A lot of people start prepping before they even know they’re doing it. They begin by doing things like overstocking canned food, storing additional water, and putting money from each paycheck into a savings account. Believe it or not, this is the core of preparedness. It isn’t the whole picture, but it’s definitely a good start. So where would one turn to get a good “full picture” scenario broken down so that it’s easy to understand and easy to do? Jim Cobb, of course!
Jim has written many books on the topic of survival and preparedness, but “Countdown to Preparedness” is by far my favorite to date! This is truly a “survival 101” kind of book and has been described as “the most important class you’ll ever take”. The book is a straightforward 52-week course to becoming a full-fledged prepper with guides on everything from simple tools for storing food and water to advanced techniques for defending your family and property.
Jim has broken this book up into 52 different “courses” allowing you to take on one each week so you’re not too overwhelmed. He even says in the “How to Use This Book” section that you don’t have to read it cover to cover – in fact he encourages jumping to different sections based on the season. There is a “Basics” section as well as a section devoted to tasks to be done in each season. He also recommends you pick a day of the week to read, take notes and perform tasks. It will become ritual for you this way, and you’re more likely to actually get things done (especially if you’re OCD like me – I like routines). At the end of each section, there is an assignment list. You are guided to follow what the chapter has taught you as well as putting money into your savings account, storing a specific amount of water and a grocery list of things to buy. Let’s make one thing clear – this is an easy guide, but there is some cost involved. I mean, you can’t prep for free!
In the Basics section, Jim covers things like making lists for yourself, purging the things you own to get rid of what you don’t need, and calculating how much water you will need for your family. Do you know how much food you will need for your family to survive in a catastrophe? I mean a precise number of calories. There’s a chart with exact calculations to help you figure it all out – including modifiers for the activity level of each member of your family! Sounds like a lot, but it’s really simple… and Jim even tells you how to simplify your calculation further if the math is a little overwhelming.
The next section moves into Spring and covers topics like water purification, gardening, first aid and communications. There’s also a section about human waste including how to properly dispose of it. Not a pretty topic, but it’s something you must think about should the grid ever go down – there won’t be porta-potties on every corner (and even if there were, would you REALLY want to use them??). Jim also talks about medical and dental issues, medications and much, much more.
Moving into Summer, there is a lot of discussion about weapons, safety, communication and transportation. In week 28, the topic is improvised weapons. This instantly made me think of a talk my father gave me when I was young. He said “if you ever get into a fight, and the other person is just beating you half to death and you can’t get away, pick up the closest thing to you and beat the tar out of them with it!” Now of course my old man didn’t mean to grab a brick and beat the person repeatedly in the head, but instead, do what you must to get the person off of you and get away. Jim says the ideal improvised weapon is one that would allow you to keep some distance between you and your assailant, but in close-combat situations, he pretty much agrees with my dad. In fact, he says a good idea is to go on a tour of your house making mental notes of where certain items are that could be used as improvised weapons. I whole-heartedly agree!
Fall begins with gathering firewood and moves through bugging-out, regrouping and security. Have you ever heard the term “Structure Hardening”? Jim covers that, too. It’s where you figure out how to secure your doors, windows and other “weak” sections of your home to prevent break-ins. This is a good idea whether you’re doing hardcore prepping or not. Unfortunately in this day and age, some people still think it’s necessary to take things from other people, so it becomes necessary to find ways of keeping that from happening. Another topic covered is situational awareness. Another good thing about the way Jim has written this book is that if you read it according to the seasons, you’re now gearing up for winter – including Christmas and it’s potential dangers! See what he did there? Covering home security and situational awareness in the fall was a brilliant idea!
The winter lessons are really a hodge-podge of what’s left to cover — excursions (venturing out into the world for whatever reason), stocking up on odds and ends, and alternative shelters and lighting. The biggest part that should be paid attention to is the “drills, drills and more drills” section. You know what they say – practice makes perfect – and Jim is a big proponent of practice, no matter how big of a pain they may be. Let’s face it, it’s all well and good that you “know what you would do”, but if you’ve never practiced it, things may go from bad to worse. Things always look better on paper than they do in practice.
Instead of telling you how awesome “Countdown to Preparedness” is and why you should buy it, I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank Jim Cobb for being on top of his game. Jim, your instructiveness and organization in this book allows even the newest of preppers to get their act together and focus on what matters the most — survival. Thank you, Jim!