They say preparation is the key to success in just about any part of life, yet so many of us neglect to prepare for the most serious of situations. The act of prepping is preparing oneself for the potential of a doomsday event or emergency, and being ready to survive should the absolute worst happen.
Prepping can be done on a varying degree of levels, and it can start as basic as packing a bug out bag or as advanced as having your own fallout shelter. When it comes to prepping, it’s all about your own personal situation and ensuring that you and your loved ones will be ready for anything, whatever that might entail.
Judging by statistics, spending on natural disasters in the US alone has skyrocketed and there are new threats each day in the form of disease or climate shifts. Although we might not be able to stop these doomsday events ourselves, prepping means we have a much greater chance of survival and it doesn’t take much effort to do.
These days, it’s more common for people to understand the threats that could lead to a survival situation and therefore have a desire to be prepared. If you’ve ever worried about what would happen to you or your loved ones in a natural disaster or something as terrifying as a nuclear war, prepping is the best way you have to ease the burden and be ready for anything.
What Exactly is Prepping?
At any given moment, a serious event could take place that threatens to wipe out civilization as we know it, or even just impact the immediate area where we live. This could be anything from a hurricane or earthquake, to more serious global events like a disease pandemic or nuclear war.
According to statistics, a shocking 44 percent of Americans don’t even have a basic first aid kit in their home, let alone anything more detailed. Imagine then, that one of these shocking events were to take place, and consider how prepared the average American would be and whether or not they would survive.
The definition of prepping differs depending on who you ask, but at its most basic, it’s the act of being prepared for a disaster. Just how detailed your prepping efforts are will depend on your own situation, but most people who are committed to prepping will have the basics on hand that will allow them to survive the first 72 hours of an emergency.
Prepping has many benefits, with the most obvious being that we’re ready for the worst case scenario. But in addition to that, it can give you peace of mind that you and your family will be ready for anything, and a sense of knowing that you’ve done all you can to keep them safe.
The Possible Scenarios We Prep For
While it’s never nice to think about these types of situations, there are some very plausible situations that it pays to be prepared for. Prepping means you’ll be ready for action should the worse happen, and regardless of the event, a good prepping kit should cover you for everything. These are some scenarios that are entirely possible with after effects that could devastate without a survival kit ready to go.
As a threat that we often hear about when two countries go to war, there are stockpiles everywhere of dangerous nuclear weapons that could be disastrous is placed in the wrong hands.
Civil disorder is a real threat in this day and age with many people disagreeing on political and social views. Being prepared for something like this that could take a toll on society means your family will be protected even without basic goods and services.
Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections that take place on a world scale are all very plausible scenarios that might lead to a need for survival. We’ve already seen outbreaks in recent times of certain diseases, not to mention large scale epidemics that have wiped out millions of people in history.
A natural disaster can happen quickly and leave behind a lot of devastation, and it doesn’t have to be a global disaster to have an impact on us. Prepping is ideal for natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes, giving you and your family the supplies to survive until help has arrived.
The Beginner’s Guide to Prepping
Prepping is about being self-reliant and ready for anything should your basic resources be stripped from you. We all have different ideas about what’s most important to us and what our families might need in an emergency situation, but there are some basics that no good prepper wants to be without.
When you’re away from the creature comforts of home and trying to survive off the grid, having energy and being nourished is important. Although we wouldn’t expect to have the same meals we enjoy at home, they do need to be appealing enough to eat, even in a crisis, and especially if you have children with you.
Packing food for the purpose of prepping is a little different than if you were taking a camping trip because the food needs to have a long shelf life, be compact to carry, and easy to prepare with minimal other supplies. You won’t be eating any gourmet meals, but it will be enough to sustain you and give you energy, which is the biggest priority when you’re trying to survive.
Meals, Ready to Eat (MRE)
These are individually packaged meals that are ready to eat without any other preparation. They’re commonly used by the military because they can be consumed on the go and have enough calories for one serving.
Some MRE products come with a self-heating mechanism so even if you don’t have a fire or another way of cooking them, you will still be able to enjoy a hot meal. These meals are packaged in zein, replacing the foil they used to be stored in, and are required to have a shelf life of three years minimum, with some offering a lot more than that.
