A while back, I wrote an article for folks that are brand new to prepping. If you missed it, click here to read it. Anyway, I got some positive feedback on that article, but I also received a few emails asking me to be a bit more specific. They wanted to know where and what they should start with first.
In particular, one email from a lady told me she was on a fixed, very tight income. She had very limited resources, and was asking me what should be the priorities for her, even more so than in the above listed article. I could tell from her email she was feeling a bit overwhelmed. She wanted to be more prepared, but could not spend very much each month.
That’s understandable. Beginning preparedness can feel like a daunting task. You can also look at everything you might potentially need, and feel concerned because your funds are limited. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
I have decided to break down that beginning prepping article a bit more, and go into detail as to what I believe should be your top priorities if you are on a budget. Keep in mind that these are the top priorities in almost every disaster scenario, NOT just a huge SHTF event. As always, I stress that you need to start with the most probable scenarios, and work your way outward.
For this article, I’m assuming that you already have developed emergency plans. That to me is your obvious #1 priority. Failing to plan is planning to fail, and hope is not a plan. Instead, this article will focus on what resources you should be collecting first. (For more info on preparedness planning, click here.)
These categories are listed in order of importance (in my opinion). For each category I list the basics for that category that you should work on first. Once you have the basics in that category covered, move on to the next. Or if you can, try to cover more than one category at a time! For example, I list water storage over food storage. (3 days without water/3 weeks without food.) But if you can cover both categories at the same time, you are that much further ahead.
At the end of each category I will list “additional” items. These are items that while I feel are important, they are areas/items that you can come back to once you have all of your basics covered.
When outside companies ask me to do a review of their products, I sometimes have just a little bit of trepidation. For example, what happens if the company sends me their product and I do not like it? That could lead to some awkward moments. So I have tried to be selective of what products I review. There have been products I have turned down for this very reason. Anything that I recommend on this site are products/gear/supplies that I have, own, use, and would stand behind.
So when Valley Food Storage approached me to do a review some of their long-term food storage products, there was a bit of anxiety. What if we tried the food and didn’t like it? What if the product was not up to standards?
Still, having stored a lot of beans, rice, and flour, I also knew that if the grid went down for a long time, food boredom is a very real problem. Valley Food Storage has a pretty wide variety of foods. So I decided that I’d give it a try. I agreed to trying it and writing a review. The fact that their products have no MSGs, GMOs, and that they have a gluten-free options was a big reason I decided to give it a go.
So on a Sunday afternoon, my mother and I sat down in her kitchen, and cooked everything they sent us. From almost the get-go, I realized that my apprehension was completely UNFOUNDED! Just smelling the food as we opened the bags help to set my mind at ease. I was not disappointed!
Valley Food Storage sent me 4 entrées and 3 fruits to try. 3 of the 4 entries came in a thick Mylar bags that are vacuum sealed. We noticed that all the bags are resealable. If you only use part of the contents, you can “zip-lock” the bags shut to help them stay fresh. Unopened, the food is guaranteed for up to 25 years. But being able to reseal between uses is nice.
For this review, both my mother and myself will be adding our comments. For Cheryl L’s part of the review, it will be in quotes. Also note that she has purchased long-term food storage similar to these from other companies. So she will be comparing Valley Foods to the other companies products that she has.
I receive emails quite often from people who are new to prepping. A few says they have thought about it for a while, but haven’t really got started. I’m sure it can feel like a daunting and overwhelming process to the beginner. But it does not have to be.
Being prepared is really not hard if you approach it the right way. If you are brand new to prepping, or just aren’t sure where to begin, here are 5 easy steps to help get you started.
There are plenty of links throughout this article dealing with many various prepper topics. These are a great source of information, so please be sure to check them out.
#1 Begin with a Plan
Start off by sitting down and figuring out your plans would be if you have an emergency or disaster. Making plans now will help you to not feel lost or overwhelmed should a catastrophe strike. Failing to plan is planning to fail. And hope is not a plan!
In the beginning, I would not plan for worst case scenario. Instead, start off with the more realistic and probable scenarios. (The more extreme the event, the less likely it is to occur.) These scenarios should be based upon your location, situation, and the conditions you are in or could realistically be in.
For example, if you live along the Gulf Coast, hurricanes are a realistic possibility. So having hurricane plans makes sense. I know states like Montana and Idaho are subject to winter storms. I live in “tornado alley”, and have planned accordingly. Many large metropolitan cities are seeing an increase of violence, and riots are now something (click the link for more details) that urban city dwellers might consider planning for.
Most emergencies don’t have to be regional or even local. Job loss, medical emergencies, house fire, car wrecks, etc are all things you should be prepared for that are specific to you and your family.
