Every day, there are more and more people who join the ranks of those of us who call ourselves preppers. We all come with a common concern for the safety of our families. But we come with one thing more… confusion as to where to start.
Prepping covers such a vast and varied amount of interrelated activities that it’s hard to know where to begin. Should one start buying supplies or run out to buy a gun? Do you need to start digging a bunker in your back yard, or should you buy some land in the middle of nowhere for it? Is it best to find a survival team to be a part of or are you going to be better off on your own? It seems like there are a thousand questions, and nobody knows which is the most important.
It’s easy amidst all this confusion to make mistakes, spending money on things you don’t need to and missing important things that you should be doing. Survival products galore are flooding the market, many of which look absolutely great. But will they really help you?
Most of us start out by running out and buying some food, usually something simple, like rice and beans, beginning our stockpiling efforts. That’s okay, as you ultimately need that food. In fact, you’re going to need a lot of food. Most of us start out by buying food and it seems like we never really stop adding to our stockpiles.
It Has to Start with Knowledge
But there’s something even more important that you need; that’s knowledge. You really can’t come up with an effective survival plan, if you don’t know what you’re talking about. So, while you’re buying that food and filling containers with water, take the time to learn about survival. Learn the basic needs you have for survival and the basic skills that everyone has to learn.
What sorts of things am I talking about? Let’s start with the basic needs for survival. In order to survive in any situation, your body needs:
- Maintain Temperature
This is often described in the Rule of Threes, which says: You can only live 3 minutes without oxygen, 30 minutes without maintaining your body heat, 3 days without water, and 30 days without food. While those numbers may actually vary from person to person, the basic idea is true. So when we’re thinking about survival, we need to keep those priorities in mind. But there are a few other things we should add to that list:
- Fire Starting
- Self Defense
While there are no specific time frames for these needs, it is obvious why they are so important. Fire is an important part of maintaining our body heat, can be used to purify water and is needed to cook our food. First aid is important if you get injured; and you have to be able to defend yourself from attack, or none of the rest of it is really going to matter.
So these are the things you need to study. Learn ways to keep yourself warm when there’s no power to run your home’s furnace. Find out how to start a fire with whatever is at hand. Learn about water purification techniques as well, in case your primary water filter breaks. Each of these areas contain many sub-topics that you should begin to study.
This list also shows you the things you need to stockpile and the survival equipment you need to have. While most of us start by stockpiling food, we can see from the priorities above that it’s actually more important to make sure that we have a good water supply and a way of keeping ourselves warm. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stockpile food, it just means that we need to take care of those other things too. In reality, we have to prepare along several parallel lines at once, rather than totally finishing one area, before moving on to another.
You Need a Plan
The other thing we need to do is to develop our survival plan. But to be honest with you, that’s more or less impossible to do, until you learn enough about survival to figure it out. You can’t just go with a canned survival plan, written by someone else, because each of us has our own unique needs. What would work for me, may not work for you, and vice versa.
The reason why a canned survival plan doesn’t work is that we each have unique lives. We live in different places, have different numbers of family members, different health issues, and different levels of financial independence. My survival plan has to be heavy on water, simply because I live in an arid area. But that might not be your problem. You might even have a stream running along your property, brining you a constant supply of water.
Your survival plan must also take into account the disasters that you are likely to face. I live in a hurricane zone, so I need to consider that. But if you don’t, preparing for a hurricane is a waste of your time. Instead, you’ll probably need to consider some other disaster.
There are a lot of people online, talking about a lot of different potential disasters. You’ll need to decide for yourself which ones you think are most likely to happen and plan accordingly. Don’t let yourself be motivated by fear of a particular disaster; think things through and decide what you think is realistic.
As you learn, you can develop your plan. Start with the big questions, like where you are going to go to survive. Will it be at home? That’s what works best for most people. But if you own a vacation cabin in the woods, you’d probably be better off there. Each new thing you learn gives you an opportunity to refine your plan further, until you have a complete plan for every situation.
Don’t be afraid to change your plan as your situation changes and you learn more. Professional emergency planners are always reviewing their plans, looking for ways to improve them. Take a page from their book, and do the same thing too.
Build Your Stockpile
While you may start out by buying food, you’ll probably continue doing that for years. Most of us do. Don’t let yourself get into the trap of trying to buy everything now, no matter how much pressure you might feel to do just that. Unless you have a lot of extra money sitting around, you probably can’t afford to do that.
Rather, start out by trying to accumulate a whole month’s worth of everything you need. That doesn’t mean just food, but also includes water, cleaning supplies, soap, toilet paper, ammunition and anything else you’ll need.
Once you get a month’s worth stockpiled, then you can begin to work on turning it into two months. Then tree, four and five. Add to your stockpile one month at a time, until you feel like you’ve got enough for any disaster that you might encounter.
At some point, you’ll probably want to start thinking about sustainability. This means being able to take care of yourself and your family, beyond the limits of your stockpile. In other words, producing your own food and filtering your own water. Few preppers have more than a year’s worth of food on hand, opting instead to plan on planting gardens and raising animals for food, rather than trying to stock enough food to last the rest of their lives.