How prepared are you for emergencies? Unless you’ve made a dedicated effort recently - based on a real assessment of risks and needs - you probably aren’t as prepared as you think you are. The good news is - that’s ok! If you are not a prepper and don't know much about prepping for food supply and other things, you don't need to worry. There are plenty of resources out there to help you and your family be more prepared if the worst ever happens. Here we are covering some prepping basics for beginners. 

Basic Prepping Steps

Before you think about the logistics of “prepping”, give some thought to the bigger picture. There are a few activities that will benefit anyone, regardless of people, place, budget, or scenario. You can take a practical, rational approach to emergency preparedness. Here is a quick checklist to run through before getting into the details. 

  1. Develop a solid personal finance and health foundation.
  2. Make sure your home is prepared for two full weeks of self-reliance.
  3. Be able to leave your home at a moment’s notice.
  4. Consider how to handle emergencies that happen away from home.
  5. Understand core survival skills and practice with real gear. 
  6. Share what you’re learning with like-minded individuals.

Common Beginner Mistakes

Whether you’re worried about the economy or politics, or stressed about natural disasters or other unlikely events, you may feel like it’s uncommon to devote time to prepping. It’s not. The fact is that many more people are showing interest in this subject matter, even if they don’t broadcast it. In fact, 60% of Americans say that being prepared for a disaster is very important to them. The problem is that only 17% claim to be “very prepared”. We want to help bridge that gap and ensure that anyone who wants to be, can be completely prepared. Unfortunately it’s pretty common to make mistakes starting out. Here are some of the mistakes we see people just starting out making: 

  • Buying off-the-shelf kits that are supposed to cover all manner of emergencies. 
  • Thinking there will be advance notice or an ability to predict events. 
  • Assuming they will be “Rambo” in an emergency situation. It’s important to be realistic about what will matter most and keep things simple. 
  • Getting overwhelmed by prepping. Don’t go down a dark spiral or get depressed considering every negative scenario that could happen. 
  • Getting bogged down in the extremism that is offered in many “prepping” circles. Remain rational and your efforts will be more fruitful. 
  • Scattering or “double-dipping” gear, for example, taking some things out of your camping gear. This is a good way to keep things scattered and not available when you need it. 
  • Forgetting to practice with gear. Just having a bag packed is not a preparedness plan. 

It’s important to prepare based on risks and your own specific scenarios. The truth is that a prepping basics checklist will be the same for 98% of people. Things get more complicated when planning around unique health factors or diet limitations. Plan to prepare for 80% of scenarios, not the most unlikely on the fringe of possibility. That foundation covers air, food, and water. This is often referred to as the Rule of 3, and describes the fact that you can survive 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter in bad conditions, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food. Don’t start planning for further considerations until you have these basics covered. 

A 6 Step Plan

Let’s take a closer look at the steps we described above. 

  • Develop a solid personal finance and health foundation - both your financial situation and body should be ready to handle emergency events. Medical issues and financial difficulties are the most likely issues you’ll face in your life, so prioritize these emergencies first. Any event is going to be harder to handle if you can’t purchase supplies or can’t deal with physical strain or stress. 
  • Make sure your home is prepared for two full weeks of self-reliance. In some instances, you’ll see “72 hours” as the ideal timeframe. That’s better than nothing but not ideal. Consider scenarios like the electrical grid going down for 3 days, a hurricane flooding the city, an epidemic spreading, or civil unrest shutting down services in your town. Hopefully you can stay in your own home safely for two weeks without ​​electricity, water, cooking or heating gas, communication, internet, 911, ambulances, and so on. Here’s a quick checklist of considerations: 
    1. Water (and filtration supplies)
    2. Food (particularly food that is stored safely in long-term storage bags)
    3. Fire
    4. Light
    5. Heating and cooling
    6. Shelter
    7. Medical supplies
    8. Hygiene supplies
    9. Communication
    10. Power
    11. Tools 
    12. Self Defense
    13. Cash
    14. Mental health
    15. Important documents
  • Be able to leave your home at a moment’s notice. Often called “bug out bags”, every person in your household who is capable of carrying one should have one packed. You can modify bags for children as needed. These bags should have a first aid kit, water and a filter, pre-packed food, lighters, a headlamp, field knife, multi-tool, tarp, waterproof paper and pen, battery pack, and cash. We suggest seeking out detailed lists with instructions for packing these bags and add the items gradually whenever possible. 
  • Consider how to handle emergencies that happen away from home. What if an earthquake strikes while you’re at work or there is an active shooter on your subway train? Think about plans for problems that occur outside your home. We suggest having a “get home bag” in your trunk, an everyday carry bag that can go in your purse or bookbag, and specialty car supplies. 
  • Understand core survival skills and practice. Having the right gear is great, but survival experts know how to use everything. Real preparedness is a mix of gear, skills, planning, and practice. Do you know how to read a compass and a map? How about using a HAM radio or a tourniquet? Learn skills whenever possible and practice with the gear that you have included in your packing. It can be fun to find other people with similar interests and “train” or share ideas occasionally. 
  • Share what you’re learning with like-minded individuals. Ultimately, don’t plan to be a lone wolf. Research has shown that a community mindset can help people to fare better in emergencies. You probably don’t want to broadcast your prepping to everyone, but family, friends, and neighbors are all good “recruits” for your emergency planning. It’s good to have more of a buffer around you, along with people you can cooperate and collaborate with. At the same time, be careful not to paint a target on your home or your stuff if the worst should happen. 

Prepping is no longer viewed as a “fringe” movement. The world is changing and emergency preparedness is just smart adapting. For more tips on food storage and supplies, visit our blog or browse our food storage solutions.