10 Tips for the Beginning Prepper

Gaye LevyGaye Levy | Updated Apr 10, 2017 (Orig - Aug 2, 2011)

This is the year of the Prepper.  Or so it seems.  For the first time, the Prepper is coming into respectability.  No longer is the individual or family putting a little extra food and water aside for an emergency considered a weirdo or fanatic.  And for that, I am thrilled because after all, that is what Backdoor Survival is all about.

As family preparedness becomes mainstream, a frequent question is “How do I get started?” coupled with “Oh my gosh, that is so much work!”.


Today I offer 10 tips for the beginning prepper.  As you will see, there is no great mystery, no drama, no nonsense and no weird stuff.  Just practical common sense organized in a manner that you can use as a jump off point for your own preps.  Shall we get started?

10 Tips for the Beginning Prepper

1.  Take Baby Steps

Take a deep breath and get started.  Do not let your fear or lack of experience overwhelm you.  Step in to the mindset and just start.  There are lots of encouraging articles and blogs online (see Recommended Sites) in addition to this one to set you on your way.  And please, don’t let naysayers who are too lazy or too stupid tell you that it is not worth it.  Just zip you lips and carry on.

2.  Keep to the Basics

Don’t worry about the long term.  When you are getting started plan for a 3 day emergency supply.  When you have more experience – and more confidence – you can expand to a 7 day, 30 day or even an annual emergency supply.  But for now?  Go easy on yourself and give yourself permission to start modestly.

This means water (one gallon per person per day), non-perishable food items, some first aid supplies, packets of prescription medications, and, if you have pets, some pet food.

3.  Gather Important Documents

Obtain copies of your drivers license, passport, marriage license, emergency contacts and medical history and keep them somewhere handy so you can grab and go if you have to.  These documents will assist rescue workers and first responders in identification and in providing you with adequate medical care, if needed. It also would not hurt to include some pictures of yourself with family members.  I like to store this information on a flash drive along with other information such as survival manuals, home inventories and such.

4.  Develop a Communications and Transportation Plan

If the SHTF and you are not at home, what then?  This is where a plan becomes important.  Make a plan that identifies how loved ones will connect with each other in the event there is a natural disaster or other crisis.  Come up with a meeting place, and if possible, run a drill or two so you become familiar with the process.

5.  Learn Basic Skills

This is my personal favorite because it involves having fun.  Learn to garden and grow some food.  Heck, anyone can learn to grow lettuce and potatoes!

Take up fishing or hunting.  Go camping and learn to build a fire and sleep outdoors.  Fire up the barbie and learn to bake bread, steam vegetables, and make pancakes on on open grill or fire.  The possibilities are endless plus, you can involve all members of your family while turning basic skill building in to a hobby.

6.  Determine the Most Likely Natural Event in Your Area

Every geographical area a pre-disposed to some type of emergency.  Do live in a hurricane zone?  Then that should be your focus.  The same thing applies to tornado, earthquake, flood, and wildfire areas.  Live in the city?  Perhaps you should prepare for gang violence and civil disobedience.  It is possible, you know.

If you think you are immune, go back and read Disasters 101: A list for those that think it will never happen to them.  This might change your mind.

7.  Plan for a Power Outage

Pick up some extra flashlights (this LED type Maglite is one of my favorites), batteries, candles and waterproof matches.  For starters, that is just dandy.  Later on, when you have the budget, you can purchase the more esoteric items such as an inverter or generator.

8.  Learn how to Shelter In Place

Who says you have to get out of dodge?  That alone may be one of the reasons you are putting off the prepping effort.  Except in extreme circumstances – which you still need to prepare for – you will want to hunker down in the comfort of your own home or apartment.  Make sure you have some plastic sheeting and duct tape available to seal out dust and toxic chemicals.  You can read more about it here:  Shelter In Place.

9.  Plan for Comfort Foods and Amusements

I have taken flak before on this and I will probably continue to be dissed forever on this subject.  But, when panic and fear set in, there is nothing like a bag of cookies, some mac and cheese from a box, a juicy paperback and, for kids of all ages, a snuggly teddy bear.  Add some playing cards, popcorn (which can be popped over an over fire), and a book of Sudoku and you are all set.  Well maybe a bottle of whiskey or vodka would be good too.

The moral of the story is to pack away a few things in the survival pantry that will make you feel better in spite of the chaos around you.

10.  Get to Know your Neighbors

Get to know your neighbors, or, if you live in a remote area, the folks in the surrounding community.  These are the folks that will watch your back and help you out if the SHTF and you are really in trouble.  And likewise, you should be inclined to help them out if they are worse off than you following a disaster.

