Preparedness Basics: 5 Simple Steps to Get You Started Today

We just had to share this amazing post from Common Sense Homesteading!

Preparedness Basics - Simple steps to be ready for stressful times. Make better decisions, have more options and possibly save yourself some money.

You have that nagging feeling you aren’t prepared – but you don’t know what to do, where to start, or maybe even what to prepare for. Take a deep breath and think what caused you to start thinking about getting prepared. Worrying can wear you out and freeze you into inaction. The best remedy is to take action.

Think through what the real risks are for you.  Start with the most likely event first, and prepare for that.  In this post we’ll discuss the preparedness basics that everyone should cover.

Some of the most common “Everyday Emergencies”

Job loss and Reduced Income – Businesses restructure, industries change, you change – the average person will hold 11 different jobs during their lifetime.  A recent study by the Brookings Institute indicates that 80% of Americans will see a reduction in their income due to the Affordable Care Act (the bottom 20% of wage earners should see an increase according to the study). Several friends have had their hours reduced to less than full time as a result of these regulatory changes.  Our take home pay has decreased dramatically since the first of the year.

Weather – Hurricanes, blizzards, bitter cold, tornadoes – all of these are likely to present physical risks to your person and your property, as well as the potential for power grid failure and difficult travel.

Minor injuries – From falling on the ice or water slicked surfaces to dog bites and bee stings, accidents happen.  Every household should have a basic medical kit on hand for minor injuries.

For more on relative risks, see the post, “Odds of Everyday Emergencies“.

Preparedness Basics – Covering the “Stuff”

To get started we suggest you start with the basics of life:

  • Food
  • Water
  • First Aid
  • Shelter, Safety and Hygiene

Prepare for 4 hours to 72 hours of living without electricity and simple injuries.  As your skill level increases, you can prepare for more complicated scenarios and longer time periods.

Food – Have 72 hours of food on hand. This can be as simple as having a few extra boxes of breakfast bars, cans of soup and other dry foods. You can and should try buy the things you eat already. Put a few extra items in your cart when there is a sale.  Shop in bulk.  If the power is out for an extended time, refrigerator and freezer items may spoil, so it’s good to have emergency foods that are shelf stable.  Also, you should have some way to heat/cook food that does not require the power grid.  If food prices rise, which is likely, extra food storage will save you money down the road.  Don’t forget pets and livestock.

For more information on food storage and emergency cooking, check out:

Top 10 Real Foods to Store Without Electricity

Preparedness Storage – Finding Room and Keeping it Safe and Sound

Emergency Cooking – 10 Ways to Have a Hot Meal When the Power Goes Out

Water – Store a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day.  2 to 4 gallons per person per day or more would be even better, since the average U.S. family of four uses 100 gallons per day.  For temporary emergency storage, consider something like a waterBOB, which stores water in your bathtub and comes with a pump for easy access.  Remember, too, that bad weather or other water delivery disruptions can also lead to water contamination, so you should have water filtration available, too.

For more information on water storage, please read:  “Emergency Water Storage and Filtration – What You Need to Know”

First Aid – If anyone is on prescription medication, make sure you have adequate supplies on hand.  Know your limits. If you are the only one there, what happens if you get injured?  Plan ahead.  The best way to “treat” injuries is to avoid them in the first place.

Purchase or assemble a first aid kit that will allow you to treat minor injuries.  Have a few more first aid items for larger, more complex injuries, such as a sling for arm injuries.  Take a first aid class if possible, and invest in a first aid guide such as the Living Ready Pocket Manual – First Aid Fundamentals for Survival, which I recently reviewed.

For more detailed recommendations, read “Preparedness – First Aid Kit and Medical Supplies“.

Shelter, Safety and Hygiene – Our homes are our first places of shelter in most emergencies.  Take steps to secure your home from weather and intruders.  Difficult economic times often cause an increase in burglaries.  Use your locks, consider motion activated security lighting and/or full security systems.  Well trained watch dogs and basic security/safety training may also prove useful.  Consider firearms/firearm training at your discretion.

