Every person or families conditions is going to differ when the “Greatest Depression” actually hits us. Some will live in large cities and be corralled like cattle by either street gangs or governing gangs, a horse a piece in an SHTF situation. Some will live in smaller towns, and those conditions will vary greatly depending on the people about, and the people “in-charge”. Some may find they need to bug out of a small town rapidly if a local hitler runs control. These types are cloaked until SHTF scenarios start playing out. Those who live in rural areas will have their own challenges and advantages. Most people will live in some sort of an abode. For this post, I will ponder on the rural town, and rural-semi-suburban home in an SHTF event.
Know your neighbors. Some may be unstable, loose-lipped, ect. It’s good to be helpful, but don’t advertize that you’re a person who likes to be prepared, or your house could quickly become a supermarket for pirates.
The first and most important thing you need to think of is water. If there’s no power, it’s not going to come out of the sink, not for long. Keep some bottled water, but if you can, there are water collectors that (though operate slowly) can collect water on the cheap for you…without the need of power. Water is all around you, in the air you breathe, a collector can be a life saver. You can only store so much water, you can only travel with so much water. That collector is important.
A means of filtering and distilling water is also important. Filters for separating crude matter include coffee filters (stock up on lots of these now while they are cheap) or just standard cloth can be used. This will NOT disinfect water, and if you need to harvest water from a stream or collector, even if its rain water, you should boil it for at least 2 minutes (rapid) to kill the many microbes your crude filter will not catch. You do not want to get sick in an SHTF ! Water can look and smell clean, but not be so.
Fire. Fire is important if for no other reason than to have the ability to distill water. Candles (slow burning emergency candles ) can be stocked up on the cheap, do so now. But fire needs to be started. Get some sturdy zip locks and collect waterproof matches, lighters, and lighter fluid. Those are good short and medium term fire sources. But not long-term. Long term, you need magnesium strips. Get a couple of small, very portable ones, and at least one larger one. These can be obtained on the cheap either online, or at a going out of business camp or hunt supply store. Get these NOW!, as when the SHTF, magnesium strips will be very expensive and rare. Tinder and burnable matter should be easy to locate, but if you live in the desert, think ahead. For those who have access to trees, are they small? Where are the large dead ones? Dead or dying trees can stand for decades, drying, waiting for you to pluck their plentiful B.T.U. potential when winter sets in, or when water needs boiling. Keep a small saw, and LOTS of extra blades. An axe, or at least a hatchet, can really come in handy.
House care. If the power goes out, have a plan. A generator is a good short-term solution, a good generator and ample fuel storage is an even better solution. Long term, not so good. A pot belly stove for use in a lean or outbuilding can do wonders. Not the most efficient or sightly device, but if properly set up, can save you from the cold, and serve as a convenient water boiling savior. One can be fashioned from some stainless and pvc pipe and cast iron, purchased USED on the cheap, or even made crude-style using a 50 gallon barrel and some scrap iron. At least, look into it, esp. if you are living rural.
Clothing. Do not throw away old clothes, you may need to re-hash them when prices rocket up. Keep multiple needles and thread for repair. Keep extra boots, insoles, and esp. socks.
Food. Start keeping a stock of canned and dried foods. Don’t just fill a freezer or fridge. Think, ham, spam, tuna, sardines, crackers, dry beans, bulk rice and nuts. Flour, salt, spices. Think 100 years ago, stay away from frozen tv dinners and peppermint bon bons.
Health. alcohol makes a good disinfectant, Everclear is cheap, and one shot can act as a great anesthesia if need be. Keep a pint around in case of emergency. No, not a wine cooler, I am talking about something stronger than 80 proof, and pref. clear, gin, vodka, or best, Everclear. Everclear can evaporate fast, open when needed only, keep the cap on TIGHT. Know where a local doctor or clinic is located in case of emergency, or at least a Vet. Vets are not licensed for human treatment, but they probably know enough to pull an appendix out better than a opthomologist or proctologist. incidentally, do not eat bad food. Check cans closely, smell food before eating (always), doctors will be a rare commodity in an SHTF, many can perish from simple events like a burst appendix, staff infection, or food/water poisoning.
The House again. In the event of an outage, keep a flashlight easy to locate. Keep extra batteries. In winter, if power is out too long, your pipes may burst (frozen), KNOW, LEARN, where the main shut off valve is for the water supply to your house. Burst pipes could take days or weeks to repair in a SHTF event. You cannot always just “call the plumber”. Have a heat source, a small lamp can help. Keep lots of layering clothes handy (jackets, ect). Keep extra fuel for that small lamp, keep it functional by firing it up every couple of months just for shits and giggles. Do not keep anything that are SHTF items boxed or stored and unused for months or years. When you really need it, you might find it does not work. Test your testable objects.
Now these are some of the very basic things, and as I have said in other posts, you should think food, water, shelter, and security, at all times.
Make a visit to the dentist this summer if you can, and have been putting it off. Get work done while you are still working. Eyeglasses, got an extra set? Get one, or two, or three. Stock up. Get you eyes checked, while you still have a source of income. In an SHTF, government officials will not be putting eyeglasses and amalgams under you christmas tree. Most likely, they will confiscate the presents under the tree for “the war effort”, and torch your tree for you not being a good patriot.
Stock up extras of things/products you use every day. Toothpaste, soap, razor blades, q-tips, TP, baby powder, laundry soap, any small things you can think of. Think large quantity.
If you live in an apartment, have the ability to exit swiftly, you could likely need it. Remember, fire and water, shelter, food, health, and security. Whats the first thing you do when the power goes out? Batteries dead? Water? Fridge? I cannot stress enough that being prepared can not only save your own ass, but the lives of those you care for, and having “extras” can become trading commodities in an “event” of SHTF proportions, esp. if money is of little to no value.
And don’t think you can just gas up the Jimmy and head to Walmart. Those shelves can clear overnite, and supplies by truck can clear up in 3 days. Don’t get caught in an angry crowd scenario. There are not enough good police. Justice is no guarantee. Good luck.