Whenever you start talking about preparedness or self-reliance, it’s not long before someone uses the word ‘prepper’ and with it, come the stereotypes. You the one I mean. The wild-eyed loner who is running for the hills, or the guy who has a huge cache of firearms ready to take on the ‘Feds’ when they come calling.
Let’s dump them right here.
The reality of preparedness in the UK today is very different.
Some would say almost boring, yet, it is something that more and more people are doing as part of their everyday lives.
Yes, it is embedded within their everyday lives. It is not something that is done as a hobby, or a bolt-on action that happens when someone remembers.
So what exactly is ‘Preparedness’ and how do you get started?
What does it mean to be ‘prepared’?
Getting back to basics
We are all living in a consumerist society. We end up buying all sorts of stuff we don’t really need; expensive jewellery and watches, fast cars, designer clothing, holidays in far off lands, the latest electrical gadgets and games machines, you know the sort of things.
When you find yourself in a tight spot, often referred to as ‘sh*t hit the fan’ (SHTF) situation, none of those things will be of any use to you whatsoever.
There is a very big difference between things you would like, and things that you need.
Preparedness is all about getting the basic needs of life into place. It doesn’t mean living your life as though we’ve gone back to the stone-age. You can allow time for fun in your life, but there should always be an underlying focus on satisfying your basic needs.
When we’re looking at getting back to basics, there are a number of priorities that need to be taken into account.
Shelter protects you from the weather. All types of weather. Most of us live in homes that provide this protection. Four walls and a roof. However, what if that home suddenly is not available? Do you know how to build a shelter, even a temporary shelter for you and your family? Would you use a tent or natural materials you find around you or could be scavenged?
At this stage you probably haven’t considered those questions. That’s OK, as long as you are aware of the importance of shelter and that it is a priority.
Water, or more correctly, drinkable water is essential to human life. If you have any doubts about the importance of water, simply turn off the mains supply to your home.
You will be surprised how much water you get through, not only by drinking or cooking, but for washing (yourself and clothing), tending to plants around your home or in your garden, as well as dealing with human waste.
Try living without mains supplied water and make a note of how much water you use in 24 hour period.
It is a very miserable existence in your home (‘shelter’) if you are not able to enjoy a comfortable temperature. Inevitably in the UK, this will involve some sort of heat source.
Like water, food sustains life. As humans, without any specific medical conditions, we can survive up to three weeks without food, however, in order to maintain any sense of the quality of life, we need to regularly consume food to ensure we remain nourished and healthy. We are used to shopping regularly, buying fresh produce with short shelf-lives. In fact, we are so used to buying what we want all year round, that many people would now struggle to identify which foods are in-season for their locale. Most of us have also lost food preservation skills such as smoking, pickling and drying. How can you store food for an extended period of time?
Most of us are lucky enough to have shelter. We have somewhere to call home. However, if your home became ‘unavailable’ for some reason do you have somewhere you could go? Friends? Family?
In the UK water supply companies have to meet high standards of safety in the water they provide to customers. If that supply became contaminated with some sort of algae, where would you get your water from? Would you join the queues at the supermarket for bottled water? Would you already have a cache of bottled water available to you? Would you have an alternative supply of water?
How would you keep warm if you couldn’t use your central heating or fire? Do you have alternative fuel sources available?
Do you shop day to day for the food you need? Do you have food in the freezer or kitchen cupboards that you use? How do you balance fresh food against frozen? Now what happens if the electricity supply goes off and your freezer no longer works?
We need to look at worst case scenarios and have multiple backup plans in place, however unless you are extremely wealthy, you will not be able to get all of these plans into place overnight. You will need to prioritise how you use your space and money.
In short, preparedness is about changing your everyday thinking, planning and then taking action.