How to Start Prepping
I’m going to present two scenarios that really happened to people close to me.
*Names withheld to protect the guilty.
Person Number 1:
M.O., South DFW Metro area, mid-30s, single, school teacher, living alone
February 2011 came in like a lion in North Texas. An abnormal arctic blast swept through the entire state but hit particularly hard in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. For nearly a week, businesses, schools and transportation shut down. Within 48 hours of the event, the electricity in M. O’s neighborhood went out. One by one her neighbors began fleeing. Too scared to drive and too stubborn to call for a cab, M.O. stayed. Soon after the electricity shut off, the water froze—including the water in the toilet tank. Her cell phone died after day three. Too hazardous for any of us to drive, none of M.O.’s friends knew if she was okay until the ice and snow melted. She made it through but said she never wanted to go through it again.
Person Number 2:
J.W., South Florida, early 40s, married, IT manager, living with a spouse
The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was record-breaking. Floridians are no strangers to hurricanes; however, on October 24, 2005, the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded made landfall on Cape Romano, Florida. A little over 170 miles away in Palm Beach County, J.W. was in full-on hurricane prep mode. He boarded up the house, filled the generator with gas, stocked up on propane for the gas grill, and bought plenty of bottled water and canned food. There were plenty of batteries, booze and flashlights. He and the wife were ready. Hurricane Wilma was a category 2 hurricane by the time it reached Palm Beach County. Power was knocked out for weeks and many went without cell or internet service for over two months. The nights were balmy, and the showers cold, yet J.O. and his wife had plenty to eat and drink and entertained themselves. J.O. was even able to take care of everything at work because he lived within walking distance, allowing life during those few uncomfortable weeks to be somewhat normal.
Now I am going to ask you a question.
Which person do you think is “crazy?” Person 1? Or Person 2?
Person 1, right?
I thought so.
Merriam-Webster defines ‘crazy’ as, “full of cracks or flaws.” So, certainly, in this case, M.O., is the crazy one. Without a proper way to stay warm, communicate or cook food, M.O. put herself in danger.
Unfortunately, M.O. is like the majority of Americans. In a 2018 poll, 41% of Americans reported that they were not prepared for a natural disaster.
There is good news, though. That number is up from a 2015 FEMA surveyed that found 60% of Americans had not prepared to survive a disaster and by you reading this right now, you are taking the first step in learning how to be ready just like J.W.
Good for you!
Though 41% is still an unacceptably high number of unprepared people, at least more are beginning to prep. The last decade’s events probably have something to do with that. Not only has the frequency of major natural disasters increased globally—according to The Economist, since 1970, the number of worldwide disasters has more than quadrupled to about 400 a year—but also has the number of political and social unrest events. From 2010-2017 there were 30 notable riots, the most since America’s most turbulent years in modern history—1960-1969.
So, why are most American not taking the steps to deal with an emergency?
There are two main reasons.
- Despite the popularity of the zombie and end-of-the-world genre, “prepping” got a bad rap.
- Human nature. It is in our NATURE to deny bad things will happen to us.
We have two HUGE forces working against us—ourselves and the media.
The Normalcy Bias
The Normalcy Bias, or the Ostrich Effect, is when people deny a disaster could never happen to them and therefore find no reason to prepare for one. Seventy percent of people experience normalcy bias, while it is estimated that only 15 percent have a “presence of mind and do the right thing” when faced with a disaster (PsycholoGenie.com).
Prepping Is a Bad Word
2002 marked when America became infected with zombie fever. 28 Days Later was released and then a year later, the Walking Dead series debuted. For ten years, we were kind of zombie obsessed. The zombie apocalypse made money on tv, at the box office and on gaming consoles. Even the Centers for Disease Control and huge companies like Sears, Doritos, Honda and Toyota capitalized on the craze.
On February 7, 2012, National Geographic premiered its reality show called Doomsday Preppers centered around showcasing people planning to survive various disaster/end of the world scenarios.
Of course, to make “good” TV, the producers of Doomsday Preppers focused on those whose ideas were more extreme with plenty of eccentric personalities. They didn’t feature the regular folks who kept extra water, non-perishable foods, extra batteries and a first aid kit in their designated safe room. Those people featured on Doomsday Preppers were depicted as putting their preps first before their family, saying mentally unhinged things and being unsafe with their firearms. Those opposed to guns or who had never considered preparing saw these people as kooks, spending a ton of money on unrealistic, make-believe situations.
