If you are new to prepping it can be really challenging to know where to start. A simple internet search on any prepping related topic will furnish dozens upon dozens of results.
This fire hose of information can in turn lead to a bit of paralysis by analysis. Where do you start? Who do you listen to? What is really most important? It might sound silly if you’ve been prepping for years but as a newcomer this anxiety can put a serious damper on your initiative.
Everyone started somewhere, and no matter if you are brand-new or have a little survival seasoning having a reference to guide your efforts can save you considerable energy, grief and time.
Even greenhorn preppers know that getting where you’re going is far easier when you have a map. It is no different than preparing for any complex endeavor: knowing the most efficient route to your destination, along with where the twists, turns and pitfalls are will keep you safe.
In this article, we’ll provide you with that road map. Consider this your prepping 101 guide.
Why Prepare at All?
Even at the tail end of 2019 you’ll get looks from people when you tell them you’re interested in prepping and self-sufficiency. Personal readiness and responsibility is more socially acceptable than any time in the past three decades but still has a certain stigma about it among those that breathe the rarefied air.
It may strike you as strange, but some people see prepping as a strange hobby or even a lifestyle choice that is wholly unnecessary: in this modern age of safety, security and 24/7 surveillance and emergency services the notion that you might want to be your own first responder seems strange and quaint. But those people would be wrong.
The present still furnishes all kinds of ways to get maimed or killed. Disasters great and small can overtake you at any time. Man-made or natural makes no difference.
When seconds count, emergency responders will only be minutes away. If you can’t fend for yourself and take care of problems as they arise it might cost you or your family your lives. Even considering any other alternative is doing nothing more than choosing helplessness.
It was not so long ago that what we call prepping was known to our ancestors by another name. They just called it “living”. Back in their day, if you weren’t ready for any trouble coming down the turnpike it was all on you and the generosity of your friends, family and Neighbors.
While most were eager to help it was considered the height of bad form and irresponsibility to get caught unprepared. It didn’t matter if it was bad weather, a bad harvest, a drought, a cattle war, a wildfire, a plague or anything else: you were expected to be ready. Failing to do so was to let down those you care about.
That reasoning holds true today. Prepping has always been a thing; we just called it something else back then. Today if you choose to give up the lifestyle of dependency, of relying on other people to ride to the rescue, you’ll get something else in return: you’ll get freedom.
You’ll get freedom from the fear that the next bad turn may be your last or end life as you know it. You and your family, even your community will be more durable and more able to survive life’s ups and downs.
Getting this type of independence from life’s curveballs drastically increase your confidence and with confidence comes peace of mind. With peace of mind comes less stress and better quality of life. Consider prepping something you can do to make yourself outcome independent.
Danger in all Shapes and Sizes
When most people hear “prepping” or “prepper” their thoughts typically turn to the classic doomsday or end-of-the-world scenario and the people who practice and prepare in order to survive such a titanic event.
Well, we can argue amongst ourselves the efficacy of preparing for something that is supposed to be the actual end of the world but both critic and adherent alike fail to take into account that you are far more likely to be killed or maimed by lesser events.
The daily emergencies and seasonal disasters that wreck havoc all across America and the world cost thousands their lives and inflict billions and billions of dollars in damage annually.
While prepping to survive a gamma ray burst, global ice age or super volcano has a certain cachet to it, training and preparing to survive a car accident, hurricane, a fire or flood does not.
Considering you are many, many thousands of times more likely to be killed by any of the latter than any of the former, it begs the question: Do you have your priorities in order?
You can and should prepare for disasters large and small, but if you are preparing predominantly for the former and not the latter, you should change that.
It is the small daily crises and the more common mundane natural disasters that you will likely see in your lifetime, even several times in your lifetime. In the section below I’m going to list a few examples of each. Any of them can kill you, maim you or otherwise severely hamper your life.
Emergencies: Daily Mishaps, Misadventures and Mayhem
If your plan for dealing with daily emergencies is calling 911, you are doing things wrong. These “little” daily mishaps and emergencies can sneak up on you. They aren’t the most fun things in the world to prepare for but they can still kill you.
Car wrecks – One of the most common emergencies in America hundreds upon hundreds happen every day. Nearly 40,000 people die in car accidents every year and over 2 million are injured.
Preventing a car accident is a combination of driving skill, awareness and paying attention to the road and the other vehicles on it. Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident requires first aid skills medical equipment and potentially extrication techniques.
