The answer to that question depends on your location. Are you in a city, the suburbs of a city, a small town, a rural location, or what some might consider the boonies? Each location would have different requirements.
What are the Primary Concerns?
No matter where you are there are three immediate and primary concerns, listed in order of importance.
- Water. We all need water, since while we can survive up to 40 days without food (depending on our health and starting weight), we can only live 3 days without water. Water is primary and getting our daily need of about 3 quarts for women and 4 quarts for men with about 25% of our daily water intake coming from the food we eat means we must have access to safe, clean drinking water every day, or at least a store of good, safe water.
Note: This does not include our other needs for water such as washing, brushing our teeth, necessary sanitation needs, cooking, and numerous other requirements, For some things we can use grey or dirty water (e.g. flushing a toilet if the water doesn’t work, some washing tasks).
- Food. While this is an obvious need, we can get by on considerably less food than we normally consume, One of the first mistakes people make when preparing for a long time without an external food supply (say 3-4 months) is to believe you have to stock up on food that has a long shelf life that you may not normally eat, such as rice, beans, lentils, and other staples that are fundamentally bland. Just the opposite. You can stock the same things you normally eat, just build up a three month supply over your normal consumption and continually rotate your stock, consuming the old as you restock with new. The worst thing you can do in a crisis is suddenly change your diet. Under stress from whatever is happening, adding the additional stress of a diet change can cause you serious problems, not the least of which is constipation.
- Safety. This is the most difficult item to deal with. How will you protect your family and yourself if things turn ugly? The wider and more significant the disaster, the quicker things will turn bad. This is also where what you need to be concerned about changes drastically depending on where you are. The closer you are to higher population densities, the faster things will turn severely problematic and they we tend to get progressively worse as time goes on. No matter what choices you make about protecting your family space, it is not something you can leave to chance or the “good nature of your fellow man.” Our society as a whole has changed dramatically over the last 10-15 years and the closer you are to a major metropolitan area, the more immediate and dramatic will be your safety concerns.
We will look at each of these areas in greater detail in later postings, but for the moment, it is important to get our priorities straight and understand the basics. For those of us who are Christians, overriding these primary physical concerns is our need to seek God in prayer for guidance on his will for us during difficult times and to remember that whatever we do, we are first and foremost his people and we should always act accordingly. We are to be smart as serpents but gentle as doves (Matthew 10:6).