Friday, January 12, 2018

I'm New to Prepping, Where Do I Start?

On many preparedness forums, in between the technical discussions about survival firearms and economics discussions about TEOTWAWKI, you will occasionally find someone who just started thinking about general preparedness and has no idea how to begin.  Their idea of being a prepper is somewhere between Rambo and Bill Proenneke, but their reality is a wife, a few kids, and barely enough income to make ends meet.  So if you fall into this category (and we all do at some point so no shame there), here is where to begin:  Start with the things that will help your family in the immediate future...

  • Do you have smoke detectors on each floor of your home and do they work?
  • Do you have a first aid kit that can take care of the flu, minor cuts, minor burns, and other small injuries?
  • Does everyone in your family have a copy of contact information for friends and family both near and far (phone number and email address for all immediate family members, for friends and relatives in town, and friends and relatives in the next town/state)?
  • Do you have an emergency fund?  $1000 to $2000 may seem like a lot of money, and it is to some people, but that amount will cover most minor emergencies such as a hotel for a few nights if you have to evacuate your home, a new hot water tank if yours decides to die one day, a fix to your vehicle when it decides not to start one day, etc.
  • Do you have some stored water for emergencies?  You can easily buy cases of water for a couple of dollars or a gallon of water for a buck.  A gallon of water, per person, per day, is recommended so if there are five people in your family, getting seven five-gallon jugs of water will take care of your family for an entire week.
  • Do you have enough food in your house to not have to go to the store for groceries for one week?  Two weeks?  One month?  Buying 21 cans of soup will take care of three meals per day for one person for a week; that will cost about $30.  That would probably be a miserable week, so consider mixing things up--packages of oatmeal, peanut butter and jelly, crackers, canned beans/fruit/vegetables, and some cookies and candy to keep people's spirits up.  Be sure to rotate this food into your usual food so that it doesn't go bad then replenish your stores regularly.
As you cover the basics, consider adding a few extras every week--make sure everyone in the family has a flashlight and extra batteries for a power outage, buy some tarps and rope to protect things during a storm, invest in small backpacks, even if you have to shop at the Goodwill, so each family member will be able to build an evacuation bag.  And most importantly, learn as much as you can.  You don't need much stuff to survive a disaster but you do need a lot of knowledge.  Learn CPR, learn about the most likely local disasters that could occur, and volunteer with agencies in your area that will teach you survival skills (CERT course, Search and Rescue, etc).

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