When the proverbial “poop” hits the fan, should you ride out the SHTF event at home? Or should you hit the open road for safer areas? This question has perplexed preppers for years, and understandably so. Many preppers prefer the safety and comfort of home, and make their plans accordingly. Others have a sense of adventure and excitement, and yearn for the day that SHTF so they can take off and leave civilization (or what remains of it) behind!
In reality, both have merits that we will cover here. Let’s take a look…
For most emergency and disaster scenarios, bugging in should be the preferable way to go. The vast majority of emergencies are localized, and you can ride out these events by simply being prepared at home. FEMA recommends having a 3 day supply of food and water, though most preppers will have much more than that. With enough supplies and equipment on hand, staying home during a disaster is typically the smart thing to do.
Bugging in during a disaster has numerous advantages to bugging out:
- Familiar resources – you know the layout of your home, and the areas where your gear and supplies are located. Storing supplies and gear is WAY easier than trying to move it! You should also know about local sources of water (lakes and streams), grocery stores, etc that are close by
- Familiar location – you should have detailed knowledge of the area around your home and neighborhood. Where is the closest grocery store? Hospital? Police station? Are there side streets you can use to avoid heavily congested main roads?
- Familiar People – you should at least have working knowledge of your neighbors and people living in close proximity to you. Neighbors you can trust and/or have useful skills. You should also keep in mind about neighbors or people who could be potential problems in larger, more dangerous emergencies.
- Safety and security – During times of disaster, movement is not without perils. And I’m not just talking about roving bands of marauders. Things such as torn up roads and buildings can present dangers and unseen hazards. So to can the outside elements. Freezing rain is a lot easier to deal with when you are inside! And it is should be easier to defend yourself inside your own home as opposed to being out on the open road.
If you do not have a bug in plan, start developing one now. As I stated, a vast majority of emergencies can be ridden out safely by simply being prepared at home. If a tornado hits your area (but misses you house) and you are without power for a few days, staying home with your preps would seem like the logical thing to do. A sudden snow storm leaves you home bound and without power…now you put your bug in plans into place.
A while back, I wrote an article on my friend Graywolf’s site about false knowledge. I noted some “TV survival shows” and commented that doing some of what they prescribed was foolish.
I am pleased that these shows are making people more aware that their own safety and security is ultimately up to them. But what they show is Hollywood fiction.
So in an effort to steer folks away from the “Action packed, drama filled, scripted” TV survival shows, I thought I would list some common “Survival myths”. These myths are not true. But for whatever reason they continue to be passed on as fact. These are in no particular order.
I’ll hunt for my food during a long term, grid down event
No matter what your skills as a hunter are, those skills are USELESS if there is nothing to left hunt. In a true SHTF long term event, the animals available to hunt will be exhausted relatively quickly.
Using the deer population in the US for example, deer numbered around 32 million or so in 2014. With over 300 million people in the US alone, and the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, you can connect the dots and see the potential ramifications when you have that many hungry people with 267 million or so guns.
A large number of people do not know how to hunt let alone field dress an animal. But that would not stop them from trying. Hunger is a POWERFUL motivator.
Yes, suddenly the number of hunters in the US would EXPLODE. And the rules and regulations in place to help ensure that the animal population remains intact would be right out the window.
Unfortunately, it won’t be just the deer. The entire animal population would be sent into free fall. Small game, birds, fish, etc will be wiped out as the shrinking human population become more desperate for dwindling resources.
And once wild animals are gone, “Whiskers, Mittens, and Fido” are up next. If it moves, chances are someone will be hunting it. And with it the sustainability of animals as food would most likely cease to be.
Having clean drinking water is the third most important aspect of being prepared and ready in the event of a disaster. (Your need for oxygen is first, and keeping your core body temperature at 98.6 degrees is second!)
Unfortunately, when it comes to water, many people will either a) not store any water at all, or b) put back a few gallons and figure they are all set. But if you are looking at long term planning, than that is simply not enough!
Everyone by now should be familiar with the rule of storing at least a gallon of water per person per day, for a minimum of three days. And if you weren’t familiar with it, you are now.
If you are like me, you are thinking MORE than just 3 days worth of water. Instead, you are looking “long term”. You know that in many cases, a 3 day supply may not be enough, and you want to be prepared in case something more substantial happens. So now what?
Well, let me give you some guidelines and ideas to help you prepare your long term water storage and purification plans.
Knowing which containers you can safely store water in of paramount importance to water storage. Using the wrong containers can easily pollute your water and make it undrinkable. So here are some quick tips when it comes to water storage containers: