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Taking the Past and Use it To Prepare for the Future

As preppers we are always trying to figure out the perfect combination of living simply, while taking advantage of today’s technology. There is quite a bit we can learn from how people lived a century ago. If an EMP, CME or something else took down the power grid, we could easily find ourselves in that type of situation.

In the early 1900’s, unless you lived in the big city, or had big money, you probably didn’t have refrigeration (1930’s), electricity, running water, automobiles, or grocery stores. While we try to become more self-reliant just in case, back then it wasn’t a choice…it was a necessity.

Life was simpler in the early 1900’s. The population was smaller, there was less technology, and nearly half the population were farmers. The typical family size (or household) was bigger out of necessity, their diets were different, and transportation was walking, horses and a few cars.

Because of all this, most people were a lot less dependent on others for their survival. In today’s society, people have become dependent on technology, and others for their survival. This is why if the power grid went down, 90% of the population would not exist.

 Preparing For the Future By Learning From the Past

In order to give ourselves the best chance possible to live through a larger grid down event, or even just get through a smaller power outage, we need to learn how they did it 100 years ago. We don’t necessarily need to live like they did 100 years ago, or go back to the old west, but we need to learn how they did.

Lessons We Can Learn

Preparedness is about marrying the new with the old. We have the technology to harness solar power and communicate (ham radio) so why not use it. What we don’t want to do is be dependent on water coming from the faucet, food being at the grocery store, and the light coming on at the flip of a switch.

The basics of preparedness are pretty simple. The gadgets and trinkets are great, but won’t save your life. When it comes to any sort of disaster or SHTF scenario, life will be different, like it or not. We all try to do things today that will make life easier then, but we need to learn to live differently, and learning from the past is a good way to do that.

The 6 areas of preparedness

The 6 areas of preparedness, and how we can prepare in each of those categories. By taking the knowledge and supplies we have today, and coupling them with how they lived in the past, we can make life much easier when and if something goes down.

Were are a few topics we covered in the show…

Food

Liberty Gardens: Most people in the early 1900’s gardened to one extent or the other. During WW1 people began to plant Liberty Gardens. This was to help feed the soldiers, and also because most of the farmers were sent off to war.

Cooking From Scratch: Cooking from scratch was a necessity. There was no pancake mix, hamburger helper or Campbell’s soup. If people wanted beef stew, they had to make it from scratch.

Ranching: Just like gardening, a lot of people owned livestock in the 1900’s. This may not been a full fledged “Ranch”, but quite a few people had cows, chickens and goats.

Hunting/Trapping: Hunting was a little easier back then because there were more animals, but just about everyone who didn’t live in the big city knew how to hunt at an early age.

Food Preservation: Because you had to grow your own crops, and hunt your own meat, preserving your food was also important. canning, smoking, dehydrating and root cellars were widely used.

Water

Water Safety: Cholera and Typhoid are nearly non existent in the United States today, but that wasn’t the case 100 years ago. Today we have much more knowledge about clean drinking water, and this is one of the most important parts of preparedness.

Wells: If you lived in the city you might have indoor plumbing, but in the outskirts you were on your own. This meant people needed to dig wells, live close to a water source, and bring it into the house manually.

No Indoor Plumbing: If you lived in an Urban area, you might have had indoor plumbing. If you didn’t, you would have used used chamber pots or outhouses. This would be a huge culture shock to most people if the indoor plumbing didn’t work.

Shelter

No Handymen: While everything back then was a lot simpler (easier to fix), DIY projects weren’t projects…they were necessity. There was no “Angie’s List” back then, and if you wanted something done, you did it yourself.

Clothing: We think of shelter as a roof over our head, but clothing is also shelter. Most people back then didn’t have a closet full of clothes like we do. A lot of people has Sunday Clothes, and Work Cloths. There were no clothing stores like we think of them, so if you wanted something new, you made it, or waited for it.

Houses: If you drive through an older town you will notice that the houses are much smaller, even the “Mansions” back then are smaller than some suburban homes these days. Smaller homes are easier to heat, easier to build, and the average household occupancy was larger back then.

Security

Police: They didn’t have the police force that we have today, and the police couldn’t communicate like they do today. This meant that is something were to happen, you were probably on your own.

Culture: People had a different mentality back then. People we more self reliant, and didn’t like to depend on someone else for their livelihood or survival. These days it’s almost the exact opposite, most people expect (and feel entitled to) help from others.

Crime: The population was about a third of what it is today, and less population meant less crime. Because the society and culture were so different than it is today, you didn’t see some of the things we see today. Everyone pretty much knew everyone in smaller town, and sometimes criminals didn’t “get their day in court” if you know what I mean.

