The prepping community can feel a little overwhelming to newcomers. There are thousands of eventualities that people prepare for and an endless supply list. Everyone has an opinion about what you need for any given situation. So, what’s essential to you in your situation? Where do you start to begin to prepare for the disasters or events that could threaten your survival? Perhaps you are getting prepared for when a natural disaster strikes or you see something more ominous on your horizon. Regardless of the reason you started prepping, you need to know that every disaster, manmade or natural, has a timeframe. The time leading up to the disaster will determine how well you can weather it. And, your chances of survival when a disaster strikes will depend on your understanding of how disasters unfold, how people react, and how you should react. Do you know what you should be prepping? Do you really have what you need to survive?
In this blog we will look at the five things you need to do now in your prepping to increase your real chances of survival in any crisis or disaster situation. There are a number of blogs on this site where you can find greater detail about the points in this blog, so we want to encourage those new to the prepping community to explore this channel further. For those who have been prepping for a while, we think you’ll find this blog as a checklist to keep your plans for preparedness on track and in-line with the current threats we face.
Here are the five things you should do now because when a disaster or crisis situation does strike, you will quickly lose the opportunity to prepare.
Of course, the first thing you need to do before a disaster strikes or in the immediate moments after a disaster strikes, is to secure your essentials. Food, water, shelter, and your personal security should all be top priorities to you. You should have food stored that you know how to prepare, and while there are different opinions on how much you should have stored up, much will depend on the type of disaster you face. Having a year’s supply of food does little good if you are forced to bug out of your once safe location because of rising flood waters or fire. Bulky cans and bags of beans are not impossible to carry, but may become problematic if speed is of the essence. We have other blogs on foods to store, and we will put a link to those in the description below, but consider the weight of your food and the caloric value of it as well as how much you and every member of your family unit will need to survive at least a minimum of three weeks. Dehydrated and freeze dried foods are lighter in weight, but they need water to rehydrate them.
Water is the other essential you should secure in the time before disaster strikes and in the moments immediately when the disaster strikes. Your water supply may seem to be operational now, but it depends on a working, functional infrastructure to deliver it to your home or apartment. Unmonitored municipal water supplies can become contaminated with chemicals and sewage. When disaster strikes, immediately fill any containers you have, including your bathtub. Take a moment to hydrate yourself too. If your water supplies are threatened, you will be glad you took that moment. Filling containers and your bathtub, will greatly support your existing water supply. A fifty-five gallon drum of water can sit for years at the side of a garage, unseen and unused until you critically need it. A personal water filter or filtration straw, like we recommend, can provide an individual with one hundred thousand gallons of clean water for under twenty bucks. Just having a mini Sawyer makes you better prepared for disaster than everyone else, and because of its pocket size you can quickly grab it and go if you are forced to flee. Above all else, secure your food and water supply.
Finally, secure your shelter. Before disaster or civil unrest strikes and endangers your safety, make sure that your doors and windows lock. Make sure your location is secure. Consider a home security system. Make sure that your personal safety is considered. There are many methods for personal security ranging from a simple knife or can of mace up to and beyond a complete weapons cache and a ton of ammo. You need to assess what you feel you need to keep yourself and your loved ones safe in the crisis and situations you might face. Think of your shelter as your person as well. Is your body protected? Are you safe? What can you do to increase your personal security and the safety of your shelter?
The second thing you need to know is to diversify your resources–energy, food, and assets. As mentioned earlier, if all your food supplies were in bulky cans, you’re in trouble if you have to bugout. As you prepare for disasters or civil unrest, diversify the types of supplies you have. Don’t rely upon any single thing.
Make sure that you have multiple sources of power. Batteries won’t last forever and losing power in a disaster is a common occurrence. Portable solar cell batteries and chargers have significantly dropped in price over the years. Having a means to recharge rechargeable batteries with solar generated energy increases your energy independence. It diversifies your energy sources. In an extended crisis, you might also find it a valuable resource you can barter with. What would it be worth to a person to get their batteries recharged when the power is out for a long period of time?
Diversify your food resources as well. Make sure that you have alternate means to stretch and replenish your stored food supplies. Know how to forage. Know what you can grow. Know whom you can trade with. In any crisis, food is better than gold. It’s the first thing people will look for. It’s the first thing people will wish they had more of. You can only store so much, though. There is always the possibility that the crisis may outlast your stored supplies, so whether supplementing your food with food you can grow or learning to forage in your environment, you need to learn how to diversify your food supplies.
Diversify your assets with a similar mindset. Having even a couple of hundred dollars in cryptocurrency or silver, could be a smart move if the dollar collapses or the economy slips from a recession to a depression. Spread any financial assets into a diversified mix that improves liquidity and access while reducing risk exposure to single dependence on the US dollar. We are not a financial consultant and our blogs are purely educational, but it makes sense that your ability to survive through a prolonged downturn may rely upon your ability to keep financially afloat. That will mean you will have to have a range of fiscal resources at your disposal as well as a sense of their value and an ability to barter.
When a disaster or crisis strikes you may still have some time. In fact, if you are thinking like a prepper already, you are anticipating the possibilities. If the pandemic taught anyone anything, it’s that runs on essentials like food and toilet paper happen pretty rapidly as soon as the general population begins to sense the looming catastrophe. You don’t even need a disaster to strike. You just need the herd of people to believe a threat is looming.
