Letter Re: Questions from a Newbie–Where Do I Start?

Mr Rawles-
I’ve been a reader of your blog for maybe the last nine months or so and I know I need to stop reading and get to doing something. So I was wondering if you could advise me on where I should start my preparations.
I’m a city boy so I don’t have many of the skills that I think would be useful in a TEOTWAWKI situation. I don’t know how to shoot or farm or fix a diesel engine. While I could start buying equipment in order to be prepared, I think that the first thing I should do is learn skills that will help me stay alive if things start going bad. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your help and keep up the good work. – Mike

JWR Replies: Getting started can seem overwhelming. Just make the conscious decision to get prepared, and set aside some time to work at it a little every other day, and of course set a corresponding budget. You are correct that training is just as important as logistics. Also don’t overlook physical fitness, which costs essentially nothing. (Push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and running take little or no specialized equipment.) Some low cost training resources were detailed in a recent SurvivalBlog post, with some useful links.

On to logistics: As I describe in my “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course, you should start by making a “list of lists.” Next, draft prioritized lists for each subject, on separate sheets of paper. (Or in a spreadsheet if you are a techno-nerd like me.) Just be sure to print out a hard copy for use when the power grid goes down!) It is important to tailor your lists to suit your particular geography, climate, and population density as well as your peculiar needs and likes/dislikes. Someone setting up a retreat in a coastal area is likely to have a far different food storage and preparation list than someone living in the Rockies. Your “List of Lists” should include:
Water List
Food Storage List
Food Preparation List
Personal List
First Aid /Minor Surgery List
Nuke Defense List
Biological Warfare Defense List
Gardening List
Hygiene List/Sanitation List
Hunting/Fishing/Trapping List
Power/Lighting/Batteries List
Fuels List
Firefighting List
Tactical Living List
Communications/Monitoring List
Tools List
Sundries List
Survival Bookshelf List
Barter and Charity List

Consider your preparations a form of insurance. But it is much better that traditional life insurance, where if you die, they pay. Lord willing, this type of insurance will keep you and your family alive and well.

Don’t dawdle. Even modest preparations will put you miles ahead of your unprepared neighbors. Stock up gradually and consistently. Take you training seriously. Once acquired, share your skills with others. Network with like minded relatives, neighbors, and friends. But of course be circumspect about what you reveal about your preparations to anyone that doesn’t have a need to know.