While some of us currently have enough to survive for months and the necessities to survive for much longer, this article will be for the beginner. There are so many different ways to start prepping. My family started by setting financial goals. Getting excited about prepping is really easy, but so is deciding that it won’t work for you. I have seen this before with friends who I have spoken with about what I do. They get really excited and go home and rally the troops. Then they realize that they have no funds to do so. While most Americans have the ability to create a spreadsheet and figure out what they need and do not need, the majority do not do so. That was the start for us, but there are many different areas where you can start that may work best for you. Here are a few:
Water. When you are out grocery shopping, purchase an extra large jug of water until you have enough to last your entire family for three days. This is the suggested amount of water that you should have according to the local agencies where I live. I would strongly suggest taking a look at your own situation and coming up with a different number. You should take into consideration the climate, location, population, number of people you plan to support, their body types, and their current physical condition. For example, since I live in a desert that has very cold winters and very hot summers, I will likely use the same amount of water in both extremes. I am located in the center of a valley and would likely be the last to be evacuated depending on the disaster. It could take an extra two or three days, based on the current population of the county. I currently would need to support three people. Our body types are a large male, a petite female, and a small toddler. The current physical conditions include a male with kidney infection that requires two gallons/day w/ two more days of antibiotics; a female, who just found out she is pregnant and is experiencing nausea, vomiting,and hot & cold flashes; and a toddler with no known issues. Whether they are short-term issues, like a kidney infection, or long-term issues, like pregnancy, you should have a sufficient supply ready. Disasters come whether we are ready or not.
In addition to a supply of water, you should also have a water filtration system. This is a must if you are going to only store enough water for three days. You may be stuck for another three days and need to replenish your supply from an unfiltered supply. There are many ways to filter water. Whether you decide to go U.V. lights or a hand pump filtered system, do some research and save up for it. These can get pricey, but even if you have to use it once, it will be worth it. I am looking to add a new Katadyn Hiker Pro to my bug out bag (B.O.B.). I have had a good experience with Katadyn’s before and would highly recommend them.
First Aid Kit. You should already have a first aid kit. Some companies do a great job putting together pre-made kits. What you need to do is make it yours. If you have asthma, add an extra inhaler to the kit. If your baby gets really bad rashes, add some butt paste or cream. Whatever the medical situation might be, you need to be ready for it. I have heard that some people don’t do this because the item expires in two years and then it gets wasted. As with all of your perishable items, you are supposed to cycle them out. With all of the technology available today, nothing bothers me more than hearing someone say that their food storage has gone bad, and they have to start over. Set a reminder in your phone, on your computer, or set it as the same time as your dentist appointment. Whatever the method, you should be able to cycle your band aids, first aid cream, pills, and everything else without wasting anything. Worst case, you don’t need to use it and you donate it to a homeless shelter than can. A side note to add with the first aid kit is a “how-to” book or guide to first aid. Having the tools is great and all, but knowing how to use them is what will save you. There are many posters, guides, and books. I also would recommend classes that are fairly inexpensive.
Food. If you are reading this now, chances are you already can your own food and possibly dry some too. If you do, then you are off to a great start. If you don’t, you should look at learning. Some people don’t take advantage of what comes from the ground and end up spending $3-$5 per can of jelly/jam or even more on the fruits and veggies that we can grow ourselves. I am very proud of my community because they have a community garden for those that live in condos or apartments and cannot have one of their own. You can make canning parties with a group of friends and split or trade what you have to expand your supplies or just make it a family event that you do. If you really don’t want to get into “that stuff”, then you can always buy the pre-packaged food storage at your local emergency supply store or some big chain retailers. Most brands will either offer single meals to purchase or some for free to try before you buy. I highly recommend this if you are a picky eater or have dietary restraints. Finicky eating may go out the window when you are starving, but again it is personal preference. Regardless the route you go, always be sure to keep track of expiration dates, use what is close to expiring, and replace it.
Bug Out Bag. In emergency situations, you can’t always stay where you are. If say an earthquake or hurricane comes and you need to bug out, you still want to be prepared for the worst case scenario of being stranded. That is where B.O.B. comes in. B.O.B. is not a person. B.O.B. stands for Bug Out Bag. There are other names like Go-bag, GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) bag, and PERK (Personal Emergency Relocation Kit), but I like B.O.B. Your B.O.B. can consist of anything that you think you might need to keep you alive on the go for a certain amount of time. My B.O.B. should be able to keep me and my family alive for four days, which by the way is how much time it would take to walk to my bunker. There are tons of YouTube videos of young guys who pack it full of guns and ammo and say that they will survive anything with it. While a weapon can be useful in many situations, one gun with a box or two or even a machete should be sufficient. Don’t go packing a B.O.B. for you full of guns and ammo and make your poor wife and children carry the rest in separate bags. That’s going way too far. This is only supposed to keep you alive for a short amount of time until you get to a shelter, bunker, or safe zone. There are a lot of considerations when choosing a bag for your B.O.B. I chose a bag that is water proof, can be comfortable on long hikes through the mountains, can be worn while riding a bike, is extremely durable, and can hold everything that I need. It varies on the person/family. Some need more for medicine or special food needs while others pack them full of guns and ammo and hope for the best.
Multi-use Items. Believe it or not, right now in your house, you probably have a lot of the other items that could help you survive, if needed. I’m sure I don’t need to go into how useful duct tape can be. Just watch the Mythbusters Duct Tape Island Episode. Matches or Zippo lighter, floss, multi-tool, tampons, bleach, and much more can serve many purposes. So when it comes down to it, you have already started prepping, and you didn’t even realize it. Just do some more research on how to use basic household items to survive, and you will find that you have a lot of useful tools that you would have never thought of before that you could use in an emergency situation.
Go sit down with the family and talk with them. Use this time to learn about your family’s habits and needs. Make it something fun for everyone to do and participate in. Have some random pop quizzes on where items are in the house and how they can be used. Have your kids plant something in the garden, and teach them how to take care of it. They will enjoy taking care of it and watching it grow. If they are not into that, you can always do some emergency situation drills with them. Call them in the morning on a weekend and give them a scenario. They then have to go through the steps, and at the end you can talk about what they could improve on and go out for breakfast. Make it a positive experience so they remember it. They may need to use those skills one day.
So as you can see, there are many different areas that you can start in. All you have to do is pick one and dive in. Once you are in, you will be hooked and the rest will just come.