Prepare to heat or cool your home without electrical power if possible.  In hot weather, take advantage of shading and natural ventilation, opening the home during the cooler periods of day and closing the home up during the hottest part of the day.  For cold weather, read “Winter Storm Survival – Keeping You and Your Home Warm When the Power Goes Out“.  The winter storm survival post also discusses toilet options during a power outage.  Safety also includes:

  • Emergency Lighting – Have flashlights, lanterns or candles on hand.  Always be extra careful with open flame, especially around children and pets.  Don’t forget matches or lighters.
  • Emergency Communication – Have an emergency radio.  Have a way to charge your cellphone when the power grid is down.  Some crank emergency radios and lamps can do double duty as cellphone chargers.  You may also want to invest in a solar cellphone charger.  Have extra batteries on hand, and make sure to keep them organized and rotated.

See also:  Preparedness – Summer Storms, Tornadoes and Hurricanes and Emergency Power Options for Your Home.

Preparedness Basics - Simple steps to be ready for stressful times. Make better decisions, have more options and possibly save yourself some money.

Preparedness Basics – Preparing Yourself

If you take daily steps to prepare for what might happen – good or bad – when things get stressful, you will be able to make better decisions, have more options and possibly save yourself some money.  This is what I refer to as “Common Sense Preparedness”.  Just as athletes train, musicians practice and scholars study, time that you put in learning skills and gaining knowledge will keep you level headed, focused and forward thinking.

  1. Learn – always.  Like muscles, the brain responds to exercise.  Challenge yourself with new knowledge, new skills and interaction with real humans.  Employers are complaining that those under 30 have trouble with non-digital communication.  We can do better than that.
  2. Get physical.  It’s so easy to spend way too much time sitting.  Plant a garden, take a walk, crank out some pushups – just get moving!
  3. Plan. A plan provides a framework to follow, modify or break. Change plans to match changing needs, and adjust plans based on observations and practice.
  4. Practice.  A plan is meaningless if you can’t execute it.  Every time I see one of those prepper shows where they hold up a container of seeds and say, “We’ll learn to garden when we really need it”, I cringe.  Every activity has a learning curve.  If you practice now, your odds are much better for success when it really counts.  Your body remembers even when your mind is struggling to focus.
  5. Create your team. Find people you can trust, work together in good times and bad. A team will beat an individual every time; an educated team is even more formidable. Think wide and deep – your team needs a variety of skills and personality types.  Get to know people in different age groups.  Our elderly neighbors are a wonderful resource for information about the area, and my sons do odd jobs and computer work for them.

The most important thing to remember is, “Don’t panic!”  Prepare in steps – “Eat the elephant one bite at a time”. Start with just one thing, finish it, then move on to the next.  We’ve got a lot of easy to follow information in our Preparedness Series.  You can do this!


Feral Homestead DIY Cleaning Recipes

homemaker cs lewisAs an eco-conscious mama to a newborn, keeping a clean house is of great importance for maintaining health and an esthetically pleasing environment. However, conventional cleaning products are often loaded with unsafe chemicals, like artificial colors and fragrances and harsh cleansing agents like bleach, ammonia and acids (to name a few); many of which may not be listed on the packaging since the formulas are considered trade secrets. They may, on the other hand, display disclaimers warning “do not ingest” – but I have to ask how to distinguish what’s safe when the lil’ hands that touch those freshly “cleaned” surfaces inevitably end up in baby’s mouth? In addition, the combination of chemicals mixing to form these products can often produce poisonous off-gassing fumes and cause indoor air pollution that irritate eyes and lungs.

The solution? Well, you’ll be happy to know that choosing the “green” alternative (such as Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyers) is not only safer for baby and the planet, but can be cheaper too! You can also make your own green cleaners using non-toxic ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen:


* Baking Soda – cleans, deodorizes, scours, softens water
* White Vinegar – solvent, cuts grease, removes mildew, stains, and odors
* Lemon – food-acids cut through grease, are anti-bacterial and natural fragrance essential oils
* Cornstarch – similar to baking soda, deodorizes and scours


* Castile Soap – a biodegradable vegetable oil-based soap (my fave is Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds, a little goes a long way)
* Borax – (sodium borate) cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water
**Note that although borax is made of natural minerals, is not edible like the other recommended ingredients
* Citrus Solvent – stain remover, degreaser, and multi-purpose cleaner




