I was transfixed watching Hurricane Sandy hitting the East Coast last week, especially New York City. It was like a scene from a movie, watching the waves crashing over the protective barriers and filling the streets of Manhattan with water. More than a week later, many people are without power, and some are still struggling to find food and water.
It has become popular in recent years to belittle those that prepare for such situations as eccentric, but you can add me to their ranks. About three years ago I made a serious commitment to taking some very reasonable steps to protect my family in this kind of a situation. This week's article is focused on survival preparedness on a budget.
Listed below are some of my favorite low cost survival products -
1. Emergency Food Buckets
Just as I point out in the video below, these food buckets can bring the cost down to around 50 cents per meal.
2. Canned Goods
A can of Chef Boyardee, a can of black beans, a bag of rice, a can of vegetables, or a can of soup can all be survival foods. Most canned items are good for three to five years. Be sure you have a standard can opener that does not require electricity, so that if you lose power you will be able to open up your canned items. Many people dismiss these kinds of items since they are not officially being sold as 'survival' foods, but they certainly are and are very inexpensive. I look for sales at the grocery store when I can pick up multiple canned good items like this to overstock my pantry.
3. Emergency Water
You can actually go without food for several days, but just a couple of days without water and you will be on the brink of a serious medical situation. Water should be your number one priority. As was the case in New York City, if the power goes out chances are good that you won't have access to tap water for very long. Other than the obvious option of stocking up on cases of bottled water, there are some alternatives.
If you have advance notice that a storm is coming, you could always fill up your bathtub with water. Another way to use your bathtub to store water is with a WaterBOB water storage device. A WaterBOB is a very large plastic bag that is placed into your bathtub and can store up to 100 gallons of water and keep it fresh for up to a month. For less than $25, this definitely goes on my list of a good item to have for a very small investment.
You can shop for flashlights and batteries at Wal-Mart or Home Depot and you will find some real bargains. The problem that I have had around my home is that whenever I need a flashlight, it turns out that the batteries are bad. One great option on this is to get at least one rechargeable flashlight. Here is a link to the flashlight that I have - Rechargeable Flashlight. The flashlight stays plugged into a standard electrical outlet and then begins flashing when the power goes out. Simply pull it out of the plug and you have a very bright flashlight that will work for several hours.
Another option are hand crank rechargeable flashlights. The link provided is to a flashlight that one minute of cranking will provide three minutes of light. I still think it is a good idea to keep a lot of batteries and several standard flashlights on hand, but for the aforementioned reasons, I would definitely consider the rechargeable ones as well.
5. Emergency AM Radio
There are plenty of sources of low cost AM radios, but be sure to get a small one that will not consume batteries too quickly. I have found that Radio Shack has an excellent selection of small radios to consider. If you don't use your AM radio that often, you may find that the batteries have lost their charge just when you need it. I like to have a hand crank radio on hand that has both AM and a weather band. You can get a radio like this for about $35.
6. First Aid Kit
It is surprising that many homes do not have a basic first aid kit. Depending on the emergency situation you find yourself in, you may not be able to get to a hospital and may have to deal with a medical emergency on your own. The first aid kit that I recommend has more than 300 components to it and goes for less than $30. On this issue, if you depend on a prescription medications you would be wise to keep a week or two of surplus on hand. I get a 90 day supply on my blood pressure medication each time and then request a refill two weeks before I run out. Those with more serious conditions such as diabetes need to plan for the possibility of not being able to get medication for a week or even longer.
7. Power Inverter
If you don't have the money to purchase a small generator, a power inverter will allow you to run AC power from your automobile into your house. This is not a great option for more than a few minutes at a time, but can give you quick access to AC power. Here is a power inverter that has a USB port that would be able to recharge a cell phone as well. This is not something you absolutely must have, but is a great item to add if you can afford it.
There is a lot of money being made in the 'survival' marketplace selling very expensive and unnecessary items. Following the advice from this article, for about $300 you should be able to put together the survival provisions for a family of five to cover your needs for nearly two weeks.
If this is a topic of interest to you, I publish a monthly newsletter that covers the topic of survival preparedness extensively - Jim Paris Newsletter. I also co-host a monthly podcast covering Bible prophecy and survival.
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