Mugging and Robbery
There are over 1 million combined assaults in the US every single year. Home invasions are increasingly common. Dealing with a violent aggressor means you’ll need to know self-defense skills, both employing weaponry and using just your fists and feet. If you want to avoid becoming a victim you’ll need to not look like one and learn situational awareness.
It might be a lame way to die but you are more likely to die in and because of your own home I just about anything else besides heart attack or cancer.
From slick tile leading to a cracked head to an unfortunate mishap with a power tool or a tumble off the roof we are perhaps more likely to be hurt in our own homes due to our comfort and familiarity while there. Dealing with household accidents always requires first aid skills.
This is probably the last entry you expected to see on a list of daily disasters but considering that most Americans and ergo most preppers are living paycheck-to-paycheck that means loss of a job will soon lead to financial insolvency and potentially to homelessness.
One way you can hedge yourself against job loss is by stockpiling necessities- food, water, fuel- not just money.
The 1 million-plus residential and commercial fires that occur in the United States each year cause hundreds of deaths and leave many more people financially ruined and homeless.
You can be more prepared for residential fire by decreasing your fire risk and installing early warning systems and fire extinguishers. Getting out of a burning building alive is a matter of having a plan rehearsing it and acting quickly.
Rioting and other violent protests are an increasingly common sight in our politically charged landscape. Getting caught in a fast forming mob of people is a surefire way to be severely beaten or killed.
Rioters often lockdown roads, flip over cars and set fires to businesses. While they cause considerable property damage, the risk to those they deem the others or the opposition is far greater.
Riots often begin life as protests when something enrages and sets off the mob. For this reason you should stay far away from any protests, especially political ones.
Running from or getting out of the way of an oncoming riot is the smartest course of action, but surviving one requires special skills, not least of which being blending in to avoid being targeted.
While all of the above events are certainly terrible and can affect a handful of people, if not just yourself, real disasters often affect entire communities and are never in no short supply. Disasters can be both natural and man-made.
Depending on the type of disaster it can affect part of your town or even an entire county. The primary difference between a localized disaster and something worse is that life more or less goes on as normal outside of the affected area.
The iconic twister is a seasonal and deadly threat in most parts of the US, but these are particularly common and dangerous for those living in the Great Plains and in particular the region known as Tornado Alley.
Any tornado is dangerous and can create severe property damage and loss of life, but the most powerful can scour entire towns right off the map, leveling buildings and even hurling train cars like toys.
Tornadoes form and travel so quickly you will not have time to get out of the way if one spawns near you but if you do have early warning you will be afforded the opportunity to take shelter.
Surviving a tornado is a matter of seeking hard shelter, a little luck and then having the tools and know-how to survive in the aftermath.
Flooding kills thousands the world over every year and even areas that are not particularly known for flooding can flood and do so quickly if enough rain is dumped on the area.
Fast moving flash flood waters can sweep away and drown people and bowl cars over. The loss of power & utilities is common during any flood event.
Depending on where your house is located, surviving a flood itself may be simple enough but it is surviving the aftermath that is often difficult; areas inundated with floodwaters make rescue, cleanup and repair operations difficult and lacking clean water and access to proper sanitation disease often runs rampant.
Industrial areas all across the nation house hazardous chemicals of all kinds. Furthermore, tanker trucks and train cars carry them to and fro fueling commerce and manufacturing.
Through negligence or accident, these chemicals are spilled or their tanks ruptured where they then cause all kinds of chaos. These chemicals can ignite, become airborne or enter water supplies and impose serious, persistent health threats to all unprotected people in the area.
Surviving a chemical spill, assuming you aren’t right on top of it when it happens, is a matter of reacting quickly to emergency alerts, and protecting your lungs and skin from exposure.
Excepting the most coordinated and extreme attacks (ala the September 11th Terror attacks on the U.S., for instance) most terror attacks are localized events targeting crowded civilian locations to maximize fear and casualties.
Explosives, vehicle mow-downs, and guns are commonly used to inflict casualties. If you are paying attention to who and what is going on around you can avoid a terror attack, but should you find yourself caught up in one surviving it will depend largely on your defensive skills and medical training.
A regional disaster is definitely a one-up over their more localized brethren in intensity and effect. Regional disasters can affect multiple counties even entire States and severely disrupt society and day to day life and commerce. Most regional disasters are natural, but a few are man-made.
Hurricanes are the largest and most powerful storms that occur on Earth. While their peak wind speeds are not as fast as tornadoes, hurricanes make up for it by sowing devastation over a far wider area than any tornado.
