The Prepper’s Notebook

July 15, 2011

EMP, Prepper Mindset

The internet provides a wonderful encyclopedia of information on every topic imaginable.  I could easily lose hours jumping from one topic to another following links in the sidebars of blogs and news articles.  I frequently download or copy and paste information into “documents” to refer to later.  But have you ever considered what you would do for information if your computer stopped working?

Build Your Own Library

We have collected a nice library of books on animal husbandry, gardening, wilderness survival, plant identification, nutrition and cooking, sewing, and so on.  They are fantastic references that we will no doubt go to time and again.

Sometimes, though, the topic of interest isn’t book-length or not available as a book at all.  Maybe it is a magazine article or chart or checklist.  It’s great to have a copy saved on your computer, but in the case of an extended power outage or EMP, that won’t do you much good.

I suggest that you begin printing copies of everything you save on your computer and put it in a large notebook (or two or three).  Our main notebook is a 4 inch heavy duty binder with lots of subject dividers.  Here are some of the titles on the tabs:

  • Preparedness Supply Lists
  • Food Storage Info
  • Recipes Using Food Storage
  • Health Care Info
  • Homemade Versions of Store Bought Items
  • DIY Directions
  • Forage Plant Info
  • Solar Power/Electricity

Prepare For Life Without Google

It is part of the prepper’s mindset to prepare for contingencies and a very significant one would be the need for information, especially in difficult times.  Try to get in the habit of making a copy of all the bits of information that you have gotten in the habit of “just googling.”

Homemade laundry detergent recipe? Chart listing what vitamins are found in which foods?  Rhyme for remembering which berries are poisonous? Instructions for making rechargeable solar nightlights for the kids?  Print ‘em and file ‘em!

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19 Comments on “The Prepper’s Notebook”

  1. Bonnie (valentinoswife) Says:

    I so agree with this point! We always backup all our important files — and it is nice to say we want to be prepared for life without power — but it is as simple as a dead computer! Our friend just had a laptop die — a slow painful death no one could prevent — and she lost years of music, photos, etc.! Backup!Backup! Backup!
    We have gone so far now to save multiple notebooks – old 3-ring binders we made new labels for. One is practical hints, one is food storage lists, inventories, and hints, one is how-to’s, one is herbs, one is vegetables, and one is canning and other favorite recipes for food storage. I have been at this less than 6 months but oiur food storage is easily growing as well as our gardening and our notebooks!


    • Joe Says:

      That’s great, Bonnie.

      Something that we’ve been intending to do but haven’t yet is to create a subset of the notebook to keep in our vehicles as part of our get home bag. It doesn’t have to be the entire set of materials though.

      For example, if I’m 40 miles from home when an EMP hits, I don’t really need to know how to make soap from scratch, but I may like a few pages from the wild edibles section, etc.


  2. Arsenius the Hermit Says:

    I keep everything important to me on disks. The disks and an older laptop are in a home made Faraday cage. I got one of those little solar panel kits from Amazon to power that rig if I ever need it. I probably should keep paper copies, I know Rawles advocates that, but I’ve never gotten around to it.


    • Strataholic Says:

      Something to keep in mind is that laptop batteries are not really designed to last for years. Most computer manufacturers consider a battery pretty exceptional if it lasts longer than a couple years. They wear out like the tires on a car – especially if they get charged/discharged a lot or if they just sit up for a while.

      When I first started, I was storing most of the articles and information I found on my desktop system with multiple backups on USB keys. I’ve still got it all on the USB keys for easy sharing with friends, but now I’ve also got everything either printed in three ring binders or transcribed into journal style notebooks. Just some thoughts.


  3. Laura Says:


    I’m so glad to hear you’ve made such good progress in a short period of time. You really can make headway when it becomes a priority.

    The possibility of a computer crash is all too real. I would hate to know I have so much important information locked inside a useless machine. I think once I reach a certain point with the notebooks, I will dedicate one each for the biggest subjects. What I probably have most of at this point is recipes I’ve found online that either use long-term food storage items or could be easily converted to use them.

    In the book Lucifer’s Hammer (I think), there was a character who very carefully secured books on every topic he thought would be needed to rebuild a society. I think about that a lot. The other day, I caught part of a “why Rome was great” kind of show on the History channel. They were talking about why Roman concrete was superior to the mortar that had been used before. Our world is so specialized and computer-driven. I wondered how many people even know what goes into concrete, how to build a bridge that won’t collapse, and so on. Most people don’t even know how to grow a successful garden.


    I haven’t seen a solar kit like you’ve mentioned (I don’t think). About what ballpark figure are we talking about? Solar things are all over the board in price. I’ll have to look for one. We did get one that will recharge batteries and I need to try it out.


  4. Arsenius the Hermit Says:

    I think I paid $130.00 for mine. It is a solar panel that charges your laptop battery through trickle charging. I am trying to think who had a good write up on it that I used to pick one out. It was a blog I read pretty often. Let me see if I can find it and I’ll send you the link to the posting.


  5. Dee in OK Says:

    I have a Solar Joos ($99) that will charge my phone and Kindle but can’t find anything for less that $400 to charge the laptop.
    The Kindle and smart phone are great for keeping documents that I cut-and-paste from the web. I also back them up to CD, DVD and USB however, you can’t beat paper.
    Look forward to hearing about the trickle charger.


    • Joe Says:

      Nice, Dee. I was hiking recently and saw that someone else had a small solar panel sewn into their backpack. I asked him about it; it was to charge his cellphone and ipod.


  6. Jeff Says:

    My family has 3-ring binders as well as CD’s and USB thumb drives. We have a family Go Box with printed instructions and content lists included in case we’re separated. I carry one of those thumb drives in my pack everyday. I also bought as many books as I could both in paper form and in ebook form as I always carry an iPhone and an iPad. The iPad is a lot lighter and more manageable than physical books.
    My wife and I have started using GoalZero solar panels to charge things when necessary. It’s easy to find their products on-line and I have no affiliation with them. Every GoalZero item I have has been purchased at my own expense. The main point here as that they have a line of adapters such as one to combine solar panels to increase wattage and charge rates. We even bought the adapter that allows us to charge SLA batteries or car batteries via alligator clips. There are tons of options out there to charge vital stuff when you need it. As an aside: the best rechargeable AA’s and AAA’s I’ve found and used are the Sanyo Eneloops. Worth every penny. Cheers



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