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Prepping: Basic Beginners Guide – Why Prep? (Pt. 1)

To those of you who have seen the importance of preparing and have a desire to keep your family safe during a disaster - congratulations. Prepping is for those who are preparing for the unknown future, and for those who see the importance of having necessary items in place before a disaster strikes. This guide is a 2 part series that will give you the basic fundamental knowledge on how to start prepping, help you gain an understanding of why you need to have certain disaster supplies, and give insight on where to get certain supplies.

Those that are new to prepping should start with planning for a given disaster and then begin acquiring items for their basic needs. The logic behind prepping is the same for those preparing for a short term disaster or a long term disaster. That logic is: To be self sufficient and have the ability to care for yourself and your family independently during an unforeseen disaster. Creating a disaster check list will add another layer of disaster planning, and expedite the process of getting ready for a disaster, if one comes your way.

Know What You Are Preparing For

Disasters can strike quickly and without warning. Knowing what type of disasters could effect the area you live in will help you plan more thoroughly for the disaster. Deciding on the type of disaster to prepare for will also determine the type of survival gear that is needed. For example, if a person lives in an area prone to flash flooding and torrential downpours from thunderstorms, the items they choose would be different than survival items chosen for earthquake preparedness. Typically, the best way to prepare for a disaster is to plan for the worst case scenario so that all areas are covered. Many think this ideology is a bit excessive, but being completely prepared and self sufficient for a given disaster is the reasoning behind prepping. It is a state of mind for many.

Types of Preppers

There are different types of preppers – the short term and the long term preppers. Short term preppers are those that want to be prepared for anywhere between 1 week-3 months. Many government websites such as The American Red Cross and FEMA suggest every family have a short term food supply in the case that food routes are interrupted due to severe storms, or unforeseen circumstances.

For longer term needs preppers generally are planning for disasters that have a longer term effect, thus they plan for longer self sufficiency in the event the disaster does occur. Long term preppers have a short term supply to compliment their long term supply. A longer term food supply usually includes dehydrated foods, MRE’s, seeds, hand crank wheat grinders, and equipment to be used in an non-technological environment. For a more detailed list on short term food supplies and longer term food supplies, click here.

Disasters do not happen to other people - they can happen to you, and they can happen to me. As long as you are prepared for a given scenario, then you already have tools in place when you need it most. According to some, prepping has become some sort of a social movement. Preparing for a disaster and being self sufficient has occurred for centuries. It is nothing new. It is simply families trying to make the hard times easier.

As humans, we are naturally aware of possible threats around us, and often the way a person neutralizes that threat is to create a story of the worse case scenario and begin to prep around that. Becoming a person who preps for disasters begins with a level of awareness. A prepper knows that there are possible threats, and it only makes sense to be as prepared as possible beginning with elemental disaster items to sustain basic needs (food, water, clothing and shelter) and then adding more preparedness layers onto it. Basic disaster items are intended to sustain a person and their family for 3-5 days. However, many decide to expand their disaster supplies to encompass a longer duration in the case that emergency response is delayed. This is why preppers believe in having “back ups for their back ups.”

Getting Started

When preparing for a disaster, it is essential to have provisions in place to secure your needs. That being said, beginning a food supply must begin with research. Finding out how many calories a person needs per day in order to survive, and knowing how much food to store is essential when beginning to prepare. Additionally, going to survival/prepping forums to read about what others are doing is another way of finding more research. Preppers are very open to helping others who want to prepare. We have all been at the beginning stage of preparing, and it can be overwhelming at first, but the overall goal is to get people prepared.

