How Can I Afford All This?
The truth is, not many of us can afford to go out and spend thousands of dollars on survival equipment. Forget about the fully-stocked hideaway and the loaded four-wheel drive you need to get there, how can you afford a good solid stash of food?
But even if you had all the money necessary, you can't buy everything you need, learn everything you'll have to know and prepare for "the big one" in a day, a week, or even a year. Preparedness is a lifetime journey, and your mental attitude is a key component. The best approach is to start small and build your resources. As time passes, re-evaluate and add to your plan, your stash, your skills and abilities.
After shelter, food and transportation are frequently the largest expense a family faces. Buying a few extra months of food can be a burden. But by shopping wisely and adding to your food stash over time, you can make this less expensive.
OK, the following may not be news to you, so if you feel you're doing a pretty good job of buying groceries inexpensively, feel free to skip it. But I figure everyone may gain a kernel of knowledge, so it's your call:
One of the best resources for large quantities of food is warehouse club stores, such as Sam's, and food co-ops. You can also purchase grain and other supplies from farm supply stores and wholesalers. This may take some searching out, but can be worth while if you want to buy bushels of grain to preserve yourself.
In The Warrior Class's experience, warehouse club stores generally offer large sizes of items that can be used for survival. While it is sometimes possible to get better buys on some items when they go on sale at the grocery store, you have to shop carefully and watch the circulars to catch them. At the warehouse club, prices are constant and sizes large.
In addition to the survival-related foods you can acquire here, you may save enough money by buying at the club stores to afford some of those 45-pound kegs of red winter wheat you've been admiring in the catalog. Just be careful and don't buy so much it spoils, or your savings will evaporate.
Some purchases The Warrior Classmates have made for his stash include:
● 25- and 50-pound bags of rice. A staple in many countries, it could be yours during the bad times. Rice is one of the few foods that no one has allergies to, plus it is an excellent source of nutrients. And let's face it, most of us don't live where we can grow rice.
● 25-pound bags of flour. Although grains are better to store than flour, this is fine if you do a lot of baking already. You can bake your way through the bag and always have some ready in an emergency.
● Number 10 cans of powdered potato flakes. OK, so they don't taste as good as the real thing, but they store a lot longer and whip up fast. And if you want, you can still pick up the 50 pound bag of potatoes. I've seen these for $5 at flea markets and such. But the powdered stuff won't grow eyes.
● 5-pound bags of elbow macaroni and spiral noodles. These are a staple around here, so we always keep a couple bags on hand. Much cheaper buying them in bulk than the tiny boxes on grocery store shelves.
● 5-pound canisters of peanut butter. A favorite for kids and adults, plus you don't need refrigeration. Don't keep 'em forever or they could go rancid, but a good product to rotate in your every-day pantry. Add some crackers to your stash, too.
● Number 10 cans of chili. We all know beans are a good source of protein, and a hot bowl of chili, which usually combines meat and beans, will keep you working for many hours.
● Large buckets of milk. If you are buying powdered milk, you can realize substantial savings over grocery store prices. One of the best items to keep
● 120 13-gallon trash bags. I could probably come up with a whole web page dedicated to 1001 uses for plastic bags. But you'll just have to use your imagination. From storing water to lining your emergency potty, you'll need them.
● Pouch noodles. I swear ten years ago these were available only in backpacking stores, but now Lipton and others make them for the time-challenged family. Just add water, boil and voila: pasta Alfredo, shells in creamy garlic sauce or garden rotini. These are small sizes and this is one product where you can definitely get a better buy during a sale at the grocery store.
● Pouch and box drinks. These are great for bug-out packs and survival stashes that could be subject to freezing and thawing. My experience has shown the pouches will freeze and thaw throughout a winter stored in the car, but try it yourself in the freeezer before you take my word on it. Every brand could be different.
● For those with a large freezer or a large family, 5-pound blocks of cheese, 10-pound packages of frozen hamburgers and large quantities of frozen vegetables are often good buys. If the you-know-what hits the fan, you'll just have to eat alot of hamburgers for the first day or two.
● Paper products, cleaning supplies, candy and personal care products are also available in large quantities at reasonable prices.
