Building Tangible Margin: Staying Put, Part III

Now that we’ve looked at storing water and food and equipping yourself with supplies and materials, let’s address Strategies and other considerations for staying put. While it’s not possible to prepare specifically for every eventuality, here are some things you can do:

Pray—“What?!” you may be asking. Yep, pray. Pray for peace and joy from God in preparation for, and in the midst of, hard times. Pray that He would help you to be wise and frugal and diligent in planning, like Joseph in Egypt. Pray that He would give you discernment in knowing how to help others. Pray.

Lay low—Unless you have boundless surplus and your neighbors are prepared as well, be discrete about your stores. Don’t flaunt your cases of MREs or your firearms to the maintenance man. Don’t have a huge barbecue on your back porch, letting the smell waft through the neighborhood. Don’t leave your blinds up at night and let the world see your generator-powered lights and fans cooling you on a hot evening. Lay low. The less you expose yourself, the less likely someone is to see you as a jackpot.

Be a good neighbor—This is basic Christianity but can pay great dividends during difficult times. Be considerate of your neighbors (e.g. keep your music down), try to settle disputes peacefully and look for opportunities to go the extra mile. I recently gave each of my neighbors “shaker” flashlights, and I plan to do something similar each season. My wife baked cookies once for a neighbor we’d been having problems with, and this simple gesture seemed to work wonders. In the city, people keep to themselves, but try to at least get to know your neighbors by name.

Acquire skills—There are numerous things you can learn now that will benefit you in times of crisis. Learn how to start a fire without matches or a lighter. Learn how to make questionable water drinkable. Learn how to proficiently operate any gear you buy, including firearms. Learn First Aid and CPR. Get a HAM radio license and know how to use your rig. The list is endless and can and should be a lifelong quest. Few of us are SpecOps soldiers trained in surviving in any environment and across different cultures, but we can make the effort to always be learning something new.

Network—I don’t mean schmooze or get together with folks for the sake of sales. I mean network with like-minded people before hard times hit. Share resources and knowledge. Do group buys, if you’d like. Talk about preparedness with your friends and agree to band together and come to one another’s aid should the need arise. You may find that one family has a marksman and a small arsenal while another may have a garage where you can store fuel while yet another may have EMT training. Churches are great places to make these connections.

Inventory—Make inventories of your material supplies. This will help you rotate your perishables and let you (and your family) know what you have. It will also help you identify areas of need that you can address the next time you see a sale on canned soups, batteries, etc. Also, store operational manuals or write one up for items that may not be familiar to others in your household.

Prepare your family—Talk to them about your plans. Let them know what you have, where it’s located and how it works. I recently pulled out my FRS/GMRS radios and played with them with my family to re-familiarize myself and them with their use. I let my toddler help me unpack my “get out of town” bags and repack them, updating my inventory. There is a sense of security and stability that you impart to your loved ones when they know that in the event of A, B, C or D, you’ll be just fine.

Plan ahead—While you can’t prepare for a direct comet strike on your neighborhood, you can think about what you’d do in the event of a tornado (head to the basement or windowless room on a lower level), a riot (lock your doors, cover your windows, arm yourself), a blizzard (make yourself cozy), etc. How will you handle using the toilet with no power or running water? How can you cook that meat in your freezer that’s going to spoil? What disasters could you not stay put for? (Flooding and garden apartments do not mix.) Part of that planning includes thinking about how you’ll...

Know when to leave—Civil authorities may give you some guidance regarding evacuation, but it’s ultimately up to you to decide. If a dirty bomb were to go off in Chicago and mass panic spread through the city, there would likely be an initial spurt of evacuations followed by massive gridlock on a scale we’ve never seen. With typical prevailing winds, most of the city would probably be completely unaffected by the attack unless they decided to jump in their cars and get stuck in traffic like everyone else. In many circumstances, it may be wise to wait a day or two for the initial evacuation problems to subside then make your way out of the city. And there may be some circumstances where you know, for whatever reason, that you need to get out of town before problems even start or begin to escalate.

While we’ll take a brief intermission for some lighter fare, we will pick up shortly thereafter with a continuation of Building Tangible Margin and a look at Heading Out.

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