Packing a triple threat of strong winds, devastating storm surge and torrential rain causing prolonged and severe flooding, hurricanes will devastate entire states and ruinously demolish whole cities. The worst hurricanes can change the landscape or a coastline.
The smartest thing you can do is flee from a hurricane since you’ll almost always be able to see one coming thanks to modern weather radar and weather reporting.
If you can’t get out of the way or find yourself trapped somewhere that a hurricane is going to strike you will need to be prepared for a tough survival situation.
Blizzards are ferocious winter storms that herald extremely cold temperatures and high winds along with ice and tremendous amounts of snowfall. Blizzards can encase entire states in their wintry grip freezing everything solid and bringing all normal societal functions to a complete halt.
Loss of power is common with blizzards and with it the ability to heat your home. Risk of exposure is always a huge threat with blizzards as is the ability to procure food and sometimes water.
While the most well-equipped states can at least keep the roads clear during a blizzard, to survive one you’ll need ample supplies of all the survival essentials.
While most volcanic eruptions warrant little more than a blurb on the evening news, a super volcano eruption is an entirely different animal.
A super volcano can erupt with the force of a small nuclear weapon, releasing a pyroclastic flow that will wipe out everything in its path and blanketing entire regions with a coat of toxic ash and gas.
The effects on the local environment, plants and animals alike, will be tremendous. Surviving one of these monsters is mostly a matter of getting away from one, far away from one, when you have the chance.
The United States has been host to several major blackouts in its history, each one serving as a sort of herald of worse things to come thanks to our crumbling, aged infrastructure.
Our modern society relies on electricity to function. Without it commerce mostly stops: Refrigeration will end, food will spoil and computer systems, long the coordinators of our businesses, hospitals and other important installations, will be crippled or see their efficiency greatly reduced.
Blackouts are often a secondary effect of major disasters, or they can occur all by themselves through negligence on behalf of human operators.
While you won’t really be able to stop a blackout, you can prepare for one by keeping a stock of everything you’ll need to survive without electricity on hand, especially flashlights headlamps and batteries.
More advanced preps include installation of a backup generator or potentially a solar farm with battery banks.
Disasters that occur with a global or national impact are closing in on truly apocalyptic events. These are genuine SHTF situations. Chances are life and society at large will never be the same after one of these occur.
While you should pray that they never do, it is possible to prepare for and with some luck survive the unimaginable.
If you care to read back through the history books you’ll see a long track record of germs giving it to humanity good and hard.
While something akin to the Spanish Flu or the Black Death sounds unthinkable to our modern sensibilities we are only one mutation or contact with one unknown germ away from repeating either of those scenarios all over again.
Viral and bacterial pandemics have resulted in hundreds of millions of deaths over the centuries. Another nightmare scenario is the cultivation of a biological weapon of untold potency.
There is not much you can do to avoid a true pandemic except live in the middle of nowhere away from the rest of humanity. Your only chance of survival will be strict adherence sanitation and protection protocols.
The unthinkable Cold War scenario has dimmed but it’s far from extinct. There are thousands upon thousands of nuclear weapons sitting in silos, loaded onto planes, and carried unseen and unheard beneath the waves aboard submarines.
Who knows how many smaller weapons are in the hands or nearly so of rogue states, fanatical terrorists and other malicious actors? All it will take is the detonation of one nuclear weapon to let the atomic genie out of the bottle and invite a similar response from the targeted country.
It is not hard to imagine how one will lead to two, will lead to ten, will lead to a hundred.
Surviving a nuclear war is almost impossible to imagine if you live in a built-up area. Assuming you do survive, the world will be in the grip a new and unprecedented era, one where famine and nuclear winter will be the rule.
You can, indeed, survive a nuclear detonation if you’re able to make it to hardened cover quickly enough (and are beyond the annihilating destruction of ground zero), but then you’ll need to seek shelter from the ensuing fallout. Prolonged survival and sustainment in the post-nuclear world is another matter entirely.
This is probably the SHTF disaster with the biggest odds of happening. We’ve seen the global markets crash before, and there’s no reason to think it won’t happen again. Get out of debt, get your finances in check and learn as much as you can about economic collapses.
An EMP, or electromagnetic pulse, will emanate from a nuclear weapon detonation as a secondary effect, but can also occur as a natural phenomenon due to solar activity.
A high-altitude EMP generated by a coordinated nuclear strike that knocked the majority of the United States back to the pre-Industrial Age was chillingly illustrated in William Forstchen’s One Second After.
