It seems no matter which way you turn lately, there’s someone trying to tell you that you need to prep and unless you have X, Y, and Z, you will fail. You will suffer. Your kids will suffer. “But if you buy this one item, you’ll be all set!” How about a realistic prepping plan? I have a problem with sites that fear monger people into a panic and then try to sell them something!
To do battle against those fear mongering sites, I decided to give another point of view. A more logical one. Something that isn’t so far fetched as to make a person never even start prepping (like buying a year’s worth of freeze dried food for 4 in one shot). Honestly, who can afford to buy a bunker and have it buried? Not many and truthfully, it’s completely unrealistic.
What’s needed is a plan that makes sense, is achievable by just about everyone, and is more down to earth. It also needs to be something done in steps, built over time. The twist is there’s only one real “one size fits all” prepper plan (having food, water, warmth, and shelter). It requires each individual or group to put some thought and work into making a plan that works for them. People in Alaska would need different stuff than those in Florida. The only thing that’s the same is what every human needs to live.
To make a realistic prepping plan, you need to define certain things first:
- Who will you be prepping for? How many? (Don’t forget the pets!)
- What kind of natural disasters do you have in your area? It’s more likely a natural disaster will happen than WWIII breaking out.
- Will natural disasters force you to leave your home?
- How long do you think you would be waiting (before help comes, etc)?
Yes, there are thousands of little details but we’re focusing on being simple, reasonable, and realistic. Yes, the disaster could be man made but that isn’t as probable as the stormy season causing a flood. Focus on things you know will come instead of something more far fetched.
You need to decide for yourself how much food you want to store. The government’s site, Ready.gov, suggests having at least 3 days of food and water for each person in your home. That’s a great start! I recommend you read some of what they have to say about getting started and things you may want to consider adding to your preps.
For us, we started with a week of supplies being the goal. The problem with that is you need a lot of storage space and good imagination to work around it. Not only that, it needs to be the right kind of storage space. A family of 4 would need enough room for 28 gallons of water for a week! We certainly didn’t have that much space (even for the 2 of us) and opted to store 3 days of water and get some Sawyer Water Filters that are just fantastic. They work so much better than the Life Straws. There are many water filter options out there and I recommend you look around to find which ones would work best for your family.
You want to make sure you’re buying food that your family actually eats. A disaster situation is bad enough; you don’t need your three year old losing their minds because you’re trying to feed them new foods. The food needs to be stored in a cool, dark, and dry place with as little temperature fluctuations as possible. Worst case scenario, a closet will work. Twice a year, you should check the expiration dates of what you have stored. Anything getting close to expiring can be rotated into your regular stocks and replaced.
You’ve got a start on food and water. Now you need to consider shelter (with a backup plan if possible) and ways to stay warm. If you are lucky enough to have a wood stove, you’re covered on all sorts of things. For the rest of us, there are several options. One of the most effective methods of staying warm when the power is out is to choose one room that will be kept warm. Using plastic sheeting, blankets (if you can spare them) or other coverings over doors and windows will hold heat in. Close the doors to all other rooms and gather everyone inside!
Other things to consider and plan for is how you will cook, flush the toilets, and deal with hygiene/garbage. Disease is as much a threat to you as the disaster itself. In some cases, disease is an even bigger threat!
Should you have to leave your shelter, having some packs made up that you can grab and go with is a fantastic way to make sure you have a fighting chance. An alternative, though a bit extreme, would be to make supply caches. Each person carries with them enough food and supplies for 48 hours. Don’t make them too heavy. What you decide to put in them is up to you and your circumstances. BUYER BEWARE: if the item seems too good to be true, it is. Do your research and try to get items that are tried and true. Anything that is multipurpose is especially valuable.
Remember: you need food, water, shelter, and warmth to survive. Start small, 3 days minimum. Build up to a week or so. Then, decide whether or not you’re comfortable there or want to go further. For many, a week will suffice. For others, three months isn’t long enough. There is no right or wrong here. To each their own! Each person who preps for disasters makes the whole that much stronger.
Most new preppers make their first mistakes in the earliest stages of ‘waking up.’ If you haven’t already read The 5 Stages New Preppers Go Through, I highly recommend it. I’ve had more emails and feedback from that one article than any other in the last 3 years. I wrote it from the heart and it has rung true, to varying degrees, with thousands of people. It helps you realize that you’re not alone and, most importantly, you can do this!