I am not talking about giving assistance or handouts to free loaders.  No, I mean offering a hand to your friendly clerk at the post office, or a teacher at your children’s school, or the neighbor down the road who offers you fresh eggs when his chickens are over-producing.

Friendly and familiar faces will be a good thing when and if the destructive zombies start roaming around.  Just remember, life is a two way street.  The moral and right thing to do is help your neighbor in need.  You will be a better person for it.

Extra Credit – Build your Family Preparedness Library

The number of available books, e-books, survival guides and videos offering preparedness and survival advice can be overwhelming.  When in doubt, check your local library and if you find something you like, make the purchase after the fact.  That is what I do.

In the meantime, I have a recommendation for the beginning Prepper:

The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster:  Written by fellow blogger, Bernie Carr, this little book is a gem for both beginner and experienced preppers.  I keep a copy on my desk and refer to it often.

Starting any new project, large or small, can be daunting.  Unlike other projects, however, family preparedness and prepping can literally save your life if not your sanity.  This list of 10 beginning prepper tips is not all inclusive in any way – but it is a start.

Let us embrace the year of the Prepper.  What are you waiting for?

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider voting for Backdoor Survival daily at Top Prepper Websites!  In addition, SUBSCRIBE to email updates  and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

Top Prepper Websites Banner


Bargain Bin:  Below you will find links to some personal and BDS reader favorites and items from the current Amazon Top 10.

Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse: Although this is a book of fiction, it is also serves as a survival manual of sorts.  The depiction of society three years following a collapse is so very real that I could almost put myself in the same room as the members of the survival group that has banded together to protect each other as they live in a communal retreat.  The section on a bartering market was hugely insightful and gave me some idea of how it might work in a real, SHTF situation.  Considering when this was written, Patriots is eerily timely.

One Second After:  For many, the novel "One Second After" was a game changer that convinced them of the need to be prepared.  If you have not read this book, you really should.  This is my #1 pick when it comes to survival fiction.

LifeStraw Personal Water FilterThe Amazon Top Ten Most Wanted Survival and Outdoor Items   Backdoor Survival:  The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultra light personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out.  It weighs only 2oz. making it perfect for the prepper. There is also a larger sized LifeStraw Family currently available with free shipping.

Tac Force TF-705BK Tactical Assisted Opening Folding Knife 4.5-Inch Closed: FAVORITE! This is a great knife that is currently priced at about $8.65 with free shipping.  Not only that, it is ranked as the #1 best seller at Amazon in both the camping and hunting knives categories.  The reviews raved about this knife so I bought one, used it, and and can recommend it.  See The Inexpensive Tac-Force Speedster Outdoor Knife.

Note:  the price can vary by color so if you are not particular, scroll through the colors and save a couple of bucks.

Dorcy LED Wireless Motion Sensor Flood Lite: Don’t let the $20 price lead you to think this wireless flood light is wimpy. I have two of these and feel that these lights are worth double the price.  Using D-cell batteries, the Dorcy floodlight will light up a dark room or a dark stairway in an instant.  I can not recommend these enough.

Morakniv Craftline Q Allround Fixed Blade Utility Knife: ANOTHER FAVORITE KNIFE! Also known as the Mora 511, this is now my favorite knife. It is made of Swedish steel and is super sharp.  Many Backdoor Survival have emailed me indicating this is now their favorite knife too. I paid $12 for this knife; it was worth $12 and of course is a steal at $8.07.

FordEx Group 300lm Mini Cree Led FlashlightFAVORITE! Here we go with another flashlight.  At the time of this writing, this one is only $3.80 with free shipping.  It is super mini sized, bright and waterproof.  Plus, it uses a single, standard AA sized battery. Pictured is one that I own in green but they come in basic black as well as some other colors.

Blocklite Ultra Bright 9V LED Flashlight: I now own six of these little gems. There is a similar flashlight called the Pak-Lite (which is more expensive) but it does not have a high-low switch like this one. Less than $10. These little flashlights just go and go, plus, they make good use of those re-purposed 9V alkaline batteries that you have recharged with your Maximal Power FC999 Universal Battery Charger.


Shop Emergency Essentials Sales for Fantastic Deals!

Emergency Essentials | Backdoor Survival


Need something from Amazon (and who doesn’t)? I earn a small commission from purchases made when you begin your Amazon shopping experience here. You still get great Amazon service and the price is the same, no matter what.

