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Could the End be Here?-Odd Places to Scrounge for Prepper Supplies
People really think the end of the world is coming. Sales of “doomsday kits” have been soaring, but are they worth the thousands of dollars that some retailers are charging?
The world is scary.
Not only do I have to worry about spiders, clowns, sharks and hurricanes, but threats of global warming, nuclear warfare and artificial intelligence infiltrate headlines periodically and scare the bejeezus out of me.
Preparing for an emergency seems to be an American pastime, if not a rite of passage. There’s even a TV show where people prepare for a range of potential threats like wildfires and doomsday.
The prepper movement [which some of us, like Boy Scouts or LDS have been involved with since 1999 –or longer- for example, has created an entire market for survival gear. Big-name retailers offer everything from one-person survival kits to a year’s supply of food delivered directly to your door. Even Home Depot sells underground shelters! Regardless of current tensions, everyone should take a note from FEMA, the Red Cross or the Boy Scouts and BE PREPARED for emergencies whether man-made or natural.
Recent tensions with North Korea skyrocketed sales of such survivalist supplies, according to Time Money.
But the question remains: Is investing in one of these kits really worth it, or are folks just buying into hype?
The Wide World of Doomsday Prep Kits
A Google search for survival kits turns up tons of options.
Do I need tactical assault wipes? What about a survival capsule. There are plenty of options, but they ain’t cheap.
A year’s supply of food starts around $749.95 for a single person and can climb up to $36,999 for a 20-person supply. Run and tell that to the commune!
Bulk retailers aren’t new to the game, either. In fact, this is their specialty.
Costco offers by-the-pallet food kits. Options range from $999 to $5,999 for a year’s supply, assuming a 1,300- to 2,000-calorie diet.
One of them feeds a family of four for an entire year. It boasts 36,000 servings of food, based on a 2,000-calorie diet, for $6,000. That comes out to 16.7 cents a serving. Just keep in mind, coffee is sold separately.
The specs say this supply will last you 1,460 days, or four years if you eat 2,000 calories a day. So that means you can run from zombies and still get all the nutrients you need with plenty to spare.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But I’m gluten-free.” Don’t worry, we got you fam. Oh, you’re vegan? Got you, too.
In the words of Gloria Gaynor, “I will survive.”
How Much Food Do You Really Need to Survive?
Most of us learned about basic survival in school. You won’t live long without food and water.
You can last maybe a week without water, and you might make it several weeks to over a month — in rare cases — without food.
Sedentary men over age 18 need more than 2,000 calories per day to survive, according to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Sedentary women ages 18 to 50 need at least 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day. Anything below those numbers will result in weight loss.
The caloric needs of boys and girls under 18 start at 1,000 for toddlers and rise to 2,400 calories a day for teenage boys if they’re sedentary.
Most of the survival kits we’ve seen don’t include water, so whatever you do, don’t forget the water or else it’ll all be for naught. [Most experts suggest a gallon per day per person. We keep 55-gallon containers at our mini-farm and a few at our main home].
How Much Does It Cost to Eat for a Year?
I pride myself on being pretty frugal with food costs.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a woman aged 27 can survive off $1,965.60 a year, or $37.80 a week on a thrifty plan.
The same plan estimates that a family of four — two adults 19 to 50 years old and two children between ages 2 and 5 — spends $128.90 a week or $6,702.80 a year on food.
So the premium Costco kit with its plethora of servings would be cheaper than living off a bargain-basement budget for a whole year by American standards.
Items in the emergency kits generally keep from 10 to 25 years, so if you have a broke year, I’d say just dig in, because are you really ever going to ever eat it? You could always write it into your will to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.
I wonder how my other half would feel if we just start eating MREs and put all the extra savings into our retirement accounts. In some respects, an investment in food for long-term storage can beat the stock market when inflation is figured into to equation.
Can You Compile Your Survival Kit?
This is America! You can pretty much do whatever you want as long as you don’t break any laws. [Well, not always…laws have become pretty subjective].
Having some sort of plan or emergency kit in place when a disaster strikes is smart. Snowstorms and hurricanes can knock out power grids for days. Tornadoes, earthquakes and wildfires can destroy your home in a matter of seconds.
You can assemble your own emergency kit for much less than a store-bought one.
But when it comes to a nuclear attack or doomsday-type event, you might need a little more than the basics. We compiled a handy guide to help you wade through the options and stay ready.
Is it survival of the fittest or survival of the most prepared?
Do You Need Survival Gear?
This is entirely a personal decision.
I like to keep a spare tire, car jack and raincoat in my trunk for emergencies. A survival kit is just a more extreme version of that.
Everyone should have some version of a disaster kit because Mother Nature is one fierce woman, and you’ll never know when she’ll strike.
