Prepper Resolution #6: Use a Password Manager

The last Resolution dealt with keeping our physical home safe.  This is obviously extremely important.  But in our modern world, we increasingly have an online alter-ego which has become equally important to protect.

Everything from bank & investment accounts to deeply personal information like pictures are increasingly digital and available through the internet.  Aside from actual theft potential online, identity theft is also a rapidly growing problem.

Most online sites we interact with use technologies like SSL (secure socket layer) to encrypt information so that online snoopers can’t read the traffic data. However the vast majority of these sites also use what is called single factor authentication. That’s a fancy way of saying a username and password.

Many sites use an email address for a customer’s username, and email addresses are generally very easy to find. That means the only secret thing  separating your accounts from someone looking to steal or do damage is typically your password.  If you use a simple password that is easy to guess, you can be compromised pretty quickly.  Likewise if you use the same password in many places, even if it is harder to guess, once you are compromised at one site, a hacker will try that same password on another site with your email.  In such a situation you can be compromised across every site where you reuse that password in a very short time frame.

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Castle Kreuzenstein

Prepper Resolution #5: Defend Your Home

While some preppers start out in the world of preparedness from a defense point of view, having grown up as hunters or just being around and familiar with firearms all of their lives, many of us have not been exposed to defensive issues.  Growing up in quiet suburbs where the population doesn’t generally hunt and there are very few issues with crime, the need for self-defense likely wasn’t a high priority.  But at some point, we wake up and realize the thin veneer of civilized life has the potential to come crashing down very quickly, and the best made preparations can be subject to theft or destruction.  It is at that moment if you haven’t thought of defense before that the idea takes hold.

Procrastination: Normalcy Bias

Once we realize a need for defensive measures, many of us still seem to procrastinate.  We figure when the big economic collapse hits, we’ll have time to account for that as in a major crisis involving civil unrest, since the big cities will come unraveled first before any danger comes to our relatively smaller & safer location.  Unfortunately this is the result of normalcy bias, thinking that bad things only happen “to those people, over there” and “my area will stay as it always has been”.

This is a dangerous thought pattern to become trapped in.  It could be that a disaster is local or regional, and it can strike any town or area at any time.  Think of Katrina, or a major chemical spill, mudslide, wildfire, or gas leak which causes fires to rage out of control.  Even in a community with mostly good folks, there are always some bad seeds who will want to take advantage.   Such situations can unfold rapidly, and as we said with resolution #4, you’ll want to have your gear in place AND be trained up and familiar with it.  Keep in mind even with the popular big financial collapse scenario such as where the EBT & WIC cards start getting rejected, or the food & medicine stops rolling in, many people in quiet small towns who are normally well mannered will likely come unglued quickly.

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Prepper Gear

Prepper Resolution #4: Use Your Gear

We just had Christmas about a month ago, and if you’re like many preppers, you  likely received some preparedness related gear as a gift.  It’s tempting to think “ok, I can cross that off my list now”, keep it boxed up, and squirrel it away into your garage, shed, barn, or wherever you stash your gear.  It is then very likely to either never get tried out, or sit idle for a long period of time before being rediscovered.  This is a bad idea for several reasons.

Something Ain’t Right

The gear may be defective or not function how you expect.  Most things have a limited time return policy, so if something is defective, you risk in the best case scenario not being able to return it to the store for a credit.  In the worst case, if it’s something you’re depending on for survival such as a generator, piece of medical equipment, or solar panel kit, you don’t want to find out it doesn’t work on the day the power goes out for an extended period of time and you absolutely were counting on it.  That new pre-built bug out bag looks very stylish and holds a ton of stuff, but unless you go out for a hike carrying it, you won’t know if it will be too heavy, be durable enough to last, suitably protect your gear from rain/snow, or rub a raw spot on your shoulder because it just doesn’t fit quite right.

