If you’re reading this, I’m hoping it means that you have decided to become one of us. A prepper. Maybe it was a natural disaster that caused you to take this path. Or a personal crisis. Maybe it’s politics, the economy, our infrastructure, terrorist threats, or maybe you just want to be more self-reliant…
Whatever it may be, I’m glad you’re here. I am by no means an expert in the field of prepping and survival, but I’m working on it. I was a beginner once and may still be when compared to some of my prepping idols. But I know that beginner feeling. Sheer overwhelming and paralyzing panic. You know you want to prep. You are aware of the dangers in this unpredictable world and you want to do everything that you possibly can to make sure that your family will be healthy and safe. You want to get everything done right now.
Hopefully this post will help guide you on what to do right now (or at least in the near future). The following list of 20 things a beginner prepper should get right now is not aimed towards surviving a long term, extended period crisis. This is geared towards a two week disaster situation. Start small and work your way up. You will constantly be learning, making mistakes, celebrating successes, and hopefully teaching others.
- At least 2 weeks worth of water for each person in your household. Don’t forget your pets! 1 gallon/person/day for cooking and consumption + 1 gallon/person/day for hygiene = 2 gallon/person/day. Two weeks = 14 days = 28 gallons/person for 2 weeks at the minimum. I say minimum because the amount of water you need may increase if you have a baby, a pregnant or nursing mother, or someone with a health condition that requires it. Additionally figure at least 1 gallon/day/pet. Buy and store in whatever means works for your family and for your living situation.
- A method of water purification. A LifeStraw for each family member is a good start. Mr. BP (my husband) got me something similar to this for my new bug out bag for my birthday a few weeks ago. There are several ways to purify your drinking water if you don’t know its source or possible contaminants. I personally keep a rotating stock of unscented bleach as a back-up.
- 2 weeks worth of food. Check out my recent post on how to stockpile food for $5/week. Like I said before, we aren’t focusing on storing hundreds and hundreds of pounds of wheat and flour quite yet. I recommend starting with a basic 2 week food supply of food that your family can easily prepare, will provide enough nutrition, and food they’ll actually eat. Mr. BP loathes canned green beans and peas…so guess what’s not in my stockpile?
- An alternate form of heat. Make that two alternate forms of heat. You may think to yourself, “I have a fireplace and woods on my property. I’m set.” But in a crisis situation, there might be cold people on the street that see your chimney puffing smoke indicating that there are nice, cozy, and warm people inside. People get desperate in times of great desperation. Look at the looting and aftermath during Hurricane Katrina. Which leads beautifully into our next item…
- A form of self defense/security. A knife, firearm, nun-chucks, pellet gun, taser…whatever floats your boat. Have at least one, preferably two, and know how to safely use them. Don’t forget home security such as battery operated alarms, a good guard dog, fences, etc. People will get desperate in times of crisis.
- A well stocked bug out bag for each member of your family. It has taken me many, many months to stock my “perfect” bug out bag. I’m constantly re-evaluating the bag itself and its contents. Mr. BP gifted me a bug out bag for my birthday that I am in love with! He knows me too well. A bug out bag is a must have. You need to have your survival items packed up and ready to go at a moment’s notice in case your home becomes unsafe.
- Next after a bug out bag is a form of communication. Multiple forms if you’re up for it. This not only includes two way radios, a HAM radio, a crank/emergency radio, but also and more importantly…communication plans. If you have to bug out, do you know where to go? Will your family? Chances are that when disaster strikes, you won’t all be together. Think of as many scenarios as you possibly can, and what your family is to do should one occur. Have back-up plans for your back-up plans.
- A first-aid kit and any prescription medications your family may need. You can start with a basic first aid kit and slowly evolve it by adding items. An additional item that I highly, highly suggest is a form of blood clotting such as Quick Clot. Bleeding out after a grizzly injury is much more likely during a disaster and a real threat to your safety. Also stock up on knowledge. Take a CPR class, maybe a basic EMT class, gather books like this one, educate yourself on alternate forms of medicine and care like essential oils.
- A form of shelter should you need to bug out. Shelter is one of the primary necessities of survival. Have a tent in your car or bug out bag, have knowledge on building a safe structure in the wilderness to keep your family warm and dry, get reflective thermal sleeping bags for your bug out bag.
- Have a good supply of flashlights and batteries. I prefer rechargeable batteries and have a solar charger for back-up. I still have a healthy stock of various batteries should I need them…and I most certainly will in a crisis situation.
- Stock trash bags, Ziploc bags, and at least 1 roll of plastic liner. The uses of trash bags and others like it are near infinite. Here’s a great post on 30 uses for trash bags in a survival situation. They’re affordable and lightweight, no brainer.
- Various hygiene items. It’s likely that you won’t have running water or sewage during a disaster situation so having a good supply of hygiene items is a necessity. Watch your stores for sales or coupon if you’re into that and grab up hygiene items like baking soda (so many uses), hand sanitizer, soap, feminine products, and other items that just might make you feel a little better (and clean).
- Cash. Stash it everywhere. Your car, your desk at work, your wallet, the baby’s diaper bag, and in your house. Wherever you may need it. If a catastrophe were to occur, chances are electricity would be one of the first things to go. This means no ATMs and no swiping your debit card at the store. If you’re lucky enough to get to a store before the real sh*t hits the fan and people haven’t yet grasped that nature of a situation, the store may still be accepting cash for purchases. Get what you need, and get out. Most importantly, stay safe.
- Stock some gasoline. We always try to keep our vehicles with at least 1/2 tank of fuel. If the electricity goes, so do the gas pumps. It would be smart to have some gas safely stored with a fuel stabilizer added. Think about storing more than you may need. Gas would be worth its weight in gold as a barter item in a long term grid down situation.
- Have a good knife and/or multi tool. Mr. BP got me an impressive Gerber multi tool for my bug out bag as well as a tactical grade knife. Their uses are endless and will prove beneficial in any survival situation.
- Have the materials and knowledge to start fire at least 2 different ways. A fire piston, a fire starter rod, char cloth and good ol’ lighters are some great options. Make sure to learn to use them and practice. You don’t want to be trying them out for the first time during a crisis.
- Cookware and an alternate method of cooking. Having some cast iron skillets and a dutch oven for use over a fire is a great start. A Sun Oven is on my wishlist.
- Forms of emergency lighting. I did a tutorial post on making candles for emergency situations. Use whatever works safely for your family like candles, battery operated lanterns, or oil lamps.
- Survival and prepping books. You most likely won’t have access to the Internet or Google in a crisis situation. Having a good library of resources will prove invaluable. Check out my Recommended Products page for some of the books and products that I’ve personally used and thought worthy of recommending. Arming yourself with knowledge and know how may be one of the best things you can do for yourself.
- Lastly, but certainly not least…have back up plans for your back up plans. It’s imperative. Things will never go as planned in a crisis situation. Hell, things hardly ever go as planned in a normal day. Have a back up communication plan, a back up form of transportation, a back up bug out location…you get the picture. You can’t plan the unexpected, but you can prepare for it to the best of your ability. Being able to think on the go and making decisions in a moment’s notice could be what saves your family and keeps them safe.
I’m sure other sites and blogs you read will have different “must haves” than what I’ve listed here. This isn’t meant to be an all-inclusive set in stone list. My intention is for it to be a guide to help direct you as you start out on your prepping journey.
What did I forget? Is there anything you would add or remove from the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!