Given the daily headlines, the need to prepare (prep) is evident. And there is a cottage industry out there offering to advise you and your family on how to do so.
Not all are worth reading, but The Practical Prepper: A Common Sense Guide to Preparing for Emergencies is worth getting.
The authors, parents of young children and husband and wife team Kylene and Jonathan Jones, have put a lot of thought into what prepping really involves, and their hard work and careful thought is evident in this store of knowledge of the core knowledge required to know the essence of prepping for your family.
Prepper books fall into one of two broad categories: those that speak to other preppers and those that speak to the larger community. The Practical Prepper, A Common Sense Guide to Emergency Preparedness by Kylene and Johathan Jones, is the latter.
For most of us when we look at this cottage industry of prepper books, however, it is difficult to separate the Biblical wheat (nutritious food or valuable, worthwhile prepping) from the chaff (scaly protective casing that is not nutritious and is worthless prepping). The Practical Prepper offers nutritious, worthwhile, common sense, easily done prepping instruction, plans, strategies, and steps you and your family can take to prepare for, cope with, survive and triumph over natural and manmade adversity.
What I especially liked about this work is that it really is practical prepping as it says in the title. I found examples from my own life in every chapter.
For ease of use and quick reference, it is divided into the following chapters: 1. Where Do I Begin?, 2. What Are the Odds?, 3. Survive or Thrive, 4. Family Emergency Plan, 5. Survival Kits, 6. Communication, 7. Water Storage, 8. Water Disinfection and Purification, 9. Sanitation, 10. Designer Food Storage Plans, 11. Food Storage, 12. Fuel Safety and Storage, 13. Emergency Lighting, 14. Emergency Heating, 15. Emergency Cooking, 16. Shelter, 17. Keeping Cool, 18. Home Protection and Security, 19. Personal Safety, 20. Medical, 21. Community, 22. Financial and Legal, 23. So What Now?
For those of you who are just beginning to get into prepping, you have much worthwhile wheat in each chapter. And even for those of you who have been at this for decades, as I have, there is much worthwhile wheat in each chapter. This is a guidebook to how to be self-reliant when disaster strikes, because if you can get past the first 72 hours, you are in very, very good shape.
As the authors say in Chapter 1. Where Do I Begin? “While prepping is important, we recommend that you always strive to keep balance in your life. Do not allow fear to motivate your actions. Preparing and making steady progress is critically important, but take time to enjoy the present while preparing for the future.” That common sense approach is why this book matters. Many prepper books and websites, with the media piling on, use fear as their reason to prepare. This is wrong, and the authors establish early on that common sense, not fear, should motivate your prepping planning, activities, and family time.
Chapter 2. What are the Odds? Offers resources to help you identify the risks and hazards you face in your neighborhood and region, as well as the basic steps you can take to be ready: family emergency and communication plan; food and water storage; survival kits (home, vehicle, work); backup (water, sewer, natural gas, power); and emergency saving account. Take care of those and you are on your way.
Using a flow chart, they provide an excellent matrix (event, probability, consequence = risk score of the threat matrix (natural: earthquakes, tsunami, hurricanes, winter and summer storms, landslides, heat, tornado, etc.); manmade (terrorism, pandemic and epidemic, atomic, biological, nuclear, chemical, hazmat, electromagnetic pulse (EMP), civil unrest, economic collapse, house fire, debt, societal collapse, etc.). Most of these you will know, but it helps to quantify them so you know what to concentrate on when you create a plan, supplies and strategy for your family.
In Chapter 2 they also describe what could happen (much of it not pleasant to think about) in a matter of fact way. They describe what you can do about it (also often not easy to think about because it involves work) in very practical terms. As importantly, it is written in Plain English so it is a good read. Here is a sample:
· Consider purchasing gold and silver coins after you have built your food stores.
· Practice the art of provident living and self-reliance. Learn to work. Be wise, frugal, and prudent. Get out of debt and live on less than you earn.
· Work on becoming physically fit and healthy. Access to medical care and medications may be limited. If you have disabilities, explore options and develop a reasonable plan in the event medical care is unavailable.
Among the dangers they highlight is a house fire. “The most common disaster is a house fire. One in every 320 households reports a fire annually.” Having experienced our own house on fire in 2003, I agree. (See: http://poetslife.blogspot.com/search/label/It%20Was%20Nothing)
Another Plain English bit of wisdom is found in Chapter 2 is, “Your best teacher is real-life learning experiences. For example, turn off your power for a few days and see how prepared you really are.” That’s stone, hard fact. My wife’s family has an orchard in West Virginia. They get week long power failures. They know how to cope with it.
Granted, my brother-in- law was Delta Force besides operating the orchard, but most of his survival skills are from surviving for years on the orchard, well removed from any assistance. Most Americans live under the illusion that power and services are always on. A power failure teaches them otherwise, and practicing for that eventuality is truly learning the lessons of history, even if most Americans choose to pretend otherwise. If American only knew their own history, they would know that The Practical Prepper is a continuation of our long historical struggle against man-made and natural disasters, not an aberration as the main stream media likes to posit.
