No one wants to think about it… but modern civilization is built on a flimsy foundation that could come crashing down at any moment.
Think about it: The power grid is extremely fragile. North Korea’s nukes aren’t for taking out cities. They’re for taking out our power grid with an EMP. What’s more, sophisticated hackers already have access to the American power grid… and can shut it off at a moment of their choosing.
Speaking of nukes, the international situation gets more and more tense with each passing week. The Russo-Ukraine War could easily spill over into a neighboring NATO nation, triggering a response from the nuclear-armed powers of NATO. Non-state actors are always in pursuit of nuclear weapons and it’s only a matter of time until they get them.
Civil unrest is another strong candidate for collapse, alongside its close cousin economic meltdown. It doesn’t matter which side of the political fence you fall on, the writing is on the wall: America is more polarized than ever and our currency is rapidly inflating thanks to the unprecedented money printing that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. This sets the stage for a perfect storm of civil unrest and economic collapse.
We’re not saying any of this to scare you. In fact, nothing would make us happier than for you to live a happy and prosperous life with your family with absolutely no collapses, calamities or catastrophes to deal with.
That said, however, it’s much wiser to be prepared for a disaster that never happens than it is to be totally unprepared when the SHTF.
To that end, you’ve got three things at the very least that it’s absolutely essential to stockpile, whether you’re worried about the lights going off for a couple weeks or the rest of your life: food, water and medicine.
How Much Water Does My Family Need?
Before you even start thinking about food, you need to think about water. You can last a lot longer without food than you can without water. What’s more, water is probably going to provide challenges you haven’t properly considered even if you’ve done a bit of research into the topic of how to survive a major natural disaster.
The general guideline for water is one gallon per person per day. This includes drinking water as well as cleaning water, including personal hygiene and things like doing the dishes.
However, this is not an adequate answer because if you’re subsisting on a lot of dehydrated food, you’re also going to need water for cooking with. So do the math on how many people there are in your family times how many packets of dehydrated food you’re each going to eat in a day and add that to the gallon of water per person.
Just knowing how much water you need isn’t nearly enough, however. That’s because water is extremely bulky and heavy. Stockpiling water isn’t an effective solution for getting your water needs met. Even if you have a massive three car garage and use it to store absolutely nothing but water from the floor to the ceiling, you’re eventually going to run out of water in the event of a long-term collapse.
So where are you going to get water from?
We’ve got some bad news about that: There’s a very good chance that the local rivers and streams aren’t going to be a viable source of clean water in the event of a total collapse. That’s because when the power grid goes off, it’s not just the water pumps that stop working. It’s also the water treatment centers and sewage systems. When this happens, the sewage that you mostly forget about the second that you flush the toilet is going to start backing up into your home, but also into those rivers and streams, making the water undrinkable.
It’s nasty to think about, but it’s a contingency that you must be aware of, because sewage will not just be gross and smelly, it will also contain toxic gasses that can kill you and your family.
So the rivers and streams are off limits. What are you supposed to drink, then? There are two main options for making sure you and everyone else in your family has enough water to drink.
- Personal Filtration Systems: Some of these are no bigger than a straw, while others are more robust. You can learn how to DIY a water filtration system if you want – and frankly, that’s an excellent skill to have. A better alternative, however, is just buying one, given how inexpensive and readily available such supplies are these days.
- Personal Well: You’d be surprised how close you are to the ground water depending on where you live. That water under the ground will need to be cleaned, treated and filtered, but it also is right there under your home, saving you a potentially dangerous trip somewhere to get water. Use a hand pump system or have some kind of backup power supply that’s not reliant on the power grid to get the water out of the ground.
- Water Purification Tablets: Water purification tablets can be purchased on Amazon or down at the local Walmart. They can take what would normally be toxic, fetid water and make it into something drinkable for you and your family – and it takes up way less space than buckets of water.
Water is arguably the most challenging part of survival when it comes to a post-collapse scenario. In addition to having a source, you also need a method for purification. It’s difficult to store and you’ll run through it a lot faster than you think.
How Much Food Does My Family Need?
Food is the next layer on your survival pyramid. Technically you can go about three weeks without food, but after three days you’re going to enter a world of hurt. You’re going to be hungrier than you’ve likely ever been in your life and surrounded by people in the same situation.
That kind of hunger – with no easy end in sight – creates anxiety, panic and desperation. Your formerly likable friends and neighbors will now be willing to do absolutely anything for just one morsel of food.
It’s going to be absolute total chaos. The less you can go out in that, the better.
