a mace/pepper spray and know how to use them. Ask local law enforcement what is lawful and what may be appropriate for yourself and your circumstances in and emergency situation. These are things to consider and there are lots of sites on the internet devoted to the subject of self and home defense. Remember in any self defense method you choose, you must practice. Repetition is the mother of skill, and you need to be skillful in your defenses.
- Location (present) – Right now your location is your neighborhood. Have a meeting plan with your loved ones to meet at a specified location in an emergency. This is no different than teaching children fire drills in the home when the smoke detector alarm sounds. You have a meeting place close by where everyone goes and you do a head count. In an emergency, loved ones may be in anywhere. Have a predetermined, specific meeting place in the event communications are not available. Create a safety plan for your family and the location to meet. Searching for loved ones in an emergency can be a very stressful and time consuming undertaking. It is best to have a plan which is not communications dependent. In an emergency, communications systems may not be reliable. Consider a telephone contact person to accept calls outside of your present location. Outside calls may go through if local lines of communications are too jammed with calls. Family outside of your present location may be a good choice for a communications check-in for loved ones.
- Location (desirable) – if possible seek a location where you can retreat which is not in an urban or suburban area. Have enough stabilized fuel to get there without stopping to refuel. Have paper copies of maps and know how to read them. In any period of disruption or social unrest, have a rural location to go to with your family. Move to a location not in an urban/suburban setting, if possible. Rural areas are more stable and less dependent upon public services and trucking for food and other necessities.
- Location (type/optimal) – farmland is a good investment. Farms are the foundation of any sustainable society. Food is necessary to support life. Learn to grow food, and if you can’t relocate – grow a garden. Consider a container garden or square foot, raised bed garden if you have only a small space. Any garden is preferable to none. If you can’t grow food, or don’t want to, then live in or near locations where food is grown. Get to know farmers. This will help to assure your continued food supply. An optimal location is a place not dependent on trucking or other shipping to acquire food. In the Wiemar Republic, farmers refused to travel into city areas for fear or robbery.
- Food – Look around in your kitchen or pantry and see what you have on hand right now. Estimate how long it would last if it was all you had. Most grocery stores only have enough food for a couple of days, and store shelves could empty fast in an emergency. Consider storing some food. Even if you can’t afford much right now, or don’t have much space, put some things aside which are shelf stable every time you shop. Purchase items which can last on the shelf for months or longer. If you can, buy storage food units from a reputable shelf stable food vendor. Be sure to consider babies, pets, and anyone in the home with special dietary needs. Stock up slowly if you need to, and dedicate just a closet for this purpose if space is limited. In storing food, the things you need to protect against are vermin (mice, insects, etc), temperature extremes and moisture. Build up your larder slowly if you can’t buy what you need all at one time. Aim at a stock pile food for three(3) months. Be sure to consider how reliable your water supply is. Know what has the potential to impair the delivery system (power outages, etc.) If you do not have water in a power outage, store water, or know where to obtain potable water nearby. If you don’t know how to make water safe to drink, learn three methods to make water safe for consumption in an emergency situation. Store what you will eat, and you will eat what you store. The nice thing about storing food is that your worst case scenario is that you eat it. If you decide you don’t want or need it down the road, you can always donate it to a church, soup kitchen or other charity and get a receipt for a tax credit.
- Health and Home safety – Stock needed medicines, and prescription medicines if possible, with bathroom and personal hygiene needs. Have a first aid kit and know some first aid by reading the pamphlet in the first aid kit. Have additional eye glasses and a eye glass repair kit. Consider cloth diapers and baby needs. Be sure to have a working fire extinguisher and smoke/CO2 detectors and flashlights. Be sure to consider those with special needs (babies, pets, elderly, disabled, etc.)
- Financial information backup – Be sure to have hard copies of all important documents. Birth certificates, bank statements, wills, deeds, titles, credit/mortgage obligations, powers of attorney, medical documents, stock certificates, living wills and advance directives, etc. Keep them together in a safe place in your home and a duplicate set elsewhere.
- Mental preparedness – Educate yourself. Feeling confident in being able to do things and create things is empowering. Learn new skill sets and educate yourself. Learn basic skills like cooking, preserving, fermenting, canning, sewing, basic carpentry and handy type services, care of people and animals, gardening, first aid, basic herbal medicine, hunting, repairs of any kind.
- Physical preparedness – Get yourself in shape. If you have been putting off that dental visit or eye exam, or that nuisance procedure, do them now and get them over. Consider your diet and nutritional needs, and rethink alcohol consumption and tobacco use. Lose that 5 pounds you keep wishing were gone. Be in the best physical condition you can be.
- Emotional preparedness – This is usually the support of those you love. It could be supporting each other in a family setting. It could be your relationship with friends or other loved ones. Those you serve and those who you can count on, not only to do the right thing, but to be there for you and with you. These are those with whom you offer the same care, concern and support in return. Combine time and trade skill sets with others. This helps create bonds and networks for emotional security. Trust is key.
- Spiritual preparedness – This could be your religion or your philosophy or your connection with your sense of ideals, values, ethics or whatever gives you (and others) inner peace in difficult times or under challenging circumstances. Spiritual preparedness is that which helps you remain in balance and preserves the integrity of your highest sense of who you are. It enables you to be true to yourself and be honorable.