Although investing in a year’s supply of food is in a whole other ballpark. If you have enough money and it is important to you, there are affordable options that cost less than feeding your family for an entire year when the aliens or robots take over…however, keep in mind, you cannot eat money and the stock market has proven a volatile master. A prudent person should learn not to put all their eggs into one basket…own some stock, own physical gold and silver, own some land, own long-term storable food, etc.
Seriously, we got through Y2K and the end of the Mayan calendar. There are other productive ways to prepare, such as learning Morse code, gardening and other skills.
Even Shakespeare warned of a doomsday over four centuries ago. He didn’t seem too worried about it then. Why should you be now?
This is a segment that you can take for ideas and build off of for yourself. Survival is all about improvisation, and adaptability: those who adapt to the situation have a better chance at making it through the tough times. This is a different kind of segment, though. The information here is how to make it on what you can scrounge in the wintertime. Sounds simple, right? It isn’t.
>Based on suggestions from the Penny Hoarder, Red Cross, FEMA, the PoorManSurvivor
We Live in an Imperfect World That is Not Prepper-Friendly
The reason is the “perfect” world we live in does not present you with many opportunities to train. For that matter, there isn’t a lot of encouragement either. Certainly, no one will encourage you: not your family members, your neighbors, or community in general, let alone the government…local, state, or federal. That’s not “life.”
No, most of these guys just mentioned are only concerned with you playing to the system by getting up in the morning, going off to your work (to earn taxable income) so that you can pay your taxes, consuming foods, materials, and other necessities (with taxes), driving (using fuel that’s taxed) home…the one with your mortgage and property taxes, that have, well…a nice, “established” way for you to keep your lawn, grounds…you know…how to live, right? In an acceptable manner, right?
A small cog in a giant machine, working and consuming until it’s time to call your number in. Then your money and property… what you have left, that you paid taxes on all the way? Time to tax it again until the government (kicking and screaming) magnanimously gives what’s left to your heirs.
The Only One Who Will Help You Succeed and Excel is You
As a general reminder, you never know when the next emergency will happen, so make sure you have the basic necessities to get through the most unpredictable situation.
- Lighter (I prefer Zippos, as they can take white gas or gasoline),
- Lock-blade knife
- Flashlight (I prefer the mini-mag, the little pocket one)
3 Places That Preppers Would Never Think to Scrounge For Survival Supplies
Remember: these suggestions are SHTF/emergency suggestions…as most of this stuff is illegal, and if it’s not? You’ll be “marginalized” until they come to remove you from Fisher Price-ville.
- Auto Wrecking Yard/Junkyard: It’s amazing the number of supplies you can come up with here. Seatbelts can be pulled out to their length and cut to use as straps. Upholstery sometimes has fabric that can be cut or fashioned for makeshift shoes or clothing. The number of field-expedient weapons you can find or fashion is limited only by your imagination. Mirrors and glass are found here in abundance…glass for lenses to concentrate light and make fire…mirrors for signaling or channeling light. Copper wire can be pulled out of the insides. Metal antennas can make useful tools or weapons.
- Construction Sites: You can find lots of preparedness supplies here. For instance, wood for shelters, for lean-to’s, and to fashion snowshoes or fuel for fires. Insulation can be wrapped up in plastic bags and used. Hardware and other construction materials, such as rebar can be used to make field-expedient tools and weapons. In addition, construction sites are sometimes tapped into a water supply. Don’t sleep in the building! Everyone and their brother will be “grasping” such an idea!
- Dumpsters/Trash Sites: often the source of fuel for burning, scrap/discarded clothing, cheap items to harden your home, and cardboard…plenty of cardboard…plenty of plastic. The cardboard can be “sheathed” in the plastic, and stacked to make a ground cover (preventing conduction of heat), and cardboard also burns. Do not discount the use of paper to insulate your body…newspaper crumpled up tightly gives loft to what you wear…more airspace.
The way to do it is to perpetually scrounge, and utilize things for purposes that they can fill, but were not originally designed. This takes some practice. You have to blend what you can pick up that is used or cast away by a man with what you can forage from the woods. We did some pieces on how to find food during the wintertime, and how to make shelters for yourselves. I give you this one extra caveat before closing the topic:
If it looks as if it can be lived in and is unoccupied, you may have it…but you’ll have a “visitor” eventually.
It is better to take materials and supplies (either man-made or natural) and establish a camp and shelter for yourself away from the haunts of people, out of sight…thence, out of mind. This for safety and security, your first and foremost concerns. Camouflage and conceal your shelter, and keep your supplies out of view, whatever you have with you and what you scrounge.
Bruce, the Poor Man, free thinker, social critic & cynic
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