We don’t have a crystal ball, so we never know when an emergency or natural catastrophe will raise its ugly head. One of the scariest things that could happen during hard times is running out of food, water, or the supplies you depend on.
What is prepping?
Prepping for a survival situation is taking action to store food, water, supplies, and survival gear to survive life-altering events like hurricanes, civil unrest, or personal misfortune.
During tumultuous times food and water may be in short supply or unavailable. Preppers, begin prepping to ensure that they have what they need to survive emergency situations.
We really shouldn’t be depending on anyone but ourselves to get through hard times. If you get some help, that is the icing on the cake but don’t gamble with your safety and security….start prepping.Scott, Ready Squirrel
Let’s take a look at a general outline of what prepping really means.
Concept #1 Determine the threat
When you decide you want to start prepping for emergencies the first thing to do is to evaluate your location and determine the most likely emergencies you will face. Once you determine the threat you know what supplies to prep.
72-Hour Emergency Kit (first step prepping)
Start out prepping for short-term emergencies like power outages and slowly scale up to prep for longer-term scenarios such as without the rule of law (WROL), and societal collapse.
Preparing for things like power outages is a great way to cut your teeth prepping. The 72 Hour emergency kit suggested by the Federal Emergency Management Agency is a great place to start.
Once you get 72 hours worth of food, water, and supplies in place, start looking into longer-term storage.
Concept #2 Expand Your Prepping
Expand your prepping. Once you have a small amount of food, water, and gear in place for short-term emergencies expand prepping supplies for longer-term survival. Don’t just stockpile gear though you also need to learn survival skills and take on hobbies that make that possible.
Hobbies and Interests
Start working on hobbies and interests that complement prepping like: hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting. This will go a long way to preparing your mind and body for a survival situation.
Work towards financial freedom. Use prepping to save money and budget. Purchase large quantities of meat on sale and learn to can. Get a grain mill, and some sacks of wheat, and learn how to make bread from scratch.
If you want to get serious with the mindset of never giving up and doing what it takes, check out the Ready Squirrel article, #1 Survival Skill: Survival Mindset and Reactions To Stress.
Concept #3 Prepping Water
Water is more important than survival food. That is why it is one of the first suggested survival preps. Storing water for survival isn’t very sexy, but you’ll be glad you have it in a pinch.
You can’t have enough water. It isn’t just for hydration; it’s also for hygiene, sanitation, food processing, and gardening.
Initially, Have a supply of pre-packaged store-bought water on hand and work up to learning about water treatment, storage containers, and dealing with larger water stores.
The ultimate goal when it comes to water is learning to treat and store water for long-term storage. Also, learn about catching rainwater, treating pool water, boiling water, and treating water with bleach or chlorine
Interesting Fact: A 55-gallon blue water barrel weighs 458 lbs when filled.
Next, let’s take a look at prepping food
Concept #4 Prepping Food
Start by collecting enough supplies for a 72-hour emergency kit and build from there.
The bulk of the food in your initial emergency stores can be non-perishables like canned soups, stews, and meats but start looking at long-term storage of staple foods like white rice, beans, pasta, wheat, and other grains.
Start learning about long-term food storage techniques, like oxygen-free storage for maximum shelf life. Many of the staple foods like white rice, wheat, rolled oats, dried beans, and dry pasta will store up to 30 years if packaged properly.
Learn about hermetically sealing foods with sealable food-grade buckets, Mylar bags, and quart jars for long-term staple storage.
Ultimately you will determine what kind of food fits your personal situation. By choosing foods that you and your family eat, you can start rotating, so you always have unexpired food on hand.
Concept #5 Prepping Gear and Supplies
Preppers can go down the rabbit hole when it comes to gear and supplies. A lot of time and research goes into picking the right gear to meet every emergency situation.
Prepping gear and supplies include everything from a good lightweight tent or tarp for bugging out to a hand-crank grain mill for processing whole grains.
The best way to choose gear for prepping is to base gear choices on specific emergency scenarios. Most of the supplies and gear will help you provide, food, water, shelter, first aid, and self-defense in a specific scenario.
As you move through the different prepping layers, you will start researching these things, so don’t stress about it.
Think of the gear and supplies as if the utility you currently depend on quit working. Then learn how to replace necessary functions with alternate methods or gear that will fit the situation. We can’t cover every scenario, but it gives you an idea of how to approach prepping for an emergency. Following are some examples of scenarios where you would need preps to survive and/ or stay healthy.
Survival Scenarios (What are you prepping for?)
#1 Toilet won’t flush
In this scenario, a prepper needs the equipment to get rid of waste. Flys land on human waste and then they land on food spreading disease. Remedy this by having all of the supplies to make a poop bucket including a 5-gallon bucket, heavy-duty kitchen trash bags, pine chips, and toilet paper.
#2 Municipal water is dirty or down
A prepper facing this situation would need clean emergency water storage or a method to purify the dirty water. It would be important to have the ability to boil water when the power is out, and small backpacker-type water filters.
#3 Grocery store shelves are empty
It’s not rocket science. You need food. How much food, depends on how long the emergency situation lasts. Is it a hurricane scenario or a full-blown societal collapse?
#4 Gas is unavailable
If you are like me you use your credit card to pump gas. What if the grid is down and credit cards don’t work? What if there isn’t any fuel because of supply chain issues? Have alternate fuel sources and manual tools for gardening and basic maintenance. For local travel get some bicycles.
#5 Grid is down
The grid is down. There is no air conditioning, heat, water, or ability to charge electronic devices and electric stoves don’t work. Questions a prepper might ask themselves. Can you heat your home without electricity, if not can you use wood to heat it? Do you have a water catchment or water storage set up for emergency water? Do you have a pantry full of food you can cook without electricity?
