I Will Never Feel Powerless Again

 Growing up I was raised to have a self-reliant and "Can Do" attitude. But I did not truly understand or comprehend what preparedness was and what it meant to me until the first years of my marriage. In fact there was a specific incident that cemented the prepper lifestyle for me.
It was in the winter of 1996 and my husband and I were living in a townhouse in the city limits of our small town in western Washington.  Our oldest child was only two and a half years old. A very bad freezing rain and ice storm covered the entire region. If you know anything about western Washington, you know that it rains a lot and most winters you get more rain than snow. Because of all of the moisture, most trees root systems don't go very deep, but they spread out in a large, shallow diameter around the tree. We are talking some really big evergreen trees. When the storm hit, the combination of wind and the weight of the ice caused many trees to topple which caused widespread power outages.
Until this happened, I had never given much thought to how dependent we were on electricity and in how many ways it affected us. We, of course, had no lights....but we also couldn't cook; we had no heat, and we couldn't even open a can of food because we had an electric can opener! I have never felt so helpless. For the first two days, we huddled together in the darkness and tried to keep warm. We had no alternate source of heat or light. My husband opened cans of tuna with a screw driver and hammer.  I remember thinking how ridiculous it was that we were reduced to that so quickly. My daughter was counting on me to take care of her....how could I have let this happen?
When the roads were finally clear enough of debris, we headed out to my parent's house about 8 miles out of town. They had a wood stove, and were using their water storage since the well used an electric pump. I remember how much safer I felt and how warm and inviting the lanterns and candles were. We spent another 4 days out at their place before power was restored.
I vowed then and there that I would never feel that powerless again. I knew what I wanted, but I wasn't entirely sure how to get started or go about it. Slowly I began researching and learning. I started with what was probably pretty obvious to others, but until then I had never thought twice about.....alternate light, heat and cooking. I bought candles, a camp cookstove and a propane heater. From there I began to learn about food storage, emergency preparedness, first aid, etc. I first began to hear the word prepper a few years ago. I thought that was a perfect description of what I was trying to do.
Since then our family has grown to 4 children, our oldest is now 17 and the youngest (4 yrs) has autism, reactive airway disease, and severe food allergies. He is allergic to Wheat, Peanuts, Milk, Eggs, Soy, Corn, Rice and Bananas. On the average day his diet can be difficult, let alone in an emergency. This has challenged us and we are learning even more as we strive to provide food storage that is shelf stable and that he can eat. We are also prepping for his medical issues. We have had to use our food storage twice now due to lack of income. The first because my husband was injured in a car accident and unable to work for 4 months. The second time was 2 years ago when he was laid off and out of work for 7 months. What a blessing and comfort knowing that we could feed our family even during those stressful times.
Prepping has now become a family affair. We try to have a "prepping" family night once a month where we practice skills and learn new ones. Skills such as cooking from our food storage, survival skills, first aid, alternative cooking techniques, etc. Prepping is a lifestyle not a hobby and one that we love. It is about being truly independent and the deep satisfaction that comes from providing for oneself.
We are going to be moving back to Washington soon, to property where we can continue our dream of self-reliant living. We are making plans to be off-grid, have gardens and fruit trees, poultry and small livestock, etc. My advice to anyone who wants to be more self-reliant is to just get started. Baby steps are the key. What matters is the direction you are traveling in, not how fast you are going. We have been prepping on a limited budget for a long time and you would be surprised how much you can do with just a little.
 The H. Family, S.D.
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I've lived through exactly what you did, but in the Northeast. Electric can opener, no way to heat the house, ice storms, etc. Never, EVER again. What a wake-up call! Thanks for sharing w/us.

very well put. when prepping is explained this way the light bulb finaly goes on for people who thinks prepping is stupid and say they will just come to your house if somthing happens

Yay for the H. family!

Yay for SD!

Really, you did a great job writing this. It was very easy to follow; it flowed well.

Thank you for sharing your story. It's truly inspiring for me. You made me realize that I don't have any water storage. However, I do have candles, matches, quilts and space blankets, and emergency packs for both my husband and I. And a manual can opener! But I don't have a camping stove. Wine-box ovens are also a good idea.

I didn't realize that little T. had those issues, poor guy! I have a nephew slightly younger than him who is also allergic to all the major allergens (but I think he can have corn and bananas). His mom's blog is The Rice of Life (thericeoflife.wordpress.com), the second one that pops up in a Google search of "the rice of life." Annaliese Lemmon (the author, my sister-in-law) posts recipes and other stuff related to taking care of her son. I bet you could find some good recipes on there! She also understands autism since my husband and one of her other brothers are on the autism spectrum.

Great writing!

Points out a very easily understood concept, that should motivate even the worst skeptics to at least get a 3-10 day emergency plan and supply together for the inevitable natural disaster!

That's my girl!

An inspiration!

Nothing like real-life situations to motivate!

You get my vote!!! I've learned the hard way, too.


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