Preparing for a Disaster
In August of 2021, I had a dream where I watched someone post a list of the steps he was taking to prepare for the “worst-case scenario.” In April of 2022, I had a dream suggesting that some items we routinely need would not be available in the future. I don’t know if we’ll face a worst-case scenario soon, but friends have asked me to share my thoughts on preparedness.
Some people take the view that preparing for a disaster is equivalent to not trusting God. This idea is a false dichotomy. One can trust God and prepare for disasters. Noah and Joseph were both warned of impending disasters and they prepared as God instructed them. The key is hearing God and obeying the instructions He gives you. His instruction to me will be different from the instruction He gives you.
Recently, God has led me to teach others about miracles of healing, food multiplication, and other manifestations of His kingdom. Personally, I think this is the most practical way to prepare for a crisis. No matter what the circumstance, God can provide a supernatural solution. But I also think it’s also wise to prepare in other ways.
Half the battle of getting ready for the unexpected is mental preparedness. Many people first consider preparedness after being made aware of a potential future problem. They become fearful of being caught unprepared and wonder if they should take steps to deal with a potential problem. Concern can be a good motivator, but excessive worry can interfere with rational thought. Preparedness is best done with a clear mind and a sober, realistic outlook. The goal is to recognize legitimate problems and addresses them while discarding unrealistic concerns.
The first step in preparedness is identifying what to prepare for. Some people refuse to prepare at all thinking they can’t prepare for every possible crisis. We don’t need to prepare for every potential crisis. We only need to prepare for the most serious and the most likely scenarios that could cause us hardship. It’s foolish to prepare for a hurricane if you live in Montana or an earthquake if you live in Arizona. Threats to our way of life are specific to where we live.
I first began prepping decades ago when I lived in Washington state, which happens to have frequent wind storms. Large evergreen trees topple in high winds and when they do, they take down powerlines. I grew tired of being without power for days at a time, so I bought a generator as an emergency source of power.
I lived through the Nisqually Valley earthquake of 2001. It was a terrifying ordeal. Large earthquakes are not frequent, but they’re more common on the western coast of North America and the Pacific rim. An 8.0 magnitude quake could leave tens of thousands of people homeless. To prepare for this possibility, I put together a bugout bag for each member of my family which included a tent, sleeping bag, cook stove, bottled water, flashlight, matches, food, and a few other items. The bugout bag was to be used to get each of us by in the event that our house was destroyed by an earthquake.
The generator that I bought addressed a frequent, but less severe threat—power outages. The bugout bags addressed a rare but serious threat—a destroyed home. This is what I mean when say we only need to prepare for threats that are the most likely and the most serious. How one prepares should be dictated by what one considers to be the most likely or the most serious threat to them. If you live on the Florida coast, you might consider preparing for hurricanes. If you live in Oklahoma, tornadoes might be worth preparing for.
The current crisis we’re facing is a scarcity of certain items due to dependence on international supply chains. Over the last two centuries, the world has gone from a system where most people grew their own food to one where we depend on others for it. The solution to the problem is regaining control of the supply chain. If you have most of what you need under your own roof, you’re less likely to be affected by shortages.
The information presented in this article may seem daunting to a beginner. I’ll discuss both basic and advanced steps for preparedness. If you’re new to prepping, I would encourage you to resist the temptation to think you don’t have the time or money to acquire all these things. You don’t need to have everything mentioned in this article. Start with small steps that are easy and inexpensive. Over time, work your way up to bigger things.
Some principles of preparedness are universal. The basic human needs are drinkable water, food, shelter, and a source of fuel for cooking (and heat depending on the climate).
A good start is putting together a one-week supply of non-perishable food kept in a dry, secure, temperature-controlled location in your home. Consider canned food like Spam, chili, soup, tuna, beef, fruit, and vegetables. Although canned foods have an expiration date, according to the US Department of Agriculture, they have an indefinite shelf-life. As long as the integrity of the can is not compromised and the food has not spoiled, it can be eaten years after the expiration date. Once a can has been opened, evaluate the contents for signs of spoilage. After the expiration date, texture and color may change, but the food’s nutritional value remains unaffected. Frozen food can be eaten months after freezing as long as it has not been thawed and refrozen.
Other foods to consider are dried beans, rice, oats, pasta, and potatoes. These foods, when dried, have a shelf life of a couple of years, which can be lengthened to 5-10 years by storing them in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. A reasonable goal for beginners is putting aside enough food for one week, and then working toward goals of one month, three months, or one year.
- Plan for a means of cooking other than an electric stove, i.e., propane stove, gas stove, lightweight backpack stove, etc.
- Consider putting together a bugout kit that includes enough food to sustain you for three days.
- If you have pets or livestock, consider storing up food for them.
If you want to regain control of the food supply chain, consider planting a garden. Growing your own food is one of the best ways to prepare for a crisis. If you have a small part of your yard that is bare, you might build a raised bed garden. If you live in an apartment, this may seem an impossible goal, but where I live, many apartment dwellers have stakes in community gardens.
Another way to take back control of the food supply chain is to raise your own livestock. In a crisis, meat and eggs become scarce, but if you raise your own chickens or other animals, you won’t be affected as severely and you’ll have things of value for bartering.
The human body can go without food for more than a month but will die without water in a few days. In a crisis, municipal water supplies may be temporarily unavailable, thus it’s wise to store up a supply of clean drinking water.
- Store a supply of clean water equivalent to 2 gallons a day per person. Initially, set aside enough to last one week (14 gallons per person).
