Are all of you as stunned as I am that 2012 is already here and that January is nearly gone? I keep thinking that the older I get the faster the days go by, but I hope that isn't true because I have so many things to get done this year and I don't need time to zip by any faster!
The first few weeks of 2012 have been pretty busy around here. We have already started shopping for seed deals for spring plantings, and we have been doing some rearranging and recommissioning of furniture from other rooms to create more storage space for our food storage and supplies room. The addition of more shelving is something we have truly needed and we're committed not to spend a dime to get accomplished what we need to do.
Like everyone else we're broke and need every penny to get by for our bills and day to day needs and groceries. There are no expendable dollars around here to be used for elaborate shelving units. So whenever we're in a pinch like this we stand back and look around the entire house and the garage and ask ourselves what do we already have that could be repurposed into what we need, and 9 times out 10 we find a solution. This time it was a basement shelving unit whose items could easily fit on a garage shelf. Now we've freed up a whole new shelving unit (actually a really nice Rubbermaid four shelf unit we bought a decade a go that will hold a lot of weight) and we are ready to move it into our storage room this weekend.
I know so many people that want to get working on emergency preparedness but they say time and time again that they just can't afford it. I want to reassure anyone out there who thinks that they can't, that really they can do it. What you really can't afford is seeing your family suffer in a time of crisis. So stay positive and start prepping! Chances are many of the things you need to begin with are already in your house right now and it won't cost you a thing to start! Do you need some ideas on where to begin? Here's a list of things we've done in the past and still do, including our storage shelf repurpose that we are working on this weekend, and they are all things you can do right now, that cost nothing (but a little time) to get you more prepared in 2012.
- Store your own water instead of buying it. Two liter pop bottles are what most people prefer to use when storing their own water and it’s what FEMA and the EPA and others recommend, but you don’t have to go out and buy pop just to have bottles to store water. Use whatever kind of bottles you have on hand such as plastic juice bottles, tea bottles, milk bottles even, but the key to using these bottles is IMMACULATE washing and disinfecting (with bleach water) and that the bottle you’re using is food safe! You could even use glass bottles but be sure they are stored in a safe place where they won't get broken. Then once the water is stored be sure to rotate and replace water bottles every 6 months to a year. Any water used after a year in storage should be treated or boiled.
- Clean out your food cabinets now and see what you have. Take inventory and start making a list of what you have and what you want to store. If you have any dried goods such as flour or rice that are nearing their expiration date but you don’t have money to replace them, put them in the freezer to extend their shelf life for months beyond their expiration date. However, do not freeze flour in only its original paper, always wrap it with plastic or place in freezer bags or seal it in a Foodsaver bag before freezing.
- Need storage space, don’t buy a shed or remodel, just declutter! Clean up your closets, spare bedroom, basement or attic. It’s time to clear out what you know you don’t need anymore and make room for your emergency preparedness items. When you’re finished, trust me, you will have the biggest weight lifted from your shoulders knowing you got rid of things you never used and you might find emergency preparedness or survival gear you’d forgotten you had which will save you from making an unneeded purchase.
- Don’t buy shelves unless absolutely necessary! We know numerous people who have spent hundreds of dollars on the shelving they use for food storage and we say don’t do it! Why? That’s money you can put into your supplies of foods, batteries, first aid or emergency radios instead spending the money on shelving. Use of what you have! It doesn't have to be perfect, just functional. Any unused furniture could be used for storage such as two desks stacked to make shelves or an old set of dresser drawers, filing cabinets or a bookcase. If you have no extra furniture then make some yourself from found objects like shelves from free shipping crates often found outside manufacturing buildings, or use plastic milk crates stacked on top of each other. Even old wooden doors with cement blocks stacked between them can make a set of shelves.
- Don’t go out and buy new backpacks for your get out of dodge (BOB) bag. If the time comes and you have to bug out or evacuate the only thing you really need is something durable and portable. If you’re kids are older but you still have an old diaper bag in the back of your closet use it or an over sized purse or duffel bag. If you’re husband plays hockey, use his old gear bag. I saw a great suggestion on You Tube recently where a prepper suggested a portable shopping cart with wheels that you often see people pulling behind them down city the streets, as it would be perfect if you're not strong enough to carry a bag. Even a plastic storage container or suitcase will work in a pinch as long as you can easily carry it.
- One of the best things you can do for free is get to your local library and get reading. Find first aid or boy scout manuals, books on foraging for food in the wild, you can even find some great survival and food storage books, as well as books on hunting, coping with stress and camping cookbooks. Remember knowledge is power and the more you know the more you’ll be able to cope emotionally during an emergency situation.
- Finally, don’t get obsessed or afraid, just get informed. Know what’s going on in your community and around the world. Keep up with current events so you know when certain food prices are on the rise because of bad crops or that gas is on the rise so you can fill up now instead of next week. Stay aware and know when bad weather may be headed your way. The key is not to get caught off guard and to be ready in case of any emergency by starting now, not waiting until the emergency is at your door step.