When disaster strikes or is about to strike, your time is limited to sell things you will not need in the long haul if a prolonged economic decline, for instance, is really at your doorstep. Have you been considering whether you need that second car, for instance? If you don’t, someone might be wanting it, but a week from the point of the downturn, it will be hard to sell anything. If we are on a cusp of an economic depression, now might be the best time to refinance your house or reallocate your savings. In the months after the lockdowns from the pandemic, the purchase of big-ticket items slowed. The price and sales of used trailers, fishing equipment, emergency supplies, and fishing and hunting supplies skyrocketed. Demand was high for these items, but many held off on the purchase of that new but not very practical new car. Even now, eight months into a pandemic, we were shocked to discover that we couldn’t buy a fishing rod and reel at some sporting goods stores. Whether that is because people sense a looming threat, whether supplies of product from China has ground to a halt in a worsening trade war, or whether people are just looking for a cheap way to entertain themselves during a pandemic, we don’t know. It doesn’t matter to the fact that fishing supplies are sparse right now.
Take a holistic look at your prepping supplies. Are you prepared for a variety of disasters? Do you have the things you would deem essential? We never encourage people to go out and max out their credit cards or increase their debt for a disaster that may never befall you, but do make a list of the items you feel are essential. Start slowly and incrementally making those purchases. Over time, you will find that you have what you need hopefully before you truly need it. Even simply saving jars and filling them with rice or dried beans over several weeks can lead to an adequate supply of food when disaster strikes. Think incrementally now. Whatever decisions you make regarding what you should sell or what you should buy, give those decisions their due thought right now rather than wait for the time when decisions must be made in desperation.
The greatest resources you have to survive any disaster or crisis are your skills and knowledge, but you cannot simply wait to develop those skills and knowledge when or after a disaster or crisis occurs. Don’t put off to that day what you should be learning today. We recently posted a blog on ten skills you can develop now to survive an economic depression, so you may want to take a look at that.
Do you anticipate that you may be fishing a local lake or river to supplement your food sources or to sell or trade fish. Is fishing one of your skills? When was the last time you actually worked on that skill? What do your tackle and supplies look like? Assuming you can’t just run to the local store, do you have what you need?
Do you anticipate needing to repair or make your own clothes? What do your supplies look like? Do you have the bolts of fabric you will need to make enough garments for your own needs and to have products to sell? Do you have enough durable rather than dainty fabrics? When was the last time you actually made an article of clothing from scratch? Are your skills where they need to be?
Are you going to garden or cook or forage for food? Do you have the essentials you’ll need like seeds or flour or plant identification books to get you through an extended economic collapse? Whatever your skill is, beef up your supplies now. Runs on stores in the days leading up to and following an economic collapse or disaster will deplete store shelves and it will be too late. You will constantly be looking for what you need, like the majority of desperate people, and likely not finding it. Again, don’t feel like you need to max out your credit cards. We feel strongly that you can effectively prep incrementally, a little each week.
The fifth thing you should do now to prepare yourself is to know your locations. If you’re prepping in an urban environment, do you have bug-out locations with other people? Can you go across town to a friend’s house if your location is no longer safe? Likewise, does your friend know they can come to your location? These pacts amongst friends and family will provide you a network of safe locations should you be driven from or forced to flee your home or apartment. Is there a rural or suburban family member in your network you can bug out to?
During the Great Depression, people were forced to move to find work or food. Natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes can leave large swaths of land uninhabitable. Today, we are more spread out from our families and often separated by thousands of miles. Have an option B and an option C. Run possible scenarios through your head and make some loose plans for where you can go when things become untenable where you are at.
Of course, if you are already in a rural location, you probably don’t need a bug-out location. But having a pact among your neighbors can still keep you safer in a drawn out crisis. For the urban and suburban prepper, having a remote bug-out location or two is always a solid bet. It allows you options, and so much of survival is centered around not running out of options. Do realize that bugging-out has many challenges. It can be difficult and dangerous to leave your bug-in location and travel to your bug-out location. Consider making a dry run to test the route you’ll take and maybe return on an alternate route. Just as a commuter after several years has multiple. possible routes should one route become congested, you too should have multiple routes to your safer locations.
It’s easy to have a tremendous amount of built up anxiety about what is happening in the world today and what might possibly happen in our immediate future. Prepping provides you a means to calm those anxieties and replace those feelings with the confidence that you have prepared where you can and can face the challenges. Develop an incremental approach to your preparedness. Cover the major concerns first and then start ticking away bit-by-bit on the smaller, long term survival needs. In the times before and the moments immediately after a disaster strikes, you may still be able to make some long term preparations. Don’t waste this relatively calm time now. Secure your essentials first. Look to diversify your resources. Make the transactions now of the items you don’t really need for what you still need. Stock up on your skills, and know your locations. You can be ready when you need to be by starting slowly and methodically now.
Have you been prepping for a long time? What’s your best advice for new preppers? We learn a tremendous amount from you as well, and together we stay prepared for whatever the world throws at us.
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As always, stay safe out there.