If you’re new to prepping, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. The goal of this blog is to serve as a starting point and a solid foundation you can build on. Here are 12 practical tips to get you started.
Tip #1 – Stick to the Basics
No matter what you’re preparing for, your basic needs will remain the same - like water, food, and personal hygiene products. Keep it simple and start by storing everyday essentials you’ll need in any emergency preparedness scenario. We’ll cover these in more detail below.
Tip #2 – Aim for Two Weeks of Self-Reliance
If you’re just starting out, aim to have enough supplies stored away for two weeks of self-reliance. It’s a realistic goal, and once you’ve reached this milestone, you can continue to expand your stockpile from there.
Tip #3 - Consider Location-Specific Survival Situations
As you build out your emergency preparedness stockpile, it’s also important to consider what threats are specific to your area. A person in California might experience a disaster like an earthquake or wildfire, while a person on the Florida Coast is more likely to deal with a hurricane or flooding.
Once you have your basic needs covered, you can expand and customize your prepping to include equipment for specific natural disasters or crises that are most likely to affect you.
Tip #4 – Store Water
Water is the most essential requirement for survival, and it should be top priority when you start prepping. On average, you can only last about three days without water.
Aim to have one gallon of drinking water per day per person. An additional gallon per day per person should suffice for hygiene and cooking.
Gallons of water from the grocery store are a great way to start. You could also opt for containers that store five, 10, and even 50 gallons or more of water.
Finally, you’ll want a way to purify water, like water purification tablets or a personal water filter for each family member.
Tip #5 – Store Food and Have a Way to Cook It
Start by stockpiling non-perishable food items. Buy a little bit extra each time you go to the grocery store, and you’ll have an impressive emergency food supply in no time. Buy items in bulk and on sale to prep on a budget.
Keep your prepping pantry dated and organized. Choose foods your family normally eats so you can use items and replace them before they go bad.
Include a mixture of shelf-stable items: canned and jarred goods; dry foods like oats, nuts, and cereals; freeze-dried foods; and MRE’s are all good options. Think about nutrition, but also macros like protein, carbs, and fat.
Consider cooking times. If you’re cooking off-grid, a bag of beans will use a lot more water and fuel to make than a ready-made, heat-and-serve soup or can of beans.
Make sure you have a means of cooking without power, like a camp stove.
Tip #6 – Think Beyond Your Stockpile
Over time, you can level-up your prepping by learning methods of obtaining food like gardening, fishing, hunting, and foraging.
You can also learn food preservation techniques like pickling, canning, and dehydrating.
Tip #7 – Keep it Clean
Make sure your stockpile includes personal hygiene and cleaning items. These products can be hard to find in a crisis (remember the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020?), so we recommend keeping extras of all the items you regularly use.
This can include toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, and baby wipes.
Also, if the power goes out and plumbing stops working, you’re going to need to implement an off-grid waste system. Consider this ahead of time. You could dispose of human waste by burying it or jury-rig a makeshift toilet with a bucket.
Tip #8 – Brush up on Basic First Aid
First aid supplies are a must-have in any emergency preparedness stockpile. You’ll also want to know how to use them. There are many survival scenarios in which you may need to manage injuries on the spot without professional medical care.
Being able to spring into action and perform CPR, tie a tourniquet, or splint a broken bone can save a life.
Tip #9 – Have Backup Power and Lighting Sources
Be prepared for a power outage. A blizzard, a hurricane, rolling black outs – there are many reasons you may be forced to live without power. Have a flashlight for each family member, extra batteries, lanterns, candles, matches/lighters, and a backup power source.
If you have the means, invest in a solar generator. If you’re on a tight budget, an affordable option like the QuadraPro Solar Power Bank will still allow you to charge your cell phone in a power outage.
Tip #10 – Be Able to Reach the Outside World without a Cell Phone
Invest in a way to reach the outside world beyond your cell phone. Starting out, you can get a simple radio to pick up emergency bands and stay informed with weather alerts. Ultimately, you may want to invest in a HAM radio, which allows for two-way communications (legal without a license in times of emergency).
Tip# 11 – Don’t Forget to Stay Sane
A true emergency situation or extended power outage will be stressful, so don’t forget to stay sane and plan for your entertainment. Cards, books, and board games can go a long way providing your family with a little fun and sense of normalcy.
You can also include comfort food treats like chocolate in your prepping pantry to give your family a little pick me up in hard times.
Tip #12 – Plan for Mobility
The above prepping tips assume you’ll be able to hunker down at home, but there are situations where you may be forced to evacuate. Most preppers have a “bug-out bag” filled with essentials in case they need to grab it and go with a moment’s notice.
Stock your bag with drinking water, food, hygiene essentials, a change of clothes, and survival gear like a multi-tool, flashlight, fire-starter, and emergency shelter.
Have the Peace of Mind that Comes with Being Prepared
The above tips should help you get started on your prepping journey and provide peace of mind that you’ll be able safely survive a sudden crisis.
The term “prepping” used to conjure up images of fanatics in bunkers, but if the last few years of pandemic, supply-chain issues, civil unrest, war, and natural disasters have taught us anything, it’s that being prepared is not fringe paranoia, it’s common sense.