Beyond the simple safety issues associated with leaving your home, there simply isn’t going to be any food to be had through normal sources. Modern supply chain technology delivers new stock as soon as old stock has been sold. The local supermarket and even the distribution centers that supply them will be stripped clean in a week tops.
So you need some kind of food supply that’s all yours at home or at your bugout spot. The big thing most preppers do wrong, though, is they think they have to rely entirely on a massive cache of dehydrated food. In fact, this should be part of your prepper plan but it absolutely should not be your whole plan or even the base of your pyramid.
The main thing that you should be stocking up on is non-perishable goods that your family eats regularly anyway. This provides your family with some degree of comfort and “normality” at a time when they’re going to need it the most. Introducing an entirely new menu into your family’s life at a time of crisis is only going to increase stress at a time when you probably won’t have much extra stress tolerance to spare.
You’re going to want foods that is both calorie and nutrient dense and you always want to have some variety in your food – nothing is going to make post-collapse life more miserable than relying entirely on a supply of canned beans, rice and dehydrated milk.
Next up, you’re going to want to have lots of ingredients on hand to help you to cook things from scratch. This might not sound like the most fun way to feed yourself, but it can help you to really stretch out your pantry, as well as giving your family something to do to avoid thinking about the collapse of everything you ever knew happening all around you. This is where things like freeze-dried meats and vegetables and even more basic ingredients like salt, flour, baking soda and the like come into play.
After that you’re going to want to fill in the gaps with that pre-made, dehydrated “prepper” food that we talked about above. It’s great as a supplement for your supplies, but it’s not the whole ball game. It’s expensive, requires a lot of water and instantly marks you as a “prepper” to anyone who sees it in your home. The last part can be big trouble in the event of a catastrophe because you become the local supermarket, but instead of trading for it, your neighbors are likely going to beg, demand and then take whatever you have.
What Should You Eat?
When everything is collapsing around you, it’s more important than ever to make sure that you’re eating properly. So what should you eat and how much of it should you have?
The main thing is this: not only does your body need a certain number of calories every day, you also need a certain amount of protein, fat and carbs to stay alive and healthy. It’s all about proportion and ratio, but you’re not going to last long on a diet entirely made up of spaghetti and nothing else.
The problem is that the macros that work in your normal, everyday life are not the macros that will work in a survival scenario. For example, the Harvard School of Public Health recommends about 130 grams of carbohydrates per day for an adult human, but admits that you might need almost four times that – 500 grams a day – in a time of high stress. There is no time more stressful than when all the supermarket shelves are bare, law and order has broken down and there’s no indication that “normal” life is coming back any time soon.
What’s more, you’ll want to be carrying around more fat in a survival situation than you would for a day at the beach. That’s not just because fats provide you with twice as much energy per gram as carbs, it’s also because having a little extra padding can help to keep you warm when the heating doesn’t work.
The main thing to remember is that fats provide long-term energy that your body can live off of during the lean times, while carbs are your short-term energy supply for bursts of activity.
As far as protein is concerned, it’s probably going to be in short supply so “as much as you can get” will likely be the order of the day, but beyond that, about .8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. For pregnant women, you’re going to want to get between 75 and 100 grams of protein every day.
One quick hack to start getting more healthy calories in your food? Adding olive oil to MREs… or just about anything else. It’s nutrient dense and a super healthy source of fat that can keep you moving when you’re scraping by.
How Much Food Do You Need?
How much food you need is an extremely complicated topic. It’s obviously dependent on a number of factors including how many people you believe you’re going to have to feed in the event of an emergency and how long you plan to feed them for. However many people you have in your family, plan to feed more.
There are a couple reasons for this.
First of all, there’s a very good chance that in an emergency you’re going to have some unexpected family visitors if you have even the slightest reputation as a “prepper” in your family. So it’s not just you and your spouse and maybe your kids – it’s also prudent to prepare to feed siblings and their kids, grandkids, parents, spouses of siblings and so on. Your budget might not allow for this and that’s fine if it doesn’t, but you’ll still want to prepare to have more than “just enough” food for you and your family because in a world where the supermarkets are closed and show no signs of opening up again, food and other supplies are going to be the coin of the realm.
It doesn’t matter if you’re into gold, silver, Bitcoin or even think that good old U.S. dollars will still maintain some kind of powerful psychological value in the event of a major catastrophe. You can’t eat any of these and you can’t shoot them at deer to put food on the table. So durable goods like ammunition and, yes, food are going to become extremely valuable. Having something that you can barter for other supplies that you need is always a smart move whether we’re talking about food, ammunition or even little odds and ends like sewing needles or toilet paper.
