In a world that is becoming more difficult to understand, prepping and homesteading are becoming more practical. Having an emergency preparedness plan should be common place. So why is preparing for emergency considered crazy by mainstream media? Everyone becomes a critic. In response to the critics and the lack of emergency planning, preppers hide their habits and their supplies. The double life of a prepper begins.
Hiding in Plain Sight
My favorite hiding trick is to put things in plain sight as decor. Things that look like antiques but are new or at least in working condition. Oil lamps, hand tools, a butter churn, and a hand crank coffee grinder all grace the kitchen. They add character to a farm-house or cabin. And when the lights go out just light a lamp.
As a child I dreamed of a hidden room, or secret back stairs to escape things like my sisters friends, and doing the dishes. As an adult I still want to avoid the dishes but my sisters friends turned out pretty good. I don’t have any hidden compartments in my little house but I still think everyone should have at least one little hidden room that is off limits to guests. I would build a false wall in a big closet, or have a door out of the back of a closet into a secret room. My horde could stay in this room where I could rotate food and keep it all organized. In a perfect world I would build a root cellar with a secret compartment. When the Nazis came to steal my food they would not see it all.
Camping is Mini Survival
The easiest way to practice survival skills is to go camping. It gives you a socially acceptable way to gather a bug out bag and the tools you need to survive without a home. Modern gear can be ultra lightweight and easy to pack. The very best gear is expensive but there is a good range of products to choose from. Camping is fun and mentally refreshing too.
The heaviest thing to pack is adequate water. Owning and knowing how to operate water purifiers is important for camping and in a survival situation. Recalling the interviews after 9/11 the two things people searched for were dust masks and drinking water. In floods and winter storms there is water available but it is not safe to drink. Invest in a good water purifying system, and a collapsible water bag to store it in. The Lifestraw is a great tool I have used camping and recommend for short term use.
Car Safety Kit
The biggest frustration I have with drivers is their lack of preparedness. There are a lot of people who carry nothing in their vehicles. NOTHING. No first aid kit, no water, not even a box of tissue. Even a bad day in traffic has needs.
The Essentials of Everyday Car Carry
- Safe bottles to store a liter of water for the driver and each regular passenger. The water will taste and smell stale but it will be there when you need it.
- First aid kit. Pack some non latex gloves that fit, and hope you never need them.
- Tow rope.
- Jumper cables or better yet a portable battery pack that can jump your battery. With the battery pack you don’t need another car and it also charges your phone and laptop.
- Blanket. Throw it over valuables in the car so no one can see them.
- Spare sunglasses.
- Good shoes for walking. Hiking boots make a good all season walking shoe. Just store your hikers in your car instead of your closet.
- Pen and paper. For leaving notes.
- Seasonal items. Hand warmers and gloves for winter, umbrella for spring, or sunscreen and bug spray for summer.
- Those little plastic toothbrushes. I do not condone one use items but these are more hygienic and come in handy.
- Flares and flags. If you are in a populated area then flares are pointless. However some kind of flag to warn traffic that your car is on the road is important. Never underestimate the inattentiveness of other drivers. Assume they are texting and driving and proceed with utmost caution.
- A paper map of the area.
- A roll of doggy doo bags and a roll of toilet paper. Not for the dog.
- If you travel with boys an empty bottle might come in useful.
- Any medicine you may need in an emergency, or personal items.
All of these items have double lives as survival equipment. If you are serious add a source of power such as a small solar panel to recharge the battery pack. I also keep some non melting protein bars in my vehicle.
The double life continues with skills that appear to be hobbies. Gardening and hunting are important for long-term survival. Food storage, meat cutting, firearms and tactical training are practical skills. Pottery making, sewing, wood working, or learning to ride a horse are positive pastimes that will outlive the grid.
Short term survival skills are the first ones you need in a shtf situation.
- Physical fitness above all else. Escaping a panicking and increasingly desperate population will depend on your level of fitness. If you have health issues or disabilities they need to be addressed ahead of time.
- Knowing how to read the topography and matching it to a map is a skill you can learn and keep to yourself.
- Riding a motorbike can come in handy if car traffic is stopped. Electric peddle bikes work too but are not as fast as motorcycles.
- Deviousness to disguise your BOB. Put a large garbage bag over it and tie at the top, cutting holes for the straps to come out. It will appear as garbage. Stick some tape to it or a dirty piece of plastic to further degrade the look. Another reason to use your backpack often is it will not be shiny and bright.