- Find access to a secondary water supply, i.e., a water heater, pool, pond, well, spring, collected rainwater, etc.
- Have at least one means of water purification, i.e, Berkey filter, chemical purification tablets, etc.
Your primary shelter is your home. When a crisis hits—particularly in times of civil unrest—it becomes a refuge from danger. You can control the environment of your home, but when you leave and go out into the world, you lose that control. As a general rule, during a crisis, you should remain in your home as long as it’s safe to do so. Resist the urge to leave (bug-out), as once you do, your now-vacant home may become a target for looters and you may not be able to return.
- Plan for an alternative source of heat and light i.e., a kerosene heater, Coleman fuel lantern(s), flashlights with batteries, etc.
- Purchase a tent and sleeping bag as a backup shelter. (These may be part of a bugout kit.)
- Consider purchasing an RV or camper equipped with a propane stove.
- Consider buying a second home (or cabin) in a location some distance from your primary home
If you’re new to prepping, you might slowly work toward checking off the items on this list. Purchasing a sleeping bag and tent might be the first step. It may be years before you consider buying an RV or cabin.
In some emergencies, having alternate means of communication will be helpful. An inexpensive multi-band radio can receive news and weather reports. Handheld walkie-talkies are handy for communicating with people nearby but the range is generally only a few blocks. Handheld satellite radios are a step up. A HAM radio is another option but they require a license to operate legally. Be mindful of the fact that radios require a power source. Some Voyager radios can be powered by a solar panel, a hand crank, and batteries, and they come with a USB charger and 12-volt adapter.
Many items that make life bearable in an emergency are powered by batteries, such as radios, lanterns, handheld flashlights, and headlamps (handy for midnight trips to the bathroom when there is no power). If you plan to use battery-powered devices, make sure you have plenty of fresh batteries. If you live in an area with adequate sunshine, you might consider solar-powered items. Permanent or portable solar panels connected to an array of batteries or a solar generator provide a long-term supply of power.
Propane, natural gas, and gasoline-powered generators are convenient, portable sources of electricity. Generators come in different shapes and sizes. Some are designed to power a few small appliances. Others can power an entire home. Carefully calculate the voltage and wattage of the items you plan to power with any generator. Make sure you have the needed adapters and extension cords since generators are designed to be operated outdoors but you may need to power a lamp or other appliance indoors. Also, consider fuel availability. Propane can be stored for years without degradation, but gasoline has a shelf life of about a year, which can be extended using a fuel stabilizer.
In locations where firearm ownership is permitted, many people find it beneficial to own a gun for personal and home defense. A supply of ammunition is needed, and that becomes an issue when considering preparedness. In situations involving societal unrest, some calibers of ammunition will not be available. Choosing a gun chambered for ammunition that is available even in a worst-case scenario is a wise decision. 22LR is considered the best all-around survival ammunition. It’s inexpensive, versatile, and widely available. 9mm is the most widely used (and widely available) pistol round. 308 and 223 Remington are the most widely available rifle rounds. Handguns are useful for home and self-defense. Rifles and shotguns are as well, but they can also be used to hunt game for food.
Many lessons were learned about civil unrest and societal chaos during the economic collapse of Argentina 20 years ago. When a society suffers a sudden, negative change to its standard of living, civil unrest soon breaks out. The greatest risk of being killed or injured is being outside your home during the first 72 hours of the start of civil unrest. If you can avoid leaving your home, you have a much better chance of surviving. Having a pantry stocked with emergency provisions will allow you to remain in your home for long periods of time, putting you at risk less often.
In situations involving either widespread economic collapse or prolonged loss of internet access, things like food, water, and toilet paper quickly become unavailable. People panic and fill up their gas tanks and fuel stations soon run out of gas. As frightened citizens make large cash withdrawals, banks run out of cash. Hoarding impulses take over and a normally polite society turns violent.
Historically, economic collapse results from hyperinflation. When hyperinflation hits, things become more expensive. In severe cases, the price of a loaf of bread can double by the hour. Hyperinflation causes government-issued currency to lose value rapidly. When paper money loses its value, small items containing gold and silver become the most widely accepted currency.
Banks only keep on hand a small fraction of their depositor’s money. A sudden increase in withdrawals depletes cash supplies and within days, most banks close, never to reopen. During an economic collapse, banks quickly fail. The closure of banks causes paychecks to be returned for non-sufficient funds. Truck drivers won’t drive without being paid and the few who are paid may not be able to find fuel. Deliveries grind to a halt. Store shelves lay empty. Gray and black markets spring up where you can buy what you need as long as you have something of value other than paper currency.
Bank failures present another problem. Law enforcement officers, firefighters, and paramedics won’t work if they aren’t paid. As economic collapse worsens, public safety employees may not be available to help in an emergency. Life becomes more dangerous by the day.
Perhaps the most important lesson learned from the economic collapse in Argentina is the value of friendship. During times of societal unrest, bands of marauders scour urban and rural areas preying on those who are alone and most vulnerable. Communities where neighbors formed tight-knit groups fared well during Argentina’s economic collapse. Wherever people came together, pooled resources, and protected one another, bands of thieves would usually avoid them.
This article covers just a few subjects related to preparedness. Other issues should be considered If you’re interested in learning more, there are hundreds of websites, video channels, and online groups that can provide more information.
If you’d like more information about economic collapse, check out my book A Kingdom View of Economic Collapse.