Let me digress a moment for a comment about canned goods. Traditional canned goods aren't the best for survival because they loose their food value over time. But The Warrior Class thinks they have a lot going for them nonetheless. They are cheaper and easier to obtain than specialty foods such as MRE's or freezedried foods. They also can be heated in their cans. Remove the lid (You didn't forget to pack a couple of can openers, did you?) and plop them carefully on the burner or stove, and the can becomes an instant pan. Also, you can drink the juice off vegetables to preserve your water reserves (as long as it isn't too salty). Plus, you can get a wide variety of foods, and cans are a lot tougher than glass.
So let's say you get an inside scoop that North Korea is going to invade South Korea in the next two days and you are worried about the use of nuclear weapons in such a scenario. You decide to high tail it off to your shelter before it's too late. Do you call the 800 number and order a dozen cases of MREs and wait for the UPS man to show, or do you hightail it to the store and clean all the canned goods off the shelf? If you have a survival stash which already includes survival-type foods, these canned goods will be a nice addition and provide some much needed variety. Don't forget canned fruits and vegetables.
Somewhere between the traditional supermarket and the Warehouse club lie discount grocers. This could be the "Super Kmart" that carries groceries as well as just about anything else you need. There are also Food4Less and similar stores that are a bit like warehouse clubs, only they don't carry anything except food. Becoming a careful consumer and a survival-shopper may require visit to all three types of stores over time.
Food Co-ops and Farmers Markets
Food co-ops can be found in the yellow pages. While some require you to work, most allow you to purchase as non-working members at a slightly higher price than the participants. Others require that you order in advance so you can share in their volume purchasing Food co-ops often make large purchases of fresh vegetables, nuts, grains and similar supplies. Many times, these are organically-grown, so you are benefitting health-wise as well as financially.
Some farmers markets are seasonal, usually around only during the growing season or only on Saturdays, but others are permanent. If you put up canned goods, there's nowhere better to make large purchases of fresh fruit and vegetables. Whether you're looking for tomatoes or peaches, this is the next best thing to growing your own.
Beyond the Basics
● Seven Steps for Survival Success
● Additional Steps
● The Importance of Rehearsal
● Developing a Survival Mindset
● Survival Awareness
Seven Steps for Survival Success
Everyone's survival situation is different, so use these steps as a suggestion and modify them to fit your specific needs. The key is to never stop preparing. Start small and build until you consider preparedness and survival whenever you make your major decisions. The Warrior Class's Survival Guide is intended as a map to guide you in this journey. Not surprisingly, the steps below follow the guide:
● Step 1: Identify the most severe threats likely to affect you, so that you can prepare for them first. Think of it as knowing your enemy.
● Step 2: Make evacuation plans and prepare a bugout kit for yourself and each member of your family.
● Step 3: Prepare a permanent survival kit for your car. This will serve you well if you need to bug out or if you are caught away from your home.
● Step 4: Start building your food and water stash at home.
● Step 5: Start acquiring survival tools. These could be anything from a plastic wrench to turn off the gas to a chainsaw.
● Step 6: Start expanding your knowledge base through reading and taking courses. Build a survival library.
● Step 7: When you make large purchases, such as your car and home, consider its application for survival and preparedness reasons. This means avoid hurricane prone areas and stay well away from the fault line.
You should be adding to your survival skills or supplies every week. Sound hard? It doesn't have to be. It could be as simple as adding a few purchases during your weekly shopping trip. Or it could mean picking up a new magazine at the newsstand. Or you could rent or buying a book or video on a survival-related subject.
Your best weapon is your mind, and reading and practicing will help polish and improve your survival skills. Some skills, such as identifying and gathering foods in the wild, are obviously and directly survival-related. Others, such as learning to weld or repair small engines, may be more of a stretch. But who's to say your future survival situation might not require someone who can weld a water-storage tank or repair a generator?
Planning is important, but rehearsal is when you will test your plan and identify flaws. Rehearsal is simply pretending you are in a survival situation and acting accordingly. Here are some survival examples to try:
● Try living for a weekend without electricity. You can do this the real way by shutting of the breaker (to prevent cheating) or the easy way by just "pretending." If you do the latter, you should fine each other for violating the rules. The exercise
will teach you that boiling water over a camp stove or a fire in the back yard just to make you're morning coffee can really wreck your normal morning routine. But hopefully the experience will also help you identify missing supplies, bad ideas and develop a new, stronger plan.
