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.
What is Opsec? Well, let me give you a brief example. I bought that shirt (left pic) because I thought it was funny. But I don’t wear it outside of my house. Why? Well, what does that shirt tell you? Other than I have a sense of humor, it says that I maybe I really do have a plan for the Apocalypse. And if I have a plan….then I have supplies and gear. While this is true, I don’t want everyone out there knowing it.
That is, in a nutshell, opsec for preppers. But that example is a bit over simplistic. There is more to opsec than that.
Opsec, short for Operational Security, means that you are keeping information from one or more potential adversaries. This includes people that may you not even consider to be adversaries right now, but could become so in a long-term SHTF situation. This could be neighbors, co-workers, or distant relatives etc. It could also be thugs and criminals in everyday life.
This information you want to keep under wraps can include details about you, your family or group, your gear and supplies, your home, your SHTF plans, etc. This is information that you do NOT want others to know because it could potentially be used against you if everything were to ever go to hell in a hand-basket.
For example, what happens if friends, neighbors, distant family, etc visit you in your home, and see shelves lined with row after row of food, water, medical supplies, etc? You can imagine what will be the first thing they remember in a SHTF scenario. This is especially true if they have gone a day or two without food.
Suddenly, they could be looking to you for help. Help that you may not be able to give. And in a worse case scenario, they could decide to simply take it from you if they are desperate enough.
Another example is purchasing a new, big screen TV and then leaving the box it came in out by the curb for the garbage truck. This tells everyone who happens by your house that you have a new, huge, valuable TV inside your house. Is this something you would want potential burglars to know? Your house could suddenly become a target for thieves. A target that you were not before they saw the TV box.
So with these ideas in mind, I wanted to give you some “food for thought” about keeping and maintaining a low profile with any pre-disaster prepping. And I’ll also talk a little about what to do in situations where you may not be able to keep a low profile.
I have always believed that when it comes to bugging out, (click the link to learn about when it’s time to bug out) speed is your friend. I have written articles in the past stressing the need to keep your Bug out bag/Get home bag, light weight. The faster you get to your destination, the safer you will be.
When it comes to bags, you may have heard of the old adage, ounces = pounds, pounds = pain. Because of this, I tell folks to strip away a lot of the unnecessary accessories they have packed in their BOB. This includes bulk ammunition. Sometimes this notion has be met with a little opposition.
Many preppers out there believe that being prepared also means being able to adequately defend themselves. They argue that it stands to reason that they may find themselves in a situation where they need to be armed with the ability to adequately fight back. Hence they need plenty of ammo. And in some cases, I certainly agree.
But I also believe that bugging out with an ammo stockpile could, in many situations, cause you more harm than good.
Let me explain.
The main purpose of your bag, be it a Go bag, Get Home bag, Bug Out Bag, etc is to be able to move safely and efficiently out of a danger zone. In a SHTF situation, you are most vulnerable while on the move. And I’m not talking about roving bands of marauders that so many people envision. I’m talking about being susceptible to the elements, to fatigue, to stress; being vulnerable to the unknown. Those will most likely be your enemies early on.
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.
I see A LOT of prepper videos and articles out there talking about bartering in a post TEOTWAWKI scenario. They encourage you to get gold, silver, cigarettes, ammo, etc. so that you can trade it after everything goes to hell. But I wonder if that is really a good idea? Is it a good use of your current resources to buy items solely for barter after SHTF?
I tend to think the belief and use of barter gets over-played in people’s’ SHTF scenarios in their minds. That’s not to say that barter might not happen on occasion. Barter has been around since the dawn of man. The zombie apocalypse won’t stop that. But I think in a true grid down situation, folks will be more worried about security and survival than they are trading things like gold and silver coins.
God forbid that if the grid goes down for good, there will be a time when the focus will be on merely surviving. Food, water, shelter, etc will be what is important. Having the tools and abilities to survive will be king. Those times will be the most taxing, the most trying.
Not until society has had time to “reset itself” and stabilize will barter actually come into play. Without a decent social environment and a somewhat stable economy, barter is not going to be likely. And in the rare chance it happens, it will not be without tremendous risks and peril.
Even when things may eventually begin to normalize, barter will not be as frequent or as common as many people want to believe. I think there are way too many variables that would make barter a rather rare occurrence.
With no more “Grid” there is no more Craigslist or Ebay. So finding other groups of people in your area that might actually want to trade with you may not be all that easy. I mean, I guess you could go wandering the country side looking for those groups, but that obviously comes with risks. And even if you find another group, chances are very high that they may not trust you or even want to trade with you.
For many preppers on a budget, the ability to stockpile goods and supplies might be limited. They may have to stock just a little at a time. And in that case, I hope that they are not stockpiling items which maybe they shouldn’t.
I wanted to take a look at some items that you may NOT want to stock pile long-term and the reasons why. I also try to have some alternatives available as well.
Many of the items listed below are items you SHOULD have in a disaster, so do NOT think I’m saying not to have these items. Instead, I’m saying that in your long-term planning (i.e. the grid goes down for an extended time) these are items you should think about having alternative plans and options for.
Now hear me out. NO ONE out there understands the importance of good, quality toilet paper more than I do. I always have several weeks’ supply on hand. But there is a big draw back to trying to hoard toilet paper long-term.
The problem is that large amounts of toilet paper are bulky and take up a lot of room. For me, in an urban setting, I have trouble storing more than a month’s supply for my family. So if a true long-term disaster struck, beyond 3 to 4 weeks I’ll be in a crappy situation.
The average person uses over 100 rolls of TP per year. Now multiple that times the number of your family members/group. That’s a lot of room for a hoard of TP! And yes, my family goes through AT LEAST that much TP.