Briefly, on the subject of barter food, it’s worth considering whether or not you want to stockpile alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, candy or other similar goods for the express purpose of bartering them.
In any event, the main way to plan for how much food to have is the most basic guiding principle of “you can never have enough.” But, of course, space and money is limited. So with that said, it’s important to know how much of various foodstuffs can feed a fully grown adult human over the course of a year and then multiplying that by three or even five years.
Look at how much beef, pasta, bread and other staples your family goes through in an average week. Then multiply that by 52 and you have how much you’re going to need of everything for the course of an entire year. You can then extrapolate out from there how much food you’re going to need for a long-term emergency.
When Your Supplies Run Out: Hunting, Fishing and Farming
Ultimately, though, like your water supply, your food is going to run out on a long enough timeline. And while you might be able to forage and barter some, the best thing you can do is become as self-reliant as possible.
That means growing your own food supply to the extent that it makes sense. This is a great way to grow some fun stuff for the family to eat to spice things up from the usual rotation of food. Hunting is also one of the best skills you can have as a prepper, ensuring a supply of fresh meat no matter how long the grocery stores are closed.
Now we know that not everyone is able to move off-grid to a 100-acre homestead and become a farmer because the end of the world might come one day. However, even if you live in the city or the suburbs, there are some ways that you can prep for your food supply in the event of a short-term or long-term collapse.
We’re talking, of course, about hunting, farming and fishing. You need to start thinking less in terms of how you can stockpile food from now until kingdom come and more about how you can quickly become self-sufficient in the event of a disaster.
Experienced hunters, anglers and farms can probably scan this section quickly. But it’s worth remembering that you’re not going to be out hunting for sport with a license in competition with other responsible sportsmen who would never dream of bagging and elk without a tag. Instead, you’re going to be competing with people who are absolutely desperate for food and will do completely stupid stuff like bag 10 deer even though 9.5 of that is going to go bad before they can eat it.
So even if you already have what it takes to bag game big and small alike, you need to put a bit of planning in and assume that hunts might be 10 times as hard as they are now when people start overhunting and depleting the available supply of game.You also have to remember that for others, you will be the quarry – and transporting game from the kill site to your home is going to be a heck of a lot more difficult when the world has descended into “eat or be eaten.”
Depending on the nature of the disaster, it might just be a simple fact of life that there isn’t as much meat to go around, such as in the event of a nuclear disaster or a tsunami or something else that takes out a lot of the available game in a given area or even across the entire United States.
For the rest of you who have never had the pleasure of hunting or fishing before, there’s no time like the present to learn.
It’s not quite as simple as happening upon an animal and shooting it. Fortunately, there are a number of inexpensive courses you can take that will help you to obtain a ready made source of protein in your backyard in the event that you can no longer go to the deli section and pick out your favorite cut.
Gardening is also important and you don’t need a huge tract of land to make it worthwhile. World War II-era “Victory Gardens” are an excellent guide to how you can grow a lot of nutrients in a very small space. If you live in a more urbanized environment you can still get a little windowsill garden going on for herbs and spices that will add a little extra flavor to your meal and keep spirits up when you don’t have any idea when the supermarkets are opening up again.
Keeping Your Food Fresh: Long-Term Storage Of Food
It goes without saying that in a collapse scenario you’re not going to be able to rely on your fridge or coffin freezer if you’re relying on the grid for electricity. To that end, you’re going to need to know how to store food over the long term if you want to be able to eat any of the stuff that can go bad, whether you bought it at the store before the collapse or grew or caught it afterward.
First, when you’re making your purchases at the grocery store (while they still exist), you’re going to want to lean heavily on things that are “non-perishable.” While this is a bit of a misnomer (on a long enough timeline almost everything will go bad, especially if not stored properly), you’re looking to fill your larder with foods with extremely long shelf lives.
- Six Months: Potatoes, dry crackers, dried fruit, powdered milk.
- One Year: Condensed soup, canned fruits and juices, instant cereal, dry cereal, peanut butter, chocolate, jelly, canned nuts.
- “Indefinitely” (Two To Three Years): Wheat, dry pasta, rice, bullion, salt, wheat, baking powder, instant coffee, corn.
You should also acquaint yourself with various methods of increasing the shelf life of your food. This can make food you prepare, grow, catch or kill after the collapse last longer.
Dehydration is great for both fruit and meat, giving quickly perishable food a much longer shelf life. Canning is another way to keep your food fresher longer. You can learn this for free at one of hundreds of Latter-Day Saints canning centers around the country, whether you’re of the LDS faith or not.