● Try to evacuate your family to another location (anywhere from a friend or relatives to a motel 100 miles away). Give yourselves 20 minutes to pack. Once you've reached your destination make a list of everything you forgot and then add it to your bug out bag. Once you've settled in at your destination, take a minute to think how you would feel if everything you left behind was destroyed by a fire or if everything below the second floor was damaged or destroyed by a flood. Revise your storage and survival plans accordingly.
● Go for a drive one Saturday in the fall. Pull over in a remote area (if it's safe) and spend the night there with only the supplies on hand in your car.
● Try eating only your survival foods for a weekend or even a week. This is a good one if you're ready to rotate out some of your food. It also has the added benefit of letting you identify any dishes you can't stand or to realize you need to add some spices and a cook book to your stash.
Developing a Survival Mindset
Being mentally prepared is a key to successful survival. Just as athletes can improve their performance by mentally reviewing their actions before the big game, you can improve your performance in a survival situation by reviewing your options and plans before you need them. Play scenarios through your head and rehearse your options and actions. For example:
● If you are stuck in traffic, imagine what you would do if a large earthquake struck.
Where would you go? What would you do? (If you're not in an earthquake-prone area, think what you would do if you saw a huge funnel cloud heading towards you.)
● In your work place, think what you would do if an ex-employee returned to work one day a bit drunk and verbally abusive. You know he owns guns, but you don't see one on him. How do you react?
● If you're traveling out of town or in any unfamiliar area, think about what you would do if you were stranded due to a breakdown or if the area was suddenly hit by a flash flood. What would you do to increase your chance of survival?
(Maybe I am being cynical, but by expecting the worse, I am never disappointed and occasionally receive a pleasant surprise. After all, we're not practicing how to survive winning the lottery or getting a promotion and a big raise at work.)
Part of developing a survival mindset is being aware of your situation. The military developed a set of color codes which Col. Jeff Cooper (a respected firearms trainer) adapted for personal "street" survival by those who carry a firearm. The Warrior Class has adapted and modified those again to pertain to survival in the broader sense:
Condition White An individual in Condition White is totally unaware that the world is an unpredictable (at best) place and that they could be put in danger by a man-made or natural disaster with little or no warning. They suffer from the misguided belief that the government will protect them and keep them safe.
Condition Yellow An individual in Condition Yellow has accepted responsibility for his or her personal survival. They have admitted that the veneer of civilization can be wiped away, catapulting us back to an era where our modern conveniences don't work. They realize that the police cannot protect them before a crime has been committed. They realize that while mankind can harness some of nature's powers, and predict some of her behavior, it cannot stand against her fury.
This individual has started making preparations to protect themselves and their loved ones from potential disasters. They monitor the news for weather-related danger or potential civil unrest. By reading this far into The Warrior Class's Survival Guide, you are probably in condition Yellow.
Condition Orange You are in Condition Orange when you realize a dangerous event is on the horizon and looming closer. It could be a hurricane heading towards you, an impending snow storm or a gang of youths crossing the street on a course ready to intercept you. In condition Orange, you are preparing to survive an impending situation. This could mean filling improvised water tanks or bringing extra fire wood into the house to dry. It could be loading the car in preparation to evacuate or hanging hurricane shutters.
(Note, in some emergencies -- like an earthquake or terrorist bombing -- you may go straight from Condition Yellow to Condition Red or Black.)
Condition Red You are in a survival situation and the dangerous event is there NOW. This means the bullets are flying, or the water is rising or the wind is howling, the electricity is out and the snow is piling up. You're most important priority is to ride out the moment, to survive the immediate event. This probably means taking shelter or running or, depending on the situation, fighting back.
Condition Black In The Warrior Class's version of the color code, Condition Black is after the catastrophic event, but before the situation has returned to normalcy. You still are depending on your survival stash and skills to survive, but the danger is longer term, not immediate.
Examples of condition black could be the earthquake that is over, but you can't return to your home. Or the river has crested, but it will be days before your can return home and longer before you are cleaned out. Or the riots have died down, but you dare not leave your house or neighborhood. Or the snow has stopped but the electricity has not been restored, and it will be a few days before the plows dig you out.
Think about your worst-case scenario and determine how long you might have to survive in condition black. Remember that in a catastrophic event, such as nuclear war, a terrible plague, a comet strike or an alien invasion (people have been e-mailing me asking me why I haven't addressed the latter two) "normalcy" may only be in your memory.
