When I was single, I did tons of research and reading about preparedness. This was over a decade ago, when Y2K was barely a blip on most people's radars. It started with reading Countryside magazine, which is a wonderful magazine about homesteading and country living, with articles written by people who are actually doing it. I also started reading Back Home Magazine, Backwoods Home Magazine, and American Survival Guide a (now defunct) magazine that focused more on preparation and survival of many types of situations.

Many people laugh at the idea of "preparing" the equate it with Y2K "survivalist nuts" who spent thousands of dollars on giant cans of "survival food", only to find that the year 2000 brought no catastrophe, and gave away their stash of goods. What has happened to our country? Only a few generations ago, preparing for bad times was the norm! Only a fool would keep enough food on hand for just a few days or a week, in those days. Even city dwellers kept pantries, though probably not as big as the ones country folks had.

If your family's breadwinner lost his or her job and had an extremely difficult time finding another, how would your family do? How long could you pay your mortgage, all your insurance, the utility bills, the vehicle payments, not to mention put food on the table? What if you had to fight in court for unemployment benefits, and you still didn't have another job after six months? What if the breadwinner had a major injury that took place outside the workplace, and was still an invalid six or even twelve months later?

What would happen if a disaster hit your area? Can't happen? Ask the Katrina victims what they think of that foolish notion. You could very easily become the victim of a record-breaking blizzard, tornado, earthquake, flood, hurricane, or other major disaster that knocks out power, destroys homes, disrupts the transportation of food, gas and other necessities, and traps you in your home. Could your family survive two weeks without electricity, plumbing, or a way to buy food or other necessities?

Do you live near a nuclear facility? A plant that produces chemicals? A military installation? Anywhere near a major highway or train line where loads of chemicals or nuclear waste could be transported? If so, you could be vulnerable to a disaster, and may have to evacuate your home.

What about terrorism? After 9-11, and several plots since then that have been foiled by homeland security, can we ever be sure of our safety here at home? We have had the luxury, as a country, of having no wars fought on this land since the civil war. Because of this we have become complacent, assuming this will always be the case. It will not. Human nature unfortunately dictates that sooner or later, we will endure war on American soil.

This may sound like gloom and doom to you, but it is not. It is a fact of life that bad things happen. You don't need to dwell on it all the time, but you should make yourself aware of it, and prepare for the worst. Even on a small income, you can make some preparations. If you even had supplies to keep your family safe, clean, fed, warm, and healthy for two weeks, you would be ahead of most Americans. Personally, I think a month should be the absolute minimum, and three months would be a smarter choice. There are some Americans who actually keep a year or more in supplies. Believe it or not, it can be done. It may take time to figure out how to do it and amass your supplies if you are short on space or money, but it can be done.

This came to my mind recently, after seeing the show "Jericho" on CBS (go to their website to view the show online) and reading "Lights Out", a free book online, which I found to be very realistic and had helpful ideas for those who want to be prepared. I realized that my day to day duties as a wife and mother have drawn me further into worldly desires and concerns. I find myself wanting to have everything fast and easy. Convenient, pre-packaged and unhealthy foods, the best of everything, it is very seductive. We had no more than a week's worth of food on hand, and many needed items not on hand at all. We have no water stored.

Ironically, before I met my husband, he, like I, was living off-grid. He didn't have a pantry, but he had non-electric alternatives. We both know what it is like to heat a home with wood or a kerosene heater, and to cook with it. We have hauled water in large containers, by hand. When Y2K happened, I didn't have a whole lot stored, but I had enough to survive about a month. We still have some of these supplies...kerosene lamps, water containers, etc. But no fuel, water, or food stored. I have become, like most Americans, complacent. Sure that tomorrow will never bring sickness, tragedy, or disaster.

Many Americans think "oh, the goverment will take care of us." How foolish...anyone remember how long it was before Katrina victims got any decent amount of food or water from FEMA? And that was one small area of the country! As for shelter, would you want to live in the Superdome with all the crime, assault, rape, etc. that was going on there? Not to mention the unsanitary living conditions that quickly arose.

If you want to live like an ostrich with your head in the sand, that's fine, as long as you don't go crawling to your prepared neighbors in an emergency, demanding that they help you and accusing them of "hoarding" and "stealing" from everyone else, simply because they were smart enough to prepare. Even animals in nature are intelligent enough to prepare for hard times. But if you have helpless dependents...children, babies, the sick, the elderly, and even animals to care for, you don't have the right to leave them unprotected and vulnerable to the slightest emergency. It is your responsibility, not the government's, to care for and prepare for the needs of your dependents.

I'm ashamed to say I'm no better than anyone else. I've been lulled into the false sense of security that relatively easy times can bring. But life has its ups and downs. Don't be caught unawares during a "down" time. Your well-being and that of your loved ones may depend on you.

I plan to keep reading and researching, and sharing my finds with you. I will post links to sites and list any good books or other helpful resources. I highly suggest reading "Lights Out". It is free to read online or download. It is long, but an easy read. After a few days, I did have some nightmares about it (but then I'm pregnant and highly prone to nightmares lately, lol). I just stopped reading for a few days, then picked it up again. Even if you just read the first half, it will give you some idea of what to really expect in a major nationwide disaster, and what you might need to survive something like it. If you even just stored a few weeks of food, water, and necessities, you would be helping your family a lot. I did it when I was single and poor, and working only part time earning a little over minimum wage. If you do it the smart way, it's not as hard as you might think.

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