Every prepper list out there will differ a little from the rest and experienced preppers (preparedness enthusiasts) love to debate endlessly about the best weapon for home defense or the proper way to store rice. With all the various schools of thought on how to best prepare for an emergency, it can be overwhelming for a newbie prepper who is just getting started.
Where do you start? Whose advice should you take? After reading every preppers list of “must have preps” you could find online, which should you follow? Here are a few guidelines to help you get started on the path toward your first preps (preparations).
1. Take it easy. You don’t need to buy a year’s supply of food right this second. Most people can’t afford that and it’s best to get more information before you go plunking down $3000, even if you have it to blow—otherwise, you’ll probably make a $3000 mistake.
2. Start with what you already use. Buy a little extra of everything that you’re buying this week for food. Or, look for sales, and stock up on that item by buying a case of it. Just be sure whatever you’re buying is something you already use, particularly if it’s food.
3. Start small. Aim for a three-day supply of everything you might need to get by. That means that if you were stranded in your house for three days, you’d have everything you need: food, water, medicine, baby items, pet items, etc. Imagine you’ve lost all utility services, like electricity, running water, and gas. What would you need to have in order to stay warm and dry, to “go to the bathroom” without using a flush toilet, to stay clean, to protect yourself from possible looters, to take care of basic medical needs, for three full days, with no outside help?
4. Work your way up slowly. After you get your three day emergency stash built up, you might want to make sure you have a 72 hour kit, also known as a “bug-out bag.” This is a backpack or other bag easily carried that has everything one person needs to survive for 72 hours, if you had to leave your home. There should be one for every family member who can carry it. Once you have your 72 hour kits, move on to a seven day stash of emergency supplies. Next, build it up for a month, then three months, then six months, then a year’s supply.
5. Be realistic. Not everyone lives in a home big enough to have a year’s supply of food and necessities, especially if you have a small home and a large family. Not everyone has the resources to do that either. Just do what you can, within your own time, money, and space constraints. Over time, you may become more creative, and could surprise yourself with your resources and ingenuity.
6. Don’t compare. If your neighbor has a basement full of food, two safes full of weapons, and enough ammunition to start his own army, don’t expect to achieve what he has overnight. It probably took him many years to build up his impressive stash. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
7. Store what works for YOUR family! Just because your brother-in-law considers himself an expert on all things survivalism doesn’t mean that he knows what your family truly needs. Some of the things in his preps might be a waste of money for your family, while there may be things that he scoffs at, which you know you truly need. Use any advice you get or information you learn from any preppers list online as a guideline to help you plan what YOU need, but don’t let others persuade you from an item that you know is crucial for your family to be happy and safe in an emergency situation.
These first steps toward building up an emergency preparedness stockpile will help you stay on track, prioritize your goals, and avoid wasting your time and money.