Running Out – A Prepper’s Worst Nightmare

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Top Tier Gear USA

September is “National Preparedness Month”. The one thing left out of all the hype for this new “celebration” (yes, I’ve read an ad on a web site that said “Celebrate [9/11] with a 20% discount…”) is, for how long do you need to be “prepared”? You have to understand that you cannot buy enough toilet paper to save your ass.

Say you’re one of the smart ones who has been prepared for whatever is coming down the pike to survive through. You’re already set up in a remote location, gotten your dwelling built, and you have separated yourself and your family from “normal society (the system)”. You’ve been studying and experimenting with gardens, but haven’t perfected the art yet. You haven’t had a need for money in a year or two, because you’ve been living off your well-stocked larder for that time. Suddenly, and seemingly all at once, things in that larder begin to run out. Now what do you do???

When the baking powder runs out, you learn to make flat pancakes. When your chickens aren’t laying to put eggs in the pancakes, you make breads instead (and a pot of chicken soup here and there). When the flour runs out, you grind rice and get creative with it. When the rice runs out, you start eating lentil soup, lentil burgers, lentil chili (even though your chili powder ran out a month ago, too) – and you lose a lot of weight.

Just take a trip into town to re-supply? Well, maybe that’s ok for now, while there still is some semblance of an economy. But what will you do if that economy – and society – have completely collapsed and there are no stores in which to shop? Prepping is a great way to start to get you mentally ready for separating from the current average urban/suburban lifestyle. After “prepping” comes realsurvival.

You may have to check out the local flora for edible items. Do you know how to test a plant to see if it is poisonous? (Rub it on your arm and look for a rash, rub it on your gums and check for tingling… There’s much more to it. Here is one site you may want to read about it.) You may need to go hunting. Do you know how to “field dress” an animal? Do you know where to shoot? Do you knowhow to shoot?

I’m not talking about being a weekend warrior. I’m not even talking about going on an extended hunting trip. I’m talking about learning to live a new way, a way that includes new ways to find food other than going to the local supermarket. A way that includes using washable rags instead of disposable toilet paper. The idea may be frightening to many – probably most – of you. You’ve been taught that there is only one way to live and that is the consumerist life. A sure sign of success is how much “stuff” you have. Well, in the near future, success may be boiled down to did you eat today, did you feed your family today, did you sleep inside, out of the cold last night?

With all the new “preparedness” consumables available, here is one thing you can’t stock up on: TIME. Are you running out of time? Preparedness not only means buying as much “prepper stuff” as you can, it means watching world events so you will know 1) whatyou are prepping for and; 2) when you are prepping for. Believe me, it’s not easy to look at everything going wrong with the world these days – economies in shambles, major war looming, wacky weather, violent solar activity. But you must gather up your skirts and stare it in the face, or why bother prepping?

So go ahead and get that extra bag of rice or beans at every trip to the grocery store. But have a plan, start educating yourself about what to do when that runs out.

Dan & Sheila are the authors of Surviving Survivalism – How to Avoid Survivalism Culture Shock .  For questions about their survival community and other topics, they can be reached at

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Contributed by Dan & Sheila of Surviving Survivalism.

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  • Karma

    Great piece! I was especially interested in how to tell if something in the wild is poisonous or not.

    • Milo Mindbender

      Easy way to test foods, feed your son in law, and if it don’t kill him it might be edible;-), just kidding, don’t do this unless he’s truly worthless.

      • Ian MacLeod

        One thing the article didn’t mention is that in Spring and Fall you’ll all but trip over mushrooms in a many places. I’m in Oregon, and up in the mountains, in the woods there are mushrooms everywhere, and quite a variety. They can also be found in sand dunes on the beach and in other places. There’s even one variety that will grow at the edge of the snow!

        Mushrooms can be very nourishing and tasty – or they can be deadly, as most people know. What they DON’T know is that the tasting protocol in that article can get you killed if you use it with mushrooms! It generally takes 24 or more hours for the symptoms to show up if you’ve eaten a toxic mushroom, and by that time there’s so much internal damage, you’ll likely have time to write your will, but don’t take on any long-term projects! I understand that Amanita phalloides is quite tasty; unfortunately, the person who said that is no longer available to ask. I added a little info as a suggestion in the comments.


  • jayjay

    I have been stocking food, water, ammo, and medical supplies for over 3 years; have enough for a conservative 6 years, maybe longer. Add to that a few veggies grown in the garden and getting help from the farmer nearby and this lasts longer??
    If this ‘whatever’ lasts longer than that, then we are screwed big time.

  • Milo Mindbender

    In addition to “stuff” skills are valuable, just buying seed doesn’t make a garden, owning a first aid kit isn’t knowing how to use it, buying a gun doesn’t aim it a lot of “Preppers” get hung up on the sexy toys, and forget to cultivate the skills to work them. TP is a good example, yes soft rags can, and have been laundered in times past, cloth diapers also come to mind as a reminder of not a bad way to do things as long as I am not cooking the laundry. Home canning if done correctly can after the intial investment of gear save lots of money. The time savings are illusional, because you spent all the food prep time at once and get it back when the ready to heat and eat foods are consumed.
    I know several people who have seeds in their preps but do not garden, and wouldn’t know where to begin.
    A truly workable prepping lifestyle would not be pleasant, thing 1850’s-1900’s for sustainable long term technology most of our modern utensils, and gadgets are too interconnected to be supported in a total collapse. Even electricity is nice, but what do you do with it 15 yrs after all your lightbulbs burnt out, your video game counsel died, no internet, and the fridge went on the blank last cold time?
    If a total collapse occured we do have the advantage of preexsisting technology, but all of the “low hanging fruit” have already been harvested on most of our non renewable resources.

  • Joe

    Milo Mindbender says:
    “TP is a good example”.
    What means TP ?.

  • Milo Mindbender

    Toilet Paper, every house has a couple of rolls, but what do you use instead of it. Bidets aren’t found in very many US homes, and most americans wouldn’t know how to use one, its not cultural in the US . Femine hygiene products are convient, but how manty moons worth is in your closet.

  • I grow 2 vegetables that supply a lot of yield.
    One is pole beans, string beans that grow up a trellis. String beans all summer and fall.
    Maybar spinach, not native to the usa also is viney. Same nutients as spinach, but tastes a little differenti harvest the leaves as needed. Have not had to buy vegetables all year and it is still growing.

  • Ian MacLeod

    Good for you! About the TP situation, if you’re well set for water – say you have a spring, a well or something of the sort, a jerrycan is useful. that plus some leaves, I understand the Arabs use the fingers of the left hand, which is why they never eat with that hand. I’ll pass, personally. There’s almost always SOMETHING around to use – leaves, grass,weeds (careful though!). Much of India and other places in the world consider Americans to be unsanitary, what with using dry paper and no water.


    • Ben Dover

      While growing up on our family rock farm in the 60’s many times we had to resort to other methods of cleansing. One such item was the corn cob (rough, rough). We’d use field cob to get the grit off followed by a sweet corn cob for the final touch.