To start with, “prepping” is an Americanized verb of “to prepare."
As in all of my other articles on “How do I get started doing_____?” The first and foremost thing to do is define the scope and level of what you are about to do.
The articles here are not “25 things you should/should not hoard” or “43 things you need to do/not do.” There’s already 10,000 websites/YouTube channels that go over those in great detail.
I’m here to get you to think about what you can do, will do and are capable of doing. You need to get your “brain straight” with this stuff before you do anything.
You can have all of the cool gadgets, doodads and gear in the world, however without the knowledge and practice of using them, along with the mindset and will to survive no matter what, you won’t make it. A person who can handle the physical stress of a survival situation armed with the knowledge needed to survive, yet has no gear will last a lot longer than the pudgy guy who has everything but knows nothing. Knowledge is critical. Tools are a “force multiplier” to those who know how to use them.
The first question you need to ask yourself, “What scale of a disaster am I preparing for?” A short-term plan (1 year maximum) will not have many components that are needed for a long-term/permanent (1 year or more) grid-down plan. If a short- or long-term grid-down situation comes to pass, can you physically do what needs to be done to survive? Do you have the knowledge to use the tools and supplies you have/can get to survive until services are restored? Do you have the strength, physically and mentally, to end another person’s life without hesitation? If some wants your supplies bad enough, they’re probably willing to end you to get them.
There are actually several things to cover here, so let’s take the most important one first, “What am I prepping for?”
There are several steps up this staircase that will determine what supplies and how much of them you should have. Luckily, the higher steps cover the earlier steps. Here’s some reasons:
- Extended job/income loss (partial or total)
- Localized calamity
- Regional calamity
- Total “grid down”
Extended job/income loss: This is the one you will most likely encounter, and will probably affect just your family. The normal social services will be available to help you. This is caused when you and/or your spouse/partner have lost their job and the associated income. You could nave partial/no income for a couple months while the unemployment claim is approved or you get a new job. Food Stamps, food banks, rental assistance will be available.
As long as you can cover your rent and utilities, you can work around everything else. You might have to shut off your cell phone, however you could qualify for a free government phone. You’ll have to go without your Netflix and other similar services so that money can be spent on food and other critical essentials.
Localized calamity: Here we are talking about a massive snowstorm, a hurricane, earthquake or civil unrest/martial law. It will be worse in a city than a rural area. Everything comes to a halt quickly (and you’ve had some warning, so you’ve had time to “go to ground”) and there are no public services for 3-5 days until rescue efforts from outside the affected area can organize and get to you and deliver needed supplies and services. You have to live off what you have in your home, with or without grid utilities until then. Author note: I just went through this. Lessons learned.
Regional calamity: This is just like the localized calamity, but on a larger scale. Because it’s a multi-state region instead of a city or a single state, now we’re talking about a month or more because the scale of people to help and services to restore is exponentially larger.
Total grid down: Now we’re talking a Jericho kind of situation. No utilities, no trucks coming in, no government beyond local, and even they would be a “doubtful maybe.” You’re on your own at this point because there is no cavalry coming over the hill to rescue you. In fact, anyone “coming over the hill” is likely going to be a raiding party. To be blunt, unless you already live away from any major population center and already grow your own food, your chances of long-term survival is somewhere between infinitesimal and insignificant (they both mean practically zero). For this level of catastrophe, the technological level will probably fall back to a pre-Industrial Revolution level. In Colonial days, 70% of the population was involved in growing food. That’s why most of us will die. Most can’t physically do the work or lack the knowledge or skills necessary.
If you have never planted a garden before, having a stock of seeds will not save you. You will waste a year or two just figuring out how to grow food at all, let alone enough of what you need to survive.
In the instance of a sudden event (EMP, nuclear attack, earthquake, tornado, etc.), you will most likely be at home, work, shopping or otherwise near your home. This means if you’re not already at home where your supplies are, you most likely could walk home in less than a day. The only difference between the first three is the length we’re talking about. The Job loss scenario can be handled a lot easier (it’s still not easy, just easier) because all you really need are cash reserves and a food store since your external supports will be available. The regional calamity/grid down scale will require some kind of relocation if you’re in a city. If you live in a 4th floor walkup in New York City, “grid down” means “get out of town.” Also, if you’re in an apartment, you probably can’t stock everything you need for 1-3 months. So, knowing where to go should be determined now before the catastrophe and not subject to a coin flip at the moment you’re packing your car to escape.
To properly answer the scenarios I proposed above, I suggest you start by going through your day at home and note down everything you use.
As an example, you would document your body wash, scrubbing pad, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving cream, razor and so on, just getting ready in the morning. Do that every day for a week or two to make sure you get everything. Then sit down with your partner and go over your lists. Categorize these items into “essential,” “nice to have” and “not needed” lists. Figure out how long one unit of whatever will last. Then get enough of that to last your specified period and add another 50% on top of that. Look at what you eat on a daily basis. Stockpile what you eat in “shelf stable” (i.e. doesn’t need refrigeration) packaging. Seek out alternatives (powdered milk if you need it, etc.).
This will take a lot of research, deep thinking and coordination before you go to buy a single thing. Don’t do the “Ooh, shiny” and buy something just because it is flashy and you don’t have it. This will lead to something like you having 1,000 cans of food and no can opener.
Think, consider, reason and plan. Once you have those nailed down, THEN you can start getting things.