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 what 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:
I’m sure that every single person who lives with electricity has, at one time or another experienced a power outage. Or at the very least woke up some morning with all of their clocks flashing 88:88. The occasional power outage is just a fact of life.
Now some folks, like myself, may have experienced even longer outages. Several years ago, a huge ice storm knocked power out where I lived for over 36 hours, and for another 6-8 hours the power was intermittent.
Long term power outages are extremely rare, but when they happen it can lead to a whole host of issues. One of which is the perishable food items in your fridge going bad.
If you experience a short term power outage, there won’t be much concern over your perishable food items. But if the outage is more long term, or even “God-forbid” permanent, you might start thinking about what foods you should eat first before they go bad. Or you might wonder if you can refreeze last night’s leftover potato casserole.
Well, here are some pointers to help you should you ever find yourself in that situation.
Typically, a normal refrigerator will keep things below 40 degrees F for about 4-6 hours after it loses power. This can vary some depending upon other factors, such as the size and settings of the refrigerator and how often you open and close the door. But it is a good rule of thumb.
However, once the refrigerator gets above 40 degrees, the clock is now ticking for many items inside. Below is a list of items that need to be thrown out if they go above 40 degrees F for 2 hours or longer. So eat these items first! (If you do not know how long your fridge has been above 40 degrees, better to err on the side of caution and toss these items.)
Part of being prepared is keeping your mind and body in decent shape. Eating right and exercise should be something you do every day. But sometimes that is not always easy. Especially when you aren’t sure if what you are eating is really healthy or not. Hopefully this article will begin to show you that sometimes, what you think is healthy may not be.
Hopefully, you are more conscience about what you eat AND what goes into the food you eat. America has become caught up in a health food craze. (That’s not a bad thing!) And trust me, the “food industry” is taking notice.
For example, many fast food restaurants are now offering “healthy” alternatives. More research is being done into GMOs. And more “health food” stores are springing up.
As a result, food companies are changing their labels and how their food is packaged and presented to the public. But as always, some of this can be a bit misleading. Here are 10 “misleading” food labels, and what they really mean!
Labeling food “natural” or “all-natural” is a really just a way to get people to think that the product is healthier than others because it comes from nature. In fact, “all-natural” is an very general and vague term for which the FDA doesn’t even have an officially recognized definition.
According to the USDA, meat can be labeled “all-natural” as long as it doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients or chemical preservatives. However, it can be full of broth or saline water.