When this study of Permaculture, Urban Gardening, small homes, emergency Preparedness started, for me, I had not read much about these subjects and had no reference books. Now, we have DVD's, web resources and many books (hard copy and digital format) that we often refer to. So I thought it might be useful to share some of the resources that have been helpful.
The three books that I have turned to repeatedly are Urban Homestead by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen, Preparedness Now! by Aton Edwards and When there is no Doctor by Gerard S. Doyle, MD. The Urban Homestead book is a great reference for practical skills in an urban garden environment. It covers basics - garden beds, to rainwater to raising small livestock, etc. The emergency preparedness book breaks down all of the possible crisis that could happen and what would be needed for each to keep your family safe and out of harm's way. The third book goes into taking care of general injuries and ailments should there be a situation (whether hiking, camping or war) where a doctor may not be readily available. One of the things that you have to take into account with all three of these books, is that they cover EVERY possible scenario, and some of it was difficult for me to read and think about, but in the day to day of life, most of the topics will not be necessary.
My thinking is that if you look at the worst case scenario and understand what may be required in that situation, and then plan for your specific family and location and the situation most likely to occur for you (for instance, we are most likely to have a blizzard, hurricane or tornado) then, no matter what happens, you will not be in a panic mode when day to day things occur.
It seems extreme to think of food shortages, gas shortages, water shortages, drought, etc., but in the past two years we have experienced all of these things in our country, and specifically the East Coast and New England have been repeatedly in need of help.
I don't plan to do surgery on anyone I know, but if we are out hiking and one of us falls and get a serious wound of some sort, I would like to know that I will be able to bandage it and act correctly to minimize the trauma and get to the hospital.
I don't plan to be without running water or electricity, but both of these things have happened unexpectedly in the past few months - a main water break in the city shut water off for all of us and then brought the possibility of contamination. There isn't any need to panic if you have a couple of 24 packs of bottled water on hand - most of us have this anyway.
Think through your day and ask yourself where you might be, what are the possible scenarios that you may have to deal with and throw an emergency kit in your car, carry a little flashlight to work in your bag in case you have to get out of a dark building or garage. Get to know your neighbors and your surroundings at work. Just be aware.
At home, we have a drawer of crank/solar flashlights and an emergency radio. Always there, we can find them in the dark if we have to. We have solar lights in the yard that can easily be brought inside if the power goes out. There are little things we can do to make a difficult situation easier.
I have talked before about our Go Bags - these are for the last resort, we need to evacuate our house situation. I don't expect that to ever happen, we cycle out the supplies every few months and refresh them, but I feel better knowing it is there if we need it. And if we go on vacation, we have a little travel bag already packed =)
We all have difficult times. Layoffs, pay cuts, prices of food increasing, gas prices, unexpected health issues, etc. Being prepared is just smart. I'm not preparing for an earthquake, I'm prepared if one of us loses our job, or if the store doesn't have something I use on a regular basis.
For me, it is mostly about having all of my faculties about me if there ever is a crisis. I've thought about the worst, and appreciate every day that I have a regular, ordinary, amazing day without having to worry about anything.
Peace of mind, for me is the greatest preparation.