Okay, so you’ve been making all these excuses for why you can’t prep for a disaster. “I don’t have the space to store stuff.” “I don’t have any money.” “I’m freaked out by the idea of a disaster and I don’t want to think about it.”
Whining? Not going to help you out in an emergency. Preparing? Will. So, I present to you Ten Ways to Prep For an Emergency. For Free.
1. Learn. The more you can learn about survival, the more skills you can pick up, the better off you will be. Plus, nobody can hold you up at gunpoint and steal your knowledge from you – it’s yours for life, or at least until Alzheimer’s sets in. If you can’t afford to buy a bunch of canned vegetables, learn all you can about growing your own. No cash for a fancy wood stove? Learn how to make one out of an old oil drum. There’s lots of ways to learn for free, but here’s a few suggestions to get you started:
Check out survival related books from the library
Read blogs (subscribe to this one, for example. *hint* *hint*)
Take any training opportunites that come your way. Are they giving fire extinguisher training at work? Dont’ skip out on it. Will you get free basic first aid training if you sign up to be a little league coach/scout leader/class chaperone? Might be worth it. Hang out with people who know stuff that you don’t. Can you go hunting with a buddy and learn to butcher a deer? Can you help a neighbor with some renovation work and learn how to do some home repair stuff in the process. Do it.
Learn as much as you can, it’s one of the very best ways to be prepared.
2. Plan. All the supplies in the world don’t mean squat if you freak out when it hits the fan and forget what to do. Make a plan and write it down – in detail – so when you’re totally panicked you know what you were planning to do.
3. Practice. Take that plan, practice it, and tweak it when you see flaws. The best time to find out that your electric can opener will not open a tin of tuna in a power outage? During a power-out drill, NOT during an actual power outage. Can you imagine if you had a giant canned-goods fort in the house and starved to death because you couldn’t open it? That would be a real bitch.
4. Work Out. You don’t need to shell out cash for an expensive gym, just get your ass off the couch. Go running. Ride your bike. Practice carrying 5 gallon buckets full of dried beans up and down the basement steps. If you can’t do it now, you won’t suddenly be able to do it in an emergency.
5. Make friends with your neighbors. Not only might they come in really handy when the sHTF and you realize you’re not as self-sufficient as you thought, you may also protect yourself from being sold out. The neighbor who’s pissed off at you for letting your dog shit in his yard is probably going to be the one who squeals on you to big brother. You don’t want that.
Be a good neighbor. Say hello when you’re both at the mailbox. When you see the guy next door struggling to get his piece of crap car running, offer to help. When your garden produces so much zuchini you think you’re gonna puke if you ever have to eat it again, take some to the guy across the street. It’ll go a long way to have a strong community in place, before it all goes to hell.
Okay, okay. Enough with the touchy-feely intangible crap. What about the STUFF!?
Well, here you go…
6. Craigslist/Freecycle. Sure, there’s a lot of junk in those postings that people are hoping you’ll haul away for them, but you can actually find some things that would be handy in an emergency. Here’s just a few things I’ve seen in the past few weeks on my local Craigslist Free Stuff board:
A Popcorn Tin
Dishwashers (if you have the space, they make great storage for a flood or hurricane, since they are sealed watertight)
Underbed storage boxes (when you finally get some canned goods, you’ll have a place to put them)
Chain Link Fencing
5 Gallon Buckets with Lids
I’m sure that occasionally other useful things such as backpacks, tools, and tarps become available as well. Keep an eye out, and you may be able to get a good start on your preps for free.
7. Samples. It takes a little bit of work, but if you’re just goofing off on the internet anyway, you might as well get something out of it. Find a few sample sites (my favorites are StartSampling and Sweet Free Stuff) and next time you’re bored, sign up for any free samples that might be useful in a crisis. No, you’re not going to get a lot of anything, but hey – it’s free! Besides, it’s always fun to open the mailbox and find something that’s not a bill. Here’s a few things I’ve gotten samples of in the past month or so:
Feminine Hygiene Products
Emergen-C Vitamin C Drink Mix
Who knows? Any of these things might be useful when I start running out of stuff.
8. Rewards Programs. My personal favorite here is Swagbucks, but I know there’s others out there. Basically, these sites award you points for doing stuff online, like voting on polls, taking surveys, and watching commercials. The reason I love Swagbucks is because I can win points just for searching from their site (and the results are similar to those of a major search engine that will not be named, but here’s a hint: it’s not Bing). I’ve been using this for about a month now, and I just cashed in some Swagbucks for a $10 gift certificate to Amazon.com, which I promptly used to buy a four-pack of Mylar Emergency “Space Blankets” and a bunch of P-38 can openers.
9. Friends and Family. No, you don’t have to tell them what you want the stuff for (remember your OPSEC), but you can always put the word out that you’ve been hoping to find a _________________ for a project. Who knows? Someone might just know who’s trying to get rid of one. Plus, there’s all that “one man’s trash” stuff that might just be your treasure. I know people who have asked their coworkers to bring in:
Cat litter pails
Plastic Shopping Bags
10. Keep your eyes peeled. When I was a kid, it humiliated me to no end when my dad would pull over on the side of the highway to pick up something that had fallen off someone else’s vehicle. Last week, I did this myself for the first time – I saw a 17 gallon Rubbermaid tote laying beside the interstate, and I couldn’t help myself. I was a little freaked out – I mean, what if there was a duffel bag full of heads in there? Thankfully, it was empty. And I just saved $8. Other things I’ve seen, but not stopped for include:
5 Gallon Buckets
Rakes and Shovels
Basically, if you can picture it loaded in the back of a work truck, you’ll probably see one beside the road at one time or another.
So there you go. Ten ways you can get ready for disaster… for free. I don’t want to hear any belly-aching about how you can’t get prepared because you don’t have any money.
Make sure to subscribe to the blog (via email or RSS) because in the near future, I’ll be posting 100 Ways to Prep For a Dollar.