Amazon has a feature called Shop Amazon - Most Wished For Items. This is an easy tool for finding products that people are ‘wishing” for and in this way you know what the top products are.  All you need to do is select the category from the left hand side of the screen.

The Amazon Top Most Wished For and Best Selling Outdoor Items
Emergency Preparedness Items from Amazon.com
Amazon Gift Cards

Help support Backdoor Survival. Purchases earn a small commission and for that I thank you!


Are You Interested in Essential Oils?

If you are just getting started in using essential oils for wellness purposes, I recommend the Spark Naturals Health and Wellness Kit which includes all of my favorites or the Essential 4 Pack which includes Lavender, Lemon, Melaleuca (Tea Tree) and Peppermint.

Spark Naturals Health & Wellness Kit

Be sure to use the discount code “BACKDOORSURVIVAL" to receive a 20% discount.



[FREE] Ultimate Concealed Weapon

Tactical Pen / Multi-Tool (Flashlight, knife, etc)

Get Free Pen →

Updated Apr 10, 2017
Published Aug 2, 2011

10 Responses to “10 Tips for the Beginning Prepper”

  1. Nice list, Gaye!

    The best part about is that it’s helpful in the case of the most likely scenario: the personal/family disaster. It doesn’t take a grand disaster for the preparations to be called into action; something as minute as a layoff or extended hospital stay. It’s good to be prepared.

    • I like the term “Grand Disaster”. And you are correct in that it is the little things in life that will be the things that likely require a call to action. For some, even a short term power outage of a few hours can cause issues if they are not prepared.

      — Gaye

  2. Gaye, very good post. Getting started is always the hardest step. It is like a leap of faith. Once you get started it becomes addictive and you can’t stop. Thanks for posting these for the beginning preppers.

    • Yes, very addictive – for better or for worse!

  3. Gaye,
    Awesome article!!! after all the years I’ve been preparing off and on. I too feel overwhelmed. and now being on a small fixed income, makes me feel overwhelmed. your article helps bring us back to “start simple” and worry about a little at a time. Thank you for that. The 4 of usl need to get together and chat for a couple of days and get some kind of a plan, and catch up. we are planning on going to mainland for some things on the 10th for a couple of days, after that we’ll be here for awhile, and no planned company.

  4. This is certainly good advice. As always, the key to being a “respectable” prepper is to learn, learn, learn! And, while you’re at it, make a plan and be sure to take specific actions that further your preparedness.

  5. Just beginning and I am finding it all very confusing. There is so much to learn, so much to know, so much to save, so much to prepare for. As I said, I am finding it all so very confusing. I think I could take care of myself in a situation, I have in the past. But having a wife (who is skeptical of prepping) and a disabled daughter to think about, makes things all the more difficult. Also, as with most I would think, not being able to go out and drop a couple thousand dollars on a food supply package makes taking things slow a bit more manageable.

    Articles like this make and this site specifically ( I visit often) make things a little better (inside my head anyway). Start small, prepare for short term then expand.

    I am still confused though, so if there are any veteran preppers out there that can offer any advice, I can sure use it. Any little bit of new knowledge is always helpful.

    Quick question though … is being part of a prepper group a good way to go? It seems like it would be, but then again, it seems like maybe it wouldn’t. If it would be a good thing, how does one find a group? Or even find like minded individuals?

    • Marine, I feel you there where it comes to having a pethetic budget to work with as I am in the same boat,BUT there ARE many thing you can do that I have taken a long time trying and succeeding with that I wouldn’t mind sharing if its allowed here. All they do is take the time at the computer sending requests and wearing out the UPS man, LOL!
      I’ve gotten all my prepped medical supplies for a HUGE bugout bag ( had to buy the bag on eBay though. I’ve got SO much info to share if allowed for everyone if Mrs. Gaye allows.

  6. Good advice. Remember shtf will happen. It’s not if but when. THE good book says, “in the last days a loaf of bread will cost a mans weekly wage.” Are you ready for this? Prepp and get closer with God. Some may say, ” God has never said a word to me”. Remember because there is so much evil out there, that in itself is irrefutable evidence that there is a God. Fight evil with good, prep and prep to extend some good will to your neighbor, pray for your enemies. Never stop believing in the power of yourself to change a piece of this world with your extension of good that comes from your heart. God bless America, patriots, vetrans, preppers, and every American.

  7. Being prepared isnt as daunting as you would think. As a beginner, just start small. The average family can build a plan and acquire supplies weekly or monthly as you can. read blogs and talk to other likeminded folks.


Leave a Reply