In reality, many of those situations that could happen—a super volcano, a life-ending comet, an EMP attack…are some more far-fetched than others? Sure, but I’m not ruling anything out. Our world has already experienced quite a few of the disasters the Doomsday Preppers were prepping for—financial collapse, a massive earthquake, global pandemic and terrorist attacks.
Here’s the thing—a natural disaster is going to happen. The only thing we can control is our response to the event.
Regardless of what type of “doomsday” event you’re planning for, I’m proud of you. It is nothing to be ashamed of, nor are you crazy for wanting to be one of those with “presence of mind.”
Survivors survive because they are prepared—not just because they stockpile a bunch of stuff but because they are practiced and confident in their abilities and mentally ready to face whatever happens. You don’t need a closet full of freeze-dried food or an underground bunker to be ready.
The following are four easy and budget-conscience ways to begin prepping.
Prepping: What to do First
As stated above, mindset is the most important and the first step to prepping and survival. First, you can’t live in denial anymore. Second, you must be determined to act swiftly when faced with a disaster. Knowing what to do and acting quickly on that knowledge is what helps people survive.
This requires research and planning.
- Know what your risks are for certain natural hazards and man-made disasters.
- Have a plan that includes how to communicate with family members, where you will meet, where you will go and how everyone will get there.
- Learn and practice survival skills like making a fire, cooking without utilities and building a shelter.
- Perform disaster drills much like you do fire drills. This reaffirms everyone involved knows what they are supposed to do during an emergency.
With hope and determination, you’ve already got a leg up on this whole prepping thing.
Safe drinking water will be the most important part of your prepping supplies list. Finding water and purifying it is an essential life-saving survival skill. You need, at the very minimum, at least one gallon of water per person per day. This amount does not include water for cleaning up.
The experts say keep enough for three days, but a week’s supply is much better. Buying bottled water is easiest. But if it isn’t in your budget, you can fill any cleaned-out plastic or glass container that seals properly with tap water. Water filters and purification tablets and devices will make questionable water, even your stockpiled water, safe to drink. You can also collect rainwater, keep water bladders on hand and obtain water from your hot water heater and toilet tank. Store bottled water in a cool, dry place like pantries or closets.
Stockpiling food takes up space and can get expensive. However, you can catch sales and come up with creative ways and places to store your food. Like your water, you need to store your food in a cool, dry location. Start with an easy-to-meet short term goal like aiming for a three-day supply of non-perishable foods—whether that’s freeze-dried, boxed or cans.
The Canned Food Alliance suggests the minimum amount of food is two cans per person per day. For three days, that is 24 cans for a family of four. You can work your way up to storing 6 to 12 weeks.
I budget for four cans every other grocery store visit. I live in a household of two and fortunately, we’re not above eating from a can, so rotating out the oldest to newest isn’t an issue. Stockpiled cans of food need to be rotated every five years. I keep my food cache disguised in an opaque plastic storage tote in the guest bedroom closet. No one is the wiser.
You can’t know how your neighbors, local community or city will respond to a disaster. In the case of a natural disaster, America has demonstrated that we can come together despite our differences and help each other out. However, social unrest and political upheaval have proven otherwise.
Though it isn’t pleasant to think about, defending our family and our supplies might be necessary. This involves not only a possible weapon and ammo but also how to harden your home against intruders. If keeping a firearm on your property worries you, invest in a biometric safe, where only your handprint will open it.
If choosing to purchase a gun for self-defense and personal protection, take a class on how to use and maintain it properly. Be dedicated to training with it regularly. How much ammo is enough? This question has still gone answered. Stockpile as much as you can afford, is what I say.
Prepping Supplies List
There are, of course, other essentials you need to keep in case of an emergency:
- First aid kit
- Prescription and over the counter medications
- Fire starter
- An alternative way to cook food and boil water—a camp stove, gas or charcoal grill
- Sanitation supplies—trash bags, soap, antibacterial wipes, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.
- Tool kit, ax, hammer and shovel
- Sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing for the weather
Some of these things can be purchased at dollar stores, garage sales or during sales and clearance events. Keep your emergency kit in one, easily-accessible place.
From power outages to widespread flu epidemics, there are many real-world scenarios that could affect you. Being prepared greatly increases your chance of survival, as well as relieves relief efforts and conserves first response resources.
What stopped you from prepping for the worst in the past? What has changed your mind now? Talk to us in the comment section.
If you have questions about preparing for a disaster, reach out to us.
Whether holing up or pursuing outdoor adventures, 12 Survivors has high-quality gear that makes sure you are “Go Ready!” Click here to shop 12 Survivors camping and survival gear.
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