An EMP will burn up any electrical device that is more advanced than a vacuum tube, so anything with a circuit board will be history.
Think of everything in life that uses a computer chip and wave goodbye to it. Cars. Computers. Cell phones. Radios. All will be destroyed or rendered inoperable as a result of such an event. Now, older electric technology will survive but such things are in short supply in 2020.
EMPs are terrifying because they will quite literally turn back the clock on mankind’s progress in an instant. Everything from life-support machines and cell phone towers will instantly be ruined.
Preparing for an EMP is mostly about knowing how to survive and thrive in the absence of modern technology, and that starts with reducing your dependency on it.
It may be theoretically possible to shield sensitive devices using a Faraday cage, but no reliable testing with a “live” event has been conducted. Hardened electronics systems are available, but rare and beyond the reach of most consumers.
Major Asteroid Impact
…like the pandemic scenario above we already have a template for this mega-disaster. A major asteroid impact killed the dinosaurs and nearly scoured all life from Earth.
One only has to turn their eyes to the American West to see the meteor crater in Arizona, itself a separate but no doubt devastating celestial event. NASA and other concerned parties have assured us that such a situation is vanishingly rare but in the next breath also tell us that they do not know where all Earth-threatening asteroids are at any given time. Plainly stated, they miss some.
The largest plausible asteroids that might hit Earth will impact with many times the force of the strongest nuclear weapons in history. Aside from the immediate loss of life the first order and ongoing ecological effects will be massive.
Ash and vaporized matter heaved in the atmosphere will block out the sun, chilling the earth and ushering in a new global ice age.
Prepping Benchmarks – Levels of Readiness
If all of the above seems scary or even overwhelming, well, that’s why you need a guide! There is a logical progression you should follow when preparing for any disaster and the way to begin is, as always, at the beginning.
Awesome folks will seize on and direct all their energies to preparing for and surviving a titanic, apocalyptic scenario with the idea that being ready for something that bad in essence prepares you for anything lesser. While a fine thought, this is not entirely true.
You really can miss the forest for the trees, and in the case of the true “Doomsday Prepper” they will often neglect basic but vital survival skills in favor of hoarding massive amounts of supplies thinking that if they get far enough away, dig deep enough, store enough that they can somehow ride out the end of the world.
While I admire their passion, I’m far more worried that they may meet their doom from some mundane and entirely preventable occurrence.
To reduce your learning curve, minimize mistakes and cover the most important bases first you should seek to get ready for emergencies and small-scale disasters before working your way up to regional- and national- level big bangs that have society-altering consequences.
By approaching survival in this way you can ensure that you will develop the skills that you will need no matter what kind of disaster you’re facing.
Think of your survival plan like an onion with all the successive layers built up upon the core. Something like CPR and self-defense skills are useful pretty much all the time, everywhere you go and no matter what is happening.
There will always be someone that needs resuscitation from an injury or condition and sadly there will always people that are willing to prey on their fellow man who will need to be defeated.
The following sections will provide you with an easy-to-follow and logical progression from Beginning Prepper to Master Survivor. Note that as you climb the Ladder of Competency you’re continually building off how much you already know; you will never leave your lesser skills behind, as the basics are the basics for a reason.
Fundamentals is a much better word for them – the skills you learn as a level 1 prepper will serve you and be just as important in an end-of-the-world scenario as they will when a tornado is bearing down on your house.
Benchmark 1 – 72 Hour Emergency Plan for Novice Preppers
Your first Benchmark is to become a 72-hour Survivor. Attain this goal mean you are generally prepared to deal with any daily emergencies and mishaps as well as the smaller local disasters I can tear up your town and perhaps knockout Civic services for a long weekend.
While not entirely comprehensive, the vast majority of things that will threaten you will fit into this category. Be ready for them, and sure you can do the following:
- Learn basic first aid and trauma care. There will always be more opportunities to save lives with knowledge of how to heal than anything else.
- Get fit. You’ll be harder to kill in general. Survival is a massive test of stamina and strength.
- Get Ready to Bug Out – Have a packed BOB, know where a few good BOL’s are and have a few routes to reach them
- Assemble your EDC kit – Carrying a few additional weapons and tools when you head out every day will give you a major edge if anything unexpected happens.
- Store your 72-hour stockpile – many disasters will see help come in after the first 48 to 72 hours the things more or less getting back to normal after that. By having a stash of food, water medical supplies, clothing, hygiene supplies and more along with some simple tools and any other needed sundry items you can sure you’ll be able to get through okay where others will be lacking.
