As this shit show shows no respite, I figured this was a good time to discuss what the girl and I are doing in terms of preparing and what my thoughts are on this developing situation.
Stockpiling 101 for Beginners
Seems to me that as of a few weeks ago, everyone woke up and decided to be a prepper. An admirable pursuit, but sadly, the way most people are going about it is panic driven instead of strategic. I shan’t go over the list but take a gander at these old (always relevant) articles of ours:
- The Best Survival Foods: Non-Perishables That Can Outlive You
- The Ultimate First Aid Supplies List: Be Ready for Anything
- The Ultimate Survival Gear List: Add to Your Survival Kit!
- Which Booze is Best for a Prepper Stockpile?
- Winter Emergency Supplies: Get ‘Em While It’s Still Warm!
- Best Prepper Gear: 21 Big Ticket Items Preppers Will Want to Save Up For
Anyway, the core issue is that for prepping to be optimal, you need a baseline of non-perishable basics and then a consistent stocking up of what you use throughout the year. I see people buying liquid bleach in insane quantities oblivious that it does expire as opposed to white vinegar and powdered bleach.
This disconnect with reality is making this crisis worse because people are buying the wrong items at huge quantities which results in more panic and waste.
If you are a regular reader, you already know what to do. If you are new here, please take a deep breath, take a gander at your pantry and think about your preps in terms of days, months and years.
How much of something do you use in a typical week? Now multiply that by four to get to a monthly stockpile. Then again by 12 for a year. That’s what you need.
How long will what you buy last? And will it be a worthy investment long term (not just short term). Will it expire before it will be used?
Take MRE’s and 25 year freeze dried food. I have a months supply from Legacy Food Storage, but you have to bare in mind that this was not a knee jerk purchase (in fact it was something we got for free in exchange for a review long ago). Nor is it something we need at all. My basic stockpile even if I didn’t have this extra month’s supply is already healthy.
MRE’s and long term pre-made food is not something you will enjoy eating, its something you should have after your preps are well in order. Focus on consumables like rice, pasta, beans, lentils, canned tomatoes, etc. Stuff you can chow down on without hating your life. It’ll be cheaper for you, too.
After you have your basic 60 day stockpile of long shelf life food as a minimum, your basic stockpile of toiletries and cleaning products (again, figure out how much you use in a week then multiply by 4 to get a month, then by 2 to get a second month), then you can evolve to the next level and start looking at total collapse goods, whilst bearing in mind that the likelihood of you ever using them are very slim.
On that note, please stop buying obscene amount of painkillers. They will be long expired before you can work through them. Think strategically in terms of days.
Lets say you are a family of 4 – plan to have enough to sustain yourself medically with flu symptoms for around 30 days of recommended dosage. That’s my personal recommendation.
So without further babbling, I haven’t been stockpiling much because I don’t need to and when I see old ladies queuing outside for toilet paper etc. then I prefer to let them take it. I don’t need it so I shan’t partake in diminishing an already fractured supply line.
I am getting a lot of emails asking me what I am buying, but folks, I have been habitually stockpiling for many years for precisely this reason – so I don’t have to panic buy.
So What Have We Been Doing?
Seeing as I am already in a good position on all fronts, the girl and I are simply living as we do – the only exception being limiting our travelling. We chill in the garden with cigars, spend time on our phones and reading, and relax.
I did make some big orders on Amazon for various nice-to-have items. Also keep topping up the stockpile just a tiny bit with our regular grocery deliveries to the house (been doing our grocery shopping online for the past year – it’s just faster that way). But ultimately, being informed and aware of the situation as it unfolds, and keeping trips outside the home to a minimum is the best thing we can do.
Sadly this does mean limiting face to face contact with friends, but until we have more info, the girl and I are going to mitigate risk within parameters that don’t interfere with our life too much.
Portugal hasn’t been hit hard compared to Spain and Italy, but it’s only a matter of time. Frankly, I don’t have much faith in the medical infrastructure being able to withstand so many patients.
This is the real issue folks, we don’t have a system able to test and look after 30% of the population. If too many elderly and at risk people get COVID-19, it will strain our healthcare capabilities to breaking point.
We cannot have them all go to a hospital where immunocompromised patients are, we don’t have enough isolation wards, and thus it’s a perfect storm of an aggressive virus that by itself is problematic, but with enough infected people, we won’t be able to cope.
I saw that in the north of Portugal, a tent was set up in the hospital parking lot. Alas, how many people can it hold? Will we as a society be capable of moving all the vulnerable to vetted facilities? What happens when retirement homes get hit?