This list could easily run into the thousands of items, but here are a few you should think about having around the house and/or the retreat. These are for the survival situation when TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) occurs rapidly, leaving you without the modern conveniences, little or no resources outside of what you have at hand, and a government that cares more about taking care of itself than caring for you and the thousands of other refugees.
As a general rule, avoid products that require batteries, or use consumables such as gasoline and propane, unless you have large storage tanks for fuel. If you can, look for radios and flashlights that can be powered by hand or contain rechargeable batteries and a self-contained solar panel.
Spend your money wisely, as the hundreds or thousands you spend on a night vision devices could buy you months worth of food.
Note, this is not intended as your bugout bag, automotive survival stash or 72 hour kit. But these are tools you may not have on hand that could be very useful in a survival situation.
● Chain saw (with spare gas and oil)
Great for clearing storm damage, rescuing others or cutting down a tree to block easy access to your house, neighborhood or retreat.
● Axe and/or Hatchet
If you need to chop some fire wood, split some small logs or clear away some brush, an axe is a good second to the chain saw. Hatchets are great for making kindling and kids can use them, too.
● A Fingertip Wire Saw
If you don't have a chain saw, you can still cut through a pretty good sized log with a large fingertip saw. Very efficient for starting fires as well.
You never know when you might need to dig a hole, and it's tough without tools. If you need to build a latrine, it will be a lot easier with a multifunctional shovel than the survival knife on your belt. Same for a improvised nuclear shelter. The Warrior Class keeps a folding shovel in his car, just in case. If you live where the soil is especially rocky, a pick and/or pry bar would be good additions to the list.
Thick, thin or in between, there are 101 uses for rope and twine. From an improvised line for drying flooded or rain-drenched items to lashing items to the roof of your bug-out vehicle, you should keep a few different kinds on hand.
The Warrior Class recommends carrying a knife at all times. But a larger knife is useful for dozens of possible tasks, from whittling a tent stake to cutting a fishing spear. Once you have a general-purpose knife or two, you can add skinning knives, folding knives, etc.
● Sharpening Stone
This will help keep you knife, axe, and other bladed implements sharp and ready for use. Add a file for the axe and hatchet.
● Big Wrench
It's possible you will need to turn off your gas or water main if your domicile receives serious damage. While special non-sparking wrenches are made specifically for turning off the gas, any wrench will do in a pinch.
● Cast Iron Frying Pan and Dutch Oven
A properly treated cast iron frying pan is great for cooking eggs or rodents on a gas stove or over a camp fire. And a Dutch oven will cook everything from stew to bread.
● Tin Cups, and Plates
Glass and china products will break, especially in a rough survival environment. Metal products are lighter to carry and can be tossed off the shelf in a quake with no side effects. Plastic is a good alternative, but you cannot heat a plastic cup over an open fire. The enamel products, built for camping, are the nicest available.
● Hand Powered Grinder/Mill
If you store buckets of grain, The Warrior Class assumes you have thought of this necessity.
Whether you need to haul water, or carry vegetables from the garden to the house, a bucket is an item you will be hard pressed to make.
● Plastic Jugs or other Water Containers
You may need to carry water from a nearby source, and gallon jugs are easy enough for everyone in the family to carry.
● Fire Starter
Once the power goes out, you'll be depending on a fire to cook, boil water, keep warm, etc. You need to make sure you have plenty of different fire starting materials. Lighters and matches are good, but alternatives such as a flint and steel are even better in the long run.
● Sleeping Bag and/or Blankets
The value these will provide in keeping warm at night should be self evident.
● Multiple light sources A hurricane lantern. Keep flashlights on hand for short term use but stock up on candles. It gets pretty dark when the electricity is out for days or weeks, and they are warm and comforting.
● Tarp/plastic sheets
Ideal when you need to keep something dry, create a temporary shelter or rig a catch system to trap rain water.
After the immediate emergency dies down, you may need to get around your local area, and a bike is an excellent alternative when cars are not practical. Maybe there's a lack of gasoline or downed bridges and overpasses, as we saw after the big California quake. You can carry a bike over broken cement and can cover much more ground than walking. If society breaks down to the extent that you need to use a bike, they will be very expensive. So get one now and use it recreationally.