- Fortify your home – Home invasion is increasingly common problem and perpetrated by teams of coordinated criminals. Some simple upgrades and smart exterior planning will greatly reduce the chances your house is chosen, and possibly confound the intruders before they can get in. Defensive landscaping is an option for everyone no matter where you are, and is the practice of shaping your land, plants and soil, to afford invaders little visual or physical cover while simultaneously making it very hard for them to access windows or ambush points. Thorny or spiny plants that will harm and entangle someone trying to crawl through a window or lay in ambush by your door are nearly as good as concertina wire!
- Have a home defense plan – You’ll need to know how to repel boarders if the previous preparation step doesn’t work. Weapons and defensive training will even the odds against those who would hurt you or your family.
Benchmark 2 – 2 Week Plan – Basic Preppers
The second prepper Benchmark expands on the first. Some disaster situations don’t have the courtesy to just end after 72 hours.
Benchmark 2 mostly expands on what you started in Benchmark 1, preparing you to survive and even thrive in the wake of localized events. It will also enhance your skills to better deal with the types of situations that arise form these correspondingly worse situations.
While two weeks may not sound a lot longer than three days, a survival situation lasting this long will challenge you in ways the first did not, namely in the hygiene and sanitation department.
Also, feeling the effects from lack of proper meals will begin to take its toll on your body and mind.
- Expand your first aid knowledge – Brush up on long-term care so you may best provide for someone with a treatable injury that is days or weeks away from seeing a proper doctor.
- Have redundant water storage and filtration options – You must ensure you can access water reliably. While you can last a few days without it, you’ll be severely debilitated in about half that time. Water barrels, bathtub basins, and advanced filtration and sterilization options for found water supplies should all be prioritized.
- Expand food and other supplies – You’ll need even more food, naturally, to survive an event of longer duration. While you will likely not starve in a couple of weeks even with zero food, your mental faculties and energy level will suffer drastically. You’ll need both to have the best chances. Consider stashing basic, stable staples like flour, honey, rice, dry beans and more.
- Learn fundamental survival skills – If your home or other dwelling is compromised or destroyed, you must know how to create shelter, build a fire, filter water, protect yourself and find food. These skills become increasingly vital for survival as the situation gets worse or supplies run low. Make sure you are learning them now.
- Start Building a Survival Group – A short-duration, low-intensity event of a few days or even a few weeks can be successfully navigated by just one skilled, motivated person, even for the benefit of the “non-starter” people you are responsible for. That strategy will become increasingly more fallible the longer a SHTF situation lasts. Now is the time to start getting your family and like-minded friends on board with prepping. They don’t have to know everything you know but if the just become fluent in the basics and integral to your planning sessions you will, as a unit, be far more durable than you would otherwise.
- Build your Get-Home Bag – A GHB will give you a chance to get back to your home and family should you find yourself stranded out in the world when a crisis occurs. Considering that most adults spend most of their waking hours away from their home this is an essential prep as you grow in your capabilities.
- Take Care of Hygiene and Sanitation Demands – Longer survival situations that arise from localized disasters will likely mean you can no longer count on clean water from any tap, sewage service and trash collection. It is imperative that you know how to stay clean and keep clean, not just for comfort and cohabitation but for health and wellness, also. You won’t be dirty and grubby for long before your skin starts to suffer and in a situation where you have no guarantee of seeing a doctor in a timely fashion this can go from annoyance to serious fast. Also urination and defecation concerns will mean you must have a proper disposal plan in place. You must know how to deal with human waste to avoid an outbreak of pestilence as well as completely losing your mind.
Benchmark 3 – 3 Month Plan – Serious Preppers
Any disaster situation last 3 months or longer means an awful lot has gone wrong. Your average citizen will not last those three weeks without food and water, and they will be turning to alternate sources, any sources, to make up the difference.
Being down on your luck is one thing, being desperate is another, and desperate people can do terrible things. You also have to consider what criminal elements will be doing in this situation with no rule of law to keep them in check; chances are police and government law enforcement will be spread thin or be completely overwhelmed.
For these reasons heavy sustainment protocols as well as safety and security will be a major priority during Benchmark 3.
Depending on the precise nature of the disaster all the following action items will be a safe bet:
- Be prepared for living under martial law – this will mean curtailing of Rights, possible seizures of supplies and curfew. No matter what your problems are you can expect federal agents and the military to do their jobs and enforce the will of our government Masters. This might conflict with your overall survival plan. Contingency planning will be more important than ever.
