When I first started prepping I didn’t know specifically what I was supposed to do or what prepping was to be honest – only that I felt that strong need to do something to protect my family. This was a gnawing thought in the back of my mind; like the kind you might get when you see someone whose face is familiar, but you can’t picture where you know them from. When this happens to me, I can’t really think of anything else until I realize where it is that I know that person. It usually passes, but this lingering thought that I needed to get prepared would not go away.
I started to research home security topics first because I imagined someone harming my family and that was an easy jump to make. I needed to get a gun in case of an intruder. I had small children and a wife, so this was logical I thought, but as I was shopping and researching, I entered other areas that increased the world of things I could see as potential problems.
In my mind there was doubt and uncertainty about the future and the only thing that made sense for me to do was to prepare for the worst. It never really occurred to me that I was blowing anything out of proportion or that I should just sit on my 401K until things got better because I knew that eventually bad times were coming. I read a ton of articles and watched days of YouTube videos but I still felt more urgency than a direction. My gut told me I should be doing something, but still I had no clue where to start. Where to start prepping?
We have a lot of readers on the Survival of the Most Prepared who have been prepping for years. but for this post I wanted to go back to the beginning and try to share what I have learned, what worked for me and what didn’t and hopefully give you some direction that I didn’t have. I know that our readers will help by adding to the conversation in the comments below.
You are not crazy!
There are a million things we talk about on the subject of prepping, but it all boils down to this. The goal of Prepping is to keep you alive. You prepare for bad things happening in your life. Your preps are those resources (skills, supplies, gear, relationships) you have that will allow you to ride out the bad things with as little negative consequences as possible. Trying to survive isn’t crazy and making sure you have a plan for bad things isn’t nuts either.
Start with visualizing what you are concerned about
In the beginning I focused on a lot of things that I could worry about from the standpoint of my family. There was the possibility of so many things: economic collapse, tornadoes, riots, nuclear war, government tyranny, global pandemic, global warming, global cooling, peak oil, terrorism, EMP, Zombies, rabid Bigfoot…. The point here isn’t to focus on a specific threat to your life although thinking about something you are concerned about can help you plan.
Understand what everyone needs for survival
Every human on earth needs the same basic things to live. You need water, food, shelter and security. Can you live without water? Yes, for a while depending on where you are but not for long (roughly 3 days/72 hours). Can you live without shelter? It depends; are you in the desert or the mountains of Colorado? Can you live without Food? which is probably the one thing you can live without the longest (roughly 21days), but lack of a fairly constant source of nutrition will harm your health and make you less able to deal with other issues as effectively as you need. You could have all of these bases covered, but someone who failed to prepared might see you and want to take them away from you and give them to his family.
You need all of these survival items, regardless if zombies from outer space are wreaking havoc on earth or the stock market takes a dive and never returns. If almost any of the “threats” mentioned above happened; you can plan on disruptions in your life. They could be minor or they could last years. You can use these things to judge your preparedness level by how long you could survive if you had to count on yourself to get water. If you had to provide your own food, how much would you have? If you couldn’t call the cops would you have some means of defense?
Identify areas where you need to prepare
I think the best thing to do before you start prepping is to think about what your family needs to survive and choose a time-frame. You can start small, take two weeks to begin and start figuring out how much you would need to last for 14 days.
- Without access to clean potable water
- Without access to food
- Without access to power/heat/air-conditioning/a house
- Without the possibility of calling the police
Food and water should be simple. How much food do you need for your family and anyone else who might stop by if you had to stay indoors for 14 days? This should be food that doesn’t need refrigeration that your family eats already. How much water would you need to do the same thing? A good average is one gallon per day per person.
Shelter and Security get into different things depending largely on where you live and your personal beliefs in the case of firearms. They also might require licensing and in some cases a higher entry point cost wise to prepping than food and water.
Reevaluate, revisit, revise as necessary
If you followed the plan above you have the basics you need to last for one week. Congratulations! This puts you ahead of 98% of the rest of your neighbors. You should have a sense of accomplishment but you may feel like you have only scratched the surface. My personal goal is to prepared to live for one year without access to food, water, the police, power or fuel. I still have a way to go in some areas, but each day is a journey for me. Some days I make great strides. Other days, I have to step back and regroup, but I am always looking down the road.
Relax but don’t quit
In the beginning, I was consumed with the thought of prepping and how I was so far behind the curve. Since that time 14 years ago, I have witnessed thousands of times where disaster was right around the corner only to wake up the next day to find the world still spinning. This will happen to you, but you shouldn’t give up on your prepping efforts. That is another reason not to pin your actions on a specific event or threat. The people who prepared only because of the Mayan calendar 2012 issue were likely disappointed when nothing happened but this shouldn’t happen to you.
Prepping is a lifestyle that will see you through events we might not even see coming. By preparing now and continuing slowly as your resources allow you will give yourself security. You will give your family protection and a chance at survival. You will be someone who can lead in a disaster and give hope when there might not be any left.
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