Before we started life on the road, we were preppers. Not crazy doomsday preppers like you see on cable TV, but practical people wanting to provide for our families during uncertain times. Now that we travel full-time and don’t have a permanent home base, we still consider ourselves preppers, but with a slightly different focus.
Please, read on.
Living in Michigan for most of our lives, we did not experience major natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes, which can limit access to fresh water, food, and electricity/heat. But we did live through several days of similar conditions during the big blackout of 2003 (which happened on my 30th birthday, thank you very much. Ugh).
That experience, coupled with some learnings from the Y2K non-disaster, got us started on the road to greater self-sufficiency.
So, we did what most beginning preppers do. We started stockpiling large quantities of “stuff” — food, water, fuel, first aid supplies, and so on. We felt well prepared if we were to be cut off from grocery stores, gas stations, or modern society for several months.
Interjection: We hope that none of these preparations are ever needed. However, one of my favorite sayings is “Hope for the best, plan for the worst.” By imagining what COULD happen, and making plans to mitigate those risks, we are in a better position to face any dangers, whether natural or man-made. We all want to keep our families safe, right?
But where do you put all that “stuff” in a 350-sq.-foot trailer? This is when our focus really shifted to skills rather than stuff.
Preparedness is a mental game
We always knew that skills were important. We’ve invested time and money into learning various skills ranging from communications, first aid, food preservation, firearms and more. But through some of our own experiences, coupled with the constraints of this lifestyle, we’ve come to realize that attitude, awareness and ability are more important than material goods, especially on the move.
There’s nothing more important to a prepper — or an RVer! — than having the right mindset — the ability to remain calm under pressure, to roll with the punches, to be able to fix a problem using the materials at hand and move on.
Here are just a couple of personal examples of how a combination of skills & stuff saved the day.
Blankets and flashlights and flares, oh my!
On a dark spring Friday night, returning from a dinner and a movie in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, we discovered a single-vehicle accident right in front of our campground. It was 11:30 at night, on a two-lane twisty road with no street lights. Did I mention it was cold and raining, too?
The car – a late-model white Mustang – was still running, with the nose in the ditch and the ass end in the air, blocking one lane. The occupants, a young man and his date, were standing outside in the rain in lightweight clothing. Several of us bystanders flagged down more than one clueless driver who almost didn’t stop in time to avoid a second accident.
I managed to convince the young lady to use a blanket and umbrella from my car to keep warm. Shawn donned my raincoat from the trunk and deployed several flares and used his LED flashlight to warn oncoming traffic until the county sheriff arrived with dome lights flashing.
We were glad to help. It’s not the first or even the second time we’ve assisted at an accident scene, and highly unlikely it will be the last. Thankfully we’re prepared with basic medical training and supplies.
A bump in the road
On our last weekend in Michigan, we had a terrific weekend at a friends’ cottage in upper Michigan. Nine of us gathered to eat fantastic potluck food, enjoy blazing campfires, tell stories, play with drones and bows, site in rifles and practice shooting at the gun range, and more. But you know the joke – it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt, right?
On Sunday afternoon, three of our party decided to take to the trails for some motorized fun on motorcycles and quad ATVs. Unfortunately, due to a combination of speed and trail conditions, two of our members ended up with a combination of injuries and one crumpled, non-functional ATV.
We quickly assembled a rescue team with several first aid kits, a ham radio, and our new Garmin InReach personal locator beacon in case a more serious evacuation was needed. We were able to retrieve the injured parties and the damaged vehicle on a flatbed trailer towed by a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Fortunately, the injuries were not life-threatening and basic first aid was all that was needed for the time being. The non-injured pitched in on tasks required to complete camp cleanup and head back home.
Now it’s your turn
Both of these experiences demonstrate the value of having emergency supplies on hand and being able to use them quickly and decisively. A single auto accident can be just as disastrous to the persons involved as a major weather incident or other tragedy, and the skills and supplies needed are useful in both scenarios. How many readers can say you even have a well-stocked first aid kit in your vehicle, or a sturdy pair of shoes?
I hope that these two stories have gotten you thinking about your own preparedness level. Here are a few helpful resources if you’re just getting started. I welcome your comments and questions below the article.
- How to Prepare for Emergencies by the American Red Cross
- Plan Ahead for Disasters from Homeland Security
- Various articles on disaster preparedness from the American Preppers Network
Hey RVers, here’s an excellent post by Sig and Hitch that specifically describes how to prepare for severe weather in an RV.
Always pays to be prepared and well informed:) Hurricanes, earthquakes etc can be somewhat planned for. Crazy humans can’t be;) hahahaha! They scare me more than any natural disater:)
After what you’ve been through, I certainly understand and appreciate your perspective!
since we are full timers, too, we have all (hopefully) the things we need. Our first aid kit is the best we’ve ever seen and we won it just as we retired. Nice going away gift. You are so right to be prepared. Boy scouts!!
We probably don’t do as much as we should, but we did get a heavy duty set of traffic triangles and flares that we carry our Xterra (since that is always with us either because we’re driving it or towing it), as well as some decent first aid kits. We also bought an emergency weather radio after ending up within spitting distance of a tornado in a place where you wouldn’t generally expect to be dealing with tornadoes. I also found some good emergency weather apps that track where we are and let us know if something is headed our way. Of course, that all assumes we have solid connectivity…..
Sounds like you’re off to a very good start. Consider adding a couple of blankets, extra socks, water and food to your vehicle. I know it’s less likely we’ll need them, since we follow the NICE weather 😉 but you never know.
Would you consider an AED a helpful addition to your first aid kit?
Hmm, that’s kinda pricey Mom! Unfortunately we have to rely on Red Cross CPR certification.
I was raised to expect and prepare for the worst and always hope for the best. I am seeing more and more stores carry basic emergency preparedness kits for vehicles. Most are quite afford and whether homemade or store bought; it’s better to have one when you need one!!! Since the incident at the cabin I have begun to make “action” plans for emergencies… which include where things to gather are located. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the moment and forget where you stored stuff a year or so ago.
I am most thankful we had you & Shawn and your awesome ready to roll first aid kit and level heads with us!!!! Love you guys!!!!
My hubs seems to always be prepared, first aid, first responder, CPR classes. I just pray we never need all the knowledge. I’m glad he has it though.
so true! A common tip that I’ve heard about storing supplies in a small space is to keep water under your bed, I’ve even heard people claim that you can use a water bed to store a lot of water but i don’t know how well that would work, if you needed to use the water you’d lose your mattress!
LOL. We’re in an RV. We already have a built-in 100 gallon fresh water tank. A waterbed that adds weight inside the unit — and right above all of our critical electronics — could be a disaster. We also have the mobility to move to an area with water, if need be.