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Food Buckets

Prepper Resolution #3: Cook With Your Preps

Some folks initially getting into prepping are so eager to build their food storage quickly, they’re tempted to go out and buy a bunch of expensive freeze dried food, or a pallet full of beans and rice, sock it away, and forget about it.  That’s fine, and it’s certainly better than having no food storage put away at all.  However, there are some downsides.

  • Expense – while beans and rice are cheap, if you go the freeze dried route, you are paying a hefty price for the convenience compared to similar food that can be stored in a different more cost effective manner.  Buying a huge amount right away also potentially means you’ll be missing out on sales you could take advantage of to stock up at much increased savings.
  • Nutrition – much of the commercially available food is not the best quality from a content point of view.  It often times is potentially GMO in origin, and could have lots of extra ingredients like salt and preservatives.  Storing lots of rice means you’ll have plenty of carbohydrates, but you’ll also want protein and fats to have a balanced diet.
  • Taste – if you never eat the food you have socked away, you may be storing things that you don’t even want to eat.  In a SHTF scenario, sure, having any food is better than having nothing.  But in an already stressful situation, you’ll have extra comfort knowing you have food to fall back on that you actually enjoy eating.
  • Rotation – if you’re not eating out of your food storage, that means either you’re not rotating it or you are throwing things out.  Granted, if you go the freeze dried route, spoilage isn’t a big concern until 20+ years down the road.  However just because something is technically still edible does not mean its nutrition is optimal.

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Prepper Resolution #2: Build a Team

It is widely accepted in the prepper community that the so-called “lone wolf” approach will never succeed in a long term SHTF scenario.  There are several very important reasons for this.

Lone Wolf Image

Defense

In a SHTF scenario, obviously there are going to be times when self-defense is required.  Calamity will bring out the worst in people, and while the majority of the sheeple may be doing little more than whining for someone to come and save them, voluntarily reporting to a FEMA camp, or just curling up in a little ball and accepting death, there will certainly be a fraction of folks who will seize the opportunity to be scum.  They’ll attempt to victimize and take by force to enrich themselves both in terms of resources and power.

When these degenerates search for those who have resources, they will find preppers to be a target.  You can have the most guns, most ammo, and be the best shooter & toughest guy in the region, but at some point you have to sleep.  Even a family of two adults and some teenage children will find that they can’t provide an adequate defense while simultaneously producing food, procuring water, and providing for other basic needs.

In a survival team scenario, there will be more than enough hands to take defensive shift watches while still allowing members to provide the other duties that will be needed to keep a decent life going.

Resources

A single person or nuclear family will be unlikely to provide itself enough resources to get through a long term SHTF scenario.  Sure, a family can put away a years worth of food, but can they also simultaneously secure / store a years worth of water, medical supplies, health & sanitation, defense, energy?

Things like battery backup systems, solar panels, rifles, night vision, generators, medicines, water purification systems & filters… while we all dream of having everything we need, the cost of these things adds up, especially when we try to follow our motto:

Two is one, one is none, three is for me, four is for sure…

In a team scenario, families can willingly share the costs and then the usage of these various tools.  Even if two or more families within a team has a certain item, such as a generator, if one were to fail, we have redundancy, without dependency.

Skills

An analog to resources, just as no one family can provide redundancy with everything, no one family is going to know everything.  This is even more apparent as often if a husband has a certain set of skills and his wife has a certain set of skills, the children are very likely to possess for the most part expertise only in a skill that was taught to them by their parents.  So the kids, where they can contribute additionally to defense, likely contribute only redundancy to skills.

A team approach allows a much broader range of skill sets.  Members should and are likely to have various professions and hobbies which leads to a diversity of skills available to the group for survival.  One must still be careful to have redundancy – if the only person with gardening skills in the group is lost, the chances of the group going hungry in the long term increase substantially.

