Last Minute

Our first big winter storm is bearing down on Iowa tonight.  It was amusing to listen to my co-workers discussing what they needed to pick up on their way home. The big three seemed to be Milk, Eggs, Bread. Nobody seemed to think it at all unusual that severe weather was literally eminent and their stockpile of basic foodstuffs was at low levels. Of course, this was the same group of gals who had just spent 20 minutes reassuring each other that feeding their families crap food made from crap ingredients was ok because, “Time is money!”  (Needless to say, I don’t talk much at work.)\

I tell you this only to illustrate a problem. Most Americans are just not prepared.

According to a report by, a research and consulting organization, 64 percent of Americans are woefully unprepared for a major natural disaster, even after the events of Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, and a series of other major natural disasters smacking us around in recent years.

The report finds that people making disaster-readiness plans has slightly increased from 31 percent to 36 percent since 2011, showing that the majority of Americans have failed to adequately prepare themselves in the event of another major disaster.

64% of people have very little in the way of disaster preparedness.

Perhaps you find yourself among those running to the store right before a storm. What are you getting? Take a close look. Figure out a way to have backups of that, and improve your food management so you can have more of it around.

Milk, there are dried options, condensed canned options, and goat options. Yes yes, I know, most of you don’t want goats, I’m just saying, it’s an option.

Eggs, I think this largely about people not knowing the shelf-life facts of eggs.  Eggs fresh from a hen and refrigerated will last a few weeks with no problem, I’ve heard people swear they had eggs that lasted for 10 weeks and were still edible.

Bread is easily stored as dry ingredients, but most bread recipes take 3-8 cups of flour, and if all you have is half a bag of all purpose, that might not cut it.

It’s stuff like this that really makes me nervous when it comes to disasters and opsec. I’m so tempted to speak up when these conversations come up at work, but I am so worried that they will ignore the advice and I’ll have blown my opsec for nothing.  What do you do when these conversations come up? Or are you one of the last minute shoppers?

– Calamity Jane

24 comments… add one
  • Denator December 20, 2012, 9:06 am

    It is unbelievable how unprepared almost everyone we know are. We talk to people and most will agree that yes they should have some extra food and water but sometime later you ask them and no they haven’t gotten around to it. Most tell us that if something were to happen were coming to your place. And were only half joking when we say ya if you able to make it through the gate,dogs, and us. Most people just cant believe that anything really bad can happen. We ask people if they have any cash on hand in case of an EMP or bank closing and its amazing some dont have any. But all we can do is try to educate cause we cant take care of all if they show up at our gate.

  • Anonymous December 20, 2012, 9:25 am

    Hubby and I had a conversation about this not too long ago. Even though we are quite well prepared, I feel like I would probably still go and get an extra gallon of milk or something along those lines. It’s that inner deep fear that what if I have isn’t enough? Even though I know we could take care of our family for a relatively long time. I wouldn’t go when there are 8000 other people at the store running around like a bunch of crazies, but I might pop in first thing in the morning and grab some fresh veggies or fruit. It might sound fancy and excessive, but since you can’t long term store those, I would probably grab some of that knowing I was good with everything else.

    • Calamity Jane December 20, 2012, 10:15 am

      I feel you on the fresh fruit, oranges or bananas. :-) I do try to keep a solid block of canned fruit in the storage food, and during winter most of our fresh veggies are in the form of winter squash and potatoes, and those store pretty well so I have a bunch on hand.
      I don’t think you sound fancy or excessive, I’ve been known to slip in before storms for delicious varieties of hummus or cheese. There’s just something about knowing I’ll be snowed in that makes me crave my little luxuries. Mother Nature is forcing me to slow down, so I figure I might as well take advantage of the situation.:-D Especially since I know we are well stocked, so I’m not worrying about anything.

    • Cliffystones December 20, 2012, 10:29 am

      Like anonymous, we’re pretty well stocked up. I’m quite sure that our family of 4 can go several months without setting foot outside. But the Mrs. still says We’re supposed to get snow tomorrow, I’d better make a trip to the market.” I think this is just a part of the “preparedness-lite” mindset that most people have. I know I’ll make sure to fill up on gas before the holiday weekend, if for nothing else than to avoid the crowds.

