What's the Worst that Could Happen? A Mom Prepares After Terrorism
Today, I thought I'd share a true story of one family's self-reliance journey that followed a horrendous attack on our country. Meet Patriot Jean, who has plenty to share from her preparedness journey.
In the hours after the events the morning of September 11, 2001, I wondered if more attacks were imminent. As one of eight million living in the Chicagoland area, I wondered if my flourishing suburb was another strike away from a stampede at the grocery store or gas station.
What would happen if another country were to invade us or if there were more terrorist attacks? I decided it was time to devise a preparedness plan. ASAP.
Thus, I developed a plan to be better prepared in the future. The goal was to protect and preserve me and my family during a time of national or global crisis.My mind went wild, but that's okay. Brainstorming is good. Writing down the details is even better! As you devise your plan, list the weaknesses and needs of the community and family, in which you live.
As a mother of three young children, my list of concerns was long as I thought about a more widespread terrorist attack:
- Would there be lines at grocery stores or gas stations? Or even anything left when I got there?
- Would my car be prepared for sitting in traffic?
- Where would I go with the children if people from the city were running to the suburbs?
- What would the family need to survive in the winter or summer?
- How do I care for a baby, toddler, or elderly person in a car?
- How does a family stay warm over time in a car?
- How do you feed everyone over time in a car if it becomes your home?
- What about going to the bathroom in a car? (Yikes.)
- What if you're stuck in a line of traffic that's not moving for hours? Days?
- How do you alert family members or others for help?
There was a Bible verse that kept replaying in my mind:
How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now-and never to be equaled again. Mathew 24:19-21
After I made my specific list of concerns and needs, I took action to address each. Here's what I did.
If you live in a suburb surrounded by millions like we did, people and traffic always surround you. Can you imagine all of Chicagoland scrounging for food days after the store shelves emptied?
Thinking preparedness, I cashed in my meager retirement savings (with penalty) to invest in sixteen, Wisconsin acres. Now, before you do the same, let me clarify that my husband kept his 401K intact. We played our finances as a team, which I wouldn't do if you question your teammate.
I also hunted for weeks for a great buy on land and found one after walking acre after acre. This parcel became our camping land, but also a destination to escape the city. In a survival situation, we agreed we could live off it by planting crops or accessing well water, which was already drilled.
We kept our home in gridlocked suburbia, but on the weekends, escaped to Wisconsin to pitch a tent on our half wheat field, half wooded piece of paradise.
Invest In Land
We taught the kids about building fires, planting apple trees, picking natural berries to eat and marking trails when hiking the property as the youngest was a toddler.
The biggest problem we encountered were neighbors who raided our berries to make pies when we were in the city during the week. And, go figure, they never offered us one of those pies on the weekends!
So that's something to consider, too. In a survival situation, how reliable and trustworthy are your neighbors or drifters who might like to help themselves to your resources? In times of scarcity, you might need additional security or hidden totes of prepackaged foods and seeds.
There are simple totes you can buy and store in your car with everything from jumper cables, flares, and fire extinguishers to food and water. I always kept a simple potty and an extra package of diapers for the kids or grandma.
Below is a recommended list of items to pack into a tote that you always keep in your trunk:
- two changes of clothes for each family member
- extra hats, socks, and gloves
- umbrella or ponchos
- diapers, formula, potty pail
- hand sanitizer
- bottled water or water filtration
- snack food including energy bars
- simple games and survival books
- no spill gas can with a fuel stabilizer
- quarts of oil
- roadmaps and/ or GPS
- flashlight with extra batteries
- battery powered or crank radio
- window breaker
- matches and small candles
- First aid kit with pocket knife
- blankets or sleeping bags
- tow chain or rope
- paper towels and rags
- road salt, sand, or cat litter for traction
- booster cables
- emergency flares, reflectors, glow sticks
- fluorescent distress flag and whistle to attract attention
- magnifying glass
- fire extinguisher
- cell phone adapter to plug into lighter or with a solar charger
It's important to update these items on a regular basis as your children grow or as food spoils and expires. We learned the hard way with what we thought was our emergency food supplies! It all rotted and expired within a couple of years and we had to toss it all away. What a waste of our limited funds.
To minimize food spoilage issues, consider buying foods made for long-term storage as well as AlexaPure water filtration bottles for drinking out of streams or questionable water sources.
If chaos visited your community and you never slept in anything less than a five-star hotel bed, you might have difficulty adjusting to new realities. We spent a few nights in tents with sleeping bags and learned firsthand plenty about surviving only off our property - quickly.
Read all you can today about nature and begin sharing that knowledge with the next generation and those you love. Start tackling this list of ideas to update your survival skill set:
- Join Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts of America or review their textbooks.
- Get a survival book like Survive! by Les Stroud.
- Get your children involved in your local 4-H club.
- Visit a county fair and talk with exhibitors. Learn about animals.
- Join a sewing, knitting, or crocheting guild.
- Recognize animal tracks, plant varieties, and birds.
- Spend time with a professional guide on a camping vacation.
- Learn to boat, fish, and filet fish. (Yikes again.)
- Take a crossbow or shooting class.
- Learn to ski or snow-shoe.
- Practice self-defense.
- Get CPR with AED certified.
- Raise a pig, goat, lamb, or cow.
- Buy a portable chicken coop and learn to raise chickens.
- Read up on crop rotations, growing plants and heirloom seeds.
- Take horseback riding lessons.
- Practice making a primitive shelter.
- Learn to start a fire with shale, rocks, or a magnifying glass.
- Start reading survival stories.
You just never know if and when life changes. Knowing history, it will. If you've slowly been building your repertoire of survival skills, you'll be better prepared to lead family and friends to a safe and prosperous existence during and after the crisis.
I'm by no means Grizzly Adams (if you're old enough to remember who he is), but I am much better prepared today to live off the land and survive a national emergency than I was fifteen years ago.
And you know what? So are my kids. They still love campfires, hiking and the great outdoors. We can always learn more, though. And in the process of becoming better prepared, we grow closer together as a family.
Stay safe and embrace the journey, friends!
Marie, MPS Preparedness Adviser
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