Survival Food Kits
A survival food kit is one that’s been assembled to include a range of food options to meet certain caloric requirements for each day. These can be purchased for a single consumer or for families, and they include all meals and snacks you’ll require in a 24 hour period.
They come in different varieties like freeze-dried or ready to eat meals depending on how much preparation you require. They’re also marketed on their shelf life with a standard survival food kit having around five years until expiry, but sometimes more.
If you are faced with a survival situation, there’s a good chance that it’s because of an emergency that occurred. This could be anything from extreme weather to nuclear war fallout, and in that case, there’s likely to be some casualties.
Even without anyone in your party suffering from injuries, living off the grid and away from home can increase your risk of things like infection, dehydration or minor cuts, so you need to be covered with medical supplies.
All good prepping kits should have a small but capable first aid kit included in them. Some preppers choose to assemble this themselves and use quality contents that they have found, and others will be happy to purchase a complete first aid kit that has everything they need. A standard first aid kit should cover the basics, and you can add further items as required.
A quality medical bag designed for a first aid kit is essential. It features the right compartments and is usually waterproof to keep the contents safe.
General tools and miscellaneous supplies
Tweezers, clippers, trauma shears, scalpel, sunblock, hand sanitizer, and basic hygiene supplies.
Wound and trauma care
Gloves, bandages, gauze, tourniquet, butterfly closures, medical tape, wipes, iodine, suture kit, mole foam, and moleskin.
You’ll need basic over the counter medication like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, oral rehydration, antihistamine, and Sudafed. Additional prescription medication depending on your personal needs might include epinephrine, amoxicillin, insulin, and flagyl.
Creams and ointments
Creams to clear infections and fight bacteria including antibiotic ointment, antifungal cream, hydrocortisone, and a bar of antibacterial soap.
Your survival kit will be full of useful tools, but only those that are most practical need to be packed. Choosing which tools go into your bag is a fine art, and for that reason, many people prefer to choose a pre-assembled kit. Otherwise, these are the basics you’ll definitely want to add in your prepping kit, ensuring they are durable and dependable.
You usually only need one knife in a survival kit, but it should be made specifically for this purpose. A good survival knife is made of quality steel, has a sharp blade, can be safely and easily carried, and is versatile enough to perform a number of different cuts. With just one knife you can ready your shelter, treat medical issues, and even prepare food, so it’s a key ingredient when packing a survival kit.
A compact axe or hatchet could be very helpful when you’re living off the grid and use for things like chopping firewood or preparing the shelter you’ll sleep in that night. A small utility axe is a must have for any survival kit, and there are lightweight but durable products made exactly for this purpose.
The weaponry you choose to take in a bug out bag will depend entirely on your personal preference, but you will want some form of protection. Some preppers like to take a handgun and others will improvise with hand made weapons. Consider situations where animals or dangerous individuals could cross your path, and learn how to use whatever you’re taking along skillfully.
A multi-tool is ideal for prepping because it gives you many functions in the one compact device. These accessories include things like wire cutters, file, knife, bottle opener, and pliers. Choose a multi-tool that’s good quality and compact, but avoid the urge to get the one with the most accessories.
A fire can provide warmth, offer a way to prepare food, and sanitize water and other objects, so packing some form of fire started is essential. A ferrocerium rod is the most common for survival kits but other methods like strikers and bars are also available. Quality is important with this product because you will rely on the fire starter for many of your basic needs.
An emergency light source is essential when you’re living off the grid, and having a few options can be helpful. Flashlights and candles are the best approaches, and anything solar powered is ideal so you don’t lose energy. Consider adding some glow sticks or light sticks as well, for emergency situations.
Other items you might want to include are lightweight entertainment for children or important personal documents.
Adults require around half a gallon of water a day, and even more if you’re on the move. Water will often be the heaviest thing in a survival kit but it’s also the most important.
There are emergency water packs you can take, but you should also have a backup portable filtration system for when those run out or you come across another fresh source of water. Calculate how much water is needed for the first 72 hours per person and that’s the correct amount you’ll need to take.