Sanitation

Supplies: Back then people didn’t have vacuums (or even carpet), air filters, or Swiffer Sweepers. The mops and brooms they used were very basic, and sometimes homemade.

Cleaning: Today it seems like we have never ending choices about what cleaning supplies we can buy, back than that was not the case. Cleaning supplies are a sometimes overlooked prepping supply, but are very important in preventing sickness and infection.

Indoor Plumbing: As I mentioned earlier, a lot of people did not have indoor plumbing, and this is what lead to many of the common diseases back then. It’s important that we learn about how they did things back then, and not make the same mistakes.

Trash Removal: People back then didn’t generate the amount of trash that we do today, but trash can also lead to health issues. In a SHTF scenario I doubt that the trash man will be coming around, so we need to figure out a solution.

First Aid (Medical)

Technology: The advancements we have made in science and technology would seem like magic to people in the 1900’s. If you’ve ever seen some of the equipment they used back then, you know what I mean. Medical professionals not only have better equipment, but better knowledge as well.

Medicine: Advancements is medicine have also come a long way in the last 100 years. With the advent of antibiotics, diseases and infections that would be fatal then, can be treated today. We have written a few articles about antibiotics for preppers.

Medical Help: Back then there weren’t hospitals like we think of then today, no flight for life, and no ambulances. Most towns had a town doctor with his doctor bag, and which probably had some Opium, snake oil and Heroin in it.

Incorporating Today’s Tools With Yesterday’s Skills

If we learn how people lived 100 years ago we can better prepare for any sort of grid down event, or SHTF event. We have much more knowledge and technology today than they had back then, but some of that technology may not be available.

By looking at all the topics covered above, and trying to figure out a solution for each, we can give ourselves a little better chance for survival, or at the very least, a little normalcy in a tough situation.

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Effective Family Survival

They say that every survival scenario defines a case of survival of the fittest. You might think you can make it, regardless of what the world throws at you, but what if you’re not alone? If you have loved ones depending on you, family survival becomes your main priority.

That being said, sometimes a group has better odds of surviving under the right leadership. Regardless if you prepare for or with your family, there are some principles you need to implement. Groups with great leaders can pretty much accomplish anything. Being a survival leader and the head of the family isn’t easy. You already struggled to build a family, now is the time to develop them into a survival group.

No matter how you look at things, being part of a dysfunctional team, can lead to disaster during an emergency situation. They may not all agree with your rules and plans for the future, but you can’t distance yourself from them. You should never see those close to you as expendables and you should always value them.

Just like you put a lot of effort into your prepping plans, human relationships need nurturing to survive. There is a natural tendency for families to get along since blood is thicker than water, but never take this for granted. As days turn into weeks and months, bad feelings can start to fester and frustration can pile up. Exposing your family members to an austerity scenario with no electricity, no water and no food can cause alienation.

To make family survival work, it takes an empathetic leader who can keep an eye on both the mission and his or her family.

Always show them love

Your family knows when you care about them and also when you don’t. Put your family first, regardless how busy you are. Be dedicated and loyal to them, even if it seems that you don’t have enough time for your prepping chores. Love in a family, loyalty and trust should never be taken for granted. Learn about their hobbies and preoccupations and show genuine interest in their lives. You shouldn’t assume that they will later understand and thank you for your effort. They might not stick around long enough to appreciate all you’re doing for them right now.

Keep a healthy and fit family

Becoming a couch potato and letting your kids spend hours on the computer or game console is a toxic habit. If your family is out of shape or ill, you will tire more quickly and lack the stamina to survive. Tired people have less patience and quickly lose focus of what they are supposed to do. Family survival is impossible without a good health and physical shape of all its members. Is hard to care about anything else if you are exhausted or suffering.

Keep everyone informed

Many people new to prepping have the tendency of keeping their kids in the dark. They are reluctant to share information about their prepping plans. It seems just too much for the kids or relatives to handle. As a family leader, you should learn how to talk to your kids about emergency preparedness. There is no safety net out in the real worlds and there are no prizes for trying when it comes to survival. When you’re confronted by relatives and friends, don’t argue and don’t impose your point of view. Briefly explain your course of action and the reasons behind your prepping plans. It they care about you, they will understand and respect your decision.