So Get Started

We always tend to focus on our own preps first, and we acknowledge building a team is important.  We tend to put it off however, worrying about violating our OpSec (operational security), or thinking that if we just could put back another week of food now, there will always be time to build a group later.

Let’s stop doing that in 2017.  At least start the wheels in motion towards building your group.

An excellent resource to guide you in the process of building your mutual assistance group is Charley Hogwood’s book: MAGS: The People Part of Prepping: How to Plan, Build, and Organize a Mutual Assistance Group in a Survival Situation.

2017 Resolutions for Preppers

A new year means a time to take stock of where we are as preppers, and see where we have to go for the next 12 months, both to expand as well as maintain our preparedness.  In this spirit, we wanted to collect a list of resolutions.

Best selling author & podcaster Mark Goodwin over at prepperrecon.com released a podcast recently with his Top Ten resolutions. Rather than repeat anything he has already said, I want to list his 10 here, and then further expand to another ten, bringing us to a total of 20.

We won’t go into any explanations of PrepperRecon’s Top Ten list, for that simply go listen to the podcast.  But here is the list:

10. Learn a new skill
9. Create a side business
8. Eat healthier
7. Wean yourself from excessive pharmaceuticals
6. Quit drinking
5. Quit smoking
4. Start a garden
3. Start exercising
2. Get on a budget
1. Read your Bible every day

And now our additional Top Ten New Years resolutions for preppers.  As I was coming up with this list, it ended up that things sort of paired up nicely in groups of two, so we’ll be posting two resolutions per day in no particular order, but grouped because they are related.

But let’s start with just our first one today:

Wedding Rings

Get your spouse on board

Assuming you’re married, prepping can be tough if you are not both already on board.  Spending any financial resources on prepping is probably the #1 concern.  It’s sort of ironic because often times one spouse can have a “hobby” and divert money to that hobby, and the other spouse won’t worry about it too much, especially if it’s not a large percentage of the monthly budget.  But if that hobby is prepping, the spouse might consider that a waste of resources, weird, or paranoid.

The key here is to win your spouse over to the idea that spending some resources, both time & money, on prepping is both akin to insurance AND should improve your life if the zombie apocalypse arrives or not.  For example, putting extra food away in a smart manner where it does not get wasted allows you to always buy the items you use anyway when they are on sale.  This helps save money, which pays a dividend that can be reinvested back into an improved lifestyle.  And sure on those icy winter days where you might get snowed in for a while, or if for any other reason it is impossible, dangerous, or merely inconvenient to go to the store for a food item, you’ll have it on hand.  The worst case if nothing happens: you time your purchases and buy extra when everything is on sale – cha ching!

Likewise in other areas of prepping, the same thought process holds true.  Consider that having the ability to perform water filtration is useful in camping & hiking scenarios, which allows the family to haul much less water and therefore worry less about dragging heavy supplies along.  Start out with something small like lifestraws and get your spouse somewhat on board before going for the Royal Berkey.

Communications can also provide useful in a camping scenario, and can provide an educational opportunity for the kids to learn about various radio frequencies.  It can also be a very entertaining and rewarding hobby to communicate on the CB radio or even get your HAM operator license and talk with folks around the region or even the world.

If your spouse is okay with you pursuing a “hobby” so long as it’s not “prepping”, you can also disguise your hobby at the onset.  Take up gardening – who can argue when they see fresh homegrown tomatoes and squash coming in to the kitchen from a previously non-productive back yard?  This might equally apply to becoming a HAM, as mentioned above.  If you like to grill, use that as an easy excuse to have an extra propane tank on hand – just in case the one you have ever runs out.  No one likes a grill flame out due to propane running out when they’re cooking a BBQ for friends & family.  The key here is to not be deceptive, but to be reasonable.

Once your spouse is eased into prepping through some of these initial ideas, she/he will start to see some of the benefits, and you can move along to intensify what you’ve already begun as well as add some of the “bigger” things.  Don’t rush it though – it will take some time, and that’s okay.