This is the problem with the Coronavirus. We can deal with it one on one, the symptoms are usually manageable, but en masse, with 10s of thousands of elderly facing breathing difficulties & a limited supply of ventilators? America only has 160 thousand ventilators and it’s the wealthiest country in the world.
Can you imagine if Coronavirus takes hold in Africa? Doesn’t bare thinking about. People in third world countries still die from diarrhea so we need to remember that our resources differ country to country.
On a final note, I have noticed a disturbing trend amongst preppers to be almost mocking over the past few weeks. Yes, I also find it ironic that everyone is hunting for toilet paper today when a month ago preppers were just nutcases. I have always argued that prepping should be normalized – we should expect the worst and at least give some thought to how we would deal with it.
Saying I told you so when people are panicked and scared isn’t cool, it’s petty and creates an us vs them mentality. Offer your help and advice instead of condescending remarks. It’s a bad look for the community as a whole when “normal” people see us as vindictive instead of supportive.
On that note, stay safe & stay aware.
Tiger Squirrel says
Very helpful post, thank you! Panic shopping has started here in Canada and it is unnerving to witness. You can feel the urgency in the air.
One thing I picked up on in your post was your mention of expiry dates for medicine. This was also a matter of debate between my father and I several months ago during flu season. He argued that his vitamins and over-the-counter flu medicine was A-OK, even though some were a full year past the expiry date. I disagreed. So I researched the topic and was surprised by what I found. They don’t expire so much as diminish in potency, and the rate of degradation is variable based on the medicine. They do state that liquid medication like insulin, aspirin, and epipens expire rather quickly and do not remain stable after the stamped date.
This was my first read :
Then I read a second post (that was updated this past February ) and also followed the embedded links to the journal articles:
Thomas Xavier says
That is correct, the issue with differing potency is that it makes dosage very difficult- especially if you are dealing with kids. Consequently, I can’t in good conscience recommend using expired Rx even if it would most likely be fine. Thanks for dropping by mate!
I tell people to go sit in a quiet corner with a pen and paper.
If you can read this, the chances are that you have been hospitalized at one time and at least one time you were confined at home and had only you to take care of yourself.
1. think about what bothered you in the hospital.
2. think about what bothered you when you were homebound.
3. write them down. write down solutions.
I give examples.
Did you hate having to sip up and drink fluids from a plastic cup or through a straw.
It bothered me. So, I bought mouth piece adapters for a couple of stainless steel water containers, plastic baby bottles, glass baby bottles.
Did you hate how the house was messy or have to get up and make food and clean up?
Figure your way around them. I had to take self care after I was discharged from the hospital for a martial arts injury and still was on morphine.
So, think. Avoid the panic stricken crowds at the supermarket/Costco/Walmart. To them, it is the end of the world and they are deliberately acting recklessly and can hurt you.
Thomas Xavier says
110% agree, the girl and I haven’t stepped foot inside a grocery store for the past 1.5 weeks. People are acting like its doom day time.
Pasta, rice, beans etc. all out. I have no interest in getting mixed up in a volatile crowd when I have plenty at home. When the situation normalizes then I will see about safely restocking but our current enviroment (which is purely panic driven) is precisely why I have preps.
Spoke to my neighbour yesterday- huge lines outside butcher, people buying insane amounts of meat to freeze. Issue is, we are close to Italy and so people have seen the impact of the lockdown and are expecting it will be this bad here too. :(
Stay safe mate & thanks as always for your thoughtful advice.
“prepping should be normalized”
I knew a Mormon family who stored 7 years worth of food. They did it after how Joseph in the Bible told the Egyptians to store 7 years worth for an upcoming famine.
I thought about doing the same. Seven years was way too long and too much food to keep. I decided to try 7 months. After several years, I cut it down to 7 weeks.
I’m over 60. I’m not leaving my home if I can help it. So I increased my supplies to last 70 days.
I started this 40 years ago. I hadn’t heard the word “prepper” at that time. I was a pepper and didn’t know it.
I guess some Mormons are peppers too and don’t know it.
Thomas Xavier says
I think people with a homesteading background tend to be preppers- can’t depend on always having a good harvest etc. so it makes sense!
Well, I’ve Always been a “prepper” but didn’t REALLY think I would have to resort to going into “survival mode”.
It seems I’ve had very close prolonged contact with a Woman 6 days ago whose Italian partner has returned a week ago from South America after spending 14 days there on business.