Set an example

I come from a family line of hard working people that lived life with modesty and dignity. In all my life, I have never heard the words “it’s not possible” or “it can’t be done”. The way you guide your family in life reflects in everything you do. You should always be an example for them. Work hard and avoid being viewed as lazy. My grandfather used to say that ambition, good attitude and kindness are infectious. If you want your kids to learn about the world, you need to show them what’s out there. Spend time with them in the nature and allow them to figure things out on their own.

Turn your family into a team

Set goals for your family members, inspire vision and establish responsibilities for each of them. Listen to their feedback and reward their patience when it comes to your prepping plans. Family survival is not possible if only one person struggles for all the others. If you want to maximize results, you need to make it a common effort. Even small children can accomplish big tasks by what it seems like playing for them.

Be truthful

Credibility is a fragile thing inside a divided family. Do not lie to your family, because sooner or later they will figure it out. If the situation is critical, there is no need to sugar coat it, unless some of them can’t cope with the reality. If they have the proper age and mindset, it’s better to lay your cards on the table. Don’t lose your temper when comforted with bad news. It will make people around you lose confidence and they will lie as a self-defense mechanism.

Take responsibility

Understand that you’re not superman and that nobody’s perfect. Don’t pretend to be more than you are and be accountable for your mistakes. Rather than covering something up and see how things develop. Make the corrections in time and apologize as needed.  Family survival requires you to be bold. Taking unnecessary risk means making mistakes. Not taking risks when situation requires it and playing it safe can have a diminishing return.

Be tolerant

Zero tolerance is required if someone undermines your authority when leading a survival group.  However, this is not a group of random people, they are your family! You should provide adequate support for all your family members and take time to explain your actions. The “do as I say” mentality can backfire. You need to keep everyone united and you can’t do that if you push them around.

Don’t forget to keep a good attitude

Things may seem grim, but remember that relaxed and funny people are a natural antidepressant. Even if you have no power, and the weather outside is turning bad, you can still keep a good attitude. Humor is essential for family survival, especially if you have young ones. It is an important trait to deal with stress and can significantly boost the mood of your family.

Communicate with and encourage your family members

I see a lot of parents criticize their children in public and they don’t realize how much harm they are causing. Praise in public and criticize in private is what my grandmother used to say. Tell your family members what you want them to accomplish and not how to do it. Keep instructions simple and concise and always ask for feedback. Trust the knowledge of your family members, but be ready to take charge when things get rough. After any crisis that affects your family you should discuss about the following:

  • What did we do wrong this time?
  • What did we do right?
  • How can we improve our preparations?

Family survival requires good leadership and involves much more than telling them what to do. Family survival is about being a better person for them. Encouraging them to learn new things and keeping them informed is what makes a good team. Leading your loved ones is the hardest job during a crisis scenario, but you should never give up on them.

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Sit and Think is Your First Preparedness Task

Cover the basic needs first. What good is 12,000 rounds of ammo, two battle rifles, BDUs, one flashlight, and one case of MREs after the first week?

You must have a full plan to survive. Providing for just one year takes some serious dedication to reach that level. A couple of decks of cards, pens, papers, small note books, the list can go on and on and on. You have to be well rounded.

Can you skin a buck, run a trapline, drop a tree with a chainsaw, plant a garden, protect your garden, preserve your food? Do you have dogs? Do you have enough stored food for them?

How about pest control, mice traps, squirrels, rabbits, coons, ground hogs, can sure tear up a garden do you have traps for them? Think it through: Chipmunks, gophers, garden pest, and bug control. Mosquito netting is the best thing you can buy if you plan on being outdoors.

Sit down and try to put a list together for one year of supplies. You know just the basics like where are you going to get water every day. How are you going to cook? How do you heat in the winter? Have you ever tried to chop a year’s supply of wood?

Do you have children? What kind of medicine will you need for them in 1 year? What kind of non power games do you have for them to do? Does you wife sew or crochet? Do you have some supplies like that put away. A knitted wool hat or mittens sure would be nice if you didn’t have them when you left. How about washing clothes?

You did put away enough toilet paper for a year, right? You also protected this toilet paper with traps or poison so the mice and chipmunks didn’t chew it all, up right? How about feminine products for a year.

What about yeast infections? I know it’s not the most pleasant thing to talk about but a must if you are seriously planning to survive. I talked to an old timer once that grew up in the Depression and I asked him what did you use for toilet paper his words “Last year Sears and Roebuck catalog, oh and by the way I sold all my furs to them too.” What would be a good catalog today? How about some thick old city telephone books, might be a good choice to store away for back up toilet paper.

These are some thing you must consider. Walk your land, think about every tree you have, how much open space you have, how much water, wildlife, and shelter you have. A plan cannot be made until one knows what he needs!