When beginning to get preparations in place, concentrate of the basic needs of survival: water, food, shelter, clothing and move on from there. Below are some basic suggestions on items that would be ideal to have in the home:


It is suggested to have 1 gallon of water per person/per day. Having a 3 day supply of water on hand is a great place to start. However, many preppers like to be as thorough as possible in their prepping. Therefore, Ready Nutrition suggests to play it safe and double the amount of water needed. The extra water can be used for other purposes. Additional water storage for longer term use can be reviewed here. Extra water that is stored can also be used if family members such as children or the elderly become dehydrated and need more water. Additionally, having an alternative source for water such as a water filter, frozen water in the freezer, and 5 gallon water containers is suggested. In a disaster situation, a person does not want to run out of water. Lakes and streams can also be a way to find water, but the water needs to be treated. In the case that someone is not near any running streams or lakes, there are places in nature where one can find alternative water sources.


Comparative shopping at the large volume supermarkets typically has better deals than at the smaller stores. Finding local ads from the large supermarket store websites can save on gas money as well as on shopping time. Even the Dollar stores carry canned goods and food products that would be good for short term/long term food supplies. Look for sales at the stores and buy as much of the item as your budget will allow.

Using a food storage calculator will help determine how much food is necessary. There are some considerations to keep in mind before purchasing the food items:

Expiration Dates – It’s best to find items that have expiration dates that are 1-2 years away from expiring, unless that item is used frequently in the home, and can be rotated frequently.
Items on Sale – Go for the deals. Typically, there are deals that are advertised in the newspaper. There are stores that have 10 items for $10, or 2 for 1 offers. You do not have to break the bank to get food items. Just get a little each time you visit the store. In season vegetables are typically cheaper. Larger cans of goods generally have better deals.
The amount of people in the household.
A wide variety of food will help reduce food fatigue.
The serving amount in the food.
Vitamin content in the food.
Any special health considerations for family members.
Medical Supplies

Medical emergencies can occur at the drop of a hat, and having the necessary supplies can mean the difference between life and death. When an emergency situation arises, one must act calming and decisively. In the case of a severe injury where there is a lot of blood loss, there must be supplies that can stop bleeding, cut the pain threshold and calm the patient if necessary. Find websites online that deal with first aid care and go through each injury to see what medical instruments and items are needed. Moreover, check in your community and see if the Fire Department, American Red Cross or Medical Centers offer classes to assist in medical emergencies. Make a list for supplies that can be added to the disaster medical supplies.

Here are a few e-books that were found on this subject:

First Aid Full Manual
Emergency War Surgery
First Aid for Dental Emergencies
72 Hour Bags

In the case that a person has to evacuate, having a prepared 72 hour kit or bug out bag will expedite the process of leaving as well as keeping things running as smoothly as possible. A 72 hour bag should have all items necessary to survive for 3 days. When preparing a bag keep the main surviving points is mind (water, food, shelter, clothing). Having a separate bug out bag for the vehicle will also come in handy in the event that someone has to leave their home immediately.


Tools are a valuable commodity when it comes to survival. Their usefulness for hunting, digging, cutting, communicating and for navigational purposes are all essential items to have on hand.

Knives ( to cut large machete type and a smaller Gerber hunter)
Camping shovels
Hammer or hatchet
Collapsible fishing pole with hooks, line, bobbers, etc.
Maps, compass or GPS devices ( Having extra compasses ensures that navigation is accurate).
Rope (paracord),
Knife sharpening stone,
Flash light with extra batteries
Written Survival Sources

In a high stress situation that some are not used to, forgetfulness plays a part from dealing with all the changes that are occurring. Having some manuals to look upon for survival information, or for spiritual information to lift the morale is a good idea and does not take up much space in a pack.

Survival Manuals
First Aid Manuals
Survival e-books
Native American Handbooks
Boy Scouts Handbooks
Understanding how to survive in different scenarios requires one to constantly be learning in order to be as prepared as possible. Prepping is a passion for some. For others it is simply to keep their family as safe as possible. Whatever the reasoning is behind why you have decided to prep, you will be better off in the long run.

The following videos contain important information for new preppers starting out to learn from. These videos are from SouthernPrepper1 on youtube. Check him out for a wealth of helpful information.