He is now showing symptoms indicating Covid 19.
I’m not too great myself, but put it down to long hard hours in marine construction.
So here I am, NEVER thinking it could happen to little old me…
What is the expression, “there but for the grace of God, go I ”
Not worried even though I’m over 61 yrs as I’m pretty fit, but NOT a nice feeling, much like having someone pointing a firearm at me…
Thomas Xavier says
That sucks Wayne but as you said- you are in a good shape. You been tested yet?
Being in the over 60 category is our main worry right now as we may/probably will have to hunker down for an extended time period according to the latest CDC notices/statements. I can’t imagine up to a year, but, who knows with this. We’re in uncharted territory here. Like you we have our groceries delivered. Great service as long as it lasts. I think overall we’re in a lot of trouble as a country here in the US. Would I help others, yes to a point but o food items will I give. It took me to long and cost to much to just give away to those like me who could have stored food for an emergency.
Thomas Xavier says
UK health minister suggested that over 70’s may be “encouraged” to self quarantine for 4 months. Good luck enforcing that… I am doing a top up order of groceries tonight, we shall see how it plays out. Portugal is on pseudo-lockdown with the streets effectively deserted. Service sector taking a real beating.
I usually agree with your ‘take’ on what to say and what to do.
However, your last comment needs some clarification. You stated: “Offer your help and advice instead of condescending remarks. It’s a bad look for the community as a whole when “normal” people see us as vindictive instead of supportive.”
the word: “Advice,” I can agree with. “Help” is something else and needs to be put into perspective.
What kind of help?
Help with identifying edible weeds and avoiding dangerous plants? Yeah, I can do that.
What about sharing some water? Yeah, I can do that, so long as my electricity is functioning.
What about showing how to make do with some foodstuffs they already have on hand? Yeah, I can do that.
What about bartering a bit of food for something I desperately need? Yeah, I can do that.
What about helping someone with food from my preps because they didn’t care to think about their own future? No. Should I or one of my own family risk suffering starvation / illness because of their ‘foolishness’? I don’t think so. Prepping has been on their radar a VERY long time (if they watch TV).
Would I say, “I told you so?” No. That ain’t gonna happen either, because for all they know, I’m in the same boat as they are. My operational security is simple: Don’t share information that can be used against you in times of trouble.
Here in the USA, there are LOTS of guns, lots of bullets, lots of tactical knowledge, and lots of potential for getting yourself maimed / killed for all your prepping efforts. Keep that to yourself.
With a bit of luck, this Covid thing will be the amazing ‘wake-up’ call this country needs. And, eventually, the pandemic will pass into our collective history. Afterwards, maybe more people will start prepping for their own ‘uncertain’ futures in the uncertain times ahead. I am somewhat optimistic, but I sincerely doubt people will really change all that much. In a year or two, things will be back to ‘normal’ and preppers will still be oddballs.
Without that bit of luck, we’re all screwed.
Thomas Xavier says
I hear you mate, by help I mean guide as opposed to share. The reason I mentioned it is I have seen a lot of spite directed at these new preppers in mocking terms and some just left the conversation which is a damn shame. We need to figuratively hold them by the hand and explain the optimal way to prep. On another note, I completely agree with your wake-up call argument. I hope we learn from this and understand that having the bulk of our production overseas is a terrible idea- likewise with not having any preps. Fingers crossed.
1. I buy alcohol by the gallon.
70% is a disinfectant. I routinely spray it on handles/door knobs/steering wheels/phones/controllers/light switches. Saves time. Saves mess. Avoids getting electrocuted.
If all you can find is 91 proof isopropyl for medical use, it is fine.
2. I disagree on using non medical epoxy. I did that and had complications according to the plastic surgeon I consulted with.
3. Buy cheap booze in bulk. Buy empty pint plastic bottles and fill in front of person in a trade.
4. Buy hydrogen peroxide by the gallon. Minor cuts/scrapes and a limited disinfectant on surfaces.
5. Research and learn how to make the 2 2-liter bottle solar still. It purifies and filters. Most people don’t know the difference. If you construct them, it will process sea water, pool water, urine, swamp water, muddy water, water that held a dead animal! Clear enough??
Thomas Xavier says
Gonna have to look into the 2 2-liter bottle solar still- especially as I live in Portugal! “70% is a disinfectant. I routinely spray it on handles/door knobs/steering wheels/phones/controllers/light switches. Saves time. Saves mess. Avoids getting electrocuted.”- brilliant idea to put it in a spray bottle format, will make clean up so much easier.