(This is a guest post from The Economic Collapse Blog.)
Today, millions of Americans say that they believe that the United States is on the verge of a major economic collapse and will soon be entering another Great Depression. But only a small percentage of those same people are prepared for that to happen. The sad truth is that the vast majority of Americans would last little more than a month on what they have stored up in their homes.
Most of us are so used to running out to the supermarket or to Wal-Mart for whatever we need that we never even stop to consider what would happen if suddenly we were not able to do that. Already the U.S. economy is starting to stumble about like a drunken frat boy. All it would take for the entire U.S. to resemble New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina would be for a major war, a terror attack, a deadly pandemic or a massive natural disaster to strike at just the right time and push the teetering U.S. economy over the edge. So just how would you survive if you suddenly could not rely on the huge international corporate giants to feed, clothe and supply you and your family? Do you have a plan?
Unless you already live in a cave or you are a complete and total mindless follower of the establishment media, you should be able to see very clearly that our society is more vulnerable now than it ever has been. This year there have been an unprecedented number of large earthquakes around the world and volcanoes all over the globe are awakening. You can just take a look at what has happened in Haiti and in Iceland to see how devastating a natural disaster can be. Not only that, but we have a world that is full of lunatics in positions of power, and if one of them decides to set off a nuclear, chemical or biological weapon in a major city it could paralyze an entire region. War could erupt in the Middle East at literally any moment, and if it does the price of oil will double or triple (at least) and there is the possibility that much of the entire world could be drawn into the conflict. Scientists tell us that a massive high-altitude EMP (electromagnetic pulse) blast could send large portions of the United States back to the stone age in an instant. In addition, there is the constant threat that the outbreak of a major viral pandemic (such as what happened with the 1918 Spanish Flu) could kill tens of millions of people around the globe and paralyze the economies of the world.
But even without all of that, the truth is that the U.S. economy is going to collapse. So just think of what will happen if one (or more) of those things does happen on top of all the economic problems that we are having.
Are you prepared?
Food is going to instantly become one of the most valuable commodities in existence in the event of an economic collapse. If you do not have food you are not going to survive. Most American families could not last much longer than a month on what they have in their house right now. So what about you? If disaster struck right now, how long could you survive on what you have? The truth is that we all need to start storing up food. If you and your family run out of food, you will suddenly find yourselves competing with the hordes of hungry people who are looting the stores and roaming the streets looking for something to eat.
Of course you can grow your own food, but that is going to take time. So you need to have enough food stored up until the food that you plant has time to grow. But if you have not stored up any seeds you might as well forget it. When the economy totally collapses, the remaining seeds will disappear very quickly. So if you think that you are going to need seeds, now is the time to get them.
Most people can survive for a number of weeks without food, but without water you will die in just a few days. So where would you get water if the water suddenly stopped flowing out of your taps? Do you have a plan? Is there an abundant supply of clean water near your home? Would you be able to boil water if you need to?
Besides storing water and figuring out how you are going to gather water if society breaks down, another thing to consider is water purification tablets. The water you are able to gather during a time of crisis may not be suitable for drinking. So you may find that water purification tablets come in very, very handy.
You can't sleep on the streets, can you? Well, some people will be able to get by living on the streets, but the vast majority of us will need some form of shelter to survive for long. So what would you do if you and your family lost your home or suddenly were forced from your home? Where would you go?
The best thing to do is to come up with several plans. Do you have relatives that you can bunk with in case of emergency? Do you own a tent and sleeping bags if you had to rough it? If one day everything hits the fan and you and your family have to 'bug out' somewhere, where would that be? You need to have a plan.
If you plan to survive for long in a nightmare economic situation, you are probably going to need some warm, functional clothing. If you live in a cold climate, this is going to mean storing up plenty of blankets and cold weather clothes. If you live in an area where it rains a lot, you will need to be sure to store up some rain gear. If you think you may have to survive outdoors in an emergency situation, make sure that you and your family have something warm to put on your heads. Someday after the economy has collapsed and people are scrambling to survive, a lot of folks are going to end up freezing to death. In fact, in the coldest areas it is actually possible to freeze to death in your own home. Don't let that happen to you.
Staying along the theme of staying warm, you may want to consider investing in a good axe. In the event of a major emergency, gathering firewood will be a priority. Without a good tool to cut the wood with that will be much more difficult.
You will also want something to start a fire with. If you can start a fire, you can cook food, you can boil water and you can stay warm. So in a true emergency situation, how do you plan to start a fire? By rubbing sticks together? Now is the time to put away a supply of lighters or matches so that you will be prepared when you really need them.