What to Hide From Critics
A two-year supply of dried food is difficult to pass off as a hobby if you are not a gardener with a large family. It might need a room in the basement with a hidden door. The prep space for dehydrating and sealing long-term or backpacking food should be out of sight if you have may people in your house. Those who know about your hoard will want part of it when there is nothing left at the supermarket. Choose your friends wisely.
Off grid energy supplies such as solar panels or wind turbines are going to be difficult to hide. I don’t have one in the city because I am certain it will get stolen. My long-term survival plan is to have a place in the country that takes more than a tank of gas to drive to from the nearest city but can be reached on foot if necessary. If you have an off grid energy source make sure it is difficult to steal.
Hoards of medicine are hard to come by. With so many people relying on their prescriptions to survive I have to wonder what would happen if the drugs were not available for 30 days. Antibiotics are going to be more valuable that water, and common prescriptions like heart, and blood pressure pills will decide who survives and who doesn’t. If anyone in your family or survival group relies on anti psychotic medicine, please have a long-term supply locked in the safe for them. Keep it hidden from everyone who may abuse it.
Addictions are going to be a problem. Honestly I am looking forward to getting rid of the hard drug problem. If there are not trucks crossing the border or planes flying in then there is not much chance cocaine, or heroin will get here. Meth needs certain imported ingredients too. It is hard to predict what will happen as the desperately addicted run out of options to feed their demons. Some type of security detached from the grid is going to be vital, even in the country.
Alcohol is another addiction that will be a problem. Making wine and beer is not difficult with the proper tools. It does take time to make and there will be a lot of people wanting it. There are people who know how to build a still as well. The best way to get around the alcohol addiction is to quit now. Have a few bottles of vodka stashed for medical reasons and if you have room a few bottles of whiskey for trading.
Smokers are going to have a tough time when the trucks stop running. It is one of the hardest addictions to quit, so I have been told. If you are determined to keep smoking there is a long-term solution. Buy tobacco seeds and grow your own tobacco. Start now if it is legal in your area. How to grow tobacco and cure it will be a very desired skill (and product) in a long term survival situation.
Weed is here to stay. I don’t mean dandelions and thistles. Marijuana is said to have medicinal properties and it is widely used as medicine. Recreational marijuana can be a bartering tool. It is easy to grow and the seeds can be stored for a few years. People with addictions to other substances often turn to weed for a high to calm them down through withdrawal. Be aware of the laws in your area. Some places it is legal to keep seeds as long as you don’t grow them. Other places it is legal to grow your own. It’s not worth going to jail over, but it is something you might want to hide from the neighbors.
What do you do when your spouse is your worst critic? Intimate partnerships are based on trust. How do you prep when your partner thinks it is ridiculous? It does take a lot of time and resources to prepare for teotwawki, or even a month-long power outage. Here are some ideas:
- Get your partner walking. Fitness is important. If you can convince them to hike or camp then you have a good start.
- Active vacations. If you are lucky enough to go on regular vacations add physical activities into them. Swimming, hiking to up to view points, or biking through villages all are physical activities that sound like vacation things.
- Keep 5 gallon bottles of water around because city water tastes bad. I also have a 7 gallon plastic water container in my laundry room full of tap water. It is for washing in if the tap quits on me. At least 10 people have seen it and not one has ever asked.
- Put a wood burning stove in your house. For the ambiance of course.
- Compromise with your partner. Agree to camping gear and a three month supply of dried food. At least it will be something.
Joining a Community
There are communities of preppers that pool their resources and buy land and sea cans for storage. Personally I have not joined one because the extreme survivalists in this area tend to be very angry people. This can’t be true everywhere so if you can train with and learn from a group of like minded people you might be more welcome to join them and share their preps when the day comes.
Another option is to build your own community. Large families can accomplish this easily. Everyone works together to build the foundations. Then handpick those whom you would like in your community. Mine would include a medical doctor, a farm mechanic, someone who loves to cook, a couple of hunters, and a dog trainer. I would work with the livestock and in the garden. When does this start?
In The End
The double life of a prepper can be a balancing act between sharing and keeping your mouth shut. If you really can’t convince your loved ones to prep with you then you might have to shelter in place. It is not odd to keep a good supply of canned and frozen food handy, or have a few extra propane tanks for the BBQ. Pick your battles, but keep your hiking boots handy.