- Be prepared for a WROL situation – a WROL situation, meaning without rule of law, is increasingly common topic among Preppers who have little faith in the government’s ability to deal with major sustained problems. Your chief concern in such a situation we the only law worth worrying about: the law of the jungle. Armed, violent bands of looters and Marauders may go from place to place taking what they want for those who cannot resist them. Some areas will effectively be under the control of a local strongman.
- Organized defense will be crucial. No matter how good you think you are you will not be much force compared to a band of even five people bent on taking what you have, we’re killing you and your family for sport. One of the three main rules of gun fighting is bringing all your friends with guns. Any like-minded people in your family or survival group should be practicing small-unit tactics together.
- Split up your preps – No matter how secure, no matter how well-equipped you definitely don’t want your preps in one basket in this situation. Your chances of losing them are just too great, either to damage or theft. this is the time to start equipping one of your Bug Out locations with its own cache of supplies, or barring that keep your secondary stash at a friend or family members house or in a storage unit, ready for retrieval.
- Be ready to build and repair what you need – events like this mean there won’t be any running down to the store to buy what you need. If something you have breaks, it will stay broken unless you can fix it. Similarly if you need new capabilities you’ll have to make it. If your home is damaged buy an event you may not have to abandon it if you have the materials and the skills to repair it and keep it habitable. You want to expand your tool kit in this benchmark and brush up on your austere environment construction skills. Think manual tools like hammers, handsaws, clamps, screwdrivers, drills and more, along with an ample supply of fasteners of all kinds, duct tape and adhesives.
- Establish alternate communication systems – Aside from prolonged power outages, you can bet the most Telecom systems, including cell phones, will be affected by disasters covered in this category. The ability to communicate with people in your group will be vital. You want to consider walkie-talkies or proper two-way handheld radios at the minimum. Preppers who care to undertake the training and certification necessary to utilize civilian ham radios have a major advantage and long-term grid down scenarios.
- Redundancy is the name of the game – You want alternate and perhaps contingency plans to cover all essentials in this benchmark. Two is one, and one is none.
- Set up alternate power sources – Just because the greatest down doesn’t mean you won’t have any need for electrical power. Quite the contrary, everything from refrigerators (insulin or other meds, anyone?) to power tools can be life-saving implements in a crisis. Just because no one else has power doesn’t mean you should go without it. DIY solar farms are more achievable and more affordable than ever. Another option is compact, efficient windmills. Either can be paired with a battery bank to store and provide the power-hungry demands of modern appliances and electronics.
Benchmark 4 – 6+ Months Plan – Master Preppers
Benchmark 4 is where the rubber will meet the road for most preppers. This is a departure from the previous benchmarks, because if you have to survive for six months, or even longer, you have likely already endured a society-altering event.
Chances are things may never go back to the way they were. you’ll notice most of the prepping points in this section are for serious, indefinite term survival and sustainment. If much of it looks like homesteading, that’s because it is.
Preppers who put in the time, and energy, to reach this level are no longer dependent on the whims of society and civic function. Permaculture is the name of the game, that being a lifestyle of permanent, sustainable source of food, water and commodities for you and yours.
Your life may be pastoral, but it is definitely, recognizably, life, even a good life, and has been the standard for much of human history.
- Learn to raise a substantial garden – gardening done right can produce huge harvest, more than enough food to feed a large family. I’m like what you see on TV shows, gardening is an awful lot of work and take specialized skill and know how. Start practicing now before the sky falls so you’ll know how to do it, and make sure to add to your preps a large quantity of heirloom seeds for growing what you need. Don’t forget that some non-edible plants have important medicinal qualities, too. Container gardens are another option, one that allows some flexibility and mobility for your crops. While more laborious to setup and tend initially, the ability to move your plants to more ideal or sheltered locations will help you reap a better harvest, as well as isolate infested or sickly plants from the others.
- Learn advanced creation and construction skills – This expands on the DIY point in the previous benchmark. You may very literally have to rebuild society, even your small society, from the ground up. Various skill sets will be useful including woodworking, framing, plumbing, sewing, leather working, blacksmithing and pottery.
- Raise livestock – Animals make terrific, helpful renewable resources. From meat, eggs and milk to wool, labor and transportation, there’s a critter that can meet every need. but the rearing and long-term care of animals is another specialized, intricate skill one that you’ll need to learn, now, before you need it. Start brushing up on the care and feeding of various beastsas well as how to treat their ailments. With the right care and enough land your flocks and herds can become self- renewing.
