That’s right, I said what “NOT” to prep. This is part 2 in a short series on thing I choose not to stock up on. Read part 1 here. If you have made the decision to start preparing, you are experiencing information overload. When I first started to prepare, I was told and read so much advice on what to prep I came to the conclusion that I should just prep everything! Well yes, and no.
Incomplete information distracts those who are new to the concept of prepping from focusing on what will save their lives, doing your own research from different sources helps fill these information gaps. Questioning what you read on the internet, and even from me, is a good thing! After doing a lot of research and some testing these are items I have personally chosen not to prep, you may choose differently and that’s your right. If you have a question on anything I have listed here, disagree with it, or think I have forgotten something, feel free to leave a comment. I will get back to you as soon as I can. Always base your preps on common sense, think things through, ask yourself; how will this work in a stressful situation where you will not have the luxury of time? How will this effect your security? Will it put your group or yourself at risk?
Three More Things I don’t Prep:
You should stock up on paper plates and plastic utensils so you don’t have to use water to wash dishes: Paper plates and plastic utensils will create a lot of trash, unless there is still garbage service you will have to find somewhere to put your trash. Plastic doesn’t break down and even paper will take time to compost. Trash attracts rodents, insects, and other vermin you don’t want around your location. Burning your trash may or may not be an opinion. Most modern wood stoves are not made to burn trash, the features on them that make them super efficient and “clean burning” will get gummed up with the residue of burning trash as opposed to wood. If you a have an older wood stove (prior to the late 80’s) you should be fine burning trash as long as you have a way of keeping your chimney clean. Burning trash in the open outdoors may not be wise if you do not wish to draw attention to yourself. It also may be too dry to burn safely outdoors. If you accidentally catch your house, the woods, a field or other out building on fire, the fire department may not be able to help you. As history has shown us, when there is no public water service, or fire department available, it is completely possible for one person to burn down an entire city or countryside with one simple mistake. Don’t be that person.
If you practice washing dishes a little bit now, you will learn that it does not take much water to get the job done. You can even sanitize them in direct sunlight, if you have had to use unfiltered water for washing and don’t want to put aside even more water for making bleach. Learning to conserve water and practicing water efficient methods of washing dishes, is a better approach than stocking plastic and paper dinnerware to avoid washing. This will also allow you to use that space to store maybe a little extra water, and to spend your money on more productive items like first aid supplies, soap, and food.
Women should keep a back-up supply of make-up on hand so you have some if you can’t get it from the store. If you are in a prolonged grid down situation, there is a good chance that you won’t be bathing as frequently as we do now. Most make-up is not made to be left on for days at a time. And if it is, it will cause skin problems. Another thing to consider is, if the rule of law falls it will only be to your benefit to not look ‘made up’ or as one person gently put it to me “for your personal security, you definitely don’t want to look hot.” You will want to blend in with everyone else, not stand out. If you have make-up and no one else does, people will wonder what else you might have. Besides most department store make-up is really not very good for you.
I am fairly certain the men in my life will still find me attractive even if I can’t put on some bush everyday. I am also passing on hair spray, perfume, or anything along those lines. We will all stink from hard work, lack of air conditioning, and lack of soap, and again, if you smell pretty it could draw a lot of unwanted attention to you – when everything else stinks its amazing how far away you can smell perfume, body lotion, or hair spray. Give going without it a try on the weekends or cut back a little, get accustomed to it – not only will your skin thank you for it but your self-confidence will too.
You should prep ‘barter items’ so you will have something to trade to get what you need. Now, since I know this is something preppers love to do, before you get upset, read my reasons. I don’t believe in prepping barter items.
If you have prepared wisely and thoroughly for yourself and whoever may join you for any disaster, and you have become as self-sufficient as possible, you should not be “in need” of much. My grandfather who grew up during the depression could tell you exactly how little one needs to survive. The original idea behind ‘barter items’ is to get things that you ‘need’ not to accumulate wealth or profit off of others in a time of emergency. No one knows for sure what would happen in the event of a prolonged emergency. Will you turn away your own brother or sister if they show up at your door hungry with no where to go? If something happens to your neighbor and their 6 year-old kid is orphaned, will you turn them out? I think, despite what is heard online about how resolved we all are, that most of us would take them in. In no time at all, you will find yourself on reduced rations, which is still starving to death, its just doing it more slowly than eating nothing.
Bartering is not the only way to network and create “good will” in your community. If you start networking now in your community you won’t have to worry about how to go about approaching people after a disaster. Good will can be created by helping others, honesty, faithfulness, and charity. You don’t get to throw charity out the window just because hard times hit, that’s when we will all need it the most. I strongly believe that if we preppers are in a position to help, and we can do it safely, then we must help. It could be something as simple as teaching your neighbor how to filter water or as big as taking in your relatives that have mocked your prepping efforts in the past. There will be other options for charity and you will spot them along the way.
The only exception I think is valid of is bartering for the services of others. Say, perhaps there is a dentist down the road and you need some help with a tooth. In that case, you would want to pay him with something. The problem is, you may not have what he wants for payment, meaning that you will have to go find someone else who has the thing he wants and hope you have something that could be traded for it. This is where the danger of bartering doubles and triples and the guessing game of what to prep for barter becomes a little ridiculous. Your best bet is just to stock up on the stuff you need and just keep in mind that somethings may make better barter items than others maybe pad the numbers of those items a little but don’t buy things for the sole purpose of “it could be a good barter item.” Invest that money in your stock of food and meds.
In a world where society has collapsed to the point where we are no longer using paper currency, it would be foolish to assume that we will set up this quaint barter system where everyone follows the rules, its safe, and no one gets hurt. Look at New Orleans after Katerina, look at Bosnia (even after a year). History has proven that the “bad guys” don’t go away in disaster, they get stronger and more brash.
If you do barter, and you do it more frequently than other people in your area, and/or if you have unusually nicer stuff than most, they will start to wonder what else you may have. They may start to think that if you have extra to barter, then you have extra for them to take. It could be a very dangerous activity and it could draw a lot of unwanted attention to you. Especially if you are bartering super high value items like cigarettes, alcohol or drugs. It won’t take long at all for word to get around a small community that you have antibiotics, or booze. Great care will have to be taken that transactions don’t go wrong, that you are not followed home. In my opinion – it’s not worth the risk unless you absolutely have to – so whatever it is you forgot to prep or ran out of, it had better be pretty danged important for you to go out looking to barter for it.