With the holidays winding down, I like to take a little time to reflect on everything I've achieved over the last 12 months, and plan for the coming year. We've been rather productive on our homestead, but when it comes to survival you can never be too prepared.
There's just too many things that can go wrong.
But this year is rather special. My sister reached out to me as she is starting to develop a survival mindset of her own, and with her small family she asked my advice on how to get started. We caught up last weekend, and over an afternoon by the fire, we put together the following plan.
These are what I suggested she make her resolutions for 2019, and I think some of these may help you out too, especially if you're just getting started.
Create a survival binder
One of the most used pieces of survival gear in our household isn't a specific piece of equipment or pile of supplies. It's our survival binder. Sounds geeky I know, but one of the smartest things you can do when you're starting out is to get organized. Not only does it provide a running inventory of everything we've got in our stockpile, it's useful to be able to calculate how long our food and water will last, and ensure we've got all of the medical supplies, tools, and equipment we need.
It's our handbook to survival, and there are three main parts.
The first is our running inventory of our stockpile. I've created a workbook in excel that we update after each time we go shopping, so we know exactly how much (of everything) we've got. There's no need to poke around in our store room, we can see it right in front of us. Of course, I print this out once a month to update the hard copy in the binder, just in case.
The second is our planning. Everything from communication guidelines to our bug out routes, we've taken the time to put together a "how to" guide of everything we need to know once the SHTF. That way if I'm not around, my kids can take charge and know exactly what to do, even if they've not got it memorized. It's like a plan of attack, so they can act independently in a crisis.
Finally, it's got our documents. Every piece of important information has been copied and is stored in our binder. From our passports, to birth certificates and everything else we may need, keeping it in one place means we've got a backup copy should we ever need it. We've also got soft copies of our survival binder encrypted and uploaded to Dropbox, as well as stored on USB, just in case we're not able to bring the hard copy with us.
Resolution: Create your survival binder with an inventory, SHTF plans and important documents
Always be building your stockpile
You're not going to last long without proper supplies. But you don't need to drop thousands of dollars all at once. My budget doesn't even have room for this kind of spending. What we do is a two-step process that builds on our running inventory. Because I know exactly what's on my shelves, I also know the additional food and supplies I should be buying. And I make sure, each week, I put $20, $40 or whatever I can afford into buying a little more. Make a commitment to always be building your stockpile, and you'll be surprised at just how fast your supplies grow.
Resolution: Commit to buying just a little more supplies each week to build your stockpile.
Get a gun and learn how to shoot
I shouldn't have to tell you how important your own personal safety will be once the SHTF. You need a handgun that can be concealed, and carried with you at all times. Hopefully you've already got a small arsenal of firearms, but if not now is the time to start stockpiling guns and ammunition. All I'd recommend is to ensure you're buying common makes and models so you won't have any trouble sourcing parts and ammunition, though this will prove difficult when all hell breaks loose. Better to have more than enough stored in your stockpile.
But buying a gun is only the first step. You need to learn how to use it effectively, especially in high-stress situations like a home invasion, or an attempted robbery. And that's where the shooting range comes in. Sign up for classes and attend on a regular basis (at least once a month) to hone your confidence, ability, and speed when using a firearm. That way if you ever have to use it, it's almost a second nature to draw and fire. You're not fumbling around like you’ve never fired a shot before.
Resolution: Arm yourself with the right firearm and learn how to be a defensive shooter
Don't spend your weekends at home
All the survival gear in the world won't help you if you've no idea how to use it. We made a commitment to go camping at least once a month, no matter what. That means every month, rain, hail or shine, we're loading up our car and heading off into the great outdoors. Sometimes for hiking, other's for just getting the kids away from their phones and into the real world, the more practice they have at general outdoor skills, like hunting, fishing, and even setting up tents and starting a fire, the better they'll cope on a bug out when the SHTF. Plus, it's a nice excuse to put that fancy survival gear you've been buying to the test.
Resolution: Spend more time in the outdoors practicing your survival skills
Invest in three self-sustaining projects
Going off-the grid isn't for the faint of heart, and it certainly puts a dent in your bank account. But it's important you're making steady progress throughout the year towards building a self-sustaining home. We try to aim for three different projects each year, as it's an achievable goal when you consider everything else going on with our homestead.
Over the last few years we've:
- Installed rain-catchment systems on our home, and all sheds on our property
- Setup a hydro-electric generator as a backup power source in a running stream
- Purchased over a thousand Tilapia for our dam so we can fish as a food source
- Drilled a well to give us an alternative source of water on the property
- Installed solar panels and a battery bank to run our home even during winter
- Built three separate chicken coops that hold approximately 40 egg-laying hens
- Setup two greenhouses to extend our growing season exponentially in the cold months
- Installed septic tanks to reduce our reliance on the city sewage systems
- Taught ourselves how to brew a drinkable home-brew beer from scratch
This year my sister has committed to:
- Upgrading her herb garden by a multiple of four, to start growing her own produce too
- Learning how to can, pickle and preserve the vegetables from her own garden
- Installing rain water tanks to collect every drop that falls on the roof of their home
Resolution: Commit to three projects to make your home more self-sustaining
Achieving these five resolutions will help my sister's family become stronger, and more able to survive when the SHTF. What about yours?