Editor’s Note: I originally posted this article on the Prepper Journal back on January 28, 2013.
There is always a very healthy dialog on all sides of any issue when it comes to Survival or the Preparedness movement. From Bug Out Bags to firearm recommendations and caliber pros/cons. What an individual should be Prepping for, or more precisely how they should start prepping themselves is no different.
Within our community there are such a myriad of opinions and advise on any topic. The Prepper Journal should be a forum for discussions and I want to kick it off right here by tackling How to start Prepping. I welcome all of your comments and expertise.
If you take everything we could cover on the subject of prepping and list all of the permutations for each scenario, the list would be rather lengthy. Actually thinking about this list and everything you need to do can start to hurt your brain. Everything that needs to be done and purchased and planned for can be overwhelming. I have personally spoken to people who begin to wake up to the idea that they need to prepare and they feel a sense of urgency and then one thing leads to another and they shut down. “Why Bother”? There is no way they can do everything that needs to be done.
It is at this time I like to recall one of my families favorite movies, “What about Bob?” and the mantra that the main character is coached to say over and over again is “Baby Steps”. If you have never seen the movie, here is a clip below.
So, how to start? You can never have every tool, skill, weapon, supply or retreat option that you will ever need and most people won’t have the resources to buy everything they need before they may need it. You have to start somewhere.
Start with a Plan. – A plan is what gets you thinking about everything you need to do. I personally scoured websites for a lot of information, read several books and watched a ton of YouTube movies on the subject. Then I wrote down everything I thought I would need to get me to “Phase 1”. What was Phase 1? That was my imaginary line in the sand of the basics. Just the minimal supplies and equipment that I thought I would need to be marginally better off than 90 percent of my neighbors. Think about who you are prepping for. Are you only looking out for yourself or do you have others in your family? Do you have kids younger than teenagers who may not be able to carry their own load? Do you have older parents or grandparents you need to care for? Knowing the scope of people you will be responsible for, or who you think may count on you when the SHTF is important for a couple of reasons. First, you can begin planning based on numbers (6 people plus 2 pets for example) and second you can start thinking about what you will need to do when people you haven’t planned for come knocking.
Establish a priority – If I were to take everything I need or think I need to be 100 percent prepared it would be that long list we talked about. Now, if you are anything like me you aren’t a billionaire with money to burn so I have to pick and choose what my family is going to purchase and when. There is no secret formula for this and every situation is different but here is how I would prioritize things. Water, Security, Shelter, Food, Money.
Water – If you haven’t heard of the rule of 3’s it goes something like this. “A person can survive for three minutes without air,three hours without shelter, three days without water, three weeks without food.” Now you may be asking yourself, “Why didn’t you put air first”? And if you are, it’s because I think that if you don’t have any air, we have bigger problems. Nobody should be worried about lugging around oxygen tanks. OK, so lets take the most likely scenario and deal with shelter next. You don’t have water. A normal person needs 1 gallon of water per day to survive that counts hygiene also. I think that you can skip a few showers and it wouldn’t be that much provided you aren’t sweating a lot but lets stay with 1 gallon. If you have 4 people in your family and a couple of pets lets say 5 gallons of water gets you one day. You can buy 55 gallon jugs, fill them up and start that way or you can buy 5 5-gallon jugs and that gets your family 5 days without any water. Is it enough to last you for the entire zombie apocalypse? No, but its a good start. If you are near water, buy a good water filtration system or install rain barrels to really increase your supply. Baby Steps.
Security – This category will be worth a hundred other posts but for this one, lets just say you need a way to protect yourself and your family. Again, every person’s situation is different. You may live in New York or Chicago where firearms are basically illegal. Maybe you have a baseball bat. That isn’t ideal, but its something. You need to think in terms of how you can defend yourself. It may be that all you can do is carry a taser or mace. That’s a start. Maybe you get the Crovel? For others I would say ideally you need for each adult member of your family a handgun, shotgun and AR or AK. That can quickly add up, so if you are starting from scratch I would recommend a shotgun before you purchase anything else. Why? Because they are relatively cheap (less than $200), you don’t need a permit to buy and can not only scare people but they can do a lot of damage. After that you have to consider your options. An AR would be the best bet, but since the latest flurry of government threats to take them all, the prices are off the chart and supply is very low. You can probably still score a good deal at a gun show, but time is running out I think. Get your shotgun while you can and then move on to a pistol. I won’t debate pistol caliber’s but a 12 gauge shotgun is a great start. Baby Steps.
Shelter – For most people you have a house, apartment or somewhere to live so why do you need to worry about Shelter? Just look at Hurricane Sandy or Katrina. What if you couldn’t live in your house or had to evacuate for some reason. Shelter would be nice to have. A tent that you can carry (think backpacking) is great. A tarp and means to support it (para cord works great) will suffice. If you have or are in cold weather, I also count as shelter sleeping bags and plenty of warm out-door gear to include great footwear. You may be walking. Or, the power or heat may be out. Do you have a heater that doesn’t use electricity? Barring all else, to you have warm clothes and blankets? Baby Steps.
Food – This is one area that I think we initially make over complicated. The average family doesn’t have more than 3 days worth of food in their pantry according to some experts. I think it would more likely be that people could make it a week. Again, they wouldn’t be eating well, but they could exhaust everything they have. You can think about this in terms of how long you want to go without being hungry. You can run out and buy boxes of freeze-dried food or you can simply buy some more items that you normally eat. Ideally it would be both, but we are starting here. It is pretty easy to take your one week supply and build that up to two weeks, then a month if you put your mind to it. It does take discipline and remember this isn’t like Christmas. You shouldn’t go put another month’s worth of groceries on the credit card. Build your supplies slowly, rotate your stock and you will begin to be more ready for any supply disruptions that happen. Baby Steps.
Money – There are a lot of ways you can do this depending on what you believe is the most likely scenario. Even if we are talking about $20 a month you have to start saving and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the bank. I personally think each person should have cash on hand and some precious metals like Gold or Silver stashed away. The first thing to happen would be that you can’t get your money out of the bank. It does you no good to have $10,000 in the bank if they won’t let you take it out. We will discuss later why this is a very real possibility. So buy some Silver; its cheaper than gold, keep some cash on hand and this will give you some security if it all heads south before you can make it to the ATM.
Is that all you need to do? No! I don’t want you to think this is an all-encompassing post either, but it is a start for people who don’t have the first clue where to begin. My personal list was probably a whole page of notes and included a lot of things I don’t yet have, and in all honesty may never acquire but that’s OK. I am not going to sweat what I don’t have (too much) but I will keep striving to be better prepared. I am still working on my preps too, but I have most of the basics covered and I feel more comfortable about building on the preps I have. You will too, if you start with Baby Steps.