1. Disaster Preparedness Handbook
2. First Aid for Babies and Children fast
3. Small-Scale Grain Raising
4. Solar Gardening
Each of these books is useful for prepping in its own way. I personally found each book to be a useful resource, so I hope that you will, too.
(1) The Disaster Preparedness Handbook, 2nd Edition
by Arthur Bradley
This is not a generic home preparedness book, one that would consider only the most common types of home emergencies: first aid, fire, robbery, etc. This book is aimed squarely at preppers and the prepping movement. The types of disasters addressed by the book include the more common short-term disasters: hurricanes, earthquakes, power outages, etc. But long-term and more severe disasters — the type that serious preppers are a little more interested in — are also included, such as: terrorist attacks, pandemics, economic collapse, etc.
The author, Arthur Bradley, argues for the type of prudent and reasonable preparations, while still meeting your usual needs, fulfilling ordinary responsibilities, and enjoying life’s daily joys. In other words, as we also stress here at Prep-Blog, don’t let preparing for disasters turn your life into a disaster. His approach is practical, and is based on prioritizing needs based on the likelihood of a disaster and the severity of its impact. So a less likely disaster is still worth preparing for, if it would be very severe; but the more common disasters are not overlooked.
This book might not appeal to all preppers. Bradley does take a few swipes at certain approaches to prepping, especially those that focus on doomsday (the end of the world as we know it) scenarios and those whose goal is to be able to live with complete self-sufficiency (wilderness survival, living off-grid, grow all your own food, etc.). He has built his approach to prepping around more common disasters, and more limited preparations, with the assumption that society has not completely disintegrated as a result of the disaster. I like his approach, but I notice from reading other prepping blogs that it is not for everyone.
Disaster Planing should help you survive AND maintain a reasonable quality of life. To that end, Bradley suggests 5 Cornerstones:
1. Leverage existing safety nets.
2. Stock extra consumables.
3. Collect tools and supplies.
4. Develop useful knowledge and skills.
5. Establish a support group.
Which of these 5 is most important? Knowledge and skills: learning is more important than buying.
Bradley next offers a fitting criticism of some of the ready-made disaster preparation kits that you can buy on the internet. He lists the items in the kit, describes a relatively limited short-term disaster (hurricane and power outage), and then considers how the kit holds up. It does not. The food and water in the kit is gone the first day; the other items are of little benefit. Important basic needs go unmet. And he’s right. Many first aid kits are only good for minor injuries. Many disaster preparation kits have many items and little real usefulness.
On the subject of food storage, the author recommends a 30-day supply, because the most common disasters are short-term. As a result of this premise, his recommendations include foods that do not store well long-term. Later on, he includes a brief section on foods for long-term storage, but he is clearly not a fan of large stockpiles of stored food. Much of this chapter is common-sense and basic information. The section on different types of bacteria that can make food go bad is factual, but not useful.
The author’s advice on food storage is good overall, but I disagree with some of his main points. I would suggest storing more than 30-days supply, and this in turn means that you have prefer for storage the items that keep the best. I would also focus more on storing macronutrients, and less on storing whole meals.
Bradley’s comments on sanitation and water usage has some practical tips that I had not thought of before. I was thinking of water mainly in terms of drinking and cooking. He adds that you will need a substantial amount of water for hygiene and toilet use. Also, I didn’t realize that hydrogen peroxide and vinegar could be used, in succession, as an effective disinfectant. And his proposal to collect water from transpiration is innovative. My point is that this book goes beyond basic common sense thinking to present some well-researched information.
Overall, the book is a good resource for preppers, especially if you are just starting out. But like most books in this category, the author necessarily covers many of the basics. So if you have been involved in prepping for a while, you will find some of the material too basic for you.
(2) First Aid for Babies and Children fast
by John Hopkins Children’s Center
If you have kids, you must purchase and read this book. Yes, I said “read”. Most first aid books are reference texts. You keep them around to consult, if a minor or major medical emergency occurs. But this book on first aid for kids is both a reference text and an instructional text. You should read it straight through, and also keep it around to consult in case of emergency.
The book has many clear photos showing each step to be performed for each medical situation. The text is relatively sparse, but clear and to the point. You should be able to read through the whole book in a few sittings. You might even want to practice some of the first aid techniques.
You are always better off, in terms of first aid, if you take an actual course with a real in-person instructor. Take a first aid course. But this book is particularly useful in its concise presentation of first aid for kids.
(3) Small-Scale Grain Raising
by Gene Logsdon
I enjoyed reading this book. It is not a technical manual on all the steps needed to grow grains in your backyard. Rather, it is like a long conversation with an experienced farmer on that topic. He presents the information in a convivial conversation format. His opinions and experiences are offered unvarnished, so you might not always agree. But overall the book has many good insights into the benefits and difficulties of growing grains small-scale.
Grains covered are: corn, wheat, sorghum, oats, dry beans, rye, barley, buckwheat, millet, rice, some uncommon grains and some legumes. The uncommon grains, discussed more or less briefly, include wild rice, triticale, spelt, and a few others. The book contains a fair number of recipes for using each type of grain.
The book is an enjoyable look into raising grains on a small scale. But if you decide to follow through on this project, you will need to do some further reading, as the book is light on specifics. It is more of a general discussion of the topic.
(4) Solar Gardening
by Leandre and Gretchen Poisson
I include this book on the reading list because it offers an approach to extending your survival gardening through the winter months, even without a full-size greenhouse. The basic idea in the book is to use various types of clear coverings over plants in order to increase the daytime temperature, just as a greenhouse would. This allows for more plant growth during colder months. But the crops still need to be very cold hardy, because it is not equivalent to a heated greenhouse.
The gardening approach presented by the book, in addition to using various solar covers from simple to elaborate, is labor-intensive. This book is not for the farmer, but for the backyard gardener. The soil is deeply tilled by shovel, and the fertilizers are organic. There is a great deal of specific information in this book (unlike the small-scale grains book). The authors even offer detailed suggestions on what to grow, when, depending on how cold winter might be in your area. There are also detailed plans on how to build some of the more elaborate cold-covers.
Solar Gardening by the Poissons is a very good resource book, if you live anywhere where the winters are snowy. In my opinion, gardening to grow a portion of one’s food is an important part of being prepared for various types of disasters.