If you’re in a situation where you have to start hitting your reserves or are at least concerned about this being an issue, start with the food in the fridge that’s perishable, then the freezer food then they dry food that you specifically bought for long-term storage.
Preparing Your Food In A Survival Scenario
Of course all the food in the world isn’t worth squat if you don’t have some way to cook and prepare it.
No matter how you break it down, you need two heat sources to cook and heat water from. This is in case one breaks down or doesn’t have the appropriate fuel supply you need. Now you might be thinking of propane or a wood stove, but both of these require a steady supply of a large amount of fuel or they stop working. So they might be good for one cooking and water heating food source, but you’re going to want to have at least one more.
There are a two main options that we like a lot for a backup source or even an alternative primary source:
- Solar-powered ovens that allow you to store the energy of the sun and use it later. No electrical grid, propane, charcoal or wood required!
- Fuel-efficient rocket stoves are another option. These require wood, but when we say “wood” we don’t mean you have to build a huge campfire. You might be able to cook an entire dinner for your family with just a few twigs.
New technologies are making it easier than ever to get ready for the end of the world as we know it and nowhere is this more true than with regard to cooking your food. A generator is also great to have for a variety of reasons, including helping you to cook and prepare food. If you can’t afford one, consider making friends with someone who already has one.
One very scary thing about a collapse scenario many people fail to properly consider is this: The drug stores and hospitals won’t be around, either. That means something as simple as a small cut or abrasion can go horribly wrong and take you out of action for weeks or even result in your death.
Another factor important to remember is having enough medical supplies around for a disaster. This can mean your regular medications but it can also mean simple supplies like bandages as aspirin.
You might be worried about expiration dates, but studies show that most medications retain 90 percent of their potency for five years after their alleged “expiration date.”
In addition to food, water and bullets, you should stockpile the following over-the-counter medications:
- Aspirin: Everyone knows this and it’s great to have around in abundance for the end of the world as we know it. Aspirin fights fevers as well as reduces pain, inflammation and swelling. Low doses help to prevent strokes, heart attacks and blood clots due to its blood thinning properties.
- Acetaminophen: Sold under the brand name Tylenol, this pain reliever is not an anti-inflammatory. It doesn’t irritate the stomach like many other over-the-counter pain relievers.
- Ibuprofen: The brand name for this is Motrin or Advil and the U.S. Army prescribes it for just about everything. It reduces fevers and relieves just about any kind of pain you can imagine.
- Naproxen: Commonly known as Aleve, this does much the same thing as ibuprofen, but it lasts for 12 hours at a time.
- Loperamide: Sold under the brand name Imodium, this is an anti-diarrhea agent which is worth its weight in gold in a world where the water treatment plants aren’t working.
- Diphenhydramine: While it’s scientific name is a mouthful, you already know this one as Benadryl. You also probably know it’s great for hay fever and allergies, but it also helps combat insomnia, anxiety, nausea, hives and itching.
You should also have a big supply of laxatives, antibiotic and antifungal creams or ointments, antacids, and whatever prescription medications you need. If you can find a legal way to stockpile antibiotics, those are also great to have around both for personal use in case of an emergency or for barter.
Much like food and water, your medical supplies are eventually going to run out. Fortunately, there are a number of natural sources that can act as substitutes for the medications that you stockpiled.
You can grow some of these in your garden, but you should also be aware of what medicinal herbs grow in your area. Many basic medicines are provided to you for free by Mother Nature. We’re not suggesting you skip a trip to the local pharmacy, but when you don’t have any other options these will do in a pinch:
- Burn Treatment: For burns you can apply a mixture of 2-4 drops each of frankincense, helichrysum and melaleuca.
- Diarrhea: When the runs come calling drink water with a couple drops each of lemon, clove, wild orange, eucalyptus and cinnamon. For more severe cases up the dose to five drops and add fennel, peppermint, ginger and coriander.
- Infections: You can treat infected wounds with myrrh, lavender, frankincense and melaleuca.
To get into each and every plant or oil that can treat each and every illness would be a whole other book altogether. Fortunately, there are a number of books out there that teach just this. Equally fortunately, much of this grows wild around you or can easily be grown in your garden.
Preparing for food, water and medicine in the event of a disaster isn’t difficult, but it does take time and attention. No matter how much prepping you’re able to do, you’ll likely be miles ahead of everyone else around you who didn’t take any actions to keep themselves and their family safe in the event of the unthinkable.
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