Chapter 3. Survive or Thrive, Loving Life opens with:
“You have just completed a comprehensive evaluation of the possible hazards you may face in your future. You have a reasonable plat to reduce those risk factors, and we are going to explore exactly how to execute that plan. But first we will discuss the most important aspect of that plan: your personal attitude, resilience, and emotional fortitude.”
“Quite frankly we dislike the word survive. By definition, to survive is to continue to live or exist in spite of danger or hardship. The word gives little hope of a bright future. Our goal is to thrive in the face of adversity. We gain confidence through our preparations and fully expect to embrace the challenges ahead and find joy in the journey. Bad things happen --- it is an inevitable part of life. But we are determined to thrive in the face of adversity.”
Amen. That is a core value in my own life. In the multiple near-death experiences I’ve had, I’ve survived because I refuse to die, and then always make it better after the survival experience. I never thought about it, but the three “Thriving Through a Disaster” phases they list are spot on: denial, deliberation and decisive moment.
For example, when fifteen lumpen proletariat brought down baseball bats on my skull in Georgetown, in Washington, D.C. the night before Marion Barry, a former DC Mayor went on trial, through my blood and sweat I saw my wife and son. I made the decision in nanoseconds that this was real, I was not going down, I would see my wife and son again, and I went mad until I had 14 of the 15 down (according to the waiters at the restaurant where it happened).
Most people think this will never happen to them. Many told me afterwards, “I don’t go in those neighborhoods.” Until it happens to you, why would you think it can happen? The media calls it a “random act of urban violence.” But it is random...not rare.
The same applies to any man made or natural disaster.
No one thinks it will happen...until it happens.
I’ve been through my share so I have no difficulty accepting that it can happen...and fast.
I believe this knowledge should be shared with children, because sadly our schools do not. And Kylene and Jonathan agree. They have an entire section in Chapter 2 called, “Preparing Children to Thrive in a Disaster.”
That is the best thing you can do for your children, and their practical steps in this 345 page tome will assist you.
Chapter 4, Family Emergency Plan: We Can Make it Together, lists how to create a family emergency plan. They are clear about what I’ve observed for years: this is a parental responsibility that will pay off when the event happens, and it is a thankless task like many thankless parental tasks.
They cover all the basics: primary meeting place, secondary meeting place, out-of-area meeting place, higher ground meeting place (i.e. off the flood plain), evacuation plan, money, the map, communication and communication devices, vital documents, prep lists, things to grab, precious items, transportation, emergency shelter options, and the family emergency action plan.
Now, although this all seems obvious, as with so much of this information, this family emergency plan has uses you cannot imagine. For example, an active shooter at a mall, school, play of employment, or at a random setting. All of these tools would have been useful had there been an active shooter at my son’s school, rather than a sociopath who sought social media attention. (See: http://poetslife.blogspot.com/2014/03/active-shooter-bomb-threat-of-just.html)
Chapter 5: Survival Kits: Living out of a Backpack presents the reality that in order to survive, you need certain essential elements in your backpack...or, more importantly for any parent, in the backpacks that will keep your offspring comfortable and alive. Water, high protein food, shelter, sanitation (too often overlooked), sleep, comfort, and all the things that makes living possible when living is threatened.
They include a section on the “Workplace Survival Kit, “Vehicle Emergency Kit,” “Emergency Survival Kit,” and the “School Survival Kit” “Pet Survival Kit,” “Young Child Comfort Kit,” “Infant Survival Kit,” “Wilderness Survival Kit,” “Family Survival Kit,” “Fire Kit,” and “First-Aid Kit,” All are critical but often neglected. Here, each lists the essential that need to be included.
Chapter 6: Communication, Now We’re Talking explores the hardware (AM/FM radio, NOAA Weather Radio, shortwave radio, Internet, two-way communication, phones, cell phones, family radio service, general mobile radio service, citizen band radio, amateur radio, ), and the process (power, equipment protection), and the communication action plan.
Chapter 7: Water Storage, Got Water? Details the basics of water purity and storage. My preference is water bricks (See: http://poetslife.blogspot.com/2013/09/waterbricks-for-emergencies.html )
Chapter 8: Water Disinfection and Purification, Is it Safe to Drink explains exactly that. There are many dangers in contaminated water that we are unaware of due to our easy access to pure water. They have a water purification and disinfection business and are experts in this area. They elucidate those dangers and explain how to prevent them.
Chapter 9: Sanitation: What is that Smell is a detailed discussion of one of the most overlooked areas of prepping: sanitation. They cover personal sanitation, showers and baths (gravity, garden, sponge, tubs, and containers), human waste disposal, bucket toilets, port-a-potties, bedside commodes, potty chairs, chemical toilets, composting toilets, septic systems, deep pit latrines, solid waste disposal, pest control, basic sanitation supplies, laundry, and a sanitation action plan.
