If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s that survivalists are one step ahead of the game when it comes to weathering the storm (sometimes quite literally). Pre-pandemic, many of us dismissed their tactics as paranoid or unnecessary, but we now know that they had the right idea all along.
From stocking their pantries with essentials that are likely to fly off the shelves in a disaster to having backup medications, survivalists are uniquely positioned to thrive in the face of a fast-spreading virus.
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Here are a few of the most important things we learned from survivalists, hoarders, preppers, and homesteaders so far this year:
1. A Backup Stash is Essential
The first thing we all learned during the COVID-19 outbreak was that people will buy and people will hoard. Of course, we’re talking about toilet paper. The data shows that, as people scrambled to prepare for a potential shortage, sales of T.P. rose by about 60 percent in March of 2020 compared to the same month last year.
We all know that, in practice, this looks like empty supermarket shelves and price hikes. Luckily, the most prepared survivalists already had extra rolls stacked in the basement. This also applies to shelf-stable foods, bread, baking supplies, soap, hand sanitizer, and other essentials.
2. Medical Supplies Are Limited
Surgical masks and gloves are foundational in a basic emergency kit, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) even includes them on its list of items to include in your basic disaster supplies kit. FEMA also recommends including cloth face coverings, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfecting wipes in your emergency supply kit.
Many of the most diehard survivalists already had a pre-stocked stash of these potentially life-saving supplies on hand. And, as we know, it is still nearly impossible to acquire many of the supplies on this list in the midst of the pandemic. Not only are survivalists well-stocked, by already having a stockpile on hand, they also reduce the burden on the supply chain so that others are able to stock up, too.
3. Backup Prescriptions Are Essential
Another thing survivalists know is that prescription medications, including prescription eyeglasses and contacts, are crucial during emergency scenarios. As we watched many non-essential businesses shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, including doctor’s offices, we realized that in an emergency, these things could be challenging to get.
Not only are the actual backup medications and glasses crucial, so too are the actual prescriptions themselves. Should your eye doctor or pharmacy close down, you should have the prescriptions on record so you can order them from the doctor or online.
4. An Emergency Kit Could Come in Handy
All in all, the most important thing we’ve learned from the survival-minded preppers out there is that the emergency kit is not just for paranoid people and apocalypse-worriers on the fringes of society.
A basic emergency survival kit should cover everything from headlamps, flashlights, and emergency radios to food, water, and medical supplies. These kits are now a mainstream concept considered essential by many Americans.
On top of that, the pandemic has shown us how these essentials work in a shelter-in-place scenario. While many of us have packed emergency supplies in our heavy-duty backpacks as part of a go-bag for evacuations, we understand that a “stay-bag” may also be equally as useful in scenarios such as a pandemic. Puzzles and board games are now essentials on the survival kit list, too!
5. When in Crisis, People Bake
Baking is an important skill among survivalists, preppers, and homesteaders because it takes many shelf-stable, dry goods and turns them into calorie-rich, nutritionally dense food sources. Perhaps more importantly, knowing how to bake can help reduce reliance on mainstream consumerism.
If you can bake your own bread, you will thrive even when there’s a shortage of baked goods. Survivalists know how to make baked goods even without supermarket staples — acorn flour is a popular option — and we know now that resources such as flour and yeast can be limited during a crisis.
6. We Can’t Rely on Our Standard Food Supply System
We watched as people hoarded dry goods and perishables throughout the pandemic — butter, flour, yeast, pasta, bread, and meat have all been gobbled up by the masses. What does this tell us?
As survivalists have long known, we are over-dependent on the mass food production system, which is imperfect and often unreliable. Knowing how to bake, hunt, fish, forage, and garden are keys to survival when disaster looms outside.
7. How to Socially Distance
Off-gridders and homesteaders are the original socially distant survivors, taking no issue with enjoying a life of solitude and isolation. These pros know how to stay happy, healthy, and entertained without a ton of interaction with the public — or even a large circle of family and friends surrounding them.
In their world, it’s simply second nature. As we strive to stay sane while staying home, we can learn a few lessons from the survivalist handbook.
It’s About Self-Reliance
At its core, wilderness survival and disaster preparation are about self-reliance. When the systems around us — systems in which we take for granted — collapse or are over-tapped, we’re left with a few crucial things: our own abilities and the supplies we have on hand.
These are basic principles that have long been understood in survival communities, and as the world faces an unprecedented disaster in 2020, hopefully the masses understand them, too.
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