#6 Societal collapse & rioting
What should a person consider when prepping for societal collapse? A prepper may want to stay home (bug-in) so having enough food and water for a specific amount of time is important. If rioting is likely, do you have the preps to get in a vehicle and drive out of the situation? Where will you go? What if gasoline is unavailable and exit routes are blocked?
What about an unplanned situation where you end up on foot, such as traffic jams, downed bridges, or unavailability of fuel? Does everyone in your group have a bug-out bag?
The best way to approach your gear is to think about each scenario as your experience grows. Do some research and choose the best solutions for your situation. Keep it simple, go slow, and buy the best gear you can afford.
Concept #6 Do Without Electricity (what is prepping?)
The crazy thing about prepping for natural disasters and emergencies is how many critical services can be lost all at once. It’s a domino effect; if your power goes out, you may lose the service of everything in your house, including your water supply.
Start planning to cover vital services like cooking, heat, and water supply, so that you can minimize discomfort.
Non-Electric Tools (What is prepping?)
- Wood Burning Stove
- Sun Shower
- Propane Refrigerator
- Camping stoves and cook gear (outside)
- Outdoor Propane Grill
These are just a few examples, but they should get the creative juices flowing.
Alternate Power Sources
Prepare to have backups for electricity by using alternate power sources like solar, propane, natural gas, or wood.
Do it like the Amish and start using tools and gadgets that work without electricity. For example, using an ax instead of a chainsaw. There is less to go wrong and no fuel requirement.
Have tools that you can use when the power is out.
Concept #7 Emergency Survival Plan (what is prepping)
There are different levels of plans. Start by figuring out what you will do for a short-term 72 Hour emergency. Where will you go if a hurricane is coming? How will you get there? Start small as you plan, and larger longer-term survival situations will be easier to figure out.
You are learning so give yourself a break.
6 Steps of an Emergency Survival Plan
- Emergency alerts and warnings set them up on your smart devices.
- Shelter plan where you will go in case you have to bug out or leave your home.
- Evacuation Routes: How will you get away from the disaster if routes are blocked? Have alternate routes, consider bridges, the volume of the population on roadways, etc. Have multiple routes figured out?
- Communication: How you will communicate with family and friends in various emergency scenarios.
- Check with CDC in case of pandemics or breakouts
Link to FEMA “Make A Plan,” under resources below.
Concept #8 Gear and Equipment To Fit The Emergency
If you are staying home in an emergency event, it’s called bugging in. This is the preferred method of reacting to a disaster. When you bug out, you are basically a refugee and much more vulnerable to the environment.
If you are staying home during SHTF, the main thing you have to worry about is whether or not you stored enough food, water, and gear.
In a Bug-out Scenario, you are leaving the disaster area on foot or in a vehicle, so you have to worry about weight, transportation, where you are going, the route to get there, and how to avoid threats.
The first gear you need is a bug-out bag you can carry on your back. You need a bug-out kit for your vehicle that could include more food, supplies, and gear because weight isn’t as much of an issue.
When planning a bug-out bag for foot travel, pay close attention to weight. Any more than 20% of your body weight and you’ll have a hard time getting from A to Z.
You may plan to leave or bug-out in a vehicle, but you never know when roads will be blocked, bridges will be down, or emergency personnel will force you from your vehicle. This is in FEMA’s contingency plans, so don’t ignore it.
A bug-out kit goes into your vehicle. All your gear should be light enough so you can pack it immediately and leave. You don’t want to be running around the house looking for anything you need. There may not be enough time.
Avoid taking stuff out of your Go-Bag to replace it later. You may forget you took it and end up without that MRE or whatever tool you took out.
Another prepping kit is called an EDC or Everyday carry. This is a kit you have with you at all times and wherever you go.
Concept #9 Escape Route
Know where you are going and how you are going to get there in case of an emergency. For many emergencies, you will be bugging in or staying home for others you need to leave.
I live in hurricane territory right on the Gulf of Mexico. If you have a type 4 hurricane rolling into town, you leave.
Where I live, there are three ways off the peninsula. Two of them are bridges, so I have to have a plan if one gets damaged from the water surge.
I have 3 dogs and two cats, so I need a hotel located in a safe area that takes pets.
These are the types of things you need to think of ahead of time. If you wait, it might be too late.
Concept #10 Bushcraft Skills
Bushcraft skills like fire-building, knot tieing, shelter building with natural materials, fishing with a cast net, land navigation, etc.
It’s pretty easy to teach yourself a lot of these skills by watching YouTube videos or by reading a book.
If you find yourself bugging out with just a backpack and your gear, it could get pretty sketchy pretty quick if you don’t know the wilderness’s basic survival skills.
There are two tools you really want to learn how to use: the survival knife and a Ferro rod. There isn’t much you can’t build with just these two tools if you have the skills.
Concept #11 What Are Preppers Prepping For?
In modern times we’ve lost touch with how vulnerable society really is. I’m lucky enough that I knew my great grandparents, who grew up pre-WWII. They knew firsthand what it meant to go without and to be hungry. Most modern Americans don’t relate. There are at least 23 reasons to start prepping today.
23 Reasons To Prep
- Forest Fires
- Long Term Power Outages or grid down
- Personal Illness
- Job Loss
- Financial Collapse
- Civil War
- Foreign Invasion or interference
- Family or friend needs assistance
- Chemical Plant Explosion
- Civil Unrest
- Nuclear Plant Accident
- Terrorism: explosions, chemical, biological weapons, disruption of infrastructure.
- Distrust of Authorities
- To Save Money
- Hazardous material accidents
- EMP Electromagnetic impulse
- Solar Flares
Federal Emergency Management Agency: Make a Plan