- Consider Aquaponics – An aquatic alternative to raising livestock and gardening or cropping, aquaponics is the practice of raising plants in a body of water that houses fish. The fishes’ excrement feeds the plants, helping them to grow large and healthy, and the plants in turn purify and clean the water, making for healthy fish. In tandem, this can supply you with plenty of both and is definitely worth considering for those preppers who have or will have access to a large pond or lake. This can also be employed in any unused swimming pools with a little modification and know-how.
- It takes a village… – No matter how self-sufficient you are if you are isolated, and alone, you are vulnerable. Now is the time to vet and draw others like you to you. Your community may be a small village, but everyone gets along and pulls together your seed of civilization can endure. Sadly, there have been plenty of mutual interest groups in times past that a fracture, even turned on each other, because of irreconcilable rifts between members. The only way to know for sure that won’t happen is to put in the time with people now. See how they do under pressure. See how they do when things are not going well, or terribly. If you’re going to lead, you must be a leader. Some traits of great leaders are gifted when they are born, but the majority of them can be learned. Start studying Human Behavior, group dynamics and conflict resolution.
- Expand Your detection radius – It will be critical to see trouble coming in situations like this. That means you’ll need to setup observation posts or even proper outposts or camps away from the main settlement or homestead that group members can make use of to observe for and report suspicious activity. The signal method might be radios or wired field telephones or it could be something primitive, visual or auditory, like a fire, light, a bell or flags. The idea is to forewarn as many people as possible of what might be closing in, good or bad.
- Make the transition now – Making a drastic lifestyle choice like this, 3 totally self-sufficient, far away from other centers of civilization, and living among like-minded people you have chosen it’s not something you will be able to hammer together after a society-ending event. To stand a chance of survival, you’ll need to be in place and set before a cataclysm strikes. If you are serious, move toward that now. Get out of debt. Sell the things you don’t need. Leave your suburban or urban home, or apartment, and find a plot of land a lot farther out than you think is adequate. The more secluded the better. I cannot impress upon you enough how important it is to start living that life right now so it is second nature when the rest of the world is falling apart.
The Importance of Finances to Prepping
When I talked to a brand new and beginning Preppers one concern seems to be a constant among them: The real or perceived cost of prepping.
To be certain prepping does take a certain amount of money. There is, after all, very little you can get done in the modern world without. But it’s easy to believe something that isn’t true, that being you have to be filthy rich to be able to really prep. That just isn’t so, though you would be forgiven for thinking that looking at Benchmark 4 above.
The “cost crunch” is one of the reasons I set up this guide as I did. Starting out with Benchmark 1 it is no big thing, even for those on a stringent budget, to add some extra groceries, perhaps just an extra case of water, on their next trip to the store. A little bit here, a little bit there and pretty soon you have your 72-hour stash for your whole family.
You can do the same thing with needed tools and equipment. saving a few bucks a week, or a few bucks a month will fill up your piggy bank in no time so you can afford the supplies you need, be it a gun, a tent or something else.
if you’re one of those people who absolutely thinks there’s no way you can scratch aside any more money than you already have I would challenge you to review your spending. All of it…
Do you enjoy a cup of coffee from a favorite, overpriced national chain? Just how often do you eat out, either dine in or drive-thru? How many streaming services do you really need?
I’ll go on and bet now that your problem is not an income problem, it’s a spending problem, and for the more spending on things you don’t truly need.
Furthermore, if you think there is no way you can give these things up, just no way you can sacrifice them for your own and your family’s future well-being how much you really have is a priorities failure. I can’t fix that for you. I can show you the door, but you’re the one who has to walk through.
But for those of you who really do just need an extra helping hand get the things you need and want for your prepping mission, below is a list some of my favorite tips and tricks for saving money:
- You can always buy the best quality gear you can afford, but sometimes you don’t need world-beating quality. Consider less expensive varieties of gear and provisions there are suitable to your needs.
- Quality training makes the difference. But training, as with all expertise, is always expensive. Thankfully this is 2020 and fully half the world’s knowledge is available to you online. With diligent self-study and practice you really can become self taught in a variety of skills.
- Buy food, water and other consumables in bulk. Economy of scale is a thing. So long as the savings are there, you have a place to put it and can afford it at the time there is no reason to buy in bulk unless the items are perishable, i.e. They will spoil before you use them.
- Look online and in print publications for coupons. A few clicks or moments worth of flipping through a periodical save you some serious cash.
