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Coverage: Covers food, water, shelter, light, power, heating/cooling, sanitation, medical needs, as well as a number of other subjects.

Date: 2011

ISBN: 9781463531102

Pages: 417 including index and worksheets

This is an excellent jumping off point for preparing for disasters, although it is geared more towards small-scale regional disasters rather than complete societal breakdown-type disasters. Coverage of the usual subjects – food storage, water storage and filtering, shelter, lighting, power creation, heating and cooling, air, sleep, medical needs, communication, financial preparedness, transportation, and security. There are also chapters on preparing for taking care of folks with special needs, creating a network of like-minded preppers, a brief chapter on natural disasters, and a chapter on likely scenarios that can be tested prior to actual disasters.

Bradley’s main aim is to get folks to prepare for the most commonly encountered problems, with a focus on disasters that can be resolved by return to normalcy in less than 30 days. This makes the book an excellent starting point for most folks, as these sorts of disasters are most likely to be encountered by people. It also makes this a good book to start easing your family, friends and others into the mindset of prepping – without making them think you’re a wacko.

The first chapter sets out the basic premise of the work, discussing how to prioritize on what to prepare for, as well as giving an overview of the organization of the book. The second chapter, entitled “Staying Alive” discusses those ubiquitous “survival in a bucket” kits, as well as giving 13 basic steps to being prepared for the disasters that Bradley sees as most common.

The third chapter covers food, where Bradley discusses starting with a 30-day supply of everyday food and only then moving on to more long-term storage of food, if desired. Also included is a good discussion of the various types of food borne illnesses and how to avoid food poisoning. The usual table of food storage shelf lives is also given, along with a discussion of the various types of long-term food for storage – MREs, freeze-dried, and dehydrated.

Water is the subject of the fourth chapter – including sanitation and hygiene. Storage, treating, purifying, and filtering of water is discussed, as well as brief discussions of finding other water sources in emergencies. Shelter is discussed in chapter 5 – including improving your current home and its security, minimizing common home hazards such as fire, etc, and a brief discussion of evacuation. Bradley does not discuss tents or other makeshift shelters – arguing that his subject is preparing, not wilderness survival.

Chapter 6 is a quick discussion of light sources – including flashlights, candles, lanterns, and chemical lights. Power for the home is covered in chapter 7 – including generators, solar power, storing fuel, and wind power. Heat and cooling is covered in chapter 8 – with discussions on hypothermia, hyperthermia, and various sources of heat in emergencies. Chapter 9 deals with air pollution – including how to use facemasks and other air filters, how to shelter in place, and other types of disasters that can cause air pollution with suggested solutions.

Sleep is discussed in chapter 10, including how to keep stress from a disaster from disturbing your sleep. First aid and other medical matters are covered in chapter 11 – with a suggested first aid kit and discussion of how to treat a number of common first aid problems. Communication in disasters is discussed in chapter 12 – including alternative types of communications besides mass media.

Financial planning, including financial panics, is the subject of chapter 13, which recommends what sorts of documents should be stored, what steps to take to minimize your exposure to financial problems and other money matters. Chapter 14 focuses on transportation – including what should go into a vehicle if you need to evacuate, how to deal with common problems on the road, and navigation.

Protection and security are dealt with in chapter 15 – including firearms, the police, and non-lethal weapons. Special needs in disasters are covered in chapter 16 – this includes the elderly, the disabled, children, pregnant women and pets. The importance of forming a network of like-minded preppers is covered in chapter 17 and includes helpful tips on how to find other preppers.

Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes and floods are dealt with in the next to last chapter – including information on areas of the US prone to specific types of disasters, how best to prepare for them, and where to turn for more information. The last chapter – “Trial by Fire” – details a number of possible disaster scenarios and discusses how to run a “family drill” to test your level of preparedness for each one.

The book is reasonably well illustrated, with plenty of charts and diagrams as well as checklists and other helpful forms. All the illustrations are black and white. A reasonably comprehensive index helps find information quickly.

All in all, this is an excellent work that should be on most prepper’s shelves, if only as a “loaner” for getting others interested in preparedness. I found the comparisons of the various water purification and filtering methods particularly helpful, as well as the first aid kit listing. I also liked the fact that pets were not forgotten – too often they are neglected in these types of works. A disadvantage was that too often Bradley is reluctant to make an actual recommendation on a specific piece of equipment – for example in the water chapter, after discussing all the various systems, he never actually suggests a type, much less a brand. While this is probably good, it does tend to limit the usefulness of the chapter for absolute beginners – it can leave them swimming in a sea of options without knowing what the best choice might be.

There is plenty of useful information throughout the work, and is certainly worth purchasing. It is definitely a “generalist” work, and if you’ve been involved in prepping for a long time, it might not be needed, unless you have a horde of clueless relatives and friends who you are looking to get more prepared.

Usefulness to a beginner prepper: 9 of 10

Usefulness to an advanced prepper: 4 of 10

General type of work: Generalist with emphasis on common natural or man-made disasters rather than “the end of the world as we know it” type events.