● Shortwave Radio
If the situation is so bad the local radio and TV stations are off the air, you will need a radio set to hear news from other countries around the world. For local communications, a CB radio and a scanner are nice additions.
● First Aid Kits
● Alternative Medicines
The Warrior Classmates are the first to admit they dont know how to remove an appendix. But they know how critical medical care can be in a survival situation. Food, water and shelter may be the first three items on your emergency list, but medical care should be number four.
Whether it's a car crash or natural disaster, medical treatment always seems to be necessary early in an emergency situation - just when it's hardest to come by. But with education, you can provide the first aid you or those close to you need. The Warrior Class recommends reading and taking Class (such as those offered by the Red Cross and some EMT programs) on first aid and becoming a first responder.
An entire first aid tutorial with information on how to treat different medical emergencies is online here at The Warrior Class.
If you don't have the time, at least store a few first aid kits in important locations.
First Aid Kits
There are dozens of commercial first aid kits available from many different suppliers. The Warrior Class recommends you have on hand three different types of kits:
● A basic first aid kit for your car and bug out bag.
● An intermediate first aid kit for around the home and for traveling.
● An extensive medical kit stored with your survival gear for use when going to a regular doctor or hospital is out of the question.
While kit contents will vary, your basic kit (which most outdoors or camping-type stores should carry) should include at least the following. If you can't buy one with these contents, pick up a few supplies and create your own:
● Antibiotic ointment
● Gauze pads
● Iodine or similar prep pads
● Alcohol prep pads
● Butterfly bandages
● Antibiotic ointment
● Medical adhesive tape
● Aspirin and/or non-aspirin pain relievers
The intermediate kit will include more of each of the above items, plus the following:
● Larger adhesive bandages
● Smelling salts or ammonia inhalants
● Ace-type bandages for strains and sprains
● Several sizes of sterile pads
● Rolls of gauze
● Antiseptic towlets
● Snake bite poison extractor
● Safety pins
● Rubber (latex) gloves
● Burn medication
● Anti-itch treatment
● Sun screen
● Diarrhea medication
● Eye drops
● Basic first aid instructions
Your more advanced medical kit can be expected to include not only the above, but some or all of the following:
● Special bandages, such as conforming, trauma and field dressings
● Rubbing alcohol for sterilization
● Hydrogen peroxide
● Sterile sutures, in several sizes
● Wound probe
● Mouth-to-mouth shield
● Instant hot pack
● Instant cold pack
● Prep pads
● Eye pads
● Cotton balls
● Burn treatments
● Dental tools
● Splint materials
● In-depth first aid/surgical guide
● Cold medication
● Colloidal silver
If you can find a sympathetic doctor or have other access to prescription medicines, you should consider stocking up on a few key items:
● Broad spectrum antibiotic
● Antibiotics for sinus infections, strep throat and other common "winter" ailments
● Pain killers
Remember, if you have kids or a special medical problem, add whatever extra items you think are appropriate.
We're not worrying about your pet -although they can be injured in disasters, too -- but using easily-obtainable veterinarian supplies for your own needs, as many survival writers recommend. While The Warrior Class does not endorse this position, it bears mentioning. In a survival situation, does it really matter who or what the prescription was originally written for? Use your own judgment and don't forget to read our disclaimer!
The Warrior Class has seen too much of the world not to believe that there are more ways to treat common ailments than the AMA would have you believe. And should a post- apocalyptic world mean we have to revert to herbs and tree roots, a bit of knowledge about alternate medicines may be helpful. (A list of useful alternative medicine sites is being developed.)
For day-to-day well being, The Warrior Class is partial to homeopathic medicine. This approach to healing stimulates your body's natural healing force. You can check the yellow pages for the homeopathic physician near you.
Disclaimer: The author(s), The Warrior Class, The Warrior Class Inc., the webmaster, host and others associated with this site accept no responsibility for the use or misuse of this information. The practice of medicine is something that should only be practiced by trained professionals. If you start administering medical or surgical treatments without the appropriate skills you could take the life of someone. Even in emergency situations, often no action is better than uninformed and untrained action. Any practice of survival, medicine or techniques should be backed up with appropriate training. This information is offered as personal opinion and should not be taken to represent a professional opinion or to reflect any views widely held from the medical community. For more information, please read our TOS.