      If it’s any consolation, the storm that’s on it’s way to you produced more wind than snow for us. It’s sunny and 9 degrees in Colorado this morning, and I promised my wife I’d shovel the driveway when it got above 20. :)

  • Jarheadsurvivor December 20, 2012, 10:18 am

    The phrase “I’ ‘ll just come to your house if there’ s trouble” is pretty common to non preppers. They don’ t care enough to make their own preps, but have no problem coming to you if there’ s trouble. OPSEC is the only way to be sure you don’ t have unwelcome visitors if the shtf.

    • smokechecktim December 20, 2012, 12:17 pm

      thats why at this point I havent formed any sort of group or joined a group. I guess OPSEC and being afraid of getting involved with people who prove unreliable have stopped me. I think of that old twilight zone episode during the cold war days where everybody picked on the one guy in the neighborhood who had the underground shelter, until they thought there was an actual nuclear incident about to happen. Then they tried to break down his doors.

  • Waterboy December 20, 2012, 10:30 am

    You can lead horses to water, but you can’t make them drink it…You’ve done your part for a lot of people, at some point they have to run with the ball.

  • Jason December 20, 2012, 10:33 am

    I am surprised at that number, I thought it would be higher & more like 80% ++.

    People in this country by in large, live in the “now” bubble & think little of the future. Overweight, out of shape, live paycheck to paycheck, no retirement income to speak of thinking, tomorrow never comes.

  • Indianagal December 20, 2012, 10:58 am

    The power went out here for 30min and although I’ve done some prepping, it was a mindset change to see what I wanted/needed to do. Sitting with candle light and oil lamps I added to my list and then knit for a bit. Needless to say I am adding to my oil lamps, water, and canned goods.

  • Pineslayer December 20, 2012, 11:02 am

    Guilty as charged. I ran out of whiskey and was too lazy to run to the store in last nights ground blizzard. I have lots of food, but need to start thinking about the fun stuff.

  • smokechecktim December 20, 2012, 11:19 am

    sometimes when I hear people talking about getting ready for a storm or whatever, I almost feel like grabbing them and shaking them! With OPSEC in mind I have tried to slowly bring a few folks out of the wilderness. Some after katrina and some after sandy are starting to ask good questions, but most just shrug and say I’ll just stock up before hand. As a side note for those who buy silver…its been going down for the last few days and this morning dropped below 30 for the first time since august.

    Democracy is two wolves and a lamb discussing what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote.

  • Schacht December 20, 2012, 12:02 pm

    My response is along the lines of “I picked that stuff up a week ago knowing this is the time of year we have bad weather…” Though my storage is always full, thus making my statement slightly inaccurate, I have hopefully planted the thought seed they should be considering without blowing my own cover. One week may not seem like much, but with society around e it is pushing the limits.

    • Novice December 20, 2012, 12:32 pm

      Good one, Schacht. I’ve always used Calamity’s approach of say nothing but maybe a little seed planting could grow into a much more prepared circle of friends. I’m going to steel your idea for myself :)

  • Ailim December 20, 2012, 1:14 pm

    I actually had this conversation with a friend last night. It helps to know that with pretty much everything else we are close to the same page, and if presented as preparing for a “small disaster” storms or layoffs, it goes down pretty easy. Plus with the one at a time approach you can really take the time to understand their views, and slowly figure out how they will fit in with your own SHTF plan…

  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. December 20, 2012, 1:41 pm

    Yes, very true, people often don’t even have any emergency lighting stored up. Electricity is very easy to knock out, a car hitting a pole can leave you in the dark for Pete’s sake.

    A LED flashlight, some candles or lantern w/ fuel, and a small cook stove (Coleman Sportster and lantern use the same fuel, the Sportster can be stored in Coleman lantern case with a couple of fuel bottles on top of it to keep it altogether.)

