Preparation for long-term survival situations never ends because it involves both infrastructure development and supply management. Fortunately, the marginal return on long-term emergency prep is exponential.
What I mean is, if you prepare for three months of survival, it doesn’t take four times as much work to prepare for a year of survival — most of the work is already done. Planning beyond about a month entails about the same groundwork as planning for several months. Three months of survival require a continuous water supply. One year of survival requires the same.
I’m not saying there’s no difference; I’m saying that if you’ve already planned for a month of independence from public utilities, you’ve already done much of the work needed for several months of independence. Once you’re set for several months, it’s just one more push to get to complete off-grid sustainability. But the prep for that first month or two is a big step.
Long term emergency preparation is called for in the following situations:
- Winter storm
- Economic or political upheaval
How to prepare for long-term survival situations
The first thing you need is food and water, but long-term planning requires more than mere survival; you must prepare to thrive. Plan for an abundance of water and a varied diet, and financial independence is mandatory.
- Long-term water supply. This is a question of infrastructure; a continuous supply is the issue. You’ll find specific details in the Emergency Water Supplyarticle. A friend of mine is digging a well on his property in case the water utility is compromised, and he’s setting it up to work on electricity and as a manual system. Other options include a solar-powered pump and a wind-powered pump. Either option would entail a cistern to get him through the dark, or windless days.
- Glass, stone, and clay containers are best. Plastics alter the flavor of the water and can leech toxins into your supply.
- Water filtration is an excellent option if you use a surface supply. You can run a tap from a pond or stream straight to your Big Berkey filter and have plenty of safe water indefinitely.
- Don’t underestimate the survival value of good morale. Constant worry about the water supply causes physical stress and poor performance. A continuous abundant supply of water is your goal.
- Long-term food supply. This is something you can actually stock, but keeping a garden is an important consideration. You should stock enough food to get through the period between harvests, which will vary depending on climate. Supplement with hunting, fishing, and animal husbandry. Understand the nutritional and medicinal properties of the flora in your area.
- Get out of debt, and stay out. Debt is the enemy of self-sufficiency. If you have a mortgage, the bank owns your property, not you. You can lose it, and then you have a real quandary — how to survive on someone else’s land.
- Become an entrepreneur. If you work for yourself, you’re not at the mercy of someone else’s decisions regarding your salary or continued employment.
- Learn survival skills. I know this is rather broad, but the point is to train yourself to adapt and to use your imagination. This will serve you well when your barn door is broken and you have to fix it yourself, or when the water line freezes and you have to improvise a repair. Do you know how to start a fire without matches, flint, or a lighter? Can you fish without a hook and line? Can you build a shelter with nothing but your knife? Learn these skills, practice them, and gain confidence in your ability to provide for yourself and your loved ones.
- Energy independence. Yes, I know that we’re heavily dependent on electricity, but it is possible to live, and even thrive, without it. Be prepared to do so.
- Learn to provide light without electricity. Candles and oil lamps are your best options.
- Set up your water supply on a gravity system if possible. A spring in the hills is a good example.
- Use solar or wind power to generate electricity. These are expensive, but they will allow you to use a refrigerator and freezer — superb modern conveniences.
- Learn to use hand tools and animal power.
Adopt this plan as a hobby or family project. Invest the same energy and enthusiasm as you do for baseball or boy scouts, and you’ll be gaining skills that pay back for generations.
Contingencies: Set yourself up to use public utilities as well as your backup systems. Modern conveniences are very convenient; use them for your benefit, but be prepared to thrive without them.