- Barter. Chances are you have something that someone else wants, or can do something for someone else that they need done. If that person also has something that you need that’s a deal in the making. You should not be afraid to ask someone if they’re willing to barter. That way you can get rid of things you don’t need and you get the things you do. That’s a win-win for everyone.
- Always stop by garage sales, flea markets and other swap meet type events. There will always be tons of junk, but plenty of diamonds in the rough and some real deals can be had on everything from tools to vehicles.
Take Stock of Yourself
You have to know your limitations. the most gung-ho attitude in the world won’t make up for reality. you may be drawn to the idea of the Lone Wolf Survivor, but if you have a wife three kids and elderly parents to care for you can forget the idea of running off into the woods to live and Survive by yourself (unless you are a monster).
Before you buy anything, before you make any plans, you need to sit down and really think through your own unique situation. Things like your health, things like your overall condition.
What is your family situation like? How many people depend on you, how many people are you going to take it upon yourself to take care of? What is your financial situation like?
Where do you live? Do you have any medical conditions that could turn out to be an Achilles heel? All these things matter in different contexts.
A few major ones below:
Physical condition: Make no mistake, survival is very physically taxing. If you’re out of shape, or infirm, your chances of survival go down in a demanding situation.
In long-term sustainment situations, the amount of work to be done to provide the things you need to survive is huge even with the right equipment.
Family considerations: Trying to bug out or survive just yourself and a partner is an entirely different operation than trying to do the same with a couple of small children or elderly parents in tow.
Depending on the makeup and readiness of your family you may want to make either bugging out or bugging in your go-to plan.
Location: Where you live will determine your climate and how much will be affected by the rest of humanity, i.e. population. You should always seek to prep for the things that are most common in your area, either weather events or human-caused disasters.
Financial situation: You should take into account your standing finances. if you are well off, the urge to just go by everything you need is huge. You shouldn’t do that, but it does make things easier as far as getting more of what you need sooner, training or otherwise.
If a lack of financial resources means you need to spread out or slow down your Acquisitions, you should make up the difference by redoubling your efforts to skill-up. Hit the books and practice, practice, practice.
One Last Thing…
Remember when I said it was more socially acceptable than ever before to talk shop about prepping? That’s true. But that doesn’t mean you should do it with just anyone you meet.
It feels great to run into someone that has mutual interests or shows interest in you, but you might be giving away the farm without ever knowing it.
Word travels. You don’t want your name and your activities on anyone else’s lips reaching the wrong people’s ears. It is a fact that some criminals are just as diligent and just as technical as we are when it comes to preparations.
Their preparations center around you, meaning they may come a-calling when the sky darkens and the mountains roar, eager to make your hard work and preparation their gain.
Frankly, you should not discuss prepping with anyone you do not have a substantial amount of trust with. Sharing with anyone outside of your most trusted confidants is itself risky.
The person you blabber to Metro Suite cabin high up in the mountains stock with all manner of supplies and gear might mean you no harm, what should they make an offhand comment to someone who could mean you harm, you might wind up as a red pin on someone else’s situation map.
Remember the old saying: loose lips sink ships. You should take a page out of the military’s book and practice PERSEC and OPSEC. While it sounds very fancy, is simply putting into practice keeping your business your business, and no one else’s.
PERSEC is the practice of not revealing or putting out for display publicly any information about yourself that might be used against you. While much of this information is already publicly available with a little digging, it is best to never reveal things like your age, address, line of work, financial status, etc.
Definitely never talk about when you were leaving town for work or vacation for any reason to anyone outside your circle of trust: that is nothing more than an invite to have your house broken into and ransacked.
OPSEC the practice of keeping your plans, objectives and efforts secret from those who don’t need to know about it. Don’t anyone know you’re laying in supplies for a major disaster.
Don’t let anyone know about the sweet underground bunker you’re building in your backyard or on your remote parcel of land. Definitely don’t let anyone see you moving crates of ammunition and guns in or out of your property. Believe it or not, most passers-by won’t just believe you’re the kooky neighbor.
They’ll know you’re up to something, potentially something big. Again, you don’t want to become a red pin on someone else’s map.
Prepping well enough to be truly ready for anything is very challenging, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Every great journey begins with a single step.
Every foundation begins with a single brick. You don’t have to be afraid starting out on your road to prepping mastery; you just have to have the courage to take the first step.
With this guide to direct you you’ll know where you’re going and how to get there. All you have to supply is a little tenacity and dedication.