All-Purpose Cleaner
Recipe #1
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
Optional: Add ½ tsp lemon juice (strain the pulp)
* Combine in a spray bottle

Recipe #2
2 tsp borax
1/2 tsp liquid castile soap
2 cups of hot water
* Combine in a spray bottle and shake well

Glass & Window Cleaner
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
* Combine in a spray bottle

Wooden Furniture Polish
1/4 cup white vinegar (or 1/2 cup lemon juice)
3/4 cup olive oil
* Combine and polish with soft cloth

4 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp liquid castile soap
3 cups hot water
Optional: 20-30 drops tea tree oil or 2 tsp borax
* Combine in a spray bottle

Air Freshener
2 cups hot water
2 tsp baking soda
Optional: 10 drops essential oil of your choice
* Combine in a spray bottle


Dishwashing Liquid
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup liquid castile soap
1 tsp lemon juice
5 drops tea tree oil
1 cup water
* Combine and store in a squeeze bottle. Use 2 tbsp per load in dishwasher.

Dishwashing Rinse
White vinegar
* Pour into the compartment

Non-abrasive Cleaner
Baking soda
* Sprinkle directly onto surface or a damp sponge and scrub
Optional for tougher grime: Add some lemon juice and kosher salt
* Make a paste and use a sponge to clean

Garbage Disposal Freshener
Lemon (or any citrus) peels
* Grind in the disposal


Toilet Bowl Cleaner
1 cup borax or baking soda
¼ cup white vinegar
* Add to toilet bowl and let sit overnight (or approximately 8 hours). In the morning, scrub and flush.

Mold & Mildew Cleaner for Tub & Tile
1 2/3 cups baking soda
1/2 cup liquid castile soap
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp white vinegar
Optional: 10 drops tea tree oil
* Combine in a spray bottle, shake well, spray, and let stand for an hour before wiping

Grout Mold Cleaner
1 cup hydrogen peroxide
2 cups water
* Combine in spray bottle. Spray, let sit for an hour, wipe with a damp sponge

Drain Cleaner
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup baking soda
* Pour down drain and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Flush with boiling water until drain clears.


Laundry Detergent
1/8 cup liquid castile soap
1/4 borax
* Double the recipe for heavy soiled loads

Fabric softener
½ cup white vinegar
* Add to rinse cycle

Stain Remover
* Spray with hydrogen peroxide and/or rub spot with a mixture of dishwashing soap and borax then rinse clean
* Steep linens in a pot of boiling water until the stains lift
* Dampen linens and expose to direct sunlight for a few hours


Floor Cleaner
Recipe #1 – linoleum & no-wax floors
1 tbsp liquid castile soap
6 tbsp baking soda or cornstarch
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 gallons hot water

Recipe #2 – wood floors
1 cup vinegar
1 gallon water
* Mix in a bucket and mop

Carpet Cleaner
Baking soda or cornstarch
* Sprinkle onto carpet and let sit for at least 30 minutes then vacuum

Please feel free to comment with your own recipes or share your results. Hope these green cleaning tips help in making your homestead a sanctuary!

Why the Feral Life?

~ William Ross Wallace


This site is an Ode to Mothers and the families they love! In this fast-paced modern society where “bigger is better” and “all that glitters (is considered) gold”, it is easy to lose track of our daily impact in this epic journey of life on earth. However, it is no secret that there stand today many threats to the continuance of life as we know it. If we permit ourselves to continue on this same path, many of the luxuries we now take for granted will soon be meaningless in the absence of pure air, food, and water.

Like a massive avalanche steadily gaining momentum with its devastating consequences, so are our habits and participation in this consumerist society hurdling us towards untimely demise, with each of us unwittingly serving as cogs and wheels in this monstrous machine of “technological progress” all to the detriment of our unborn progeny.

But, thankfully, there are heroes with the power to save us from such a fate. They are here-now, they are the past, the present, and the future. They are each generation born and raised with love, and the mothers whose guidance and protection enables the immaculate potential they were destined to manifest.

So, it is not the businessman, not the engineer, the architect nor banker whom decides what the future holds. Instead it is the quintessential partnership between mother and child that will determine whether we seed our doom or the birth of heaven on earth.


~ Ancient Indian Proverb