Shelter and Clothing
A basic emergency shelter kit should be included in your prepping contents so that you’re protected from the weather. These kits include items like reflective heat blanket, tarp or cover, and stakes to keep the shelter down. Emergency shelter is usually very lightweight and easy to carry but will have to provide enough coverage for everyone in your party.
Bug out clothes kits are ideal for prepping as they give you everything you need for all kinds of weather and terrain. Your clothes should be waterproof, breathable, durable, warm, and feature lots of pockets to carry additional items. You can vacuum seal clothes to make them more compact in your survival kit.
Communication and Navigation
You won’t be able to rely on cell phones or internet connection in a survival situation, so other forms of communication are required. At the most basic, a battery operated radio will allow you to check in on news broadcasts for information. You might want to take a solar-powered cell phone charger in case you are able to continue using it.
A basic compass will serve you well, but you should learn how to use it correctly. It’s safe to assume electronics won’t be working in an emergency so don’t rely solely on a GPS device to help navigate. A road map of your local area may also be beneficial as long as you have studied it beforehand.
Backpack or Bag
The contents of your survival kit simply won’t matter if you don’t have a dependable bag to carry them in. A tactical backpack is the best approach as it allows you to carry weight evenly and without strain, so something like a hiker or backpacker would use is a good indication of what’s required. Look for a bag with the following features to see if it’s suitable:
You want something durable and sturdy to withstand harsh conditions and weather, so look for a bag made of heavy duty nylon. A lightweight bag is recommended so your weight capacity is spent only on the contents inside.
The size will depend on how many people you’re packing for, and there may be a need for each adult to carry one if you’re traveling with a larger group. The entire weight of your bag and contents should be no more than 15 percent of your body weight.
Wide straps, breathable material, and a design that allows for weight distribution will all impact the comfort of the bag.
Pockets and compartments
Choose a bag with plenty of compartments and zippered pockets that allow you to put more important items within easy reach.
Simple Tips for Beginner Preppers
Learning the basics about prepping might seem overwhelming at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll probably enjoy it as an activity. In addition to having a basic survival kit ready to go, there are some tips you can follow that will only heighten your preparedness and put you in the best position to survive an emergency.
Learn some basic skills
Consider prepping as something you can do that will benefit you more than just the initial 72 hours after an emergency. There are basic skills that will come in handy should you have to live off the grid or in a survival situation. Fishing, gardening, fixing things, and basic navigation will all be useful and can be applied in the rest of life as well.
Have important documents ready
Keep all of your important documents in the one place so they’re secure, but also ready to be taken with you. Consider things like social security cards, birth certificates, banking details, insurance policies, and vehicle titles, and keep them all together.
Research your area
The most obvious place you’ll be in an emergency is at home, so knowing the local area you live in will be a huge benefit. Get an understanding of what’s around you, what is in each direction, and what safe paths you could take if needed. Head out on foot and do your research to get a better feel for your local area but consider taking a drive as well.
Know your neighbors
In a survival situation, it’s completely natural for people to feel fearful of strangers. Make an effort to get to know your neighbors so that if something were to ever go wrong they would be more likely to help you than fear you. It’s beneficial for both parties to feel as though they could trust one another.
Have kits ready to go
All good preppers have at least one bug out bag, and the really prepared people have more. It’s ideal to have a bag ready at home, but you should also keep one in the car and even at your office to be truly ready for anything.
Reuse and recycle
Start learning now how to reduce waste and reuse household items that might come in handy later. If you do have to start over again, it can be great to have a basic handle on recycling so that you can learn to live off the basics.
Peace of Mind That You’re Prepared for Anything
Preparation has many benefits in life, but prepping for a serious emergency with the knowledge that you’re keeping yourself and your family safe is the best one. There are a number of things that can happen at any given time and the uncertainty of the world means we never really know what is coming, so anything we can do to reduce the impact is worthwhile.
Many people start their prepping journey with the basics and find that it’s so rewarding and satisfying that they want to do even more. Regardless of the level of prepping you take, even something as simple as having your bug out bag packed and put away will take a huge burden off your mind.
There are many great products out there designed for the modern prepper, and if you’re an absolute beginner you’ll appreciate some direction. We’ve created buying guides for both survival knives and ready-made survival kits, so you can take some of the hard work out of getting yourself prepared and ensuring your family is ready for anything.