Hey there, and welcome back to my little corner of cyberspace. I hope you had a great weekend.
I can imagine many of you are looking a the tittle of this little ramble and wondering just what the hell I'm talking about. "Rational Prepping" some of you are asking, "Is that even a thing?!". Well yes, yes it is. I know many people still think of the prepper community as a group of paranoid, ultra conservative nuts who are absolutely convinced that we're heading for some kind of Zombie Apocalypse complete with a melt down of the "Rule of Law and Order", but in all honesty most of us are really rather rational about things. Most of us are not stock piling huge amounts of ammo in fancy underground bunkers with full cutting edge security systems and built in generators, nor are we spending obscene amounts of money on mountain cabins that could double as modern day forts. What we are doing is looking at the world around us and trying to prepare our families for those things that can and do happen, and seem to be happening on an increasingly regular basis. "Oh come on, what are you talking about" that I just heard is probably coming from that new reader I see hiding in the back corner, so let me show you.
By now anyone who is paying even the least amount of attention knows about the damage done by Hurricane Harvey in Texas last week, but how closely have you really been paying attention? Did you know that it's estimated that the financial cost of the damage is likely to exceed 190 Billion dollars? Or how about the price of gas? I know you've noticed the price of gas has gone up sharply in the past few days. Well that's because almost 20% of all of our oil refineries are in Texas and have been shut down because of Harvey. And it's not just gas prices that are going to be effected! Other items that directly depend on oil refineries for their production include asphalt, fertilizers, linoleum, soap, perfumes, insecticides, and vitamin capsules, just to name a few. Nor was our oil refineries effected by Hurricane Harvey. 60% of our production of ethylene was shut down by the disaster.
Ethylene? Just what in world is that I hear some of you saying. Well I must admit that I had no idea what ethylene was either until a chemical engineer I know sent me an article about it, the same article I shared on my FaceBook feed over the weekend; and it turns out that it can have an even bigger impact on the average American than loosing our oil refineries! Most of our plastics are made from ethylene, including plastic milk jugs and baby diapers. It's also used to make PVC so the production of the most common type of water pipe used in the U.S. will be scarce for the next few months to a year. PVC is also used in the production of doors, windows, signs, electrical cable insulation, and the inflatable rafts you take to the lake or the pool. Ethylene is also used in the production of the plastic used for hang packaged items, as well as antifreeze for our cars, various coolants, clothing, textiles, tires, kitchen wares, carpets, and food containers used at most restaurants. Still other uses are in making detergents, paper, adhesives such as tape and glues, and emulsifiers used to keep various chemicals from separating. No wonder the estimated cost of Hurricane Harvey is 190 Billion Dollars! Let's face it people, we are going to be hurting for the next several months, and Christmas could prove to be rather lean for much of the U.S. Nor may that be all. After all, Irma is wondering through the carribean even now and many meteorologist say that she may prove to be even stronger by the time she makes land fall.
So what is one to do in such a situation? Here is where rational prepping comes into things. If you live in an area where hurricanes are likely, you probably already have many things lined up and in place for such emergencies; but rational preppers understand that because things in todays world are so interconnected a hurricane in Texas will impact everyone in the U.S., even if they live in Maine or Hawaii! So, allowing for the fact that it's probably too late for you to smooth things over this time as much as most of us would like, what do you do for the future when it happens again?
First thing is to build up a reserve of both money and food. Financial experts have been telling us for years that we really should have enough money squirreled away to pay 3 to 6 months of bills in case of an emergency. Admittedly they are mainly talking about some emergency that results in the loss of a job, such as injury or serious illness; but such a slush fund will make the increased prices we will be looking at for the foreseeable future much easier to handle. So how do you save that money? Well I'm no financial expert, but it can be done. The way I'm doing it is by autodraft to a stock fund, namely a fund run by Vanguard. $50.00 a month is automatically taken from my checking account and deposited into a money market account run by Vanguard each month, and when the amount in that money market account reaches 6 months worth of bills, I transfer 3 months worth of bills to an index fund. Viola. Forced savings with little pain and no action required on my part except making sure I don't accidentally spend that $50.00 before it can be transferred. For more ideas you can check out various financial sites such as The Motley Fool and, my current personal favorite, The Penny Hoarder.
As for stock piling food, I'm really not talking about any thing extreme. Simply set up a rotation system and keep 1 to 3 months worth of can goods and frozen food on hand. No real need to lay in a stock of emergency food supplies that have a shelf live measured in years instead of months (though if you want to buy such items such as Wise Foods from me at one of the shows I vend at through out the South I certainly won't complain!). This allows you to have a supply of food on hand you can dip into when prices start forcing you to cut back on what you're buying each week at the grocery store; and when the price companies pay for milk jugs go up because they can't get the ethylene to make them, well ...
A personal garden isn't a bad idea either. Admittedly this is the wrong time of year to be planting one, but you could start planning one for next spring. Many experts tell me that planning out your bed in the fall is actually a good idea, so take a look at web sites dealing with gardening such as Burpee, or possibly HGTV. And don't write off this bit of advice just because you live in an apartment, condo, or high rise. My grandpa was an avid gardener all his live, and even when he moved into an apartment he still gardened. He just changed over to container gardening by placing planters and nice looking pots on his balcony and widow boxes out side his windows. Admittedly I have something of a brown thumb instead of my grandpa's green thumb, but there's plenty of places to get advice on this.
Now there's plenty more things I could say, but once again this ramble is starting to resemble a chapter in a book more than a blog entry so I'll call it good enough for today. Hopefully I've given you a few things to think of and some useful bits, but it's time for me to head off into the real world now. Take care dear reader, I hope your Labor Day is a great one, and remember. If it's worth doing, worth doing at all, then it's worth doing with attitude!