Wednesday, August 19, 2009

10 Basic Steps to Preparedness

Everyday, more and more people are getting into the "preparedness" or "survivalist" movement (see article here). For many of us, this is our nature so we have been doing what is now termed "survival stuff" for years. For those who are new to this whole concept, here's ten quick steps to get you started on becoming a TEOTWAWKI survivalist (or just get yourself ready to face the next natural disaster that strikes your area):
  1. Put away $1000 in cash as your starter emergency fund.
  2. Stock enough easy to prepare food in your garage, in a closet, or under your bed, so that you can survive on this food for two weeks without having to go to the store (at all). Be sure to include enough bottled water too.
  3. Pay off your debts ASAP (this is the biggest obstacle most people face when it comes to being ready for a disaster--they need to be at work the next day because they can't miss work or they won't get paid and if they don't get paid they can't pay their bills or eat. Having no debt gives you a whole lot of flexibility).
  4. Develop a family disaster plan (this covers everything from a home inventory for insurance purposes, to a family communications plan, to a fire escape plan, etc).
  5. Pull together a nice supply of camping gear. Get the gear that you would need to camp out in the wilderness for a week for you and your family (ie: tent, sleeping bags, flashlights, first aid kit, gas stove, et al). Next go camping with this gear for a week. See what works, see what doesn't work, and refine your gear and your plan. This may be the situation if a tornado levels your home. While you may be put up in a hotel, you may be on your own for a while and having this camping gear will help you to be much more self sufficient than the average disaster victim.
  6. Get insurance. Car, health, life, auto, home, disability, et al. Insurance will save you from catastrophic financial disaster.
  7. Develop multiple sources of income. As this last recession showed, people who were dependant on one job and one source of income were devastated (financially and psychologically) when they lost that job. If you have multiple sources of income coming in each month, you will have more flexibility and security.
  8. Develop as many skills as possible. You never know when CPR, HAM radio, well drilling, or fishing skills will come in handy. The more you know, the more you can do during a disaster to help yourself and your family. Start simple with a community CPR first aid course then move up to Outward Bound-type experiences.
  9. Get healthy. America is obese. America is unhealthy. If you are obese and/or unhealthy, this is a huge hindrance during a disaster. If you can barely run a block, what are you going to do when you have to flee a wildfire? If you are dependant on 15 different kinds of meds a day, what will you do when an earthquake levels every pharmacy in your area? While some things can't be changed (ie: if you are wheel-chair bound or dependant on life saving medications), other things can (many people have been able to get off many meds just by getting healthier and fit). Note that if you or a family member are dependant on life saving medications and/or equipment (like a ventilator) makes plans NOW for how you will meet these needs in the event of a disaster.
  10. Make your home clean, organized, and secure. This will make you happier, healthier, and safer.

Notice that nowhere in these steps do you find recommendations to load up on the firearms, buy a generator, raise all of your own food, or turn your home into a bunker. These are things that some people decide to do when moving towards self sufficiency, however many people who jump feet first into survivalist mode skip the basics (things that will make them more prepared in their everyday life) and cobble together a half-assed plan that really won't help them in a disaster because they haven't even covered the basics!


  1. I have been regularly reading your site for a few months now. While learning about survivalist ideas for about a year, I did not take any action until this past spring. That was due partly from laziness and the lack of a good plan to implement the ideas. I think this article is great and would have been especially helpful when I was starting out. I have done many of the suggestions and have found them useful. Thanks for providing the insight!

  2. To be sure, following these 10 steps will go a long way - 95% of the way - toward protecting you and your family.

    Once you have the proper mindset and really start thinking clearly about the real world situations we all face, these basic preps are actually quite easy.

    What's more, many of them will improve your quality of life even if no outside situation occurs that threatens your survival!

  3. Excellent and realistic list. Fire extinguisher, smoke alarms and imported goods that you would miss if the ships or planes stop sailing.