Preparing for the What Ifs in Life

Preparing for the What ifs in Life

There’s a game many people play with children. It could be called a self-reliance exercise. It has to do with “making do” and being prepared, with planning for contingencies as well as being open to new ideas and possibilities. It’s not really a game, because it has applications today for many situations, including surviving a natural disaster or coping with other sorts of emergencies.

It goes like this: “If (something happens), then (I can, I will, I do) what?”

If the storm hits, then I will have to get out my emergency supplies. If the lights go out, then I know where the flashlights are kept. If gas prices go up, then I can ride my bike. If the water is polluted, then I can boil it. If the power goes out, then I can eat cold canned beans.

You get the idea.

Use Common Sense

Today, playing that “game” is a very real exercise for many who believe in preparedness.

Our forebears routinely stocked pantries and root cellars with new stores of fresh produce, home canned fruits and vegetables and preserved meats. They also took advantage of seasonal abundance to lay in stores of necessary supplies – things like flour, salt and dried herbs – to carry them through long winters and leaner times. They always had a supply of dried beans and pasta, canned chicken and tuna fish, and baking supplies. Food storage was not a chore, it was second nature.

There was always a way to make a meal out of food on hand, and the fresh catch or seasonal harvest was never wasted.

Collected rainwater was used for the garden during dry spells, and one year’s seeds started next year’s garden. What made good sense to our forebears makes even better sense today. Weather was the primary concern two or three generations ago. Today, all manner of additional concerns exist, and we have abandoned some of the good sense our ancestors demonstrated.

But, What If?

  • What if the power is off for more than a few hours?
  • What if the storm is forecast, and the shelves are already empty at the stores?
  • What if I cannot get to a doctor or a vet when a child or a pet needs help?
  • What if the supply of gasoline is cut off, and all that’s left is walking or riding a bike?
  • What if the tough times get tougher, and you need extra help to get through them?

Would you be left waiting for help that doesn’t arrive, or would you be able to “make do” and survive?

Getting Started

There are ways to prepare for these contingencies. It makes sense to do so. Some things you can do right now include:

Create an emergency kit. Include things such as batteries, matches, cans of propane, first aid supplies, vitamins and water purification tablets.

Make a list of staple food items and stock up when your local markets have sales. Begin with a 3-day supply, and work up to the kind of stores you feel comfortable with. Learn how to store foods: Take a lesson from sailors who routinely store eggs, cabbages, potatoes and even fruits without preservatives or refrigeration. It’s all in knowing how.

Be aware of health and medical needs; don’t forget to stock supplies for your pets.

Go Beyond

Start a garden: Start small and keep it simple if gardening is new to you. Fresh herbs and tomatoes in a pot, strawberries and cucumber vines along a fence, or lettuces in a vertical garden are not only fun, but immensely practical. Plant flowering herbs instead of flowers. Or, plant edible flowers.

Share with neighbors: If there’s no community garden in your area, see if you can start one. Plant fruit trees in your neighborhood and encourage sharing.

Learn to can, pickle, salt and preserve: Again, it’s not only fun, but practical. And there’s a resurgence of interest. Buy from local growers and farmers markets, and work with friends and neighbors to make pickles, jams, and canned fruits and vegetables of all kinds. Dehydrate your own frozen foods. Learn how to dry your own herbs. Classes are widely available through university agricultural extension services, some community colleges and garden clubs.

What if I do all this, and there’s never a need for it?

It’s better to have and not need than need and not have. The hope is, of course, that this “new” awareness becomes simply a “renewed” way of living in harmony with the seasons. Any prepper knows that learning from the past is the best way to thrive in the future.