Chapter 10: Designer Food Storage Plans: What’s for Dinner covers the fact that just-in-time food delivery a wonder of modern life, until it is interrupted. You had better have certain kinds of food, and the right amount, on hand if that happens.
Chapter 11: Food Storage: How and Where explores the best storage methods and space for foods supplies.
Chapter 12: Fuel Safety and Storage, Come on, Baby, Light My Fire catalogs the kinds and do’s and don’ts of fuel storage and use.
Chapter 13: Emergency Lighting, I Can See Clearly Now presents the wonders of light, its sources, types, benefits, and uses.
Chapter 14: Emergency Heating, Baby, It’s Cold Outside explores the methods, uses, and impacts of a variety of heat sources and the dangers of the lack of heating (hypothermia, frostbite, etc.) and how to maintain heat when the power is off.
Chapter 15: Emergency Cooking, Now Power, No Problem presents the practical steps and alternatives you can take during crisis cooking.
Chapter 16: Shelter, Come In out of the Storm rethinks a basic we take for granted: shelter, a roof over our heads during extraordinary circumstances. It examines multiple shelter situations: disaster-related home repairs, sheltering-in-place, self-imposed isolation, sheltering against radiation exposure, portable shelter, and bug out locations.
Chapter 17: Keeping Cool, I’m Melting explores another basic of modern life we take for granted: air conditioning and the results of not having it readily available, especially for the vulnerable...the elderly and special needs people.
Chapter 18: Home Protection and Security, Safe at Home examines the wider world of keeping your home safe in your neighborhood. Specifically, it looks at operational security, know your neighborhood, home safety, organizing your domicile, home intruder inspection, home security, home appearance, lighting, sound, deterrents, landscape, doors, windows, secure valuables, tips for apartment dwellers, and
Creating a home protection and security action plan.
Chapter 19: Personal Safety, Don’t Mess with Me analyzes the particulars of keeping yourself protected. It looks at self-defense training, child safety and self-defense training, weapons, command voice, firearms, and creating a personal safety and security action plan.
Chapter 20: Medical, the Doctor is Out examines the complex matter of health. It examines physical health preparation, protecting your health during a crisis, health education, , creating a current medical information sheet, first-aid supplies, general storage of medications, over-the-counter medications, antibiotics, medication storage and shelf-life, hydration, medical equipment and supplies, self-quarantine, bringing it home, and creating a medical action plan.
Chapter 21: Community, We’re All in This Together opens with the line, “No matter how well we prepare for possible hazards, if our community is not prepared, we are in trouble.” This is a core value for all prepping and one that bothers me most about many prepper websites, blogs, forums, and preppers themselves. Many preppers posit that they are totally “self-sufficient.” That is impossible. We connected. We make it or fail individually, but also as part of a family, group, church, army, corporation, or nation.
Kylene and Jonathan recognize this truth by quoting John Donne’s famous line, “No Man is an island” and then prove it. “The benefits of the group might mean the difference between life and death” they state. Having just this month depended on state police, first responders, nurses, doctors, technicians and others to keep my 18-year old Eamon alive when he went from a horrible accident to an intensive care unit, I would have to agree. (See: http://poetslife.blogspot.com/2014/07/i-got-phone-call-every-parent-fears.html)
They examine how closely we are tied in sections examining: successful communities, relationship building, formal neighborhood organization, the first meeting, identifying group needs and resources, follow-up meeting, mock disaster, someone has to standup, community emergency response teams, and creating the community relationship action plan.
Chapter 22: Financial and Legal, Getting It all in Order analyzes the legal and financial aspects of prepping. It is divided into the following sections: organization, finances, building financial security, legal, and creating a financial and legal action plan.
Chapter 23: So Now What closes the book with a request to spread the word and encourage others to take up prepping while there is still time.
Kylene and Jonathan are experienced, socially-savvy preppers. Before they wrote this book, they have posted for years at their prepper blog (http://www.yourfamilyark.org/yfa-blog) and (The Provident Pepper http://theprovidentprepper.org/the-practical-prepper/, Our Family Garden Container Potato Harvest 2011 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuLCmXmfmHg). Visit their prepper website and blog and you will see even more practical suggestions for how to prepare to survive whatever comes our way. Like the book, their social media is positive, practical and prudent.
I wholeheartedly recommend The Practical Prepper to anyone who wants to know how to prep and for those who have a deep knowledge of the field. When I worked on a biohazard detection system to identify anthrax back in 2003, we created a “store of knowledge” manual that included everything anyone 50 years in the future would need to know about how it worked. Practical Prepper is a “store of knowledge” for prepping. By using it judiciously, you will dramatically increase your chances of being around 50 years from now, and you will still find it useful then.