In addition, you may want to consider storing up a good supply of candles. Candles come in quite handy whenever the electricity goes out, and in the event of a long-term economic nightmare we will all see why our forefathers relied on candles so much.
When you ask most people to list things necessary for survival, this is not the first or the second thing that comes to mind. But having hiking boots or very comfortable and functional shoes will be absolutely critical. You may very well find yourself in a situation where you and your family must walk everywhere you want to go. So how far do you think you will get in high heels? You will want footwear that you would feel comfortable walking in for hours if necessary. You will also want footwear that will last a long time, because when the economy truly collapses you may not be able to run out to the shoe store and get what you need at that point.
When the power goes off in your home, what is the first thing that you grab? Just think about it. A flashlight or a lantern of course. In a major emergency, a flashlight or a lantern is going to be a necessity - especially if you need to go anywhere at night.
Solar powered or 'crank style' flashlights or lanterns will probably be best during a long-term emergency. If you have battery-powered units you will want to begin storing up lots and lots of batteries.
If a major crisis does hit the United States, what will you and your family want? Among other things, you will all want to know what in the world is going on. A radio can be an invaluable tool for keeping up with the news.
Once again, solar powered or 'crank style' radios will probably work best for the long term. A battery-powered until would work as well - but only for as long as your batteries are able to last.
When things really hit the fan you are going to want to communicate with your family and friends. You will also want to be able to contact an ambulance or law enforcement if necessary. Having an emergency cell phone is great, but it may or may not work during a time of crisis. The Internet also may or may not be available. Be sure to have a plan (whether it be high-tech or low-tech) for staying in communication with others during a major emergency.
If you have ever owned a Swiss Army knife you probably already know how incredibly handy they can be. It can be a very valuable and versatile tool. In a true survival situation, a Swiss Army knife can literally do dozens of different things for you. Make sure that you have at least one stored up for emergencies.
While these may not be absolute 'essentials', the truth is that life will get very unpleasant very quickly without them. For example, what would you do without toilet paper? Just think about it. Imagine that you just finished your last roll of toilet paper and now you can't get any more. What would you do?
The truth is that soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper and other hygiene products are things that we completely take for granted in society today. So what would happen if we could not go out and buy them any longer?
One a more serious note, you may not be able to access a hospital or a doctor during a major crisis. In your survival supplies, be absolutely certain that you have a good first aid kit and any other medical supplies that you think you may need.
There may come a day when gasoline is rationed or is simply not available at all. If that happens, how will you get around? Be certain to have some extra gasoline stored away just in case you find yourself really needing to get somewhere someday.
If you were not able to run out and buy new clothes for you and your family, what would you do? Well, you would want to repair the clothes that you have and make them last as long as possible. Without a good sewing kit that will be very difficult to do.
Whether it is pepper spray to fend off wild animals or something more 'robust' to fend off wild humans, millions of Americans will one day be thankful that they have something to defend themselves with.
In the event of a major emergency, you and your family may find yourselves having to be on the move. If you are in a wilderness area, it will be very hard to tell what direction you are heading without a compass. It is always a good idea to have at least one compass stored up.
If you and your family suddenly have to 'bug out', what will you carry all of your survival supplies in? Having a good hiking backpack or 'survival bag' for everyone in your family is extremely important. If something happened in the city where you live and you suddenly had to 'go', what would you put your most important stuff in? How would you carry it all if you had to travel by foot? These are very important things to think about.
During a long-term crisis, it is those who are willing to work together that will have the best chance of making it. Whether it is your family, your friends, a church or a local group of people that you know, make sure that you have some people that you can rely on and work together with in the event that everything hits the fan. Loners are going to have a really hard time of surviving for long.
Lastly, it is always, always, always important to have a backup plan for everything.
If someone comes in and steals all the food that you have stored up, what are you going to do?
If travel is restricted and your can't get to your 'bug out' location immediately do you have a Plan B?
If you have built your house into an impregnable survival fortress but circumstances force you to leave do you have an alternate plan?
The truth is that crisis situations rarely unfold just as we envision. It is important to be flexible and to be ready with backup plans when disaster strikes.
You don't want to end up like the folks in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. You don't want to have to rely on the government to take care of you if something really bad happens.
Right now the U.S. strategic grain reserve contains only enough wheat to make half a loaf of bread for each of the approximately 300 million people in the United States.
How long do you think that is going to last?
Now is the time to get ready.
Now is the time to prepare.
The United States economy is going to collapse and incredibly hard times are coming.
Will you be able to survive when it happens?