After every disaster, people prep. In the US, 3.2 million citizens are committed to getting through doomsday, and 65% of the population just wants to get through a crisis. All these preppers at some point were beginners like you. FEMA has been encouraging people for years to have a week’s worth of supplies on hand to get through any major disaster. Most beginners often become overwhelmed by the sea of information and quit before getting their feet wet. Here are some tips to help ease the process and get you through the beginner stage of prepping.
The Rule of Three
This is a phrase you’re going to hear a lot in the prepping community. The rule of three, or the 3 Rule, means three minutes without air, three hours without shelter, three days without water, and three weeks without food. What this translates into is how long you can survive without that element. For example, you’ll most likely die if you go three minutes without air. This should help you focus on the elements that need your attention most.
For air, you’ll want to invest in a good quality ABC gas mask for each member of the family, a couple of boxes of hospital grade N95 masks, and put together a ‘Seal-In Room’ kit.
Some shelter supplies to keep on hand would be big tarps to assemble makeshift walls and cover windows, and basic hand tools like a hammer, leather palmed work gloves, and a wire saw to remove debris and make temporary repairs. Some good shelter options are a tent, an RV, and your vehicle. It might not be ideal, but it beats nothing.
For water needs, you’ll need two gallons of water a day per person in your home. This equals one gallon of drinking water and one gallon for cooking and hygiene reasons. Just in case you are wondering, a case of water is three gallons.
Food is a little trickier to calculate because it requires a bunch of minor components. To begin, you’ll need to figure out breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snack servings for each person. How I do this is, is I make a two-week menu of my household’s favorite breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes. Then, break each dish down by ingredient. Can’t make Tuna Helper without butter, or pulled pork sandwiches without pork. I also try to focus on a few shelf-stable alternatives in case I run out of in the fridge. With snacks, I try to get a favorite salty, sweet, healthy, and savory one for each member so you can have all bases covered. To boost your comfort level, grab a couple of foods you commonly crave.
If your stock has can goods in it, get a couple of manual can openers. If your dish requires cooking, invest in a camping stove or a nice grill. Don’t forget tinder, fire starter, and fuel for these items. When you're finished cooking, make sure you have enough paper plates, plastic bowls, and disposable utensils to go around in order to save on water.
Fighting For A Cause
The best tip I can give to beginners is to focus on a single disaster you are most worried about. Why do you want to prep in the first place? The answer can help you get moving in the right direction by buying the correct supplies and making the most appropriate plans. A good starting point is to focus on a disaster most prone to your area. If your area is prone to tornadoes, then that should be your focus. If you have an autoimmune disease, such as asthma, then pandemics should have your attention. Afraid the dollar will crumble into dust, then financial collapse and Martial Law might be what you are looking for. Most disasters follow a similar pattern, so beginning ready for one might prepare you with a big enough cushion to cover three or four of them.
I Live Here!
This is a little-known fact I picked up while studying floods. In case you ever get evacuated and need to return, make sure you have a piece of identifying mail on you in order to get back into the area. Looting will be pretty bad, so officials are going to want to make sure that only those who live in town are entering the town. When you apply for help, you’ll have to provide proof of your residency or they will deny you. Frauditors and scammers have been known to apply for help and relief aid at addresses in the affected area. If you don’t provide proof, that you live at that address, then chances are they will deny the claim. They will scrutinize every application they get to ensure the right people get the correct amount of benefits. To speed up the process, you should have your original birth certificate, social security card, current photo ID (Driver’s license, military ID, and passports also work in place of an ID), and a piece of mail. Not every piece of mail will be accepted, so it’ll have to be something that officials recognize. Official mail can be:
- Tax documents
- Utility bill
- Insurance policies
- DMV/DOT records (car registration, Learner’s permit, etc)
- Voters' registration card
Where’s The Soap?
The most common error I see among beginners is rather simple. You got your food stock ready, your water nice and crisp, your gas masks polished nicely, but the power goes out. Where are the flashlights? What about batteries for them? Another scenario is, that you have returned to your home after being evacuated because of a hurricane. Only to find a tree caved in half of your house, flooding it. How are you going to remove the tree? Do you have enough cleaning products on hand to make the home livable again? These are all things often overlooked in a disaster. To fix this, make a list of everything you commonly touch, like toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, shampoo, etc. Write all this down to make sure you have one of everything on hand.
Next, go room to room and make a cleaning supply checklist, or you can be like me that has a cleaning sheet for every room. This can help you know what cleaning supplies you need to keep on hand. Keep an extra couple of outfits and bed sheets (that fit properly) on hand also in case you can’t get to the laundry right away. It’s little things like this that we use daily that often blend into our background. We forget about it until it’s gone and we need it most.
The Prepper’s Binder
What good is your survival plan if it’s all in your head? What good is your food supply if it is expire? How many bars of soap do you have at home? Do you have enough gallons of water? Do you know how many tarps you have? The best way to keep supplies organized and properly rotated (First In, First Out, or FIFO, as it’s known in the community) is to keep everything organized in a special binder with your emergency paperwork known as The Prepper’s Binder. I divide mine into three parts. Part one is your disaster plans, contact lists, and directions to known safe locations in case of evacuation. The second part is your food and supplies. I break down my food into categories, so I can check my supply count better, and I put the expiration date next to each one if necessary. Once a month I’ll review it to pull the expired goods and make meals around that. The last section is about my specialty kits. I broke down each disaster into its own assigned bin so I can find the supplies I need better. For example, I keep my blackout supplies in a bin wrapped up in glow tape. I have a plastic tote assigned to each member of my household should someone fall ill. Just having these notes organized and on hand could be really beneficial in the long run. Knowing what you have on hand helps cut down on waste. By knowing when something goes bad, you lessen the risk of getting food poisoning. The binder is an enormous help in your overall disaster preparedness and an essential tool in my preps.
About the author
Doom and gloom is all I know. My heart skips a beat at the thought of armageddon. I've been preparing for the apocalypse my whole life. I have been studying it for so long that I am currently working on my Ph. D. on the subject.