    A small stash of canned no cook food is easy to gather with the very common ‘one for me, the other for stash’ buying habit. Store all in one of those Rubbermaid Action Packer containers, something you can grab and move in an instant.

  • JL December 20, 2012, 5:10 pm

    I go with the saving money route. I pick up a few extras when it’s on sale, so I don’t have to get out when the weather is bad. Those ladies are going to be in the store forever and spend way more money. If there is any milk or bread left, here if it snows at all the stores are packed. To much trouble. Like having and using cash, I Will say I keep a little in case the power goes out and the atm isn’t working. No one needs to know how much, just a little .

  • Robert Slaughter December 20, 2012, 7:47 pm

    For those who will listen to no other instructor, pain and suffering still makes an effective teacher.

    After years of ridicule, folks in NYC and NJ are now open to conversations about preparing. If other folks refuse after Sandy and Katrina, then may God have mercy on their souls, ’cause they’re just a few minutes away from disaster.

  • Vicky December 21, 2012, 1:52 pm

    Calamity: Good for you, and we are ultimately prepared as well. I’d stop for milk, but just because I prefer fresh milk to condensed or powdered. Also want a good supply of cream for my coffee. I am concerned about you and am glad you don’t say anything at work. It’s more likely all the time that you will be considered a lunatic, or worse, if you talk about prepping. The mother of the Connecticut shooter might as well be a crack whore as far as public reputation. This is slowly turning into her fault because of her “unhealthy” lifestyle, and it has been suggested that her prepping may have pushed her son over the edge. Wow!

    Happy Winter Solstice!

  • Jon Lorisen December 21, 2012, 5:11 pm

    It’s great to have survival-type discussions with co-workers, it’s an opportunity to educate, make new friends (and potential allies), and add to your community. Sadly, it does also put you in the crosshairs in a disaster.

    I had far too many friends/coworkers who would say in the joking way that isn’t really joking “I don’t need to prepare, when *whatever disaster* happens I am just going to head to Jon’s house.” Or break into my work locker or storage locker, etc. Not exactly what I wanted to hear!

    I don’t talk much where I work now.

  • irishdutchuncle December 21, 2012, 8:38 pm

    … milk bread eggs, but no pancake syrup?
    I like pancake syrup on my french toast. I would probably buy some propane, too. (I set up the camp stove on top of the electric range)
    I always forget the batteries, until it’s almost too late.

  • John Brown December 23, 2012, 6:13 am

    > Or are you one of the last minute shoppers?

    No, I have been rotating out what I started to store after April 2008. If I had the money and space I would have five years worth of stuff. I might run out of the kitchen shelf stuff, not the pantry stuff. I have slowly added to it month by month, year by year. Something things that we like such as Slim Jims are only good for six months before they go bad, so, no way to stock those.

    > What do you do when these conversations come up?

    I don’t start them any more, so, they do not come up any more. I have one neighbor that preps and we keep the conversations to ourselves and when they get rid of old food they no longer want, they give it to my kids.

    I am saving some of my older food for bartering or to give to a soup kitchen in the tough times coming up. Though we gave a few cans (24) to the school when they were doing a food pantry drive.

    Your thing about bread just reminded me I need yeast.

  • John January 1, 2013, 4:39 pm

    What always amazes me is the news before and during the winter storms showing the run on Home Depot for snow shovels. What do these people do, throw out the shovel after every storm? My area averages about 30 inches of snow yearly so it should be expected and I personally have 4 or 5 shovels and a snow blower.

  • izzy January 7, 2013, 3:50 am

    I would phrase it gently (if these are good people that you like): “Wow, what a big storm. Wow, we should have something on hand, huh? I heard _ is the best thing to have. I guess it’s good to be prepared for blackouts? or minor emergencies? when (use most common local ecological inconvenience) happens.”
    Just that. No need to tell them you have enough preps for forty days & nights & a waterproof RV! Just implant the suggestion. If they want to know more they will ask later.
    Also, people hate being told what to do by a knowitall (or so I’m told ;) If you act clueless, they will probably get all the preps, to feel superior to you.
    Like I said, don’t bother with this tactic unless you really, really like them…


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