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Countdown to Preparedness: The Prepper’s 52 Week Course to Total Disaster Readiness

Countdown to Preparedness: The Prepper’s 52 Week Course to Total Disaster Readiness

Authored By Jim Cobb

Book Review by Stefanie Bondra

Countdown to Preparedness

There have been numerous shows recently, dedicated to “survival.” Most of you know the shows to which I’m referring.  I enjoy them and watch some of them regularly. Entertaining and educational, though they may be, they aren’t situations most of us would normally find ourselves. Crises do happen though. Hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and even severe thunder storms can bring life as you know it to a halt. What do you do in that moment and in the moments that follow? Many reach for the flashlight and give it a good shake, hoping the batteries are still working. Some scramble around and get the candles lit while others try to figure out how that generator works. After that usually comes the (seemingly endless) waiting. Don’t be caught unprepared. Author Jim Cobb has written a book: Countdown to Preparedness that helps even the newest, most unprepared (or under prepared) person get to a level of readiness that can relieve the stress that occurs in tense situations.

“The prepper’s 52-week course total disaster readiness” is a very accurate description of the contents of this book. Covering 52 topics, one each week, Countdown to Preparedness is overflowing with tips, tasks, and tallies that will leave the reader (actually, it will leave the do-er) “about as prepared as you can possibly be for any reasonably expected disaster.”  Each chapter starts with a week number and topic (jumping around from week to week is OK, says the author) and ends with an assignment and checklist based on the material covered. Whatever the assignment, the checklist is broken down into four sections: tasks, savings, water storage, and a grocery list for the week.  Some tasks are as simple as making a list, while others require more work such as structure hardening and learning to build a temporary shelter. Saving money is something everyone should attempt and the author suggests 10 dollars a week to go to a “prepper savings account.” Adding a few cans of this and a jar of that to your weekly shopping list makes the pantry stocking so simple, you may (like I did) wonder why you hadn’t thought of it and done it yourself.  You can even add your water storage amount to your shopping list if you will buy bottled water to store. With small chapters that read like a friendly conversation make the information presented less intimidating for those who are not fond of reading the more technical, manual-type books  that can lean toward dry, boring and overflowing with jargon. The easy to read and follow format is a big plus for those who are brand new or just starting out.

Moving through the book, Jim Cobb covers everything you can think of and some things you may not have.  I wouldn’t have thought about trying to obtain extra prescription medicine (which I take daily) to cover a few months. Neither would I have thought about litter for my cats, but I hope I would have remembered food. I can’t say with any real conviction that I would have, in all honesty.  Getting rid of clutter is something we all do to some degree, but Jim presents this topic in a way that is non-threatening to those of us who love to hold on to certain things that are really just taking up space. He even offers the option of using “Free cycle” to get rid of those space takers and give them to someone who truly will use them. 

Looking further, week 26 covers hand tools. In the aftermath of some disasters, electricity is not available.  If you need to do repair work like boarding up a broken window, your electric drill is not going to help. Sure there are screwdrivers and drills and saws that run on batteries, but if the battery dies; either because it isn’t fully charged or because the work consumes the battery quickly, you’re out of luck.  Jim lists the 10 basic tools all tool kits should contain and the chapter also includes an intermediate level list. Yes, chainsaws are included, but not as a requirement-though I wouldn’t want to have to section a downed tree with a bow saw! I appreciate that he mentions going to rummage sales are a good way to come by quality tools for a fraction of the price.

Throughout the book, there are calculations for things like how much water and food you will need for an emergency, the electrical consumption your house uses and relates that to how large a generator one would need to meet the demand. He also mentions that once we match the watts with dollars, we will find items that we can cross off our lists of “necessities” during an extended outage.  Along with this he lists some pros and cons of different types of generators, including solar powered generators and using solar panels. In addition to the calculations, there are usually lists that are made to assist with accurate results.  My OCD just loved this, because I love a list. Everything right in front of you organized (or not if you aren’t as compulsive as I am) and easily retrieved. Thank you Mr. Cobb, because finally, this is something I don’t need to practice.

Another thing I would like to mention is that Mr. Cobb dedicates a chapter to safety equipment. It’s the “slap you in the face” chapter. It hits you where many are most vulnerable: their home and loved ones. Cobb covers the importance of making sure your smoke detectors work. (As a personal note, I read this chapter then checked our batteries in the smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors.) It may seem obvious to you to have these, but what about an evacuation plan for a fire or a drill on how to use the fire extinguisher? Many of us overlook these necessary drills. The schools do them regularly so that the children know, without much thought, what to do at school. They should have that muscle memory for home as well.  Jim mentions that at home, each bedroom should have a small air horn. They are much louder than a voice, especially one of a scared child.  Chills up my spine had me running to add these to the shopping list. This is a brilliant idea everyone should know about and never have to use.

The book finishes with a nice wrap up that includes, you guessed it, a list of what the prepped house has on hand. It’s lengthy and the amounts seem outrageous if you just skip to the end and read the final tally. Can you guess that is just what I did? If you take each week as it comes, this isn’t an overwhelming amount coming in all at once. Think of it in terms of being able to move into a home bit by bit, putting things away slowly as they trickle in, versus having the moving van unload your whole house into your living room and dining room and then leaving you to deal with the chaos. I hate chaos. I love order. This book makes me feel like I can take the chaos and wrap order around it. That is something I can work with.

There is much more to this book than the few items I chose to touch on.  Countdown to Preparedness is, in my opinion, a great book to have on your shelf. Actually, my copy is on my coffee table or my desk. It’s a powerhouse of a resource, at a fair price ($15.95 US), which at the very least will leave you with a nicely stocked pantry and a good start towards a savings fund. At the most, if you complete the easy to follow assignments, it will leave the reader as Mr. Cobb intends: prepared.

To purchase Countdown to Preparedness by Jim Cobb click here:

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