I’ve got something really special to share with you today. I want to introduce you to Karen from West Virginia, a Power4Patriots customer and regular blog reader. A little while ago Karen left a comment here on the blog mentioning that her family had recently encountered a “real life” survival situation and that they had learned some valuable lessons. We didn’t waste any time in getting in touch with her to see if she would be willing to tell her story to our readers. I know there were some eye-openers in here for me! Here’s the first of two guest posts from Karen. I hope you enjoy them too. Thanks Karen!
‘Be Prepared’ is more than the Boy Scout’s Motto – Part I
We could learn something from the Mormons, who keep a year’s worth of food on hand. Natural disasters, fires, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes and all sorts of other things can cause major disruptions in transportation, communication and even in where you sleep at night. I’ve learned that the first rule of storage is to diversify. Don’t put “all your eggs in one basket” — keep your survival storage split into several locations. Let me tell you how I learned this the hard way.
Our house burned down in 2010 and we lost just about everything in the house other than the iron skillets and a few random objects that defied the fire. Our important documents spent 3 days under hot ashes in a little fireproof box that did its job. The box was ruined but the documents survived. All of our birth certificates, etc., are permanently smoke scented, but they are intact.
On our property, we have a cabin. In that cabin was what we had left. It wasn’t enough to keep us very long but there was a place people could sleep, some stored food, and a few useful odds and ends.
The cabin was built in the 1980s. That paint came from Lowe’s and still looks as good as it did when we painted it. The outside of the cabin is T111 siding that has held up beautifully even in this damp climate. The roof is metal, insulated underneath with rigid fiberglass insulation. It was never meant to be used as a dwelling, so a lot had to be done for it to be livable in cold weather. The downstairs is divided into two rooms. We insulated the room away from the door but not the front room. There are also two small closet sized rooms that are used for storage that are not insulated. The upstairs is only divided by the stairway but is being used as bedroom space and storage. There is only one window upstairs (not visible in the photo).
There was food stored in that cabin that had been there for 20 years – flour, sugar, corn meal, vinegar – all still good! I just opened a jar of white corn meal the other day that had been in the cabin all that time.
Because the electricity ran on a separate line from the line to the house, the cabin and our well house still had electricity, so water was easily available. Many of our tools were in the cabin. There were old pots and pans, some dishes, a few blankets and articles of clothing, and an odd assortment of “extra stuff” that ended up there when my mother in law moved in with us. But we were not totally prepared for a disaster. We made some horrible mistakes in how we stored things.
Our biggest mistake was putting so much in our house and not putting more things in our out buildings. We could have stored a LOT of things in our well house, which can be locked. Yes, we have some tools and hardware in there, but why didn’t we put FOOD, some guns and ammo in there? We also could have stored a lot more things in the cabin. And if you live in a city, with no storage outside the house, get creative. Who says you can’t bury things in the back yard or rent a cheap storage unit?
Here is just a short list:
- Everyone should store extra socks and underwear, even if all you do is keep them in your car
- An extra pair of shoes
- If you live somewhere with cold winters, some old sweaters and coats that you would normally give to the thrift shop
- Extra blankets and towels
- Pet food
- Flashlights! We should have had flashlights in the cabin and the well house.
- Oil lamps and extra lamp oil
Just remember if you store clothing and blankets to think about MICE. We had blankets stored in Rubbermaid plastic tubs that have good sealing lids. They were fine and usable, right out of the tubs. The cot mattresses in the cabin were not usable as the mice had shredded them to make nests all over the state of West Virginia!
It also would have been a good idea to leave some of our Motorola walky-talky radios in the cabin with some extra batteries – we had 8 of them and lost them all. Maybe the best way to figure what you ought to store outside the house is to picture just what you would need if your house and everything in it suddenly vanished off the face of the earth. Now we have to buy all these supplies over again, which takes time and money, but we will eventually have it a lot better than it was!
Well, I don’t know about you, but I was definitely taking notes when I read that! Let me know your thoughts in the comments. And make sure you tune in for Part II where Karen tells us about their big plans for the future and offers plenty of additional tips straight from her “real world” experience. If you want to learn more about Karen and the folks in her community and how they work to be more self-reliant, you can visit her website at www.twolanelivin.com.