How To Get Ready For Disaster – Interactive

You’ve all seen it by now.  Images of a wave racing across a field with trucks, cars, boats, pieces of house and other debris tumbling over and over as it destroys everything in its path.  Tsunami.  Earthquake.  Fire.  Nuclear meltdown.  Propane and gasoline tanks burning and exploding.  Power outage.  No access to fresh water.  Diminished food supplies.  It’s incredibly humbling when you see what Mother Nature can do.  Let’s all keep our Japanese brother and sisters in our hearts and prayers over the next few months as they’ll need all the help they can get.

I received an email from Jarhead03 saying he’d been receiving text and phone messages from people asking what they should do to get started, so this post is a quick primer on what to do to begin getting ready for a disaster.  If you’re new to prepping you’re probably wondering, “How do I get started?”  There’s nothing like witnessing a disaster and seeing other people who weren’t prepared and thinking, “I don’t want that to be me.”  So where do you start? 

I’ve got a little advice and then I’m going to open this up to the folks who’ve been doing this as a way of life for years and let them post their ideas.  Ranger Man and I talked about this awhile ago (it was his idea – gotta give credit where it’s due.)  I read different blogs, news stories, and web sites and invariably the comments section always holds outstanding information and that’s what I hope will happen here.  Time for my SHTF homies to step up. 

Getting Started

Once people start reading the news and websites like SHTFblog and others they suddenly figure out they’re woefully unprepared for an emergency, much less the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI.) Then a sense of urgency sets in and they run out and buy a few cans of food and some water bottles for the pantry. While that’s a good start and will help you feel a little better in the short run you need a detailed plan and a goal to work for.

A good goal to start with is food and water on hand for one month in case TSHTF (the shit hits the fan.)  This is a catch phrase meaning “we don’t know what’s gonna happen, but we’re pretty sure someday something will.”


Start by buying a little extra at the grocery store every time you go shopping. If you like that can of corned beef hash buy two or even three cans and store the extras away. Make sure you get a good variety of vegetables, fruits, meats, and carbs. Put this stuff in your pantry or on a shelf somewhere and make sure the oldest stock is to the front rotating through them just like they do in the grocery store. You can buy bags of rice and beans at the supermarket for emergency food storage and store them in food grade buckets. I get my buckets from the local Hannaford’s here in Maine. Clean the bucket, line it with a Mylar bag and pour the rice in. Throw a couple of oxygen absorbers in and seal the bucket up and you have a good amount of food stored in case of emergency.

Some people say only buy food that you’ll eat; however, I have a different take on that. If you’re going to be rotating food in and out then yes, buy food that you like, but if you decide to buy a month’s worth of freeze dried food you may get sick of it after awhile if you have to eat it someday. Buy it anyway! Food that’s gotten boring is better than starving to death! I’ve eaten plenty of freeze dried stuff while hiking and camping and lots of MRE’s in the Marine Corps, and while it can get old it’s certainly better than going hungry.  Not to mention the freeze dried stuff
will last for years in the pantry. The freeze dried option is a lot more expensive, but if you can afford it go for it. It’s probably the easiest form of food storage out there. Buy it and it when it arrives put it on a shelf and forget about it until you need it. Regardless, store what you’ll need to keep you and your family alive during the lean times.

I wouldn’t put a lot of faith in the electric grid staying up if TSHTF; therefore, if you’re storing stuff in a freezer you may want to think of other methods. Canned and freeze dried are two good alternatives.


If you have advance notice of a potential disaster coming your way – such as a big storm – the wisest thing to do is fill up all your water containers in case the power goes out. If you have town water that’s supplied from a water tower you may be ok for awhile, but it always pays to have spare drinkable water on hand just in case. Recently in Weston, MA a water main burst and drinking water was hard to come by for a few days. Residents had to boil water for a minute before drinking it because they were running off a backup system. A lot of people were without water and were quite put out by it, and all they had to do was boil it! Imagine if the electricity went out at the same time and the people didn’t have any fuel to boil water?

If you’re a prepper you probably already have a good amount of water set aside just in case and you’re resting secure in the fact that if TSHTF you and your family are going to be ok for awhile. However, if you don’t have some water set aside now is the time to start thinking about it.

There are different ways to store water. One way is to recycle your big soda bottles instead of returning them. Clean them thoroughly and fill them with fresh water and a drop of Chlorox bleach (the unscented kind). Experts say to change the water every 6 to 12 months, so you’ll want to label them and
check them periodically. Personally, I feel comfortable going a year as long as I know I cleaned the bottles properly.

Something else I’ve done is to set up a couple of rain barrels. I have two 55 gallon food drums
– I believe they had molasses in them originally – that I took and converted for use as water storage. Right now they’re rain barrels, but if I knew there was trouble coming it wouldn’t take long to put them down cellar and fill them with fresh water.   I also have a Big Berkey water filter and this would help filter out any contaminants that may have been picked up in the rain barrels if I had to resort to drinking that.

The last time the power went out here one of the biggest pains was flushing the toilets. I’d have to take a couple of five gallon buckets and walk to the pond across the street and then carry them back to the bathrooms in the house. We’d only flush a couple of times a day, but it was still a pain dragging those buckets around. These drums are right on the side of the garage and will make it easier to get water the next the power goes out.

How much water do I need to save? How much water should I store? The rule of thumb is to store at least one gallon per person per day for at least 3 days (for earthquake preparedness). That’s 2 quarts for drinking and 2 quarts for food preparation and sanitation. A family of four should store a minimum of 12 gallons of water. Personally, I recommend at least a 10 day supply of water and a 30 day supply if at all possible.

For your bug out kit there are a few options for making water potable as well. I’ve used the Katadyn water filters with good luck in the past. My understanding is that they don’t get all of the bugs that can be found in some water and you could still get sick if you just use the filter; however, having said that I’ve never had a problem. If you filter it and are unconvinced that the water is clean go ahead and boil it if you have the time and means to do so. I usually get my water from a moving source (river, stream, spring, etc) if at all possible. Another type of purification is using the water purification tablets. The water tastes bad after you’ve used the pills, but it’s a lot better than drinking contaminated water and getting sick. I’ve used this
method a few times and other than the iodine taste it worked quite well.

Water is one of the most important things you can have in an emergency. Make sure you have plenty on-hand for you and your family just in case.

If you’re new to prepping and have a question please leave it in the comments section.  For you old pros you’ll see that I’ve left a lot of information out.  Please feel free to contribute your ideas for the good of the clan.

-Jarhead Survivor


Here are a few links to help get things started:

Bug-Out bag on a budget
Why I purchased a Big Berkey Water Purifier
How to make your own MRE’s at home
Things to consider when thinking about bugging out
Practice your backpacking skills and test equipment